A great, gooey gimmick

No one does over the top, gimmicky food quite like New York. There’s the giant soup dumpling you slurp with a straw, the technicolor rainbow bagel, the cookie dough scooped into cones and eaten like ice cream. The more outlandish and calorie laden the better.

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Grilled cheese fantasies come to life

And while I occasionally roll my eyes at the line of people snaking down the block at any of the places turning out these food fetish creations, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had my share, and I too, have waited in some pretty stupid lines to get a taste of the moment’s food craze. (Cronut, I’m looking at you.)

When I heard about this next thing I immediately thought, “Oh Jesus Christ, that’s absurd” followed immediately by “I must have it.” And so my roommate and I compared schedules, nailed a date, and off we went in search of Clinton Hall‘s Flamin’ Hot Doughnut Grilled Cheese.

Made of gooey, melted mozzarella pressed between two Doughnut Project habanero bacon glazed doughnuts in place of bread, the glorious and oh-so-gluttonous flamin’ hot grilled cheese sandwich is served looped through a hook and dangled over a bowl of thick, hot tomato soup for dipping.

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Worth every last calorie.

Even though doughnuts are involved, the sweet element is minimal here, with just the tiniest, subtle sweetness coming through the layers of cheese and butter and doughy, bacony goodness. The tomato soup, which I  often find to be too runny or acidic, was neither. It was thick and creamy, just the right amount of tomatoey sweet with a peppery kick, perfect to complement the grilled cheese.

Even though Clinton Hall only offers 20 of these per day Friday through Sunday, we showed up  just after noon on a Sunday and didn’t have to fight any crowds or freeze our grilled cheese loving asses off standing outside in any lines. A couple of tables had them and obviously there was lots of gawking and picture snapping, but that’s how it goes with these food fads. But if they’re as good as this sandwich was, I don’t really care who’s watching or taking pictures or rolling their eyes. I’ll be the one licking my fingers and doing the little happy dance.

Thanksgiving in donut form

It’s a big surprise to absolutely no one that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. More than Christmas, more than my birthday, certainly more than Valentine’s Day (really, whose favorite holiday is that? No one.) Thanksgiving though, is seriously my jam.

And as such, I’ve been all sorts of excited in the weeks, now days, leading up to it. When I recently read about Zucker Bakery in the East Village and their seasonal Thanksgiving donuts, my head practically exploded. Thanksgiving AND donuts? Combined into one thing? YES.

They come in four flavors: cranberry turkey, turkey gravy, cranberry, and sweet potato. Due to a mix up with the order I placed (because duh, I placed an order) cranberry wasn’t available, but I made sure to get my grubby little fingers on the other three.

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My lovely selection of Zucker Thanksgiving donuts

For savory pastry lovers, the turkey gravy donut is the way to go. This spiced pumpkin donut stuffed with gravy and turkey is a definite departure from its glazed and frosted cousins of the donut world. It would make a great lunch paired with soup, in my opinion.

A donut stuffed with turkey and gravy? God, I love the holidays.

A donut stuffed with turkey and gravy? God, I love the holidays.

Slightly sweeter, thanks to a dusting of confectioner’s sugar and some cranberry filling, is the cranberry turkey donut. If you’re like me, and enjoy the mixing of sweet and savory flavors, this could be for you. The cranberry sauce is tangy and just subtly sweet, and goes great with the turkey and gravy. (In case you somehow had never had a Thanksgiving meal and didn’t already know that.)

Turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce... all inside a pumpkin donut.  Uh huh, that's right.

Turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce… all inside a pumpkin donut. Uh huh, that’s right.

But because I’m a complete sugar junkie, my favorite was the sweetest of the bunch, the sweet potato pie donut with marshmallow filling. Like the pie itself, the sweet potato part of this isn’t super sweet, but the delicious glob of fluffy marshmallow cream inside? Well that’s pure, sugary perfection… especially warm and just out of the oven the way I had it.

my fave

My fave, the sweet potato donut. (And how bout my nails? Pretty spiffy, no?)

Thanksgiving donuts, a new thing for me to give thanks for this Thursday!

