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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hit the Donut Trail!

Thanks to Alton Brown and his Food Network show "Feasting on Asphalt," St. Louis has developed a reputation for its family-owned doughnut shops.

That prompted Thomas Carter, a St. Louis-area cyclist who regularly rides with the Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society, to create the Donut Trail, a 23-mile route that hits five of those doughnut shops.

T.C. isn't trying to create a new version of the Tour de Donut, where people eat as many doughnuts as possible to earn time bonuses. Instead, this is intended to be a social ride where people can actually savor the doughnuts.

And, believe me, these doughnuts are worth savoring.

T.C. and his girlfriend, longtime BABES ride leader Arlene Willmann, Verbosity VELOcity blog author Beth Harris and I hit the trail this morning with the hope of hitting all five shops along the route: Donut Drive-In, World’s Fair Donuts, St Louis Hills Donut Shop, Eddie's Southtown Donuts and O'Fashion Donuts.

We met at the Forest Park MetroLink station about 9:30 a.m. I know that's not early for many of you, but it is for me. I have to work most Saturday nights at the Belleville News-Democrat because I'm responsible for designing the front page for our biggest paper of the week. That means it takes me a long time to wind down at the end of the night, between 11:30 and 12:30, and it takes me until about 3 a.m. to get to the point where I can get to sleep. That's why people in the St. Louis area don't see me at too many Sunday morning rides.

Even though my cycling today reflected my lack of sleep, the quest for the perfect doughnut kept me going.

After riding through Forest Park and The Hill neighborhood, our first stop on the Donut Trail was World's Fair Donuts at Vandeventer Avenue and Shaw Boulevard. It was a good sign when we saw one of the proprietors making doughnuts behind the counter. I bought an apple fritter and a cup of coffee. The apple fritter was probably the best I've ever had! The fritter had a healthy dose of cinnamon, which really enhanced the taste. Beth has posted her photos from the trip at Picasa.

We took a trek through Tower Grove Park, which is known for its distinctive picnic pavilions and being a favorite spot for St. Louis-area couples to get married, on our way to Eddie's Southtown Donuts on Kingshighway. Eddie's is a favorite doughnut stop for Beth, and the folks there know her by name. I splurged ate two doughnuts, a glazed and a buttermilk doughnut. The glazed doughnut was heavier than a Krispy Kreme doughnut, but lighter than the doughnuts Jubelt's Bakery in Mount Olive, Ill., make for the Tour de Donut. I was surprised the folks at Eddie's had never heard of the Tour de Donut, but they were flabbergasted when I told them some people have actually eaten 30 doughnuts during the course of the race. I enjoyed the buttermilk doughnut as well.

We rode toward St. Louis Hills Donut Shop, only to find that it had closed early. Beth left us at that stage because she had to get home, but T.C., Arlene and I continued up to Donut Drive-In, located on Chippewa Avenue (old Route 66) near Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. There, I drank a bottle of milk and ate a chocolate-iced cake doughnut complete with orange and black sprinkles. Donut Drive-In lays the icing on thick, and I could really taste the chocolate.

Arlene had a sugar-coated doughnut, and the sugar left its mark on the top of her lips. All too cute!

Our course for the day went past many well-kept homes and other buildings with interesting architecture. The city of St. Louis gets a bad rap because of its high number of homicides; one TV station once called them the "mean streets." While it's horrible that St. Louis has as many homicides as it does, the vast majority of them are in one section of the city. Most of the rest of the city is as safe -- if not safer -- than other major U.S. cities.

We continued toward O'Fashion Donuts, only to find that shop had closed for the day. Most of the family-owned doughnut shops in St. Louis are closed by noon or 1 p.m. on Sundays, so I would recommend starting the ride sooner that 9:30 a.m. if you want to visit all five shops.

All in all, the Donut Trail is a very sweet ride. The BABES may do a more organized version of the ride in 2008.

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Roger 1 comments links to this post 8:39 PM


I love it - a donut loop.

great idea
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