You know you’re Canadian when you give something as simple as the donut as much attention and admiration as you would any saint or prophet from whichever (fictional) tale begets your religion. In fact, as of late, I think it’s safe to say the donut itself has cultivated such a strong following it could be claimed a dogma in and of itself; the Dogma of the Donut, as it were, and it’s usurped its predecessors to become the comfort food trend of the moment…
The first time I took a bite out of one of Paulette’s Original‘s balsamic blueberry glazed donuts last summer, I experienced a calm elation. It was sweet. It was sticky. It was slightly sour. It was a revelation. I was a born again donut eater, ready to proselytize the masses who flock in droves to commercial giants like Tim Hortons and Coffee Time. There is new life in the realm of the donut, merry men and women, and thou shalt worship at the bosom of the balsamic and blue! Obviously I’m only a partial sociopath, so I lacked the conviction (and upper arm strength) to climb rooftops and shout out to the streets.
But I was late in my acceptance of the burgeoning bandwagon, as cities across Canada had already begun to elevate the donut to messianic levels. (Note: I’m talking the intricately topped, innovatively flavoured donuts of today, not the Krispy Kreme perfection of the past.) Jelly Modern Donuts in Calgary – which now has a Toronto outpost on College Street – has been baking the round wonders since 2011. Their flavours range from salted caramel to maple bacon and most any fancy in between. Léché Desserts was one of the first in Montreal to give the donut its just rewards, serving up concoctions like white chocolate mousse and PB&J, while in Vancouver you’ve got long-standing Lee’s Donuts at the Public Market (a 27-year-old staple) and two-year-old Cartems Donuterie. Even Ottawa is on the trend, with SuzyQ Doughnuts having served flavours like dirty chocolate and lemon thyme for just over two years now.
So if 2011 was the birth of the gourmet donut trend in Canada (the year when most of the above opened up shop), 2013 is arguably the year it comes to prominence nationwide, thanks to the “trailglazers” of the past few years and the popularity of Food Network shows like Donut Showdown.
The donut – just like pizza, burgers, ramen, and anything and everything smoked before it – is getting the celebrity treatment in Toronto now. What with the success of shops like the aforementioned Paulette’s, or Glory Hole Doughnuts in Parkdale, Jelly Modern moving in from the West, and restaurants like Beast (these in particular being crafted by Dough by Rachelle) and Crush Wine Bar serving up these rings of gold, we’re poised for the classic breakfast treat turned grub for the gourmand to take centre stage on our food scene.
So if cocktails are the new burgers, are donuts the new cocktails? This self-righteous bub thinks so, and if you’ve any opinion otherwise, just follow me down the donut hole to a wonderland of sweets. (Or don’t… more for me.)