The reality is, that's not true. There are many, many interesting places I'm only just discovering. As Martha would say, "that's a good thing."
Enter the Korean Bakery. Some French influence, some Korean. If you're lost, it's ok, this was a new concept to me until recently. Reading about these places on blogs like HowChow motivated me to try them - so glad I did.
|Pastry Cake with Red Bean paste and Green Bean Paste|
From La Boulangerie - the halves are joined with a lightly
sweetened cream, and it's topped with crumb.
This was a big hit around the holidays.
Followed by: "Wow, this is good" or variations thereupon.
I was familiar with red bean paste before this challenge - I've enjoyed Azuki ice cream and mochi. The texture is different from one I usually associate with desserts, and it's sweet. There are other variations of sweet bean pastes that include one made from white beans.
And this was the perfect opportunity for the next Food Versus Food.
Contender #1: Rice red bean donut and white bean donut at Bon Appetit Cafe.
Bon Appetit Cafe and Bakery opened a few months ago at 10155 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City. They offer a wide variety of baked goods with noticeable French and Korean influences, as well as coffee and sandwiches. They have a nice-sized seating area for dine-in, and of course offer carryout.
The front door opens into an area dedicated to displaying baked goods. There were so many that I felt slightly overwhelmed; however, they had samples available for many of the items. Each one I tried was amazing. I left with several items (lunch, and enough to share with coworkers). I was keenest to try the donuts, though.
I picked up two: one marked rice red bean donut (made with rice flour), and a white bean donut.
|Rice Red Bean Donuts at Bon Appetit Cafe.|
I bit into the rice donut and was immediately surprised by how chewy the dough was. I ate slowly, taking four or five bites to finish the whole thing. And then I had to stop. It was extremely rich - enough for a few hours. I was actually full from this little tiny donut.
|Half of a white bean donut,|
Bon Appetit Cafe.
Paired with a hot cup of coffee, both donuts were really pleasant treats.
Even so, I decided to save the next challenge for the day after a long run, which brought me to...
Contender #2: Rice red bean donut and red bean donut at La Boulangerie.
La Boulangerie is located at 8815 Baltimore National Pike (Ste C), Ellicott City - the same shopping center as Lotte. And I did learn my lesson from the first round. I saved this trip for a few hours post-Bagel Run.
I was really hungry.
La Boulangerie is a small bakery, with a few tables and chairs. They don't offer sandwiches, etc, but they do make custom cakes. They have a wide selection of cookies and other baked goods (more or less labeled), and they make a pretty good cup of coffee.
|Red Bean Donut from La Boulangerie.|
I enjoyed the rice bean donut much more. These babies were a little smaller than the ones at Bon Appetite, but there was a fabulous crispiness to them. They, too, were oily, but not in an overwhelming way, and the rice dough had a wonderful texture.
The Decision: This was a really exciting challenge for me, because I got to talk about two finds that were, until recently, not even on my radar. Both bakeries have plenty of other items I've enjoyed or can't wait to try. But looking specifically at these two items from each place....
I have to say that, for the first time ever on Food Versus Food, there is a tie. While I was lukewarm about the other items, I really enjoyed the white bean paste donut at Bon Appetit, and I can't wait to go back for the rice bean paste donuts at La Boulangerie. The pros and cons balanced each other enough to warrant a tie. The items were also comparably priced. I liked the look and feel of each bakery when I visited. In the end, it was just too close to call.
But fear not. I shall take one for the team and return, someday soon, for a rematch.
Do you have a favorite spot for your donut fix? Do you have feelings about (or... for...? it's ok, I don't judge..) sweet bean paste desserts? Tell me in the comments below!