Sunday, March 4, 2012

donuts + fried chicken = happiness

News flash:  we moved to Philadelphia.   We spent the first six months just getting our bearings (new job, new city, new house, new neighbors, new everything), and now that the daffodils are starting to bloom, our sights are set on breakfast.   Our reasoning is that seeking out a new breakfast spot every weekend will give us a good crash course on all the Philly neighborhoods.

With that context out of the way, let me tell you about Federal Donut, which kind of blew our minds this morning.   First, check out their website. So, yeah, we saw that yesterday, as well as this NYT article.    

Don't worry -- despite the NYT write-up, Federal Donuts is neither trendy or pretentious.   The idea is pretty brilliant:
  1. Rent a corner storefront with a deep fryer and counter space
  2. Serve hot fried-on-demand cake donuts and cold "fancy" cake donuts (glazed and topped) in the morning, until they are gone.
  3. At noon, switch the deep fryer over to chicken duty.  Serve half and whole fried chicken until they are gone.
  4. Close up when you have nothing left to sell   
We showed up around 10 am for donuts.  There were a good number of people in there, but no throngs, so that we all (Vince+K+O, our two-year-old) could fit on a small bench by the door.  K and I both agreed: the hot donuts were the reason to be here:  light and perfectly fried, with the sugar+spice treatment not too sweet and subtly interesting:  Indian cinnamon (the consensus winner), vanilla lavender, and Apollonia spices (something I couldn't really put my finger on).  

The "fancies" of course reminded us of Dynamo Donuts in San Francisco, and similarly Federal Donuts was unafraid of embracing the savory. K's favorite was the caramel banana, which had a flaky, salt-caramel coating (this sold out the fastest, by the way), and I liked the halvah-pistachio, which packed a spicy kick to it.  Their tarter glazed offerings were interesting too: raspberry balsamic (!) and grapefruit brown sugar definitely lived up to their descriptions.

Also worth mentioning was the elaborate rack of scientific glassware for drip-coffee. It appeared to be in operation, but perhaps just for show, as several commercial coffee makers were in action too.

Donuts on the left, fried chicken on the right.

Halvah-pistachio, one of the "fancy" donuts

After our had toddler gobbled enough donuts (he started to spin in circles) we took a walk around the Pennsport neighborhood.   In an empty lot behind the Mummers Museum, O played with another young boy, whose grandmother told us the owner lived on the block. Just then, the owner walked by with his dog, and she said, "These people came all the way from Roxborough to enjoy your donuts!".   "Yeah, it's rocket fuel for the kids too." he called back.

After our walk, we killed some time running errands so we could come back for the fried chicken, which went on sale on noon.    When we got there, the chicken wasn't ready yet, but they were handing out reservation cards; each one guaranteed a half-chicken.  I drew #15 and #16.   As the minutes ticked by more and more people arrived, and soon the entire area in front of the counter was mobbed.   Then, the numbers started to be called.

What struck me watching the process was the similarity in their approach to both the donuts and chicken.  The donuts got fried and then coated in sugar+spice mixture.  The chicken got a "base coat" of batter-fry, and were queued up on the same racks as the donuts.   Then for the different flavors (we ordered half buttermilk ranch and half coconut curry), they did a quick second dip in the fryer with a "dry rub" of spices.   Again, the level of spice was perfect (not overpowering, nor too subtle).  The chicken was not too greasy, and the meat extremely tender and juicy (fresh from the fryer is the best!)  As a bonus, they threw in a "side donut" with each half-chicken.  Now that's what I call class.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

StarTribune article on Young's General Store

Reprinted from the Star Tribune, February 16, 2002 (Variety section, page 1E)

One-stop shopping

By Robert Franklin; Staff Writer 

The potatoes and onions rest in bins below the drill bits and screwdrivers, near the rental videos. Earrings are displayed near the snack crackers, and the key-making machine and moccasins are kitty-corner from the bath towels and cake mixes.

Here, near the front door, is nearly everything you need for the outdoors - sweatshirts, picnic coolers and, oh, yes, Middle River greeting cards to send home. Along with a kerosene lamp and, for just $42.39, a new but old-fashioned pitcher pump for the hunting cabin.

This is Young's General Store, also old-fashioned, a third-generation family business that offers groceries, hardware, clothing, boots, over-the-counter drugs and dry goods, a place to drop off film and dry cleaning or maybe pick up lottery tickets and fishing licenses.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The donut-as-hamburger bun meme

As you may have concluded from this blog, I have a reputation for loving donuts. So I get sent a lot of donut-related articles, books, well-wishes on National Donut Day and Fastnacht Day -- you name it.

The most striking theme of late? Donuts as hamburger buns.

I first heard about this on the radio, when Peter Segal of NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me interviewed southern comfort-food diva Paula Deen. Her most infamous recipe was the "Ladies Brunch Burger" (watch her Food Network segment in full glory here): a bacon-and-egg-topped hamburger ensconced by two Krispy Kreme glazed donuts. "No you didn't," marvels Paula's guest. "Yes I did!" Paula retorts, with a devilish smile. The two then unhinge their jaws and chomp into the monstrosity, squealing like schoolgirls at a slumber party.

Paula Deen's Ladies' Brunch Burger.

Now it looks like Voodoo Doughnuts of Portland has teamed up with a local burger joint to offer the "Voodoo Doughnut Burger".

Will the meme fade away, or permeate our collective food consciousness? Only time will tell. Frankly, I'm a little scared to make one of these things at home at eat it. But if I'm ever in Portland, you know where I'll be....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tour de Donut movie

The title says it all... Here's the trailer.
(Thanks to JDC for the link)

Lenora Claire's "doNUTS"

Lenora Claire busts out her new web show called, appropriately enough, "doNUTS". Tang's Donuts in Silver Lake, CA, never looked so inviting/creepy.

(via Boing Boing)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Breakfast Song

Start your morning off right with a little breakfast music:

(via Metafilter)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Breakfast in Paradise

We just got back from the Hawaii (the Big Island), where we did a mix of camping and luxury hotel-crashing. Wondering what breakfast options await you on this tropical island? Wonder no more, because we’ve got the lowdown.

Breakfast in the resorts

There were a couple of breakfasts at the resorts we stayed at worth mentioning. Our first day in Hawaii was spent at Waikoloa Beach Resort, north of Kailua-Kona. This was a pleasantly gentle introduction to the Aloha spirit: lagoon-style pools and hot tubs with historic lava fish ponds, leading out to a scenic beach and bathwater-warm ocean with nary a ripple on the water. Torches at night, lots of families, huge Hawaiian-style BBQ ribs that night at their in-house restaurant, everyone saying aloha to you—you get the picture.

The next morning, the in-house place had a huge breakfast buffet. There was a separate room for just this purpose, walled in by glass and attended to by white-jacketed omelet chefs. We were tempted, but decided to order off the menu to avoid getting bloated before snorkeling. I had a meticulously arranged trio of macadamia nut pancakes, french toast, and waffles. We ate outside, at a table under an umbrella, the myna birds edging in for crumbs, and the cool ocean breeze against freshly showered faces. It was nice. But, after communing with nature—our morning was spent snorkeling with no less than five different sea turtles—the vibe of the place seemed different, the air now heavy with stoic Midwesterners staying with aging parents. It was a clear sign we need to move on and get camping.