Monday, 1 October 2012

A Brief Visit Northward: May the Autumn Months Officially Begin!

As I shared during the first session of Food and Culture Colloquium, for me the apple is more than just nourishment; it's one of the clearest markers of the autumn season. It's handpicking the fruits we claim are just ripe. It's drinking the cider and eating the donuts. It's running away from the bees that are so attracted to natural sugar. From what I've been told (or rather from what I remember), I oftentimes sat in my stroller silently contented as I learned how to navigate eating an apple; I first learned about eating apples with salt to draw out the juiciness (though the thought of eating salt with any fruit, including Michigan's other big crop, cherries didn't make any sense to me at the time); and if I'm not mistaken, I first learned how to walk at an apple orchard. This past weekend, I celebrated my 24th birthday with my family and at the top of my list of things to do during my brief visit to Metro Detroit, visiting the Franklin Cider Mill was a top priority. Not only did I get to get re-inaugurated into the food scene, but I also caught up with arguably some of my strangest childhood food memories.

Cue first the hot dog bun from Tai Pan Bakery in Madison Heights, Michigan, late night on Friday following my arrival, and then a Saturday voyage with my sister to What Crêpe? in Birmingham, MI. There, she ordered a crêpe base with ham, Swiss cheese, asparagus and hollandaise sauce...

What Crepe? on Urbanspoon

...while I went with "The Obvious," which included chicken, spinach, pecans, caramelised apples and feta. A trend in retrospect to my meals both present and future, the crêpe base itself was reminiscent of home cooking and the streets of vendor fare as the fillings presented a rather updated take on standard crêpe fare. The textures at play were equally numerous against the blank crêpe canvas with which the chef worked on; and the flavours were wicked delicious, albeit the portion size was a clear departure from the smaller French ones (only in America..). Thankfully, they warn you, though I'm still not entirely sure how one still has room for dessert. You can drool over their menu (and/or plan your next meal) here.

Our dessert was saved for Bloomfield, MI, and the longingly craved for Franklin Cider Mill, home of delicious apple cider and attracted bees. Again, though, more for the nostalgia's sake than anything else, I yearned for the slight crisp and just recently fried warm cores of the cinnamon donuts to be then washed down by a cup of rich apple cider as each bite was expectedly interrupted by persistent bees. The autumn season has now officially begun for me.

Since I had heard of ridiculously high prices this year, I was not quite expecting to encounter long lines at the mill; apparently money wasn't a factor or a hindrance to anyone also seeking out to relive a part of their childhood, if not to also create new memories for succeeding generations. As I found out when I got there, the sharp rise in both apple and cider prices were especially caused not by the increase in attention but rather because recent weather has practically wiped out the usual Michigan commodity harvests. But apparently the weather not only affected Michigan; check out the brief video clip, for example.

Shortly after getting back home, we went back out with our parents in search of a family van and then eventually to the movie theatre where we saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt's newest film, Looper, which was intellectually action packed, a type of Inception mind bender which takes place in both the external present and future. Food definitely wasn't a main focus on the film, though we ate plenty of popcorn, so that counts as part of the memory, no? After the movie and before ending the night with a Target run, we went to one of my favourite pretty-much-only-in-Michigan chain restaurants, Olga's Kitchen, particularly enjoyed because of they're pita bread. With an orange cream cooler (which we're convinced they've changed the recipe) and basket of Snackers an expected part of the order (I grew up also including their peasant soup), I also tried their spinach and cheese pie (basically spanikopita) and their new ham and cheese club-- both of which were pleasingly good and filling.

And with that, I experienced a very condensed version of my childhood food memories before driving back to Granville yesterday afternoon. Hey, perhaps Looper did have a deeper connection to the weekend than I first realised. For the complete album of posted photos from this trip, click here.

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