Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Frank & Meg get cider at B.F. Clydes Mill

Eat & Run with Frank & Meg: Fall Foliage in New England from FrankenMeg on Vimeo.


In Manhattan, the beauty of fall can pass by completely unnoticed if you're not careful. We decided to make sure that didn't happen this year. We jumped on a train and headed to Connecticut, where we traded skyscrapers and subways for pumpkins and peak fall foliage.

When I think of fall in the Northeast, I think of apples. And when I think of apples, I think of cider. Frank and I decided to make a trip to B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill, the oldest steam powered cider mill in the United States. It's located on a charming wooded road in Old Mystic, CT. We pulled up on a busy Saturday, right before the 1pm apple pressing. There was a live band in the front yard, entertaining guests who lounged on the front porch of the gift chop, sipping hot cider and snacking on apples and donuts. Pumpkins were scattered around, completing the cheery fall scene.

We followed the scent of apples to the mill, which was already filled with other guests waiting in anticipation for the main event - the cider pressing. Right on schedule, the wooden mill lurched to life - belts started whirring, wheels began to turn, and suddenly, the sound of scores of apples being emptied into a pulping machine overhead. Very soon, apple pulp began pouring from a cylander suspended above a wooded rack that was covered with mesh cloth. Two workers set up a wooden frame around the rack and began to spread the pulp evenly (using garden hoes!). When one rack was filled with pulp, they covered it with mesh cloth and a slatted lid, and began another layer on top. When the workers had completed perhaps four layers, they stepped back and let the pressing machine do its work. (You can watch the whole process here.) Fresh juice ran off the layers of pulp, and the room filled with the aroma of apples. We were suddenly thirsty for some cider.

We headed to the gift shop, where we perused Clyde's impressive selection of wine. We were perplexed by the inclusion of donuts on their apple-themed menu, but shrugged it off as we left, content with our bottle of apple wine and my (delicious) cup of hot mulled cider.


Later that day we met up with my sister for my niece's sixth birthday party and we told of our experience at the mill (my sister was the one who suggested we go in the first place). My brother-in-law, Steve, asked me, "So, what did you think of the donuts?"

"Yeah, um... we didn't get any."

"What?! how could you not get any donuts? that's the best part."

We thought serving donuts at a cider mill was kind of strange and just shrugged it off as just another snack people might like to eat with their cider. What we didn't know is that's where a lot of the apple pulp from the cider press ends up - in the freshly made donuts.

According to Steve, we had to go back. I'm glad we did. It was worth the second trip.


So, the next day, we once again found ourselves waiting in line at Clyde's. This time, when we reached the counter, we placed our order for some cider donuts (in addition to another cup of cider, of course). They make and fry the donuts right in the shop, and due to the overwhelming demand for them, we had to wait a bit to get our donuts.

When the woman behind the counter called Frank's name and gave him a bag of piping hot donuts, we knew right away we were going to be in for a treat. There are two varieties of cider donuts - sugared and non-sugared (which one is better is a topic of hot debate at Clyde's). To be fair, we got a couple of each. Which was better? Really, I couldn't say. I was so overwhelmed by the sheer...yumminess (is that a word? I don't even know if that's a word) of biting into a warm, fluffy donut that the presence or lack of a sugar coating was the farthest thing from my mind. It was simply heaven.

We washed our donuts down with cider and took another deep breath of the fresh fall air before we had to board the train back to New York. It may have been brief but we managed to squeeze a lot of autumn into into our brief trip to New England. And next fall, when the leaves start to turn and people start carving pumpkins, you can be sure Frank and I will be back at Clyde's, with a donut in one hand, a cider in the other and a smile on our faces.


Cheesy as it sounds, it is all pretty much true.

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