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Donut Picking (Better Late Than Never)

October 20, 2014

Getting back into old routines isn’t easy. Last year while I was away, the FUSSYlittleTOURS went off without a hitch. Now that I’ve returned to the Capital Region, I’ve let things slip. The summer savory tour never happened. And it looked like my annual rite of fall, the Tour de Cider Donut, was headed towards a similar fate.

I can’t let that happen. Perhaps the findings of this year’s tour will not be helpful to those families trying to navigate the crowded cider donut landscape during the peak of this autumnal season. But that doesn’t mean that our efforts to continually suss out the best apple cider donuts in the region will be in vain.

Yes, we are going apple picking again. Grab your calendars. Get ready to pencil in a date. And put on your thinking caps, because once again, I’m opening up the floor to nominations. But before you get too excited and just prematurely blurt out the name of your favorite orchard, let’s review where we’ve been and some thoughts on how we may move forward in the tour’s fifth year.

First thing’s first, I’m the realest. Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 1. Because that’s when we do this. And get there on time, if its not about donuts, decline. Now before we move forward let’s take some time to rewind.

Side note, I’ve been listening to way too much radio.

Just in case you haven’t been following the past four years of apple cider donut tours, here is where we’ve been.

Year One
Indian Ladder Farms
Altamont Orchards
Fo Castle

Winner: Indian Ladder (by a nose over Altamont)

Year Two
Golden Harvest
Love Apple Farm

Winner: Golden Harvest

Year Three
Liberty Ridge
Saratoga Apple
Reggie’s Farm Stand
Sutton’s Market

Winner: Hicks-Wilson

Year Four
Gade Farm
The Carrot Barn

Winner: The Carrot Barn

Amazingly, after all of that, there are still places we still haven’t been. The below list is surely incomplete, but it demonstrates how many apple cider donuts there are to still sample in the region:

Farm at Kristy’s Barn, Schodack
Ellms Family Farm, Ballston Spa
Schuyler Bakery, Watervliet
George’s Market & Nursery, Latham
Yonder Farms, Colonie
Cider Belly Donuts, Albany (closed weekends)
Bella Napoli, Latham

Perhaps the most notable name on this list is the Farm at Kristy’s Barn since it won the Times Union’s crazy Sweet 16 popularity contest last year (trouncing both Altamont Orchards and the formidable Indian Ladder Farms).

Part of me wants to conduct a modified tournament of champions. Hicks-Wilson was great, but it’s all the way up by Lake George. I was glad to get up there once, but I feel no need to drag anyone else up there again.

Honoring the Times Union victory, that would give us four stops: The Carrot Barn, Indian Ladder, Kristy’s Barn and Golden Harvest. We have room for one more.

I really like this idea because we haven’t put any of these great donuts up against each other yet. They have all battled it out against their nearby orchards. But I’d love to see how these all stack up side-by-side-by-side.

Alternatively, we could cover new ground this year, as there are still plenty of shops we haven’t visited at all. However, I’m having a hard time getting excited by a few of the stragglers. Maybe that’s wrong, and perhaps I’m overlooking something potentially amazing.

Anyhow, now is the time where you weigh in on the itinerary. Where would you like to go. And remember, this isn’t a democracy. We’re not voting. But I’m not so arrogant as to assume I know the ins and outs of all the cider donuts in the region. If there is one that you think we should try, please for all that is good and holey (see what I did there) let me know.

We can make five stops on the day of the tour. Sadly, Cider Belly can’t be one of them because they don’t keep regular Saturday hours. Boo hiss. Right now I’m tempted to hit the four champions with a Bella Napoli interlude in the middle. It’s not an orchard, but they make a marvelously crusty donut. And it would be great to end up at Harvest Spirits. I could use a bit more of their booze to make it through the upcoming winter.

Or instead of Bella Napoli, we could give Altamont Orchards a shot at redemption because they came in second by the narrowest of margins.

Based on your comments below, I’ll have a full itinerary for you early next week. Hope you can join me for some late fall donuts on November 1.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. buffsoulja permalink
    October 20, 2014 3:18 pm

    Terrance Mountain Orchard in Schoharie is well worth checking out.

    We went last year and it trumped the Carrot Barn in both Cider donuts and cider.

    And the donuts were warm – made fresh throughout the day.

  2. October 20, 2014 3:21 pm

    A commenter on Facebook wrote, “Stanton’s Farm in Feura Bush has good ones too.”

    Since not everyone who reads the FLB also follows on FB, I thought it best to make sure the thought wasn’t lost.

  3. October 20, 2014 3:55 pm

    Cider Belly isn’t closed on weekends, it just has limited morning hours which I think are 6am to 8:30 so the tour could gather and launch from there. They may want a call ahead order, but maybe contacting them about that could get everything clarified if you think it’s worth considering them.

    My favorite orchard is in your short list, so I’m happy about the tour already, and I like the idea of stacking up the popular winners against one another. Besides, it means a day of really really good donuts.

    I volunteer to contact Cider Belly to clarify hours – let me know if you’d like me to do that. I wouldn’t mention it was for the tour if that’s important.

    • DEN permalink
      October 21, 2014 3:28 am

      From Cider Belly’s Facebook page (dated Saturday):

      “Hello Belly Lover’s! Just a reminder that we are only open from 6AM-8:30AM on Saturday and Sunday, for pick up orders and catering orders only. That means you need to call or text us the night before to place your order, and it needs to be picked up by 8:30AM, or delivered by 9:00AM.”

  4. Ryan H. permalink
    October 20, 2014 8:17 pm

    Schuyler Schuyler Schuyler. Well look at that. Three votes for Schuyler Bakery!

  5. ericscheirerstott permalink
    October 21, 2014 12:35 am

    I’ll be working on Nov 1, but will anticipate the reviews.

  6. Billy permalink
    October 21, 2014 4:33 pm

    I’d love to see Cider Belly in the Tour. I’m very curious to see how they stand up to the orchards.

  7. Lilly permalink
    October 22, 2014 12:39 pm

    My son works at Indian Ladder (so I will recuse myself from this year’s event), and he has nightmares of running out of donuts on the weekends and having to deal with angry customers…..So just a warning, don’t plan on hitting Indian Ladder too late in the afternoon, in case it is a really nice day – busy – and someone comes in for lunch and walks out with 8 dozen donuts…. it has happened.

  8. Jack C permalink
    October 22, 2014 3:25 pm

    Kleinke’s Farm Stand in Delmar has a really solid cider donut as well. It’s right on Kenwood, not far from the bypass.

    Love Cider Belly, especially the “belly flops” they sell. Some of them are the smaller, crispier ones that didn’t turn out quite right, but to me, they’re the best!

    Also, The Hollow (downtown on Pearl) now makes a cider donut bread pudding, using Cider Belly’s day-old donuts. It’s as good as it sounds.

  9. colleen permalink
    October 23, 2014 1:56 pm

    cider belly donuts are the best I have ever had.

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