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Heading West For Donut Picking

September 8, 2015

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it doesn’t feel like fall yet. But the kids are back in school, and in a couple of weeks I have to believe fall will be here in earnest. That means the time to start planning our annual Tour de Cider Donuts is now.

For those who haven’t been around since the beginning, all the way back in 2010 Stanford Steph suggested that I get a bunch of people and go around to the local orchards to find out which ones were the best. Well, that first event was so much fun we made it into an annual affair.

Of course, it has also spawned other tours like the Tour de Mini Hot Dog, the Tour de Fish Fry, the Tour de Tavern Pie, and most recently the Tour de Italian Deli. But no matter how much fun those tours are, they all pale in comparison to the Tour de Donut.

Honestly, I can’t even believe there are still places we haven’t visited. Part of me hoped that this year would be the Tournament of Champions. However, we still have new ground to cover. So get your calendars out, and let’s discuss plans for the Sixth Annual Tour de Donut.

Saturday, September 26. Mark it. The time is TBD. The itinerary is up in the air. But the date is fixed.

Five years we’ve done this. Each time we stop at five different places. That’s 25 notable spots to sample apple cider donuts. And each of them is beloved by someone. We’re not trying to take anything away from people’s close relationships with specific farms. You love Fo Castle because your family has been going there for generations? Go for it. For you, those are the best cider donuts because they are packed with memories.

But new people come to the Capital Region all the time. And they don’t have any favorites. So this is for those who may only be able to make one orchard stop, and want to try the most delicious apple cider donut they can get into their mouth.

The first year we went to the places west of the Hudson that people loved the most. That was Indian Ladder, Altamont Orchards, Fo Castle, Lakeside, and Bowman. Indian Ladder just narrowly passed Altamont Orchard, largely on stylistic differences.

The second year we explored east of the Hudson. The drive was pretty much a straight line from Zachary’s to Goold’s to Golden Harvest to Samascott to LoveApple. Golden Harvest took the win easily.

In year three I got ambitious and we headed north. Way north. So even though Hicks-Wilson easily won the contest between Liberty Ridge, Saratoga Apple, Reggies (in Greenwich), and Suttons, Hicks will not receive a spot in the Tournament of Champions because it’s just too damn far away.

Then I went to New Jersey, so Stanford Steph filled in for me in year four. She took the gang to Lindsey’s, DeVoe’s, Riverview, Gade Farm, and the Carrot Barn. The Carrot Barn took the win.

Last year got away from me a bit, so the tour was later in the season. As such, we hit all those bakeries where you can get cider donuts that aren’t orchards. That would be Cider Belly, Schuyler Bakery, Bella Napoli, Yonder Farms, and Kristy’s Barn. Okay. Technically Kristy’s Barn might be an orchard, but they were the exception. Cider Belly won the day.

So, what’s left?

Well, I was looking at some of my old notes and reviewing earlier recommendations. From where I’m sitting, we would need to do at least two more tours before considering a Tournament of Champions. The field of winners may end up being so deep, that we may need to have two championship tours followed by one last final showdown. Oh dear.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. For this year’s tour, the place I want to try most of all is Eagle Mills in Broadalbin. So to make a nice tight tour, we should be looking at other places north and west of Schenectady. We can only visit five. So I’m looking for some help both in determining the list.

Feel free to chime in with places that you think should be off the below list, or with excellent places that I’ve invariably neglected to include. I’ve done some research, but there’s no substitution for the expertise of people who have lived here for generations.

1) Terrance Mountain Orchard – Schoharie
2) Pumpkin Patch – Schoharie
3) Bellinger’s – Fultonville
4) Ellm’s – Ballston Spa
5) Smith’s – Ballston Spa
6) Lansing’s – Niskayuna

With Eagle Mills, that’s a list of seven. Oy. So now is the time to make your case for your favorite orchard. And don’t worry if I haven’t mentioned Shaker Shed in Albany or George’s in Latham or Stranton’s in Feura Bush. Those and others are on my radar for next year. This year we’re focused north and west of Schenectady.

Had I understood exactly how many years it would take to complete this project, I might never have started. But I think we’re over the hump, so there’s no stopping now.

Looking forward to eating donuts with you all later this month, but first things first. Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Jack C. permalink
    September 8, 2015 9:39 am

    Noooo! You scheduled this the same day we’re going to Proctor’s for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder! We might be able to make one or two orchards if it’s early enough, though. Keep up posted!

  2. September 8, 2015 10:13 am

    I’ve not been to any of these places, so unfortunately, I have no two cents to throw into the nominating process.

    But I’ll be coming along for the ride for sure. To my surprise, my wife also wants to go on her first Fussy Tour, and we’ll be bringing along our (almost) 8 year old, to make it a family affair. We all are looking forward to eating too many delicious cider doughnuts on a (hopefully) beautiful fall day.

    See you on the 26th!

  3. September 8, 2015 10:36 am

    Lansing has a good chance of winning the whole thing, at the least, it need to stay on the list.

  4. September 8, 2015 10:46 am

    I am on kid duty that weekend so there’s an excellent chance I will come, unless trumped by soccer schedule. (They don’t bother to post it because it doesn’t matter; when they call, you will answer.) Just want to point out that Broadalbin is a LONG way west and you will pass through Galway, Charlton and other farmy areas on your way. I suggest not being so timid as keeping everything else to Nisky and Ballston Spa, which are still in the cap district. Go west, young man!

    • September 8, 2015 1:00 pm

      I hear you. But there is also an argument to be made for having time inbetween donuts to let the settle. Front load the eating. Back load the driving. That’s the formula for a successful tour.

  5. September 8, 2015 10:47 am

    YES, I grew up on Eagle Mills cider donuts! Love them. I second Bellinger’s on your list, as well.

  6. September 8, 2015 1:34 pm

    Terrance Mountain is soooo good. I can see that easily being the winner this year.

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