Last weekend the hand model and I drove southeast to the once-a-year Julian's Apple Days Festival, and then missed it. I hadn't been since I was 8, so memory wasn't serving me well. Neither was their signage, nor their website. (Information on the festival's whereabouts was via phone only – talk about small-town time warp.)
As soon as we got into town, we saw throngs of people and parked the second we found a spot (call it trigger happy from living in LA 9 years). Mesmerized by pony-drawn carriages, apple everything (apple cider, apple butter, dried apple rings, caramel apples), and the ridiculously long line outside MOM's Pie's, suddenly we had forgotten all about the festival.
It wasn't until we had ordered a whole take-home Flaky Apple Pie, devoured a quick slice with warm Cheddar on top, and purchased a 1960's wind-up watch necklace at the antique store next door, did we realize "hey, aren't we supposed to pay a $5 admission fee somewhere to pick apples and drink from the beer & wine garden?" Oops.
- for me the melted cheese just adds another textured layer, but my hand model swears by it, gooey 'n rather mild Slice of Flakey Apple Pie with Sharp Cheddar Cheese $4.95
- could use more salt 'n cinnamon to spice things up, otherwise simple, tart 'n fresh with an impressive perfectly raised crust, Whole Flaky Apple Pie $14.95
After speaking to the lovely lady inside the antique shop, she told us the festival was about a mile east of the main town at Menghini Winery. We figured, "what've we got to lose?" (Besides our parking spot.) By the time we arrived, it had shut down and the winery stopped serving. Thankfully the coffee guy in the side room offered us a rare Heirloom Snow White Apple – with flesh, not skin, as white as snow – on the house. It was very crisp 'n juicy with a faint tartness vs. sweetness.
Driving back into town we stumbled upon Julian Brewing Co. and Bailey Woodpit Barbeque. We drowned our sorrows of missing the once-a-year festival in a gluttonous meal of stick-to-your-ribs down-home comfort food and hard cider.
The 2nd Grubdown:
- the star of the night, juicy 'n tender with crunchy veg and a flakey bun, Grass and Grain-fed Smoked Tri Tip Sandwich with Grilled Peppers, Onion, and Side of Cole Slaw $8 (Half Order)
- tangy 'n sweet sauce, kinda chewy 'n fatty pork, Half Rack of Baby Back Ribs with Side of too intense chopped Raw Garlic & Parmesan Fries and devilishly creamy Mac & Cheese $14
Next year we (and you!) will have to do ourselves a favor by CALLING Tracy Turner at 760-803-4377 like their website lists, instead of just showing up. Thankfully, Julian offered enough charming distractions to make our day trip.
MOM's Pies. 2119 Main Street, Julian, CA 92036. 760-765-2472
Menghini Winery. 1150 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian, CA 92036. 760-765-2072.
Bailey Woodpit BBQ. 2307 Main St, Julian, CA 92036. 760-765-3757.