Farm to Restaurant: Follow the Philo Golds

A Philo Gold apple on the tree

Before "farm-to-table" was a culinary craze, it was simply the way everyone ate. Today's discriminating eaters may be hyper-aware of where their food comes from, but do they know how it got there? How do farmers select their crops? Why do chefs choose a particular variety of fruit or fowl? In this occasional series we talk to producers and chefs to see how food gets from Farm to Restaurant. In this installment: Philo Golds.

Tim Bates, The Apple Farm in Philo:
"My biggest apple is what we call Philo Gold. They're basically Golden Delicious. Everybody will take a box of those. [In 1984], two thirds of this place was planted in that but nobody was buying them… I'd go to farmers markets and people wouldn't even taste them because they've had so many bad ones. We change the name to Philo Gold and everybody has a bite… In France, it's a much-coveted culinary apple… There's a rumor, I don't know how to substantiate it, says this is the first Golden Delicious crop in California."


Philo Gold Tart Tatin from Tartine BakeryChad Robertson

Liz Prueitt, Bar Tartine and Tartine Bakery
"I remember [The Apple Farm] from years ago because we used to sell at the market ourselves and would occasionally buy from them as well as a few others. We like to find purveyors who have more unusual things, which they do. Like with any farm that has a single focus, they're just very very knowledgeable about their product and the history of their product. Just for the every day customer you can read about the different varieties, where they came from, what they're good for. They really know their apples.

"We're slicing them thinly with the skin on, and folding them into the bread dough for country bread. We do all sorts of things with that. One thing is we'll serve it grilled with a pork terrine. It's kind of nice since we have the bakery working in tandem with the restaurant we're able to make a lot of sort of custom breads. Philos make for excellent tart tatin. In fact, they are traditionally used for the dish. They hold their shape and are creamy when baked, and they have a very nice sweet-tart balance. We make a traditional tart tatin by carmelizing sugar in clarified butter, then packing the peeled and cored apples into the pan."


Pork chop with suateed Philo Golds from NOPARichie Nakano

Amy Brown, NOPA pastry chef:

"We've been using their apples from the beginning. [Former NOPA buyer] Dianne Goodman passed away last year but had a strong connection with the farming community. She's known Tim for like 26 years. It was through her that we got introduced to most of the farms we use. A lot of these farms, Apple Farm being one of them, all started mid-seventies.

"In pastry I'm using them sautéed with a Johnny cake and a bacon-brittle ice cream. In the past I've used his Philo Golds sautéed with a bread pudding I do, and a black pepper ice cream. I've used his Sierra beauties for a sorbet, as well as the Philos."

Richie Nakano, NOPA savory:
"What we've done with them so far is, we roast them in our wood oven with garlic oil, chili flake, salt, and apple cider vinegar. We'll serve those with our grilled pork chop. We've also done grilled apples that way. The cook will grill them over wood and we'll toss them in a whole mustard seed vinaigrette. Or we'll use them roasted or grilled on duck legs or duck breast. Something we did last year that was really fun was an apple and Brussels sprout flat-bread. Kind of like a pizza. Top that with gruyere and arugula and that makes a really nice flat-bread."