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Business Mon Oct 13 2008
I made my annual trip to Poplar Grove, a little town east of Rockford, to visit Edwards Apple Orchard, a combination of a country store, fruit orchard, pumpkin patch and pie diner that is now rolled into what I feared would happen: huge crowds dotted with strollers, minivans and Packers sweatshirts. Edwards is the kind of place that looks cut out of a movie, with its colorful flowerbeds, homespun signage and red barn. I've been coming here for many years, when as a student at a nearby college, I would drive the half-hour to Edwards for a quick Friday afternoon reprieve from campus life. While my visit to Edwards this past weekend was full of overwhelming foot traffic, I still recommend it as a great day trip for city dwellers. Why? The donuts and the pie.
Ah, the pie. A double-crusted, cinnamon-dusted work of art. Edwards sells individual slices only, with three topping options: a la mode, as-is, or with a melted slice of cheddar cheese. All three are solid options, although I had a difficult time adjusting to the idea of putting cheese on apple pie, as I had never seen it done before. Edwards caught some bad luck earlier this year, when a tornado destroyed many of its buildings; everything has been rebuilt to be bigger and better. The cider cellar, with its milk jug seats and gingham tablecloths, was now large enough to accommodate more visitors, but the constant line out the door was telling about how successful the food at Edwards is, especially if you like donuts.
Edwards makes sugar-dusted, apple cider cake donuts that made an imaginary tear slide down my cheek, not for the moment I bit into it, but for tolerating the lesser donuts I've been forced to eat in the past. Adding to the appeal of the warm, light donuts was its lack of availability--if you were looking to take some home with you, you were given a number and told you couldn't buy more than 6. Six? Would that get me to the Illinois Tollway? I passed on the opportunity, as sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
Edwards Apple Orchard, phone (815) 765-2234. 7061 Centerville Rd, Poplar Grove, IL.