Apple Hill Unpeeled 2008

Another fall has arrived and another crop of appley goodness has been laid out for the intrepid daytripper to consume.  Apple Hill is in full harvest mode, and the weather couldn’t be nicer.  The crowds are bound to be overflowing this weekend and the apple themed desserts, pies, breads, jams, trinkets, colostomies, and hardware will overflow from the folksy establishments in the folksy land of folksy Apple Hill.

It occurs to me, as it does every year at this time, that some of you may never have been to Apple Hill.  Hmmm.  I see.  Ok… Well then… What the f*$% are you waiting for!?!  Someone to spoon feed you ‘Hill info like a mother shoveling thin apple puree in the drooling mouth of an overfed infant?  If that’s what it will take, then I’m game.

Here we go:  Who’s a big boy?  Who? Who?  Who wants some applesauce in his little pouty apple barn?  Hmmmm?  Nevermind, I can’t keep that up.

This year, we’ve added a few new stops on the Eats’ Apple Hill recommended stops.  Take a peek, and feel free to add any recos you might have.

Denver Dan’s– Denver Dan (whose real name is Delaware Dale) and his coven of ladies put together an impressive line of homemade sauces, glazes, jams, jellies, and fluids for sale in their attractive and folksy Quonset hut.  Their caramel apples are top notch as are their apple cookies which are about the size of a large child’s head.  Double D also offers U-pick apple picking, but with all the purveyors on the Hill that go through the effort of picking the apples for you, I find it hard to justify the customer labor.

Larsen Apple Barn- Maybe it’s the fact the Larsen Apple Barn is located on Larsen Drive, or that the Apple Hill Growers Assoc offices are located at the Larsen estate, or that Larsen Pioneer Farm Museum across from the Larsen Bake Shop displays a local family history going back over 150 years, but even the idle visitor figures out pretty quickly that the Larsen family is the closest thing to apple royalty in the small town of Camino. Well worth dropping by for the fabulous apples, the quaint museum display, and the giant water wheel, Larsen Apple Barn is not exactly a must-see, but it is a glimpse into more than just trinkets and pony rides.

Rainbow Orchards- TWO WORDS: APPLE CIDER DOUGHNUTS.  Freshly made, piping hot, covered with sugar, crisp yet chewy, these doughriffic bites of heaven are the main attraction in the cavernous barn that makes up the whole of Rainbow Orchards’s commercial enterprise.  They sometimes have bluegrass music in the orchard, which is a nice offering, and the Mrs. and I found a beautiful selection of decorative pumpkins in a kaleidoscope of shades (including blue) but really, we’re all just going there for the doughnuts.  Did I mention the doughnuts?  And yes, I still refuse to spell it “donuts.”  Caution:  Mill View Farms produces and sells a similar apple cider doughnut, but be warned, this is an inferior product and not worth your doughnut calories.  The proprietor is very sweet though, bless her heart.   

Kids Inc.– Despite its name, which invokes thoughts of a day care center, Kids Inc. is, in fact, the finest purveyor of pies on the ‘Hill.  Their pienormous offerings, baked or unbaked, are just perfect– flaky crust, sweet tart filling, and first degree aromasYes, these kind of apples. that will bring the whole neighborhood to your house as it warms in the oven.

This is not a “to-go” establishment only though.  Try their “walking pies,” a single serving baseball shaped pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of their trademarked “cider sauce.”  And just in case you couldn’t guess, it’s a great place to take the kids.

Boa Vista Orchards– Open year round, Boa Vista is a great market with everything that you never knew could be jellied, pickled or turned into a hot sauce.  The selection of apples and other seasonal fruits is immense.   Favorites in the jarred department include the homemade apple butter and the sour cherry preserves.  It’s a fun spot to browse in and an easy spot to get to when you want to pick up all your foodstuffs in one stop.  If you’re just going by Apple Hill and you only have time to stop at one joint, this will probably be it.

Warning:  No matter how hungry you are, do not eat at the grill there.  They serve hamburgers, hotdogs and few other lunch items.  None of them are good, or even decent.  The burgers are the consistency of terra cotta roof tiles and the hot dogs are cooked to resemble a prison guard’s nightstick.  There are so many other places on the ‘Hill that serve better food, it’s a sin to waste your meal here.

High Hill Ranch– A great place to stop if you have a bus load of children with you.  The stocked fishing pond, craft fair, cider press, and various straw stuffed effigies will delight the kids to no end.  If you, however, have no children with you, then this is probably a spot you’ll want to avoid, the lines are long, the parking treacherous, and the apple products not tops on anyone’s list.  Oh, except the cider, the cider is pretty damn yummy.  I prefer the unpasteurized, but if you’re pregnant or nursing, I’d advise against it.

Grandpa’s Cellars– You may remember this joint from your childhood, but only if your childhood included shackles, court dates, and restraining orders. Ok, I kid.  Despite the name,  which makes the place sound like an apple house of horrors, “Grandpa’s Cellars” knows how to dish up some fine baked goods–turnovers, cheese pies, pastries of all kinds.  Grandpa manages to keep the place rolling along with a pretty relaxed vibe and pretty fair prices.  If the weather is a little dicey though, be warned, the only seating is outside.   This year’s discovery was the iced spiced cider, which, on a warmish fall day, is the tits!

Jack Russell Brewing Co.– A Northern California favorite for years, Jack Russell Brewing Co. serves up some fine brews in the English tradition.  Their outdoor lawn area is a beautiful place to knock back a pint (weather permitting), and the interior taproom manages to intermingle the charm of  our beloved corner of the world with that of the English country pub.  This year’s favorites were the cask ESB and the Blackberry Monastery Ale.  If you have the time, sit down and play a complimentary board game while the day passes you by.  I proclaim that it was Col. Mustard in the billiard room with the noose.

Boeger Winery– In my head, I imagine a potential mascot for Boeger to be some cross between Bacchus and Yosemite Sam.  With class, grace, and Western irreverence, Boeger manages to produce some of my favorite wines at criminally low prices.  You’ll be soothed by the luscious gardens, calmed by the twittering birds, and buzzed from the heavy pours they give for tastes.  I really, really love this place.

2 thoughts on “Apple Hill Unpeeled 2008”

  1. Nice post, sac-eats. Great weather is expected as well.

    From the sacbee.com:

    Fall mornings, he said, are beautiful in Apple Hill, north of Highway 50 between Placerville and Pollock Pines, about one hour east of Sacramento. And early to mid-morning on the weekends are the best time to visit for a variety of reasons.

    “It gets a little crowded by lunch,” Visman said. “But on the weekends all the craft tables are set up, the pumpkin patches are all open, and some of the growers only open on weekends.”

    He said the next two weekends are the most heavily visited at Apple Hill because nearly all the apples have ripened and fall is taking hold with significantly cooler temperatures and changing colors.

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  2. oh, rainbow orchards donuts are to die for! we ultimately waited close to an hour between standing in line and then waiting for the finished product, but well worth it. YUM YUM YUM!

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