|From Mercier Orchards|
Some experiences in Georgia aren’t of the Natural Wonder or Historical Variety. But they are just as important to our culture. We can forget, living in the concrete confines of the big city, how important agriculture is to our lives. Heck, you can’t speak about our most famous President without out mentioning the Peanut. In the North of Georgia, there is some really good local purveyors of produce. The weekend before last, I had the good fortune to spend some time at one of our most famous public farms, Mercier Orchards , about 2 hours North of Atlanta in Blue Ridge, Georgia
Now they are most famous for, like most of the Georgia Hwy 5 area, Apples . And having sampled the apples, which are often available at local markets like Whole Foods, I know they are quite good. But with Apple Season not coming for months, the good folks at Mercier have other produce you can pick and eat. We went up for their Cherries Jubilee, but at different times they also do blueberries and strawberries. They got great produce and they’ve been doing this up there in North Georgia since the 30’s.
What you get when you get there is this: you buy a bag for your pickings (a half peck of Cherries--about 5 lbs--cost $15--I'm sure different crops have different prices), you walk around the side of the building and ride a tractor pulled carriage up to the ripest part of the orchard, and then you get to picking. The red of the cherries against the green of the trees and field shines majestically in the Georgia Sun. So how do you know if you got good ones? Well, you could look for the darkest color as the field hands pointed out or you could simply taste them, and tasting is encouraged. It was like a fun game trying to find the best possible cherries. We spent about 40 minutes there, having fun, filling our bags, and filling our faces before a very pleasant walk back to the store.
Now the store has everything related to Georgia Produce you could possibly want: Apples, Corn, Ciders, Jam, & the like. You could order from their online store here . But it is really famous for its pie. We sat in the café and split a fried pie and an apple fritter and took a whole Dutch Apple pie home. Now, I’m not a big pie eater, but I believe in the “when in Rome” adage. I thought they were about as good as I have tasted. The five friends we shared the Dutch Apple pie with on Memorial Day concurred.
Now the reason I am writing this is because Cherry Season is short, with Blueberries becoming the pick of the litter in just a couple of weeks. I’d love to get back there in Apple Season (Mid August through October), and it just might happen. The bigger reason is that I spent a few hours pitting cherries for a little homemade cherry pie, which is in the oven as I write. So if you have an hour to kill in the vicinity of Blue Ridge, a stop by Mercier orchard may just give you much more than 60 minutes of happiness.
Here is our home cooked Cherry Lattice Pie,
Address: 8660 Blue Ridge Drive (Highway 5) Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513
Cultural Significance: A-
Food Quality: A+
Healthiness: C+ (basically deserts, but at least its fresh local fruit)
Overall Rating: A-
Recommendations: Fried Pie, Apple Pie, basically any Pies
Significance: Southern Magazines favorite Roadside Apple Market, A true taste of Georgia