Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's Apple Picking Season!

What I love most about Southern California is that we have everything we could possibly want within driving distance. Beaches, deserts, mountains, farmland. You name it, California's got it. It never ceases to amaze me what California has to offer. Take for instance, this weekend. We decided to visit Riley's Farm, located in Oak Glen which is about two hours from where we live.

Riley's Farm offers acres of U-pick fruit -- apples, cherries, berries, pears, pumpkins, peaches etc. You can find a link to their site HERE.

After a fairly quick drive (I think we made it in just 90 minutes), we found ourselves parking underneath a bountiful apple tree. We were excited! If the parking lot had apple trees bursting with such large, ripe fruit, we couldn't wait to see what the rest of orchard would look like. Mia had her heart set on a caramel apple. Evan actually wanted to press his own cider. And all I wanted was to get the perfect apples for my first attempt at making an apple pie.

The farm had a colonial schtick going. Employees were dressed in 18th century garb. They had archery classes, candle making demos, live cider pressing of your picked apples, a colonial store with homemade goodies, good old-fashioned hay rides and even live skits of colonial stories. The white and black house pictured above is actually their restaurant and bakery where they serve homemade everything -- chicken pot pie, chowder, apple turnovers, sweet potato pie, hot chocolate, hot cider -- all in the dim glow of lanterns. It was a little gimmicky; but after a while, you kinda come to appreciate the effort everyone takes to make your experience a fun one.

Varieties of apples were grouped all along the orchard, but we're talking acres of land here. The ones we wanted, Virgina Winesaps and Glen Seedlings, were all the way at the back of the orchard. Up the hill. Behind the red barn. Past the apple cider makers. Beyond the small creek. Around the bend. To the left of the pumpkin patch, and just a little further past the berry crops. In short, it was a hike. Okay, okay, I may exaggerate a little. But it took some stamina to get there, man! Mia tried to help as best she could. She insisted on carrying the camera bag. My little sweetie pie.

Though after a couple of minutes, Evan ended up carrying Mia and the camera bag. What a nice Papa! :)

When we finally found the trees we wanted, we went at it. A bit selectively at first. Here's Mia saying that this one's no good cause it's got a little blemish. But the rule is, you keep what you pick. So we went right ahead and put this one in the bag.

There were tons of smaller trees around for the kiddies to pick from, but Mia loved to get the apples high above the branches. All she needed was a little boost from her Papa.

Sato, Mia's Japanese au pair, shined a couple baby ones for them to snack on. These Stayman Winesaps really were delicious! Since it was a rather chilly autumn day, the apples were kinda cold to bite into; which made them even more delicous-tasting. Unlike what you'd get at the store, these organic apples had juicy, sparkling flavor. Seriously like apple soda! Except without the carbonation, of course.

We filled up our two bags. No sense in taking more than we needed. In the end, we walked away with Glen Seedlings (large green apples that are very tarty), Virgina Winesaps and Stayman Winesaps.

After about an hour and a half of hiking and picking fruit. We got hungry. Mia had been salivating over a chocolate chip cookie she had seen in the bakery window at the entrance of the farm. The thing was about the size of her head. Hence, here's the two of us running down the trail in hot pursuit of unusually large chocolate chip cookies.

Mama, of course, couldn't keep up. We leisurely walked the rest of the way. I mean, no sense rushing past the beautiful scenery, right?


  1. Oooh, did you bring back any for a delicious apple pie?

  2. Yep! We brought home two bags full! Now if only I can find the time... :)