National Donut (Doughnut) Day, in my opinion, is any day I consume a donut (or three). Alas, the world doesn’t revolve around my gastronomical calendar or, a more fitting term, gastronomical whims.
In any case, the first Friday in June is the official National Donut Day which I am more than happy to celebrate. I have a deep affection for donuttery confections and I am glad that donuts have become so trendy. While baking cupcakes is part of my baking repertoire, I’m not a fan of eating them and if I do, it has to have frosting which is usually the best part of an actual cupcake if done right.
Donuts however, are another story. I don’t make donuts at home. I have an aversion towards frying anything in the house. When something is fried in the house every door and window are open, and the exhaust fan is at full blast. The smell of frying oil stays in my hair and my clothes. It seeps into my pores and, if I’m volunteering at the annual festival frying up zeppoli (Italian donuts), the smell lingers for days no matter how many times I deep I condition.
I tend to gravitate towards the no frills donuts. I want to sink my teeth into the thin, crisp, exterior before my tastebuds are met with the soft, mouth watering interior. For me, as boring as it seems, the old fashioned (as pictured above) or a plain chocolate glazed are my go-to when it’s not a national holiday.
Throughout this week, I tried to strategically plan where to get my hands on some delicious donuts for Donut Day. In New York City, the possibilities are endless with a Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Hortons, and Krispy Kreme everywhere you turn. But if you’re going to have a donut, you should have a real donut and I had one place specifically in mind.
As I walked through Penn Station and passed the aforementioned donut establishments, packed with hoards of commuters focused on getting their hands on a complimentary donut and drink, I skipped my daily walk to the office and hopped onto the 1 Train going uptown. Like anyone on a mission, I walked briskly to my destination, turning the New York minute into a New York 30-seconds.
My face was wet from the humidity of the soggy morning and from dodging tourists aimlessly walking about Times Square. At 44th, I made a quick left down the empty street, getting closer to my destination.
Tucked above one of New York’s many souvenir shops, overlooking the corner of W44th & 8th Avenue is City Kitchen. A little over a year old, this gem is a smorgasbord of eateries and cultures ranging from fresh Japanese ramen bowls, to Mediterranean falafel sandwiches, and to yes, freshly made donuts the size of my head. The first time I ever made my way there was initiated by a text from my sister and co-food adventurer ordering me to get out of the office for fresh air and a Nutella filled donut. These days, you can get a Nutella filled donut anywhere. Last year, however, Nutella anything was a novelty and therefore a must have for any food adventurer.
According to my Instagram account it was April of last year, but it felt like ages ago when I sucked it up and walked towards the tourist epicenter I avoid at all costs unless I have visitors. It’s hard to miss City Kitchen if you’re not walking on W44th and see the discreet City Kitchen sign above the back entrance stairs or if you’re not looking up. Luckily I’m vertically challenged, so looking upwards comes natural.
Much like this morning, I walked through the small, second-floor cafeteria, and looked at what the handful of vendors had to offer. I had a sensory overload from the sights and smells of the food being prepared in each tiny kitchen. Then, my eyes and tastebuds found what they were looking for.
I still get excited when I see the trays of fresh yeasty donuts from DOUGH. Yeasty isn’t the most appetizing word but these donuts are beyond it and make every trip to City Kitchen worth it.
This morning, just as I hope every time I visit, the line was short. However, much like the rest of the cafeteria, the trays were empty. I began looking at the silver lining of all the speed walking I did without a sweet reward and began thinking of other places that might have donuts without the lines. But, my trusty gut told me to stay in line and it was right. A trolly of fresh donuts waiting to be put on display was right next to the counter and this trip wasn’t for nothing after all.
Donut eating opportunities are an occasion. In my office, whenever someone brings in donuts (usually me) it’s a much needed conversation starter in an environment where our main mode of communication is emailing even though we are mere inches away from each other. Our kitchen is no different from any kitchen, in that it serves as communal ground to utter more than one word, in a normal voice, without the paranoia of disturbing someone working. Our stomachs and our minds are nourished with the face-to-face communication and organic, unedited, interaction that our communication today is direly lacking.
I left City Kitchen and made it to work with a box filled with donuts and conversation starters.