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Tour de Donut 2011

September 26, 2011

The first Tour de Donut turned out to be a defining event for the FUSSYlittleBLOG. Well let me tell you, the second annual edition of this eating escapade is going to be even better.

Since that fateful day last fall, we have had the Tour de Hot Dog, the Tour de Soft Serve and the Tour de Fish Fry. With four of these events under my ever-expanding belt, I’ve learned a few things that promise to make this the best tour yet.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me give you the short version. Periodically, I lead a group of intrepid eaters around the region to eat and evaluate some of the most beloved foodstuffs of the area. These things both have an inextricable sense of place and would also diminish in transit. So we cannot bring these delicacies to us. We must go to them.

At the end of the day, not only do all the participants have a better understanding of the item in question and the nuances of its component pieces, but they have also decided upon their favorite version. Whereas most people’s favorites stem from childhood memories or geographic proximity, those on the tour form their opinion based on empirical data.

Oh, and it’s a fun excuse to eat waaaay too many apple cider donuts. If you haven’t been on a tour with me before, you should come. What follows are the details of the second annual Tour de (Cider) Donut.

I told you to mark your calendars for Saturday, October 1, so I hope you did that.

As discussed earlier, this year we are going to hit the orchards we weren’t able to visit the first time around: those on the east side of the Hudson River. Evaluating more than five cider donuts is madness, so not every place can make the cut. All the same, I am very excited by the final list of contenders.

The first reader nominated location falls slightly out of bounds of the original intent of the tour, but is certainly in keeping with its spirit. And one reason it made the list is that I have very high hopes for this operation.

It’s Zachary’s Pastry Shoppe in East Greenbush.

No, it’s not an orchard. But cider donuts are a seasonal and rare treat at this bakery. They are only available in September and October and then only on Fridays and Saturdays. A batch is made in the morning, and when they are gone, they are gone. The bakery encourages people to place orders in advance. However, I was assured that if we got there near opening that not only would they be able to fill an order, but that the donuts would still likely be warm.

They open at 8:00 a.m. but we will commence the tour at 8:30. As they say, the early bird gets the warm (cider donuts). Why 8:30? Because the next place doesn’t open until 9:00 a.m.

From there on out, it’s a pretty straight shot due south to visit some of the most beloved orchards of southern Rensselaer and Columbia counties. The second spot is Goold’s which was sorely missed last year, especially after Leah the Nosher’s fantastic description of their cider donuts.

Golden Harvest is a personal favorite of mine. I have both enjoyed their cider donuts in the past, and love/envy their adjacent distillery. We are on a mission, and will not be distracted by gorgeous handcrafted spirits made from apples grown on the property. No. I’m serious. But I’d highly encourage everyone to stop by here on the way back, to see what I’m talking about.

Samascott is just down the way in Kinderhook. All Over Albany recently wrote up their pick-your-own concord grapes. This too is merely a diversion. We are there for the donuts, and then we will move on. Many have proclaimed these to be their favorite. I’ve never tried them, and am excited to see how they stack up to the rest.

Love Apple Farm in Ghent marks the end of the tour. They say their cider donuts are famous. We’ll see about that. When we’re done, I’m also going to see about their Mexican restaurant that sounds like it might actually have real Mexican food. Despite being over-stuffed with donuts, sometimes a savory snack can really be good for the constitution.

It’s a lot of donuts, to be sure. This is not for the weak of heart.

But it’s also a whole lot less driving then the original Tour. We will not have to make the treacherous crossing of any rivers. And the longest drive between any two places is a mere fifteen minutes. The driving time for the whole thing is estimated to be about 45 minutes from start to end.

That said, there can be lines to get donuts and congested parking lots. And let’s not forget, the careful and thoughtful analysis and scoring of each donut takes some time too. Given an 8:30 a.m. start time, my goal is to be done at Love Apple Farm by noon. But no promises, as it could run long. If you have to leave early, I understand. Just know that for score sheets to be included in the official results, they must be completed in their entirety.

I have also figured out a clever buying scheme based on last year’s tour.

Instead of everyone buying their own donuts, a rotating person volunteered to buy a dozen at each location. Buying by the dozen offers significant efficiencies. Some participants spent a little more, some paid nothing, but nobody spent much more than $7 on donuts for the day. That worked well.

But this year at the start of the tour when I distribute score sheets, I’m going to ask you to give me all your money. Well, $5 anyway. Then I will buy the donuts for everyone. At the end of the tour, I’ll give you back your change (which I expect to be about a buck, maybe two). Overall, this should make it simple, efficient and fair.

