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The 6th Annual Tour de Donut

September 21, 2015

The next Tour de Cider Donut is just days away. Before we get to the when and where, let’s talk about the what and why.

Upstate New York may not have a lot of Michelin-starred restaurants, but we have a ton of apples. We live in the heart of apple country, and in the fall it’s an amazing place to be. There are orchards and country stores everywhere throughout the region, and most of them sell apple cider donuts.

These are a quintessential treat of fall. The only problem is that people are rarely exposed to a wide variety of these seasonal delights. And that’s fine. Family traditions are important and meaningful things, so I’m not going to try and change your rituals of the season.

However, there are some regional food lovers out there who are really curious to know which orchard, or bakery, or farm stand makes the best apple cider donut. And to answer that question, these Fussy Little Tours were born back in 2010. Since then, I (and a small handful of select others) have led intrepid groups of eaters around the region in search of tasty treasures.

But now fall is upon us yet again, so it’s time to circle the wagons and head west. Because I understand there are some mighty tasty specimens to be sampled in the netherlands on the other side of Schenectady. And what’s unusual this year is that our actual route looks very different from what was proposed back in the nomination phase.

I hope you held the date. We are departing on Saturday, September 26.

Yes, not everyone will be able to make it that morning. Albany Eats is heading off to a wedding. Stanford Steph is out of the state. Deanna Fox will be doing the very important work of teaching people how to cook. But surely there will be others who can come. And if nobody can make it, I’m fine eating all the donuts by myself and reporting back. But these things are a lot of fun, and I hope you can join me.

The tour commences at 10:15 am sharp.

And yes, there will be a lot of driving, but a good bit of that will likely be getting to and from the route. The map itself is a relatively straight path from Mayfield to Schoharie. All told, it’s less than 50 miles and the driving time is estimated at 79 minutes.

Thanks to the suggestion in the nomination phase that we were headed out into farm country, so we might as well make the best of it, this is an all orchard tour. There is always adventure and uncertainty with this kind of thing. There’s always a chance something might be unexpectedly closed and that we’ll have to adjust our plan mid-tour. That’s okay, because some promising places have been left off the list. But time is limited, and so is the human capacity for donuts.

Sure, some people may be able to eat more than five donuts in a tour. However, this isn’t just about evaluating food, it’s also about having fun and enjoying yourself. The sixth donut would push most normal people over the edge.

Our adventure will begin at Lakeview Orchards at 133 Mountain Road in Mayfield. This place wasn’t part of the original consideration set, but popped onto my radar when I read Deanna Fox’s rundown of places to get apple cider donuts from a few years back. They open at 10am. However, we’ve learned from past tours not to be there at the opening bell. Sometimes a place needs a few minutes to get ready. So I’ll see you there at 10:15.

I’ll ask for $4 from everyone to cover the cost of the day’s donuts, and in exchange I’ll give you a scoresheet. I’ll go into the bakery and ask for our donuts. I’ll ask for hot ones. Maybe they will give them to us, maybe they won’t. But I will not be asking for special treatment. The idea is to try the donuts that anyone can get, not just the ones for bloggers who are going to be judging them against their local competitors.

After sampling and scoring Lakeview Orchards, we’ll be heading south to Rogers Family Orchards in Johnstown. It’s a relatively short 19 minute drive. Remember, the smart play is to frontload the eating and backload the driving. They’ve got cider. They’ve got donuts. People love them. So we’ll make a stop and taste what they’ve got.

Stop number three is a ten minute hop south to Fonda. There we’ll hit Sand Flats Orchard and Greenhouse. Over 1300 people like this place on Facebook, and I’ve never even heard of it. Time to right that wrong and see how well they’ve mastered the craft of the donut. Sure, they all are made by the same robot, but every orchard does it just a little bit differently.

Then it’s back in the cars for a short 14 minute drive to Bellinger’s Orchard. This was one of the places I was most excited about back in the nomination phase, and it got a shout out in the comments too. I’ve never been to Fultonville before. Plus, the orchard’s webpage boasts, “Come and indulge in our warm apple cider donuts, made fresh on-site.” Will they actually be warm? That would be wonderful indeed.

After pulling away, you’ll be thanking me for the 35 minute drive to Terrace Mountain Orchard in Schoharie. Our last stop was also included in the original nominations, and was one of two spots in town we had yet to visit. However, when push came to shove, this tour is about apple orchards and not pumpkin patches. So the final choice was easy to make.

And that’s the tour. You may notice that Eagle Mills was left off the list. It’s a back up spot should something go wrong with Lakeview. And should the tour go off without a hitch, Eagle Mills will make next year’s tour, which will include the Ballston Spa places as well. Did I mention how many places there are to get cider donuts in this part of the world?

Our route on Saturday can be found here

The tour will be exhausting. You may want to bring a thermos of coffee. But in the end, I promise you will have a new appreciation of the apple cider donut and a better understanding about what makes a good one, which places are overrated, and what spot is your favorite in this corner of the region.

Hopefully you can join me. This is open to everyone who wants to come, and I mean everyone. Never been on a tour? The Tour de Donut is a great one to start with. Never left a comment? This is a chance to come out of the shadows and meet some other readers. Never read the blog? That’s cool. Life is busy. Just come and help us eat. Everyone is friendly. Want to bring your friends? Sure. Want to come alone? No problem. Bring kids. Bring pets. Bring cameras. And whatever you do, please don’t forget to bring a pen.

I just ask that you let me know if you plan on attending so I can make sure to have enough scoresheets on hand, and so we don’t head off without you. And if you want to come for just a few stops that’s fine too. However, only fully completed scoresheets will be used to determine which of these donuts is the best of the five.

Hope to see you there.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2015 11:43 am

    I will be there with or with my tasting assistant. He is scheming for a sleepover with his friend who just happens to live in Mayfield, but he is also planning to be out late bowling the night before so I may not be able to get him up in time.

  2. stanfordsteph permalink
    September 21, 2015 2:02 pm

    I hope you have a great time. Wish I could join you.

  3. Pam C. permalink
    September 21, 2015 2:56 pm

    Sounds delicious and fun! Wish I could make the trip up north to join you. Not too many apple orchards in Florida!

  4. Ryan H permalink
    September 21, 2015 3:30 pm

    I loved last years tour so I wish I could come, but I’ve got too many things to do. And that day we’ll be making and eating a big cake for Caitlin’s birthday, so five doughnuts is probably the last thing I need.

  5. September 25, 2015 6:21 pm

    Myself (Heather) and the mister (Steven) will be there!

  6. WonderWomanatee permalink
    September 27, 2015 2:28 am

    I discovered (by mistake) that if you freeze the cider donut and then nuke it to reheat it, the taste and texture is much improved. I do not know why. my family have been doing our own tour de donut for the past 3 years and have found a HUGE variation in taste, texture and size. Many have been made yucky by old oil! I look forward to your results!

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