Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Donut Pub

A cannoli cream croissant donut from The Donut Pub

It’s extremely rare that I can eat at a bakery, so when I first heard about The Donut Pub, it seemed too good to be true. A nut-free donut shop? With sandwiches? And bagels?! No way.

Way.

According to the FAQ on The Donut Pub’s website, they are the real goddamn deal:

Q. Are you a Nut Free Establishment?
A. WE ARE NUT AWARE. Our on-site bakery does not use nuts, and we have been assured by our suppliers that they deliver nut-free ingredients as specified by their labels. Although we do not allow customers to bring outside food into the Pub, we cannot assure customers a nut-free environment. Thus we call the Donut Pub “Nut Aware.” Note that we supply donuts to the Food Allergy Initiative luncheon.

So no, they don’t call themselves “nut-free.” But by their definitions, “nut-aware” is probably even better. They are, for all intents and purposes, nut-free; they don’t use nuts and they do vet their suppliers. But they’re so careful and so allergy-conscious that they don’t want to make any outright guarantees, which is, to me, a very good sign. No business can guarantee that a nut will never cross the threshold—The Donut Pub’s just decided to be honest about that. So in my eyes, this place is about as safe as it gets.

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It’s a cute little place, with one long marble countertop and a bunch of stools. The employees are friendly, and they won’t get annoyed when you, too, inevitably feel the need to ask all the questions they’ve been answering on loop all day: “What’s in that one? Oh, and that one? How about that one over there?”

The donuts are pretty tasty, too. They aren’t absolutely incredible, but if you catch the right donut at the right time of day, The Donut Pub can be really, really good. The stock is pretty inconsistent, but it’s always a good day when I walk in and spot whatever it was I was looking for. My favorites, by a long shot, are the cannoli cream croissant donuts and the French crullers, both pictured in the photos above—although my official recommendation would probably be the (plain) glazed croissant donut.

Unfortunately, their bagels aren’t the ones of my dreams. Still, nut-free bagels are notoriously hard to come by, so I’ll often settle for theirs in a pinch. As long as you don’t have your heart set on a fluffy, chewy New York City bagel, one of theirs will do the trick. Beware, though: Their menu advertises scallion cream cheese, but they’re always, always, always “out” of it.

In any case, The Donut Pub is a lovely place. It’s one of my favorites, and I’d certainly still stop by if I didn’t have a nut allergy. In case you aren’t yet convinced, here’s a bonus photo of a tray of croissant donuts, fresh out of the oven at around midnight on a Saturday night:

A tray of croissant donuts at The Donut Pub

See for yourself: 203 West 14th Street, near the corner of 7th Avenue. Worth a try, at the very least.

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Hatsuhana

The sushi bar at Hatsuhana

I have a thing for sushi. A pretty big thing. Probably big enough to qualify as an obsession. And if I had unlimited money, I’d probably eat at Hatsuhana every single night for at least six months straight.

Among the things I love about sushi (and trust me, there are many) is the fact that I’m usually not allergic to it. I don’t tend to order much in the way of cooked food, but raw fish has proven pretty safe—for the last 10 years or so, at least.

Usually, in looking for a good place to get some sushi, I’ll read through a bunch of menus and try to find a place that doesn’t have any nuts on the menu. No easy feat. Hatsuhana’s menu does have nuts on it, but only, as far as I know, in one of the desserts. This doesn’t worry me too much, since I don’t order much from the kitchen anyway—and like I said, I haven’t had any trouble with their raw fish in the years I’ve been eating there.

Now, I eat a lot of inconsistent, low-quality sushi. By now, I’m used to it, as I’ve accepted that it’ll (sort of) do the trick in a dire situation. Whole Foods, M2M, random restaurants that insist cream cheese is a legitimate addition to a roll, various (terrifying) all-you-can-eat joints…you name it, I choke their food down on a semi-regular basis. But Hatsuhana is different. Hatsuhana is sacred. Hatsuhana is my consistent, reliable, high-quality treat.

Their sushi is great. Truly, it is. So great, in fact, that there’s hardly anything else I can say. Every single thing I’ve ever eaten at Hatsuhana has been downright delicious—most to the point of provoking an audible “wow,” even. The fish is always fresh and it’s never the slightest bit cold (that sounds like a Wendy’s ad; I’m sorry), and the only near-complaint I’ve ever had is “huh, this is great, but I preferred the way they prepared it last time.” (Seriously. It’s never bad—it only ranges from “very good” to “overwhelmingly delicious.”)

Honestly, I dream about huge plates of Hatsuhana sushi, and on those occasions that I’m fortunate enough to get some, I spend the whole day looking forward to what’s become my favorite meal. What’s more, the service is wonderful. Every time my boyfriend and I walk in, we’re greeted with genuine warmth—and it isn’t just because we’re regulars. Honestly, Hatsuhana is just staffed with lovely people. The only problem is that it’s pricey—but I find it’s worth the money, if only once in a while.

You can read about Hatsuhana’s mission and see photos of the restaurant itself here. (I used one of their photos at the top of this post. For some reason, I never want to whip out a camera at such a quiet restaurant, two feet from another of table of people trying to enjoy their meal.)

I suppose I can’t rave like I just have without any sort of visual aid, though, so…here are some shitty iPhone photos of wonderful things Sam and I have shared at Hatsuhana:

They’re open Monday through Saturday for lunch, dinner, and carry-out, and they’re located at 17 East 48th Street, between 5th and Madison. (Of course, since Hatsuhana is not a nut-free establishment, you should use your own discretion, speak with your server, and only eat there if you’re comfortable. For what it’s worth, though, I do feel safe there—and I highly recommend giving them a try.)

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Hampton Farms Peanuts

hamptonfarms

One thing that never, ever fails to confuse people is the fact that I’m not allergic to peanuts. Nearly every time I tell someone I’m allergic to tree nuts, I’ll end up getting an earful about how much it sucks that I’ll never be able to try a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a Reese’s Cup or a Butterfinger. (Cue the explanation that no-one really cares about: “Well, you see, peanuts aren’t really nuts; they’re legumes…”)

Point is, I can eat peanuts.

Theoretically.

There’s a problem, though. Products that contain or may contain peanuts? Fine. But try finding actual peanuts that don’t come with a “may contain” warning for every tree nut under the sun. Planters, which are everywhere, won’t work—and before you get all excited (like me) and think you’ve finally found a solution: generic brand peanuts are probably cross-contaminated, too. Sorry.

After a whole lot of searching, though, I’ve finally found a brand that works, and (as you may have guessed from the title of this post) it’s Hampton Farms. There are no “may contain” warnings on their bags, but the absence of such warnings guarantees approximately nothing, so I just took that information as a lead. Fortunately, when I emailed Hampton Farms, I received the following reply:

Our in shell peanuts and jarred peanut butters are produced in peanut only facilities. Our shelled peanuts are processed in several locations, some of which handle both peanut and tree nut products, so there is the possibility of cross contamination.

So I guess I have a lot of shelling to do. Bummer, but whatever. At least I’ve found some tree nut–free peanuts, right?

They come in a few flavors: salted, unsalted, raw, Cajun, and hickory smoked. I’ve tried salted and unsalted and, well, they’re definitely peanuts. (I’m not a huge fan of peanuts that’ve been salted in-shell. They always taste like the sea to me—perhaps because they’ve been salted via a salt water solution. But the unsalted peanuts are A-OK.)

I buy them at Fairway, C-Town, or Stop & Shop, but they’re all over, really, and you shouldn’t have much trouble finding them. For whatever reason, they’re usually in the produce section. Good luck.

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