Last weekend we went to Skipley Farms to pick some apples - which seems out of character for someone who is in denial about Fall, or rather, angry that summer is coming to an end. The weather was gorgeous and we had nothing to do, so I mentioned that we go to a farm outside the city to let Sebastian run around because that's what you do with a toddler. You spend your weekends bringing them to various places to burn off energy, preferably ones away from roads and traffic and large crowds, sort of like a puppy.
We ended up at Skipley Farms, a nursery that grows over 300 varieties of apples, a dozen different seedless grapes, blueberries, cherries, pears, plums, kiwis, raspberries, blackberries, black currants, gooseberries, and jostaberries, which was printed on their website. It was early, I don't know, but we only found the grapes and apples. Once we arrived, Gil gave us an introduction to the farm and told us to take a picture of the laminated map - he carried in his back pocket - and to take another picture of the other side with a list of the apple varieties, including the ripe ones highlighted in black. Needless to say, the map was confusing, and it was early, and we got lost and found ourselves following Sebastian following a mother chicken and her chicks for 30 minutes. We decided to abort the apple mission and focus our energy and efforts on picking grapes. I didn't even know that grape picking was a thing!
Because we've had such a dry hot summer here in Seattle, the grapes are thriving. There were multiple varieties to pick from, but I wanted to fill my basket with Jupiter grapes and only Jupiter grapes. These are absolutely the best grapes that I have ever tasted. They are smallish, a deep purple color, and incredibly flavorful. They are sweet and tart and a bit acidic with a flavor similar to a merlot. If you can get your hands on these grapes I highly encourage it. We actually bought a grape seedling to plant here at home, we love them that much.
I've been mostly eating them by the handful, but because we picked so many, I've had to come up with some ways to cook with them before they turn. I don't have a lot of experience cooking or baking with grapes. I made a concord grape syrup once, that was pretty incredible, and a focaccia that was delicious. But other than those recipes, I'm at a loss.
I wanted something simple. A recipe to really showcase the flavor of the grapes. I bought a whole wheat rosemary and walnut baguette and a tub of Mt Townsend Creamery spreadable cheese and I roasted the grapes with a bit of olive oil and maple syrup and put it all together with a sprinkle of flaked Maldon salt on top. I can't even begin to explain how incredible it was. It was such a great combination of flavors and texture. This recipe, perfect for a snack or served as an appetizer, is probably one of my favorite ways to eat toast!
ROASTED GRAPE AND RICOTTA CROSTINI
makes 7 slices
prep time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 15 minutes
2 cups grapes
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 baguette, sliced
4 oz spreadable cheese (ricotta, cream cheese, or goat cheese)
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Remove the grapes from their stems (note: I roasted them on their stems in the photo above for esthetic reasons, to capture a great photo, but they are extremely difficult to remove from their stems once roasted).
Toss the grapes with olive oil and maple syrup.
Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
Toast the sliced bread.
Spread the cheese on the toast. I used a
. It has the consistency of a ricotta and the flavor qualities of cream cheese.
Top with roasted grapes and a sprinkle of salt.