Olivia Dish

Dessert Donuts

In California, Dallas, Restaurant, Sweets, Taste Tests on September 23, 2009 at 9:09 pm
Rustic Canyon donuts

Donuts at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar

Hold onto your canned biscuits Paula Deen:  fried dough has gone upscale.

I’ve been to at least three restaurants recently that offered donuts on the dessert menu: Local in Dallas, the chic Stephan Pyles Restaurant also in Dallas, and Rustic Canyon Wine Bar in Santa Monica.  At Stephan Pyles and Rustic Canyon, on the hearty endorsement of wait staff, I ordered them.

Both were served with fancy-shmancy cups of hot something for dipping—espresso at Stephan Pyles, hot chocolate at Rustic Canyon.  It didn’t matter.  Gorgeous though the presentations were, the fried nuggets of dough came up short.  “They’re our favorite,” my waiters promised.

But I kept thinking: my white trash donuts are better.  Was I wrong?  Truly, the Stephan Pyles pile of donuts was glorious to look at, dusted with powdered sugar.  And the Rustic Canyon donuts were crusty on the outside, airy and yeasty on the inside.  Why wasn’t I over the moon?

white trash donuts 1

Frying canned biscuit dough in peanut oil

white trash donuts 2

Canned biscuit donuts complete

Saturday morning, I decided to put my memories to the test.  I scooted over to the neighborhood Piggly Wiggly and bought the smallest can of biscuits on the shelf.  I made  one donut the way we used to when I was a kid:  I poked a hole in it with my finger.  Another biscuit I cut into fours, to simulate the size and shape of the fancy restaurant donuts.  I fried them, shook them in some cinnamon sugar, and well?

I think they were better than the dessert donuts.  I really do.  Granted, there’s a tinge of dishonesty in the taste, somewhere in the doughy center.  But even if I forget that I only spent 69 cents plus sugar and cinnamon, I still think they’re better than my $11 restaurant donuts.

Columbia Greek Festival

Time to make the loukoumades

Loukoumades Greek Festival

Fresh loukoumades in hand

Was that because they were hot out of the oil, eaten at the kitchen counter?  Is that why my waiters love them?  Because they get their donuts hot and now?  I’m not sure.  Later on Saturday, I went to the local Greek festival, for the sole purpose of sampling their loukoumades—call them Greek munchkins, donut holes, fried dough balls, whatever you prefer.  The loukoumades were served hot from the fryer, covered in honey and ground nuts.  I’m sorry to say this, but they did not surpass the white trash donuts either.

Memory tells me that beignets at Café Du Monde in New Orleans are better than any and all of the above.  But can that memory be trusted?  I think I consumed my last beignets at about 4:30am after a night of doing I-can’t-remember-what-and-that’s-probably-okay, somewhere, everywhere in the French Quarter.

My search for an answer continues….and if it continues for long, my search had better be on foot.


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