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These days my favorite way to enjoy an apple is to get up early, wrap myself in a kimono and walk outside toward one of the apple trees that surround my home in west Sebastopol. I reach for the ripest-looking fruit and if it falls into my hand with little coaxing, I understand that I am in for a treat.

Listening to the mockingbirds? morning serenade, I lift the dew-drenched fruit toward my mouth, take that first bite and let the cool juices flood my palate.

Ahh, Sebastopol, in the middle of summer.

Apples have always provided a private, singular, pristine pleasure. It?s not the aroma of an apple pie or the lusciousness of a warm apple turnover that fills me with nostalgic pleasure. Rather, it is a moment here and a moment there, alone or nearly so, spread over a lifetime.

Three apples stand out among the hundreds I have enjoyed. There?s the green Pippin that I ate as I leaned against my mother watching the ?Walt Disney Show? while recovering from some childhood illness. Although I was not yet 4, the memory of the taste is so vivid it could have been yesterday that I savored it.

There?s the Red Delicious from a grocery store in Vallejo one Halloween night just before heading out for a night of trick-or-treating. It had an irresistible perfume and I devoured it in the car as my mother drove the short distance to our house.

It would be decades before I encountered an apple as delightful as those two. But in the fall of 2002, a year after my friends Jim and John had bought Dos Reis, a 15-acre apple farm not far from where I live, we were strolling the rows of old carefully pruned trees, heavy with ripe fruit.

One tree caught my eye.

It was a loner, leaning against the barn away from the others, gnarled and sickly looking, hardly a tree at all. It seemed more a collection of ancient branches, many of them broken. Hanging from the frail branches were a few scarlet spheres, shimmering in the afternoon sun; they seemed like gifts from unknown ancestors, the ones who once tended the long-neglected tree.

It was a Red Delicious, John said, a variety that does not have a reputation for either great taste or pleasing texture.

At home that night, I took a bite of one of the apples and my mouth was instantly filled with delicious flavors, of the Red Delicious that thrived in spite of decades of neglect and of all those apples that have left their juicy, fragrant trail in my memory and in my heart.

Now is the time to enjoy our Gravenstein apples. The Gravenstein is reliably delicious, one of the most flavorful apples in the world. It is also the most ephemeral of apples; it softens quickly and is not built for storage, as later apples are. It will be celebrated on Sunday at the Sebastopol farmers market.

For years I enjoyed the blood sausage served with sauteed apples and potatoes at San Francisco?s South Park Cafe (108 South Park), a wonderful little place that is like a short trip to Paris. It is easy to make at home.

Boudin Noir with Apples and Potatoes

Makes 3 to 4 servings

1pound new red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into thick wedges

?Kosher salt

?Juice of 1 lemon

3 to 4apples, preferably Gravensteins

6 to 8boudin noir (blood sausage), see Note below

3cups white wine

4tablespoons butter

?Black pepper in a mill

3tablespoons brandy or Calvados

2 to 3handfuls watercress or arugula

Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water, add a generous tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Drain and spread in a single layer on a sheet pan or plate. Set aside.

Fill a bowl half full with water and add the lemon juice.

Peel and core the apples and cut them into thick wedges roughly the same size as the potato wedges; drop them into the lemon water and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Put the boudin noir into a heavy saute pan, add the wine and set over medium high heat. Poach the sausages, turning them in the wine now and then, until they firm up, about 10 minutes. Transfer the sausages to a serving platter and put the plate in the oven. Discard the poaching liquid.

Drain the apples and pat them dry with a tea towel.

Return the saute pan to the heat, add 3 tablespoons of the butter and when it is melted add the potatoes and apples. Saute, turning now and then, until both are evenly browned and tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the sausages from the oven and add the sauteed potatoes and apples to the platter.

Return the pan to the heat, add the brandy or Calvados and swirl the pan to pick up the drippings. Season with salt and pepper, add the remaining butter and swirl gently until the butter is just melted. Pour over the potatoes and apples. Add the watercress or arugula to the platter and serve immediately.

Note: Boudin noir ? blood sausage ? is available in many markets; if you don?t see it, ask the butcher or a sales clerk. You can find a delicious version at the Fatted Calf in Napa?s Oxbow Public Market.

This is my favorite way to prepare apples and it is never better than when I have the year?s first Gravensteins. Sometimes I add about ? teaspoon chipotle powder to the cinnamon mixture and brush the cooked tart with a hot pepper jelly. If you like a pleasing spark of heat in sweet foods, consider trying it.

Thin-Crusted Apple Tart

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1cup all-purpose flour

?teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

?cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in pieces and chilled

3 to 4tablespoons ice water

?Juice of 1 lemon

3 to 4apples

3tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3tablespoons sugar

?teaspoon ground cinnamon

3tablespoons apple jelly or other jelly, warmed

Place the flour and ?teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl, add the butter, and use your fingers, a fork or a pastry cutter to work the butter into the flour, so that it forms an evenly crumbly mixture, working quickly so the butter stays cold. Add 3 tablespoon of ice water and mix together quickly with your finger or a fork. Do not overmix or overwork the dough. Gather it up into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and chill it for an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the apples. Fill a medium bowl half full with water and add the lemon juice. Peel the apples, cut them in half through their cores, and use a sharp knife or melon baller to remove the cores and flower and stem ends. Drop the peeled apples into the acidulated water so they do not brown. Cut the apples into thin (i.e., 1/8-inch at their thickest part) lengthwise slices and return them to the water.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out the dough on a well-floured work surface so that it forms a circle about 1/8-inch thick and 10 to 11 inches in diameter. Carefully transfer it to a baking sheet. Turn in the outer edge to form a ?-inch rim; press the rim into place with the tines of a fork. Use the tips of the fork?s tines to prick the tart in several places.

Drain the apples, shaking them vigorously to remove as much water as possible. Set them on a tea towel and pat them dry. Arrange a circle of apple slices, overlapping them slightly, near the outer rim of the dough. Continue adding apples in concentric circles that overlap each other slightly. Use a pastry brush to brush the apples and the outer rim of dough with the butter; use all of the butter. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of salt and sprinkle the mixture over the apples.

Bake the tart until the apples are cooked and the crust is golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool for 5 minutes. Set the tart on a serving plate and gently brush the top of it with the hot jelly.

Cut the tart into wedges and serve.

Michele Anna Jordan hosts ?Mouthful? each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 91.1 FM. E-mail Jordan at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

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