Sunday, March 6, 2011

donut stand-off – a regional comparison

The Everyday Food blog recently wrote about the most amazing donut shop in Manhattan called the Doughnut Plant. It was a great entry and provided an escape from my life, which is worlds away from anything even remotely close to the novelty of a place like the Doughnut Plant. And I'm OK with that because I'm no donut aficiando. I rarely eat them and choose just about every other possible baked good over one. I don't even know the difference between a cruller to a fritter. But what I do know and love are two cross-border regional donut delights that must be tasted to be believed.

Let's begin with Buffalo's own Peanut Stick. I haven't seen this type of donut anywhere outside of WNY. I picked up my peanut sticks at DiCarmello's Bakery (which I'd love to devote an entire blog entry to this amazing and full of history WNY bakery).
Yeah, B-lo is known for many things like wings, stuffed banana peppers and beef on weck, but the lesser praised Peanut Stick is well deserved of attention. The photo may not quite show what a monster this dense donut is. We slice off servings over the span of 2 days for the whole family. There isn't an overwhelming peanut flavour with these, the crushed nuts are the strongest peanut flavour. This donut tastes like biting onto a perfectly balanced powered sugar dessert. Again, must be tasted to be believed.

On the Canadian side we have the Long John! Only one place can make these as fantastic as they are - the St. Catharines landmark Homestead Donuts Drive-In. People who have lived in the city for most of their lives know all about the Long John and have fond memories of Homestead Donuts Drive-In and their locations which have since shut down. They now operate in a run-down strip plaza in the industrial end near Westchester. Most of their business is through distribution to other donut chains, but if you have the opportunity to drop by their location and buy a fresh Long John, well, it's worth the time and effort. I've treated coworkers to them on many occasions and they never last past noon.
It may appear as if they are skimpy on the chocolate glaze, but they've mastered the perfect ratio of chocolate to donut to cream filling. They really are absolute donut perfection.

Donuts around here are very unpretentious and seem so well suited to the blue collar lifestyle in St. Catharines and WNY. Deep fried, inexpensive to make and go well on coffee breaks. These two masterful regional creations are miles away from The Doughnut Plant but I'm willing to bet they could stand toe-to-toe with anything coming from the Manhattan store.


alicia said...

the PA dutch celebrate "fasnacht day" on shrove tuesday. fasnacht = a fatty donut traditionally made as a way to get rid of the lard and sugar in the house before lent.

they have them in all the grocery stores and bakeries here right now preparing for the big day!

if you're not familiar with PA dutch cooking - everything is meat and noodles or potatoes smothered in some kind of fatty gravy, so i'm not at all shocked they base a holiday around donuts! only in america. ;D

Erin said...

Wow, I wasn't aware of this PA Dutch donut tradition, but makes perfect sense. I think donuts are more appropriate tradition for Shrove Tuesday than pancakes.
My maternal grandmother's family was PA Dutch and she's the prized baker of our family. She used to make us scratch made cream puffs when we'd visit and it was a real treat.