Cronuts, y’all

image(Southern Season’s unfilled powdered sugar glazed doughssant.)

About a year ago, Tom Leonard’s took Richmond’s first stab at recreating Dominique Ansel’s absurdly popular doughnut/croissant hybrid. (FYI, there’s still enough demand for Ansel’s original invention that you can hire someone from Craigslist to wait hours in line for you to get one. This service costs $25.) TL’s called them Fro-Doughs, as Cronut™ is obviously unavailable, and sold a ton of them, but they were still pretty close in gooeyness to a regular doughnut.

Today, we will discuss the Second Coming of the Cronut™, as delivered unto us by Southern Season. They call it a doughssant. We put together an airtight trifecta of judges to weigh in—a pastry expert, a sugar addict, and a pregnant lady—and served them four doughssant iterations: unfilled powdered sugar glazed, cream cheese-filled powdered sugar glazed, unfilled cinnamon, and cream cheese-filled cinnamon. (There is a chase model: the elusive raspberry-filled powdered sugar glazed. Good luck.)

Here’s what they had to say:

[PASTRY EXPERT]: It’s… a pretty good croissant mixed with a really good doughnut. I really like the contrast between the butter-steamed inside layers and the crispy, sweet outside. With the cinnamon unfilled, you get the caramelization on the outside, and the texture is amazing… it has more depth. The glazed one is all sugar, all fried, but still good. It’s way closer to a doughnut than a croissant.

Favorite: unfilled cinnamon.

[SUGAR ADDICT]: I’m not a fan of croissants, usually—they’re too buttery, without any other flavor. Like… chocolate. I get chocolate croissants, but I just eat around the bread to get to the chocolate. I like this, though. It’s like a blend of sophisticated and state fair. It’s not cheap-tasting. The cream cheese filling’s what the icing would taste like if Toaster Strudel had higher standards. And with the cinnamon version, there’s no glaze, so you can focus on the filling.

Favorite: cream cheese-filled cinnamon.

[PREGNANT LADY]: They’re buttery on the inside, and the outside’s kind of crispy-sticky. I like that you can pull it apart. And you have to chew it, it’s bready. Krispy Kreme and Yoder’s just melt in your mouth immediately. I like the cinnamon unfilled because the caramel-y outside is like Christmas. I’m ready for Christmas. And it would make less crumbs in bed, so that’s the obvious choice.

Favorite: unfilled cinnamon.

[SCAVENGER]: Sweet summer corn / Richmond

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I’m aware of the possibility that your first thought about a list of corn-based dishes might be “well, that’s boring.” But if it is, I am so very sorry for you. Maybe you’re from some cold, hard place where fresh summer corn didn’t appear on your childhood table, all tender and sugary and soused in butter. Or maybe you had tragic dental issues relegating you to the no-kernels side of life. Or maybe you have no tastebuds. If any of these (except maybe that last one) rings true, get yourself to the farmers’ market immediately and get some ears to steam and eat plain before you start tackling the items below. Everyone else: choose your own adventure.

Amazing things being done in Richmond with fresh corn:

1. Metzger Bar & Butchery’s chilled corn soup with creme fraiche, speck and dill. I wouldn’t recommend trying to share this; your friends might take offense when you throw your spoon on the floor and stick your face in it.  metzgerbarandbutchery.com

2. Succotash at Tazza. I’m saying: it has soft-boiled egg in it. Plus oven-roasted tomato, chorizo, green beans and chives. Such a badass small plate alongside their meatballs or wings. tazzakitchen.com

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(Tazza’s perfect succotash.)

3. Anything made by Comfort chef Travis Milton. If you’re super lucky, you’ll be tasting the White Eagle corn hominy grits that he’s making from scratch with his own lime treatment at the Fire, Flour & Fork dinner that he’s doing with Sean Brock. It’s sold out, but definitely hit him up at Comfort for the homegrown Silver King he’s turning into creamed corn and Appalachian Sour Corn. comfortrva.com

4. Estilo’s crunchy corn. Corn roasted on the cob until it’s a bit caramelized, then covered in crema, queso fresco, lime, ancho chili, cilantro and crushed cancha (more corn! of the crunchy, corn nut variety). People cry when they visit in the winter and this seasonal dish is gone.

5. Sweet corn ice cream at Bev’s. No, they don’t have it all the time. Call them up. Get on their favorite flavor email list. Do you what you have to do.

Pro tip: if you’ve got some sweet corn in your fridge and want to wow your friends with an amped-up summer dinner, make food biz consultant Stephanie Ganz's ravioli: http://wtvr.com/2014/05/02/yummy-sweet-corn-ravioli/

[HIT LIST] - Chicken Biscuit / Saison Market

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[HIT LIST] is a new dish-feature column headed up by contributor Pete Cartwright.

Okay: this goddamned sandwich. Saison Market hasn’t been open that long, and this sandwich isn’t even officially on the menu. BUT they’ve had it every weekend for the last couple months, so I think your odds are good. This is worth getting up before noon on a Saturday - it’s one of the best chicken biscuits I’ve had outside of Pies ‘n’ Thighs.

It’s just three things: a solid piece of brined, juicy fried chicken, a biscuit, and a swab of hot sauce. Sometimes there’s honey butter (in a perfect world, there is always honey butter). You’ve already noticed that the fried chicken is significantly bigger than the biscuit; this is OK. The biscuit is good - thick, buttery, salty - but the fried chicken is the star here. The house-brined meat is endlessly juicy and an excellent contrast to the deep-brown, extra-crispy crust. Speaking of crust: as you devour, chunks of the crust will fall off the chicken - this is also OK. It means you get to end your meal with a hunt for these perfect fried bits among the biscuit crumbs.

Also while you’re here:

- The smoked-cheddar pimento cheese sandwich is solid. The smoky flavor adds something unique without taking too many liberties with America’s greatest contribution to world culture.

- I don’t know if the pork belly with grits/poached egg/trotter broth/scallions is a “play” on a chasu ramen bowl, but it hits all the right notes for me - rich on rich on rich on bright+green without being overwhelming.

- People that like stouts seem to really like the nitro cold brew: a cold brew coffee poured from a stout tap and infused with nitrogen for that Guinness-y mouthfeel. I’m not a fan of stouts, but man, I bet an affogato made with this would be pretty special.