I’ll provide the score sheets. You bring a pen, an appetite, $5 for donuts, a printout of the directions, and a sense of adventure.

All I ask is that you let me know if you are coming (so that I have enough score sheets for everyone) and that you show up on time. However, if you want to answer the bonus question on the score sheet, you’ll also need to find a way to eat one sugar-dusted cider donut from Indian Ladder Farms (last year’s winner) before October 1.

It all begins 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning at Zachary’s in East Greenbush. So who’s with me?

23 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2011 10:09 am

    I’ll be there, Daniel. I may have to head out after a few stops, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ll try to spread the word too.

  2. September 26, 2011 10:40 am

    The rare weekday comment … I don’t like doing this at work, but I am making an exception for one of my favorite fall treats!

    I’m coming as well – I will let you know in the next day or two if my husband will be joining me. He enjoys cider donuts, however he is a night owl and getting him going much before noon, especially on a weekend, is a chore in itself. So it will probably just be me, with a request from him to stop back at the orchard where I had my favorites for another dozen donuts. :)

    Bonus – my birthday is the following Monday, so this really is a fantastic addition to the weekend, for me. :)

    • September 29, 2011 9:50 am

      I realized that I never responded in the negative for my husband. “If you want to get up at the crack to eat donuts, you go right ahead, but there’s no way I’m going!” HA! The way he sees it, he’s getting donuts either way … :)

      So, with that … who is going to bring the Box ‘o’ Joe from Dunkin Donuts???? *ducks*

  3. September 26, 2011 11:37 am

    I’m calling to put my car in the shop today; assuming it’s out by Saturday I’ll be there!

    I’m glad we’ll end up at LAF … I can just keep going and finish the day at HomeTown Soft Serve by way of a nice visit with mom. Hope to see you Saturday!

  4. September 26, 2011 3:12 pm

    There’s gotta be an easy way to print those directions…

  5. Shannon permalink
    September 26, 2011 5:33 pm

    I will not be attending, unfortunately because my family is going to the Big E on Saturday. I’ll be sure to spread the word with friends, though!

  6. September 26, 2011 9:42 pm

    Of course, it’s also an hour’s haul back home… but at least it’s early enough in the day that there’ll be time for that drive. I’m in. My boyfriend might have something else to do (seriously, better than eating doughnuts all morning?). I’ll have to see if my friend Shannon’s in for this one.

  7. September 27, 2011 6:46 pm

    I’m in. And I may have two other people joining me. I’ll know by the end of the week.

  8. September 28, 2011 12:35 am

    Really wish I could join you – I’m a big fan of Goold’s cider donuts! – but we’ll be out of town this weekend. Hadn’t hear of Zachary’s before, even though we live very close by. Guess I’ll just have to drop by before getting on the road!

  9. September 29, 2011 11:25 am

    I’m not sure how you have the scoring laid out, I’m thinking it may be important to judge the individual doughnuts based on they pair with the cider used to make them. I understand this adds a layer of complication to an already complicated matter, but I can’t help but think it is an important factor in how good the doughnuts are…

  10. Silvia Lilly permalink
    September 29, 2011 12:22 pm

    I’m in. Bringing my 6 y/o because he’s been asking me when we’re going donut picking for weeks.

  11. amy permalink
    September 29, 2011 3:07 pm

    Hi Daniel. I’d like to make a reservation for Amy +4. We shall see and meet you on Saturday!

  12. September 30, 2011 5:26 pm

    Ok, there’s a high probability I will be there with two junior tasters (we can use the same scorecard) if I can get them out the door in time!

  13. September 30, 2011 11:27 pm

    Zachary’s Pastry Shop comes up as Rensselaer on my phone. 390 Columbia Turnpike #1. Is that it?

  14. September 30, 2011 11:28 pm

    Um, never mind. I figured it out. :)

  15. October 1, 2011 8:43 am

    I may have forgotten to mention, the Tour de Donut happens rain or shine.

  16. Jessica R permalink
    October 1, 2011 9:38 am

    I hope it went well, Daniel! I’m doing the Green Homes tour today instead. Maybe we’ll pass an orchard and pick ourselves up some donuts!

  17. ajw93 permalink
    October 1, 2011 3:15 pm

    the Tour was awesome! So great to meet everyone…and almost unbelievably, I am actually ready for lunch.

  18. October 1, 2011 5:54 pm

    Just now coming down from the sugar high. Tour was great. Thank you Daniel. Here’s my take on the festivities, including a video of the Donut Robot at Samascott: http://wp.me/p1S3Ig-45

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  1. Cider Donuts | Burnt My Fingers

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