Several years ago, while leaf-peeping in Vermont, we stopped at a roadside produce market. We had been driving the byways and country lanes of the state, which in October felt like we were dropped into a giant bowl of candy corn. With the rolling hills, picturesque valleys, and abundance of sugar maples in full color, it was a most remarkable journey. We had eaten at the New England Culinary Institute, fine inns with roaring fires and rustic ambiance, and even tried an old diner called Dot’s on a blustery evening with snow in the air. Our taste buds had been working overtime and after a full day on the road from Grafton to Brattleboro with wooden bridges everywhere and in between, we needed some lighter fare for our dinner.
A roadside produce stand caught our attention. The outside was adorned in corn stalks and pumpkins that are typical of fall, but these pumpkins were dressed up and steering old cars, pulling old farm equipment, and leaning against the long porch, beckoning us in the most creative of ways. It was an outstanding display that we spent some time appreciating before going inside. Tom wanted some coffee and I needed some tea. We decided to load up on some Vermont cheddar cheese and crackers and it was suggested we try a new apple called Honeycrisp. I bought a beautiful locally crafted basket, which I still have, we piled our rustic dinner in it and we headed to a picnic table and dined, al fresco, on a humble meal we talk of still.
Sometimes it is the simple pleasures that nourish us.
The cheese was exceptional. At the time, the midwest wasn’t as familiar with Vermont cheeses as it is now. The apples, developed at the University of Minnesota and released in the early nineties, had not yet become as widely grown and distributed.
It was love at first bite.
Cross pollination of a Macoun and Honeygold brought about the Honeycrisp. It is sweet with just the right tartness and holds firm and flavorful for a long while. We now can find them here in the midwest in September. The Honeycrisp apple for us is as much of a symbol of Autumn’s beginning as the leaves that color our neck of the woods.
There are a few Honeycrisp apples sitting now in the refrigerator. I think I will pack one in a sack with some cheese, crackers, and grapes for my lunch as my gardening friends head out for an adventure to the Shakespearean Garden at Northwestern University. Yep. That’s what I’m going to do. I wish you were here so I could share a Honeycrisp with you. See if they are in your area and pick up a few. I know there will be more when we head to the Twin Cities to see our family up there soon. After all, they were developed up in Minnesota and I read that there is an effort to grow them in New Zealand. Now wouldn’t that be grand?