New version of the theme song!

With big thanks to musician and programmer Jason Kelty, we’ve uploaded a new version of the Donut Stop Believing theme song! (Ok, it’s actually just a MIDI cover of Don’t Stop Believing, but it’s still pretty great.) (Also, please don’t sue me.)

To hear it, head over to the home page and click the boombox icon. Do it now!

Review: Café Verdure

Cafe Verdure

Despite their handsome presentation, I’ll admit, I was nervous.

Location: 2159 Rue Mackay (map link)

Website: cafeverdure.ca

A good friend of mine is both vegan and celiac (allergic to gluten, as opposed to just avoiding it for health reasons). So when she heard about this donut website of mine, she immediately recommended Cafe Verdure downtown, which has the honour of making Montreal’s only donuts that are both vegan and strictly gluten-free.

[Note: I haven’t bothered to do the research to see if they actually are the only ones. This website does not adhere to any kind of journalistic standards of excellence. It’s about donuts.]

I wasn’t expecting much: it’s no secret that vegan and gluten-free desserts are usually inferior to their less dietary-restriction-conscious cousins. And although my friend assured me they were delicious, I sometimes wonder if her tastebuds haven’t become eroded from years of eating mostly pinto beans and homemade sushi.

But these things surprised me. They were incredibly rich, so much so that we both felt stuffed after only a few bites. Unfortunately for us, we’d ordered three donuts, just to make sure we tried all the flavours.

Verdure donuts

Clockwise from the top: chocolate with walnut, chocolate with a strawberry, and chocolate with peanut butter.

To be fair, they hardly even counted as donuts – I’m pretty sure they weren’t deep-fried. But they had the right shape, and they tasted good, so let’s not quibble.

My only complaint was that they had the denseness typical of both vegan and gluten-free offerings. They may look small in the photos, and they were, but neither of us could believe how full we felt after we’d soldiered on and eaten the whole plate.

Verdure donuts, mostly eaten

Almost… there…

So if you’re a fan of delicious sweets and someone tries to drag you to Cafe Verdure, do not turn these things down. And if you’ve got dietary restrictions, I doubt you’re reading this blog about delicious foods you can’t eat. But if you are, give these a try!

Apple Cider Donuts in Vermont

That grass looks so inviting.

That’s actually real grass in the background, believe it or not.

Driving down to Vermont from Montreal is a weird experience. Many parts of Quebec are beautiful, and the province has its fair share of quaint towns (especially in the Townships), but the area just north of the border is flat, quiet, and visually unappealing. Yet when you cross down into America, it’s like someone flips a switch labelled “Instant Quaintness”. The highways roll around lush hills, the farmhouses are older, statelier, and more recently painted, every river and lake you pass seems to beg you to jump in, and the small towns all have little shops that look like they were custom-built to film scenes from a Stephen King adaptation.

My favourite food-related symptom of the Green Mountain State’s splendour is American Flatbread, which serves probably my favourite pizza on the planet. (Okay, I haven’t been everywhere on the planet, but I’ve eaten pizza in enough places to feel justified making that statement.) (By the way, if you’re anywhere nearby, you owe it to yourself to drive the extra half-hour to their original Waitsfield location.)

My second favourite is the apple cider donuts at Cold Hollow Cider Mill. And what with having this whole website thing going, I had a duty to stop and pick up a few, or six, so that I could share the experience with you.

I think even if the flags weren't there, I'd still guess this was in the US.

I think even if the flags weren’t there, I’d still guess this was in the US. America just can’t help being American sometimes.

The donut machine at Cold Hollow is always pumping out fresh-cooked ones, and readers of this blog will already know how highly I value fresh donuts. But they’re also just good – not too sweet, but with a solid apple cider taste to them.

If you ask, they'll let you lie down at the other end so that donuts just fall into your mouth.

If you ask, they’ll let you lie down at the other end so that donuts just fall into your mouth.

I bought a few extras to share with some Americans I’d met. Although they accused me of being a socialist and refused to eat any, I think deep down they appreciated the gesture. And Cold Hollow is a fun place to visit even if you’re not into donuts (but then why are you reading this website???) – I can also safely recommend their good Vermont cheeses and maple products, and of course the cider itself.

Next post: vegan, gluten-free donuts in Montreal, and actually good? What.

