Kentucky’s Forbidden Donuts

For a place that doesn’t get a whole lot of national press, Kentucky must have as many claims to fame as any state in the country. There’s thoroughbred horseracing, famous family feuds, bluegrass music, and the nation’s most storied college basketball team. And in the food and drink arena, the Bluegrass State is known for KFC, the Bourbon Trail, mutton BBQ, hot browns, burgoo, and mint juleps, not to mention backwoods Old Kentucky favorites like squirrel and possum.
But I’d never heard of Kentucky as a mecca for donut connoisseurs until I read a piece in the New York Times a few weeks ago. William Grimes described the state as “the last calorie-filled province in an enormous swath of territory where the glazed twist, the apple fritter, the chocolate-iced Long John and the vanilla-cream Bismarck hold sway,” and I was hooked.

Regular readers might recall that I’ve gotten into trouble with my wife over the years for taking the family on long detours to Western New York State’s Amish Country in pursuit of donuts. With that unpleasantness in mind, I didn’t insist on hitting all seven donut shops scattered around the central and northern part of the state mentioned in the article. But we were already planning a long-weekend trip to Kentucky when the Times piece came out, so I added donuts to our weekend to-do list.

Our first stop was Hadorn’s Bakery, an institution in Bardstown, a lovely small town in the heart of bourbon country, for more than 26 years. Hadorn’s didn’t make Grimes’s list but I smelled the place from a block away and noticed the line snaking out the door at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning and figured it had to be good.

I had to recalibrate my order three times while standing in line though, as the hungry individuals standing before me snatched the last of the pumpkin donuts and two other varieties before I could call out my order. But I came away with a half dozen decadent little beauties: two glazed, two chocolate glazed, a caramel glazed and a pretzel donut.

The plain glazed were 60 cents, the others 70 or 80, and they were all light, moist, fresh and melt-in-your mouth treats. On my walk back to the hotel my plan to divvy up the donuts when I got back to the room went up in smoke, and my wife and sons had to battle it out for what I’d left in the bag.

On Sunday morning, I was ready for round two at Burke’s Bakery in Danville, another appealing small town that hosted the Vice Presidential debate in October. Burke’s was part of the NYT piece and also came highly recommended by Stuart Meyer, who produces a show called Small Town Flavor. Meyer featured Burke’s in an episode of their show (see below), and after watching the segment, I was ready to get in my car and make the 8-hour drive before the clip had even ended.

But you never want to digest too much hype before seeing a movie and donuts are the same way. Burke’s doesn’t open until Noon on Sundays and they bake only a few varieties of donuts rather than their usual full assortment, so I was unable to get the coconut frosted special or any of the others I had in mind. I had a crumb donut and a glazed, both quite good and a bargain at 60 and 65 cents, but it wasn’t the this-donut-has-changed-my-life experience I was hoping for.

On Monday morning, I was geared up to try the maple bacon donuts at Nord’s Bakery, a popular neighborhood joint in the Germantown section of Louisville, but my sons, ages 3 and 5, decided to sleep in late, after we dragged them out late three nights in a row. I didn’t have the heart to wake them up but I feared that my chances of getting one of their famous maple bacon donuts were dwindling with each passing minute. Still, as we set off from our hotel around 10 a.m., I felt like we still had a shot since it was a weekday.

But by the time we found the place, alas, the maple bacon donuts were history. I did feel a bit better though when Martha, the young woman at the counter, told me they’d sold out hours ago, rather than mere minutes, and my mood brightened further after I tucked into a crunch nut donut that was full of nutty, coconut goodness.

We repaired to Sunergos Cofffee next door with a bag full of the little treasures, (they don’t mind and their coffee is great) and my 3-year-old son James devoured his chocolate glazed donut so quickly that he tried to attack my wife’s donut while it was still in her mouth – a sure sign that he knew he’d stumbled across a pretty damn good find.

“This kid is like the Homer Simpson of donuts,” my wife complained, trying to restrain him with an outstretched leg.

Nord’s was the clear winner of our Kentucky donut quest – the others were very good but these were sell-your-soul-to-the-devil-for-them good. Like the Rolling Stones song, I didn’t quite get the donuts I wanted, but I learned that the Bluegrass State does indeed have one more little known treasure to be proud of: its forbidden donuts. But if you want to reach donut nirvana in Kentucky, you need to get your donut loving behind out of bed much earlier than I did to get the good stuff.

[Photo credits: Dave Seminara]

Homer Simpson’s voice on GPS tells you where to go and more

Earlier today Mike wondered what Bob Dylan’s voice would be like in a GPS system. Here’s another voice idea. Greg Phelps, the art car aficionado who tells me about car oddities from time to time, told me about this one. Homer Simpson’s voice can be downloaded to a portable TomTom GPS device.

Along with giving directions, Homer makes side comments to ramp up the amusement value. Homer pipes out with lines that carry the hope for food stops, as well as, lines like “You’ve reached your destination. You can hold your head up high because you’re a genius.”

