Tag Archives: fad food

Lame Adventure 448: Anatomy of a Cronut

One year ago today, on December 29th, 2013, I started riding a spin bike. I also began eating primarily organic while practicing dietary portion control in an effort to shed the equivalent of a bowling ball and seven bananas in girth. My effort paid off. I’ve slimmed down significantly and no longer sound like a sputtering steam engine when I climb up a flight of stairs. Over the course of this holiday season, I’ve indulged, but I no longer eat like a starving hog. I consciously avoid foodstuffs that are like crack to me: cookies and chips. Muffins and bagels are not welcome on the menu anymore, either. Sandwiches and deli meat have crossed the line into edible enemy territory. My intake of red meat plummeted, as my consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains skyrocketed. I quaff much less alcohol and pump gallons more water.

Even though I have transformed myself into a disciple of health and fitness, I remain fully capable of savoring a gourmet pastry every once in a while, especially one that is almost as elusive as a winning Powerball lottery ticket: the Cronut. Ever since the Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring Street in lower Manhattan introduced this croissant-doughnut hybrid in May 2013, the eating public has been under the spell of these celebrated treats. For a while the only way to get one was to wait in a long line hours before the bakery opened at 8 am. Getting into a line at 5 am to pay $5 for a croissant crossbred with a doughnut was an act of masochism I could not bring myself to do. Ansel only bakes 350 a day so they sell out at warpspeed. Earlier this month I heard that Ansel has introduced an online lottery that happens every Monday at 11 am. I am always at The Grind at that time, so I suggested to The Boss that we do this. Elspeth gave this brainstorm her seal of approval and handed me her credit card.

The problem was that there is so much traffic on the Ansel web site, getting through borders on the impossible. All the heavily Photoshopped junk added to Kim Kardashian’s trunk had nothing on breaking the Internet when compared to ordering a Cronut online. The few times I thought I was getting through, my screen would hang or freeze and I’d get booted off the site. This was agonizing. As expected, the Cronuts were selling fast. Just when I was about to give up because Monday through Thursday’s allotment was sold out, I tried ordering two for Friday. A miracle happened and my order entered the shopping cart. But Elspeth is seldom at The Grind on Friday. I paid for the Cronuts myself and I gave my second one to my colleague, Godsend, as an early Christmas present. We had them on my last day in the office before I left for vacation.

The flavor for December was Valrhona Dark Chocolate Raspberry (with a splash of Chambord). What did it taste like? Immediate thought: the food equivalent of the most satisfying sex ever. Second thought: it’s perfectly balanced sweet and buttery layers of flaky pastry that’s simultaneously crunchy, chewy and messy. The delectable fillings, in this case chocolate and raspberry, have a tendency to spurt out. It’s best to eat a Cronut over a plate — what we did.

Suckers waiting on line for Cronuts.

Suckers waiting on line for Cronuts that might sell out before they gain entry into the bakery.

For those who order their Cronuts online, you bypass everyone waiting to buy theirs.

For those who order their Cronuts online, you have VIP status and can bypass everyone else waiting to buy theirs.

Tray of the pastry equivalent of gold bullion: Cronuts.

Tray of the pastry equivalent to gold bullion: Cronuts.

Gold tulip box containing our Cronuts.

Gold tulip box containing our Cronuts.

Voila!

Voila!

Godsend photographing the Cronuts.

Godsend photographing the Cronuts.

Godsend's Cronut shot.

Godsend’s Cronut shot.

Sideview Cronut.

Sideview Cronut.

Overhead Cronuts.

Overhead Cronuts.

Cross section Cronut.

Cross section Cronut.

Leaked raspberry Cronut filling.

Leaked raspberry Cronut filling.

I would consider enduring the torture of ordering Cronuts again online, but I am not in a hurry to do so. Since savoring my Cronut, I wondered about the calorie content. Woman’s Health Magazine reported last October that a single Cronut clocks in at a terrifying 1,330 calories with about 900 calories in fat.