Review: Léché Desserts

Look upon Léché's donuts, ye mighty, and despair

Look upon Léché’s donuts, ye mighty, and despair

Locations: 640 rue de Courcelle in St-Henri (map link) and 15 de la Commune O. in Old Montreal (map link)

Website: lechedesserts.ca

It had been a year or two since I’d eaten a Léché donut. So when I added them to the map, I knew I had to get on that. But it wasn’t until I was heading down to the folk festival on the canal recently that I found myself anywhere near one of their shops – specifically, the flagship location in St-Henri.

Léché Desserts or Ghostbusters HQ? You decide.

Léché Desserts or Ghostbusters HQ? You decide.

I picked up six donuts and ate them on the grass while waiting for Bry Webb‘s set to start. Now, I wish I could tell you that my friends helped me eat these things, but this isn’t a blog of lies. I ended up wolfing down about 80% of the box on my own.

Thanks, "friends."

Thanks, “friends.”

I’ve already written about Samos‘ big-but-standard donuts, and Chez Boris‘ little fresh-cooked wonders. These are of a third type: incredibly rich, super creamy, sweet, decadent donuts with classy toppings and fillings like crème de pistache and lemon merangue.

I just noticed that they have Maple & Bacon on the menu. There were no Maple & Bacon donuts when I visited. THIS INJUSTICE WILL NOT STAND

I just noticed that they have Maple & Bacon on the menu. There were no Maple & Bacon donuts when I visited. THIS INJUSTICE WILL NOT STAND

The big hit was the Double Chocolate Brownie donut, which had a big piece of actual brownie just stuck right on top:

Everyone else always skimps on the brownie.

Everyone else always skimps on the brownie.

If you’re looking to get the freshest donuts possible, it’s pretty easy, since they make new batches all day. I’d recommend almost any flavour – if it sounds like something you’d like, you’ll probably like it – but I’m still feeling the sting of missing out on Maple & Bacon.

Review: Chez Boris

Boris at Chez Boris

Boris at Chez Boris

Location: 5151 av du Parc (map link)

Website: chezboris.ca

If you’ve come to this website looking for a snarky connoisseur being real negative about things, this is not your lucky day, because today I’m writing about Chez Boris. And Chez Boris is just great.

It’s a nice place to hang out in, the staff is always friendly, the prices are low, and oh my goodness the donuts.

no seriously you guys

no seriously you guys

Chez Boris’ donuts stand out from the crowd. For one thing, they’re not the standard big-and-puffy things you get elsewhere; these are tasty little golden gems. (But hey whoa, I’m not knocking the big ones either. Just, vive la différence, you know?) For another, they’re freshly made, right in front of you, when you order them.

One of the donut secrets I’ve learned in my many years on this earth is that even fairly low-quality ones can be delicious when they’re fresh. I worked at Tim Hortons himself for a summer while I was in high school, and although their donuts turned into sad lumpy things within minutes, they melted in your mouth when they were just out of the oven.

But Chez Boris’ donuts are hand-made with quality ingredients, and they arrive piping hot, and you can get a friendly little basket of six for just a few bucks.

donuts-to-be

Donuts-to-be.

He's not pointing, it's just a cooking action shot.

He’s not pointing, it’s just a cooking action shot.

The person behind Chez Boris is actually named Boris, so it’s not just a gimmick. Boris is originally from Russia, and he says that his shop is inspired by a common type of donut shop in St Petersburg:

“The Russian doughnut shop is similar in that the doughnuts are yeast doughnuts, the dough is not incredibly sweet, and most importantly, they are always freshly fried. A usual Russian doughnut shop is even more spartan than Chez Boris and will have far worse coffee. They are accessible to everyone (they are snacks for the working man). Chez Boris tries to have the same spirit.”

a good place to hang

A good place to hang.

Another big selling point (as if they needed more) is that they also sell donut sandwiches. Boris says he came up with the idea when he was experimenting with dough recipes, saw that he had some extra meat lying around, and asked himself, “What would happen if I combine these?”

The answer: pure magic.

Egg, cheese, and bacon donut sandwich

Egg, cheese, and bacon donut sandwich. Both as good and as unhealthy as it looks.

In conclusion: why aren’t you there right now?

Review: Samos Bakery (Beaubien)

Nick on the job

Nick on the job

Location: 201 Beaubien E (map link)

There are two reasons why Samos Bakery is a really good place to get donuts.

First, the donuts themselves are really, really large. They’re $1.25 each, but worth it – they’re big, and greasy, and have classic toppings, and are delicious (especially when they’re fresh).

Not just small hands!

Not just small hands!

