Every year I try and make it to Spicer's Orchard close to my home in Michigan. I love this orchard. Ever since I was a tiny tot my mama would bring me there. I really think those experiences shaped my love of food - actually seeing it grow, then picking it to bring home, then using it in special recipes...these are the things I loved. For me, picking my own fruit is an extremely calming experience, which might make me weird, but what else is new? I'm a summer baby, so the tradition in my family is to pick blueberries in August- but what I really get excited about is fall, when the apples are hanging from the trees, gorgeous as ever, sweet and fresh.
In Michigan I think we only grow a few varieties - Macintosh being the most famous - but here in Virginia there are many more and I was kinda excited about that, too. I love love love walking through the orchard, plucking an apple off a tree, and sinking my teeth in. Maybe you're not supposed to do that until the end, but I can help it. It's a feeling I look forward too every year.
That... and donuts. Spicer's has the BEST donuts - we get there in the morning so they are hot and fresh. I was anxious to see if Carter Mountain were as good.
Yesterday, after meeting with my friend Emilija at Chicken Fiesta (if you don't remember, we suffered through the CERT program together and she got into the medical school here), she mentioned offhand going to Carter Mountain. I was in. So in. So off we went.
It was a gorgeous trip to Cville where we drove up a windy mountain to the orchard - and vineyards. It was really cool to see the trees surrounding us and overlooking the town below. After browsing through the Country Store we got a half dozen of their famous Apple Cider Donuts and a couple pumpkin ones as well. I couldn't pick my favorite because they were both very good. The pumpkin donuts were more dense and I liked the spices they added.
We then looked over the bins of apples - they must have had 6 varieties - and I got one of each to sample. I had never seen these little guys, but they were Thomas Jefferson's favorite. When in Rome...
The Pink Lady and Fuji apples were "pickable" this weekend, so we went down the hill to the Pink Ladies and picked us a few of those. I was pretty excited to use the weird bag-on-a-pole picker thing.
Also, I was a little annoyed that people had allowed these babies to fall off the tree and didn't even pick them up - so wasteful... I hope they use these as compost or something.
Before leaving we visited Wayside Deli for some of their famous Fried Chicken. It was pretty amazing, considering I've never really had fried chicken (please, close those dropped jaws...I'm from Michigan). The side of Mac and Cheese was also yummy.
It was a great feeling leaving RVA for a day and getting lost in the mountains. I don't think I spend enough time out of the city and it's days like today that remind me how beautiful this state is - especially in the fall. Now...what to do with all these apples?