Cronut nutrition facts.

Unpretty Cronut picture.

That is food for thought:

Me (thinking): Holy fried fat balls!

The sodium content alone contains enough salt to spread on a city sidewalk.  Good thing I’m riding that spin bike, but now I’m compelled to ride it to Mars.

The least pretty picture: Cronut grease stains.

The least pretty Cronut picture: grease stains.

For anyone adventurous who would like to attempt to make Cronuts at home, click here for the recipe.

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Lame Adventure 432: Chia What?

Over the course of the past two weeks, I watched a fair amount of US Open Tennis. I’ll come clean: I anesthetized myself on US Open Tennis. Even though I would sooner go elk hunting with a peashooter than ever attempt to swing a tennis racket myself, I derive great pleasure watching elite athletes play that game for steamer trunks of money. Tennis is my favorite reality TV programming.

Something I noticed throughout the entirety of my Open viewing was an orange Chia Pod cooler that was on center court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Orange Chia Pod cooler on display in center court.

Orange Chia Pod cooler on display in center court.

Watching this product placement for days on end made me wonder:

Me (wondering): What is Chia Pod?

According to the US Open’s web site:

“Chia Pods are the perfect option for ready to eat nutrition, containing a full serve of chia mixed with real fruit and coconut milk. Vegan and gluten free, Chia Pods deliver 25% of your daily fiber and 100% of your daily omega-3 ALA.”

As the entire Lame Adventures readership knows as well as quantum physics, ALA is alpha-linolenic acid, but what everyone who reads Lame Adventures is likely wondering:

All Lame Adventures Readers (wondering): Are Chia Pets made out of chia?

The story of chia.

The story of chia.

Yes, chia seeds are spread all over Chia Pets.

Shortly before Serena Williams steamrolled Caroline Wozniacki in the women’s final, I was in my supermarket, Fairway. I was pondering extending my self-loathing by purchasing a sweet potato flavored organic yogurt when I noticed an array of Chia Pods in the shelf below. I thought the price, $2.99 for a six-ounce cup, redefined extortion. What an outrage; they’re charging fifty cents an ounce for a cup of seeds that can grow mossy poodles out of terracotta? Is this stuff made out of platinum or chia? Then, I noticed that it came with a charming  little orange spoon, so I changed my tune and considered purchasing an entire case. But, I decided that it might behoove me to first try a single cup of this concoction. There were so many flavors to choose from even though all I can remember is blueberry. I gravitated straight to vanilla.

Cup of Chia Pod.

Cup of Chia Pod.

Deal making chia spoon.

Deal making chia spoon.

I returned home, watched Serena annihilate Caroline and win her eighteenth grand slam tournament. Even though I stared dully at that orange Chia Pod cooler during every changeover of the match, I completely forgot to eat my edible Chia Pet, my cup of vanilla Chia Pod.

The next day, Monday, I took my Chia Pod with me to The Grind to eat for breakfast. Actually, I chased a banana with my cup of Chia Pod.

The vanilla flavor Chia Pod looked like taupe colored tapioca pudding, or if strewn across a second grader’s desk just so, vomit.

See for yourself: tapioca meets barf.

See for yourself: tapioca meets barf.

It had no discernible scent and as I ate it, I realized that it lacked any discernible flavor. The texture held a certain fascination for me. It didn’t stick to the sides of the cup and it made my mind wander in the direction of edible Teflon.

Dig in.

Dig in.

Back to the taste, it was not sweet, sour or offensive. Digging deep into my limited vocabulary, I pronounce the vanilla flavor Chia Pod a bland blob of innocuous glop. Now that we know what the Chia Pet’s first cousin tastes like, here’s the video that my colleague and collaborator, Godsend, shot of my cup of vanilla Chia Pod not exactly running over.

Lame Adventure 388: Thought is Cheap

Recently I thought:

Me (thinking): I’d like to get back in shape.

