A woman stands at the counter of the newly opened Donut Friend in Highland Park and points at a familiar plastic bottle. "What do you do with the Sriracha?" she asks.
"Anything you want," the woman behind the counter responds.
They settle on a chocolate doughnut with chocolate glaze and a squiggle of Sriracha to top it off. "It smells so good!" the woman behind the counter cries as she adds the Sriracha.
Donut Friend is a new shop on York Ave. that takes the doughnut game to the extreme, adding unexpected fillings and toppings such as manchego cheese, thyme, bacon and olive oil to more traditional components like jams, creams and glazes.
Is this what it's come to, Los Angeles? We were doing so well, what with Alma being named America's best new restaurant by Bon Appetit, and the never-ending bounty of our farmers markets. Now, we're all back to eating fair food.
At least that's the prevailing sentiment behind the new Doughnut-Dog at Currywurst on Fairfax.
It's been about three months since the cronut entered our culinary lexicon, introduced by Dominique Ansel at his bakery in Manhattan, and the fervor doesn't seem to have dampened. In Los Angeles, there are sightings from DK's Donuts in Santa Monica to Frances Bakery in Little Tokyo, coming in various names suggestive of the original.
Yesterday, Kettle Glazed Doughnuts, which just opened Wednesday, Aug. 7, added its own version to the growing list. It's spelled "croughnut," the legal rights to which, according to consulting chef Marjorie Ohrnstein of Fun Food Catering, now belong to shop owner Sami Anz.
Los Angeles is, as we recently noted, a town that happily -- and proudly -- gets its doughnut (or donut) fix from independent shops. Giving us another reason to maintain this tradition, Kettle Glazed Doughnut will open tomorrow, Aug. 6, at the busy intersection of Frankln and the 101.
It was a deep sense of nostalgia that drove owner Sami Anz's vision of a doughnut shop that's been three years in the making. "I wanted to go back into my early years when I'd hang out outside, having a doughnut while sitting on a big tree," Anz says. "I wanted to re-create that."
The native Angeleno decided to name the shop Kettle in part after a gift of an old French cast-iron kettle, presented by a good friend, that symbolized to Anz both versatility and durability. "Her family came on the Mayflower and this kettle was used to make beignets. They made everything in that kettle. You can see the history. And it also goes to how doughnuts are cooked in frying kettles."
These days, a maple bacon doughnut is about unexpected as the standard rainbow-sprinkled variety -- and in the midst of the red velvet craze, it's not surprising to find a fried rendition of the ruby cake amongst the glazed, the twisted, and the old-fashioned.
Still, though L.A. has been dubbed the Doughnut Capital of America, not every corner doughnut shop carries these and other non-traditional creations, so we've hunted down the best spots for unique high-end doughnuts: everything from green tea and orange pistachio to Fruity Pebbles and Irish car bomb. Oh yeah, we also caught a bite of the cronut along the way.
It's important to remember that strip malls can happen any time, anywhere. Sure, you might be used to catching miles and miles of them as you reach towards the suburbs, but sometimes there's a strip mall right under your nose.
For example, take a look at the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Washington Boulevard in Marina Del Rey. The intersection of these two major westside thoroughfares should mean a boon of commerce, particularly with the marina-side luxury condos that exist just down Lincoln and the upscale beachcombers at the end of Washington. Yet there's there's the blocky 7-11 that anchors one end like a strip mall version of a department store, selling everything for cheap and driving in most of the business. There's a dry cleaner on site, a check advance storefront and a locksmith shop that's exactly the size of one parking space. This is classic strip mall stuff, in the shadow of exactly the sort of urban planning that seeks to kill off strip malls altogether.
While financial analysts speculate about the not-so-sugar-coated demise of the cupcake industry, another sweet pastry is experiencing its own renaissance, at least maybe in the art world. The doughnut, a traditionally symmetrical, doughy ring of frosted near-perfection, is the cupcake's delightfully modern alternative, and tomorrow it's being honored for the second year in a row at the LACMA-adjacent pop-up art gallery, ForYourArt.
L.A. graffiti artist Manny Castro made a name for himself by addressing fast food trends with his spray can. In August of last year, he was under investigation for vandalism after he tagged the words "tastes like hate" on a Torrance Chick-fil-A in response to the fast food chain's stance on same-sex marriage. Now, Castro is once again making art in response to fried food, but this time it's a food trend we can all get behind: doughnuts.
Los Angeles reportedly claims more doughnut shops per capita than any other American city, and Castro has turned our collective pastry obsession into a street art movement he's dubbed #donuting. His doughnut-saturated art show, featuring neon-painted doughnut sculptures made from recycled tires, opens tonight at FactoryLA during the downtown art walk.