Thursday, October 20, 2016


It was 6:40 a.m. when I heard the unmistakable sound and it was the pitter-patter of raindrops on our roof.  That sound always reminds me of early tenting days way back when.  A prolonged unexciting rain also also reminds me of depressive boring days if one is stuck inside for too long and today was one of those long gray days with a break in the middle.  Cool but not uncomfortably cold at 54F but it was the overall dampness in the air that called for an electric heater on much of the day.
Our mid day break came in the form of HURD ORCHARDS.  It’s a favorite place for Kelly, her Mom and sisters Becky and Kathy along with Peter and Leslie.  With Becky not being able to make it today it left an extra reserved ticket and I was asked to go.  Had to think about that for awhile.  Expensive eating places are not exactly my favorite thing but from seeing pictures knew Hurds might present some interesting photos for me.  Kelly’s brother Peter decided to go as well after obtaining another ticket.
It was around noon and still pouring rain when Kelly and I climbed into the back of Leslie and Peter’s burgundy four door Suburu Outback and with Kathy and her Mom following in her Mom’s Toyota Rav 4 we had us a convoy headed approximately 25 miles to Hurd Orchards. With windshield wipers slappin time we hydroplaned all the way.  Riding in the front seat I had the thought that being a passenger in a vehicle is so rare for me that I wonder if someday I could ever get used to it.  Better not get my mind to goin places until my mind actually gets there eh.
Well what can I tell you about Hurd Orchards.  Let me start off by saying this place is not a restaurant like I imagined it to be.   it’s an experience in itself and an experience I enjoyed having today.  Not a Fancy Schmancy hoity toity place so I felt comfortable.  Driving by on the busy highway it looks like a big old barn with a couple equally old driving sheds tacked on.  One might give it a quick passing glance going by without knowing about the old world charm within.
No paved parking lot or concrete walkways at Hurds.  Peter rolled in and parked in a grassy Peach Orchard with a smattering  of other cars scattered about.  Great climbing vines grew up one of the west walls all but obscuring a window or two.  Long tangled grass leaned heavy against the buildings along with a few large bushy shrubs pretty much hiding the south side of the west shed wall.  A narrow walkway between a couple overgrown 10 foot shrubs led to a few rain soaked steps taking one up into an open air wooden floored shed with pieces of authentic yesteryear generously scattered about.  A few tables and chairs for folks to sit and sip tea on warmer days.  Nothing in order, no matching colors and probably no two matching chairs in the raised shed.  And we hadn’t even got inside proper yet.  Yep I was taking a big liking to this place alright.
Good thing I didn’t wear my best Sunday slippers for they would not only be wet from the long grass but muddy as well from the puddles near the entrance.  Didn’t see any doors on the place at first but could see a lot of folks inside slowly milling about with casual flair stopping and looking at things.  Even before I stepped inside I could smell the apples.DSC_0019
WOW’ is the one word my mind latched onto as my eyes began feeding it images of my surroundings.  I just love these kinds of places but without all the people of course.  No point in me trying to explain the interior of this large shed so I’ll just let a few photos give you an idea.  By the way I do have to apologize for today’s pictures.  Wednesday night I had bumped the ISO number in my Nikon D-90 up to 3000 while photographing a lighted Christmas tree in a neighbors back yard.  I forgot to re-set that 3000  number to 400 ISO hence photos look soft and mushy with poor clarity.  Kelly took far batter photos with her Blackberry today and I will have more to say about that in a later post. 
Kelly has been to Hurd Orchards a couple times before with her Mother and sisters and had showed me a few photos but I still really didn’t have any idea as to what this Hurd Orchard place was all about.  At first I thought all the people or should I say all the women in there were shuffling around in some kind of disorganized line up waiting to get into the restaurant someplace wherever that was.  Nope, wrong again.  I think it might have been Leslie who finally explained the Apple Barn section wasn’t even open yet.  And by the way where was Peter, Kelly’s Mom and sister.  I did catch a couple glimpses of Kelly wandering around amongst the many big bushel baskets of apples and every once and awhile Leslie would kind of float by not seeming to be going nowhere in particular.DSC_0023
I had wandered back out of the building to where I had last seen Leslie and began to think I had maybe stumbled into the Twilight Zone.  With that thought rapidly gaining ground in my mind I caught site of Kelly waving from the entrance.  Leslie who I had just located said it was time to head inside through Appleville to the big barn.  A few yards away Peter, Kelly’s Mom and Kathy came barreling out of the Rav 4.  Well Gene, Kelly’s Mom wasn’t exactly barreling as Peter walked her down the shoulder of the road to an eastern side entrance a bit more dryer and less muddy than the west side.  Holy Smokes here was another whole beautiful area I hadn’t seen.
I saw people ahead of me ambling their way down a slight grassy incline towards a single door in the old wooden barn which obviously dated back countless decades.  Kelly, Kathy, and I were still outside marveling at all the randomly placed Autumn pumpkin and gourd displays when Peter leaned out the barn door saying, ‘hey we’re getting started in here.  ‘Oh-Oh’ those two ‘getting started’ words sent a chill down my spine.  What was getting started??  Was this some sort of intervention, a Holy Roller meeting, was I going to be embarrassed about having to do something?? (well yes that did happen but more about that later)  I still didn’t have it clear in my head what to expect when I stepped through those doors and when I did I was temporarily confused even more.  Ya so what else is new!!
It was the inside of a big old rustic barn alright and about as dark as any old barn I’ve ever been in too.  Could see people scattered about at various formations and shapes of tables.  But I saw something else too which put me at ease, peaked my visual interest and elicited the thought, ‘cozy.’  My photography hobby always draws my eyes to color, shapes, shadows, and lighting.  And that’s what I saw soon as I stepped through the door.  Creative lighting in the barn rafters highlighting beautiful displays of Autumns finest flower arrangements.  Bushels of apples and artifacts of days gone by artfully dispersed throughout the barn.
