What tastes good with apples?
October 24, 2005 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I have decided to throw an apple tasting party (10 guests) this weekend using 10 – 12 different types of orchard apples sold at a local grocery store. What other foods should I have available for my guests?

Cheese, bread, wine, mulled apple cider and walnut halves come to mind but does anyone have any specific cheeses, breads or wines that taste good with apples? Any other ideas for the party?
posted by KathyK to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A very sharp cheddar does a great job of setting off apple flavors. Brie is good, but I find that it kind of masks the flavor. You might go to a good wine store and see if they have any dry artisinal ciders. They can be as good as good wine, but only if they aren't sweet. Also, get a bottle of Cavados (apple brandy) for use as an after tasting drink.
posted by OmieWise at 7:55 AM on October 24, 2005

Response by poster: Also, I'm thinking of having a description of each apple, what they taste like and what they're good for, like baking or snacking. Also I want people to be able to choose their top three favourite apples.
posted by KathyK at 7:56 AM on October 24, 2005

Peanut Butter. For dipping the apples. Also perhaps a very fruity dessert wine like a Reisling. I would also say some very good, dry soppressetta or other salami/sausage type finger food. And lots of good artisanal bread.
posted by spicynuts at 7:57 AM on October 24, 2005

Pork - specifically Pork sausages.
Some of the milder English cheeses like double gloucester or wensleydale.
posted by oh pollo! at 7:58 AM on October 24, 2005

Oh, sorry..I didn't see your More Inside part. For cheese I think that a good, milky, soft Brie goes very well with apples. Particularly because you can use apple wedges to 'dip' into the Brie. I think for bread something that has a good solid crust but a soft inside, like a baguette, is ideal for cleansing the pallete.
posted by spicynuts at 7:59 AM on October 24, 2005

In addition to regular cheese, a cheddar or colby fondue with cheese slices for dipping might be nice, both for the temperature and the textures. A French baguette, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, is perfect for the bread. Alsatian sausage is wonderful with apples. So is caramel. There are some good tips here.
posted by iconomy at 8:03 AM on October 24, 2005

I kind of respectfully disagree with the suggestions of using a sharp or strong cheese to go with the apples. If they are heirloom apples or types that are specifically grown for subtleties of taste, strong cheeses will overwhelm your ability to experience those subtleties. Cheeses with a nice salt content, and other dips of that nature, will compliment and intensify the sugars of the apples. At least that's my two cents anyway.
posted by spicynuts at 8:14 AM on October 24, 2005

A small fondue pot with melted chocolate, caramel, or some other confectionary has always gone quite far at similar parties my wife and I have thrown. A big crunchy apple smothered in melted chocolate is one step closer to my ideal life.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:21 AM on October 24, 2005

For "other ideas" I would sugges baking a few pies using the varieties as some apples are recommended more for baking than for eating raw. Maybe a couple of pies using the baking apples and one using the eating apples to illustrate. Or, just bake apple slices of ALL the varieties to compare raw versus cooked.
posted by beagle at 8:22 AM on October 24, 2005

The cider mill that I went to as a kid always had donuts to go with the cider, (esp. cake donuts with cinnamon). My dad was always found of eating popcorn and apples together.
posted by 6:1 at 8:22 AM on October 24, 2005

The Italian two-milk ("due latte") cheese called Robiola is a little stronger than brie but still creamy and is very nice with apples. But don't confuse this with cow's-milk-only Robiolas - this is the cow-and-sheep blend. You can get it from Murray's.
posted by nicwolff at 8:23 AM on October 24, 2005

We were out at Brogdale for Apple Weekend. It's the UK's national collection of apple varieties - they have over 2000 different varieties; two trees of each.

They have a database on-line of all the apples; gives more info, uses, provenance. You might find it useful.

I hope you're able to find some decent variety...not just the usual supermarket selection of long-lifers.

Salted popcorn is a good nibble aside apples.
posted by sagwalla at 8:26 AM on October 24, 2005

I love Stilton cheese with fall apples. It's tart and salty, but has creaminess as well.
posted by Miko at 8:27 AM on October 24, 2005

fond--not found, sorry.
posted by 6:1 at 8:37 AM on October 24, 2005

instead or caramel (ick) for sweet, i recommend you offer selections of regional honey which compliment the purity of the apples much better than cream and preservatives.

and you should also have a sampling of sweet & tart balsamic vinegars, which are extrodinary with apples.
posted by naxosaxur at 8:42 AM on October 24, 2005

caramel, chocolate, premade fruit dips, yogurt, etc.
posted by cass at 8:50 AM on October 24, 2005

Strange as it sounds, tuna can be really good with peaches, and I can imagine it might work with a sweet apple as well. Probably nothing tart though. YMMV.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 8:57 AM on October 24, 2005

Response by poster: Wow, there's some great suggestions here.

Sagwalla - Thanks for the database link. I had been trying to find a complete list of apples and was coming up empty.

naxosaxur - how would you serve vinegar with apples? Which balsamic vinegars do you suggest?

The peanut butter idea is good, especially for my 4 year old nephew who will be there. I'll definitely be getting some Cheddar and Brie cheese along with a fresh baguette. I'll look into the more adventurous cheeses like the Double Gloucester, Wensleydale, Robiola and Stilton. A good salami or sausage will be on the table as well. Unfortunately I won't have the time to bake pies but baked apples sound enticing for those varieties that are good for baking. I don't think I'll do the fondue idea as I've got two areas where people will be sitting and only one fondue pot. For drinks, I hope to be stopping by a cider mill in Quebec to pick up some ciders and I've also got some nice mulling spices to add to non-alcoholic apple cider. I'll look into a Reisling as well.

