Anybody else lucky enough to live in a place where you can buy unpasteurized apple cider?
So that you can buy two gallons at a time, as we sometimes do, and put one aside to start turning fizzy while we drink the other fresh? That second one stays sweet, unlike the pasteurized, which go sour, and is quite the treat. You know, with a little kick and fine bubbles.
Our usual source is a small roadside enterprise across the river in Eliot, Maine – King Tut’s, run by one line of the Tuttle clan, open weekends only from early autumn till Christmas or New Year’s, depending on the supply. They’ve been at it since 1903.
Other folks may be putting pumpkin in just about everything from beer to doughnuts as their autumn observance, but for us, cider’s the thing. Along with a few indulgences with pears, the ones that are properly ripened with no hint of graininess. (Poached makes for a very elegant breakfast or brunch.)
I think it was Confucius who insisted on no food out of season or place, which is fine in theory but impractical in regions like New England or the Upper Midwest. Still, it’s something I follow when I can, starting with the dandelion greens and asparagus in spring, glorying in nearly daily tomato sandwiches in August and September, and culminating in the brussels sprouts we harvest at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
What do you indulge in along these lines?
In my novel Nearly Canaan, Joshua and Jaya settle into a place unlike anything they would have imagined. Though they live in desert, it still spawns salmon.
Oh, what a fish.
- There are eight commercially important species of salmon in the Pacific, and nine in the Atlantic.
- Some species can reach five feet in length and 110 pounds in weight.
- The body color changes, depending on habitat and the mating seasons. It’s not always the dark orange we see on our dinner plate.
- They have a lot of natural enemies, including big fish, whales, sea lions, and bears. Commercial and sport fishermen take a big toll, too.
- They’re healthy food, rich in proteins, Vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- They can survive three to eight years in the wild.
- They travel thousands of miles from their freshwater spawning areas out to the sea and then return to their birthplace to spawn more. They can climb up to 7,000 feet elevation from the sea to accomplish this. Most will then die of exhaustion.
- They do not eat any food during the time they swim upstream to spawn.
- Swimming upstream, they can jump two yards in the air.
- A female Chinook salmon can carry more than 4,000 eggs.
A few more years ago than I’d like to admit, we were enjoying a special dinner in Portland, Maine, where our waitperson recommended a bottle of wine to accompany our dishes. We trusted her enthusiasm and agreed to go a few dollars higher than our usual ceiling.
It was well worth it and, as we learned later, the restaurant was pricing the bottle at retail rather than the usual three- or four-times any store tag. More points.
We took one sip and knew this was like no other white wine we’d had before – or, for that matter, since, not even from the same winery. It must have been a superfine vintage. It had an edge we could only describe as stony – something crisp, clear, sharp. And it did, indeed, enhance our five-star experience.
Trying to find that edge again has become something of an ongoing challenge. We’ve had some fine sauvignon blanc bottles since, but the holy grail remains a quest.