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Blue Star Donuts

When In Doubt, Donut

The day started out as most Saturdays do. I awoke in a daze after having not slept very well the night before; a side effect of my new sleep schedule. So, after stumbling around my apartment for a bit, I eventually found the wherewithal to finally get my day started. Indeed, today was to be a rather important day. You see, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a piece of news that [adult swim] was launching their own emoji keyboard for Android and iOS. And to celebrate, they coordinated with several tattoo shops around the country to offer fans some free flash art. Never one to turn down a free tattoo, I put it on my calendar and never looked back.

Today was the day it was supposed to happen… but it never did. After arriving 3 hours early to the shop, I was met with a line around 15 people deep. I sat there for a brief period of time, wondering if I had it in me to wait. I think I made it a good 45 minutes in, before realizing I was much too tired to spend my morning baking in the sun. After all, I wasn’t even sure how big the pieces were going to be, nor how good the artists themselves were. So, I concocted a plan of escape. Answering an urgent “phone call,” I audibly argued with an imaginary person for a few minutes, before making the move back to my car—in a huff, of course.

Realizing these were my only plans for the day, I contemplated other things I could do in the area. After all, I did drive 30 minutes to Venice on a rather beautiful day. That’s when I remembered reading that Blue Star Donuts had recently opened a shop in the area. For anyone who doesn’t know, Blue Star Donuts is a Portland staple that now has locations around the world. They’re also well known for their motto, “quality over quantity,” which is evident in every single one of their delicious pastries.

I first encountered their brand while traveling the country for my project, The Great Agency Adventure. It was after I had tried and been disappointed by another Portland staple, Voodoo Donuts. I waited patiently for nearly a year to try their confectionary concoctions, only to discover they’re nothing more than overrated sugar bombs. Thankfully, not long thereafter, I was tipped off about Blue Star. I can’t recall the donuts I purchased on that visit, but I’ll never forget how incredible they were. They’re a company that prides themselves on using natural, in-season ingredients and it's a difference you really can taste.

I strolled a couple blocks to the west and landed on Abbot-Kinney Road, where I spied the shop’s cozy little storefront, nestled into a stretch of hipster-friendly coffee shops, eateries and boutiques. Upon first opening the door, I was greeted with a waft of fresh dough and spices—an experience that immediately transported me back to Portland’s embrace. Not to be deterred, however, I quickly began to study the day’s selections and finally decided on a Cointreau Crème Brulee donut, which comes topped with an extra bit of liqueur for drizzling, and an Apple Cider Fritter, made with hard apple cider for an extra bit of bite.

I couldn’t get my hands on these treats fast enough. As soon as I left the store, I took some snapshots of my conquest, before slowly working my way through them; being sure to enjoy every single morsel. The Crème Brulee donut was filled with a delicious vanilla cream that offered just the right amount of sweetness. You could even see the flakes of vanilla bean; further proof they stay true to their promise of always going the extra mile when it comes to quality. The Fritter flaked apart much like a warm croissant, allowing you to see every delicious apple, golden raisin and swirl of cinnamon contained within. To say it was magical would actually be an understatement.

I may not have had the energy to sit on a sidewalk for 3 hours, but Blue Star reminded me that I’ll always have the energy to walk a few miles, if there’s a donut on the other side of that finish line. I also think it says a lot about Portland as a city. They’ve exported a piece of their culture with absolute perfection and for that, I commend them—and thank them.   



Donut Friend

Hello Donut, My Old Friend.

Have you ever had one of those days, when things were going so wrong you decided to dive into the cookie jar for a little sugarcoated peace of mind, only to realize you’ve soon devoured every sweet treat in sight—including a few packs of gum and some leftover granola? I had one this past weekend.

It started out like any other day. I woke up, fed my cat and parked myself in front of the TV for a little morning Netflix bender. But, before I even had a chance to brush my teeth, things started to go very, very wrong. First, my cat decided to have a mild freak out, which ended with a glass of water cascading across my notebooks and laptop. Then, I once again scolded myself in the shower, due to the shit plumbing in my apartment. And finally, to top it all off, my morning ended with a text informing me the cookout I had planned on attending that afternoon had officially been cancelled.

Hand. Meet cookie jar.

For most, a little sugar would seem like a rather fitting way to deal with this rash of rapid-fire disappointments. Well, luckily for normal people, they don’t have to deal with the crippling sugar addiction I’ve been cursed with. One cookie turns into two, which turns into ten and before you know it, I’ve just said, “Fuck it,” and given up on the day. So, as you can imagine, things started to deteriorate rather rapidly. And when there are no more sweets left within the confines of my studio apartment, I realize it’s time to look outward.

That’s when I remembered I hadn’t visited one of my all-time favorite LA establishments, Donut Friend, in quite awhile. Aiming to correct this horrid mistake, I threw on some clothes and began my journey to the northeast. As I sat in traffic, I began to contemplate my choice of ingredients; carefully plotting out the right blend of sweet and salty that would satiate my hunger and finally put an end to my cravings—at least for the time being.

Sure, I could go in and order one of their pre-made donuts. But, that would be far too easy. And besides, I’d probably end up ordering one as an appetizer anyway. I prefer to go the customized route to ensure I hit all my favorite flavors.

With my mind made up and the store in sight, my mouth began to water before I even crossed the street. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of visiting this cozy little establishment, I’ll simply describe it as a confectionary paradise. As soon as you enter the front door, you’re greeted with a large glass display, filled with row upon row of gooey, chocolaty, nut-covered, marshmallow-filled, mind-numbingly perfect rings of goodness.

As an expert connoisseur, however, I quickly passed up this delightful display and headed toward the register to place my order. Then, in a moment of panic, I realized I had left my glasses in the passenger seat of my car. The menu was a complete blur! How on earth would I place the perfect order? The one I had so carefully concocted in my head on the drive over? Could it be done? …I had to try.

A traditional glazed donut with banana, chocolate, peanut butter, caramel sauce, marshmallow and pistachio…

Success! I had overcome the moment of heart-stopping terror and recited my order without missing a beat. Now came the best part—watching them actually craft my ideal donut. Sure, one might think it a fairly mundane task to place a list of ingredients into and atop a donut. But in the hands of an expert, it becomes a thing of pure beauty. Don’t believe me? Watch as they ever-so-gently swirl a thick coating of rich chocolate glaze around the top of a freshly baked donut and you’ll quickly change your mind.

After they assembled my soon-to-be piece of heaven, I made a judgment call (One I had earlier predicted) and ordered a S’morrissey for good measure. A chocolate cake donut filled with toasted marshmallow and topped with chocolate glaze and graham cracker crumbs, I knew it had my name written all over it from the second I entered the room.

I gathered up my newfound confidants and took them outside for a little bonding. After finding a seat nearby, I quickly introduced them to my mouth and then my belly. Yet, unlike most sweets that I tend to shovel in by the handful, these particular confections called out for a more reserved approach. So, with knife and fork in hand, I slowly dissected them, savoring each and every bite as if it were my last. And before too long, I had finally reached that very moment; one I had dreaded, but one I was so overjoyed to have experienced.

Once finished, I took in some people watching before disposing of my utensils and venturing back to my car. Along the way, I momentarily found myself bobbing my head to the beat of a passing car’s bass-heavy sound system. It was in that very moment I realized that while the day may have started out in a less than ideal manner; it certainly ended in the most flawless of ways—a belly full of donuts from a place that’s truly a friend indeed.