The 4th Annual Tour de Donut
First the old business. Some of you are probably chomping at the bit wondering who were the five winners of a dozen apple cider donuts from Golden Harvest Farms? Well, I haven’t even contacted the winners yet, but Random.org declared Susan, Shawn, Susie, llcwine and Chef Paul as the victors. Congratulations to you all.
If you didn’t win, don’t worry. I’ve got your chance to eat an unsensible quantity of apple cider donuts in one day. And you can tell your friends and loved ones that it isn’t gluttony when you are doing it for science.
That’s right. It’s the Fourth Annual Tour de Donut.
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.
If you haven’t been on a FLB tour before, you should come. Seriously, this is open to anyone. Don’t be shy. For those brave souls who venture forth, this is what awaits.
This will be a bit later in the season than in the past, but I’m hoping you can cut me some slack since I’m not even in the region. There are some things that I’ve determined must go on, even in my absence. And luckily there are plenty of people in the 518 who are willing to help out.
A big thank you to Stanford Steph who will be leading this excursion on Saturday, October 5. Yes, that’s the same day as All Over Albany’s Bootlegger Tour. But you’ll be done with enough time to get to Troy by 2pm. Plus, you can be the envy of everyone on the trolley if you managed to hit both events in one day. For real.
This tour is a chance to play clean up. Somehow there were orchards that have been missed on the three prior tours of the Capital Region. And I’m not talking rinky dink operations either. A few of these are places that people love and travel to every year to celebrate fall.
So here’s how the day will shake out.
The tour will commence at 8:30 am. Yes, it’s early. But no earlier than year two when two dozen people showed up on a cold rainy morning. If you aren’t a morning person, you should bring coffee. Regardless of whether you are a morning person, you should bring a pen. There will be scoresheets to fill out, and you can’t score your donuts with grease stains. You will also need to bring a few bucks to pay for your own cider donuts.
Let’s call it $5 per person. Steph will collect it at the beginning of the tour, and then she’ll be responsible for purchasing everyone’s donuts at each stop. After a few years of doing these tours, trust me when I say that collective buying makes everything a whole lot quicker and easier.
She’ll ask politely if she can have hot donuts. But she won’t disclose that we’re there for a judging. We need to make sure we’re getting the same donuts that anyone else could get. Sugared is the order of the day. Sometimes sugar comes with cinnamon. But if there is a choice of one with plain sugar and one with cinnamon sugar, the plain sugar donut is the judged variety.
Everyone will meet outside Lindsey’s Country Store in Clifton Park. Did you know they also have an orchard out in Rexford? It’s true. But I checked and they don’t have donut making facilities at the orchard. Their donuts are made down in their Clifton Park store and sent up to the orchard daily. While it’s romantic to eat the donuts near the orchard, it’s better to eat them closer to the source of their production. So the country store it is.
Stop number two is almost walkable. That is, it would be walkable if there were sidewalks in Clifton Park. But there aren’t. So you will have to feel incredibly silly about driving to Devoe’s Rainbow Orchard right up the street. What I’ve learned from past tours is that it makes sense to frontload the donut eating. Having back-to-back donuts is fine if they are samples number one and two. It would be a good bit more painful to do this with donuts number four and five.
Then it’s off for a scenic drive to Riverview Orchards. Say goodbye to Route 9 and get into the actual countryside. I do hope the leaves are nice. Like some of the other big orchards, Riverview has the donut game down. You can even watch the giant donut robot and the workers perform their feats of derring-do behind glass.
By now you should be feeling the donuts, and you should welcome the 30 minute drive down to Gade Farm in Guilderland. This stop makes the list in part thanks to the call for nominations, but also given the fact that it’s halfway between Riverview and the final stop of the day.
The tour will end at Schoharie Valley Farms’ Carrot Barn. Admittedly, this place was off my radar, but it seems to be such the crowd favorite that going into the competition it would appear to be the lead contender for best cider donut of the bunch. But as we’ve seen before in the past, these things don’t always play out as expected.
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 some of the past tours. There are two thirty minute chunks of driving, but trust me, you will be thankful for those eating breaks. The driving time for the whole thing is estimated to be about 75 minutes from end 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 am start time, my goal is to be done at Schoharie Valley Farms at 1 pm. 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.
Here is the map of the route. What comes next is the easy part.
All I ask is that you let me know if you are coming (so that Steph has enough score sheets for everyone) and that you show up on time. You can come by yourself or with a group. You can come if you are young or old. You can come if you’re an apple cider donut virgin or if you have cider running through your veins.
Some of the FLB tours are limited in their capacity. This one, the one that started them all, is gloriously easy to execute for a posse large or small. If they weren’t fun, I would stop organizing them. But it’s always a pleasure to spend time with fellow food lovers to learn more about our regional delights.
It all begins 8:30 am on Saturday October 5 at Lindsey’s in Clifton Park. So who’s going to be there?