3 out of 5 stars
There is something quite magical about orchards. The most impressive that I have been to is the one at Brogdale in Kent. Not only is it vast, but the work that they do on fruit varieties benefits us all. My favourite orchard is the little community one in Bridport tucked away behind the houses and alongside the church; you’re not far from the road, but it is still a little haven of tranquillity. I would love to have enough land to have space for one, but I have to make doo with the half dozen or so trees that we have at home.
Another man who has dreamt of having his own orchard, is Raymond Blanc. He has fortunately been in a position to be able to do just that. At his award-winning hotel-restaurant in Oxfordshire, he has been able to just do that. He currently has about 2500 trees planted there, including ancient and forgotten varieties of British apples and pears, as well as 600 or so French varieties as well. On top of that, he has walnut trees, quince, medlars, apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, damsons and cherries. It provides him with over 30 tonnes of fruit each year.
In this book, he has picked a number of his favourite varieties to write about and to cook with. There is a page on each type with a little history, some growing notes. He has also cooked each apple variety in three ways, puree, baked and in a Tarte Tatin. For the other fruits, he has chosen other cooking methods as well as tasting them raw.
It is really nicely produced book, full of black and white sketches and a smattering of colour photos. He is selecting a lot of the varieties that he is picking on the basis of their flavour, he is a cook after all. He quite often would be grading the apples and saying that he had picked them at the wrong time, and would be wondering of they would be better if picked at the correct time. Well, yes they probably would… I would have liked to have seen more photos of his orchard. Not a bad book overall. If you want to read more about orchards, I’d recommend, The Apple Orchard by Pete Brown and the Common Ground Book Of Orchards.