Tag Archives: Cider Mills

Cranbrook Art Museum, Village of Franklin

16 Nov

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After two years and much anticipation, the Cranbrook Art Museum re-opened 11-11-11 with their first exhibition in the renovated space. Designed by Eliel and Eero Saarinen and opened in 1942 the museum was due for some sprucing up. Additionally the museum was expanded by 20,000 sq. ft. with the attachment of the new collections wing. To celebrate the grand re-opening the museum is offering expanded hours and tours, lectures and events for 11 days, and each day the museum will be open for, you guessed it, 11 hours.These special tours are only offered until November 21, don’t miss your chance to see the vault! Kris was itching to get in an old car and go for a scenic drive; between the two lane roads, magnificent homes, and remaining fall color, a trip out to Bloomfield Hills fit the bill perfectly.

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We didn’t know what to expect when we got to Cranbrook, would there be parking, would there be a line to get it, would it be so crowded we wouldn’t be able to see anything if we did get in? We were pleasantly surprised when we found a great parking spot right by the museum, and then again, when we walked right in. Our timing was right on, as there was a tour of the vault, aka the collections wing at 1pm. The new exhibit is called “No object is an Island”, it was an interesting pairing of artists who previously went to Cranbrook with today’s contemporary artists.

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We had just enough time to finish looking around when the guide gathered us together to go down to the vault. It was all very surreal to me, like being in some Hollywood film where a big heist is about to take place. We entered through the curved steel door to the faint sound of a tripped alarm in the background. The door slid closed behind us and we started our walk down the concrete block hallway. It is all so modern and high-tech looking,  a grey maze of dimly lit hallways, the ceiling has a cage like covering suspended over it, art objects are displayed in small rooms behind a glass walls, it feels very futuristic. We were taken into different rooms where the collections are stored; the brilliance of the new wing is that whatever is not on view in the museum is stored in a manner where it can be easily accessed and observed by students and the public community when desired. It was a fascinating tour.

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We continued our lovely drive, stopping in at the Village of Franklin. This tiny enclave oozes charm, from the historic homes to the quaint shops, it’s hard to pass through town without stopping. We were ready for lunch and the Franklin Grill and Tavern looked very inviting. Built in the 1840’s the building was originally home to the local carriage and blacksmith shop, the uses changed over the years and in 2001 it became the grill. The building is painted barn red with pretty white trim, the outside is adorned in Autumn decor. The inside has a sort of rustic-contemporary feel to it, a wood rafter ceiling and the same barn red colored walls works well and feels very comfortable. The menu changes with the seasons, and supports Michigan farmers. Everything sounded delicious, and every plate that went by made us rethink our selection. Finally we settled on the Art of Sicily sandwich; artichokes, mushrooms, spinach, and red onion all grilled and placed on a wonderful focaccia bread then topped with mozzarella and a balsamic marinade, it was sooooo good! Served alongside were the best sweet potato fries I have ever eaten. Thick, steak cut pieces of sweet potato, so crispy on the outside, there was a nice crunch biting into them, yet moist and tender on the inside. The Turkey Stretch salad was wonderful too; roasted turkey breast cut into thick strips placed on a bed of fresh baby spinach, sprinkled with toasted walnuts, dried cherries, the perfect amount of goat cheese and a tasty chive vinaigrette, it was outstanding. $8 for the sandwich and $12 for the salad, not bad, the quality of food is worth it. It was a really nice experience, the staff was great, the atmosphere relaxing, and a menu that left us wanting to come back soon.

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We left the car parked in the back parking lot and walked over to the Franklin Cider Mill. Completed in 1837, the mill has been a staple of Franklin for generations and has a huge local following. We make at least one trip here each Fall, you are always guaranteed hot donuts and great cider. The outside has that great cider mill appeal; quaint historic structure situated on a river, offering everything from apples, jams, local honey, caramel and candy apples and Michigan squash to pies, scones, breads, and their famous cinnamon spice donuts. They only serve the one kind of donut here, which makes it easy for people who have a hard time making up their mind. We purchased our donuts which were handed over to us in a brown paper bag, you could feel the heat coming through. By the time we made our way outdoors to eat them, a small grease stain had formed on the bottom of the bag, assuring us that they would be excellent! We ate two each and washed them down with cups of cider. Standing on the small wooden deck with an empty  cup in one had and remnants of donut on the other, I looked around the place; dozens of mallards floating in the river waiting to be fed, the last remnants of Autumn color in the trees, hold out stacks of pumpkins and cornstalks and the combined scent of apples and fried donuts in the air. Wearing only a light jacket in November, going for one last ride in an old car for the season; it doesn’t get much better than this.