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Our day had previously been reserved and our pre-arranged table for six sat near the door we had  just entered.  Seating myself I still wasn’t clear as to how this was going to work.   Is there a buffet, waitresses, menus??  It was about here that I managed to get myself smartened up a bit and asked Kelly a few questions.  And by the way as my eyes accustomed to the darker room I became aware Peter and I were possibly the only two guys in a room of maybe a hundred women.  I did later spot two other guys with one having placed his head on a table while another feller seemed be just sitting there with a glazed far away look in his eyes.DSC_0040
Kelly said a lady would give a bit of talk about Hurd Orchards, it’s history and how it has evolved over the years into what it has now become and sure enough a lady did appear as the crowd conversations trickled to a stilled hush.  I recognized the lady right away as the lady earlier who talked to Kelly and I near the entrance where the hundreds or maybe thousands of apples were piled in countless bushel baskets.  This pleasant older ladies name was Susan Hurd and she represented the 6th generation of Hurds who originally founded Hurd Orchards in 1806.  She spoke for maybe ten minutes telling us how Hurds is a real working farm(s) that grows 70 types of apples.  This lady does know her apples.  She told us more but my memory struggles.  She next turned us over to her equally pleasant daughter Aimee who went on to talk about just what we would all be eating in the next little while.  She told us about their own bakery and the home made bread and how they do everything there themselves like making their own caramel sauce (brown sugar, heavy cream, butter, honey) apple cider, apple salads, apple butter and much, much, more.  Thought to myself wow I’m glad I decided to come today.IMG_2370IMG_2379IMG_2373IMG_2371
Within minutes of Aimee telling us about the upcoming food I noticed ladies filtering into the room carrying what would be the first of half a dozen culiinary treats.  Now, as readers know I am not a ‘foody person’ and have written the odd paragraph over the years feebly trying to explain why I’m not.  Have to say I was rather reserved about what might be landing on the table in front of me.  Well I needn’t have worried but did wonder about the Waldorf apple salad that first arrived.  Oh-Oh but that Oh-Oh instantly vanished as I cautiously slipped some caramel sauced apple and raison into my mouth.  Holy smokes something with the word ‘salad’ that actually tasted good.  And that set the pace for the next half hour or more.DSC_0052
Best ever hot apple cider rolled out next followed by a thick slice of freshly baked bread with apple butter and a small apple muffin topped with I think an apple glaze of sorts.  Another platter came around with apple wedges to dip in a cream cheese caramel blend.  Then the main course with pork tenderloin smothered in plum sauce.  Fresh apple sauce in a martini glass with more caramel glazed apples set in a golden splotch of squash. 
Squash!! Awwww nuts I hate squash and to add insult to injury the apple wedges laid out in a circular pattern in the squash reminded me of Shrimp and eating Shrimp is just about enough to put Al at a barf level.  Ok, Ok, everything else has been a welcome surprise so I daintily tried a little bit of squash on the end of my fork which I had mixed with a healthy dose of caramel sauce.  ‘WOW’ was that ever tasty and I soon had it all gobble up toote sweet.  Oh boy then came dessert and this one knocked it all right out of the park.  A cake shaped wedge of apple upside down cake with caramel sauce and a dollup of vanilla ice cream snuggled right up right alongside it.DSC_0046
It’s a wonder anyone was able to get out of their chairs and I felt as if I had just eaten a 600 pound caramelized freshly baked Apple Elephant smothered in plum sauce, caramel raisins, apple butter, apple sauce, ice cream and half a dozen other yummy things I have forgotten.   Say did I tell you today’s theme at Hurd Orchards was ‘Apples and Caramel’'.  Alright you probably guessed that by now anyway.
Once I am finished any meal I am not one for sitting around a table.  Sit down to eat, eats are gone, no reason to sit there any longer and away I like to go.  Today was no exception as I left everyone sitting at the table.  Knew I probably had another couple dozen photos to take so wanted to get outside and have myself a look around in a couple areas I hadn’t previously seen.  By the time I got my photos wrapped up the folks were heading for their cars.  Different seating arrangement on the way home with Kelly and I going with her sister in Gene’s Rav 4.  Rain, rain, rain, all the way back and I was so full my stomach arrived in Spencerport 5 minutes before I did.DSC_0060
Okay a quick summary.  Five thumbs up for Hurd Orchards.  If your in the area be sure to drop in.  Wander their flower gardens out back and soak up the abundant ambience .  Check their ‘linked’ website for directions, reservations, special events and hours.  Don’t let the old buildings fool you and just get yourself inside for a wee look around.  I did and I’m glad I did…………:))DSC_0080
Oh and about that embarrassing moment………Just as the first of our apple and caramel treats were about to begin I heard a lady from a group of ladies at the next table ask, “could one of you burly guys open this for us”??  I was closest to the lady and saw her extending her arm with a wine bottle at the end of it.  Something looking like a spigot protruded from the top and I was puzzled as to what it was.  I took the bottle hoping to hand it off to Peter across the table.  He said just press that white thing in which of course puzzled me even more.  Already turning 50 shades of red I glanced back at the ladies and OMG the ‘pained’ look on their faces.  I knew I had to immediately get the cork out of the bottle somehow or else so pressed the white thing and it moved forming a cork screw handle and at that point the light came on and I knew what it was.  With all eyes upon me it took me 2 hard pulls to pop that cork out of the bottle.  I handed it back relieved to see a sea of tension lessened happy faces around the table looking back at me.  Good thing I had wore a red shirt…….maybe no one noticed my face.
GROANER’S CORNER:(( While proudly showing off his new fraternity house to friends, a college student led the way into the den. "What is the big brass gong and hammer for?" one of his friends asked.  "That's the talking clock", the man replied, with a grin. "Let me show you how it works!" And with that, he gave the gong an ear-shattering pound with the hammer.  Suddenly someone screamed from the other side of the wall, "KNOCK IT OFF, YOU IDIOT! IT'S 2 AM!"
Jack and Mugs, two second-story men from Flatbush, were comparing notes on recent burglaries. "Didja get anything on that last heist?" Jack asked. "Nuttin' at all," Mugs admitted. "Toins out that the guy that lives there's a lawyer." "Jeez, ain't that the breaks," his friend sympathized. "Didja lose anything?"


