Royal Donut: Beauty and the Yeast

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Destination: Danville – where Royal Donut has withstood rise of the mall and the fall of the Main Street.

Open 7 days a week (and 24hrs on weekends!), Royal has been serving up fresh donuts and legit coffee since 1973. Angel creams, smiley face cookies, Frisbee-sized cinnamon rolls, a psychedelic donut van and a drive-thru perfect for a cruisin’ pick-me-up…..I half expected to see Wooderson leaning up against the façade.

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Royal Donut keeps it classic and does it right with a few signature twists. 1) The toasted coconut – on top of either a classic fluffy glazed with vanilla icing or a classic fluffy glazed with chocolate icing (basically a donut in a Samoa costume):

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2) The bacon on the maple bacon long john. GET OUT. It is smoky and chewy and as loaded as a Friday’s potato skin (they also don’t skimp on sprinkles):

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3) The most unique thing I encountered at Royal comes by way of their most basic offering: anything with just a simple glaze. Plain raised, blueberry cake, chocolate cake, etc….. the glaze is only around the perimeter of the donut. At first I was like: oh, they put this donut in the box upside down, or…wait….this donut missed the glaze line…..or….wait, what is going on?!? Here’s the deal: they load all of the donuts intended for glaze onto a long rod – really stack em on there without any gaps in between – and then they’re dipped into a vat of glaze. So only the edges are covered! This is genius for two reasons: 1) not overly glazed so you can really taste the actual donut, 2) you can hold it without your fingers getting all sticky. Why don’t all donut shops do this?? Seriously.

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In case you need further proof of Royal’s staying power, let me share this:
They’re hiring.
Their roadside marquee has a timely Beauty and the Beast shout out.
College kids stop in to fill up boxes of hometown sugar before heading back to school.
Nurses in scrubs stride in to make sure they get a serving from the apex of the food pyramid.
All is well.

(quick poll: what is your topping of choice? angel cream, sprinkles or bacon? comment below to let me know!)

Munster Donut – now and forever

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As much as I love the beckoning hue of purple ube, the DIY aspect of a pipette inserted into a pastry, or a tower of toppings piled so high your donut resembles a sundae, there is something to be said for comforting basics done well.

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Hooray for Munster Donut! Around since 1969, they aren’t phased by the DD down the street or the KK in the next town over. They know their patrons are loyal – keeping the squatty stools occupied around the clock as fresh donuts make their way out of the kitchen. Oh, did you happen to stop over at 3 Floyds Brewing and now it’s 5:30pm and a weird time for donuts and pleasepleaseplease let Munster Donut still be open!? (*sidenote: there is NEVER a weird time for donuts). Don’t fret – MD is 24 hrs. #allelujah

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Go ahead and get one or two of your usual. And then get a blueberry cake (like a hot, glazed, fresh blueberry muffin), a German chocolate (chocolate cake rolled in toasted toffee coconut), and a bunch of their most famous offering: the sour crème. These bad boys have a crunchy exterior encasing a fluffy, cakey interior. They are the perfect dunking donut, if you are so inclined, and you can even keep them on your counter where they’ll be just fine until the next day (if they last that long).

And lest you think “Whoa whoa whoa… following your directions, I’ve now ordered up a dozen donuts, a cup of coffee, and actually 2 more donuts thrown in for good measure. What am I? Made of money?” No, good sir, you are not made of money, you are made of donuts. And you have just spent $11.27.

Going back for a repeat of all of the above + a huge puffy pillowy cinnamon sugar twist.

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Sunday Study Sundae

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A single scoop – normal. A double scoop – hey now. A triple scoop – whoawhoawhoa. A quadruple scoop – who even does that unless you’re Napoleon via Bill and Ted??!?!? But if Jeni’s understands one thing, it’s that it’s hard to pick just one flavor. Which is why you can ask for unlimited tastes (doled out by always smiling faces), and when you order 4 scoops they call it a “study,” not a “fatfatty,” and simply ask cone/cup/cookie with that? (also they make you feel less crazy by calling their scoops “half scoops,” but who are we kidding? these are normal size)

And so for this Sunday’s breakfast, I was an ice cream academic doing full coursework on summer flavors. Having had an unusually indoored summer this year, it was lovely to run through a sprinkler, visit a farm, go to the drive-in, lay out at the Cape and run through meadows all in the span of 35min.

Watermelon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt – if Jeni’s shut down all flavor production and closed all but one shop and was just left with a little hut selling this one flavor in some off-road middle-of-nowhere town, there will still be a line out the door. It’s like childhood sour taffy but fresh and refreshing (like running through front lawn sprinklers while chasing the ice cream truck down the block).

Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries – reminds me of my summers spent on the farm….jk jk, maybe I’ve actually never been to a farm? But I did summer around a lot of corn and pick wild black raspberries when hiking in the woods, so basically this ice cream is Midwest at its best (sans mosquitoes).

Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk – if ever a strawberry milkshake could give you a hug, this is what it would be like. And then you just get a blanket in the backseat of some car at the drive-in and get down to business.

Lemon and Blueberries Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt – if you’re at Jeni’s and having a hard time deciding on a scoop of the whole lemon sorbet or the ultramarine, let me give you a pro tip: get a scoop of this instead bc it’s the best of both worlds. Tart tart with sweet and jammy berry ribbons, each bite is a bright shock with a smooth, calm finish – much like the recurring cold shock of entering the freezing ocean on a boiling day.

Honorary shout out to Ylang Ylang & Fennel – who didn’t entirely match the fruity study flavor profile, but was like running through a spicy, flowery, golden summer meadow all the same.

A+++++

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Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happy Pi(e) Day!! and also I might be moving…

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It’s March 14, 3/14, 3.14, Pi(e) Day! The day to eat pie all day long (or at least 3.14 slices of it), and that is exactly what I will be doing at my new address of 1000 N California Ave. in Chicago where I will henceforth be residing at booth number 1. (*be advised I will not be accepting visitors on Mondays)

What do I love most about my new home? Aside from delicious pies such as the hibiscus key lime dressed up with vanilla scented whipped cream and blueberry compote (as pictured above) (PIE DAY!!!!!) and delicious soups such as the very special mushroom (not pictured and also known to those in the know (me) as “little cup of heaven”), I love how all the plates and glasses and silverware are mismatched at my new abode. I love how the garden seems to trickle in from the outside so that there are fresh flowers on all of my cozy tabletops. I love the oldtimey music that plays from my new stereo system. I LOVELOVELOVE my new wallpaper. Besides the pies and cookies and breads and scones pouring out from my new kitchen, I have to admit, the wallpaper really sold me:

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So nice when a house is move-in ready and you don’t have to change a thing! Blush with gold maple helicopters (or as some call them, Spinning Jennys), and hence my new manor is called Spinning J.

Sometimes I’ll have friends over and they can twist back and forth on the vintage soda fountain counter stools and order drinks concocted with herbs and essential oils and syrups made on the premises and served in pink parfait glasses with paper straws. And sometimes they’ll bring along their own friends too who will say, “I’ll have what she’s having,” and they will be referring to me and my slice of hibiscus key lime. That’s fine, there’s always enough to go around at my new manor.

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Spinning J Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Legend of Ye Olde Donut Shoppe

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Long ago (starting maybe 60 years ago), in a land far away (Champaign, IL), there was a little hut (a glorified lemonade stand really), called Ye Olde Donut Shoppe. They made donuts daily: hand-cutting the dough and whipping up their own fudgey or mapley icing. The donuts were so delicious that they often sold out quickly and every afternoon (most afternoons? did this really happen?) the sign on the hut would magically change from ‘Ye Olde Donut Shoppe’ to ‘Ye Olde BBQ Pit.’

I have recounted this tale so often that I began to think that possibly I made it up. Ye Olde What? On which street corner? It’s not there now…. was it ever there?? And then I saw this:

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Ye Olde Donut lives!! Ye Olde Donut is real!!! Ye Olde Donut has become a food truck with only a handful of donuts and some egg sandwiches??! Shame. Knowing this could not possibly be the conclusion of the story, I set out to track down the elusive donut selection of yore. There were rumors that the donuts were being made in the Law Building, but no one working at the Law Building knew anything about it (actual law librarian quote: “I don’t know anything about any donuts.”), and upon searching at 8:30am (8:30AM!!!) one day, all I found was this disapproving glare:

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Donut judge me.

As it turns out, getting a donut from Ye Olde requires some wake-up and some know-how. Secret tip: it is best to place an order ahead of time by #1: calling their phone number or #2: going into the Law Building cafeteria and asking the cashier the cryptic question, “Can I place an order for donuts?”

And then, on your appointed donut pick-up day, you rise with the sun and head to the Law Building through the misty morning fog. It will seem locked, but don’t be deterred – at least one door will be open.

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Make your way past the bronze uptights on the wall and head for the cafeteria. It will probably be deserted, or maybe there will be one lone lady making tuna sandwiches. If you tell her you are there for the donuts, she will know your name. Great customer service or mystical powers? Up for debate (at the Law Building! I just came up with that).

