Taste Testing


Courtesy DaVero

I visited Ridgely Evers and Colleen McGlynn this week at their paradisal DaVero farm, where one year I helped (lamely, like all the guests) with the olive harvest at an annual picking/eating fest they have.

As usual, they were full of new projects. McGlynn, a trained chef with experience at Stars and other high-flying San Francisco restaurants, and she applies her energy and creativity (the couple is always in motion; Evers, a longtime software developer who still drives constantly between his Healdsburg paradise, San Francisco, and the Silicon Valley, wanted to show me the new plantings, fruit and olive trees and the vines; I just wanted to stop and smell the roses that were absolutely everywhere, as they are throughout the Napa and Sonoma valleys now--and, as you'd expect in paradise, all through the summer, a farmer casually told me when I asked how long they'd be in bloom.

McGlynn showed me one small fruit tree on a hill that, she said, provided cases of jars of the Indian Red peach preserves she makes and still has some of; those, along with the plums from a handful of other trees on the hill above their house, were the jams I had to order--and I did, on the spot. You can still find some here.

And you can find the thing she put into my mouth without waiting for an okay, because I had to try it, and boy was she right: caramel apple butter slathered on a fat fresh walnut. This was apple butter without the burnt-sugar, choking graininess much apple butter has. The consistency had a bit of fine grain and was otherwise silk, with the weight that always surprises me in simple cooked-down apples. There was a bit more zing from lemon juice than I might have chosen, and McGlynn mentioned that next year she'll put in a bit less, too; but it was absolutely not too sweet, and the caramel of the cooked-down sugar not too dark. And with the crunch and tannin of the walnut it was indeed an ideal combination.


Clinoclase1981/Flickr CC

California walnuts are an overlooked regional treasure, one I plan to devote more time to researching. For now, I asked around for a source, and a farmer at a conference I've been attending at the Monterey Aquarium--a national home of sustainability and also a rich repository of my beloved sardine culture, recommends walnuts from Haag Farm, and I even found an online ordering source, here. Get out the knives for slathering, and hope to get a look at all those roses too.

Presented by

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus


Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.


Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.


How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Health

From This Author

Just In