Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m obsessed with doughnuts. I think they are the perfect food. A food group all unto themselves. Fried, baked, round, square, filled, frosted, powdered, I could go on and on! Ok I will. I would happily forego a designer dessert for the a crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, sweet, ooey gooey drip down the front of my chin and slight explosion of powdered sugar on my face jelly doughnut. Or give me a doughnut filled to the max with pastry cream and covered in chocolate ganache and I’m in heaven. I felt like one of Pavlova’s experiments when the red light would come on at the Crispy Kreme that was at the bus stop near my old apartment in the city. It was impossible for me not to stop in and get one of those hot off the conveyor belt glazed delights that would melt in my mouth. And try to stop at just 1, impossible just impossible.
So why doughnuts? Why would I want to have a blog about doughnuts? I’ll get to that in a minute. I told this little story to a friend of mine last week and she thought it would make a cute story and encouraged me to put it into my next blog. The theme of my blog is about my life’s journey in food and wine and yes folks doughnuts are food! This past week the food and wine industry mourned the passing of one of truly great restaurateurs, Sirio Maccioni, owner of Le Cirque. In a league of its own, Le Cirque was the epitome at its time of elegant dining. I am lucky to have dined there on a few occasions from the original location to the last, and was even luckier to have made the casual friendship with some of its greatest chefs. Through my work in the wine industry, I had the fortune of meeting both Daniel Boulud and Jacques Torres when they were both at Le Cirque. Jacques Torres, the now famed chocolatier was Executive Pastry Chef and Daniel was Executive Chef — and what a team they made!
Jacques who for some reason always called me Martine, was as funny as he is talented. He was always cracking jokes and for all his celebrity in the food world, just as chefs were becoming celebrities, he always had the time to chat if I called. So one day, I was walking past the restaurant and decided to pop in to say hi and ask him if he would be open to working on a project with one of my Port wines. Chocolate and port are a marriage made in heaven so I wanted to see if he would create chocolates filled with port. I went into the kitchen of Le Cirque where he held court and chatted and joked around, after which as was usual, he would say, what would you like to take and bring home. And it was there that I saw the most perfect round, fried pieces of goodness, filled to almost exploding with cream. And since it was Le Cirque it wasn’t just a doughnut but a bombolini. My eyes dilated and I said, ok I’d love one bombolini please. He said Martine of course, here have one it’s yours. So I did, and ate it right there! Heaven is a warm out of the fryer bombolini filled with pastry cream and coated in sugar. What I didn’t know was that he had taken a whole handful and wrapped them in a napkin and quietly put them in my pocket. So after we chatted I left and started my walk home up Madison Avenue and now I’m sure you can imagine what happened next. I shoved my hand into my pocket, not knowing that I had cream filled bombolini inside and well what happened next was an explosion all over my pocket. Sadness is an exploding bombolini in a pocket that can’t be eaten, a long walk to follow and no napkin. Oh well, at least I had that one in the kitchen! Thank you Mr. Chocolate aka Jacques Torres for one of my most favorite doughnut memories and am writing this as I sip a cup of a homemade cappuccino laced with your wicked hot chocolate powder (and a little Jameson’s) but sadly no doughnut to accompany.