Every New Yorker needs a break from the City. There’s no better time than a sunny October weekend to take a day trip to a nearby town for a little country fun—picking apples, riding in tractors, and playing in pumpkin patches. Being raised in the near tropical climate of South Louisiana and spending many years in the desert climate of southern California, Fall was an unfamiliar season that I did not experience for the first quarter century of my life. I knew nothing of leaves changing to brightly-colored hues, littering the ground like glitter in a snow globe with each gentle howl of the wind. But I have grown to enjoy this season.
Fall is the first respite from the sweltering summer heat that’s compounded by streets congested with cabs, buses, and tourists. It’s the first respite from heat generated by the ever-running subway, causing hot air to emanate from the depths of the underground. Fall is the time for gourds, sweaters, and above-the-knee boots. But what I love most about Fall is that it puts me in a cooking and baking mood. And what better way to take a break from city life than to pick some apples that I can use to make an apple tart?
After driving an hour and a half, we arrived at Fishkill Farm. We descended to the sprawling orchards and commenced picking apples. At the base of many of the trees were a graveyard of fallen apples. I couldn’t help but think, the apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I had never picked apples before, so I wasn’t sure which ones were ripe. I formulated my own test. I gave the gentlest of tugs, and the ripe apples would come right off. I didn’t want to take any chances, so I’d then bite into the crisp skin, as juice splattered. The sweet and robust flesh indicated that these apples were perfectly tree-ripened. We continued to wander around the orchard, passing numerous varieties. I had to stop at one of my favorite varietals from my childhood—the golden delicious.
We then hopped on a tractor that shuttled us around the rest of the orchard—passing the Fuji and McIntosh trees, we made our way to a vast area speckled with pumpkins. We frolicked around for a bit before deciding to end our day with roasted corn, grass-fed burgers, hot apple cider and freshly-made apple cider donuts. We waited for over an hour for those donuts, and it was absolutely worth it.
I bit into the warm, freshly-made donut and could only shake my head. Words eluded me. I’m not the biggest donut fan, but each bite of donut simply disintegrated in my mouth. I told myself I would only have one. I certainly wasn’t hungry, and I knew there was no saving it until the next day, as the freshness would then be compromised. I simply couldn’t help myself, so I enjoyed a second donut. As we prepared to leave the orchard and head back to the city, I washed the second donut down with hot apple cider and had no regrets.