Posts Tagged With: Krispy Kreme

Time for Donuts

I think it’s time we talked about donuts.  I know they come up a lot in my travelogues, but I’m pretty sure I have never devoted all my allotted words to the subject.  And why not now, when just about everybody is resigned to the fact that it’s the holidays – all diets are off and all gym memberships are inactive until January 2, anyway.  A perfect time to explore the exciting world of fried dough.

Ultimately, that is what we are talking about – fried dough.  And we have been frying dough for a long time.  The form may have changed, but even in the book of Leviticus (verse 12, chapter 7) the Hebrews were instructed to present offerings of peace and thanksgiving in the form of fried cakes of fine flour. Sing it with me now: “I eat donuts, this I do, for the Bible tells me to.” (That may not be the way you learned the song, but people add verses to hymns all the time.)  A plain donut straight from the hot oil through the glaze waterfall is definitely something I can be thankful for.

My Kind of Freshness Movement

My Kind of Freshness Movement

Let’s camp here a moment, near the hot oil.  I’ll go out on a limb here and say that a fresh, hot donut as   described above has no real equal when one takes into account the total experience.  It’s almost as if one is biting into sweet, sticky air.  There is a shape until a bite is taken, then the dough practically melts in the mouth.  This is why I look for the illuminated “Hot Donuts Now” sign whenever I am in the vicinity of a Krispy Kreme store.  (Some will even give you a free one if you make it in under the glow of the red neon.)  This is why at Shipley’s I scan the scene prior to placing my order to see if there are hot ones on the rack.  I may still have a sausage roll, apple fritter or blueberry cake in my clutches, but if there are hot, plain, glazed donuts available, I must have at least one.  I must.  And this is why I practically inhaled (to carry forth the air analogy) two of the round beauties at work not long ago, just after having a perfectly good low-carb breakfast at home before I arrived.  I have no willpower with hot donuts.  I attribute some of my behavior to my parental units, who taught me early in life that even a day-old donut is pretty good heated, a habit made even easier with the invention of the microwave.  (Yes, kids, there was a day in my lifetime when they did not exist. I am that old.)

Allow me to make another blanket statement: I am not a donut snob, per se.  I’ve just finished John T. Edge’s book, “Donuts, An American Passion” in which he speaks both of corporate giants (like Krispy Kreme) and local artisanal donut makers.  Though I am normally the anti-champion when it comes to chain restaurants, with donuts I make an exception.  I like the fact that a hot glazed Krispy Kreme in Columbus, Mississippi, is essentially equal to a hot glazed Krispy Kreme in Kuwait.  And I can testify that they are.  I have not had a Shipley’s as far away as Houston, TX, but I have had them in Oxford, and the same principle holds true.  Even the blueberry cake I had at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Dubai satisfied the same craving as it did here in the US of A.  Which brings me to another point in my “I am not a snob” soliloquy.  My favorites outside of a hot glazed are apple fritters and blueberry cake, hands down (and sticky).   But I will not turn away from any other flavor or filling if that’s all that’s left in the box.  No uppity donut critic here.

John T. also mentions that in a pinch, he has been known to deep fry canned biscuits with holes cut in the center.  I can also testify to the surprising goodness of that recipe, and its crazy simplicity.  I tried the same method last week with canned cinnamon rolls with mixed success, but I won’t let that deter me from trying again.

Neshoba County Fare

Neshoba County Fare

Another childhood favorite in the donut category is the dunkin’ stick.  The idea, I assume, is to dunk the stick in coffee or another appropriate beverage.  That may be good, but I prefer just to eat them out of the wrapper, right outside the service station where I tend to find them most often.  Yes, I could probably buy a whole box from any Little Debbie purveyor, but having a whole box of dunkin’ sticks at my disposal is a dangerous wager.  There is an undefinable flavor found in these pastries and a texture that is hard to match in any other.  Though I will say that a good cruller does share some of those ethereal characteristics.

Donuts are inspiring.  Edge also wrote three other books about iconic American foods: fried chicken, apple pie, and hamburgers & fries – all were subtitled, “An American Story.”  But donuts are “An American Passion.”  Dough for thought.  Comedian Tim Hawkins has been heard to say that eating a Krispy Kreme is like eating a baby angel.  A bit irreverent, perhaps, but clearly he has been affected profoundly by the experience.  The heavenly beings are also evoked by writer and humorist Roy Blount, Jr, who said, “Krispy Kremes are to other doughnuts what angels are to people.”

I have had a donut sundae: donut base topped with ice cream and other decadent toppings.  I have had donut cobbler: so sweet it sets your teeth on edge but so good you don’t care.  I have had a donut burger: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.  I have made donut French toast: try it with a cake donut, it just works better.  Donuts are a paradox: international but local, timeless but ephemeral, sinful but angelic.  Eat a hot one soon.

