In grade school back in the 1960s, such characters as Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed filled my mind with wonder and awe as I learned to determine fact from fiction (a process I still employ when listening to nauseating political commercials which pollute the airwaves). My mind was a veritable tabula rasa (blank slate) upon which my teachers (and my incessant poring over the Encyclopedia) imprinted knowledge of legend, lore, myth and fact. Learning was a much more innocent process, not yet clouded with the cynicism wrought by historical revisionism based mostly on political ideology.
Johnny Appleseed, it turns out, was very much man, not myth. Born John Chapman, he became an American legend in America’s frontier days with an enduring legacy that has ensured a place in history. Johnny was raised on a small Massachusetts farm where he acquired a love of apples as well as adventure. Renown for his generosity and his stewardship of the earth, he was a pioneering conservationist who planted apple seeds throughout the frontier, introducing apple trees to large parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
The popular image is of Johnny Appleseed spreading apples randomly, everywhere he went. In actuality, he planted nurseries rather than orchards, building fences around them to protect the apples from livestock. He would leave the nurseries in the care of trusted neighbors who sold trees on shares. Appleseed would return every year or two to tend to the nurseries, pioneering methods of caring for and growing the apples he loved so much.
An avowed vegetarian who loved animals, Johnny Appleseed must have recognized the healthful properties inherent in the apple–properties which prompted the Welsh maxim which has been reduced to “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It is well-established that apples contain Vitamin C which aids the immune system and phenols which help reduce cholesterol. Apples also reduce tooth decay by cleaning one’s teeth and killing off bacteria. Researchers in Cornell University also attribute the quercetin found in apples to the protection of brain cells against neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
Although an apple a day may keep the doctor away, a dozen apple cider donuts a day might still not be enough to satiate your wanton lust for the sensational apple cider donuts proffered only at the Apple Haus restaurant in picturesque and historic Long Grove, Illinois. These moist gems are absolutely wonderful, the very best apple cider donuts I’ve ever had anywhere. Wholly unlike biting into a crisp apple, biting into an apple donut is akin to biting into a moist and silken orb miraculously imbued with the flavors of the fruit Johnny Appleseed loved so much.
The Apple Haus also sells all things apple: pies, caramel apples, jellies, butters, syrups and more. You might even want to decorate your house with some of the countrified apple themed accoutrements for sale. For breakfast, you can’t beat their apple bread on which you absolutely must slather their apple butter. On a sweltering summer day, quell your thirst with apple or cherry cider or even better, an apple based slush drink that will help keep you cool. Johnny Appleseed would be proud!
On Hogan’s Heroes, a popular television sitcom of the 1960s based on American prisoners of war incarcerated in a German stalag, the prisoners knew food was the key to acquiring information from Sergeant Schultz, the zeppelin-sized sergeant of the guard. Sergeant Schultz’s biggest weakness was apple strudel, a dessert the POWs French chef prepared especially well. One bite of the Apple Haus’s apple strudel and you might not be able to keep a secret either. This is the very best apple strudel I’ve ever had, constructed with thin layers of thin pastry crust topped with a large crystal sugar surrounding sliced, peeled apples. Unlike commercial strudel which is often made with more pectin than actual apples, this rendition celebrates the apple in its most crispy and delicious ways.
In September, Long Grove celebrates the apple’s place in the town’s history and prominence with an apple festival which draws tens of thousands of visitors to the village. If apple adoration isn’t your thing, the Apple Haus also celebrates strawberries. In fact, during the month of June, the village of Long Grove has a strawberry festival that will knock your socks off. Strawberry donuts and fritters are especially wonderful at the Apple Haus, but it’s my bet that just about everything else will make your mouth water.
Pearls of wisdom adorn the Apple Haus’s walls including one particularly profound axiom about the way to live your life by remaining focused on the donut and not on the hole. It’s easy to focus on the outstanding orbs at the Apple Haus.
230 Robert P. Coffin Road
Long Grove, IL
LAST VISIT: 13 October 2010
# OF VISITS: 5
BEST BETS: Donuts, Apple Cider, Apple Bread, Apple Streudel, Apple Butter