Passover Ends and a Local Doughnut Maker Gets a New Name

Folks, it’s been busy here. You’ve been wondering where I’ve been, and the answer is multi-faceted. I was in DC for a few days, celebrating Passover with my family down there, for one thing. But that’s a hollow excuse: mostly, I’ve been tied up with the preparations for a big fundraising event for a very weird place called The Institute Library. I’m not going to post a link here – if you’re curious, you can Google it  – but I’ll just say, We were hosting a party for 125 people, and there were a lot of moving parts, and for a while there was no phone or internet service at the Library, which did not facilitate matters, and it’s been hard on the Hausfrau. And my husband and child as well. Not all dinners were what they could have been, during this time. OK: some of that had to do with it being Passover for eight days, but let’s be honest: usually, Passover cooking doesn’t get me down.

But it’s been a mess around here: The laundry has piled up to some degree. God knows I haven’t vacuumed. To say there’s a lot of domestic catching-up to do is an understatement.  I will say, in my defense, that the bathrooms aren’t too disgusting (I managed to swab them down a couple of times in the last month) and that we do have clean underwear, thanks for asking. I mean, it hasn’t been that bad. But today I’m doing four loads of laundry on a day when I’d normally do two. I mean, I was down to maybe five clean dishtowels in the kitchen. It hasn’t been pretty. Peg Bracken would nod understandingly; Martha Stewart would cluck her tongue and ask why I hadn’t hired help.

One aspect of hosting a big social occasion for a non-profit organization is, If you’re lucky, there are some good leftovers to take home with you. I know some people would disagree with me, and say that if you’ve done the job correctly there are no leftovers at all, but those people are wrong. One should never have an event where the table is stripped clean of food: it means there was not enough food. In our case, on Monday night, we had ordered madeleines from a local bakery (Whole G), by request of the Executive Director, who apparently has a thing for their madeleines; but more importantly from my perspective, we had managed to get Tony’s Square Donuts to donate several boxes of their mini-donuts to the event. Tony’s Square Donuts used to be known as Orangeside Donuts. They got famous a few years ago when Jane and Michael Stern wrote them up for Saveur Magazine — one of America’s 50 Best Donuts. Because Orangeside was, at the time, around the corner from the Institute Library, I used to go there in the mornings before I went to the Library. Maybe I’d get a bowl of grits with some syrup, on a cold winter morning, if I was feeling virtuous, but more often, I’d get coffee and a donut. The Sterns wrote the place up and pretty soon Orangeside was booming. They relocated, and started serving more regular diner-food items, but I think Tony missed just being a donut guy, so now he’s back to having a small storefront downtown, and he’s changed the business name to Tony’s Square Donuts. When I asked him about providing donuts for this event, I explained to him that we liked to order desserts from businesses very close to the Library, and he lauded that effort; when I said that Jane Stern would be coming to the event — which she was; I wasn’t just making it up for the sake of getting Tony’s attention —  he was excited, and said, “Anything for Jane Stern!”

Well, let me tell you: those donuts were beautiful, and they were utterly delicious as well. I fully expected there to be no leftovers, though I was hopeful: I mean, you have to have hope, when it comes to leftover donuts. At the end of the evening, the small crew of people who’d signed on to help clean up, as well as the guy who’d been playing accordion tunes for us all evening, Adam Matlock, all migrated over to the desserts table to see what could be scavenged. The answer was: not much, but enough to satisfy us. There were maybe a dozen madeleines and  roughly twice that number of the mini-donuts. (I don’t mean donut holes, by the way. I mean mini-donuts. If a regular donut provides you with many mouthfuls of delicious soft glazed donut, a mini size provides you with, say, three or four bites. The thing is, Tony’s Square Donuts are often beyond rich. There’s a caramel turtle donut he does that can actually give you the collywobbles if you eat the whole thing in one sitting. The regular glazed or chocolate donuts, you can plow through — it’s the specialty items that can really knock you for a loop, gastrointestinally speaking. Tony’s mini-donuts are perfect because you can, without guilt, sample many different flavors and glazes without starting to feel like you’re going to be sick. You could have four or even five mini-donuts, as made by Tony’s Square Donuts, and still feel perky.

We all divvied up the spoils, grasping quickly that there were some real finds still on the table. Folks had not realized, for example, that those caramel-covered glazed donuts on the yellow tray were not just plain donuts with caramel glaze: they also had an exquisite apple-pie filling. Unless they were filled with Boston cream pie filling. Or raspberry jelly. Since Adam Matlock and I are connoisseur-level appreciators of Tony’s Square Donuts, we quickly created our stashes, nodding appreciatively at each other’s selections, and I think all who got in fast got what they wanted.

My husband and I drove home and I offered the babysitter — who works around the corner from Tony’s Square Donuts — a chance to snag a donut or two. She’s been known to drive real distances for donuts, all the way out to Wallingford, so I knew she’d take a couple happily. But even after donating to the Babysitter Donut Fund, we had quite a few, maybe six or seven, for ourselves.

The next morning, our daughter came downstairs and saw the big pizza box of donuts on the dining table. “Pizza for breakfast?” she asked, confused. “Donuts!” I said. She opened the box, peeked in, and smiled her crazy, missing-the-two-top-front-teeth smile. Our daughter being no fool, she asked, “Tony’s Donuts?” Suddenly, my husband burst out laughing. “Tony’s Chametz? Is that their new name?”

I began to laugh, too. “What are you talking about?” I said. “They’re Tony’s Square Donuts.”

“I know!” he said. “But — I thought you said –”

It didn’t matter. The damage has been done. The end result is that Tony’s Square Donuts will now always be Tony’s Chametz to me. I’d better notify Tony that he should print up some new business cards.

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