I had meant to get a post up for my Thursday slot, but something got in the way. That something was the nearly six hours my boyfriend, my mother and I took to attend opening day at Dixon's Apples. Nestled in a valley in the Jemez, Dixon is in a beautiful setting just beyond Tent Rocks National Monument and Cochiti Lake. The header pic is a view from a hike well above the orchards. Those are the apple trees in the middle.

Opening day marks the release of Dixon's Champagne and Red Delicious apples. Sparkling Burgundy and Red Rome come later. The Champagnes are by far my favorite. These compact green apples often have a little red blush on their cheeks. I have made many apple pies with them, including my green chile cheddar apple pie (yum!) experiment from last year.

Word gets out when the orchard opens for the season. We joined a long line of cars as we neared where the road turns to dirt about two miles from the orchard. Triumphant apple eaters passed us heading out, smiling and tucking into their bounty. You could see the huge piles of bagged apples filling up truck beds and back seats. One kind soul reached a hand out from a car and passed a fresh Champagne over to us with the same gravitas as handing off the Olympic flame.

There is something about opening day that brings out a camaraderie in the brave souls that are willing to sit for a couple of hours in their cars and creep slowly ever closer to the orchard. Aside from the road rager who tried to run us off on our way over (I'm looking at you, white Nissan with the NM Tech plates that ended up three cars in front of us in line), everybody else was cheery and friendly. We made friends with a Rio Rancho cowboy behind us who came up to lean on the car and chat about family history.

Naturally, I forgot my camera. The pics here are from last week when I was out hiking in Cochiti Canyon. If you're feeling peppy, I recommend going for a hike there and stopping by the orchard to get your apples in the same day. Apples go by the half bushel at $15 per bag. You can also pick up some the cider that is a blend of all four varieties. Be sure to grab a wheelbarrow before you get in line to carry your apple-tastic burden back to the parking lot.

I can see how the orchard sells out of fruit every year. This a wonderful New Mexico tradition that really marks the beginning of fall for many people. Green chile roasting. A chill in the evening air. Dixon Champagne apples. Everything is coming together quite nicely.

Views: 172

Comment by Laura on September 24, 2010 at 2:23pm
I'm jealous. We haven't yet made it up to Dixon's. But since our favorite local apple growers have been curiously absent from the Corrales Grower's Market this year, we might try to squeeze it in. Maybe after trying to spot wild turkey in the nearby canyons. (Thanks for the tip!)

Sigh. . . Once you've had the real thing, it's hard to choke down the starchy, tasteless knobs of mush that pass for apples throughout the rest of the year.
Comment by Edith Grove on September 24, 2010 at 9:42pm
I just asked my knowledgeable boyfriend and he says, yes you are correct on your peak identification.
Comment by AriesSweet on September 26, 2010 at 10:48am
I'm so excited for today. This will be my first experience. I never knew about Dixon's and I've lived here for almost four years now. My boyfriend (Ron da Bomb) is taking me out there today. Not to mention, I've never really been out to the Jemez. I'm looking forward to it. I'm so grateful to have met my boyfriend (and again I must shout out I met him right here on DCF) because he is my new Albuquerque tour guide! LOL.
Comment by AriesSweet on September 26, 2010 at 9:29pm
We went out there today (Sunday) around 1:00 and the Champagnes were SOLD OUT. Maybe next year.
Comment by Edith Grove on September 26, 2010 at 10:50pm
Wow! I wonder if there is an underground black market for Champagne apples.
Comment by Edith Grove on September 27, 2010 at 11:16am
Sophie- the NY Times Menu Cookbook is out of print. I have the regular Claiborne New York Times cookbook, but it doesn't have an apple pie recipe. We're searching used books to see if we can find the other one.
Comment by Ron Da Bomb on September 27, 2010 at 6:00pm
Funny, I've heard reference to the NY Times Cookbook from about four different sources over the last few days, and I never even knew it existed! Then today, while browsing thru a used/consignment store on Menaul (in the old Unpainted Furniture building), I came across this. Two bucks. I guess I shoulda bought it to shelve between my Joy of Cooking and Simply Simpatico.


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