Each donut is $1 (cash) and if you are lucky (and early, like 7:30am early) there may be more donuts to add to your already boxed order/cardboard treasure chest (if you will). Apple fritters to rival Randy’s, chocolate iced cake that tastes exactly like “donut,” the mildest maple bars, specials of blueberry, red velvet, Devil’s food or some seasonal delight (the Halloween orange is even orange-flavored!)……

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So there you have it. A legend to be passed on for generations to come….. And as my epic adventure came to a close and I headed out the door, the oracle cafeteria lady whispered, “Well they did used to make bbq.” (for real, and also I asked)

I KNEW IT!!! And I lived happily ever after.

Fonuts: I love you fo real

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So. Many. Questions.

Is this my new fave donut?? Is this a donut-shaped cake? Is this my new fave cake??!!? Does baked = (sorry) moist? Is this a known thing? If so, I did not know this thing. I don’t know what’s going on.

Fonuts are baked (and/or sometimes steamed) donuts. They are never fried. Huh?? They are AMAZING!!!!!!! As I took my first bite of the blueberry earl grey, (as I was sitting in my car in the FREE PARKING in back), I out loud said, “Holy shit.” True story. Even the free parking part.

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blueberry earl grey – fresh blueberries, better than the best blueberry muffin you’ve ever had, scented with bergamot.

rosemary olive oil – like an Italian olive oil cake with a hint of lemon. I’d bet it pairs nicely with a chunk of parmesan and an espresso. Just a guess….

strawberry buttermilk – the Strawberry Shortcake doll in donut form. I have died and gone to heaven. Bye.

Hawaiian – enrobed in shredded coconut, and filled with coconut cream! Take a minute and look again at that first pic – there is a hole in the center of the donut. How then, did they fill it with coconut cream?!? Donut magic. Further, this cream isn’t sweet – it tastes like you scraped butter out of a fresh-off-the-palm coconut. More magic.

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Also, they have a zillion gluten-free and/or vegan options, if that’s your thing. Also, they tie a pretty bow around your box as if you were going to gift these donuts instead of wolfing them down on your own (ie: gifting them to yourself). Also, I’m sad I haven’t been coming here every day since 2011 when they opened. Also, free parking.

(Fōnuts) Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

All the donut people

This weekend I made the rounds and visited all the donut people: The Donut Man – the old “Pride of the Foothills,” Donut Friend – I might get a DBFF (donut best friend forever) necklace shaped like a donut and give them the other half, and Donut Snob – who should really be called “Donut Tease” since they make you search for them and then leave you wanting more.

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Donut Friend: like any true friend, they just want you to be happy and never disappointed. They have a fresh case full of their signature combinations ready for take-away, or they will make you any combo you want to create your perfect donut. Add goat cheese with peanut butter or fresh mint with Oreos – anything goes! I had:

Nutellavision: chocolate hazelnut with a dash of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt
Husker Blu: a blueberry cake donut with blueberry glaze
Polar Berry Club: lemon glaze piled with fresh berries
Lemon Weapon (my all-time fave): fresh lemon cream and blueberry compote in a traditional raised donut with lemon glaze and fresh mint! (they even tear tiny bits of mint and hide them in the donut too!)

(below: ready to go, and Lemon Weapon in the works)

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Donut Snob: No janky-looking donuts here. And nothing sitting around for hours gathering flies. Just pretty and fresh and limited quantities (quite the ‘leave ’em wanting more’ attitude). You can place your own delivery order, or you can consult their site to view their daily stockist schedule and then hope to catch a donut or two before they fly off the shelf! I was lucky/early-out-of-bed enough to get to FoodLab and snag:

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Pistachio Orange: fluffy donut topped with orange zest glaze and chopped organic pistachios (it’s good for me!)
The Berry Best: like a donut-based berry tart with a mixed berry coulis center, cinnamon glaze and fresh whole berries on top

I’m keeping my eye out and my alarm set to find/eat their Blueberry Earl Grey and Campfire donuts next!

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The Donut Man: this guy has been in Glendora for over 40 years, so I doubt he’s moving closer, though I wish he would….. Good thing is that he’s open 24/7, so whenever you motivate yourself to drive on over, donuts will be there waiting for you! Here’s what to get:

fresh strawberry: as seen on many TV shows and as seen in my mouth, this is what they are known for. A big, soft, golden glazed donut stuffed beyond capacity with fresh, whole strawberries
Tiger Tail: extraextra long (like over a foot and a half) twisted glazed donut with chocolate swirled into the twist
chocolate frosted cruller: it is what it is, and it is one of the best I’ve ever had!
maple glazed: truth be told, this one was for my assistant/driver, but I ate some too (obvi) and it was delicious – perfect, freshly poured maple

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FYI: the strawberry donuts are only available during strawberry season, and in about 1.5 weeks the peaches will be ready!!! Be sure to call ahead for the peach-stuffed donuts as they are only around for a couple of weeks and apparently this year’s harvest will be smaller than before. F’ing drought ruining everything….