Beyond Pie: SF Chefs Get Creative With Apples


Strawberries, peaches, plums and apricots—all the heavenly sweet summer fruit bombs are dwindling fast from Bay Area menus and market places. I'm feeling the loss...and drowning my sorrows in apples. With upwards of 50 varieties available at the Ferry Building farmer's market alone, chefs are throwing themselves into barrels of Winesaps, Honeycrips, Sierra Beauties and Arkansas Blacks with reckless abandon, and the possibilities are showing up in a myriad sweet and savory preparations. 

Absinthe's smoked apples with chestnuts and buttermilk

Over in Hayes Valley, Bill Corbett is the reigning pastry man, and he's working wonders with apples that are caramelized and then smoked in this new Absinthe dessert. The fruit is finished with candied chestnuts, buttermilk espuma and nasturtium flowers. Corbett says the familiarity of cooked apples eases diners into the avant garde territory of a smoked dessert. 

Txoko's bocadillo de boquerones

Chef-owner Ian Begg plays off the brininess of boquerones (marinated white anchovies) and the creaminess of chevre with rose-colored Pink Pearl apples, which bring sweetness and acidic balance to this dish. The ingredients are sandwiched between buttery brackets of pan de miel, and dramatically topped with a quivering quail egg.  

Craftsman & Wolves apple-gruyere scone

Pastry chef William Werner folds Pipin apple butter and shredded gruyere cheese into the batter for this subtly sugared scone. Werner loves the sweet and savory play of flavors here and the "less obvious" use of the fruit. 

Rich Table's pork lasagna with apples and red cabbage

Firm and tart Bramley seedling apples are the saving grace for Sarah and Evan Rich's hearty pork shoulder lasagna. Rich with braised meat and thick, creamy bechamel, the layers are embedded with crisp diced apple bits throughout. The dish is topped with peppercress and placed atop rounds of sliced raw apple, adding drama and palate-cleansing freshness. 

Scala Bistro's apple tarte tatin

Pastry chef Tim Nugent makes a classic French tarte tatin with homemade puff pastry and Cripps Pink apples. Nugent likes this apple varietal for its tartness and ability to hold its shape and flavor through the baking process. The tatin is serves with calvados ice cream Nugent makes himself. 

Bluestem Brasserie's autumn vegetable terrine

Chefs Francis Hogan chose tart Granny Smiths to bring depth to a terrine of fall vegetables. The chilled custard layers include red beet, butternut squash, cauliflower and roasted apple, alternated with toasted pistachios, and pumpkin seeds in a canning jar. The terrine is served with housemade pumpernickel bread slabs and house-smoked maple syrup. Spread and drizzle at will. 

The Abbot's Cellar's apple frangipan tart

Brand new on the menu here is Adam Dulye's apple frangipan tart, using Gravenstein apples. Since Abbot's is all about pairing, the beer sommelier recommends downing this with one a brown ale. 

Haver you tried something else amazing with apples? Share it with your fellow San Francisco eaters in the comments please. 

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