November birthday memories… of food!

November was a good month. Why? Because I got to celebrate my birthday. And what better way to commemorate my new year but with good food.

The morning started off with gourmet donuts. I had just picked up a donut after a meeting that I was eyeing from across the room and my colleague said, “Don’t eat that! Follow me.” We got into the car and ended up in downtown’s Nickel Diner.

Yes, it’s an actual diner where you can get bacon and eggs but they are famous for their fancy pants donuts. We walked away with half a dozen donuts in four flavors: red velvet, strawberry crumble, Nutella, and the bacon maple donut.

We decided to cut up each of the flavors so we could have a gourmet donut tasting.

The strawberry crumble donut reminded me of the Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Bar. I did expect a stronger strawberry flavor but the sweet crumbles made up for it in its own way.

Above is the Nutella donut with hazelnut. This donut had a nice crunch when I bit into it and it was probably my second favorite donut of the bunch – who doesn’t love Nutella!?

Just by looking at the red velvet donut, I figured I’d would know how it would taste – red velvet powdered donut with some cream cheese frosting in the center. However, it was nice to bite into the donut to find small pieces of chocolate. The chocolate added an unexpected texture at first bite which I think was a smart decision of Nickel Diner.

Last of the donut flavors is the bacon maple donut – my favorite from the bunch. The donut dough was soft and airy which balanced well with the rich maple and bacon on top. Yes, this donut has real pieces of bacon on it! What’s not to love?

For lunch, I went out to get ramen at Shin Sen-Gumi, which I’ve blogged about before. A comforting bowl of ramen with a side of nori (seaweed) and iced green tea was a good way to celebrate my birthday during my work lunch. And yes, it tested wonderful!

And now on to dinner. You’re probably wondering which restaurant I went to but to be honest, I requested a simple home-cooked meal. To have someone you know cook a meal for you on your special day is thoughtful and adds a personal touch.

This dinner consisted of a mixed green salad with cilantro dressing, roasted chicken breast, and fingerling potatoes with sour cream and chives. The chicken skin had the perfect crunch when my knife slid into the flesh. And for dessert…

Molten chocolate lava cake with a side of vanilla bean ice cream. This one was bought from Paris Baguette in Koreatown. You just have to put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds and it heats up the cake and the chocolate in the center just enough without burning your tongue when you take the first bite. I’ve always enjoyed Paris Baguette’s molten chocolate lava cake with a side of ice cream because it’s not overly sweet like most chocolate cakes.

All in all, my birthday was filled with lots of great surprises and treats and I look forward to an awesome year ahead!

Visiting Huell Howser’s donut at Stan’s Donuts

My apologies for the back-to-back donut posts but when I kept looking at that close-up donut photo in the last post, it reminded me of the day my friends and I gathered on National Donut Day to watch public TV’s Huell Howser when he went to Stan’s Donuts.

Recently, I went to Stan’s Donuts in Westwood with my food loving friends, Gregory and Emily. Stan’s has been open for over 40 years and is a favorite of Huell Howser. They even have a donut named after him called “The Huell.”

When you watch the entire episode where Stan’s was featured, they show you how they make this chocolate and peanut butter donut onsite. At first bite, the donut is soft and the icing is creamy. The best part of about this donut is the creamy peanut butter that hits you as you take that second bite of the donut.

This is a rich donut and I admit I couldn’t finish it. Next time, I’ll be sure to split it with someone. I can now see why this is Huell Howser’s favorite donut.

By the way, they also have a donut named after The Simpsons. Why? Apparently, they were the official donut makers for Fox when the movie came out and they were sending donuts to various people to promote the film. Don’t you think this is a donut that Homer would definitely take a bite of?

Happily ever after and… Dimey’s Donuts!

I went to a lovely wedding this weekend in Pasadena. It was a beautiful event filled with lots of love and well wishes for the couple. I remembered talking with the bride during the early planning stages of the wedding and she said she wanted tacos at her wedding – sure enough, the tacos were there. But what caught my eye was the dessert: gourmet donuts!

I’m used to wedding cakes, cupcakes, and pies at weddings but this was the first time I had gourmet donuts for dessert at a wedding. The donuts were freshly fried up and dressed by Dimey’s Donuts.

As far as I can tell, Dimey’s seems to make donuts for special events. Their homepage is bare with just a contact email address. Their Facebook page says they made 250 donuts for the wedding – and I’m pretty sure all 250 donuts were happily eaten.

I do hope they open up a shop because their donuts are quite good. As you can see above, there was an assortment of chocolate glazed, passion fruit lemon glaze, and s’mores. Each donut is twice the size of your average donut hole. It’s actually not a dense dough – it’s airy and is perfectly fried. But my favorite from the bunch was the s’mores donut.

I took my first bite and I could taste the graham cracker crumbs layered over the donut glaze. Inside was a dollop of dark chocolate and marshmallow. The donut was light and had the s’mores flavors in each bite.

I have to admit that donuts are an ideal dessert for parties – they are simple, you don’t need utensils, and there’s no real mess (unless you get powdered donuts).

Special delivery: Donut Man!

When I think of Glendora, I think of the following two things:

  1. Name of a catchy Rilo Kiley song from their first EP back in 1999.
  2. Home of Donut Man.

This post is all about #2. Yes, I know it’s a few days after National Donut Day but I thought it is better late them never… especially for a donut like this.

I’ve wanted to make a pilgrimage to Glendora to get a taste of the famous strawberry donut at Donut Man for a couple years. I call it a pilgrimage because it’s not a city I normally drive through. But one night, my friend Jessica was telling me that she was headed out there to see her family. Without hesitation, I blurted out “Donut Man!” She said if she passed by the donut shop, she’d get me one.

Less than 24 hours after this conversation, she dropped off two strawberry donuts. When I opened the box, the fresh sweet strawberry scent and fried donut smell engulfed my nostrils. I was in heaven. I wish smell-o-monitors could be perfected so you can smell this tasty donut…

It’s one big donut and probably the first time I’ve ever eaten a donut with a fork and knife. The fresh glazed donut is sweet on the outside and soft on the inside – not cakey. The soft bread cradles the mound of strawberries and sweet juices. I want to emphasize that this is not strawberry compote – this is freshly cut strawberries. After having this, I definitely think it’s time I head over to Glendora to try the other donuts that Donut Man serves up.

San Francisco morning treat!

I admit when I go to San Francisco, I have it easy. I have friends who have lived there for years who have an affinity for good food. But most importantly, they love to share their favorite places and explore their city with out of town friends… like me!

One morning, we had a craving for donuts and came across a place called The Jelly Donut in the Mission. I liked jelly donuts so went in. The case was full of fresh donuts ranging from old fashioned to bear claws to jelly. The sweet fried smell in the tiny shop was very satisfying on that cold rainy day.

I asked the guy at the counter which donut I should order — I assumed he would tell me to order one of the flavored jelly donuts but to my surprise, he said the cake donut. So I got the cake donut but my friend ended up buying the jelly donut too. It only seemed fair to get a jelly donut at The Jelly Donut shop. I admit that I appreciated the honesty of the guy behind the counter because the cake donut was the right choice. Sometimes a cake donut can be overly dry, dense, and oily but this one was moist and cakey and had a nice sweetness from the crumbs it was bathed in. Take a look.

I felt less guilty eating that donut because I was walking around while munching. That justified, right?