Eat This

Hypnotic's Over-the-Top Doughnuts Are Fine, but its Simple Peace 'Stachio Is Perfect

Homesickness can be a bear. It skews your thoughts and wrings enjoyment from things that should bring you pleasure. Each experience in a new environment is unfairly judged against memories that have been glazed over with sweet nostalgia. When you've got it bad, nothing measures up.

I'm talking about doughnuts, of course.

My favorite, ever, can be had at Cork Market, a wine store and tasting room that was an easy walk from my apartment when I lived in Washington, D.C. During the week I'd occasionally stop in for wine on my way home, but on Sunday morning they offered doughnuts and coffee, and as a bonus were only a few blocks from the farmers market.

They were small cake doughnuts that were cautiously dusted in cinnamon, sugar and the faintest hint of salt. The market poured jet-black coffee, which no doughnut experience can do without, and then fried each doughnut to order while you waited. When you finally got your prize, and stood on the street with a magma-hot doughnut pinched between a folded tissue paper in one hand, and a steaming coffee in the other -- that was about as good as it gets. Or so I thought.

I don't know why it took me so long to visit Hypnotic Donuts. Certainly the doughnuts topped with breakfast cereal, multi-colored sprinkles, bacon, marshmallows and mountains of frosting didn't help to convey the shop's potential for culinary elegance. But despite that their image is dominated by -- the creations that are most likely to send a 4-year-old into a coma or burn a hole in a customer's ass -- the majority of the display case is actually devoted to restrained and sophistication.

Like the Peace 'stacio, with which I'm totally smitten. A respectably cooked vanilla cake doughnut becomes a thing of beauty when capped with a restrained veneer of brown butter frosting and chopped pistachios. The nuts have some serious crunch and offer a nice, textural juxtaposition to the soft cake of the doughnut. They also add a hint of salt that echoes my favorite memory.

I don't know what to say: the doughnut kind of blew me away. And while I'll always have a fond memory of standing on 14th street while the wind rustles the paper wrapped around a doughnut, sometimes letting go can be good.

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Scott Reitz
Contact: Scott Reitz