Oh man, you guys, I love pickles. I always have, but my tastes are pretty specific. Sweet pickles hold no cache for me and all decorum goes out the window if one happens to make it’s way into the dill section of any relish tray in my general vicinity. In other words, sour picks are where it’s at for me. Vlassics were a favorite growing up. I dig their Kosher dills and their hamburgers have a surprising kick, but they’re not the best I’ve ever had. When I worked at a bagel place back home, it was common place for me to sneak a deli pickle for a snack or on my lunch break and they were good, but nothing compared to the pickle above.
I thought I’d find some competition when I moved out to New York. I have no reason for that, it was just a feeling I had. A few years back I went to the Rosendale Pickle Festival. Being such a fan of the medium, I was excited, hoping to find something that would blow my mind. Nope. Everything was pretty weaksauce. I guess New York doesn’t really know how to bring it. I’ve had some pretty good pickles from places called things like Pickle Man from flea markets, but I’ve also had some of the worst from places like that. It’s a crap shoot.
But you know which pickles are never a crap shoot? The ones that taste awesome and sour and make me salivate just thinking about them? The ones that, when I eat them, the event verges on inappropriate? Well, those are the pickles from Rau’s Country Store in Frankenmuth, Michigan (656 S. Main, Ste. 2, Frankenmuth, MI 48734). I’ve been going to Rau’s since I was a kid and my dad got a job working for a company that was headquartered near Frankenmuth. The town itself, as you might be able to tell from the name, is modeled after German villages and is basically a full main street done up in a Little Bavaria style. There’s a place called Bronner’s nearby that is the largest Christmas store in the world, so we would tend to go in the winter time, go to Bronners, see all the Christmas decorations, walk through the town and get some of the world famous fried chicken at Zinder’s.
But the real food highlight of the trip every year was the pickles from Rau’s. Since I’ve moved to New York, I’ve only made it to Frankenmuth once and that was with my wife and parents. But, because my parents are awesome and did some research, I have had plenty of pickles in the meantime. See, Rau’s–which is designed like an old general store with chotchkies all over the place and a baskets of what used to be called penny candy for purchase–has stepped into the modern age and sells their pickles online. I will say that the vacuum sealing they use to ship the delicious delights sucks some of the juices out, but even an ever so slightly juiced Rau’s pickle packs more of a punch than anything this side of a gherkin (which I just discovered recently and will be experimenting with more in the new year).