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The 5th Annual Tour de Donut

October 28, 2014

The Tour de Donut has been a rite of fall since 2010. That was when Stanford Steph encouraged me to lead a group of eaters out into the wilderness in order to sample some of the better apple cider donuts in the region. Our goal was to find the very best.

While the inaugural turn out was modest, the event was even more fun that I had expected. Hanging out with a bunch of like-minded strangers, eating donut after donut after donut, and discussing the properties of each one, is just not something you get to experience every day.

Not only did I decide to continue the Tour de Donut, but that event was the catalyst that spawned several other regional food tours over the years. The Tour de Donut even continued in my absence last year thanks to Steph stepping up and volunteering to lead the group.

This year I’ve let things slip. I’m out of my regular rhythms. So instead of going on tour in September, this year we’re going on Saturday. Amazingly, that’s already November 1. I can’t believe it. As a result, the tour is going to be just a little bit different than it has been in years past.

But I think it’s going to make a lot of people happy.

Historically, for the Tour de Donut, we’ve driven down country roads lined with peak fall foliage as we head from orchard to orchard. By November, that boat has sailed. However, there are plenty of beloved places to eat cider donuts that aren’t actually at orchards. And that is going to be the focus of this year’s tour.

During the nomination phase there was a lot of excitement for the regional newcomer, Cider Belly Donuts. Well, on Saturday we’re going to put them to the test.

There’s only one catch. The only way we’ll be able to pull this off is by pre-ordering our donuts on Friday for Saturday morning. So for the first time ever, you are going to need a ticket to go on tour. But don’t panic. It’s only six bucks and that includes all fees. Plus you can put it on your credit card and not have to think about cash on the day of the big event.

Or you could panic since tickets are limited. But they are capped at two dozen, which is the highest turnout the Tour de Donut has ever received. Any larger and the group becomes completely unwieldy.

All you get for your money is one donut at each of the five stops and an official scoresheet. Everyone needs to bring their own pen and to be responsible for their own transportation. You are also expected to show up on time. We will start promptly at 8 o’clock on Saturday morning rain or shine. Don’t be late, or the tour will proceed without you.

Formalities aside, this should be a great day full of delicious donuts.

Cider Belly will start us off at 8 AM. This will be my first taste of their wares and I’m super excited. People love this place, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they stack up.

Schuyler Bakery on the other hand isn’t new at all. It’s old. Really old. And if you’ve never been to this classic out-of-time bakery in Watervliet, you are in for an experience. Some people love their donuts, but they are decidedly from a different era. That said, I do recall their apple cider donut as being especially delicious. Will they live up to the memories?

Bella Napoli in Latham is next. The thing about their apple cider donuts is the crust. Oh my lord that’s one potent crusty cider donut. It’s been a long time since I’ve had one from the bakery (generally, I opt for the yeast raised Boston cream). But how will it compare in flavor? We’ll have to see.

Yonder Farms Cider Mill in Colonie is Yelp’s number one pick for cider donuts in Albany? How can that be? And the tour has not been there to confirm or deny this claim. For shame. We’ll fix that on Saturday. This was one of my first cider donuts upon my arrival to the area. I can’t recall it being a real standout, but I wasn’t all that familiar with the form at the time. There has to be a reason it does so well on this notoriously harsh review site. We’ll know after we taste it on Saturday.

The Farm at Kristy’s Barn was crowned the number one cider donut in the region by the Albany Times Union last year. I’ve never been there either. Seriously, we have more great cider donuts in this part of the world than most people will eat in their lifetimes. Yes, it’s a 24 minute drive from Yonder Farms Cider Mill, but between donut four and donut five, you’re going to relish that break in eating. Five donuts doesn’t seem like that much, but trust me, they catch up to you.

For those who want to see the full map, it’s right here.

These tours happen because I really want to get out and taste five similar items in succession. Even if nobody else wanted to join me, I’d still be out there doing these things. You know, for science. I’m tickled that there may be others out there who want to come along for the ride.

If we’ve never met, now is as good a time as any. We’ve had people come on tour who have never read the blog, some who have read but never commented, and some who are regular fixtures on the comments boards. Amazingly, everyone has always had a good time. But more importantly, after a few hours of eating the same food prepared by a handful of different producers, one really gains a much better understanding of that item. And with that taste knowledge, all tour participants gain a unique ability to measure other related foods against a well-defined yardstick.

This year it all begins 8:00 AM on Saturday morning at Cider Belly in Albany. So who’s with me?

Click here to buy your ticket.

Please be advised, ticket sales end Friday at noon and quantities are limited.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Jack C permalink
    October 28, 2014 11:11 am

    When do you think it’ll end? Very interested, but have a commitment later in the day.

    • October 28, 2014 11:17 am

      Definitely before noon. Depending on the size of the crew, it could be done as early as 10:30. But I’d expect it to be done by 11 to 11:30.

      Jack C. does raise a good point.

      Not everyone who starts the tour is able to finish the tour. That’s okay. It’s a long morning. Not everyone has the physical stamina to eat five donuts. Safety first. That said, only fully completed scoresheets will be used to determine the results of the day.

  2. October 28, 2014 12:33 pm

    I should be able to make it. And I really need to give Cider Belly another try. I was disappointed with their stuff

  3. October 28, 2014 12:35 pm

    I didn’t know Cider Belly was open on the weekends.

  4. DEN permalink
    October 28, 2014 2:31 pm

    Unfortunately, I can’t join. I am glad to hear you were able to work in Cider Belly. Although you will have to rename the event as Tour de Do(ugh)nut as a nod to CB’s spelling of the product!

  5. October 29, 2014 12:48 pm

    I wish I could come, but committing to eating so many donuts and socializing that early in the morning after some Halloween parties might not be the best laid plan.

  6. October 29, 2014 1:52 pm

    What about Nibble Inc in Troy?

  7. October 30, 2014 12:33 pm

    Would love to go but Brown Paper Tickets won’t work with my card – maybe I’ll be there to wave you off from Cider Belly!!!

  8. amanda_NY permalink
    October 30, 2014 3:12 pm

    8 am on a Saturday, ouch! Even so, we’ll be there, coffee in hand. It won’t be the first time I’ve sacrificed sleep for science.

  9. Cheryl permalink
    October 30, 2014 4:45 pm

    Oh for God’s sake everybody! We’re not wolfing down 47 hot dogs in 5 minutes! It’s a fun morning and you can’t do this during any of the other seasons – this is special – besides you’ll get an hour of extra sleep Saturday night.

    • October 30, 2014 10:49 pm

      Technically, the donuts on this tour you should be able to get all year long. Of course, I don’t think that makes the event any less special. But I do encourage those who cannot make it on Saturday (or who for some other reason cannot get a ticket) to take the self guided tour on their own time.

      If anyone wants unofficial versions of the Tour de Donut scoresheets from previous years, don’t be afraid to ask.

      Oh, and kvetching is totally fine anywhere within the pages of the FLB. Complain away. I suppose that makes complaining about the complainers okay too. Still, I’d like to keep this a safe place for those who want to let their fussy flag fly.

      I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of you on Saturday. Cheers!

  10. October 31, 2014 10:38 am

    Brown Paper Tickets likes me now!!! I’ll see everyone tomorrow and am excited about judging crumb, spices, moistness, oil (or not), freshness, cinnamon sugar (or not), crust and overall nom.

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