Thursday, February 4, 2010

Baker's Dozen

One of the best things about living in different places is also one of the worst things about living in different places; delicious food that you can't get anywhere else.  After living in a foreign country or even a different region of your own homeland for a while, you develop an affinity for certain things that you can't get when you leave that place.  What is a relocated foodie to do when he or she gets that inevitable jones for pavlova, fish and chips, homemade corn tortillas, brisket or a sloppy and succulent cheesesteak (known to everyone outside of Philadelphia as a "Philly Cheesesteak" which means it is not really like in Philly at all)?  Having lived in the great state of Pennsylvania several years, I naturally developed a great love for the excellent breads, pizza crusts, soft pretzels, hoagie rolls and other baked goods there, which you just can't duplicate elsewhere owing to the alkalinity of the regional water supply, altitude, humidity and so forth.  And there is one other baked good for which one yearns after living in the East; donuts. 

On a particular street corner in Northeastern Philadelphia, I could see three Dunkin Donuts and one Krispy Kreme.  Now that is a place that loves donuts!  While driving to an unfamiliar destination with a friend who was also new to Philly, we had to stop at an Acme supermarket and ask for directions.  We didn't know much about the area but we knew we were in trouble when the woman who gave us directions told us to turn left at the Dunkin Donuts.  Thanks for nothing. 

Notwithstanding an absolute paucity of the well-beloved maple bar that we take for granted in the West, I had more than my fair share of donuts in the Keystone State.  When in Rome!  It has been many years now and though I have the occasional donut, including the classic maple bar, nothing comes close what I experienced then.  Until recently, that is.  Out of curiosity, and with guarded expectations born of previous disappointments, I happened to wander in to Baker's Dozen.  Truly, the best donuts I have had since leaving Philly.  The double chocolate is practically a twin to the Dunkin Donuts version.  But what absolutely blew my mind was the Old-Fashioned, which is a masterpiece of taste and texture and the best donut of any variety I have had anywhere. 

So the next time you want a great donut, go to the Baker's Dozen at 561 S. Woodruff in Idaho Falls.  But consider yourself warned; they close at 2:00 p.m. and once you go, you will be haunted with regular cravings thereafter.  And by the way, when you order a dozen, you get 13, hence the name.      


  1. Tristan does work for them and sometimes they bring by leftovers. I don't mind those days. Can't wait to see what you post here!

  2. No we have to come visit!!

    Welcome to the blogosphere! I'll be checking back often.

  3. So glad you have started a blog your one of the best cooks I know! We miss that cooking! Gosh cant you all just be our neighbors again?

  4. I know what you mean about all the Dunkin Donuts shops in Philly.....when I was there in November and for an Acedemy High School Conference at Loews Hotel--we had several breakfasts at the one across the street and I was amazed at how they were on every corner....they also seemed reasonably priced.
    My colleague/roomate was big travelor and he loves to get out and explore a city so after our sessions would end each afternoon we would walk for 2-3 hrs and see all the sites....It was so awesome to see all the history and architecture--the weather was gorgeous and the leaves were falling. Great city to visit...I'd love to go back:) I gotta say though that I was dissappointed with my cheesesteak experience...but maybe's that because I had them hold the cheese;)

  5. Chris, glad you had a good time in the city of brotherly chugs. Sounds awesome. I am jealous. As you talked about walking around, I recalled the concrete ambiance and energy that you can only experience in a big city.

    As to the cheesesteak, a few things to keep in mind for your next trip, since, now that you've been there and know the lay of the land, you have to go again and take your lovely spouse. First, while many feel that you must go to south Philly, you can find many good places throughout the city (can you imagine a place in Philly that didn't make good cheesesteaks staying in business very long?). Second, you need cheese on a cheesesteak. The question is, what type of cheese? You have three basic choices: American, Provolone or Cheez Whiz. I recommend the Provolone. The next question is, do you want onions? Most places grill the onions and that is the best way. I can go either way but do like onions and having some vegetable matter seems like the right thing to do since a cheesesteak, while delicious, can seem like such a sin against one's own health. That said, it is basically just lean meat, cheese, onions (if you like) a tiny bit of oil, preferably olive, salt and pepper on bread. Not actually the worst thing you could eat. Perhaps it is not so much an issue of substance so much as portion or what you have for a side.

    Once you've decided on these things, ordering is a piece of cake if you know the protocol, which the locals take very seriously. "Cheesesteak. With. Provolone." This means you want with onions and Provolone. "Without" then means no onions and you can alter your cheese preference at will. By the way, I have never had peppers on a proper cheesesteak.

    Finally, any establishment serving up the real deal, should have a counter that seems too high for sitting, though there may be an occasional stool or two. Cheeseteaks taste best when you are standing up so at these high, narrow counters, you stand and hunch over your food as you go for it. This maneuver is often called "the Philly slouch". Now don't you wish we'd had this exchange prior to your trip? I guess you'll just have to go back so that you can try again. Or you can just come here and I can fix you up pretty well, excepting the quality of the bread of course.

    Glad you had a great time taking it in and that the donut thing worked out for you. Let us know if any upcoming travel plans make provision for really cool friends.