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Tell Me More, Tell Me More

September 8, 2010

Everyone has their favorites.  Despite the obvious superiority of Five Guys to In-N-Out Burger, there will always be people who prefer In-N-Out.  Taste is subjective, and ultimately people will eat what they like.

That’s where I come in.

Because while taste may be subjective, one can evaluate foods based on a number of criteria.  The criteria themselves are limitless, and on some level subjective as well, but the more specific the criteria the less subjective the evaluation.  For hamburgers first and foremost I prioritize beefiness.  That’s different from flavor, because anything slathered with bacon, cheese, mayonnaise and barbecue sauce will have a ton of flavor.  A long time ago I was a big fan of the blue cheese bacon burger with mustard and onion.  That was a flavor monster, but honestly the patty it was served upon was completely unremarkable.

But I digress.  I bring this up today, even though it’s been on my mind for many months, because I want the people who submitted nominations for the best local cider donut to tell me more. Instead of getting a better understanding of which orchards have the best cider donuts in the region, I’m just getting a list of orchards that sell cider donuts.

Before I continue I just need to say that all your comments truly are appreciated, in whatever form they take.  This just struck a raw nerve today.  I’ll be okay tomorrow.  Promise.

This is what I asked for:

If you have any others, please let me know what they are and why you think their cider donuts are the best.  Is it the moistness, their deep cider flavor, the pungency of their spices, or maybe something about the crumb.  I am as interested in the reason you are nominating a donut as I am in the nomination itself.

The problem is just saying that you love Donut A tells me nothing.  If you tell me Donut A is the best, I have precious little information to evaluate that statement.

Someone could think Donut A is the bee’s knees because its the sweetest cider donut they’ve ever had.  Some people could prioritizing size or value.  Others could swear by a donut because of the oil in which it is fried.

The examples that I have now put in bold, for emphasis above, were just a few thought starters about potentially interesting criteria for evaluating a cider donut.

I can imagine someone preferring a specific orchard’s donuts because of how they smell cooking, or that the sugar is more securely attached, or that the donut making operation is on display.  These may not be directly related to the taste of the donut, but that doesn’t make them any less valid reasons for establishing a favorite.

Let’s get some details.  Why are the Altamont Orchard’s donuts “amazing”?  What is the reason that Goold’s donuts might be better on a certain day of the week?  And what day might that be?  All I know about Saratoga Apple now is their address.  Fo’Castle Farm makes Phairhead scream, but I don’t quite understand what all the yelling is about.  Hicks’ donuts are good when they are hot, but is that because of their interior, the crust, the sugar coating, the aroma, the deep satisfying belly warmth on a cool fall day, or what?  Lakeside is recommended in the same breath with Indian Ladder Farms, but I remain unclear about how they compare.

I’m relying on you people.  There are only so many donut places I can travel to in one day.  There are only so many donuts I can conceivably eat.  So I want to make this count, and try to narrow down the field to the four best donuts in terms of taste and texture.

But this rant has implications even beyond today.  Just look at the comments from a recent Table Hopping post.  Without any sense of people’s criteria, the comments just become a pile up of context free lists.  That is of no use to anybody, nor does it make for a very interesting conversation about food.  I know sometimes it’s hard to find the words, but please give it a shot.

If you need any specific guidance, look to Kater and Vicki whose very different comments really helped me to get a better understanding of their pick for best cider donut.

Thank you for putting up with this FLB.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2010 10:41 am

    Sounds like you’ve got quite the fall food tour scheduled. TOP, cider doughnut tour… if you need an extra evaluating mouth on the cider doughnut tour, count me in.

  2. Phairhead permalink
    September 8, 2010 10:52 am

    I was shouting because those doughnuts are so damn good. Now here’s why: beautifuly soft innards. I hate it when they’re dry! The doughnut to cinnamon sugar ratio is perfect. And on a personal note, they remind me of my childhood :D

  3. September 8, 2010 10:54 am

    I swung through Goold’s and Kristy’s Barn yesterday while out in EG.

    Goold’s is closer to my personal preference. The texture was a light and airy cake, with a firmer crust. The cinnamon sugar had a bite to it, almost as if there was a bit of ginger or even apple pie spice involved. The cider taste was sweet, but not over powering.

