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Foodies will find three destinations within an hour s drive of Toledo that are worth the price of the gas. Not only is there a food experience waiting at the end of the journey, but make sure to pack a cooler to purchase products that are not easily found close to home.
First, a trip to Grand Rapids for a tour of Providence Metropark Isaac Ludwig Mill off Route 24 should begin with a stroll down Front Street in the center of town where you ll uncover a variety of food treats.
There s fresh fudge at Dandy s Lane; old-fashioned candies at Olde Gilead Country Store; specialty foods, including Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing, jams, and jellies at Mary s Apple Orchard LLC Gifts & Goodies, and a beautiful assortment of glassware and collectibles at Out of Hand Affordable Luxuries.
With a variety of restaurants to select from, I had lunch at LaRoe s where the Fiesta Salad a tomato stuffed with chicken salad is served with fresh melon and mini pumpkin muffins. The soup of the day was the creamy delicious artichoke spinach.
Back over the route 578 bridge, wind your way to the mill where curator Laird Henderson and David Hummel give demonstrations. On the ground level of the historic mill, the sawmill cuts wood taken from the park system. On the second and third levels, the working gristmill grinds corn, wheat, and sometimes buckwheat, spelt, and rye. Tours are given daily by reservation.
The original mill dates from 1822. As the top mill stone turns the damsel it bumps a shoe which drops grain into the millstone to grind the grain. The ground grain falls into an auger which carries the grain to a bucket elevator, taking it to the third floor where it falls out and is sifted to separate the shells.
Shells of corn are too tough for us (to eat), but it is fed to chickens on a farm, Mr. Hummel told the school kids on a tour the day I visited. Wheat shells are called bran.
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That cornmeal at $2 a sack can be made into cornbread, muffins, hush puppies, tortillas, and even the summer fair corn dogs. A couple of years ago, I ground blue corn, Mr. Henderson told me. Oh, did it make good tortillas! Sometimes he works with legacy grains from Sauder Village in Archbold.
Isaac Ludwig Mill has milling and crafts demonstrations Saturday and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. It is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Combine it with a canal boat ride, which is $3 for children ages 2 to 12 and $5 and $6 for adults. Evening charters are available. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and noon to 4 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Shortened hours through October.
Next, visit Chocolate: The Exhibition at Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. which runs through Sept. 7. Heading toward the Henry Ford, a mere two miles from I-94 exit 206 at Oakwood Boulevard North, travelers pass through the quaint and well-kept Dearborn streets followed by the massive and well-kept brick walls of the Ford Motor Co. complex.
On the left is the Dearborn Inn built by Henry Ford in 1931 to accommodate overnight travelers arriving at the Ford Airport, which was located opposite the inn on Oarkwood Boulevard in those years. It was the world s first airport hotel and is now a Marriott Hotel.
It s perfect for lunch. Although the buffet included entrees, salads, and side dishes, I opted for two appetizers, a good combination for a traveler: cool gazpacho and smoked Irish salmon rosettes with crostini, fresh field greens, diced capers, onion and chopped egg.
At the Henry Ford, the chocolate exhibit has panels from the traveling exhibition from the Field Museum in Chicago with a strong focus on American innovations of chocolate. On the exterior, curator Donna Braden helped design nine cases featuring topics such as Hershey s, which mass-produced chocolate.
[Milton S] Hershey has been called the Henry Ford of chocolate makers, she says.
Other panels include the importance of the soda fountain, national chocolate innovations such as classic American candy bars, chocolate beverages including Bosco which dates from the 1950s, a holiday candy showcase, and local Michigan chocolates.
Inside the bi-lingual exhibit with texts in Spanish and English, there are interactive displays and artifacts from the ancient Mayans to show how people discovered the cacao bean and processed it.
A gift shop sells assorted chocolates and chocolate pasta and beverages. The Chocolate Cafe sells items by the piece: Triple Chocolate Brown Slab, Chocolate Fountain, Ganache Bar, Buckeyes, and a Chocolate Chip Cookie. Chocolate Cherry Walnut Hobo Bread is $5.75 per loaf.
Visit the other exhibits at the Henry Ford as well as Greenfield Village. The Henry Ford Museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $14 adults, $13 seniors, and $10 for youths; members and children four and under are free.
For information, call 313-982-6001.
The Shops at KerryTown at 407 North Fifth Ave. in downtown Ann Arbor include 20 locally owned businesses. Many of them have a food connection.
At Durham s Tracklements Custom Smoked Provisions, 212 E. Kingsley St., T.R. Durham smokes fish such as rainbow trout, bluefish, haddock, and salmon, and meats.
Varieties include the Original Highland Smoked Salmon, Pecan Wood Smoked, Thai Smoked Salmon, and Sea Salt Cured Smoked Salmon. Asian style miso/mirin/tamari salmon is marinade- cured and warm-smoked for a dense, moist, flaky texture. Prices are about $24 per pound.
He also smokes meats such as duck breast, beef, pork, venison, tenderloin, lamb, or pork loin. I make a prosciutto cure for eve, he says about the adjacent restaurant owned by Eve Aronoff. The restaurant is open for dinner with French-based contemporary cuisine.
Durham s Highland Classic Smoked Salmon is also sold at the popular Morgan & York at 1928 Packard, several miles away. The wine shop sells D Artagnan wild boar sausage, ground meat, French fresh duck foie gras and Hudson Valley foie gras, duck breasts, and a selection of artisan cheeses, pates, and breads from Avalon Bakery in downtown Detroit. French style pastry is available on Thursday through Saturday.
Mr. Durham is a great promoter of the surrounding shops at KerryTown. At Everyday Cook, cookware and kitchen tools are sold. Cooking classes are given and lunch is served Tuesday through Saturday. Brendan McCall, graduate of Ottawa Hills High School, is the executive chef. The menu changes daily, says the University of Michigan graduate. There are six items: a soup, seafood, 2 meats, vegetarian entree, and dessert. Lunch ranges from $12 to $18.
Everyday Wine features regional and value wines averaging $10 to $12 a bottle. They are wines off the beaten path from around the world, says Mary Campbell. For example, an organic white wine from Provence called Infine uses a grape you don t see often called Clairette.
Sweetwater s Cafe has coffee, teas, and pastries. Monahan s Seafood Market has fish and seafood and a lunch counter. Sparrow Markets has fresh produce, groceries, homemade sausages, Amish-raised poultry and grass-fed meats. Kosmo Eatery has American and Korean fare.
Kathie Smith is The Blade s food editor.
Contact her at: email@example.com or 419-724-6155.