In addition to helping you get where you want to go, I can see how Homer’s voice would be fun to have as a companion in a traffic jam. I once gave my husband a bottle opener with Homer Simpson’s voice that was triggered by popping the cap off. I didn’t know there could be something better than that bottle opener.

Tourism Australia comes under fire from random retired American soldier

Tourism Australia nailed it. The struggle between work and life is reaching fever pitch. Those with jobs are working harder than ever, thanks to layoffs and a desperate play to look like top performers in case the axe comes down again. It’s a battle, sometimes, to take control of your life. This is the theme of Tourism Australia’s new campaign, “No Leave, No Life,” which drives home the fact that Australians are pissing away their vacation time and aren’t giving themselves the time away that they need.

So, the organization modeled a photo on the U.S. Marines (hey, Sydney Morning Herald, marines and soldiers aren’t the same thing) raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. You know the original picture. Everyone remembers it. Because everyone is familiar with this iconic photo, it’s easy for one to relate to it. That’s what makes Tourism Australia‘s picture of a family “raising” an umbrella particularly brilliant.

Well, there are a few people who would disagree, as you’ll see after the jump.

U.S. Army veteran (unless he’s really a marine – SMH can’t tell the different) Russell Wade wrote to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to complain. He’s pissed because it trivializes “an iconic picture of high significance to the American people.” Yet, he isn’t driven to anger by U.S. Marine commercials that equate fighting in a war to fantasy games in which fictional creatures are the enemy and are vanquished by knights with swords in a manner that implies death with what looks like a simple “zapping.”

Before we take Tourism Australia to task for its advertising decisions, let’s not forget that the Marines have had a few problems as well … occasionally seeming culturally tone-deaf.

Okay, back to the contested photos. Both photos were staged, so it really is a posed piece derived from a posed piece. And, it’s not like this is the worst instance of borrowing from military history and tradition to entertain, amuse or sell. Hell, where was Wade when Homer Simpson “trivialized” the U.S. Navy?

For that matter, where was he when the Village People did so? It looks like this guy has a shitload of letters to write.

The Village People can model entertainment on the U.S. military. The creators of The Simpsons can take it a step further (as they’ve done several times with the navy and the army, at this point). And, let’s face it. These go a lot deeper than modeling a photograph on a classic … mind you, a practice common in the arts.

I was a soldier for a while, and I have nothing but respect for those who served honorably. I just wish there could be a better sense of reality and an antidote for self-importance.

GADLING’S TAKE FIVE: Week of March 25

Because selecting some of this week’s grooviest and most happening posts was so darn difficult I’m tossing in an extra one this week. So I suppose you can call it Gadling’s Take Five Remixed. I think I like the sound of that.

6. Introducing Where on Earth?:
Ready to beef up your geography skills? Well, better if they are already top-notch, but we’ll take your guesses. All you have to do is tell is the destination seen in the shot in this new weekly feature.

5. Roadtrip Time Lapse Video:
Dave does it again! This week he brings us snippets of his road trip across the country in a nice little video with pretty shakin’ music. If you missed out on the fun and excitement before do yourself a favor and check out America in one second flashes of pictures captured every 60 seconds while the car was running. It is a bit of a head trip, but isn’t that traveling all the same?

4. Is It Possible to Overplan a Trip? Mistakes of the Novice Traveler:
To go or not to go? To tour or not to tour? To hike or not to hike? That is the question! Like Willy, who poses the question whether too much planning can place a damper on your vacation, I’m a planner and like Willy I plan on having absolute downtime with no planning involved. To go with the flow or not to go with the flow is totally up to you, but I say deciding how much planning is appropriate and how much is overboard deserves a vacation itself!

3. Hip-Hop Culture Tours of NYC:
Even if you never decide to see NYC by way of a Hip Hop Culture Tour, watching Kurtis Blow rhyme about it over a nice Gilligan’s Island tune on the YouTube vid isn’t a bad deal either. The tour provides a different take on the streets of NY and breaks it down for all the sucker M.C.’s out there. (If you’re not sure about sucker M.C. then you may just want to book a tour like this after all.)

2. Disposable Toothbrushes: No Toothpaste or Water Required:
Cleanliness is next to Godliness so they say. And why not be a “God of Clean Things” like your mouth? If you’ve ever sat very long on a plane you know the nasty feeling that takes over your mouth and sadly few people do some thing about it while the rest torture the guy in the window seat with their stank breath. (Did I just say Stank? Yes!) Neil brings us just one solution to keeping your mouth so fresh and so clean while on board. It is my suggestion everyone checks it out.

1. 7-Elevens to be Converted to Kwik-E-Marts:

Could this really be true? If it is I’m so going to scope it out and no one will stop me. Rumor has it that the upcoming Simpsons movie or the big-wigs at Fox and the world’s largest gas station are looking to temporarily convert 11 7-Elevens to Kwik-E-Marts to help promote the film. Justin tells us just a bit more and all I can add is kawabunga!