Cider donuts, apples and fried seafood

against the backdrop of picturesque New England autumn.  After some early morning showers, the day brightened beautifully, allaying my initial concerns of being soaked and being grumpy as a byproduct of being soaked.  I was still grumpy, but only then because that’s just who I am 🙂

I digress.  Today I lost my virginity.  My apple picking virginity, to be precise.  I tagged along with a buttload (nearly a full hayride’s worth) of Asian people to Russell Orchards, in Ipswich, MA, about an hour”s drive from Boston.  Unfortunately, the Honeycrisps were long gone but there were still plenty of Macouns, Cortlands, Galas, and MacIntoshs to go around.  I enjoyed sampling all the varietals, indulging in the freedom to bite and toss as I please.  It’s only recently I’ve cultivated a deeper appreciation for apples and the incomparable first bite of a fresh, crisp, clean, juicy specimen.  I think the reliable Galas and Fujis are still my preferred snacking apples, although I discovered today that the Macoun is nice as well, firm and crisp with a gorgeous white flesh.  I also picked up a few Cortlands that will hopefully make their way into an apple crisp on tomorrow’s brunch menu.

Selling the farm:
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No color editing needed:
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The wanna-be:
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Selling the apple:
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Russell Orchards’ cider donuts are reputedly standout, so of course I had to weigh in.  My verdict: overall, worth eating.  I did wish the outside had more crunch (and I had one straight from the fryer).  However, the inside was texturally intriguing: pillowy with a slight but noticeable chew, ever so reminiscent of mochi, which I enjoyed.  Makes me wonder what’s in the batter.  Also on the plus side, the donuts were light as air, partially dissolving into sugar fairies on contact before you start chewing.  A happy pairing with some hot cider.  I didn’t try any of their other baked goods, but they had blueberry muffin tops the size of my face and individually portioned apple pie slices or turnover things.  Yum yum must take advantage of being so close to local farms.

Manhandled donut:
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After Russell and before H Mart (whose Saturday afternoon madness warrants a post of its own), we hit up Woodman’s for lunch. I came to discover that Woodman’s is a locally renowned clam shack, and being in an area known for its fresh catches, heaps of fried seafood seemed perfectly reasonable and justifiable to the guilty food conscience. Justifiable or not, four of us split two gut-busting plates, one a mixed seafood platter and one clam strips. Both were accompanied by onion rings and fries, as if drowning the seafood in oil (isn’t that literally what frying entails?) wasn’t enough. The fries were meh, the rings solid, and the clam strips tasted like the sea solidifried (haha, get it?  get it???), but by far the most enjoyable bite for me was the fried fish (the nugget morsels in the photo). The nugget fell apart when I forked it, the meat delicate but rich like butter, flavorful and with a dab of tartar sauce, induced silent forgasms* and exuberant praise of its excellence. Definitely left me pining for more and I would make a trip back to get a plate of just that.

The spread:
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Fried freakin food:
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Russell Orchards
143 Argilla Road
Ipswich MA 01938

Woodman’s
121 Main Street
Route 133
Essex MA 01929

*new word alert: forgasms = food orgasms

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