The Gleeful Gourmand: Doughnuts At The Ashland Berry Farm

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Doughnuts At The Ashland Berry Farm

I love family traditions, and one of ours has always been heading out in October to our favorite pumpkin patch at The Ashland Berry Farm to pick pumpkins, have some fun, and eat doughnuts.

A working farm since the mid 1800s, The Ashland Berry Farm is nestled in a traditionally beautiful Virginia landscape, complete with rolling hills and an old silo. I've been going there since I was a little girl, and it always seemed like an adventure for me to leave suburbia and truly be out on a farm in the middle of nowhere.

Daddy and daughters in search of the perfect pumpkin.

Back then, we would hop on a tractor-pulled cart filled with hay and bump down the dusty lane towards extensive fields filled with pumpkins. We'd hoof it as long as we could until we found the perfect looking pumpkin, and then head back to roast hot dogs over a large fire pit, drink hot apple cider, and eat the most perfect doughnuts we'd ever tasted.

So close to "donut" nirvana at The Ashland Berry Farm.

It's pretty gratifying that more than 30 years later, we can basically still do the exact same thing. Except we have to do with a multitude of people so vast that getting on the hayride on a weekend requires a near 45 minute wait. They also don't let you roast your own hot dogs anymore, probably for liability reasons.

But the overall feeling of wonder is still there for our kids, along with the fun, and the doughnuts. Oh, yes, the doughnuts are still there. To my discerning tastebuds, the recipe hasn't changed much - if at all - over the years. They still have one machine doing all the work to churn out those piping hot, fresh rounds of pure joy; and their success is evident: The line for the doughnuts is nearly as long as the line for the hayride.

It's not October, or Halloween, until I've had one of those doughnuts. They're uncomplicated, coming in just four flavors: Plain, Chocolate Glazed, Glazed, and Powdered Sugar, but what they lack in creativity, they more than make up in taste: So fresh, slightly crunchy on the top, and pillowy soft on the inside. I really believe that the fact that they haven't changed their recipe or strategy for churning them out over the decades is what makes them so very special.

It's not really Halloween until we've had doughnuts from The Ashland Berry Farm.

We laugh and joke as we bump along out to the pumpkin patch. The kids shriek in joy as they exclaim that they've found the perfect pumpkin, and after what seems like an unreasonably long wait, the powdered sugar and chocolate coats their little faces as they dig into a Richmond tradition.

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