Last week I got invited to a really exciting evening at Monks Farm in Sittingbourne, Kent to celebrate the British Apple & Pear season. The evening included an orchard tour, a meal cooked by Chef, Marcus Bean and lots of drinks. Adventures in Fruit were serving up some of the local produce in the form of cider, cocktails and freshly squeezed juice. YUM!
The night started off with the Orchard Tour, I never realised I had these beautiful orchards right on my doorstep, the fields are gorgeous and the orchards were brimming full of delicious looking apples, we were even told to grab one off the tree and tuck in. The British apples grown there are out of this world and some exclusively grown for Marks and Spencer, like the Amelia apple. Other varieties grown on the farm include braeburn, jazz, bramley and cox apples and some unusual varieties such as the p’apple and smitten apple. The growers in the area also grow fruit like pears, mainly conference pears, apricots and plums. You can check out local and British produce seasons on the Adventures in Fruit’s website.
You can see how much time, pride and dedication go into these orchards and farms, a lot of the growers are 2nd or 3rd generation with children of their own hoping to continue the legacy.
Later in the evening we were treated to some live music and canapes before our sit down dinner. Of course the canapes showcased the apples and pears and as I was driving I helped myself to a couple of glasses of fresh pear and apple juice. Live music filled the tent as I mingled with growers, testers, Marks and Spencer employees and other bloggers.
Marcus Bean and his crew from his Brompton cookery school were starting to prepare our dinner, a whole table full of salads, sides and chutneys stood at the end of the room, while the chefs were starting to take orders of our little individual wood fire baked pizzas. Again the pizzas were making the most of the local fruit, I had the ham hock with apple, other flavours were duck and pear and pear, cheese and walnut. My pizza was delicious and I wolfed every last bit of it down. We finished the meal with a lovely fruit fool with cream, stewed apples and pears topped with honeycomb.
The evening ended with a bit of a Q & A with the growers, it was lovely to get an insight into their life and work, for example every time it hails, apple growers or I suppose any soft fruit growers can reduce a crop being worth a million quid down to just 100,000. I’ll never look at hail stones the same way.
All in all a successful evening and it definitely opened my eyes up to the lovely produce available here in Kent.
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed my experience.
(the girl who never wears white)