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Chris Grady: Away from Murray with Russian apples

Our regular blogger Chris Grady escapes Murray-mania with an intriguing culinary theatrical experience in Norfolk

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While all of the world was focussed on the movements of a small yellow ball, I was in an apple orchard in on the North Norfolk coast with a dancer from the Moscow Ballet, two extraordinary entrepreneurs from Kolomna in Russia, and a very interested gathering of East Anglian landowners, gentry and councillors. We were exploring the creation of a new business for Norfolk - a very theatrical part of the high end food and gift industry.

Seventy miles South East of Moscow lies Kolomna on the banks of the Moscow river. It's an historic old town (and a sprawling industrial newer town). Beautiful 18th century buildings, and now four new museums covering life pre-revolution, and life in the 1960s, plus a factory for the creation of Kolomna Apple pastila - favoured and written about by Tolstoy, Pushkin, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, and the Tzars and Tzarinas of the time.

The Kolomna Apple Ladies now employ 80 people in the town including a troupe of actors who interpret and guide over 50,000 visitors a year around the factory and Museum of Forgotten Tastes. In time, with the help of an enterprising orchard owner in Norfolk, you too dear WhatsOnStage reader will be able to sample this gluten free, delicate apple sweet made with pure apple juice, egg yolk and the subtlest of natural flavouring. Over 45 recipes lost from 100 years ago, lovingly brought back to delight the taste buds.

But this is a theatre site. And in the beautiful setting of an ancient orchard we were given a taste of a mime-drama telling of the creation of a new recipe by Mr Pushkin and the Kolomna community. The dancing was powerful and beautiful. The mime worked a treat - and the six varieties of Kolomna Apple pastille goes down wonderfully with Darjeeling tea.

As the sun shines on England, this is a great opportunity to visit the stately homes, parks and gardens, farmshops and arenas where actors are bringing the plays of Shakespeare, and the stories of the locality, to life.

And I will update you all when the new Christmas 'Archbishop Pastila' arrives in a farm shop near me. Maybe in time you'll be able to enjoy at Wimbledon the delectable raspberry flavoured Kolomna Apple pastille which goes so beautifully with English cheese and a light champagne. You heard the idea here first.


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