Donut French Toast

Donut French Toast

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Daddy-Daughter-Dolly Road Trip

I had a plan. It was a loosely formed plan, but a plan nonetheless. Once Daughter and I had consumed all that the International Biscuit Festival had to offer, I figured we could find something else fun to do between here and there. We had driven all that way (meaning, I had driven all that way) after all, so why not? It didn’t take long for a plan to firm up in Daughter’s mind. She’d been bugging me to go to Six Flags Over Georgia since spring break (it opened a week after our trip to Atlanta), and thought that would be a good place to stop by on the way home. (In her defense, she is generally a map-less passenger, content for us to tell her “how much farther”.)

I am most definitely an amusement park kind of guy. I like the opportunity to eat unique theme park foods, and I like wild and wooly roller coasters. I don’t necessarily recommend them in that order, but that’s just me. So when Daughter laid out her plan, I was game in principle; I just knew Six Flags wouldn’t work. But since I had a little better handle on the geography and timetable, I suggested Dollywood. Despite numerous Spring Break trips to Pigeon Forge, we always seemed to get there a week before it opened. (Are you noticing a pattern here? Could we work on that, Starkville Public Schools?) After a little Googling to determine coaster quality we decided it was worth a shot.

We pulled onto Dollywood Boulevard just after three o’clock on Saturday afternoon – perfect timing because an entrance after that time allowed us to get in free the next day. For the better part of five hours, we rode the coasters without eating a thing. Not normal. Then again, it wasn’t exactly normal that we spent most of the morning inhaling biscuits. But by the time we got back to Pigeon Forge that night, we had both worked up a pretty good appetite. I thought it would be fun to find a pancake place; a good carb-loading seemed to be in order for the next day’s dashes from queue to queue. None on our end of the parkway were open. (Whoever is working on spring break scheduling, could you look into that, too?) With breakfast for dinner now on the brain, I sought refuge elsewhere. Krispy Kreme was already on our radar, but I was saving that for dessert. Cracker Barrel was next door and a sure bet for Daughter, so we headed for the porch.

I could not believe the breakfast special I found on the Barrel menu. I forget what they named it, but when I was growing up we called it an Egg-in-a-Hole. As a kid this was a breakfast standard and as a parent I cook it for my own. There’s a recipe for it in my NASCAR cookbook, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in a restaurant. I ordered it and the waiter asked me how I’d like my eggs. I think I said, “Really?” out loud. As an expert egg-in-a-hole maker, I only knew one method. You take a piece of loaf bread, tear out a hole in the center, butter it up on both sides, throw it in a skillet, and crack an egg in the hole. Cook till the egg is done on both sides and you’re done. He said I could get my egg any old way, including scrambled. I was flabbergasted. Scrambled eggs-in-the-hole? I don’t think so. (Figure out an omelet-in-a-hole and we can talk.) We agreed on over medium and he left me alone to shake my head. By the way, it was terrific, and I don’t say that often about the Barrel. Daughter ordered the Old Timer’s breakfast plate, which I thought was a bit bold for someone who usually eats like a bird, but she did some pretty heavy damage – I was impressed. And as for Krispy Kreme, the line was out the door and it was after ten – we decided to wait till morning.

With hot donuts to maintain our energy for another morning of intense coaster chasing, and only a few hours to chase, we waited until the absolute last minute and grabbed some food to go. Our first stop was for a loaf of cinnamon bread. I watched – practically drooling – as the baker cut slits in the top of the dough, submerged it in a pool of melted butter, and rolled it in a bowl of cinnamon and sugar. Do I really need to say how good that was? Perhaps there should have been a warning: “This bread not for everyday use.” But we don’t go to Dollywood every day, do we. To balance my sugared-butter levels, I stopped at Granny Ogle’s Ham n’Beans for a pulled ham sandwich to go. The waitress asked if I wanted an extra pack of chips or the usual beans and cornbread that came with it. Duh. Tiny bag of Lay’s? Or beans and a small pone of cornbread? You know what I got. Yes, I got a mess in the car. Not far down the highway we discovered that the beans had tipped over and all that bean juice I was hoping would soak into my cornbread was instead running around the bottom of the (thankfully) plastic bag. You live. You learn.

Dinner wasn’t really necessary, but I needed a Frappuccino around Birmingham since Daughter refused to take a turn driving. (She’s twelve – in hindsight, she made the right choice.) And since I could smell smoke across the street from Starbucks, I introduced her to the glories of a Golden Rule barbecue sandwich (chopped) and a cup of the sweetest tea on the planet. By that time, messy foods were no big deal.

Burgers to start the weekend, biscuits in the middle, and barbecue at the end. Daddy-Daughter-Dolly weekend was – yes, I’m going to say it – a Barrel of fun.

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