Monday, April 03, 2006

Apple Holler off da Interstate

We venture to Wisconsin a lot. Mostly to eat. Or shop for things to eat. Or buy books about eating (cf cookbook section at Downtown Books, Milwaukee). Unless Dad is pressing for extra scenery, we arrive via Interstate 94. And we always pass Apple Holler signs, then Apple Holler, something that looks like Lamb’s Farm without the social service agenda. You know, some farm animals waiting for a quarter’s worth of pellets, hay rides, corn maze, that kinda place, and the obligatory kountry kitchen kinda restaurant. Surely, not a chowhound kinda place. Yet, yet, there has been a pull to try. At least once, right? Moreover, we tend to need a place to eat right around Apple Holler, a bit north of Kenosha, too hungry to wait for Milwaukee (one reason we have made several stops at Miro’s Little Europe). You know what, we have another place to stop.

Being Wisconsin, the kitschy place off the Interstate, with big billboards and its own version of dinner theater served some very good food. Being me, I loved the fact that this breakfast buffet did issue a press release about being local; it just went a delivered actual Wisconsin food. What fruit exists in Wisconsin this time of year? Apples. Apple butter, apple fritters, apple sauce for french toast, apple cider to drink. OK, there was something besides apples. Not mango, not strawberries, not Florida blackberries, the other fruit on the spread, canned cherries. Being Wisconsin, the buffet featured potatoes and potatoes mixed with cheese. I liked the latter better. It tasted, with its heavy hand of black pepper, like a cheddary filling for pierogi. There were eggs scrambled and eggs backed in squares and called quiche. Pancakes and french toast to be topped with those aforementioned fruits. Finally, there was just really, really good bacon and sausage and apple wood smoked ham. As Gwiv would say, after eating this bacon, you burp up smoke rings.

A nice feature of eating breakfast late, we were there for the turnover to the turkey dinner. (Changes at noon.) We were invited to sample. Having just eaten rasher upon rasher of bacon and quite a few apple dumplings—keep an eye on the buffet for fresh batches—I did not have much room. Still, I tried dollops of sweet potato casserole, mac and cheese, cole slaw (especially good), and surprisingly, a new apple dish (cinnamon). I skipped the turkey (breast only), baked beans, bbq chicken, and bratwurst. The ham and cheesy potatoes stays on the buffet by the way.

This is (very) good cheap eats. The breakfast buffet was $8. Sure, it is a buffet, with all its steam, but this is the kinda food that stands up to the vapors. And, as noted, items like the fried dumplings (not on the steam table), get changed quickly. There is nothing artsy or innovative on the buffet, nor is there a lot of technique in the goods. It nearly all stands on its raw quality, ham and bacon and farm eggs that just do not seem to show up in city markets. When that did not work, the secret weapon (in Wisconsin), add liberal doses of cheese or butter or both. It is worth a stop fer sure.

Apple Holler sells a bunch of Wisconsin stuff, cheese spread and summer sausages. There are many, many more types of baked goods and sweets made from apples like apple dumplings, apple turnovers, taffy apples, and apple cider donuts. I resisted all of that but could not resist the canned goods, getting some corn relish and a spicy bread and butter pickle. Raining, we skipped the animals.


Take I-94 North. Exit Hwy KR (exit #337). Turn left at the off ramp stop sign. Go under the overpass (I-94). Turn right at the stop sign (west frontage road also known as S. Sylvania Avenue). Apple Holler is 1/4 mile down the frontage road.

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