    Kristy’s Barn makes a denser donut with a more pronounced cider flavor. They were not as fresh as the ones at Goold’s, but had a richer tasting cake with a more even texture throughout. I missed the ‘something extra’ from Goold’s spice, but was by no means disappointed in the cinnamon sugar.

    Frankly, Goold’s has a kitchen on site, which means the donut were fresher that the ones at Kristy’s. For me, this made all of the difference.

  4. StanfordSteph permalink
    September 8, 2010 12:19 pm

    I actually haven’t made the rounds, but the reason I like Bowman’s are that cake is firm and moist, with a nice texture to the sugar/cinnamon crust. They taste as good as they smell, which in my experience is not always the case with donuts.

  5. September 8, 2010 7:33 pm

    I haven’t chimed in a preferred vendor, but I’ll offer my 2 cents why day of the week will matter. I think good cider donuts are fresh, right out of the oil and still warm. I can’t even imagine buying them boxed in a market.

    So take Indian Ladder for example. On a Saturday in September, they can’t make the donuts fast enough and they are warm all day. On a random Tuesday afternoon, there will not be enough demand to guarantee warm donuts. And cider just aren’t the same after they’ve been sitting around. I recommend making the tour date a Saturday or Sunday while pick-your-own apples are still being picked.

  6. September 9, 2010 8:07 am

    I don’t give a crap about the “crumb” or the “moistness” of a cider donut. Lets not kid ourselves, the variation along the local cider donut spectrum is not that vast. I find it to be taking ourselves a little seriously to make value judgments on stupid donuts (although I do like an occasional mental journey out in the weeds).

    A cider donut is pretty much a cider donut. If I microwaved the crappy Stewart’s ones for little while and told everybody they were fresh from the Whistlingbuttz Orchard’s in Berne, then we would have a bunch of people crowing that these were the latest and greatest thing on earth.

    You know why I prefer Altamont Orchard’s cider donuts? Because I have been eating them every damn fall since childhood. Last year I took my daughter there for the first time. It is on a familiar road and I like the way it smells in there around this time of year. I don’t really care about whether their donuts are the Platonic ideal of a cider donut. The ones they have are warm, sweet, and redolent of nostalgia.

    I guess it is vaguely interesting to debate about who has better cider donuts on a blog, but I think we are really missing the point here. A cider donut is really about being outside, in Upstate New York, at an Orchard, in fall, with your family, smelling the air, and being chilly for the first time all year. Whatever spot you prefer in the world for this experience, should by default, have the best cider donuts. I won’t debate with you about whether my spot is better, but I will tell you why I like it there.

    Here is a post I did about last years first trip. I am moving away within the next couple weeks and don’t know if I will have time for a trip this year. It makes me want to cry, and I am not prone to crying.

    http://ridiculousfoodsociety.blogspot.com/2009/09/altamont-orchards-first-cider-donut-of.html

  7. September 9, 2010 7:17 pm

    Thank you Mr. Dave. That is a very wonderful post.

  8. September 10, 2010 7:02 pm

    We love the donuts from Bowman Orchards in Glenville. Light, not heavy, perfectly fried. Almost heaven like fresh. Perfect blend of sweet and cinnamon. Just delicious.

  9. Ellen Whitby permalink
    September 10, 2010 7:59 pm

    Whistlingbuttz Orchard? Is that a real place?

    I agree with Mr. Dave. A preference isn’t necessarily about the moistness, crumb, presence of crunchy sugar on the outside. It can easily be all about the experience that surrounds the eating of said delicacy. In the same way that a smell can invoke a memory from a million years ago, a donut would taste best if eaten under circumstances that are utterly pleasant. Even if it’s just a plain ol’ cider donut (and not one of those babies that you like from Bella Napoli).

    • September 10, 2010 10:30 pm

      Whistlingbuttz Orchard? Sure it is real, it’s right off Windybums Road.

  10. September 10, 2010 8:28 pm

    You should bring a pack of children with you and let them decide. Children know what the best is, without knowing why. Their minds don’t get crowded with moistness and crumbliness — they taste, they like.

    Then again, they may just keep saying that whatever they had last was the best.. but you never know.

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