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Sunday, December 8

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« The Friendly Frankfurter Can't Stop Eatin' 'Em...Until December »

Feature Fri Oct 26 2007

It's Apple Time!

As the weather becomes colder, my thoughts turn to apples. Whether baked into a sweet pastry, slathered in peanut butter, or paired with a hunk of cheese, apples are a versatile, healthy fruit that is emblematic of the season. Fall is also the time to make the Mecca-like trip to an orchard to pick, buy and taste apples in their natural habitat.

My favorite place is Edwards Apple Orchard, located in Poplar Grove, a small town east of Rockford. Edwards is a picturesque, sprawling property located in an area dotted with farms and endless county roads. A country store sells a large variety of picked, packaged apples and cider from the Edwards orchards. If you are an apple connisseur, I highly recommend the Jonagold, which makes a wonderful applesauce when your one-person apple-eating contest goes awry and you're racing to use up your supply. A separate candy kitchen manned by a gaggle of local teenagers makes fudge. The store also sells a range of jams, honey, ornaments, candles and preserved beef (no lie). The place also smells like fir trees and cloves.

The best part of the store is the cafe, located on the lower level of the store. The cafe sells pretty good midwestern concession food like hot dogs, cider and barbecued shredded pork sandwiches. It also sells a very memorable, well-baked slice of apple pie. Edwards was the first place that I saw pie topped with melted cheddar cheese. At first, I thought it was sacrilege, but the cheddar top hat became preferable to standard vanilla ice cream. The interior of the cozy cafe, with its barrel-style seats and red gingham tablecloths, is a great place to kill several hours and feel like you've legitimately escaped the city. The prices are great, and much to my chagrin, the counter clerks will not sell whole pies due to their popularity. Edwards also sells my beloved, beloved donuts, another product of the season that is never worth skipping.

If you have kids or an interest in farming, the outside area boasts a petting zoo, farm equipment and hayrack rides.

Edwards Apple Orchard is open through Thanksgiving, and the weekend can be WAY crowded with other people (you've been warned). 7061 Centerville Rd, Poplar Grove, IL 61065. (815) 765-2234.

Apple picking season for the most part has passed, but you can still buy apples when you visit orchards. Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin are full of great local places to visit. If you want to take the plunge of incorporating cheese into your next apple pie, click here for a solid recipe that integrates cheese into the streusel topping.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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