Summer is almost over and I for one could not be happier. I hate the summer, or more specifically, I hate the heat that comes with it. This year we had several heat waves in June and July and I feel like I have spent more time inside in the air conditioning than I have out in the sun. And although it puts me in the category of “bad owner” I even refrained from putting the top down on my little convertible because it was so gross out. That is just unacceptable!
So now that it’s the end of August, and we have had a few little hints that the fall might be creeping in I’m getting super excited for the season ahead. Fall is my favorite time of the year without question…only closely rivaled by Christmas. The air is crisp and cool, the trees start to turn and everywhere in New England looks like the cover of Yankee Magazine. I get to wear sweaters, jeans, boots, and my endless arrays of scarves and jackets…oh the fashion possibilities! We have lots of cozy nights sitting outside by the fire pit drinking hot cider and smelling the faint scent of apple everywhere. Life just seems happier. In New England we get the opportunity to admire some of the best foliage ever and have chances for picturesque walks through orchards and small towns that celebrate with fall festivals for apples, pumpkins, and corn. It looks great in the movies, but those of us who live here know that it’s really like that here. It’s one of the best reasons to be a New Englander.
This past weekend Jay and I had a little fall preview. We had just come back from a truly wonderful vacation by the beach in Rhode Island (blog to come about that), and had Sunday alone since we had dropped AC off at his Moms on Saturday. We got up, went to church and met an awesome Missionary who has been in Guadalupe for several years; he was around our age and had a great story. We chatted with a few friends afterwards and then headed out with no plan in particular. It was an absolutely picturesque day, not too hot and a little breeze was making the trees sway. We had taken my car so we put the top down and decided just to take a drive and see where we ended up. We traveled for a while through some back roads, getting ourselves a little lost since it didn’t matter and eventually we realized that we had ended up being very close to one of my favorite places to go, Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, CT. We decided to stop in for a sandwich and see what other goodies peaked our interest at the market.
Those of you who know Lyman can attest to the fact that this is one of the busiest orchards in the area. It is rare in the fall to come here and not have to wade through rivers of people and children buying apples or gallons of cider or getting tickets to the corn maze. Outside the Apple Barrel, which is the name of the market at the orchard, they have a large pond with ducks and geese. Today, there were a few families outside with their kids, either sitting on the grass or feeding the birds from little bags of cracked corn you can buy inside. You could tell it wasn’t high season yet because the ducks were still actually eating the food and not just floating on the pond waiting for them to all go home. The deck off the back was pretty void of visitors and the faint scent of the kettle corn vendor wisped over toward us.
We got a parking spot up front, walked right in and were able to leisurely walk around and browse, there was no battle at all for the last bag of granny smiths. Jay and I debated about things we thought we might buy, everything here is great and we could have left with a car full. Today we decided to get a couple frozen pot pies for an easy dinner later in the week, a jar of apple butter BBQ sauce, some fresh honey roasted peanut butter, and some dill pickles that were calling to us from the refrigerated case, everything made right there at the orchard.
As Jay checked out with our booty to bring home I waited in the short line to get us a couple sandwiches. The small café here has several sandwich choices, all a little different, served with sides of cold salads like coleslaw and potato salad. They also have soups and a few hot items. My absolute favorite sandwich to get here is “The Crispin”. It is a mainstay sandwich on the menu and I think there would be riots in the streets if they ever took it off. It has grilled chicken, cheddar cheese, red onions, lettuce, and super thinly sliced apples, all lightly topped off with a cider glaze. I get it every time I come and it never disappoints. This time I got it on their country white bread but I often get it in a wrap as well. Jay went for the veggie sammy since he had been having a craving for portabella mushrooms lately, did I marry the right guy or what?!? He got “The Macintosh” which has roasted portabellas, tomato aioli, balsamic glaze, fresh mozz, red onions, and roasted peppers. He got it on pumpernickel (cause he says they have REAL pumpernickel bread here). We got some drinks, sat down, and enjoyed our first bites of fall. I got a nice cold apple cider to go with my sandwich and as soon as I opened it up and took the first sip I could feel the weather starting to change. The sandwich was as perfect as I remembered. It creates this one whole symphony of flavors when you bite through the chicken and onions and get that sweet crunch from the apples. It’s really genius. I always say I’m going to try to make it as home but I never do. I think I would miss the atmosphere of the market with the piles of apples, rows of pies and ccider donuts, and old wood baskets creating a kind of earthy aroma that I just associate with this wonderfully homey place. Some things just can’t be done in your own kitchen, you have to experience the whole environment where they live to really appreciate them.
After we decided not to walk through the sunflower maze that day, we took a short stroll out onto the back deck and back to the car. We drove home with the breeze in our hair and smiles on our faces…