The Cronut

Behold, the Cronut

Behold, the Cronut

Let’s cut right to the chase: the Cronut is awesome.

I didn’t wanna say it. I didn’t wanna like it.  I wanted to think New Yorkers were silly and obsessive, constantly looking for an excuse to spend hours in line waiting for something. I wanted all the hype to be just a bunch of hot air.

But it wasn’t, New Yorkers are actually on to something this time, the hype is deserved, and the Cronut is, in fact, awesome.

I showed up at 7:30am on a Sunday morning when Dominique Ansel Bakery doesn’t even open till 9, and there were already about 50 to 75 people ahead of me in line, some sprawled out on picnic blankets, others sitting in camping chairs like they were at a tailgate. I stood on the sidewalk, checked Facebook and Instagram a few hundred times, finished my book, had a lenghty phone conversation with my sister, and finally, after two hours, walked away with a shiny gold take out box, two Cronuts (the max you can buy) waiting inside.

I felt like Charlie with the golden ticket to the Wonka Chocolate Factory.

I felt like Charlie with the golden ticket to the Wonka Chocolate Factory.

On first inspection, they were pretty, definitely winning full points for presentation. Plump and round, like the part doughnut that they are, they were also sparkly with a dusting of sugar and topped with a creamy layer of purply-pink frosting on top for the flavor of the month, blackberry lime.

The Cronut, what a beaut!

The Cronut, what a beaut!

But it was the moment that I actually bit into it that I was completely won over by the Cronut. With sugar immediately clinging to my lips, chin and fingers, I chomped into the still slightly-warm-from-the-oven Cronut and was met not only with layers of soft, buttery pastry but an amazing burst of rich blackberry jam and a thick, custardy cream filling. It wasn’t just a wimpy little bit way in the back either. No, no, this delicious jammy-creamy combo oozed out of every bite, making each bite an amazing one.

A sticky, creamy, jammy wonderfully delicious mess I made

A sticky, creamy, jammy wonderfully delicious mess I made

If you’re wondering whether I ate both Cronuts I bought, the answer is yes, you bet your ass I did. I’m single and my roommate is out of town. No one else but me was getting their grubby fingers on my Cronuts. And after wolfing them both down, I am totally and completely on board the Cronut fan bandwagon. Those bad boys are awesome.

Doughnut day of celebration

I recently found myself in the delicious scnenario of talking to a handsome fellow about doughnuts. (Sigh. File that under situations I wish happened more often.)

The doughnut talk (which I didn’t even initiate, in case you were thinking I only talk about food), started because Mr. Easy-On-The-Eyes recommended the kids’ cereal themed doughnuts from The General, a new restaurant on the Bowery. I wouldn’t have expected it from an Asian fusion restaurant but I made a mental note and told myself I’d check them out later.

Then earlier this week, via a giant ad in the window of a Dunkin Donuts, I found out that Friday is National Doughnut Day, which immediately brought me back to The General’s doughnuts.

Happy (early) National Doughnut Day!

Happy (early) National Doughnut Day!

I don’t know what they have to do with The General’s asian fusion menu but frankly, who cares! They’re awesome! Goofy but fun, a bit over the top but totally delicious, and absolutely a great way to celebrate National Doughnut Day!

There’s a whole assortment of tasty doughnuts, but I went for the cereal themed, one mini each of the Cocoa Puff, Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch kind. Plump and pillowy soft, each is filled with a cool, creamy filling and topped with a little bit of each kind of cereal for a cute decorative touch and crunchy contrast. My favorite? The Fruity Pebbles, which reminded me of Momofuku’s cereal milk soft serve, and the Cinnammon Toast Crunch, which had a velvety vanilla custard, speckled with cinnamon. The Cocoa Puff was too much of the same, I thought.

So, even though Dunkin is apparently giving out doughnuts with all drink purchases on Friday (thank you, informative poster in the window), I think I rather celebrate at The General… with a glass of cold milk to go with my cereal themed celebration.

Someone send help… and doughnuts

It’s not like I didn’t know moving would be an epic nightmare. Cause I did, I knew. Having moved already a few times in the just four years I’ve lived in this city, I knew good and well what was in store for me. Yet somehow, it’s still managed to be more of an overwhelming headache than I was expecting.