Halloween in Romeo

3 Nov

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It was another beautiful Fall Sunday, which means we had a chance to visit yet one more cider mill. This time we went north to 32 Mile to Miller’s Big Red, the oldest U-Pick apple orchard in Washington Township. You’ll recognize Miller’s immediately by the giant smiling apple wearing a green hat. We took a walk through the greenhouse first to check out the pumpkin selection, it was the day before Halloween, so the pumpkins that remained were displayed down the center aisle. Families walked about pushing their cart deciding which ones would serve as their jack-o-lanterns. It seems the children always go for size, the bigger the better, dad reluctantly agrees as he loads it on the cart and pushes towards the check out. Next up, the cider mill; they were not pressing the apples but it was still interesting to see the equipment and the cider making process. Miller’s offers a nice variety of goodies; fresh baked pies, breads, caramel apples with nuts, sprinkles, or candies. There are jams and jellies and of course cider and donuts! It’s impossible to leave the building without a warm donut and a cup of cider, for me that is the essence of Autumn. Groups of people were arriving, some heading to the petting farm, others gathered for a hayride, all enjoying the mild temperatures and brilliant colors of an October day in south eastern Michigan.

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Just a short drive away you will find the charming Village of Romeo. The actual downtown and original neighborhood have changed very little from the 1850’s when wealthy timber families were building Victorian beauties up and down local streets. Drive through the village on any ordinary day, the homes are nurtured and well-kept with large trees that line the streets. It is all quite peaceful and takes you back to a time when things were simple and slow-paced. But, drive through in October and things look a little different; skeletons and ghouls reign as front yards are turned into cemeteries, clusters of carved out pumpkins rest on porches, the windows of houses are boarded up, and entire homes are wrapped up in webs of what must be gigantic spiders. This is Tillson Street in October! For over 20 years and counting Terror On Tillson has become one of Romeo’s biggest tourist draws. Beginning early in the month neighbors begin the slow and complicated process of decorating for Halloween, you might be asking yourself, what’s she talking about? It’s Halloween, how complicated can that be? Well, let me first say, these are no ordinary decorations! I would compare it more to a movie set than decorating, scenes are elaborate; from graveyards complete with wrought iron looking fences and clever headstones, to a cornfield complete with scarecrows, and a grand masquerade ball. There’s a castle and a pirate ship, one house even has an electric chair. The creativity is awe-inspiring; fog machines, spooky music, cellar doors clamor and light peeks through as something tries to escape, nearby a hearse is parked on a lawn. It is absolutely amazing, really. If you have small children I would recommend visiting during daylight hours, at night the scariness level goes up a whole bunch of notches, adults gasp as they are startled by special effects.  One house sells T-shirts, a neighborhood cookbook, and refreshments, with all of the proceeds going to academic and athletic scholarships for Romeo High School Students. The homeowners pay for everything, including the candy they pass out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. They estimate they get about 2000 children! The street is closed off at that time for safety reasons. It is truly a unique event that you have to see for yourself.

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CHECK OUT MORE HAUNTING PHOTOS HERE

Thee Office Pub & Cookery is located on South Main in downtown Romeo. They say as a small town Romeo is unique because the downtown never suffered a major fire, therefore many of the buildings and their interiors are original, most with ornate tin ceilings. Thee Office Pub is one such example, exposed brick walls, rich dark wood and decorative ceiling give it that historic charm. Opened since 1980 it is a neighborhood favorite, on our visit it seemed as though patrons and staff were all old friends. The menu’s offerings include sandwiches, homemade soups, burgers and pizza. On the suggestion of a friend we ordered a small pizza with our selected toppings and an antipasto salad. The pizza was 8 good-size slices, the crust thin and tender, very good. The antipasto could probably feed more than 2, but we were really hungry. Crisp lettuce, chunks of ham and salami, peppers, onions, tomatoes and shredded cheese, delicious.  All in all we had a great afternoon get away.

