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2004
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Doughnut Plant, New York, New York, tasted on February 21, 2004 Growing up in Boston you don't really have a sense of what value the rest of the world places on donuts. It's not that they aren't appreciated elsewhere, it's simply that they aren't appreciate quite as much. It is said (mostly by me) that you can't sneeze without bumping into a donut shop in Boston. And since the Department of Justice has yet to get interested, Dunkin Donuts appears to have a monopolistic stranglehold on the Boston donut market. And while I recognize that my childhood may have colored my opinion of those donuts (and even my stubborn insistence at using "donut" instead of "doughnut"), I still say they are quite delicious. They don't have the sickly sweet flavor of a Krispy Kreme (is there any flour to be found amidst all that butter and sugar?), nor do they have the heavy cakey quality of some of the other donut chains I've had. Just a perfect balance of sugar and buttery dough that comes in a large variety of flavors. And while my love for Dunkin Donuts is everlasting, our relationship is certainly not monogamous. This is why the prospect of trying out some donuts from the darling of the New York donut scene - Doughnut Plant - filled me with excitement. What would a "gourmet" donut taste like? Would it be too "foofy"? Would the donut refined spoil my love of the more pedestrian Dunkin variety? Let's find out.

Doughnut Plant certainly met my imagination's vision of what a refined donut maker should look like. A no frills, utilitarian storefront where all the energy in the small establishment is being directed at making great donuts with a simple approach valuing high quality ingredients. We tasted quite a variety including: Vanilla Valhrona Chocolate, Rosewater Rose Petal, Banana Pecan, and Grapefruit. Each donut started as the same item - a relatively large ring of dough that's light, filled with air pockets, and has almost an eggy quality (though I was assured several times there is no egg in their recipe, just 100% corn oil and "lots of love" - this website is probably not the place to comment on other recipes that use 100% corn oil and "lots of love"). The glazes are all rich, sugary, and almost dripping off the sides of the donut. There were no fillings, and the glazes were all organic using fruits and nuts for flavor. The grapefruit variety just had juice, pulp, and zest added to the glaze before it was applied to the donuts. Its essence was captured in the glaze. We also tried some non-donut pastries including a Sticky Bun with Fresh Roasted Pecans, and a Churro. Both were excellent.

Mark Isreal, the owner and founder took a couple of minutes to chat with us about his excellent donuts. His grandfather Herman's picture looks over the whole operation which it appears is booming. At the time we spoke he was already selling his donuts to 40 stores in the area, and since we spoke he's opened a branch in Tokyo. What can I say, though the donuts were a little large for me (Mark explained "we like it big") the love they put into making them is definitely apparent. Why the simple formula of focusing deeply and passionately on a small set of things and doing them the best they can be done isn't copied more I don't know. But in the meantime, Doughnut Plant really makes some of the highest quality, and tastiest, donuts I've ever eaten. And while I was assured they could do special orders to make small ones, I kind of like experiencing them the way the folks at Doughnut Plant intended - large in size and overwhelmingly tasty.

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

 

 

 

 

 

   

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  Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Today's major garlic suppliers include the United States (mainly California, Texas and Louisiana), France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. There are three major types of garlic available in the United States: the white-skinned, strongly flavored American garlic; the Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor; and the Paul Bunyanesque, white-skinned elephant garlic (which is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek), the most mildly flavored of the three. Depending on the variety, cloves of American, Mexican and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Elephant garlic (grown mainly in California) has bulbs the size of a small grapefruit, with huge cloves averaging 1 ounce each. It can be purchased through mail order and in some gourmet markets. Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of a baby plant is much softer than that of mature garlic. Fresh garlic is available year-round. Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from 3 to 10 days. Garlic is usually peeled before use in recipes. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic," in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole. Garlic is readily available in forms other than fresh. Dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic) are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using (unless added to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew). When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent. Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves. Though all of these products are convenient, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. One unfortunate side effect of garlic is that, because its essential oils permeate the lung tissue, it remains with the body long after it's been consumed, affecting breath and even skin odor. Chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley is helpful but, unfortunately, modern-day science has yet to find the perfect antidote for residual garlic odor.  

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