Friday, September 6, 2013

Cherry Republic

Welcome, Comrade. We've been expecting you.
The end of summer. The beginning of autumn. This is the line one walks when taking a September trip to the fingertips of the oven mitt that is Michigan's lower peninsula. It is a time when the the last of the holdouts (and the locals) don fleece pullovers while shuffling along in their sandals (or Crocs) with bound determination to find a way to make the summer last. And I know exactly where all those flips are flopping before autumn gets its way with their summer getaway.

Off the main road in Glen Arbor, tucked amongst lush greenery, are stone paths leading to a small grove of buildings, all three of which appear to be equal parts beach home and ski lodge. Amazingly, they house North America's fourth largest country, Cherry Republic. It is a benevolent nation whose people are so decidedly pro-cherry that they built a government around it. And they don’t mess around either; there is a sign at the front that says “Declare all bananas.” Though some could be intimidated by so strict a policy, I, for one, felt safer knowing I was in a banana-free environment.

There are plenty of stellar products, all ripe for the sampling. My favorites were the following: dark chocolate covered dried cherries, dark chocolate pecan with cherry truffles, and hiker’s mix with pumpkin seeds, nuts, dark chocolate and—you guessed it—cherries. (Sadly, I cannot recommend the Boomchunka cookies, which are thick and dry like a dense scone.) There are also drinks to be sampled and, having tried all of sodas, the clear winner is the True Cherry Cola, which has real cherry juice in it.

Creating American expats,
one customer at a time.
Equally impressive are the 12 rotating ice cream flavors, most of which incorporate cherries in a different way. Here are some of the flavors from my visit: Bob's Mom's Favorite (their apostrophized name for cherry ice cream), Snow in the Orchard (vanilla ice cream with tart cherries), Chocolate Cherry, Tractor Trax (chocolate cherry ice cream with peanut butter cups, honey almonds, chocolate & cherry ribbons), Hibernation Jump Start (cherry coffee ice cream with chunks of espresso), Sour Cherry Sorbet, Duneslide Wipeout (butter pecan with tart cherries and pecans), cherry caramel apple (apple-flavored ice cream with tart cherries and a caramel ribbon) and Cherry Waffle Chip (cherry ice cream with chocolate-covered waffle chips).

One ice cream option in particular epitomized my trip up north to the greater Traverse City area. It featured two favorite flavors we all recognize from the pie canon, two tastes delicately combined for perhaps their first union in frozen dessert lore: Cherry Pumpkin. It commanded my hand to be slower with my spoon, to really relish the moment, because, while the flavor was new to me, it was somehow familiar. Whilst savoring and ruminating, I pinned it down. The ice cream tasted exactly like the end of summer. Or was it the beginning of autumn?

1 comment:

Jan - said...

Brad! You have a GIFT for appreciating the finer things of Life, and a real talent for temptiing the rest of us to try everything you've discovered!
VIVA Le Cherry Repobulic!