On our own for an afternoon, I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably cool weather and find us some strawberries right off the plant. As the pickin's up North were slim, we opted to head southwest to Indiana. I don’t like to drive on highways on a good day – but especially so on a beautiful cool summer day when the alternatives are so wonderful. Therefore, we opted to take the first course of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, and followed Lakeshore Drive through to 41 to 12/20, Indianapolis Boulevard, through to Highland, IN. Though I’ve driven this route previously, I had forgotten the beauty of the parks and marinas south of Hyde Park.
So, after a fairly short drive, we found ourselves in Highland, at Johnsen’s Blue Top Drive-In, one of the last of a dying breed that is probably no more. Sparky loved the kitsch of the place (not to mention the vintage Star Wars pinball machine inside) and, as it was windy, we opted to eat inside the car. He actually made our young waitress blush by shouting, sparky voce (an antonym for sotto voce) “The service in this place is GR-EAT!” and, after the appetite increase from channeling Tony the Tiger, dug in with abandon to a nicely charred hot dog, seasoned fries, sherbet and a Green River soda. I ordered a pork tenderloin sandwich, a very nice rendition- breading a bit heavy for perfection, but still quite good.
After a nice lunch, we turned the corner onto Ridge Ave (or Rt.6) and drove for about 8 miles to Johnson’s Strawberry Farm in Hobart. (feel free to insert your favorite double-entendre about Johnsons here) Johnson’s is a large restaurant/farmstand/garden center and at first I was concerned we’d be headed into a farm disfigured by corn mazes and pony rides, but that was fortunately not to be.
farmstand at the moment had, of course, strawberries and a few other local products, along with a few veggies like tomatoes and zucchini. The garden center put ours to shame, with a whole series of little “rooms” with fountains and animal topiaries – but of particular interest was a large section of herb plants, in particular a large variety of basil, including two different varieties of Thai basil.