It’s hard to decide which is better: Getting a daily dose of vitamin D for the few months of Bellingham summer, or the smell of crisp fall air appearing briefly in the evening to signal it’s time once again to layer your sweaters and eat more soup.
It can be hard for us sunshine-deprived folks to say goodbye to shorts and tequila season, but it’s not all bad. I recently welcomed the coming autumn in the warm embrace of Bellewood Acres with the Gallus Brothers cheerily plucking strings for one of the final outdoor concerts of the summer, beneath glowing stringed lights and in front of Mt. Baker, spectacularly aglow in the sunset.
My friend and I had gone to see what all the fuss was about and to test out some of the new bistro’s menu items, but what we got a whole lot more than that.
Here is what I learned at Bellewood Acres: There’s something for everyone. Literally everyone. Is your eccentric uncle in town? There are samples of every kind of fudge for him to try. Entertaining your sister’s kids this weekend? They have self-guided golf-cart farm tours for $5 (I think that’d be worth your while without kids as well). Apple U-pick is open for the season, pumpkin u-pick will open Sept. 30, and there are distillery tours and tastings and plenty of homegrown food to munch on. Honestly, this place is as overstimulating as it is inspiring.
It wasn’t exactly the subdued patio dining I had envisioned, but after we took in the hustle and bustle and visual distractions, we ordered at the counter and settled into our seats to people watch while we waited for our food.
We ordered the French Farmer sandwich ($9.25) and, prompted by the bistro’s menu creator, Ari Ambrutis, the Gobbler ($8.65). On principle, I don’t normally trust foods with silly names, and having eaten more than my fair share of sandwiches in my lifetime, I’m usually bored by anything that comes on room-temperature wheat bread. That being said, this was definitely one of the better cold sandwiches I’ve had in Bellingham. Applewood smoked turkey with a healthy dose of goat cheese, greens, red onion and their homemade chipotle apple raspberry sauce made this sandwich hearty but not heavy, with just the right amount of sweet to savory.
The French Farmer was more what I was expecting, and just as good: apple-smoked turkey breast, compte cheese (my favorite, and hard to come by in this town), apples and homemade honey mustard, all grilled on Bellewood’s roasted garlic foccacia.
Bellewood Acres makes an enormous array of items in-house, including bread and plenty of different condiments, as well as in their retail section. Ari kindly brought us a sample of the pulled pork, which was sweet and wonderfully tender, not too saucy, and sure to hit the spot of any barbecue lover ($10 for the sandwich with coleslaw and chips).
We washed down all the homemade goodness with some of their house hard apple cider. Apple cider, alcoholic or not, is downright brilliant, and Bellewood makes it right. Their regular cider is sweet, tangy and rich. Their hard cider is crisp, dry and refreshing. Their “bubbly” (sparkling cider, not champagne) is bright and flavorful. Having tasted all the varieties, it’s obvious these guys really know what to do with an apple.
If I had any more room, I would have loved to try every kind of pie ($3.50/slice), but I did manage to make a little space for an apple cider donut sample. If you’ve ever experienced the magic of Daily Dozen Donuts in Pike Place Market, you know that a brown paper bag full of piping-hot donuts tossed with cinnamon sugar is basically heaven on earth. Bellewood has, thank goodness, appropriated this idea and brought it to Bellingham, where you can get a bag of 20 fresh miniature donuts for $4, and everything will seem right with the world.
Bellewood Acres has an excellent website with loads of information regarding classes, tours and U-pick information, so next time you have a day to kill, I’d recommend making the drive to the farm—or at least perusing their website for upcoming events. They have plenty of options, and if absolutely none of them manage to suit you, at least they have pie. And everyone likes pie, right?
Check out more food writing on Sally’s blog, http://www.wolfsoup.com
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