The 7th Annual Tour de Donut
We’re going donut picking, again. The next Tour de Cider Donut is just days away. We’ll get to the when and where in just a minute, but first let’s talk about the what and why.
Upstate New York is in the heart of apple country. Those might be fighting words for our friends in Washington State, and they may have a point in terms of tonnage. But in the fall, I can’t imagine a better place to be than the Capital Region. There are orchards and country stores all over the place, and most of them sell apple cider donuts.
These are a quintessential treat of fall. The only problem is that most people go to the same place year after year. 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 is a greater diversity in apple cider donuts than most people realize.
As a regional food lover, I am curious to know which orchard, or bakery, or farm stand makes the very best one. So, to answer that question, these Fussy Little Tours were born back in 2010. Since then the FLB has led intrepid groups of eaters around the region in search of tasty treasures.
Now fall has graced us with its presence yet again, so this is the time to circle the wagons and head north. Not too far north. But there is a band of orchards around the 43rd parallel, east of the Great Sacandaga Lake, that we seem to have missed over the past six years. Thanks to some good input during the planning stages, our route is once again a good bit different than what was originally proposed.
Let’s take a look at the plan.
I hope you held the date. We are departing on Saturday, October 15. It’s always more fun with more people, however, I’m also happy to eat all the donuts by myself and report back. It would be reminiscent of The Best Dozen series I put together for All Over Albany. Still, I hope you can join me. Don’t be shy. Anyone and everyone is welcome. Please consider this a personal invitation.
The tour commences at 10:30 am sharp.
Yes, there will be a good bit of driving. We’ve done more in the past. A good bit of the time spent in the car will likely be getting to and from the route. The map itself is a zig zagging eastern march from Broadalbin to Schaghticoke. There is some chance that we’ll have to make a last minute substitution, but the longest possible route for the day is sixty miles, which will take an estimated 90 minutes to drive.
What’s up in the air is Elmms Family Farm. I’ve left them a voicemail and sent an email to confirm if guests can visit the bakery without paying an admission fee. If they can, we’ll go there. If they can’t we’ll hit Smith’s Orchard as a backup.
One place that had to be left off the final list was Lansing’s Farm in Niskayuna. It was just too far afield from the other stop. But we can only stop at five places, and I do try to minimize the amount of time spent driving.
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 Eagle Mills Cider Company, 383 County Highway 138 in Broadalbin. I’ve been wanting to go to this place for years. But it’s taken awhile to figure out a tour that could reasonably include this out of the way spot. They open at 10am. One thing we’ve learned from past tours is not to arrive at the opening bell. Sometimes a place needs a few minutes to get ready. So I’ll see you there at 10:30.
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 Eagle Mills, we’ll be heading southeast into Ballston Spa. We’ll have a choice to make, but likely it will be made for us. I’d prefer to use this stop for a visit to Ellms Family Farm, but our back up spot is Smith’s Orchard & Bake Shop just a few minutes away. The drive will be about 18-25 minutes depending on which place we visit.
Stop number three brings us 23 minutes to the north and east, which will bring us to Saratoga Springs. There we’ll stop at Sunnyside Gardens. I love the bravado on their website,
The moment you step out of your car, you’ll smell our homemade baked goods made fresh in our bakery each day. We don’t mean to brag (well…maybe just a little bit) but our cider donuts are legendary and people come from miles around just for them. They’re super light and fluffy and not at all greasy like donuts at some other places.
Well, we will see. I’m willing to bring the tour to a garden shop once again to see how it is able to deliver on the fall cider donut experience.
Then it’s back to the cars for a quick 14 minute drive south to Malta. The Malta Ridge Orchard and Gardens await. This is going to be the hardest stop. The fourth donut is more challenging than one might expect. Especially with only a 14 minute drive to digest donut number three.
Fortunately, our last stop is a glorious 17 miles away, which is expected to be a beautiful 28 minute drive. I’m excited to make it out to Schaghticoke, and Borden’s Orchard, which has been a family farm for over 150 years. That seems like it’s worth the drive. Plus, not only does this place have cider donuts, but it also has cider slush.
And that’s the tour. Our route for Saturday, including the alternate stop, can be found here.
The tour is going to be a lot of fun. But it will also be exhausting. You may want to bring a thermos of coffee. 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 northern band of the region.
Hopefully you can join me. Again, 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. I’m a friendly guy. Want to bring your friends? Sure. Want to come alone? No problem. Bring kids. Bring cameras. But 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.