Comfort me with apples,” Solomon said, “for I am sick of pumpkin spice.” Or something to that effect.
Now, that isn’t to say we’re not fans of the ubiquitous seasonal flavor that has worked its way into everything from lattes and oatmeal to cookies, to canned whipped cream, to beer and rum—though we must admit that once SPAM got in on the act, that nutmeggy, cinnamony, clovey blend may have crossed the Rubicon.
Apples, however, have been an under-appreciated aspect of the fall menu beyond the classic pie and nostalgic caramel-covered version on a stick. With an AppleTini (keep reading) in hand, we raise a toast to 10 terrific takes and twists on Newton’s favorite fruit right here in the Hamptons and on the North Fork.
Apples originated in Asia, and using them as a pie filling has been dated as far back as the early 1300s in England, but it is impossible to argue that few if any culinary creations are as American as mom and apple pie as, well, apple pie itself. The great pie debate has raged here on the East End for more years than anyone cares to remember, and there are tasty variations across both forks, but when it comes to pure apple, plain and simple, Hallock’s Cider Mill in Laurel is a must-try.
Apple pies need not be defined by apples alone. Mix them with rhubarb or pears or pecans and the pie can be transformed into something new. Mixing bright apples with dark fruit is the secret to sensational in the Riverhead revelation that is Briermere Farms’ Blackberry Apple Pie.
Apple dumplings come in all shapes and sizes, can be eaten anytime from breakfast through dessert, and come plain or sugar-coated…well, at least they do at Beach Bakery & Grand Café in Westhampton Beach, where the irresistible dumpling is softball-sized, a whole peeled, baked apple and some caramel wrapped inside a decadent blanket of dough.
America’s first apples were not grown to be eaten, but rather to be pressed into cider. You’ll find very good versions of the drink across both forks at u-picks and farm stands, hot and cold alike, but it’s hard to beat the crisp cider sips you’ll get at Wickam’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue, made from a press—Long Island’s oldest, they say—that has been in use for more than 100 years.
There’s cold cider, there’s cider on ice, and then there’s there the cider slushee at Hank’s Pumpkintown in Water Mill. Can cider-cicles be far behind?
Hard cider’s popularity has escalated in recent years on the East End, evolving from a rare treat to a popular year-round libation. Try a flight of various styles at Woodside Orchards in Aquebogue, and make sure to sample the trifecta of rosé, white and red cider at Sagaponack’s Wölffer Estate Vineyard, all part of the Wölffer No. 139 Hard Cider line, named for their address at 139 Sagg Road.
No harvest-season activity would be complete without the accompaniment of a warm bag of just-made apple cider donuts at Fairview Farm at Mecox in Bridgehampton. Make sure you grab an extra bag for sustenance as you enter their corn maze.
Or maybe you call it apfelstrudel. Either way, this concoction of apples and buttery pastry is, at its best, flaky and fruity—and it is at its best for a sit-down dessert at Shippy’s Pumpernickels in Southampton or a take-on-on-the-go approach with the homemade flair of Junda’s Pastry, Crust & Crumbs in Jamesport.
Magic Fountain in Mattituck is renowned for its rotating lineup of fanciful flavors, not just in summertime but throughout the seasons, and a cone of their Caramel Apple—apples, cinnamon and caramel—means fall is in the air…and on your cone.
North Fork Chocolate Company takes the concept of local pairings to a whole new level with its Apple Cider Bon Bon—local cider reduced down to caramel that’s finished with butter inside pure Belgian milk chocolate.