The Doughnut Duel, Battle of the Buttermilk

Let me start by formally stating that I am physically ill as I write this post. As soon as I hit “publish”, I intend to run eight miles, drink a gallon of water, and eat a head of lettuce, Kobayashi style.

Who doesn’t love doughnuts? Crazy people, that’s who. In lieu of the seemingly forgotten “Carb Friday”, I decided to kick it up a notch, and have a doughnut taste test with some easily persuaded counterparts. The plan was simple: Examine a variety of doughnuts from two different shops, Stan’s and Doughnut Vault, and rate them on a scale of 1 to 5. Ratings would be based on  taste, texture, freshness and overall appearance. Based on these ratings, a winner would be declared and everyone would live happily (and nauseously) ever after.

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Vault to the left, Stan’s to the right, My unpaid summer intern, Jackson, in the middle.

Stan’s


1. Buttermilk bar- I was most excited to try this doughnut and was disappointed. The texture was somewhere between a yeast and a cake doughnut; nice balance, but the flavor fell a bit flat for me.

Overall rating: 3

2. Maple bacon caramel bar- In all fairness, I like my bacon savory, so my opinion is not impartial here. Something about sweet bacon reminds me of dog treats, so this one was spoiled before I even took a bite. The other tasters who enjoy sweet bacon, were underwhelmed by this one as well.

Overall rating: 2

3. Yeast raised glazed- A perfect classic. Nice balance of flavors, light and airy, Dunkin Donuts’ sophisticated, older cousin with a trust fund.

Overall rating: 4.5

4. Biscoff banana pocket- By far, the star of the group. This doughnut is coated in a classic glaze and caramel, then filled with biscoff (a graham cracker cookie butter) and bananas. Knocked our socks off. Home run. Touch down. End scene.

Overall rating: 5

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Stan’s lineup from the top: Buttermilk bar, Maple bacon caramel bar, Yeast raised glazed, Biscoff banana pocket

Doughnut Vault


1. Vanilla glazed doughnut holes with chocolate sprinkles- These perfect bites had a great combination of flavors, plus, I am a sucker for anything with sprinkles.

Overall rating: 4

2. Gingerbread stack- This one received mixed reviews. Strong notes of ginger were abundant and it reminded me of a doughnut from an apple orchard that you want to plunk into hot cider. One of the judges was totally turned off by the ginger flavor.

Overall rating: 3.5

3. Chocolate glazed with chocolate sprinkles- Dunkin Donuts’ sophisticated, older, celebrity cousin with a trust fund, who happens to look like Brad Pitt. Just perfect.

Overall rating: 5

4. Buttermilk old fashioned- My personal favorite. I love the denseness of an old fashioned doughnut and this one was just as it should be, crunchy on the outside, rich and creamy on the inside.

Overall rating: 5

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Vault lineup: Vanilla glazed doughnut holes with chocolate sprinkles, Gingerbread stack, Buttermilk old fashioned, Chocolate glazed

In the end, our decisions were split. Every doughnut was fresh, so that component of the scoring was a wash. Though my friends will disagree, Doughnut Vault was the frontrunner and ultimately, the one that stole my heart. Stan’s was  a close second. And now, time for that run. Er, power walk.

 

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Zen Dinner

Fig and Olive, recently opened in the Gold Coast, is the restaurant equivalent of a trendy spa. Muted colors, trees growing inside, Veuve adorning the bar, One Direction playing in the background. So, before I go any further, these elements alone are reasons to give Fig and Olive a shot.

The menu is extensive, and since I was with just one other person, we were only able to try a few things without looking insane. Unfortunately, we did something I rarely ever do, under-ordered. What was I thinking when I thought three crostini,  one crab and heirloom tomato, and the paella del mar would be enough? I faltered. The joy of small plates. The three dishes were fine; not great, not terrible. The paella was fishy, the crostini was forgettable and the crab was mealy.

I realize, however, that these three dishes may not be a true reflection of the large menu, which is why I would go back, with a group of no less than ten people.

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Crostini- prosciutto, ricotta, fig, olive and walnut -manchego, fig, marcona almond -goat cheese, caramelized onion, chive

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Crab and heirloom tomato

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Paella del Mar

Bottom line: Great atmosphere, three out of three underwhelming dishes.

Slide or Die

Like the majority of America, I spent most of my Fourth of July weekend congregating around a grill full of meat and covering my ears. “Are those gun shots or fireworks?”-the infamous Fourth of July question across the city of Chicago.

Though I love nothing more than a summer barbecue, I was thoroughly excited to attend a backyard party on July 5th, where the grill was turned off and the food came from a truck. Specifically, a food truck, and even more specifically, The Slide Ride, serving, you guessed it, sliders! And the only thing better than sliders is foodie sliders. If I had a driveway, my next party would most definitely have a food truck.

I had M & M’s in a cereal bowl the last time I had guests. Pretty much the same thing.

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So, as long as we are being honest, how do you go to a food truck without the hassle of a line and not order everything on the menu? I think you can answer that question yourself. I was sharing with friends though, or at least, pretending to share.

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Bacon gouda burger-how gooda is gouda?

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Buffalo chicken with optional side of ranch, opted in!

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Corkscrew noodles are the only way to go with mac and cheese.

You might think that I would feel obligated to say that I loved all of the sliders, simply because I wouldn’t want to offend my friends who treated me to more than my allotted amount. That is absolutely accurate. What kind of person would chow free sliders as someone’s invited guest and then proceed to bash them?  Thankfully, every slider was outstanding, with the burger as a particular standout. To my friends who invited me, please keep me on the permanent guest list. If you don’t, I’ll show up anyway.