Thursday, April 16, 2009

Remembering Mackinac

Paul and I visited Mackinac Island for our honeymoon. It was probably the best week of my life: the weather was beautiful, we were surrounded by the deep, blue lake, and the island was covered with a gorgeous medley of trees and shrubbery. We stayed at the Inn at Stonecliffe in their summer home. The room was substantially large with decor reminiscent of the Victorian era. I was especially thrilled to discover that we had a whirpool in our better way to relax!
We basically spent the whole week running, walking, biking, relaxing on the beach, and EATING. There were so many cute, unique restaurants on the island and we had so much fun exploring (or rather tasting) each and every one. One of the most memorable dinners took place at the famous Grand Hotel. The dinner was a flat rate of 75 dollars per person and was served in 5 courses. The first course was a soup of choice, followed by a salad, entree, side dish, and dessert. All the menu items were written in such a flowerly, fancy manner that they might as well have been written in Mayan. I randomly chose one of the soups, recognizing that it had apple in it. What the waiter brought was one of the most refreshingly delicious dishes I have ever tried. It was, in fact, a chilled sweet apple soup, topped with a dollup of cream and candied walnuts. One taste of the soup and I was in heaven....creamy, rich with a light lemon flavor. The candied walnuts helped accent the sweetness of the apples themselves. I let the hubby sneak a spoonful and immediately after tasting he agreed that it was absolutely delicious. He jealously watched me savor every single spoonful as he poked at his boring French Onion Soup (he ordered it only because it was the only thing he recognized on the menu...he's not too into trying new things). The rest of the dinner was delicious but the taste of the Cold Apple Soup continued to haunt my brain...I just had to have it again!
After the honeymoon, I scoured many cookbooks for a recipe to a soup that rivaled the one I had tasted on Mackinac Island. Several versions surfaced, but all failed to be similar...most relied on the addition of spices to boost the flavor of the soup rather than the simple purity of freshly sliced apples and lemon juice. Finally, one recipe in particular surfaced from the Chef2Chef portal. With a few simple additions, the final product was very similar to the soup from the Grand Hotel!

Cold Apple Soup
Serves: 4
4-5 Granny Smith Apples (peeled, cored, and diced into 1/2 inch pieces)
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
1/2 c. Sugar (plus more to taste)
3 c. Water
2 T. Flour
2T. Water
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 c. Whipping Cream (chilled)
Thin Apple Slices, Candied Walnuts, and Whipped Cream for Garnish
In a large stockpot, combine apples, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and water. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until apples are tender. Whisk together the 2 T of Flour with 2 T of water. Add 2 T. of the hot soup liquid and whisk together. Slowly whisk this mixture into the soup misture until it begins to thicken. Add wine. Allow to cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and chill until cold (about 4 hours). Stir in cream and pour into chilled bowls. Top with a splay of thin apples slices, sprinkle with candied walnuts, and top off with a very small dollop of whipped cream. Bon Apetite!

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