Kentucky: Doughnut Hunting Going Around in Circles

Text: John M. Flores • Photography: John M. Flores, Sandy Noble

We came here seeking 
doughnuts. No, not the 
dunkin’ kind; calling those 
toroids doughnuts is like 
calling Chef Boyardee Italian food. No, we’re here for the real deal. And we’re willing 
to ride to find them. Thoroughbred From the rolling waves of 
Kentucky Blue Grass come some of the finest 
thoroughbreds in the world bred on picturesque horse farms in the Bluegrass region.

The trip starts in the heart of thoroughbred country, Versailles, KY (pronounced Ver-sails). Actually, it almost doesn’t start at all. Our accommodations at A Storybook Inn are so posh and refined that I feel like Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey, and I don’t want to leave. It doesn’t hurt that innkeeper Elise Buckley is exceedingly generous and filled with tales of the old home.

After a sumptuous breakfast, we leave Versailles and make our way through Lexington in the rain, stopping at two doughnut shops within an hour. The roads aren’t all that memorable, but the doughnuts are. Doughdaddy’s is good—very good, in fact among the best I’ve had in months. But Spalding’s, right across the street from a giant belching Jif Peanut Butter plant, is the best doughnut I’ve had in years, possibly ever. Hand-made and fresh, it has a sweet, crispy outside and a soft, flavorful inside. They’ve been doing it this way since 1929, and by the looks of the constant flow of customers, they have built up quite a nice reputation. With any luck, I’ll be 90 years old and flapping my gums at anyone that will listen about the doughnuts at Spalding’s. That’s how good they are.

Sandy and I continue away from Lexington and east toward the hills. Eastern Kentucky is hilly but not quite mountainous and has some great twisty roads that cling to the hollers. Unlike many mountain roads though, these don’t have a discernible rhythm; they break left when you’re expecting them to break right, and they dance the Macarena when you’re expecting a Lindy Hop. It’s challenging, fun, and sure keeps you on your toes.

We stop for lunch at a restaurant in Jackson and chat with the locals who act as if they’ve never seen a grown man in a hi-viz Aerostich one-piece suit before. We’re clearly not from these parts, but the people are friendly; and within minutes, we’re sharing recipes for favorite dishes. Later, as we’re suiting up, they snap a couple of photos of the aliens they met at lunch.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the July/August 2014 back issue.