We woke up at 3am in Los Angeles to make our flight to Philly. The next day, we woke up at 3am in Philly, loaded up our borrowed car, and headed for Amherst– a 5-ish hour drive filled with laughter, strange radio stations, and a little bit of napping (on my part, at least– I’m assuming Sam stayed awake, as he was the driver.)
During the last few minutes, as we wound our way down a country road (okay, actually– that’s what highways are like in rural Massachusetts) toward Atkins Farms, we heard an ad for Atkins on the radio. It was quite a lovely coincidence.
And then– we were there. Sam’s old stomping (/working) grounds. The place we’d been pipe-dreaming about visiting for the past year (since our jaunt to Oak Glen, CA). We really did it.
(Full disclosure– we approached from the other direction. I took this picture as we were leaving. Whatever. Go with it.)
(But I really did take this picture coming in.) Have you ever seen a more picturesque parking lot? That tree alone was worth the drive!
Atkins was a full-on grocery store, but we didn’t do a whole lot of browsing– our mission was clear. We procured a bag of sugared cider donuts and two hot apple ciders, and grabbed a table next to a bunch of old-school Mass guys just shooting the shit (at 9am), complete with the Boston(ish) accents.
After three sugared cider donuts and some hot cider each, we were AWAKE.
The cider donuts didn’t exactly taste like apple, but they had an essence-of-cider thing going on… they were crumbly and cake-y and amazingly non-greasy. They were very light, for donuts– hence the whole I-ate-three thing. (I could almost fool myself that they were halfway healthy.)
Really, you just have to eat them while looking out upon the changing leaves of Amherst, MA. It’s a whole experience beyond the donut itself.
And you also have to buy some apples, to offset the donut/cider probable-unhealthiness quotient.
Sam– the resident New Englander– introduced me to the Macoun apple. It’s pronounced Muh-cow-in, which… honestly, I already have some pronunciation issues in my life, and Massachusetts had a few mind-benders on this front. (But they all might be crazy– later Sam told me that crayon is pronounced “cran,” and I will fight to the end that it is pronounced “CRAY-on.”)
In my mind, the Macoun is the “Snow White apple,” because it was so red on the outside and almost unnervingly, blindingly white on the inside. Snow white, rose red. You get it.
I’ve happily noshed on West Coast apples my whole life, but I’ve gotta say– I really miss those Macouns. They just had a different texture than we’re used to out here– not at all gritty. Very smooth.
We bought a bag of half-and-half (sugared and non-sugared) cider donuts for the road (sometimes all that sugar is just… too much– I think we preferred the non-sugared, overall), and those donuts, paired with the apples, made for a great breakfast for the next few days. (And our hotel looked out upon a leafy expanse, so we got to have the “full experience” once again.)
But that wasn’t all we ate during our trip. Ohhh no it wasn’t. No siree. Stay tuned for burgers, beers, and a (traumatizing) lobster.