WLW: Salty Donut making me not salty about Florida

Donuts. I’ll say it: they are not dessert. They are breakfast. (albeit a socially acceptable way to eat cake for breakfast)

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But what happens when donuts are no longer coffee-dunkable? Have they then progressed past the bfast menu realm? When they come in fancy flavors and are dressed to the nines, they do rise above their historically coffee-dunked ancestors? Like, I don’t really ever dunk anything, but seriously thanksbutnothanks I’m not going to risk an entire strawberry or chunks of candied bacon falling into my coffee. (can you imagine the dregs at the bottom of that cup??? barf.) I might even need a fork and knife instead – not even thinking twice about summoning my inner George-Costanza-with-a-Snickers-bar.

unnamed-1And so, artisanal donuts have got me thinking outside the pastry box, and one shop in particular has done the unimaginable and got me thinking outside the sweaty Florida Disney/oranges/hurricanes box. The Salty Donut: this week’s Wish List travelfortreats destination. You heard me. I’m going to Florida to eat donuts.

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Located in Miami, The Salty Donut is a small-batch establishment making EVERYTHING in house, and trying their damnedest to change the donut/coffee landscape of South Florida. They’re basically like, “Everyone, get with the times. Eat this.” And I’m like, “Don’t mind if I do! And thanks for not just being another souvenir shop with shelf-aged “Key lime” pies!”

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I’m talking lemon meringue fritters. Guava and cheese stuffed brioche. Fresh strawberries and cream, passion fruit and coconut, baked sweet potato, and the universally loved white chocolate tres leches.

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Should you still feel the monstrous need to dunk (please just sip alongside), they also offer a fancy coffee program to complement these beauties. Think cold brew Palmers and Cinnamon Toast Crunch lattes. Mmmmmmmm……… Beats yard long boozy slushies from Fort LaudyDaudy any day, and since you’re in Florida you’re probs on vacation, making boxful of fried pastries a 100% acceptable way to start the day.

*pics by @allisonkimchi, @chewyorkcity, @jenntronic, @onehungryygirl, @foodieattraction and someday by me

WLW: all pie all the time

You guys. I’ve been sitting around eating lots of nuts and chocolate and appley ginger-based stuff lately, bc it’s freezing fall out and like a smart person I’m trying to prepare for hibernation. But you know what I really wish I was eating? No, no, not a cherpumple (tho I obvs wouldn’t dare turn it down….GIVE ME). While I sit here in my très chic hoodie/sweater/fat socks/blanket combo, I’m really wishing for some Strawberry Short Pie from Lauretta Jean’s. And I KNOW it’s seasonal and tisn’t the season now……that’s why it’s Wednesday and I’m wishing.

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How Stephanie Tanner rude that I tempt you with this unattainable pie, right? Looking more closely (NOT licking my screen, PROMISE!), it’s kinda like the springtimey little sister of the cherpumple. This truly looks like the dessert of dreams. Bake it and I will eat.

Anyhoo, not to leave you in tears of unsatisfiable dessert cravings, the good news is that it is at least pie season in the nation, and if you live in Portland you can still skedaddle over to Lauretta Jean’s for a more in-the-now seasonal offering. Might I suggest Chocolate Pecan or S’mores?

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Both clear winners and in keeping with my hibernation diet. Both also considered A+ choices to pair with coffee for a breakfast of champions. But you know what works really well at the end of the day after a heavy hearty meat and potatoes-rich fallwinter meal? Something with a bright little zip to cut right through the food coma. Something like Key Lime or Lemon Meringue:

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Mmmmmm pie. Never not in season.

*pics by @laurettajeans and @pdxfoodlove

Dessert Detour: Blue’s Cafe

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If I described a place that made strawberry pie, strawberry silk pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, coconut cream pie, coconut meringue pie, peanut butter pie, triple berry pie, peach pie, blueberry pie, raisin pie, key lime pie, pecan pie, cherry pie, butterscotch meringue pie, custard pie, Hawaiian pie, apple pie and lemon meringue pie DAILY, you’d probably guess that I was describing a pie shop. If I told you that over half of these pies sold out by 3pm, you’d probably guess that this pie shop was located on a busy street in a major city. You probably would not guess that this is all going down in an unassuming diner on a quiet road in Kankakee. NO JOKE.

