Heading North for Donut Picking
Apparently, I’m all about the long game. This will be year three for the Tour de Cider Donut. I’ve long promised to make it up to Saratoga Apple, and now I’m all out of excuses. So this year we are headed north of the Mohawk. Maybe even far north.
Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of driving. And while five donuts doesn’t sound like much, believe me, that’s a lot of fat and sugar. But it’s for science.
Over the last two years we have cataloged ten of the region’s most beloved apple cider donuts. By month’s end we’ll add five more to that tally, and I’m hoping you can come with me and participate in this seriously fun annual tradition. Maybe next year we can head south. Eventually, I want to conduct a tour of champions. But that’s still years off.
Today, however, is the day I open up the floor to nominations. All the details will follow later. But I am looking at one of two potential dates.
For those who are new to this Tour de Cider Donut thing, let me give a quick background. A few years ago Stanford Steph suggested we go around and try all the different cider donuts from the local orchards to see which one was truly the best. I would have done it solo, but an intrepid group of eaters showed up for that first tour, and it was a ton of fun.
Since then the tours have kind of taken on a life of their own.
That first year I tried (but failed) to keep a relatively tight footprint based on the nominations. Ideally, we shouldn’t have crossed any bridges that first year. But such is the folly of youth. I felt compelled to visit a few of the more popular places in lower Saratoga County as well.
That means we visited Indian Ladder, Altamont, Fo Castle, Lakeside and Bowman. The winner was a close call between Indian Ladder and Altamont. Ultimately the judges split along stylistic lines. Those who liked their cider donuts with a crispier crust went with Indian Ladder, while those who preferred a softer, more tender donut sided with Altamont. In the end, Indian Ladder took it by a nose.
Year two was entirely east of the Hudson, and included for the first time a non-orchard stop. We visited a bakery that only produced a small batch of cider donuts seasonally, and I felt good about its place on the tour.
We stopped at Zachary’s, Goold’s, Golden Harvest, Samascott and LoveApple Farm. Golden Harvest walked away with the win without even breaking a sweat.
So where the heck are we going to go this year? Well, in part that’s up to you.
From the get go, people have been talk about Saratoga Apple in Schuylerville in tones similar to the fans of Indian Ladder and Golden Harvest. So without a doubt we’ll be stopping there to try their cider donuts.
But we’ve got four more slots.
I don’t want you to think about driving or the price of gas. We can try and find ways to carpool, and by that, I mostly mean recruit a car full of friends to come along on this culinary adventure.
What I want you to think about is who makes the best cider donuts. I want you to think about moistness, cider flavor, sweet spices, tender crumb, crisp crust, and sacks full of awesome.
I care not about where you went as a kid, who has a great country store, or which place has the best hay bale maze.
From what I’ve been able to suss out, I’ve got high hopes for:
– Hick’s Orchard in Granville
– Gunnison’s Orchard in Crown Point, and
– Eagle Mills Cider Mill in Broadalbin
People also talk about:
– Sutton’s Marketplace Cafe in Queensbury
– Liberty Ridge in Schaghticoke
– Ellms Family Farm in Ballston Spa
I’ve been to Riverview Orchards in Clifton Park and wasn’t impressed on my one visit. And then there are the places that are entirely off my radar. For example, I’ve never heard of Devoe’s in Clifton Park, but they apparently have cider donuts too. Maybe they are great and just undiscovered. And I’m sure there are plenty of other places that could stand their ground against Saratoga Apple.
Please tell me. I want to know. Mostly because this tour thing has become a compulsion. But also because the better informed I am now, the better the tour will be in the end. So submit your nominations in the comments below by high noon on Sunday.
If you can, try to hold Saturday, September 22 and September 29 for this shindig. It will be one of those two dates, and I have every expectation that it will be epic.