My daughter lives in Vegas, which everyone knows isn’t real. It’s the pretend facade of the town in Blazing Saddles. Living there is like living in Disney World, but with more alcohol, drugs and sex, and they don’t turn off the lights. Ever. Oh, and gambling, unless you count betting on which line is the better option for the early-bird entry to the Park. The most popular ride or the ride farthest from the entrance? You bet wrong, you’re gonna pay a high price in screaming, crying, whining. And that’s just your husband. The kids are even worse. So when my daughter announced that she’d gotten a hot tip from her foodie hair stylist on the newest culinary treat, the Cronut™, I had to step in and tell her they weren’t real. Not in Vegas. Not unless they’re importing them from the Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City, where they’re a trademarked product. (I am so excited that I have learned how to make the ™ sign and the © sign from my keyboard, but I digress. So just one- or -two more times…™™©©…)
New York stuff is always getting touted beyond the borders of New York, but it important to be able to distinguish between the genuine stuff, the pale imitations and the downright knockoffs. One clue? Avoid if it’s got the word “style” in the title. As in “New York “style” pizza. It’s like American cheese “product”. It’s not really cheese, people! For example, you are very unlikely to get genuine New York pizza in New Hampshire. They may even use ketchup! And there is absolutely no way you’re getting freshly-baked seeded rye bread outside of the tri-state area. (You can get a lot of genuine New York stuff in parts of NJ and CT. But that’s the absolute limit, geographically.) Now Vegas is the city of illusions, so they try harder. They have New York, New York, the hotel/casino (I think in Vegas that’s one word. Castel? Hosino?) with the roller coaster on top for thrill seekers. In NYC- aka “The City” (NOTE: it’s the only capital-C City), the thrill of a near-death experience is accomplished every day merely by crossing Broadway on foot. They don’t need no stinkin’ roller coasters.
Today, however, we are talking about the Cronut™. Since the spring of 2013, waiting in line in NYC for a Cronut™ has become the stuff of bragging. How long did you wait? How did to manage to avoid the line? Rumor has it that tough, seasoned New Yorkers simply bypass the line and walk in the front door. Their response to accusations of line cutting? “I’m not getting a Cronut™, you fool from O-freakin-hio. They sell other stuff.” (They do. Chef Ansel wants everyone to know it’s a French bakery with many other wonderful treats.) Or they just flip them off. Once inside, of course, they get a Cronut™. Hey, they’re New Yorkers. On a freezing day in January, with temps below zero, over a hundred people were in line by 6:30AM for the 8AM opening. Chef makes a limited amount of- damn, I’m getting tired of the ™ sign. You get that it’s tradmarked, right?- so, he makes a limited amount of Cronuts each day and when they’re gone they’re gone. (See “imported” above. Not likely.) They’re also available at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, with comparable lines. Two-hour waits with lines snaking two City blocks. People paying $40 for one Cronut on the booming black market. Industrious New Yorkers brave the line, buying two and selling one to someone at the back of the line for an outrageous markup. Handling fee.
Wait, what IS a Cronut? It’s a croissant-ish doughnut-ish fatty-fat thing. Kind of like a French paczki. (A paczki being a Polish doughnut designed to use up all the lard before Lent. Suffice to say it’s leaden. Good for giving you more weight in your car trunk. Any trunk, actually. Including yours. ) The first Cronut filling was rose and vanilla. Chef only makes one type of filling per month. Unlike the paczki, the Cronut is calorie- and fat-free. Just kidding! There are, of course, many others who claim to have invented their own cronuts long before Chef Ansel. Unfortunately for them, he was the one who thought to trademark it, so they have to call their creations something else. Fauxnuts? One strong contender is Chef Alina Eisenhauer of Sweet Kitchen and Bar in Worcester (“Wustah”) Massachusetts. If you know anything about the Red Sox and Yankees you can see this has all the makings of another ugly rivalry. Word in Massachusetts is that Babe Ruth’s descendents ate their first small-c cronuts at Sweet K&B. (Then sold the recipe to Chef Ansel?)
The Cronut had a baby, enticingly named “Cronut Hole Concrete”, a mix of frozen custard and cinnamon-sugar cronut holes. At it’s first public appearance, Cronut Hole Concrete (™again) was pronounced “better than sex” by a local attorney, on camera. He is now “single and looking for a long-term relationship” with something or someone other than a concrete doughnut hole, I hope.
So if you really want a genuine Cronut, you have to get it in New York City, and not in Chinatown, either. If you find them there it’s a knockoff, or really stale. Same for the $40 Cronut. I’m giving you insider tips here. And beware of Cronut-like abominations, like the Canadian Cronut Burger that resulted in widespread food poisoning, although they blame the Bacon Jam. Either way I say, you deserve food poisoning if you are dumb enough to eat stuff called Cronut Burgers or Bacon Jam.
If you’re in the area, get in line early. IN the City. Or stop by Eddie’s Bakery in Ansonia, CT on Fat Tuesday to watch the paczki-eating contest, and try one yourself. They’re filling, but at least they’re not concrete. And they’re genuine.