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When I called ahead to be sure they had the butterscotch meringue, I was on the phone for about 5 minutes while all pie varieties were rambled off. Who would have guessed, with all those options, that when I arrived a few hours later, the beloved butterscotch would be sold out?!? Where are all these crazy pie eaters coming from?? Do all Kankakee citizens have pie filling running through their veins?

Blue’s Cafe is about 10 min west of I-57, and has been around since maybe 1954 – or at least that’s what an old photo on the wall says. They have all the usual diner fare: good coffee, sandwiches, soups, omelets, etc., but to be honest, I didn’t even look at a regular menu. I came for the pie. I sat down, ordered a cup of coffee, and said, “I’ll be having a lot of pie.”

And when my three slices arrived on the table, they created a bit of a stir. Like everyone stared and shouted and beamed with pride and amazement.

“You go girl!”
“You should take a picture!”
“That’s my kind of meal.”
“I shoulda got that!”
“Are you a taste tester?”
“Even Trish can only do two slices (with ice cream).”
“I thought she was kidding when she said she was getting three slices.”

On the table:

blueberry – warm with a flaky, buttery crust

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strawberry silk – (because what is that?? it’s like what Strawberry Shortcake would bring to an afternoon tea if she made pies instead of cakes) – with a graham cracker crust and fresh strawberries

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coconut cream loaded with tons of coconut and piled high with whipped cream

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For the record, I didn’t not finish all of these in one sitting. I brought some samplings home with me much to the delight of my tasting assistants who – ahem –  literally drooled on the floor while they were devouring.

ps: three slices and a bottomless coffee cost $10
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sweet Sweet Mandy B’s

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You guys: remember when it was 2002 and the world was just discovering that you didn’t have to be in 3rd grade to profess your love for cupcakes? (nor did you have to be at a 3rd grader’s bday party to eat cupcakes?? however, 1 cupcake IS technically a 3rd grader-sized serving = 1/2 a piece of reg cake, so if you are over age 12, please eat 2 cupcakes. nutritionist’s orders.)

Cupcakes took the dessert world by storm and soon this lil baby cake was gussying itself up in all kinds of crazy gourmet outfits and even getting invited to weddings. Ah but it was not to last because bandwagon jumper-on-ers got gross and lazy and started letting sub-par cakes onto the shelves. (i’m looking at you, mile-high dyed frosting facade. for shame.) Thank god for Dessert Darwinism and the shuttering of poser cupcakeries just looking to cash in on the latest trendy treat. And thank god that the leaders of the cupcake revolution stood the taste test of time, because when you see that glowing cupcake stained glass window, you know you have safely arrived at Sweet Mandy B’s and everything is going to be good.

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Away from the bustling Lincoln Park traffic of honking car horns and stroller gangs, Sweet Mandy B’s offers sugary respite for adults and kids alike. Calming mantras of “eat your dessert first” and “the best things in life are sweet” float overhead, and the cases are stocked with anything anyone could ever want. Seriously.

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Cupcakes, cookies, pies, cakes, bars, puddings, caramel apples, meringues, and more and more. All made with old-fashioned, simple ingredients. All ready to take you back to a time when cupcakes were enjoyed without worry and dessert was celebrated, not calorie-counted. Normally, I shy away from slathers of pastel buttercream, but Sweet Mandy B’s does buttercream right – not overly sugary in itself, and not overly dominant on top of any cake/cookie. Just how buttercream was meant to be!

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Treats to note:

  • the aforementioned cupcakes (any flavor, any color)
  • molasses cookies (iced or not, your choice)
  • lemon meringue cheesecake
  • anything cabinet pudding (kind of like a bread pudding, but less bready. and ask for to be it heated up!)

Along with all the classics, there will probably be a few new creations too. Today, for the sake of dessert exploration, I present Pete’s coconut cloud cookie – which is the fortunate result of a macaroon calling up a meringue for a good time. Ta da!

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Sweet Mandy B's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato