By Molly Congdon
It consisted of three layers: a foundational shade of sea-foam green, sandwiched in the middle sat a sheet of creamy white and it was topped with bright red. Prior to taking a bite, it was impossible to imagine what to expect. Would it be rich and creamy or juicy and refreshing?
The answer: Watermelon fudge — speckled with chocolate chips, which served as the seeds — was all of the above; a taste sensation all its own.
This is one of the many fudge flavors you will now find behind the glass case at Lindsey’s Country Store, at 1537 Route 9.
A July 31 ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the grand opening of the new element of the shop — a whole new world of chocolate that would have made Willy Wonka proud.
The doors of this business opened almost 27 years ago — in October 1988. “The history goes back to the early 1970s when my parents bought the orchard [Lindsey’s Idyllwood Orchard] when I was in first grade,” owner Diane Curwick said. “I have three older brothers — the oldest was a senior in high school at the time — and my dad [James Russell Lindsey] saw a lot of young boys getting in trouble and doing things that they shouldn’t be doing. He decided to have a family project — my dad was an engineer at GE for 30 years before he went out on his own — to keep the boys busy, so he bought the orchard.”
“It was a time in Clifton Park when things were totally different from they are now,” manager Sharonbeth Brauksieck said. “It was more agricultural, but Lindsey’s was the first pick-your-own orchard in the Capital District.”
Returning to her roots
At first, Curwick didn’t think that she would find herself back at the orchard. “I went away to college — Cornell, majoring in animal science with a business management minor — and soon after graduating from college, my dad wanted me to get back into the family business. So we partnered and opened this,” Curwick said of the store. “I bought out ownership in April of 2001 — I was officially sole owner.”
She continued: “I thought I was going to work on a horse farm or do something in pharmaceuticals, but in the end I decided that I wanted to get back in the family business. Like a lot of kids, I think you grow up saying you’re never going to get into it and then after a couple years of working, you decide you want to be back.”
Currently her oldest brother, Duane, now runs the orchard. The store was a way to sell the products he was raising such as sweet corn, apples and meats. Eventually, though, it transformed into a bakery, gift shop and now a candy and chocolate shop.
“The first day the store wasn’t quite the size that it is in present time; it was much smaller,” Curwick said. “Our best customers were three guys at the used-car lot across the street.” At that point they made about a dozen muffins a day and a couple of pies. However, they quickly expanded and over time have continued to diversify.
“We started making a couple flavors of muffin and pies first year,” Curwick said. “Now we make up to 50 flavors of muffins and we keep adding to the unique list.”
The expansion into the sweets department started with a phone call. “Mike Fitzgerald from Saratoga Sweets contacted me in January and he was closing his retail location,” Curwick said. “And [he] asked if we would want to start selling the candies and things that he had been selling. So the week of Valentine’s Day, we got into all the truffles, cremes and chocolates, and it was crazy — a good crazy.”
On top of selling chocolates, Curwick and her team decided to produce fudge as well; they are making the fudge and purchasing most of the chocolate. The fudge kettle brews a wide variety of unconventional flavors, including watermelon, sherbet, carrot cake, pumpkin pie and chocolate chip cookie. Of course one can also find staples such as chocolate, chocolate walnut and penuche nut. “Starting tomorrow we will be making one called “Down by the Sea,” Curwick said beaming. “It’s blueberry cheesecake with Swedish fish jumping out of the waves.”
She continued: “Our fudge maker [Trilby Yule] is an artist by trade; she’s a graphic design artist. She’s having fun creating with the fudge.”
In a single day, they will make 150 pounds of fudge, consisting of 11 or 12 different flavors — each taking one hour to prepare.
Hand-made pies, muffins
The Lindsey’s crew takes pride in pushing boundaries and taking taste buds to a new level of satisfaction. “Lindsey’s cannot just make one flavor of anything, we are just constantly creating and coming up with something new,” Brauksieck said. “The customers love the adventure.”
“We have a monthly muffin that rotates out — this month it’s lemonade. Every week they are doing a different fruit-flavored lemonade such as strawberry, blueberry, peach, raspberry, cranberry,” Curwick said. “It’s a bright concentrated light lemon flavor; it’s refreshing.”
Every baked good is made by hand. “All of the pies and muffins look different, even within their own variety, because we do everything by hand,” Curwick said. If you take a moment and look close enough, you will notice that the fluting on the pie crust contrasts from the one resting beside it — the true beauty of homemade baked goods.”
“We roll the dough, peel the apples and mix the ingredients,” Brauksieck said. “Everything is done by hand.”
Other than the unique flavor offerings, Lindsey’s provides customers with four fundamental ingredients that when combined create a successful business. “We give a quality product, service, we make it fun and it tastes good,” Curwick said. “And we are now your candy destination. ”
Brauksieck smiled and said: “Yes we like to say we are just a little bit sweeter.”