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Rochester Cider Mill, Van Hoosen Farm, Chomp

21 Oct

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It’s already mid-October and we haven’t nearly had our fill of cider and donuts. Fortunately southeastern Michigan is laden with wonderful apple orchards and cider mills. The Rochester Cider Mill on N Rochester Rd has been treating families to delicious apple cider for over 30 years. When you are here you feel as though you are out in the country, but in reality you are only about 2 miles north of downtown Rochester.

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Inside you are taken with the aroma of fresh apples, cider, and fried donuts, the quintessential perfume of Autumn. They have a lot to choose from; donuts come in plain, cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, blueberry, chocolate glazed, and our favorite maple glazed. The maple donuts are so delicious, you have to try one (or a whole dozen) ! They also make apple crisp, and pies, everything is homemade. Caramel apples, Michigan made maple syrup and honey is also available. Be sure and walk around a bit inside; beautiful Autumn displays decorate the space. Haystacks are piled up high and adorned with brightly colored mums in full bloom and gourds in funky shapes and colors. Bunches of Indian corn hang along the wall side by side with antique farm tools. Long tables topped with white paper bags spill over with several varieties of fresh picked apples. A vintage stove holds half gallon containers of home grown popcorn, they have something for everyone. After you have made your purchases have a seat outdoors at one of the picnic tables to enjoy your cider and donuts in the fresh country air.

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The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm is located in what was originally Stony Creek Village.  Avon Township, which is now Rochester and Rochester Hills is the oldest community in Oakland County. The first settlers  came from New York and New England, this was a typical farm community made even more attractive with the close proximity of the Clinton River, Stony Creek and Paint Creek, the museum shares with us the history of Rochester. 

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The 16 acres of grounds are lovely, and it doesn’t get better than this time of year with the trees draped in reds, golds and oranges. In early October Van Hoosen farms hosts their annual Stonewall Pumpkin Festival. Everyone is invited out for a day of pumpkin carving and fun. Then from 7-9pm the pumpkins are lit and placed on the stone wall, it is quite a sight!  Many folks leave their work of art on display and the museum leaves them out for all to enjoy, I love going out there and checking them out. You can take a stroll along Stony Creek, or have a seat under the gazebo; the scenery is picturesque any direction you look.

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Start your tour in the museum, for a small fee ($5.00 for adults), you can visit the museum and tour the farmhouse. You have to plan it though, as home tours are given at 1:30 and 3:00 Friday and Saturday only. Located in what once was the dairy barn,the museum is top-notch; gleaming knotty pine floors and wonderful exhibits take you back in time to when mills were water-powered and ground your grain into flour.  A lot went on in this town, can you imagine back in 1907, 8 passenger trains and 25 freight trains stopped in Rochester every day? Van Hoosen Farm produced and sold milk and other dairy products such as ice cream, and cottage cheese. It’s a very interesting museum to visit, no matter what area you are from.  

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The farm house tells the story of 5 generations of the Taylor-Van Hoosen families, the women in this family were amazing! The house itself was built in several stages through the years, it has been maintained perfectly and is simply charming. The building itself has been restored, most of the furnishings are original. Pictures on the walls put faces to the names of the families who lived here, items they picked from travels and from past generations reflect who they were. A tour guide takes you through the timeline of the home and its occupants. Both Bertha and Sarah were strong women; ahead of their time, they changed the world and how it did things. The house is filled with little details; electricity in unexpected places , hidden doorways, and fascinating tales. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

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Downtown Rochester has changed through the years, but still has that old fashioned appeal. Restaurants, shops and galleries line Main Street, so when it comes to eating, you have several options. We chose a place at the south end of town named Chomp. Family owned, this deli, grille, and juice bar has been opened for about a year now. Classified as “healthy” fast food, the menu has tons of choices from soup and salads to sandwiches and burgers, with plenty of vegetarian choices in the mix. Ok, the Avocado Burger sound too good to pass up, so we ordered it. Kris really, really wanted the fries, but I had too much guilt from the donuts we ate earlier in the day, so we had the classic salad instead. The burgers are made from sirloin and cooked to order, ours was topped with avocado, bacon. blue cheese, sauteed onion, lettuce and tomato; thank goodness we got the salad, right!  We enjoyed both items, sitting on stools along the counter facing Main Street. There’s something fun about a window seat where you can look out and see what’s going on.