This Baked Brie En Croute with Caramelized Apple and Onion Compote is a perfect easy but fancy appetizer that pairs great with a glass of wine!
My perfect day is this: a crisp fall afternoon with the sun shining, the leaves changing colors before my eyes, and a cozy sweater to keep me warm. Wandering through rows and rows of apples, picking the ones that look the best, with visions of apple goodies that I’ll make running through my head.
If there’s one thing that I must do every fall, it is visit an apple orchard. While I’ve been to a few different orchards, since I’ve lived in multiple places, I have to say my absolute favorite is Wilson Farm Apple Orchard which is just outside of Iowa City. The trek itself to Wilson’s Farm is worth the drive, as you wind through the rolling cornfields of Iowa, filled with greens, yellows, oranges, and little spots of red. Arriving at Wilson’s, tucked away on a gravel road, you are greeted by families, couples, and friends, all out to enjoy the day and see what adventures the apple orchard will bring.
Now that I live in Minnesota, I haven’t had a chance to visit Wilson’s in a few years, so I took advantage of a recent weekend back in Iowa to spend some time at the orchard. The thing that I love about Wilson’s is that it’s not just an apple orchard, but also a nature walk. It’s set on 30 acres of rolling hills, complete with a pond and foot bridge so while you’re out hand-picking Honeycrisps, you can enjoy a nice walk too.
An aspect of Wilson’s Farm that makes it even more appealing is their effort to minimize the use of pesticides, as they believe in eco-friendly farming. I also love that they feature a ton of local products in their shop. Did I mention they make and sell apple cider donuts, too? There are so many good things going on at Wilson’s!
It was no wonder that, when I was asked by Frei Brothers Reserve Winery to choose a place I would like to “preserve”, I chose Wilson’s Apple Orchard. While I’ve seen it go through changes and expand over the years, I think this year’s visit was perfect. You know when you want to bottle up a moment, an hour, or a day in time and be able to keep it that way forever? That’s what I wanted to do at Wilson’s this year. I want it to stay exactly how it is now so in 10 years when I bring my kids back, it’s exactly how I experienced it.
Of course, we can’t preserve a particular place during a particular moment in time, but I think it’s important to really take the time to savor particular moments and make them much more vivid in my memory. So that’s what I did this year at Wilson’s. I took a moment to breathe in, feel the wind on my face, take in the beautiful scenery, munch on my apple cider donut, and preserve the orchard in my mind.
Now, onto the wine. Frei Brothers Reserve is a winery that, like Wilson’s, cares for the land it harvests. The winey partakes in a long list of sustainable practices including energy and water conservation, sustainable packaging and their 50/50 Giveback Program where for every acre of land planted in vines they preserve an acre untouched, in its natural state. Frei Brothers Reserve is featuring a ‘Places Worth Preserving’ photo contest on Facebook and wanted me to share my place worth preserving. Like I said, I chose the apple orchard and then connected the dots between the wine and the apple orchard by creating an apple dish to pair with one of the Frei Brothers delicious wines. I was sent a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon and chose to make a spin on the classic Brie En Croute to pair with it.
Instead of topping the Brie cheese with fruit preserves or jam, as many recipes suggest, I made a compote of my own with the fresh orchard apples and caramelized onions which I sauteed in butter with brown sugar and spices. The end result was absolutely delicious. The apple and caramelized onion topping paired perfectly with the distinct flavor of the gooey Brie cheese. While Brie isn’t typically paired with cabernet, it worked really well in this dish. The strong flavor of the caramelized onions allowed the dish to hold up to the Cabernet Sauvignon, which had a strong flavor with hints of raspberry, blackberry, and vanilla.
This turned out to be a perfect fall appetizer but I think it would also make for a fun date night meal served with a salad, and of course, a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
You can check out other recipes paired with Frei Brothers Reserve wine on Kitchen PLAY. And be sure to check out the photo contest and honor your place worth preserving – Frei Brothers Reserve is announcing monthly winners through November and there is a grand prize trip to Frei Brothers Reserve winery and Yosemite National Park!
This post was sponsored by Frei Brothers Reserve in partnership with Kitchen PLAY. All opinions are my own.