I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Donut Quest Part II: My Search for Nostalgia?

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Dude asking for a Metro Card swipe will take a donut instead, apparently a donut=metro card swipe

In my quest to find the best and unfortunately the worst (not actively trying to find the worst) donuts in New York City, I came upon two in the Outer Boroughs, Alpha Donuts in Queens and Peter Pan Bakery in Brooklyn. I know there are other doughnut places in Brooklyn especially such as Mike’s Donuts and the newly opened Dough, but these two fall into the New York counter doughnuts and I had to check them out.

Take 2 in the future?

First up was Alpha Donuts all the way up in Queens. I am a bit of a nostalgic person and I tend to romanticize places, especially places dealings with food. Sometimes the image in my head is in sync with reality, but unfortunately Alpha Donuts was not. Alpha Donuts is located right outside the no. 7 train stop and the counter was filled. Everything about it was picturesque: the huge coffee machine going, people at the counter reading the newspaper and eating breakfast. To give it an even more New York vibe, two guys were talking about the upcoming season and Andy Petite retiring (this is truly sad, one of the great Yankee Pitchers). I wanted to start talking with that stereotypical Queens accent and dropping “o” and calling it “New Yawk”.

However, my romanticized view started to drift when I realized that the donut rack was half empty and it was still early, around 10:30. I still I tried to stay optimistic and asked if the donuts were made in house this morning. Unfortunately, another hit to good solid donuts was that the donuts were not made on site anymore. Yet, still undeterred, and I was already here, I went with a Cruller, a Boston Crème and the Coconut Apple Crumb, which according to the girl, was their most popular one.

The cruller, not to be confused with French cruller is most distinct by its shape were the French cruller is round, this is like a stick. The cruller was apathetic if you can describe food to be like that. There was no nirvana experience, no time travel abilities, it was just, “ehh”. The outside was hard and crunchy exterior with a hint of sweetness and the inside was like dense custard. It screamed to be dunked in coffee which I did and was the up most positive thing I could say. It was alright, nothing special and a hair above getting one at maybe at a shady Dunkin Donuts.
The Cruller

The Boston crème, was at least a donut that tasted fine. It was at least better than what you would get at a Dunkin Donuts or a 7-11. The chocolate glaze actually tasted of chocolate as well as the pastry cream did not have that weird sourness that Dunkin Donuts has and tasted of vanilla. Again, nice to have sprinkles, makes me smile a bit and not feel like I am a complete asshole.

Are those Sprinkles or Jimmies?

Yet, the most depressing part of the Donut Quest so far was the Coconut Apple Crumble donut I got. It was dry like eating compressed sawdust and was not fresh at all and was clearly dying and coding by the time I go to it. I took a bite and could not finish it.

That is a really big hole
My usual reaction to eating something bad is usually straight up anger, however this time I felt depressed. That a place that looked fine on the outside and had high hopes for, that has been opened for so long with history was dying on the inside and the donuts unfortunately told its story. The aurora I created for this place and other “hole in the wall” was discarded in a wad of half chewed coconut apple crumb donut on the entrance of the 7 train stop. Maybe I came on a completely off day, or it was the shitty cold weather, but I am always open for redemption and hope for the best for Alpha Donuts and if I come here in the future, I will be better.

Whoa Peter Pan Donut is like, Neverland, ain't going to change anytime soon.

I took a G train straight from there to Peter Pan Bakery. I had mix emotions going to Peter Pan Bakery because I was told again, that it had that “New York” feel to it and a neighborhood institution. After being shot down like a Tie Fighter, I had low expectations as I arrived to Greenpoint Brooklyn on my Donut Odyssey. However, my spirits were once lifted when I walked to Peter Pan Bakery and a line waiting to get at these donuts. There was a full rack of donuts and a full counter, a very good sign. The girls working the counters had that, “don’t give me shit attitude” but not discourteous in anyway. So know what you generally want when you get to that counter, due to the volume of people, they unfortunately do not have time to give you a guide to every single donut. I went with three donuts, the Red Velvet which I had heard so much about, the Chocolate Cake doughnut and the French Cruller. 

 Chocolate Cake Donut

            Since there was no counter space, I ate the donuts as I walked back to the train. As soon as I bit into the chocolate cake donut, I knew everything would be okay in the world. The chocolate cake donut was moist and tender and had that nice light glaze on the outside that gave it an artificial crust that works so well with cake donuts.

Peter Pan Donut French Cruller 
Light and Hefty, words that are rarely put together

The French Cruller, which is characteristically light and airy had these qualities but was able to be dense and hefty in a good way. It was like a hockey player, graceful but will slam you into the glass at the same time. This oddly combination of textures tasted great. Ending this leg of the donut tour was their signature donut, the red velvet donut, which almost lived up to its reputation. It was a good donut overall. Big and thick crumbs that gave away when you bit into it, and was did not have a cavity inducing sweetness to it, and was just right. 

Red Velvet Donut, wish it had a cream cheese glaze

However, besides the red cake donut, I did not get any real sense that it was specifically red velvet. I got the hint of cocoa but that was it. However, this was still a good donut and a great place to stop at. I ended on a good note and left me optimistic in my sweet, fried dough Iliad…except this ain’t going to take me 7 years to complete and get home.

Alpha Donuts
45-16 Queens Blvd
Queens, NY

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop
727 Manhattan Avenue
Brookkyn, NY 11222-7026 

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