“Taste so good makes a grown man cry, sweet cherry pie”
State 9: Michigan - July 26, 2017
We woke up in a Mount Pleasant, MI Walmart, groggy after having a restless night. First on the agenda today was a 2 ½ hour drive north to Traverse City, MI: The cherry capitol of the world. That is a very serious claim, and we wanted to learn how the city backed it up. As it turns out, the city produces more cherries per capita than any other place in the world. There was cherry wine, cherry strudel, cherry cheese, cherry burgers, cherry chutney, cherry salsa, cherry jam, cherry ice cream and so much more. Everywhere you looked in town there were cherries, cherries and more cherries in any and every possible combination and application. Not surprisingly, there were dozens of orchards where you can pick your own cherries. We attempted to go cherry picking as neither one of us have ever done so, but mother nature ended that fairly quickly. As soon as we got out to the orchard, the heavens suddenly opened up, and it began raining ferociously. We were absolutely drenched by the time we made it back to Rosie.
The Cherry City even hosts an internationally recognized cherry festival the first 2 weeks of July, and we were seriously bummed we had just missed it. Although Traverse City, MI possesses infinite ways to get your cherry on, one use of cherries reigns supreme above all others. The one, the only, the immortal cherry pie! Cherry pie is serious business in Traverse City, MI. On July 25 1987, Chef Pierre Bakeries set a Guinness Book World record for the largest cherry pie in the entire world. It weighed 28,500 pounds, and was 17 feet and 6 inches in diameter. While the pie has since been lost to the ages, the actual pie pan used to construct this culinary achievement, is displayed in the city to commemorate the momentous feat. Not surprisingly, the pie pan also holds the record of being the largest pie pan in the entire world, which is pictured below.
When it comes to cherry pie, one name reigns supreme among all others: The Traverse Pie Company. More specifically, their cherry crumb pie has been universally hailed as the pie to which all others are measured. The world famous Italian chef, and Food Network star Mario Batali was quoted, as calling Traverse City Pie Companies, Cherry Crumb Pie “A religious experience, and the best pie he has ever tasted”. The Traverse Pie Company is a café serving a variety of soups and sandwiches in addition to their award winning pie. All of that was irrelevant to us! We came for one thing and one thing only: Their legendary cherry crumb pie! Upon opening the front door, the sweet aroma of baked excellence immediately overwhelmed our senses. We then took our place in the long line that winded throughout the cafe.
It was 2:00 on a Wednesday afternoon and the place was packed! We didn’t want to be absolute piggy’s, so Lori I shared an 8-inch cherry pie for $7.99. As soon as the fork pierced the flaky crumb crust, granting access to gooey cherry interior, I got my first aroma of the goodness that was about to come. I carefully scooped up an even mixture of cherry filling, and crumb topping. My hand was shaking and my lips were quivering as I brought the legendary spoon of pie to my mouth. As soon as the pie touched my palate, I was overcome with emotion, and tears of joy began streaming down my face. This pie lived up to all of the hype, and was the best dessert we have ever tasted!
We then drove 2 hours north to a Walmart in Gaylord, MI, and had a restful night sleep.