Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cronuts are all the Craze

Remember Krispy Kremes? The "hot donuts now" had people lining up on 23rd street in Manhattan.  What about the cupcake wars between Magnolia and Buttercup bakeries? Crumbs took the war to a whole new level, but then macaron shops started popping up -- the wait line at Laduree averaged an hour just to get inside the little shop on Madison avenue.  The next new thing? The CRONUT.

The Cronut is the brainchild of Dominique Ansel, and it once it hit the bakery in May of this year, it was an instant hit.  (For more info on the makings of it, as well as the rules around purchasing it, check out the CRONUT 101 site.)  Why is it so popular?  Part if it stems from economics -- the law of supply and demand. It takes three days to make a batch of Cronuts, and each day there are only 200 pastries available for purchase when the bakery opens at 8 am.  People start lining up around 5:30 am, and by 6:30 there are usually more than 100 people in line. To keep it fair, the bakery allows each person to only buy two Cronuts -- so if you are person #101, chances are that you're out of luck. We had a chance to try them on our recent Nelson Family Staycation a couple of weeks ago.

Dash and I got up at 5:30 and headed straight to Spring Street, where the bakery is located. When we arrived just after 6 am, there were about 50 people ahead of us in line.  Dash was a little worried that I dragged him out of the hotel so early in the morning, but once he counted the people in line, he new we'd be fine -- and with two of us, we'd be able to purchase four Cronuts -- so we could take them back for Glen and Kate. (Glen got up early the same day to stand online for rush tickets to Once, the musical.)

What IS a Cronut? It's sort of a cross between a croissant and a doughnut -- it's fried, filled with creme (a different flavor each month) and iced with glaze.  The bakery recommends eating them immediately (after six hours, the dough breaks down), so they don't travel well.

We were on line for 2 1/2 hours, and had time to do a crossword puzzle, obsess about what other food we were going to buy from the bakery, talk to people around us, and really feel like were part of the New York Scene.  A woman next to us had her own foldout chair -- she said it was her "waiting on line chair" for Shakespeare in the Park, among other things. A high school girl on the other side was just finishing up an internship -- she was trying to figure out if she could take Cronut home on the airplane later that day to give to her boyfriend in Minnesota. There were several 20-something men in suits and ties mixed in with people in sweat pants and bed hair.  Around 7 am, one of the bakers came out and reviewed the rules (2 cronuts per person, no cutting the line), and then another baker came out with fresh from the oven mini madeleines for everyone on line to try.  Nice!

Several people have asked if they're worth it. We thought the Cronut was good, not great, but that this should be treated like an "experience." Since we were there, we opted to buy a few other things. Dash tried the lemonade -- and declared it the best lemonade he'd ever had!  I wanted one of the savory dishes, so I tried the Perfect Little Egg Sandwich, which was, indeed, perfect.  We took a Nutella Milk Bread back for Kate, and we also bought a four-pack of DKA (Dominque's Kouign Amann), which also has a croissant-like dough but has a crunchy-caramel crust.  In our book, this was much better than the Cronut.  We didn't try the frozen s'mores, but it's definitely on our list for another time.  I'd also go back for the lunch menu -- all of the sandwiches look amazing, and so do the soups.  Would we stand online again for a Cronut? Probably not -- it's like going to the top of the Empire State building -- I've done it once, and when friends come to town I show them how to do it on their own. (But I'd ask them to bring me back a DKA for sure!)