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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The great 2013 donut crawl part one

The cronut
My younger son (let's call him figlio minore, FigMin for short) loves donuts. Adores donuts. Would marry a donut if it were legal in New York State. And since donuts appear to be pretty hot right now (the new cupcakes? no, that's this monstrosity--and I don't line up at 3 AM for baked goods, like ever--Springsteen maybe, but breakfast pastries? no way) (wait, where was I? oh yes--), since donuts are hot right now, we decided it was time for a donut crawl. In two parts no less. Part one: Manhattan. Part two: Brooklyn. And if Queens or the Bronx get with the program there could be parts three and four. (I don't do Staten Island. Even for donuts.)

We started early in the morning. That is, early in the FigMin's morning, which is around 11. First stop: Culture Espresso on West 38th Street, a little cafe that sells donuts from Dough in Bed-Stuy. Yes, I know this was cheating a bit, but it allowed us to sample one of the many Brooklyn spots, which will make the future BDC (Brooklyn Donut Crawl) a bit easier, since the Brooklyn bakeries are far-flung and hard to get to in one day of crawling.

Dough's blood orange creation
I had already tried Dough's creations at the Brooklyn Flea and, wouldn't you know it, the only donut left at Culture Espresso when we got there was one I had already sampled: blood orange. Having sampled it twice, I can confidently say: meh. Maybe orange just isn't the right donut flavor for me (chocolate! and then chocolate! and more chocolate!) but the whole package was too reminiscent of orange-flavored cough syrup. The FigMin agreed, and although we managed to choke it down, it wasn't an auspicious beginning.
The old Penn Station. A palace!

Stop two was supposed to be Krispy Kreme (always reliable), but after wandering around the West 30s, we realized that the KK was inside Penn Station, and since that's probably my least favorite building in NYC (because such ugliness replaced such beauty), we decided to forego it. Besides, we've had KK donuts before, and while they are awesomely tasty, we were on the hunt for something new.

Koreatown donuts before
Koreatown donuts after
Stop three: Koreatown, for donuts from another culture. Donuts from another planet is more like it. There were several possibilities, all of which were strange. But we like strange! We embrace strange! But after this, we reject strange. Donut one (the
thing that looks like a bran muffin in the photo) was filled with red bean paste. I can now confidently state that red bean paste does not make for a good donut filling. Don
ut two (the one that looks like a small loaf of bread) was so chewy we wondered if it was really Korean bubble gum. And donut three (in wrapper) was a shade of green that made it look like it had developed an irradiated mold. Sadly, it tasted no better than it looked. It's the only donut I've ever spit out. Yes, spit out. We couldn't finish them. They were awful. And I've finished some awful food before. Korea may be a rising power in the world, but they have a lot to learn about donuts.

Having eaten a half a donut and three bites (one of them spit out) of other donuts, it was time for something savory. On to Xi'an on Bayard Street for something good (finally). And man, was it good. After a shared spicy cumin lamb burger and two dishes of amazing hand-ripped noodles, we were replenished and ready to return to the crawl. How much did we love our lunch at Xi'an. We made it disappear! Look:

It was good
Onward to the Donut Plant on Grand Street. The donuts there look sooooo pretty. And they sound sooooo good. But they are sooooo disappointing. Look how pretty:

We decided to take them home for later, since we were pretty full from Xi'an's deliciousness. We got a bunch of different types and tastes: yeast, cake, filled, chocolate, coconut, berry. In the interest of science, we sampled them all:

But in the interest of honesty, I have to report, we were disappointed with every single one. We've tried Donut Plant before and didn't love the results, but we were open-minded about this new visit. But we were disappointed again. Donut Plant, you are off the list. Dough, you too. And Korean donuts...well, the less said about them, the better.

The Great Brooklyn Donut Crawl is next. Check back for more.

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