Blognut returns to Charlottesville, Virginia (our former home) to see Mom, Dad, friends, and Wilco - luckily, we find time to sneak away and enjoy our favorite home-town doughnut - the Spudnut.
309 Avon Street
In Charlottesville, the only thing more beloved than Dave Matthews (and maybe the University of Virginia) is the Spudnuts doughnut shop . This much-heralded doughnut dealer, located in Charlottesville's Belmont neighborhood, has been a local favorite since it opened in July, 1969. Founded by native Charlottesvillian Richard Wingfield, Spudnuts was originally part of a west-coast chain which only has a few remaining locations. It now sits proudly as the franchise's only east-coast branch.
As their name suggests, Spudnuts are made from another Blognut favorite, the potato. Orignally raised from mashed potatoes, followed by gelatinzed potatoes, and now from potato flour, Spudnuts have been forced to "change with the times," as Richard's daughter Lori puts it. Blognut sat down with Lori Saturday morning after the store had closed to discuss Charlottesville, her father, and doughnuts.
"Everybody loved my father," says Lori, "People didn't just come in for the doughnuts, they also came in to see him - he always knew what people needed." Sadly, Richard passed away last year at age 75, leaving many locals grief-stricken and skeptical about the future of Spudnuts. To the town's relief, and in what may be an unspoken homage to her late father, Lori and her husband plan on keeping Spudnuts going as long as they can - "We've been doing it so long it would be hard to give up," she says. Blognut could not be happier with Lori's decision.
We get the feeling that the Spudnut-Asthetic hasn't changed a bit since it opened 37 years ago. Linoleum floors, vinyl stools, and plenty of neighborhood comfort, Spudnuts exists in its own time and its own dimension. The walls are lined with original paintings by friend-of-Spudnut Dr. Jim Lincoln, a 107 year-old Oregon native who reportedly helped take some the earliest photographs of DNA and once played Chamber music with Albert Einstein. We could have stayed all day.
The Spudnuts menu includes such classics as the plain glazed, chocolate frosted, and cinnamon varieties, while also offering more Progressive-Nuts like blueberry cake, coconut, and cherry cinnamon. Blognut ordered 2 piping hot coffees and half a dozen doughnuts: 2 glazed, 2 cinnamon, and 2 chocolate covered (we wanted to try the coconut and blueberry but by noon on a Saturday the town has pretty much gobbled up all but a handfull of Nuts). We returned Monday morning on our way out of town and were able to snag a cherry cinnamon.
Blognut's taste buds may be clouded by home-town nostalgia, but Spudnuts are the finest doughnuts we've encountered in two and a half decades of Donut-Eating. The plain glazed and cinnamon are just about perfect, with the other varieties close behind. The glazed is just-sweet-enough while the cinnamon relies on a blend of its namesake and granulated sugar. Incredibly soft and moist, and just slighty potatoey, Spudnuts have created the Ideal-Nut. The cherry cinnamon is wonderful update on the more traditional cinnamon bun doughnut.
Blognut hopes that Spudnuts will continue serving as Central Virginia's most magnificent doughnut dealer for many years to come - we're already planning our next trip back.
Glazed - 10.0
Cinnamon - 10.0
Chocolate frosted - 9.3
Cherry cinnamon - 9. 5
Doughnut with Virginia Skyline
Disclaimer: Blognut would like to apologize to Wilco. They had initially been the focus of our trip back to Virginia but have been overlooked in this post due to the over-whelming goodness of Spudnuts. The show was great and Jeff Tweedy was in a really good mood - an unexpected occurrence considering his recent stint in rehab. Their new Sonic Youth-esque noise rock sound is working well.
I hope they made it to Spudnuts before heading back to Chicago.