Picking the Perfect Apple Picking Spot in NY: Tantillo's Farm, Author Nick Caruso
Autumn in New York – it’s such a vivid, visceral, intense season. The onset of romanticism is ushered in by the first crisp morning, and we wear it around and keep it warm under the sweaters and jackets we’ve been storing under our beds for months. We walk in the wind, sipping spiced things and stepping through random eddies of colorful leaves. It’s a beautiful time, a cozy time, and we city folk go about our pre-winter hibernation rituals: the last outdoor brunch, the last farmer’s market stop, strolls through the parks. But we mustn’t forget that there is Fall outside NYC. In fact, there is a whole big bunch of it, and if you’re in the über-Autumnal mood, there are a couple things you need to pencil in for next Fall’s itinerary – it’s never too soon to start planning.
Tantillo’s Farm Market is in the pleasant town of Gardiner, NY, tucked neatly inside the Hudson River Valley. It’s a 75-mile drive from NYC, and worth every moment of the trip, especially if you pick up a classy ride from Hertz on Demand and shuttle a few friends like I did. We piled into a top of the line Volvo XC60 midday on a Sunday, hit the highway, and made it to beautiful country roads by early afternoon. It’s antithetical to feel this way, since living and playing in NYC full time is a privilege and an honor, but latelyI had been wanting to get out the city and stretch my legs somewhere with less concrete and breathe air filtered by more trees. The weather was perfectly cool, which allowed me to don my Fall uniform – plaid insulated jacket over plaid flannel (yep), weekend jeans, and hunting boots. I was ready for the “country” – I was ready to pick some apples at Tantillo’s.
It was recommended by a friend that I stop in Gardiner for the best New York state has to offer as far as pick-it-yourself produce is concerned, and I’m happy to report that she certainly didn’t disappoint. We pulled up to the farm in our luxo-crossover and I couldn’t have been happier. Continuously operated over the decades by four generations of its founding family, Tantillo’s is settled along the edge of Route 208, extending away from the road, orchard over orchard, until it disappears into the lush horizon. There’s a picnic area, outdoor farm goods store, ice cream stand – more on that in a minute – and the kitchen, outside of which there are enormous, fresh pies cooling on a rack, just waiting to be taken home. Out back there are a couple idling tractor-drawn wagons ready to shuttle apple pickers, and once you’re aboard you’re whisked away to one of two picking sites, depending on which apple varieties you’re interested in picking. Tantillo’s picturesque, smells terrific, feels perfect, and tastes…well, it tastes incredible.
Along with the general recommendation to seek out Tantillo’s, my friend me promise I would get a warm apple crisp sundae, and in turn promised me it would change my outlook on life. And now here I am recommending it to you, emphatically. You’ll also need to grab as many apple cider doughnuts as possible (fresh, sweet, crispy), and maybe some of those gargantuan pies to tide you over for a day or two. I was lucky enough to meet several members of the owner/operator family, and even got a taste of some very fresh apple pie filling which, according to my gracious hosts, tastes just right if you combine the sweet and tart apples they grow in the orchard, rather than focus on one variety. I can confirm that the pie filling did indeed taste just right, and that Tanillo’s Farm Market is just right for anyone who wants an early Fall getaway from the city.
And if you do go upstate – hell, if you go to Costco – I’d suggest booking the Volvo XC60 from Hertz on Demand. Hertz hooks you up with premium models – this one included all the bells and whistles, from navigation to seat heaters – and it’s worth making a trip just for the pleasure of driving a great car. I don’t know much about wine, or how to pair certain vintages and grapes with whatever meal is being served, but I can make a mean road trip/vehicle pairing, and for a Fall daytrip, the XC60 and Tantillo’s is the way to go.
Tantillo’s Farm Market is located at 730 State Rte. 208 in Gardiner, NY. Sign up for Hertz on Demand at http://www.hertzondemand.com and you’ll be good to go.