Saturday, October 9, 2010

HarvestFest Highlight: Celtic Music and Cider Donuts

HarvestFest is just days away and until then we'll be highlighting different aspects of the 2010 Rockport HarvestFest to give festival-goers a sense of what's to come...

Today's highlight? Celtic music and cider donuts. No, the two won't necessarily be offered side-by-side at HarvestFest, but they do go together delightfully. (Although one could argue that donuts go with anything.) You can wander over to the big tent on T-Wharf and procure a few cider donuts made either a few miles away at the Willowrest, or glazed donuts - among other varieties - made a few steps away at Rockport's own The Coffee Shop. Donuts in hand, you head down to Bearskin Neck to check out Michael O'Leary, along with friends Steve Levy & Linda Swicker Shields, as they play and sing Celtic tunes from 11am to 1pm. Michael O'Leary is Cape Ann's premier Celtic musician and can often be found singing on the Gloucester schooner the Thomas E. Lannon throughout the summer.

For those of you unfamiliar with the joys of cider donuts, HarvestFest will be a revelation. The Willowrest (with the motto "Eat Fresh") makes this New England delicacy in-house, and it competes with the fall foliage for a place in the hearts of locals. The donuts don't look particularly impressive, but a first bite of that sweet-but-not-too-sweet fried dough with a hint of apple will leave you hooked for life.

And as far as donuts of other varieties are concerned, The Coffee Shop, located on Main Street in Rockport, has you covered. The Coffee Shop has been a fixture in Rockport for decades, and still makes all the donuts they sell, as well as muffins, cookies, and more. Under the "and more" category is Nisu Bread, a Finnish coffee bread that is part of the heritage of the dominant immigrant community that has claimed the tip of Cape Ann for generations. The most distinctive ingredient in Nisu is the fragrant spice cardamom, always freshly crushed before baking. Cider donuts and nisu: both of them can't-miss local food experiences.