Sunday, July 09, 2006

pacific nutwest - part 2

VooDoo Doughnut
22 SW 3rd Avenue
Portland, OR

This is the second in a two-part series on doughnuts of the Pacific Northwest by guest blogger and field correspondant, The Beta Blognut.

Walking towards this most-hallowed of doughnuteries, on a record-breaking hot day in Portland (the Portland mercury (not the weekly paper) will top out at 102 degrees before the day is done), the Beta Blognut feels that, in the midst of such heat, he is in fact on a pilgrimage of sorts, towards the Mecca of all Doughnuts, certain that he is about to obtain the godhead that can only occur in a perfectly deep-fried glob of dough. Surely, VooDoo Doughnut is that locale, the center of the doughnut universe.

For the past month, he has studied the VooDoo Doughnut website, fortifying his blood sugar and fantasizing about which doughnut he will imbibe first. The most surprising aspect of VooDoo when he finally espies it in the distance is how low-key the storefront is in real-life. Inside, counter space is compact, with only about six seats for 'nutters in the entire joint. But what is physical reality when the sign outside proclaims that the magic is within the hole itself, enlightenment radiating outwards from the void?

To prove that things never go as planned, he is crestfallen to learn that his most-anticipated treat, the Robitussin Doughnut, has been temporarily suspended by the FDA. What's worse, they are all out of maple bars as well, that captivating treat that encapsulates that beatific breakfast moment all Southerners know and love: when the maple syrup hits the cooked pork on their plate. That conjoining of sweet and savory in its earthly 'nut shape, in the form of a maple bar with a strip of bacon cooked on top is not available, and the Beta Blognut scrambles for Plan B.

He is helped by taking in all of the scenery: a giant doughnut hangs as if some sort of cathedral crucifix, a top shelf revealing skulls and skeletons. And while the picture here shows a glow-in-the-dark Satan cup, VooDoo Doughnut is balanced between godliness and devilishness in the most delicious way. You can even get married here, Beta Blognut is informed, and the shop holds about four ceremonies a month.

Most mesmerizing is the Lazy Susan that spins each and every concoction of the day before his eyes. The more compact cake doughnuts are on the lowest tier, while the colorful, puffy specialties whir in the middle. The top shelf is reserved for tokens, geegaws, and magical totems, their power evident as he stares deeper into the display case. Somehow able to be aroused from his transfixed state, he embraces the paradox that is reality and invokes the No Name Doughnut by name, proceeding from there.

Starting the day off healthy, he partakes in the Vegan Chic-O-Stik. That most-neglected of Halloween candies, its flaky, B-list of Butterfinger-guts gets reclaimed and elevated back to its proper place in the candy pantheon. Raised up on high by a dairy-free cruelty-free cake that draws on a batter of bananas and vanilla for its flavor, just the 'nut is a delight in and of itself. The texture of crumpled Chic-O-Stiks on top and a smooth white frosting brings the three textures into a combined sensation somehow distinct from their separate identities. Maybe in the middle of the doughnut is where it all meets. Beta Blognut knows that he will never laugh at either Chic-O-Stiks or the idea of a vegan doughnut ever again. He has seen the light and it tastes divine.

"Surely not every VooDoo Doughnut can be perfect," Beta Blognut says out loud, his body trembling as double-shot Americanos from Stumptown whiz through his bloodstream along with body-shivering amounts of sugar. Yes, VooDoo Doughnut is just about as awesome as San Dimas High Football (which rules, in case you haven't seen Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure), awesome enough to name this 'nut after said flick. Another compact cake, this deceives the Beta Blognut for a second, as rather than being a chocolate on top of chocolate on top of chocolate, the cake itself is actually yellow. As a foundational sort of 'nut, it's exquisite, yet its simplicity after such tasty tongue fireworks makes it feel slightly out of context. Ever so gently, he is brought back down to terra firma.

The memory of the Chic-O-Stik still fresh on his palette, he reverts back to his country's tradition of Butterfingers and patriotic doughnut batter created by hard-working Americans and the bodies of cows and chickens. The quick glimpse of a baker sans shirt behind the counter (his sweaty Adonis belt on display) is not enough to dissuade him from partaking in yet another 'nut. To his delight, the Butterfinger is a chocolate cake with white icing, every available surface crammed with shards of Butterfingery goodness. Not too moist, the combo melts perfectly in his mouth. What from the outside seems to be overkill by combining 'nut with candy bar is in fact perfection.

And so he tackles the mystery of the unnameable head-on, as if he were about to approach either JHVH (whose name is unpronounceable), or Allah, who has a thousand names, none of which can be remembered in the throws of such soaring sugar levels. This is the only non-cake doughnut he orders at VooDoo, and the body of the nut is fluffy, almost cotton candy-esque. One of VooDoo's cereal-topped specialties (he also spies Cocoa Puffs, Captain Crunch, and Fruit Loops on a few others), this sprinkles crispy rice on top of a chocolate icing, the entire thing then drizzled with a creamy peanut butter. The temptation for a common 'nut maker would be to make the PB the equal of the chocolate, so that it evokes that balance in a Reese's cup. And from the success of the Butterfinger concoction above, it'd be easy for VooDoo to stay that route, alchemically creating doughnuts out of classic candy bars. Here, the PB merely hints at its presence, an undercurrent to the delirious mix of airy, ethereal crispiness and the earthly pleasures of a good 'nut. As the I Ching says, when heaven and earth are in balance, it makes for a fantastic 'nut.

Doughnut Scores:

Vegan Chic-O-Stik 10.0
San Dimas 9.1
Butterfinger Ring 10.0
No Name 10.0


Jennifer said...

I'm so sad to see this is only a two part series. I've really enjoyed it!

Maybe because I live here I was hoping Spokane would be included in your Pacific Northwest donut tour.

Maybe next time? *smile*

theblognut said...

Glad you liked it. Next time we're in the area we'll be sure to stop in Spokane. Any recs?

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