Some of the varieties I'll be serving are: Spy, Cortland, Macintosh, Spartan, Empire, Russet, Red and Gold Delicious, Bancroft, and Braeburn. They're all available at a local grocery store and I want my guests to be able to go there with a better sense of what they like and don't like instead of always buying the same type (which is the way I am with Spartans).

Thanks for all the great suggestions!
posted by KathyK at 9:05 AM on October 24, 2005

Crumbly hard cheeses go nicely with most apples, I find - Cheshire is good (the white type, not the red or blue) but Wensleydale is better (lovely with a slice of apple pie too). Lancashire is great with fruit as well, but only if you can get a young cheese, which is still crumbly and creamy.

Probably not ideal for your party, but well worth a try: apples fried with bacon for breakfast (I heard this suggested the other day on Radio 4, and have been eating it for every morning since! Very autumnal.)
posted by jack_mo at 9:20 AM on October 24, 2005

A really nice way to serve apples (and also something special for people to take home with them) are individual apple and sausage tarts. All you need to do is prebake the shells for about 15 minutes, and then cook down your choice of sliced, cored apples with some sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, and add that, and some crumbled sausage of your choice (a sage or alsatian is nice) to a pie shell, and top with slices of cheddar, and bake. Everything's already cooked, so basically you're warming it through, and melting the cheese. Very autumnal, and a nice parting gift, or just something to put on the table. You can make them a day ahead and reheat right before the party. Leftovers make a fabulous breakfast.
posted by iconomy at 9:26 AM on October 24, 2005

Yum, I want to have an apple tasting party now. Sounds awesome!
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:39 AM on October 24, 2005

Beemster, an 18-month aged Gouda, and gorgonzola are both lovely with apples. Good sheep's milk feta. Caramelized walnuts or chili-spiced almonds to boot.
posted by sacre_bleu at 12:50 PM on October 24, 2005

How about a palette cleanser - a jar of (fresh) coffee beans to inhale between tasting different apples, or some brewed coffee (perhaps some Jamaican Blue Mountain if you can get your hands on it)?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 12:55 PM on October 24, 2005

The Melting Pot chain has a fondue they call "Wisconsin Trio" that is excellent with tart apples: fontina, butterkase, buttermilk bleu cheese with white wine, scallions and a hint of sherry
posted by m@ at 12:55 PM on October 24, 2005

What a great idea. Lately at the supermarket I've been overwhelmed by wide variety of apples. Duh, it never occurred to me to buy one of each type and just try 'em! thanks for th inspiration.

Some people like to sprinkle salt on apples. I recently read about an apple pastry made with black pepper, and as a pepper-lover, I'd try tellicherry pepper on a crisp, uncooked apple anytime. And I'd have a shaker of sugar & cinnamon on hand for those who feel the need.

Sometime comparative tastings aren't all about purity, though I repect the desire to taste an apple on its own merits.
posted by wryly at 1:01 PM on October 24, 2005

I'd stay away from the Brie. It's not too special (brie is everywhere you go) and what's more, I think the taste is much too mild to stand up to the acidity of the apples. It's just too soft and dead on the palate to complement an apple well. Go for the Stilton! Or at least some other blues.

As to the balsamic -- that was a good suggestion. What I would do is start with a good balsamic (not the cheaper from the supermarket, often those are just regular vinegars darkened with food dye and sweetened), and make a reduction. Just simmer gently in a saute pan until the liquid is reduced by about half. You get a tangy, intense syrupy vinegar that is outstanding with fruit. Lay out a platter of thin apple wedges and just drizzle a thin stream of the vinegar reduction over your apples. Black pepper might be nice on there, too.
posted by Miko at 2:02 PM on October 24, 2005

Response by poster: Just an update - the apple tasting party was really fun! I had 14 varieties and sliced the apples into eighths and passed them around on a plate. Everyone had a piece of paper and scored each apple from 1 – 5, based on taste. The top three tasty winners were: Empire, Granny Smith and Cortland.

I picked up some cheeses and pates while on my trip to Quebec City which included: Rassembleu, a raw milk blue cheese; Riopelle de l’Isle, a raw milk soft cheese similar to Brie; Le Pizy, a soft pasteurized cheese similar to Camembert; a 4 year old sharp cheddar; a creamy Havarti; a fine herb pate and a rabbit pate with apples and cider.

Other foods that were served were: sesame crackers, 7 grain crackers, lots of baguette, apple butter, iced cider jelly, dried apple rings, dried cranberries, dried salami, pork sausage slices, and pecans and honeyed almonds and cashews.

To drink I served hot mulled apple cider, Strongbow cider and beer. While in Quebec I picked up a light cider, iced cider and a tasty apple mistelle with maple syrup from an orchard on l'Isle d'Orleans.

I also handed out gift bags that included: caramel apple chips, a tea bag of mulling spices, a tea bag of cranberry apple herbal tea, apple butter, green and red apple jelly beans, green apple licorice, green apple candy rings, and dried apple rings.

It was really fun and everyone had a good time. Thanks for all the tips and suggestions!
posted by KathyK at 6:54 AM on October 31, 2005

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