After posting incessantly on my facebook page about donuts, talking passionately about donuts, and even making some homemade donuts of my own, Very Intriguing Man told me that donuts were gross and popovers were totally “where it’s at.” Being generally intrigued by Very Intriguing Man, I was even more intrigued by the prospect that anyone anywhere under any type of circumstances could imply that popovers could compare to, let alone replace, donuts. He said the place to get popovers is Lucia’s Take Out.
Now, I don’t have anything against popovers. I can’t remember a specific occasion when I’ve had them from a restaurant but in the course of my eating history, I have tried popovers and they have not been spectacularly memorable. Certainly not something that would compete with a donuts. But conceptually, a popover sounds tasty. After researching a bit about popovers, I found out that they are a dying menu item and that Lucia’s really is the place to get them. I read this Heavy Table article about Lucia’s popovers and started to see the potential these eggy puffs could have.
But it took some time to get Lucia’s to the top of the queue, so when this Sunday became popover judgement day, I was really excited and ready for there to be an epic comparison between my beloved donut and the popover. And I really wanted there to be a heated comparison, so I was cheering for the popover!
Bear Face just secured a better apartment two floors up in his current building so he commandeered Betty Deville, a dancer friend, and I to help him move boxes up to his new place. The plan was for us ladies to meet at Lucia’s right when they opened at 8 am, be all decide-y decide-y about their baked goods, and then bring them back to Bear Face’s place for breakfast and epic battle amidst the boxes.
We got a plain croissant, an almond croissant, a double chocolate croissant, a strawberry cream cheese danish, a ham and cheese biscuit, a Gruyère cheese puff, 4 mini popovers, 6 Budapest Muffins, and a chocolate eclair. I also got a pint of pesto pasta salad and roast yellow beet and spinach salad for after moving boxes.
The eclair, ham and cheese biscuit, and plain croissant were all pretty good. Quality and standard but nothing extra special. The danish was below standard for me because it had strawberry and pistachio nut decorations on it but tasted neither like strawberries or pistachios, just tasted sweet. The Gruyère cheese puff was quite good, and I think the room temperature cheese helped mask a little of the puff’s gooey-ness. The Budapest muffins were like plain, sweet cupcakes, delicious but not something I would have to go back for. Had I not had such high expectations for the muffins, I think I would have enjoyed them much more. The double chocolate croissant was collectively the least favorite item. Bear Face thought it could use a high quality chocolate. I thought it was just too much chocolate. Our dancer friend took two bites and flat-out refused to eat anymore. She couldn’t quite articulate what is was she didn’t like but it was a strong enough dislike for her not to finish her piece (luckily Bear Face was all over that little bit). The almond croissant was the clear winner: great almond flavor, good mix of gooey/sticky filling and flaky pastry. Betty Deville and I ate the still crunchy butt pieces and were making inappropriate noises proportionate to the croissant’s tastiness. Even our normally tight-lipped dancer friend made a few (still quite appropriate) noises of approval.
And then there were the popovers. They were a wonderful dark golden brown with a glistening sheen that promised lots of butter. I should have suspected they couldn’t live up to the hype when all the popovers in the basket in the display case were deflated. But I was still cheering for these underdogs. Unfortunately, these popovers had none of the crispy, steamy, freshness that made them seem so appealing in the Heavy Table article. Those our dancer friend was thinking enough to grab butter pats, even slathering the popovers with butter couldn’t save them. They were soggy, eggy, and buttery. I’m ok with eggy and buttery since that is what makes a good popover but not soggy. I thought we were safe getting to Lucia’s right when the opened to get fresh popovers but apparently not. I was very disappointed.
Many factors might have contributed to what I am hoping was a fluke batch of popovers. Weather (think heat index warning, rainforest-like conditions), weekend, take-out. I don’t know. I am definitely willing to give popovers another chance because I think I will love them fresh out of the oven, but I am not going to try and compare them to donuts. It’s just not fair. Very Intriguing Man, we need to have words.