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The Journey for a Cronut

If you know anything about me, you know my love of food is extensive. (Restaurant Madness, anyone?)

Much like a religious trek to Mecca, I set out on the foodie equivalent…seeking the elusive cronut.

cronut
Behold the cronut. (Dominique Ansel Bakery)

What is a cronut? It’s a half-croissant, half-donut piece of magic created by pastry chef Dominique Ansel in May of this year at the Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo.

It took the foodie world by storm, as word of it’s deliciousness and limited availability combined to make it one of the most desirable treats around. Seriously. There are cronut scalpers.

Ansel and his staff produce only 300-400 cronuts a day, and they are so popular, patrons are limited to buying only two (at $5 a piece) and they still sell out every day.

The line for cronuts starts hours before the bakery even opens. And I vowed to make the trip.

After a week of waking up early to fill in for the morning show, my body was ready. How early should you get in line on Saturday for a cronut?

Here’s what I did on August 24th:

5 a.m.

The alarm clock went off at Duzzy’s apartment in Jersey City. (He was WAY less excited about this than I was…yay for young love!)

5:14 a.m.

After splashing my face with water, throwing on a tank top, leggings, and my glasses, we left the apartment. (I will later regret not wearing my contacts and/or some makeup.)

5:27 a.m.

We arrived at the Grove St. PATH station to catch a 5:29 train. Perfect timing!

5:52 a.m.

We got off the PATH at 9th St. and started to walk toward the bakery.

5:53 a.m.

We start walking in the right direction.

6:07 a.m.

We get in line at the bakery, with about 60 people already in line ahead of us, the line wrapped around the block.

The cronut line
The cronut line. (Laurie Cataldo)

And now we wait for the bakery to open at 8 a.m.

The smarter folks in line brought foldable chairs and blankets. I meant to bring a towel to sit on, but forgot it in my pre-dawn haze. Duzzy and I plop on the sidewalk, realizing if we sit back-to-back it’s not so bad.

6:30 a.m.

I hear someone in line offer free beer. Only in New York.

I eventually got to chatting with the couple in line behind us. Valerie and her husband are from Grand Island, NY, just south of Niagara Falls. He was in the city on business, and when someone told them about cronuts they decided to give it a shot.

Valerie asked the first person in line what time he got there. 4:30. He was also reading a book called, ‘Donuts.’ (I know.)

7 a.m.

The smell of freshly baked delights starts wafting around the corner…it’s at this point I realize I should have eaten something before I left the house. I should wake up every Saturday morning and head to SoHo with a vat of coffee. $1 a cup. I’m pretty sure I’d make a killing.

7:20 a.m.

Thank God for smartphones. Except my battery is dying. Ugh.

7:30 a.m.

The Cronut security guy (really) tells everyone in line to stay as far to the right of the sidewalk as possibles so the bakery doesn’t get a violation for blocking the sidewalk.

8 a.m.

The bakery is officially open!

8:01 a.m.

Everyone in line stands up, and the line moves…because everyone is condensing closer together. Whatever, we’ve rounded the corner, and I can SEE the bakery!

8:10 a.m.

A worker comes out with a tray full of fresh, warm madeleine cookies for everyone in line. (Madeleines are these puffy, soft, shell-shaped sponge cakes that have a little hint of lemon…so good. They make them to order at this bakery, and after trying one I was SERIOUSLY tempted to order a batch, but I thought Duzzy might kill me if I made him wait the extra 5-7 minutes.)

8:12 a.m.

A French radio news reporter starts talking to Valerie, and eventually we all chime in. We might be on a French news report.

Talking to French reporter about cronuts
Talking to a French radio news reporter about the cronut craze. (Laurie Cataldo)
8:17 a.m.

We start chatting up the security guy. He’s a retired cop and thinks we’re nuts. He asks us if we realize that we can get an entire box of Entenmann’s donuts for the same price. I feel a twinge of shame…but know that Entenmann’s will never fill me with the delicious coconut creamy love that a cronut will.

8:20 a.m.

We haven’t moved. I’m fairly confident that we will get cronuts because there weren’t that many people in front of us, but I’m starting to wonder just how long this is going to take…

8:25 a.m.

I realize they are only letting in 10-15 people at a time into the bakery. I feel a little better.

8:35 a.m.

The bakery is SO CLOSE! We’re in the next group!!!

8:45 a.m.

We get into the bakery, and have to wait just a little while longer. The display case is full of incredible treats, and as I had scoured Ansel’s website before getting there, I knew I was going to get more than just cronuts.

9:04 a.m.

WE HAVE CRONUTS! (And a ‘DKA’ — Dominique’s Kouign-Amann, sort of like a caramelized croissant — and a box of 5 assorted macarons with flavors ranging from chocolate to hibiscus.[!]) We also grabbed a couple of coffees…and said goodbye to Valerie and Dave.

9:10 a.m.

We walked a couple blocks to a local park and sit at the stone chess tables to feast.

The verdict? They are heavenly. The cronuts come in a different flavor every month, and August’s featured flavor is coconut. I LOVE coconut (Duzzy not so much, which is why he’s even more of a trooper for coming with me!) so it was the best possible combination.

The first bite gives you a slight crunch of the sugared dough, followed by the flaky soft interior, which is filled with a delicate coconut cream. The cream is far less coconutty (and sweet) than the coconut icing which tops the cronut.

the inside of a cronut
Laurie Cataldo

It’s a little messy to eat, but it’s really good…so good that both me and Duzzy eat two of them.

9:20 a.m.

I’m on a cronut high and decide we’ll forego the subway and walk the mile or so to the World Trade Center PATH station.

9:30 a.m.

I hit the cronut wall. I’m over this walking thing.

9:43 a.m.

We get to the PATH station…I am officially tired and cranky…and the trains are delayed.

9:53 a.m.

The train arrives, and luckily we get seats, because I have the mentality of an over-tired 2-year-old at this point.

10:15 a.m.

We get back to the apartment.

10:25 a.m.

It’s naptime.

All in all, was the pastry itself worth a nearly 3-hour wait? Not really, but the experience was, and I’m glad I did it. I really had fun. I wouldn’t stand in line for cronuts again, but I’d absolutely go back to Ansel’s bakery for another DKA, more macarons, and some of the other amazing things in the display case I passed on the first time around.

Next time I’ll let myself sleep in a little, and maybe just enjoy my pastry in the garden behind the bakery.

Foodies Unite!

Have you ever waited in a ridiculously long line for something? Would you? Tell us in the comment section below!

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