Judging the Love Apple Festival

by Grace Boyle on September 19, 2011

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It never ceases to amaze me how many food events, meetups and festivals the Boulder/Denver area has. I (ahem, my belly) should know!

Recently, one event stood out to me. As I was flying back from a business trip the first week in September, I received a call about judging the upcoming Love Apple Festival on September 10th in Boulder.

Being Italian, the love apple (read: tomato) is deeply engrained into our food and culture. It is the root of many dishes. That said, growing up, I coined myself a “bad Italian” since I didn’t care much for tomatoes. At least, not desiring to bite into a tomato like my dear mother does (granted, they’re fresh from her garden).

Nonetheless, this was my first food judging opportunity, so I accepted the offer as I was curious to learn more and help offer my opinion.

Saturday, September 10th I joined my fellow judges: Beth Pilar Whole Foods’ Cooking Coach, Bradford Heap Chef and Owner of Salt Bistro and Colterra, Judy Seaborn, co-owner of Broomfield-based Botanical Interest and her daughter, Sophia, a proclaimed tomato lover.

There were 150 attendees and 78 tomato varieties to sample. That’s right. Us judges had 78 tomatoes to sample and rate. ::Gulp::

What an experience it was. At first, it was fun seeing which plate of tomatoes (blind test, no label, just a number marker) were coming down our judging line.

We shared our thoughts: too mealy, very juicy, beautiful color, probably a beefsteak, bitter, oh this is interesting, yuck! We ranked based on color, flavor, texture and an overall score of 1-10, 10 being the absolute best.

At around tomato #25 we became weary. A bit of palette fatigue, if you will. Bradford and I resolved to spitting (much like wine tasting) near the end, to ensure we had full flavor taste, but couldn’t handle eating almost 100 tomato samples. After about an hour of tasting and judging, the results were in. We had pages of notes.

The winner:

Green Doctors!

Sungold, Japanese Black Trifele, Super Sweet 100, Chadwick and Snow White Cherry were tied for second.

Green Doctors are a beautiful, green cherry tomato named after two tomato experts, Dr. Amy Goldman and Dr. Carolyn Male.

It was such an interesting experience and to my surprise, challenging. Judging is a different art than having a delicious meal. It requires a sharp palette and strength. I did love learning the varieties that stood out the most, especially on Colorado soil.

Check out Cindy Sutter’s review of the festival on the Daily Camera for more.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Boulder Locavore September 19, 2011 at 8:38 am

You have rock star status in my book! As delicious as this sounds in the read, this volume of tasting ANYTHING sounds pretty rigorous. Sheepishly I’ll admit I’ve not even heard of this ‘festival’ so bravo for getting it on the local map for those of us uninformed.


Grace Boyle September 19, 2011 at 9:00 am

It was difficult! Everyone agreed on that – what an experience. I hadn’t heard of the festival either – now we know 🙂


James Ryan Moreau September 19, 2011 at 11:29 am

I remember everyone wanted to eat BLT’s by the end of this WITHOUT tomato. I think even you would have been on board with that!


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