Ricotta-filled long doughnut – $4.50 from Petit Espresso, Lower Ground Floor, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney
Yes readers, it’s been a long time between posts. I don’t know if it’s the weather, or the shorter days, but I feel a startling lack of snack inspiration lately. Even my favourite little BBQ Pork Pie hasn’t been filling me with joy. This week however I once again felt the urge to venture forth in search of new snacks, thanks to the worlds greatest bicycle race, and Gabriel Gaté, a man whose passion for eating rivals even that of my own. It’s fitting also that this week sees the first ever stage wins by an Australian team, and the Maillot Jaune worn on the back of a hardworking Aussie. To honour this significant moment, I depart from my usual Asian snacks and venture to continental Europe, and Petit Espresso.
This snack purveyor can hardly be called a shop, being a small corner of an arcade in front of which some enterprising person has placed a glass booth and an espresso machine. Not being a coffee drinker, I had paid little attention to this nook as I ambled past each day, assuming it was a coffee stand with the appropriately standard array of stale pastries. But one day while spinning to avoid a group of schoolchildren on smartphones, I turned my head and was surprised by what I saw: the glass booth contains all manner of elegant European treats, including chocolate éclairs, cannolis, and filled donuts. I wiped a small string of saliva from my face and moved closer.
One snack in particular caught my eye, a unique beast that I have so far failed to identify, so comment away if you know the name. It’s made of sweet doughnut dough, spiralled into a long bar shape with a tunnel through the centre. The tunnel is filled with your choice of chocolate, custard or ricotta, and dusted with icing sugar. Not quite a doughnut, or éclair or longjohn, but some sort of delicious doughy hybrid. This week I opted for the ricotta version, and was delighted by what I found.
The dough is a fairly standard doughnut recipe, sweet, not too chewy, the perfect starting point for an afternoon treat. The structure of the doughnut can be described in a word – solid. One might expect that a completely hollow tube of dough would be brittle at best, but biting into the doughnut leaves the structural integrity satisfyingly intact. The spiral formed tube is also aesthetically pleasing, with evenly formed lines and subtle ridges, obviously the work of a master pâtissier. The ricotta filling is a superbe, smooth and creamy, and just enough sweetness added without compromising its dairy nature. Writing this has made me so hungry, I might just go and purchase another one right now. 4 stars.
Originality – Excellent
Execution – Excellent
Value – OK (Excellent if you manage to snag one for $2.50 after 4:00 pm)
Overall judgement: 4
Chicken-mushroom doughnut – $2.60 from Breadtop, plenty of locations all over greater Sydney (except for Sussex St which has closed)
To say that jam doughnuts have played a significant role in my life would not be an understatement. When I reminisce on my many years on this earth, I remember numerous occasions when simple jam-filled balls of dough deep fried in fat until the jam resembles molten magma have sustained me through long nights and cold winters. Needless to say, when I first saw the family resemblance in Breadtop’s chicken-mushroom doughnut, the fond memories came flooding back, and I purchased it on the spot. Triumph or atrocity? Read on.
In a similar vein to Barby’s cheese and bacon, Breadtop has taken something that western snack eaters know and love (the jam doughnut) and given it an unexpected twist (by replacing the jam with a chicken and mushroom sauce). A quick search of the font of all knowledge finds that the jam filled doughnuts exist in regional variations in over 16 countries, including Australia (although largely limited to South Australia, home of Fritz). So far the chicken-mushroom has not been recognised as an official JD variant, though as the late great Bob Dylan said, the times, they are a changing.
The chicken-mushroom donut suffers from many of the same symptoms as Breadtop’s other offerings, largely inconsistency. Some days, on biting into the bulbous mass, you’ll be greeted with a warm oozing stream of fungo-poultry paste, other days, a cold hard slap in the face. Unfortunately the doughnuts seem to be more hit than miss, and eating cold chicken rarely inspires confidence in a snacker. That said, I do keep going back, hoping to find the enveloping feeling of comfort and safety that comes with a good fried doughnut. 2 and a half stars.
Originality – Excellent
Execution – Average
Value – OK
Overall judgement: 2 1/2