Being down here in Florida for the July 4th holiday makes me miss the state for many reasons, but none more so than Publix. Sadly, sometimes I think I miss the grocery store more than I miss my own family. I wish I was kidding, but my family knows this and loves me just the same so you can stop judging. I’m half Italian and I’m hungry all the time.
In New York, it’s really hard to find a grocery store that hands out free samples or has its own delicious brands of foods. I’ve searched high and low, and though I’ve never found anything that matches the joy I get from visiting Publix, I did come close recently on my trip to Cooperstown with a visit to the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard. My friend Kaitlin originally posed visiting this place as a means to buy cider donuts for breakfast. And I love donuts as much as the next person, but they don’t really get my motor going. I’m more of a salt-lover than I am a fan of sweets.
HOWEVER. Once we arrived at the Mill, I realized I was in store for something much more than I bargained for. First of all, it’s over 100 years old which I always love. Coming from Florida, where nothing is really older than 1960, anything built at the turn of the century immediately is my favorite place ever. But more than that, they make all their own products. AND THERE ARE FREE SAMPLES EVERYWHERE.
To say I went a little nuts in the place is an understatement. I had to be dragged out. And my boyfriend actually removed things from my basket because I was going overboard. (I was mad at the time but he was right.) If you ever find yourself near Coooperstown, you must go to this magical place. Below, some photos of what you can expect to see:
Here’s the entrance. This only gives a taste of how old the place is, it’s really quite adorable.
Out in the back there is a duck pond and ducks are roaming everywhere. While the smell is not great, the fly hairdos of some of the inhabitants are.
There is also a section of old John Deere tractors dating back 100 years. I didn’t quite figure out why these were here (too busy eating and chasing ducks), but they were very cool to look at.
I’m also a sucker for these types of things, of which they had several. Here are Jackson and Kaitlin looking pretty.
There are also a ton of rocking chairs camped out front so you can enjoy your treats before you head home. Or just act like old men. Either one!
Here’s another duck that was just wandering around. I didn’t realize I liked ducks so much. I thought it was funny that they just kind of paused and posed like bosses everywhere.
Now to the wonderland that was the inside of this place. First of all, free samples were everywhere, from tomato sauces like the below (I bought one) to cheeses (which I ate that night) to dips (I bought two of those as well.) Everything had to be sampled via pretzel sticks. How many samples did I have? Let’s just say I saw them replenishing pretzel sticks behind me several times. **brushes off shoulders**
In a subject close to my heart, they had tons of pickled veggies. These are some of the items GC made me put back, rightfully pointing out that if I wanted pickled carrots and the like, I should make them myself instead. I conceded. But barely.
The store also had crazy combos of dips, which you could buy in the jar or via mixes. I settled on some mixes eventually, which are sitting in my pantry waiting for the day when I decide dip for dinner is a good idea. This happens every six months-ish, so expect an update here soon.
The store also had a ton of tchotchkes, which I always find hard to resist. I was also made to remove a pair of salt and pepper shakers from my basket on the account that “we already had two that worked fine.” Lame.
Because they don’t look like this! I’m still sad I lost this fight.
They also had all these cute teas, which I self-policed myself on even though I really, really wanted one. I must have 10,000 flavors of tea in the pantry right now all purchased because “they look so cute!”
Finally, it was time to go. I left kicking and screaming. To avoid the pain of driving away for a moment though, we tore into our original reason for coming — the cider donuts. How good were they? Do regular donuts make you do this?
Or dance or make faces like this?
The good news is, even though the Mill is a bit of a hike from NYC, they do have an online store. You can use your best judgment when guessing if I’ve racked up quite a bill keeping my stocks of things high.