So now, just a few days before the big move, on my day off when I should be out doing fun stuff, here I am instead, sitting in a chaotic mess of boxes, suitcases, and piles and piles of crap. Clearly, I’m not packing and organizing though, because if I was I wouldn’t be writing this.

Dammit packing and moving, why can't you be as fun as eating doughnuts?

Dammit packing and moving, why can’t you be as fun as eating doughnuts?

No, instead I’m daydreaming about doughnuts, which I woke up craving and now that I need to be productive, am being completely distracted by. And because I’m stressed out and prone to stress-induced binge eating, I really wish I had a plate stacked high with the ones from Vegan Divas. I had them about a month ago when I  brought a few to a vegan friend’s brunch, and now, well now I wish I could teleport to the Upper East Side to buy some more.

Sure, they lacked the over-the-top, full fat, gluttonous quality of say, Krispy Kreme, but they were actually really good. Soft and moist, they would’ve been great dunked in coffee or the way I had them, stuffed into my mouth, quickly and often. The chocolate frosted and cinnamon sugar varieties were both tasty but my favorite were the toasted coconut.

And now that I’m sitting here, I wish every one of these boxes, these piles of things to maybe keep maybe throw away, these magazines to recycle, these knick knacks to wrap and package, would all just turn into delicious, guilt free doughnuts.

Hey there, sweet stuff

Say what you will about Valentine’s Day, but I for one, am a fan. I mean, how could I not be when there are so many sweet things to be had? Yes, kisses, cuddles and hanky panky are fun but I’m talking the real sweet stuff: SUGAR.

Valentine's Day can't be anything BUT happy when it involves this.

Last year, my darling boyfriend got me doughnuts (from my favorite place to get them in the whole wide universe, Doughnut Plant) so this year I decided to take his idea and put an Italian spin on it. I schlepped it uptown to Bomboloni, an Upper West Side bakery specializing in— you guessed it— bomboloni, which for those of you who might not know, are the Italian cousin of the traditional filled doughnut, and came home with a box of six. Bomboloni are more round than American doughnuts, almost perfectly spherical, and back on the Boot, they’re covered in a sparkly dusting of sugar, with usually either cream or chocolate filling.

At Bombolini in the UWS (there’s also one in Rome), the bombolini come in a whole assortment of flavors and only one, which was actually called a bomba and was much bigger than the rest, had the traditional sugar coating. The others varied between caramelized sugar, chocolate glaze, confectioners sugar, crushed nuts and other toppings. In the picture above, the middle one is crème brulee, then starting with the red one and going clockwise: raspberry, banana, chocolate cherry, vanilla cream, and toasted marshmallow cream. We both agreed that our favorite bombolone, with its  bright, thick jammy filling, was the raspberry (even though in Italy I’m a cream girl through and through).

My Italian beau likes to complain that while he can get almost any food in the world here in New York, the Italian pastries, like bomboloni, are not as easy to come by. My box from Bomboloni was a nice way to prove him wrong and get a sugary treat all in one present. Made Valentine’s Day all the sweeter.

Comfort me with corn bread

Part of the deal I worked out with the devil in exchange for my boyfriend living in New York with me is that every year, for at least a couple of months, I have to release him back into the wild, back to that intoxicatingly ass-backwards boot-shaped country he calls home. (Kidding about the devil part, by the way.) He goes back to see friends and family and usually to go on some incredible vacation with the rest of Italy when they all go on their usually-month-long holiday in August. (Bastards.) In short, it sucks and I hate it, and part of it, truth be told, is because I’m always just a little scared that he won’t come back. (Yikes, this suddenly feels so much more “Dear Diary-ish” than I meant it to. Food’s coming though, promise.)

As we wind up our last couple of days together before another obnoxiously long (two and a half months to be exact) time apart, I’m squeezing in as many reminders that America, New York, and I (duh) are all awesome and very much worth coming back to.  As part of my plan, I wanted to eat something really great, something I knew he couldn’t get back in the Old World, something to remind him that home was here too: comfort food.

Who needs Tuscany when you have this delicious corn bread? Not this girl (or at least that's what I'm telling myself.)

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