“Ode to Annapolis” Apple Pinot Blackberry Tart
A few days ago my best childhood friend Beca and I went on an “Old Stepdads Tour” of Annapolis, the small town along the Northern California coast we grew up in. When we were kids, Annapolis was virtually unknown – one tiny post office which was only open until noon and maybe 350 people scattered around in the redwoods, making their living either growing pot, logging, or working the one little K-8 elementary school. (Very small – my 8th grade graduating class was 4 kids… including me). Our town was socially split into “rednecks” or “hippies”, with my family and Beca’s definitely landing in the hippy camp.
Beca and I grew up riding horses through the redwoods, picking huckleberries and blackberries in the summer, and trying to avoid getting shot in the hunting and pot harvest seasons. My mom and stepfather Doug were both vegetarians with a huge organic garden, which I have to admit I only appreciated for the trade in-value of our gorgeous homegrown strawberries that were swapped surreptitiously at school for white bread Fluffernutter sandwiches. I am also sorry to say that my mom’s truly gourmet whole wheat, cream cheese and artichoke-heart sandwiches ended up in the garbage can nearly every time. But growing up with hippy parents in Annapolis obviously set the stage for my (eventual) interest in organic, local, healthy gourmet vegetarian cooking, and probably gave me an early taste for marketing as well!
Beca and I spent the first couple of hours with her stepfather Bob, whose property was literally dripping with ripe apple, plum and pear trees, and left with bags of intoxicatingly ripe apples as well as several jars of Fandango Spice Garden jam which is made by Bob and Cheryl and sold in local farmers markets. They do not have a website so if you ever see it in California make sure to snatch a bottle up – it’s fantastic, with flavors like Satsuma Plum and Raspberry Shiraz. I love a fruit and wine combination!
After an afternoon of reminiscing and driving up and around the dusty back roads of Annapolis, we ended up for dinner at Doug and his wife Jane’s place - a completely craftsman yet impressively high-tech, solar powered, totally off-the-grid hand-built house with decks and studios overlooking miles of redwood-topped mountains all the way to the Pacific. We had a delicious vegetarian meal, freshly picked from the garden, and watched news of Hurricane Irene rolling towards NYC on a TV monitor larger than most NY cinema screens. It was an amazing mix of country and technology.
From the decks you could also see some new vineyards cropping up on the ridges. Recently, as with Napa Valley and the rest of Sonoma, grapes have come to Annapolis and with them a lot of controversy over clearing mountains of redwood trees to make way for Pinot grapes. I don’t have anything against a few vineyards, but I have seen how this mono-crop has eaten up much of the gorgeous diversity of the rest of Sonoma County, and I can’t tell you how sad it would be to see more redwoods cut down and more damage done to the delicate local watershed. Trees and fish are not a fair trade for wine.
This tart, full of Annapolis apples, summer blackberries and a splash of Pinot just to rile things up, was made from an afternoon full of warm childhood memories. I hope you can taste them too.
Apple Pinot Blackberry Tart
- 1 1/2 recipe Perfect Butter Crust (see below)
- 1 1/2 pints fresh ripe blackberries
- 1/2 cup agave syrup
- 1/4 cup Pinot Noir
- 6 – 7 ripe summer apples
- 1/4 cup local honey
- 6 T small pearl tapioca
- 1 t vanilla
- 1/2 t cinnamon
- pinch of salt
Make a Perfect Butter Crust ( or use your own favorite double crust recipe) using 2 cups of flour and 2/3 plus 2 T butter, and increase water slightly. Split dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other, flatten each gently and chill for 1 hour.
Roll larger crust out and line a large quiche or deep dish pie pan with dough, allowing the edges to overlap the pan slightly. Chill. Roll smaller ball out and cut into strips. Weave strips together into a lattice top and chill on wax or parchment paper for 20 minutes until firm enough to handle.
Preheat oven to 425° and prepare filling:
In a small pan, cook blackberries with Pinot and agave syrup on medium heat for 5 minutes. Allow to cool while you prepare apples. Peel and slice apples thinly, tossing in a large bowl with honey, tapioca, cinnamon and salt. Crush blackberries through a strainer, discarding seeds, and add to apple mixture. Allow to sit for 20 minutes and pour into chilled bottom tart shell, smoothing out any wayward bits of fruit on top.
Gently roll lattice top onto a rolling pin, transfer to top of fruit mixture and carefully unroll onto tart. Flute lattice and tart edges together and bake for 10 minutes in 425° oven. Turn oven down to 350° and continue baking for 1 hour until top is gently brown all over. Make sure there is a pan with foil at the bottom of the oven to catch the drips. Enjoy!