someday, fried cakes will rule the world

Thursday, June 15, 2006


I've been noticing more and more upscale restaurants putting doughnuts on their menus. I assume this has something to do with the comfort food trend that's all over the Bay Area -- seems like everyone (Home, Q, Lime, etc.) has a "gourmet take" on dishes like mac and cheese, fried chicken, corn on the cob, tomato soup and grilled cheese, barbecue ribs and beans. Suddenly, the food you'd normally serve in your backyard (assuming you had one, which is not the case for me) while wearing flip-flops and drinking beer from a can is now top dish, and there's nothing trendier than mixing high and low culture in the kitchen.

Hence the doughnuts. And I love doughnuts. I've been a fan since I was a child and my mom would serve me glazed doughnuts topped with a slice of Velveeta cheese and put in the microwave for exactly 45 seconds. (This story disgusts pretty much everyone I tell it to. Feel free to gag now. But I swear, eating doughnuts this way is fantastic. I suspect the warm doughnut with melted cheese reminds me of my ensemada heritage. Ensemada is a sweet, bready Filipino pastry that's often topped or filled with cheese. It's very bad for you, but oh so good to eat. Especially at breakfast. Nothing like carbs in the morning.)

Luckily, recent doughnut excursions do not involve pieces of processed cheese and the microwave.

Some of my favorites:

Sauce: This loungey Hayes Valley spot offers cinnamon sugar doughnuts with vanilla bourbon dipping sauce on its dessert menu. I ate them last night. They were also topped with whipped cream and strawberries (note: it's strawberry season, so the fruit was especially tasty). The only weird thing about these doughnuts is they don't look like doughnuts at all. They're more like fabulous pieces of fried dough rather than little cakes with a hole in the center.

Citizen Cake: Also in Hayes Valley (are doughnuts taking over Hayes Valley?), Citizen Cake has doughnuts on its weekend brunch menu. (By the way, Citizen Cake is my favorite San Francisco brunch spot. I brunch there as often as possible.) These doughnuts are doughnut holes covered in powdered sugar and served with a side of frosting and a side of jam (usually marmalade, sometimes berry) for dipping. There are six to every order. Order them immediately; sometimes the restaurant runs out.

Boon Fly Cafe: Good luck finding this place -- it's part of the Carneros Inn, and it's on Highway 121, kind of across the road from Domaine Carneros, in this weird little complex that sort of looks like a bunch of ag buildings. But if you can get there, you'll be well-rewarded; the food is fabulous. And their doughnuts are amazing. They actually look like real doughnuts (only smaller) and are served in a paper cone, similar to the ones you get when you order frites in some French bistros. And each order is a baker's dozen, so we had leftovers for snacking later.

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