Second, the owner is a really nice guy. His name’s Nick, and he’s from Greece. I don’t think I’ve been in often enough for him to recognize me, but he gives me a pretty wide smile every time I stop by. I was once there with a few other people when two cops came in; Nick greeted them, told them we were ok, shouted “Don’t shoot!” and then busted up laughing.

Nick says he’s had a bakery for 25 years, although it used to be located on Roy. (There’s a “Boulangerie Samos” on St-Laurent at Marie-Anne, but I think it’s unrelated.) He says the sugar donuts are his favourite.

The good stuff.

The good stuff.

There are usually two types of donuts on offer: chocolate glaze and sugar. Sometimes they’ve got maple, and the other day I saw some that might have been dark chocolate. I was pretty excited about that, but I didn’t have time to stop and check.

As with all donuts, these are significantly more delicious if you get them fresh. I asked Nick what the best time is to get fresh ones, and he said 1:00 pm. He answered quickly and with confidence, so I’d trust him if I were you.

National Donut Day

If you feel something a little special in the air, that’s because it’s National Donut Day today – that wondrous day that only comes once a year, when children lay out their officially-sanctioned donut crates by the basement door, hoping that Old Man Timothy will come again in the late afternoon and leave some donuts in the crates. It’s a day full of magic, tradition, and a lot of love.

Apparently, people in the US can just wander into most donut stores today and get a Free Donut With Purchase. (In an unsettling turn of events, Krispy Kreme franchise locations in Connecticut and Puerto Rico seem to be refusing to partake in the festivities.)

Here in Canada, the person behind the counter might take a little convincing. But I have faith in you.

Elsewhere:

10 Montreal Made Donuts To Eat On National Donut Day [MTL Blog]

It’s National Donut Day! But sadly, not in Canada [CTV with the hard-hitting facts]

Welcome

This story starts with Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon. A friend brought me there when we were passing through town, and they had donuts with Oreo cookie bits on them, and breakfast cereal, and bacon, and I couldn’t believe it but it felt so right. Like the time when, a few months after moving out from my parents’ house, I suddenly realized I could just order a pizza, and eat it, without immediate consequence.

O' Captain My Captain by Kevin Galens on Flickr

I’m drooling on my keyboard, and that’s okay too. (Image credit: Kevin Galens)

In this analogy, my parents’ house takes the place of Canada – or more generally, that large part of the world that lacks America’s ability to take junk-food revelry into the territory of the absurd. Hamburger not big enough? Double-decker that sucker. Chocolate bar not quite doing the trick? Better toss it in the deep-fryer for a spell.

In Canada, donuts came from Tim Hortons and maintained that particularly Canadian brand of staid dignity. There were plain ones. Some had chocolate glaze on top. If you were feeling a bit wild, you could get an apple fritter or a double chocolate or vote NDP or something.

That’s why Voodoo Doughnuts was a revelation. Why not throw all kinds of crazy crap on top, you know? This is the real world! There are no rules out here! We don’t live with our parents anymore! (Or maybe you still do; that’s cool, I’m sure they’re nice.)

Later on, there were others: like Doughnut Plant in New York, where they invented the Crème Brûlée donut and dared to spell it with the correct accents, or Sublime Doughnuts in Atlanta, whose memory for me is lost in a haze of dry heat, shotguns, bourbon, and the Coca-Cola factory, but which I’m sure were delicious.

When I got back home to Montreal, I was disappointed to find that the trend hadn’t yet caught on. Oh, Tim Hortons probably introduced a new Holiday Season Limited Time Honey Dip Donut with Red & Green Glaze™ or something, but there was no voodoo magic going down up here.

Fortunately for us, the long and torturous wait is finally over. Places like Saint Donut and Crémy Pâtisserie are grabbing some toppings and just going for it. Chez Boris is serving up freshly fried Russian-style delights and even turning them into goddamn sandwiches. And I think Tim Hortons came out with a pumpkin one? Gross.

It’s a rising tide of wondrous gluttony, and this website is your ticket to the, whatever, mixed-metaphor train. Welcome aboard.

* * *

In case you haven’t already seen it, the main feature of Donut Stop Believing is a donut locator map. This blog will feature periodic reviews of good donuts from in and around Montreal, with future expansion on hold pending shareholder approval.

The site was coded and designed by me, Liam, with images made by Beccah. You can contact me at [email protected]. The MIDI version of Don’t Stop Believin’, which you can hear by clicking the boombox on the locator, was programmed by Jason Kelty.