To Ampleforth Abbey on a glorious autumn morning for lunch with Father Rainer, (and two dozen other guests), the keeper of Ampleforth’s unique and ancient apple orchard.
The occasion was the launch of his newest brew: Ampleforth Amber, a combination of aged cider brandy and apple juice, ‘like a French pommeau’ we were told and served as an aperitif or a digestif with cheese or dessert.
The lunch was as special as you might expect from top chefs Andrew Pern of the Star Inn at Harome, Stephanie Moon of Rudding Park and Darren Clemmit of the White Swan at Pickering with every course featuring apples from the orchard.
If you’ve never visited the Ampleforth orchard, it is a delight especially when 2000 trees of 40 different varieties bloom in spring. Father Rainer began juicing in 2001 after a surfeit of apples – the schoolboys prefer Mars bars these days – had to be pulped. From apple juice he progressed to cider, cider brandy and now pommeau.
You can buy the orchard produce from a few local outlets and from the Abbey shop. Open Mon-Sat 10.30pm-12.20pm & 2.30pm-4.30pm Sun 11-12 noon 01439 766778 or online www.visitors.ampleforth.org.uk
The orchards are open to visit Mon-Fri 2.30pm-4pm July-November but check first with Father Rainer 01439 766000