I just watched Ninja Vixens: Forbidden Paradise and–I kid you not–it was as if the filmmaker had placed a videocamera on my back, propped a window to my soul, put my thoughts on MP3, fused my tastes into a delicious new beverage, drank it, then made a movie; it was that biographical.
Hear me out, skeptical reader. NV: FP may seem like just another entry in the “Sexy Ninja Threesome” genre. After all, this is a story of “sensual sisters” who make sexy fun-time with a strapping samurai, then kick an evil demon's ass. (Saturday, chez Slab!) But it's also a poignant parable of an open-minded youngster's search for delicious. Each “vixen” strives upwards and onwards towards a Forbidden Paradise of unimaginable heights of ecstasy and flavor, while conquering dark personal demons.
Makes sense, right? Nothing in this world comes free, and only those who really want it get to taste that sweet, sweet fruit.
It's a lesson The Porkchop Express knows all-too-well, especially in the context of apples. We really like 'em, but there are so many varieties! And they all look more or less the same. How to distinguish? Which are best for eating, and which for baking? What if I want sweet, or tart, or both?
These questions aren't just academic. With apple season winding down (final fruits were picked in November) we had to figure out something but fast. So here goes, good reader... a solution whose uselessness is matched only by the time it took to iron out the details: a waxonomy, if you will, pairing apples with people.
In the spirit of Ninja Vixens: Forbidden Paradise, we are putting a face on this Edenic treat, hoping you and us both can remember some names. This should do to round waxy fruit what our Madonna map did to sandwiches, and may very well revolutionize your produce selection process for decades to come. So dig in. We sure did, gathering a few friends and a baker's dozen of apples... results below!
☺Cameo: What is Larry Blackmon up to these days? If my hunch is right, eating apples. Like this one, considerately named after his band. The Cameo is somewhere between a Macoun and a Gala: sweetness with a bit of tang, to give it some depth. Pretty juicy, and good for the dancefloor.
Verdict: a good eater.
Celebrity Match: Larry Blackmon
☺☺☺ Cortland: Tops amongst several tasters, this apple can clearly hold its own in any situation. Firm, juicy, and a bit more tart than the Empire Red. If you like your apples with a little edge, start here. Good for baking too, since it holds its shape nicely.
Verdict: versatile with character, whether raw or cooked.
Celebrity match: Benecio Del Toro
☺☺☺Cox: A classy fruit. Course skin, but what a wonderful flavor. Made tasters blurt out strange things (banana!), a testament to the complex taste. Sweet but not overbearing, with a clean finish. Too bad it's a rare breed; they're already gone for the year, so catch 'em when you can.
Verdict: a cut above; eat and enjoy.
Celebrity Match: Daniel Day-Lewis
☺☺☺Empire Red: “Now this is an apple,” raved Ms. Slab. Nice, crisp and juicy, with a dry finish. Very well-balanced between the tart and the sweet, with terrific texture. A fave amongst every taster, regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, or favorite UN Consulate. Plus, they bake well.
Verdict: a champ; nice balance; eat or cook.
Celebrity Match: Johnny Depp
☺Gala: Too sweet for me but the ladies loved it, instantly reminding me of that scene in Houseguest where Sinbad yells “Denzel!!” in an airport to start a riot. “Good for an afternoon snack,” said one sassy woman; oh behave!
Verdict: a sweet eat.
Celebrity Match: Denzel Washington
☺Golden Delicious: What a tart! Or rather, the first bite was a little tart (much to our surprise). Then sweet all... the... way... thru. Firm texture means good for baking. And while it was a bit much for some of our panel, this apple is pretty hard to complain about. Unless, of course, you're Ryan “ex-Mr. Reese Witherspoon” Phillipe. Ouch!
Verdict: a sweet eat; firm enough to bake.
Celebrity Match: Reese Witherspoon
Ida Red: Tart and mealy, just like Don Rickles. You've been warned.
Verdict: thumbs down.
☺☺Jonagold: Sweet, winey, moist and crisp. Versatile, coy and suave. Chow, Yun and Fat. Pretty smooth skin, too. An apple for any occasion? A good baking choice to boot.
Verdict: tasty, slightly tart cousin of the golden delicious; eat or bake.
Celebrity Match: Chow Yun-Fat
☺Macoun: What a tart! Yet with a sweet, sensitive heart. Extremely crisp when in season (a short Fall season, at that). Try baking with this one, especially if you want to mix up that pie filling.
Verdict: crisp; short Fall season; eat or bake
Celebrity match: Grace Park
☺☺Rubinette: I had my buddies Ruben and Jeanette try this one, as it combines both of their names. This apple is actually a cousin of the Cox, and it put up a solid front. Not as complex, but good flavor and firm texture.
Verdict: the poor man's Cox; a good eat.
Celebrity Match: Liam Neeson
Shizuka: The Jennifer Anniston of apples. Looks fine, but so freakin' boring. Is this even an apple? I literally fell asleep while eating it, and woke up somewhere in the desert with extremely dry lips and no idea what happened. The lesson being, eat at your own risk.
Verdict: who cares?
Winesap: Classy name, but surprisingly grouchy taste! Our panel pulled no punches: “unpleasantly tart”; “coarse-skinned”; awkward bursts of liquid; tannic; musky. You get the gist.
Verdict: why so tart?
Celebrity Match: Gwyneth Paltrow
Since I know you're just dyin' for an apple now, let me suggest Tree-Licious Orchards. They are run by James Edwin Jesler, whose family has been farming for 7 generations (originally in West Virginia). In addition to being a true southern gentleman with a razor-sharp memory (watch how he greets his customers), Ed also has a degree in engineering which he applies to the pursuit of the perfect apple. He is always exploring and often grows new strains, so his selection (15-20) varies weekly. Depending on the season, Ed also sells Quince, Plums and Pears. Tree-licious is located in Jersey, but they hit the NYC greenmarket circuit three times a week. Click here for their Brooklyn and Manhattan schedule, and start your very own sexy-fun apple adventure today!