Mario Batali takes us along an apple's journey from the farm to his classic Tarte Tatin.
If you visit Northern Michigan in the summer, you'll find both tourists and seasonal residents alike donning cherry t-shirts, sipping cherry-mocha truffle lattes, and flying in and out of Cherry Capital Airport. In the summer, Northern Michigan is one big cherry celebration. But it’s the few weeks post-cherry harvest that I really love: apple harvest. And though the cherry is the renowned fruit of the region, the apple runs a seriously close second, thanks in part to Jim Bardenhagen.
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Jim Bardenhagen of Bardenhagen Farms in Suttons Bay, Michigan is my neighbor, my friend, and one of my food heroes. Like all family-run farms, Bardenhagen farms is a 365 days-a-year job. Not only do Jim and his family work incredibly hard to maintain their sixth-generation farm, but they put a ton of work and dedication into educating and sustaining the agricultural community. Because to Jim, it’s more than just a farm. It’s a legacy and an evolution.
When I wrote America Farm to Table, I wanted to spotlight the work that Jim and other farmers do by detailing the great amount of time and work that goes into the creation of everything we eat. Chefs sometimes get all the glory, but the real heroes are the people who create and provide our food. The farmers are the true rock stars.
This video, part of a series called "Table to Farm," celebrates both the cook and the farmer by taking a reverse journey of one ingredient (in this case, the apple), as it travels from the plate back to the orchard, and finally to the tree. My hope is that this perspective gives people a deeper appreciation for the farming process and highlights the amount of care and work that goes into our food supply.
The classic Apple Tarte Tatin in it is one of my favorite fall desserts as well as an ode to my adopted home of Northern Michigan. As a Washington native, it’s tough for me to admit that any other state’s apples would even come close to rivaling those of the northwest. But Jim Bardenhagen’s apples just might. Maybe it’s because I now know how much love and work goes into them each year.
5 medium Crimson Crisp Apples, or another tart apple, such as Granny Smith Juice of 1/2 lemon 1 cup sugar 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter One 14-ounce box frozen puff pastry; thawed but kept chilled 1 cup sour cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream
Mario Batali counts 25 restaurants, 11 cookbooks, numerous television shows and the 50,000-square-foot Eataly marketplace among his ever-expanding empire of deliciousness. His latest book is "America Farm to Table: Simple, Delicious Recipes Celebrating Local Farmers" (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014).