Currently, I am situated in between two poles. On the one side there’s the pole that is fantastically fit and I’m moving with the grace of a gazelle, prompting this type of flattery:

Flatterer: You look great! Have you been quaffing from the fountain of youth?

The opposite pole is dire. I have turned into a huffing, puffing flab factory on feet prompting the screaming silence of disapproval and behind-the-back commentary:

Behind-the-Back Commentary: Has she gone downhill! Obviously, she’s guzzling from the sewer of age.

For twenty-five years, to stay in shape I stationary cycled and lifted weights in the privacy of my sanctum sanctorum. The Tunturi exercise bike I bought in 1986 is now quite rusted. What is of even greater concern is that it has been steadily drizzling parts on my rug for most of the past two years. When I vacuum, I hear the disturbing sound of deeply inhaled chunks of metal rattling through my ancient upright Eureka’s intestines. What remains of my exercise bike is in such a state of dilapidation I am in a quandary. Should I attempt to ride it again or just put it out of its misery? Maybe place it on cinderblocks in my building’s front garden? If I do ride it again, what if a part that should move fluidly jerks violently, catapulting me through the window and I bounce off the concrete patio three stories below? What a way to introduce myself to the first floor tenants — surrounded by paramedics with mops.

The time has come to invest in a new exercise bike. In today’s world that is a spin bike. I could see myself perched atop one of these state of the art fitness machines complete with a narrow seat made from a composite material with slightly less give than granite, having the cardio workout of a lifetime provided a massive coronary or a blood clot erupting in what’s left of my brain does not mar the plethora of health benefits. I can envision myself cycling off excess flab on this, my personally watered down to an anemic drip Tour de France, or more accurately, Tour de Crappy Rent Stabilized Studio Apartment.

Recently, I saw a lovely sunny yellow spin bike on display on Amsterdam Avenue outside SoulCycle, the spin enthusiast’s temple of spinning. A single class there costs $34 while the VIP 50-class package tops $3,500. I don’t do classes, nor do I have a spare 3,500 clams to burn, but I would welcome having a shiny new sunny yellow spin bike in my humble abode.  I went online to price it and discovered it is $2,200. There’s no way I am going to spend those kinds of shekels on an exercise machine, but I was curious to see for myself what exactly makes this bike the Lamborghini of spin bikes. Does it come with an engine?

Sweet bike, sour price.

Sweet bike, sour price.

I set out to do some investigating. Just when I was about a storefront away from SoulCycle, a poster caught my eye in the doorway of a bakery called Crumbs announcing the arrival of the Crumbnut. I did a swish pan and was instantly inside Crumbs.

Welcome sucker!

Welcome sucker!

In May, Dominique Ansel, a French bakery in Soho introduced the original Cronut, the spawn of a croissant and a doughnut. People have lost their minds over this delicacy and start lining up outside this bakery on weekdays at 5:30 in the morning. Dominique opens at 8 and limits two Cronuts per customer at $5 each.  Right now, they’re baking about 300 a day. Some of my longtime readers might think that this is the exact type of lunacy that has “Lame Adventures” written all over it. I hate to disappoint but there is no way I am going to do this. Here at Lame Adventures, I have standards.

I saw that the Crumbnut costs $2.95. They were filling an entire tray. I could have easily bought two dozen. I bought one, hightailed home, took a bite and discovered that it has the consistency of a hockey puck, but with slightly less flavor. I also suspected that the vintage was easily half a day old.

What looks like powdered sugar might actually be dust.

What looks like powdered sugar might actually be dust.

Then, I remembered that I was so distracted by the advent of the Crumbnut, I completely blanked on checking out the SoulCycle bike. Thanks to a cheap knock-off Cronut, I have inched closer in the direction of atrophying into a huffing, puffing flab factory on feet. Pass the chocolate.

Note: my friend Jackie Cangro has written an excellent post about Faux-nuts and I urge you to check it out here.