A major turning point for me this month has been that I have found myself beginning to refer to our small seminary apartment as “home.” Not anymore as “the apartment” or “our new home” or as “seminary”, but just as home. And it feels good! The only problem is that, as of last week, I had yet to discover a good donut shop in my area, which, in my book, is essential to truly feeling “at home”.
As a general rule, I find it necessary to have access to sweet, roundish delicacies from places other than the local grocery store or the Little Debbie, Entenmanns, and Hostess shelves at Wal-Mart or the Saturday morning, bagged-up, double day-olds at the seminary’s food bank. (Not good.) No, I prefer something fresh, out of a case, and with a limited shelf life. If I’m going to spend the calories, it must be perfect.
The first day back from our Christmas vacation, I searched online for donut shop reviews. Three donut shops stood out and were all within 15 minutes south of our home. I called the first shop only to find that they were closed for the holidays – for two weeks. Two weeks!
The second donut shop I found had rave reviews but was new to the south side. Unfortunately, both their website and message system were down, but I was craving a sour cream donut, so we packed the kids in the car in search for Donut Shop #2. After a few wrong turns, we arrived at a desolate storefront. They, too, were closed for the holidays, or forever. I wasn’t sure. We returned home rather dejected.
The next week (once I was certain the donut shops had re-opened) I checked online for directions. Toby said I needed to limit our donut shopping to two stores, so I picked the Donut Shop #2 and #3. They had been rated number one and two on a few websites and were the closest in proximity. Back in the van, I could feel the pressure mounting. The kids had been disappointed by our first outing, but this time I felt confident there would be donuts!
Donut Shop #2 was old. Very old. Sitting proudly on the corner next to a vintage shop in an antiquated part of town, it looked like they had been serving donuts for a century or more. Even the two ladies and one gentleman behind the counter looked like they might have made change for Mark Twain at one time. But as we ordered our buttermilk (sour cream alternative) and cinnamon donuts, a frosted yeast donut, and apple fritters, local customers flowed in and out. A postal worker walked in and handed over the shop’s mail in exchange for a freshly glazed donut. A tall man with a smart-looking black dog walked into the small entry way and immediately recognized an older man already waiting at the counter. They shook hands, the tall man ordered his pastry, and they departed. The place had a nice hometown feel to it and I was happy to be there.
Donut Shop #3 was just south of the first. It was newer to the neighborhood but equally popular. By 10am, they were down to just one case of donuts. The other four cases had sold out by 9am, the clerks boasted. One was in a tie-dyed shirt and had already begun mopping the floors for closing. The other man responded,
“You made it just in time. And today we have chocolate donut holes. He usually only makes those on the weekends. They are REALLY good.” (The he must have referred to the owner.) We took the cheerful man’s advice and ordered a dozen donut holes along with a few sprinkle donuts, a lovely chocolate, buttercream-filled, powdered donut, another apple fritter (to compare) and a couple of crullers. They didn’t have the hometown feel of the first shop, but their donuts looked equally as scrumptious.
As we drove home, we dug into the donuts. Sampling this and that, savoring the bites and critiquing the qualities of each sweet treat. The kids were just plain happy. Thumbs up all around. Toby liked the apple fritter from the first store because it was dense, “better for dippin'”. I liked the apple fritter from the second; it was crispier, flakier, and had bigger chunks of apples. The buttermilk donut was better than any sour cream version I had experienced. And the chocolate donut holes were, indeed, amazing. Perfect, in fact.
We spent the rest of the day and weekend sharing and finishing off our tasty dunkers. They completely hit the spot (and probably made the spot grow a bit). And while I can’t completely say that one store is preferred over the other (I’ll need to conduct more qualitative research!), I know that both shops and the whole experience have helped me feel a bit more at home.