When you walk through the door at the Apple Valley Country Kitchen you feel like you’ve gone back in time. Antique clocks and beautiful wooden furniture line the walls. Homemade preserves beckon from the shelf- promising sweet indulgence and the smell of fresh baked breads and desserts wafting from the kitchen is enough to make you want to give up the modern life…well, almost. Cartwright Manitoba is home to more and more Mennonites. There is a brand new church and school just outside of town and at the Apple Valley Country Kitchen, peppered between farmers in dusty jeans and tourists in everyday apparel, you see people wearing plain clothes. The mennonite women look much the same way they did four centuries ago; wearing long conservatively patterned dressed. Their hair is neatly tucked back behind black bonnets…and out from the bottom of their long skirts you may chance to see… striped stockings? It’s then that you notice that maybe things may have changed a little in the last 400 years. If you closed your eyes and just listened to the conversation at the Apple Valley Country Kitchen you wouldn’t notice any German at all. English is the language of choice and it is spoken clear and well. Evidently the Mennonite community in Cartwright is moving in the direction of modernity.
The Apple Valley Country Kitchen is the perfect blend of old and new. The food is homemade and delicious, but the woman of the house, Esther is pleased to point out that that she isn’t the baker- her husband Mark is the one who kneads the bread. Mark is also the craftsman and the antiques being offered for sale in the little shop have been refurbished by him. I asked Mark if he’d ever considered selling his wares online…but I think that idea was a little too far out there. No, he said, they prefer to just sell at the shop. Esther bustles from table to table, keeping up a friendly banter and making everyone feel looked after and welcome. She plopped the most delicious looking meal down at our table- just out of the baby’s reach. Melted swiss and mushroom with chicken. Served with a side of all-dressed chips (how Canadian) and homemade sweet pickles. I was lucky that day, Calixa didn’t want her pickles! The hours are the only thing about the Apple Valley Country Kitchen that leave something to be desired; they are only open Wed, Thur, Fri so weekend trips from the city are out- sorry. They only take cash of cheque so forget about your Visa.
But if you do re-arrange your schedule to make the trip out you’ll find it well worth the effort. The food is the perfect blend of old and new and the taste is simply delicious! Peruse the beautiful wood furniture and maybe even order a custom-made clock while you are here. The Apple Valley Country Kitchen is a delight to discover and worth the trip out to Cartwright.