The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

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Devoto Gardens apples

It felt like a stroke of good luck to be invited to visit Devoto Gardens a few weeks ago. Visiting an apple orchard was on my fall to-do list and the season was nearly up.

Devoto Gardens

The Friday that I headed up to their gorgeous Sebastopol acreage, it was pouring rain. I love crazy weather, perhaps because it’s so infrequent here in mild-mannered coastal California. So rain wasn’t gonna stop me from this much-anticipated apple tour. And farmers, of course, are a sturdy breed. They have no choice but to tolerate unpredictable weather. So it wasn’t gonna stop them either.


Hunter and Jolie are awesome. They are totally apple-obsessed, exactly the kind of folks you want to be growing and celebrating apples. They were so well-versed in the nuances of texture and flavor of all kinds of heirloom apple varieties – gorgeous, tart, complex fruits that put supermarket apples to sad shame.


And the photos that I have from the day make me so unbelievably happy. I love the dramatic moodiness of the orchard at the end of its run, the water-soaked landscape, the dedicated kitty who followed us everywhere, and their willingness to share their life and passion with me.


I wanted to make something that celebrated the hard cider – Apple Sauced – that Hunter and Jolie create with heirloom Gravenstein apples. And this time of year, mulled cider is a comfort. It’s fortified with bourbon for added oomph and spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper and ginger. It tastes like late fall heaven.

Spiced Bourbon Cider

Mulled Bourbon Cider

Serves 4

22 ounce bottle of hard, dry cider – find Devoto at Bay Area farmers’ markets
4 ounces quality bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark or Bulleitt
4 tablespoons honey
8 slices (quarter-sized, roughly) fresh ginger
8 cardamom pods
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Lady apples, sliced thinly on a mandoline, for garnish

In a medium pan over low heat, combine the cider, bourbon, honey and spices. Bring to the gentlest simmer, then immediately turn off heat and cover. Let steep for at least an hour. I like to let it steep for longer; it will get spicier as it sits, so taste it every so often to make sure it doesn’t go beyond your tastes for ginger and black pepper.

If it has cooled to room temperature, gently reheat over a low flame.

Devoto Gardens

  • Kay - Beautiful…and yes, as an organic farmer in Oregon I can testify that you definitely cannot let the rainy weather slow you down! Once you adapt it is easy to appreciate the “moody” beauty as you put it (mud and all). Your mulled bourbon cider looks like the perfect way to enjoy those apples!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - These photos!!!! Stunning. Love!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - What an incredible looking orchard, and what a treat to see your photos of it. I love how you take us from the dramatically laden branches and wet-black of the bark to the sweet and elegant lady apples and all that warm spiciness. I can imagine that a cup of your cider would have been perfectly appreciated coming in from that adventure!ReplyCancel

  • Margaret - I wanted to reach into the photographs and pick an apple. I imagined the crisp crunch and sweet taste. The apple orchard radiates the feelings of health and quality grown from the fertile earth. The cider must burst with the taste of apples. What a find in this farm and its apple growers.ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn - Really beautiful pictures – I love the way you captured the light of the day so perfectly. And a very delicious recipe to go with it :)ReplyCancel

  • Sasha - What dreamy photos! I love hearing about the strong and passionate personalities that grow our food.

    I didn’t make it to an apple orchard this year, but I’ll certainly add it to next year’s list.ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan - Gorgeous photos! Love the cider recipe as well!ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food - This place looks amazing, as does this bourbony concoction… why aren’t we sipping on this together right now (yeah, I know… it’s 8:30 here. I don’t care).ReplyCancel

  • michelle dehaven - really stunning photos! recipe looks pretty perfect, too.ReplyCancel

  • mimi - oh my. such lovely photographs.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - Having spent my childhood on an apple orchard, these photos made me pretty misty. Your talent, as always, shines through.ReplyCancel

  • Tasha @ Stale Bread into French Toast - Those. photos. are. gorgeous. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Bob - Your photos are absolutely beautiful & insightful!ReplyCancel

  • Diana - I miss fall! It’s so great that you’re still able to visit an apple orchard in November. Great photos as always, Kimberley!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique - Love the photos, and that cat is so perfect in the setting! I make mulled cider often this time of year. It just makes the house so cozy and festive. I’ve never used cardamom (why I LOVE) in my mulling spices- gotta try that!ReplyCancel

  • SG - amazing! that kitty in the tree is the best. and the name – apple sauced! what a glorious adventure!ReplyCancel

  • Courtney - I have wanted to visit an apple orchard for so long, but they are rare in my part of Texas. Perhaps someday :) I love that you spiked this mulled cider with bourbon. Hoping to make (and enjoy) some soon!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - Fall heaven indeed. I will be making this concoction this weekendReplyCancel

  • Louisa - So beautiful! Made my day. If you don’t mind, what are the orange variety in the third photo down? I’ve never seen those!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy - THE TINY APPLES! They are unspeakably adorable. (Also, I love the deep colors in these photos, and this coziest of cozy drinks!)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne - Those water droplets hanging on the apples in the first photo… so pretty. Love this recipe, too.ReplyCancel

  • MikeVFMK - Love this cocktail. I made something similar so it goes without saying that I have a deep rooted love for bourbon and cider. Wish I could be sipping on this right now. Beautiful pics too!ReplyCancel

  • Fork and Whisk - Great photos. I live visiting the apple orchards and getting some fresh cider and just picked apples. Good job toughing out the rain by the way.ReplyCancel

    so for our marm & daughter dinner,
    marisa is bringing butternut squash quinoa
    kel will bring a salad
    & we are making roasted/herbed potatoes (& brussel sprouts?) with raclette cheese!

    & I want to make this cider! & the following email of bourbon balls haha!
    & I will buy some La Duree macaroons!

    I love youReplyCancel

  • Ashley - This recipe sounds absolutely amazing, and your photos are beautiful! Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Viola - Your’e pictures is so amazing! Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Erssike - These foods both need dry, high-acid ciders. Devoto Orchards Save the Gravenstein or Farnum Hill Extra Dry fit the bill perfectly. Save the Gravenstein is bright and fruity with plenty of tartness; it’s almost as though it’s designed to lift up heavy flavors. Farnum Hill’s Extra Dry is legendary for its savory complexity and ability to just ride the edge of farmy and funky.ReplyCancel

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