Wednesday, September 27, 2006
The word "Beignet" comes from the early Celtic word "bigne," meaning "to raise." In France, it would later come to mean "fritter," referring essentially to any clump of fried dough. Exactly when the Beignet arose in France is unclear, but what is known is that 18th century French colonists brought the recipe for so called "Beignet Fritters" to New Orleans, Louisiana, where they exploded with popularity and have since become associated with the city. Though there are numerous variations on the Beignet, the base recipe calls for deep-fried dough, usually sprinkled with confectioner's sugar (like so many other International Nuts). Over the years, French culinary tradition has snubbed its fried creation and the modern day French beignet has become a sub-standard, recycled version of the 20th century American donut.
Without further ado, here's a run down of all the crappy donuts I ate in Paris:
Beignet de Framboise (Raspberry-filled Beignet) - sitting in a large, empty glass display case were these two pathetic little donuts. They tasted like stale dinner rolls stuffed with cheap and sugary raspberry jelly.
Here's a picture of me eating a disgusting Beignet de Framboise on the street and washing it down with a Kronenbourg. The only thing worse than a French Donut is a French Beer.
This donut sucked.
More sucky donuts. This time, they were actually called "Donuts."
I've saved the worst for last. This is a Beignet au Miel, or Honey Beignet (pictured above), which we purchased in Montmarte as a pre-dinner snack. It weighed roughly two pounds and had the consistency of a hard, dried-up sponge. It tasted like burnt plastic with a slight honey aftertaste and was hands down the worst thing we ingested the entire trip. We took one bite and threw the rest in la poubelle.
Health officials suck.
Plus, Blognut need not be reminded of the cardiovascular consequences of the nearly 2 dozen VooDoo doughnuts we've consumed in the past 4 days (3 of which were nearly the size of my head).
Friday, September 22, 2006
With Parisian Nuts and VooDoo Part 2 slated for next week, Blognut-in-law has decided to step in and fill our pages with a travel tale of her own.
This life-experienced roving researcher, and ancestor of Blognut and Yuk, was given the task of pursuing the best doughnut in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I felt up to this, as the pursuit of doughnuts has been given a high priority in our family.
Jackson is a small town. It is wealthy and western. After a lengthy two hour search, and the questioning of many witnesses, this researcher could not find a single doughnut. I inquired extensively and no one knew where to find doughnuts. Perhaps that is why they don’t call it Doughnut Hole, Wyoming.
I happened to be only one of a dozen other life experienced folks touring Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons. My cohort’s culinary finds consisted of game and ice cream. At any rate, the most promising eatery for something close to a doughnut was “The Bunnery” a bakery and restaurant at Hole in the Wall in Jackson Hole. They offered some delicious looking baked goods and we chose the Sticky bun (Cinnamon roll). It was nice and large.
Just a few of Blognut-in-law's traveling companions.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The New Yorker reports on the political role of the Donut...
...and Timeout NY features an international donut roundup (Of which we've only had one!! The orange-infused Indian fritters from Tabla - I guess this means we've got a lot of work to do when we get back).
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Monday, September 04, 2006
A donut/doughnut must be:
1) Made primarily of fried dough
2) At least partially sweet (Blognut does not abide by the Eastern European philosophy that a donut can be savory – if something has sausage and cheese in it, it’s probably not a donut)
3) Of manageable shape - any manageable shape, round or not (A donut must be palm-able and conducive to eating it on the go. Anything requiring a plate or a fork (ie, funnel cake) is not a donut, a controversial view, I know)
In accordance with the above criteria, the item featured in this post is most definitely a donut.
Friday afternoon: After a produce-infused stroll through the Union Square Farmer’s Market, Blognut heads down 17th Street anxious to cram a Cuban press from Havana Central. And we do just that. Definitely one of the better Cubans we’ve had in NYC, Havana’s Classic Cuban Sandwich consists of smoked ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. It’s not too greasy and comes with just-sweet-enough sweet potato fries. But why, do you ask, is Blognut writing about a Cuban restaurant? The answer lies in a star-shaped stick of fried dough named after the horns on a breed of Spanish sheep.
Churros are elongated, fried pasties that originated in Spain and have become popular in Latin America, the US and much of the Caribbean. They get their star shape by being extruded through a cooking syringe called a churrera. They are often referred to as Mexican Doughnuts and are generally coated in either cinnamon, sugar or both. Many churro-eaters abide by the combination of chocolate con churros, in which the churro is dunked in cup of hot chocolate, but in the US they are often dipped in either melted chocolate or caramel.
Havana Central’s Churros are coated in cinnamon and sugar and come with both chocolate and caramel (dolce de leche) dipping sauces. They really are weird looking. There’s something about the 8-point star shape that seems too unnatural to eat. But one bite and we forgive them for their odd appearance. The good thing about Havana's Nuts, is that while they’re crispy on the outside (as they should be), the center retains a moist, barely-cooked quality that is often lacking in churros (especially the ones sold street-side in NYC). A churro should never be so brittle that is easily cracks in half, it should have some give to it. The flavor is packed with cinnamon and sugar and goes great with the dipping sauces. We found that dipping in both chocolate and caramel provided the best taste experience (and it must be in this order, chocolate first, caramel second). By the end the caramel sweetness becomes so powerful that I’m forced to cut it with a pinch of salt on the tongue. Mrs. CPC finds this practice disgusting.
Definitely one of the best International-Nuts we’ve had – right up there with the Loukoumades from Lefkos Pyrgos in Astoria, Queens – Havana Central’s Churros are worth saving room for. Blognut would also like to commend the churro for being a non-conformist when it comes to Donut-Shape, even if they look somewhat odd.
Donut Score: 8.8
22 East 17th Street
New York, NY 10003