Monday, August 18, 2008
Apple Fritters of the Gods
When I was younger (let's not say exactly how much younger, but we're talking high school), my best friend and I used to eat lots of donuts. We had forgiving metabolisms. Four donuts in a sitting washed down with cocoa (topped with mini marshmallows) was standard after school fare. True, we'd walk to the donut store and back, but we're talking 15 minutes each way. Not exactly calorie burning exercise, especially considering we usually had on heels.
The donuts at this particular store were always fresh, with none of the nasty lard aftertaste and thick mouth feel that most donuts have. They were how I remembered donuts of my childhood, when Sunday breakfast was trip to Winchell's and the chance to pick out our favorites. Mine were chocolate frosted crullers and apple fritters, although I wouldn't turn my nose up at the chocolate eclairs. Yup, Saturday morning was cartoon time and Sunday was donut time. I realize to some this is a bit sacrilegious, but there you have it.
After I hit my twenties, either my tastes changed or donuts got worse. I started noticing the heavy lard thickness on my tongue after taking a bite and became more aware of the need for moderation in my diet. Not that I gave up chocolate or anything crazy like that; it's just donuts no longer held their hole-y sway over me. There would be boxes of donuts at work every morning and I had no problem ignoring them. Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, on the other hand, still lured me in with their siren song. Donuts? Feh. I left them to the likes of my increasingly fat bottomed co-workers, smug in my ability to walk away from break area snack free.
This distaste for donuts lasted several decades. I got a craving for an apple fritter about 15 years ago on a drive from L.A. to San Diego and stopped at a donut shop. Yuck. Lard. Nothing to write home about. I tossed most of it and never looked back.
Then, about six months ago, I was at George's Zoo, a little market/deli on Sloat and 44th Avenue across from the SF Zoo (and four convenient blocks from the house) early in the morning. A large bakery box sat open on the counter and the smell of fresh baked donuts wafted up. The smell immediately brought back childhood memories of Winchell's and those after school donut expeditions with Maureen and suddenly...I wanted one. I had not craved a donut in years, but one whiff of these babies and I was practically salivating. But I walked away. Given my desire to lose a few pounds and my no longer cooperative metabolism, the last thing I needed was a donut. Besides, it would no doubt disappoint me with that lardy nastiness.
The next weekend Dave and I went to George's for our pre-beach coffee (me)/chai tea latte (Dave) and there was that box of donuts. Fresh ones, of course. A fat, glossy apple fritter sat in the middle, surrounded by glazed old-fashioned, chocolate cake donuts, and Homer donuts (pink with sprinkles). The smell was as enticing as it had been the week before. Dave eyed a maple old-fashioned. I stared at the fritter. A battle of wills (ours and the donuts) ensued.
The donuts won.
These donuts tasted the way I remember them from my childhood. Warm, fresh, no lard. The fritter had huge chunks of apple baked into the bready part. The glazed frosting was rich and buttery instead of sickly sweet. Each bite melted in the mouth. It was worth every calorie.
They have these donuts at George's every day. I've since had three of them over a six month period, one of those three this morning. I still have half of it for later - an entire fritter eaten in one sitting would send a stronger person than me into a sugar coma for the rest of the day. It is so worth it.