  1. Wow, what a beautiful place. I love the center pieces. I felt like I was right there with you...but I'm still hungry.

  2. Wow! A foody post from Al! And it sounds like you really enjoyed it! Sounds like a neat place alright, and 70 varieties of apples! You don't see Snows around here much anymore.

  3. That sounds like the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Skip just decided he liked squash a few weeks ago, he didn't think he liked either. Spencerport is sure a pretty town.

  4. Ahhh...the only thing better than the smell of apples is the smell of baked apples. Throw in some cinnamon and caramel and I'm walking on clouds!

  5. What a wonderful place to visit, amazing some of the great place you can come across in the country.

  6. What a fabulous, cozy, interesting place to visit!

  7. What a great adventure and a lovely place! Thanks for the tour, Al!

  8. Great read and pics as always,Al. I haven't heard the words hoity toity in many many years. Reading them, immediately brought memories of an uncle long passed.

  9. Looks, sounds, smells and tastes - what a glorious experience in this beautiful place. The family obviously loves what they do and sharing it with others. The hanging basket ceiling is so pretty. The meal sounds heavenly, and very, very sweet! Glad you accepted the invite and had a wonderful time - remember that :-)))

  10. Reminds me of our Oak Glen. They have apple farms and restaurants up there. I'm thinking about driving a couple of my teacher friends up there next week.

  11. Hi Al, I just made an apple cake with home-growns. You coming over have a bite?

  12. Thank you for taking us to Hurds today--what a delightful place--and wonderful photos--but there is one photo that I had to go back to and re-see and that is the one with Susan holding a marker --that is one sharp photo--
    love and laughter, di

  13. What an amazing place to eat and explore! I'm sure you were pleased at your decision to ride along.....lot's of people and all. I would LOVE this place!

  14. Now you made me hungry for all those ways to serve apples!

  15. I don't like fancy expensive restaurants either. This place looks like a place I could really enjoy.

  16. Ha! loved the Bobby McGee reference... and almost a Joni Mitchell paved paradise one to boot!

  17. I like the idea of an eating experience. Plus what could really go wrong with apples and caramel. Sometimes you just have to challenge yourself to get out.