I Left My Heart at the Doughnut Plant
A few years ago a New York City baker was featured on “Bobby Flay: Throwdown”. His name was Mark Israel and his specialty was doughnuts. Only these weren’t ordinary doughnuts. (I mean, obviously, or else Bobby Flay wouldn’t be challenging him to a throwdown, right?) Now, I’m no doughnut connoisseur, but my boyfriend certainly is. Back in the day when he and I worked in the same office, Vin would choose a random Tuesday, announce that it was “Donut Day” and drop a dozen sugary little nuggets on his desk. For himself.
Anyway, Vin’s attention was obviously piqued by this doughnut guru, and I was amazed by the uniqueness of the flavors he was using in what I’ve always considered one of the more pedestrian baked goods. The variety sounded simply out-of-this-world –tres leches, carrot cake, lavender, creme brulee–and he even made his own jelly to inject in his jelly-filled donuts. Vin and I wiped the drool off our chins and began planning our trip to this utopian place the baker owned. It was called the Doughnut Plant. We called it “The Motherland”.
That was three years ago and apparently we were too lazy to travel all the way to the Lower East Side for an insulin spike. But when I read that a new branch had just opened in Chelsea, we knew the time was right to treat ourselves to what sounded like the best doughnuts ever. PS: THEY WERE.
A word to the wise: Do not get your heart set on a particular donut before you go. This place is as popular as Marcia Brady, and they’re likely to run out of your top choice before you get there. Just remember what your mama said: “You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.” I really wanted to try the Tres Leches and Vin was dying for a blackout, but they were both sold out by the time we got there.
We didn’t care. I’m guessing there are no bad options there, and we still managed to find four (FOUR!) different ones we really wanted to try. I’d recommend going in the morning, because as good as those things tasted in the late afternoon, they must be completely mind-blowing fresh out of the oven.
This was the bench my backside rested on while eating my doughnuts. It doubled in size by the end of my visit. No matter. Allow me to introduce you to my new best friends:
First up: Pistachio Glazed. Oh man, this guy had me at hello. I love a glazed doughnut, and the addition of pistachio nuts really gave the classic yeast doughnut a sophisticated flavor. And I am nothing if not sophisticated (especially when I smear glaze all over my face in unbridled gluttonous glee).
“Lovin’ you is easy cause you’re beautiful…”
Next round was Vin’s choice: A yeast doughnut with peanut butter glaze on the outside and blackberry jelly on the inside. It too was delicious, but it was really heavy, and of the four we ordered, it was my least favorite. That said, I can’t name one single kid who wouldn’t love to have his mom pack this in his lunch box for school. He would definitely not be up for tradesies that day. PS: Notice the fantastic hole-to-doughnut ratio!
Round three was Vin’s 2nd option: the creme brulee. Let me just say, this thing shocked me with how closely it resembled the dessert it was inspired by. The sugary outside was crisp, then you bit into it, and the most marvelous cream was tucked in the middle. Just like a real creme brulee! If someone on “Top Chef: Desserts” had come up with this they totally would have won a year’s supply of Gladware and a new car. It was unbelievable.
“Today I am the luckiest man, man, man on the face of the earth, earth, earth…”
And last but not least, my angel baby: Coconut Cream. I’m crying just thinking about how good this was. The woman next to me ordered the same thing and said to her husband solemnly, “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.” I turned to her with a knowing nod that said, “You and me both, sister”, and we continued chewing, eyes closed, while we paid our respects to the perfection stuck between our thumbs and forefingers. I’d never felt so connected to a stranger–or a doughnut–in my life.
This is me, saying my last goodbyes to my new friend. I’mma miss you ol’ girl.
And here I am, glancing at the heavens, thanking whoever was responsible for sending me these doughnuts.
The guy at the next table took one look at us with our four donuts and two huge cameras and asked if I was a food blogger. (Was I that obvious?). I said yes, of course, and asked if he wanted my autograph. He declined politely, but recommended I try the oatmeal doughnut on my next visit. If you’re reading, Hi Oatmeal Guy!! It was nice meeting you. I’ll be there once a week until I outgrow my current pant size, so I hope to see you there again soon.
Oh the sweet, cruel irony of the gym’s billboard across the street! I’d kill to look better naked too, but not if it meant sacrificing these doughnuts. They were totally worth it and I didn’t feel a minute’s guilt about the indulgence. You only live once, and if I get a little glaze on my teeth and an extra pound on my mid-section, so be it!