This week’s culinary hyperbole took the form of Krispy Kreme french toast. We went with our awesome and pub-brunch-savvy Madison buddies to The Shamrock, an awesome local gay bar. Out gracious host convinced the cooks to make their occasional delicacy: Krispy Kreme French toast. Which is what it sounds like.
Our waiter himself was skeptical about the dish, but our table was in such collective hysterics as it emerged from the kitchen that he felt compelled to sample it. His immediate response included a pirouette, a shriek and a stuffed-mouth exclamation that was something to the effect of “oh my god I think I’m going to die.”
Personally, it was a bit TOO much even for the likes of me - Krispy Kremes are kind of cloying for my liking (though I have more to say about this. Post forthcoming) and the egg-soaked-fried-ness didn’t so much help with this factor. Still, it was pretty awesome as a breakfast feat. I have the deepest fried respect.
Since we were in Austin two years ago and a donut-loving friend brought us one of Lone Star Bakery’s famed Texas-sized donuts, I’ve been theoretically smitten. Said donut was the size of an ample birthday cake and was a delightful raised confection, feeding a dessert-hungry rock band and then some.
So this time around, now that we’re here in Austin for SXSW for the week anyway, we decided to make the pilgrimage. We did not, in fact, EAT another Texas-sized donut, but we did visit it:
Don’t be put off by the orange-y glaze. It’s kind of weird, admittedly, but it actually tastes quite good. It’s a flavorful & light glaze and it’s one thing they do very well.
Also of note were the teeny cake donuts — I tried the blueberry and the applesauce and they were dreamy coffee companions. Small and manageable and the fresh fruit tones are so there, in the best way.
We came back with a collection of donuts that put us out approximately $3.76. Highlights included the cinnamon twist (reliably + off-puttingly orange) and a delicious raspberry jam.
Here are my belated critical takeaways from 606 R&D, the new cocktail place/restaurant/donut shop in Prospect Heights:
-The shop is lovely. The donuts — three perfectly-sized cake varieties: plain, cinnamon and powdered sugar — are light and delicious. AND a perfect not-too-big-not-too-small size. The coffee is beyond decent and served in a French press. And — possibly most importantly — our donuts came on mismatched floral china, set up on vintage tin trays, accompanied by white glass cream pitchers. 34 whimsy points, hands down.
-The people who work there are SO NICE that if you go in on the first day after they’ve opened for business and announce that it is your birthday AND you have a donut blog, they will let you come back behind the counter and MEET THE DONUT ROBOT (the product of owners Sara Dima and Ilene Rosen’s kickstarter last month). And to dorkily photograph it repeatedly. Its name, btw, is Mark. A classic donut robot moniker if I ever heard one.
Oh, and 53 more whimsy points for donut/coffee/plate-gazing-conducive ambience:
I’ve having been a sworn yeast donut devotee in years and months past, I feel something of a cake donut phase coming on in my (ahem) older age. (Stellar cake donutry blocks from my house doesn’t hurt).
My friends: there is an ANGEL OF DONUTS. Our Lady of Donuts? Saint Doughnut? Found completely by accident (slash by way of a total TWIST OF FATE) at an awesome DIY space we played in Bethlehem, PA.
Dough: Outtakes. Apparently there is something EXTRAORDINARILY funny about these donuts.
I’m a little bit too embarrassed to reveal exactly HOW many people sent me this today. Also, to admit just HOW too-close-for-comfort it all is. Ah, well.
Finally, my new buddy Sienna (we met at aforementioned Bethlehem show) turns a punkrock beanbag into a donut before our very eyes. Stroke of genius, I’d say.
More Dough. Just some run-of-the-mill display case porn. Blurrily rendered, just how I like it.
Last but very much not least: essential do(ugh)nut reading over at Serious Eats. I’m studying this thing, like, harder than I studied for most things in college. Still working it out personally re: the whole “doughnut” vs. “donut” debate — more to come on this front, obviously. Also, this makes me so psyched to be going on tour this fall, mostly ‘cause: BEIGNETS. Et al.
In which I talk to donut-passionate people. To the tune of 3 questions. And a donut self-portrait.
Leah Koenig is a food writer, cookbook author, and budding donut genius. Her cookbook is available for purchase HERE. (Full disclosure: she is also my sister-in-law.)
Q: As a food writer who just made it through to the other side of Chanukah donut season, you’ve had to do your share of donut recipe-testing. What was the most gratifying part of this? And the most horrifying?