The Aesthete

Forbidden Fruit

Heirloom apples outlawed during Prohibition have been unearthed to delicious effect

by Kiri Tannenbaum

There is nothing rare about apples. They are ubiquitous on Parisian menus in the form of tarte Tatin, and in the States we spend the fall months digging into American apple pie. Jonagolds, Pink Ladys and Macouns are omnipresent at greenmarkets while a bounty of Red Delicious, McIntosh and Granny Smiths dominate grocery stores. All of these varieties, though, pale in comparison to what pastry chef Heather Carlucci considers her top pick: the heirloom apple.

These exceptional fruits are considered to be the oldest apples in the world, but sadly their cultivation lay dormant for the last century. Along with alcohol, several strains of apples were outlawed during Prohibition as they were used in production of hard cider. Providentially, the seeds were saved and now farmers in the Northeast have resurrected these wondrous edibles. Names like Ribston Pippin, Esopus Spitzenberg and the Calville Blanc d’Hiver – a 400-year-old apple of French descent reminiscent of an heirloom tomato with its curvy shape – are just a few to look for. At Print, the locavore restaurant inside Ink48 Hotel, Carlucci serves what she calls “farmy” desserts. Thanks to an in-house forager, all of the ingredients used in the restaurant and room service are sourced straight off the farmer’s truck or from local artisans. (Its ricotta comes from Salvatore Bklyn in Brooklyn.)

“What’s great about a delicacy is that you don’t need to mess with it,” Carlucci says. “It should be extraordinary on its own and require minimal cooking or seasoning. And there’s no need to futz with it or make it foam.”

Time to take a bite!

Recipe