Right off of 27 in Water Mill is a little sign and a little store on a big apple orchard that says “The Milk Pail”. When you see this sign it instantly creates visions of a cute little old farmer in overalls milking away a friendly cow as he directs his ten year old daughter how to do it… and then you start hearing “Old MacDonald Had A Farm” in your head… and then you reflect on your life as to why you didn’t decide to move to Italy and become a dairy farmer…And then you start thinking to yourself that probably would have been a bad idea because you’re terrible at learning new languages…And then you start thinking about how you’re very susceptible to getting a sunburn so that idea is going to be tabled…
If you live, have visited or know anything remotely about the Hamptons, hearing or reading the words “The Milk Pail” in your head brings up not a vision, but a smell, and that smell is utterly, stupidly, ridiculously delicious apple cider mixed with cinnamon and sugar doughnuts.
I hadn’t been there in a while and wasn’t in the mood for an eighth cup of decaf, so I decided to march into The Milk Pail last week and I was not disappointed. HOLY COW HAVE THINGS CHANGED. When I was a kid, The Milk Pail had a doughnut machine and that was about it. Today, walking into The Milk Pail is like walking into a mini Citarella. They have handmade cakes, dinners, meatballs, fresh breads, fancy pre-made frozen foods, fancy and insanely expensive granola; they have all the rich people food bases covered in there except for fresh fish.
The prices aren’t for the faint of heart, but it’s the Hamptons, and if you own a farm in the Hamptons, you may be rich as hell on paper because of the land you own, but you can’t let those rich folks with their fancy credit cards walk out of your farm without overpaying for some things, it’s sort of an unspoken rule for farm-based businesses out here.
Anyway, I knew what I was there for and knew where to go, which was left, to the back of the store. And in the back of the store are the homemade doughnuts, they only have one option, cinnamon and sugar, because let’s face it, there is no point in ever eating any other doughnut. Something that is new, at least for me, is that you can buy only one doughnut if you want, which is carefully wrapped in plastic and was pretty fairly priced for about $2. I grabbed that, looked for the cup for the apple cider and it wasn’t there, so I marched to the front of the store. Maybe this is on purpose because in order to get a cup you have to go to the front of the store, then march back to the back of the store, then march back to the front of the store and pay. During this walk, for some reason, a bag of apples for $20 starts to sound reasonable.
I poured the cider into my cup. It was piping hot, and I’m 90 percent sure it’s from the exact same kettle that I drank cider from 30 years ago. I took one sip…oh my God…my eyes literally dilated; I could feel apple cider run through my veins…lord have mercy!
I took a bite of the cinnamon doughnut; it was still warm.
LORD HAVE MERCY!
Every particle, every atom of this magical concoction of perfection hit every cell in my body. It was so satisfying, it was so warming, I felt like I was being hugged by my mother on Christmas morning.
I don’t know what’s in the apple cider at the Milk Pail, they say it’s just apples, but something this good should probably be illegal.
Looking forward to going again and again. Add it to your list.