Friday, October 1, 2010

Mood's Farm Market, Mullica Hill

When I was but a young pup, piloting my Centurion Ironman Dave Scott (and I'm deeply sorry that the best picture I can find of this frame in my rigorous 30 seconds of googling is one that's built up as a fixed-gear, but mine too has been a fixed-gear since about 1994) around the wilds of South Jersey, Route 77, Bridgeton Pike, was a frequent choice of...route, I guess. From Pitman to Pole Tavern and back was something like 20 miles, and that route will take you right past Mood's Farm Market every time. When I think back to those days, I always tear up a little. When I think about farm markets in general (basically Mood's or else Duffield's, where Jesus is Lord) I also tear up a little - nothing better than abundant fresh produce, is there? Don't laugh, I mean it.

Not sure what you're supposed to do with these, but they're gooseneck gourds (and I'm not just making that up based on appearance). It's quite festive to see a big pile of potentially useless objects, isn't it? That's what must happen to a lot of gourds, and in fact pumpkins. How many pumpkins get grown just to sit on a porch until they rot? I'm not saying they should all be made into pies (much as I like a good pumpkin pie), just wondering whether that's a great use of resources. Same for these goosenecks. Shoot me before I get sanctimonious.

Mood's does a big line in pick-your-own. I've only done it a few times, always as a kid - strawberries, raspberries, that sort of thing. Mom would love to tell you how I ate a lot but didn't get any in the basket. These apples are already picked, obviously, but they're still a good thing. Cheap because they're damaged, perfect for pies, applesauce (geez, how many apples did I peel for sauce on this trip?)... I didn't even get any pictures of the honey and condiment area of their retail showroom, but I wish I could have stocked a whole pantry from there (peach salsa, chow-chow, apple butter...oooooh, apple butter).

We're getting closer to the payoff here, which is also apple-related, but first you just have to admire the counter. Dad loves to complain about how developed the Pitman Metropolitan Area has become. His observations are driven partly by the fact that he's comparing it to 65 years ago, when the roads weren't paved and there were still pirates marauding on Alcyon Lake and partly because it's true. On the other hand, this is only 15 minutes away, and it's surrounded by peach and apple orchards, cornfields, and dairy farms. You just have to know which way to drive!

Here's the first payoff - gallon jugs of apple cider in the fridge. Hands up - how many people in the audience recognize this as cider? Or do you all think cider is a clear, lightly alcoholic beverage? I bet it's the latter. Look, I love a good cider from Normandy as much as the next guy. Strongbow or Woodchuck, maybe a bit less. But this beats the nuts off those guys. The only thing that could taste better than a big glass of cider is...

An apple crush, which is an apple cider Slurpee (or Icee, or Slush Puppy, whatever registered trademark you want to use for your sugar-laden artificial granita-like drink). It struck me as I was drinking one of these for the third time on this trip - apple crush is on my list of best flavors in the world. The only other things I know are firmly on that list are maple syrup and yuzu kosho. Go figure. I'd say this is worth a trip for, if you happen to be as close as, say, Washington or New York.

Would I exaggerate? Hell, I didn't even mention cider doughnuts.
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