Early bird gets the doughnut at Cartems Donuterie pop-up shop
I’ve never lined up for doughnuts before, but there’s a first for everything, right?
When I arrived at Cartems Donuterie’s pop-up shop about an hour after they had opened this morning, the line was so long that it had wrapped around the tiny shop and out the door. Nobody was moving. The counter had nothing on it but the remnants of doughnuts past, so I went to claim my spot in line—outside.
Around 15 minutes later, a car pulled up, and out came a tub filled with doughnuts. You could feel the anticipation of the people in line, like kids waiting to open a pile of birthday presents. Almost everyone started drawing bills from their wallets, inching slightly closer to the person in front, standing on tip-toes to watch the doughnut trays being placed onto the countertop. The line started moving.
First guy out with a doughnut in hand.
“How long did you wait?” someone from the back of the line shouted.
“Around 20 minutes… I was here when the first batch sold out, so we were waiting for them to deliver more,” he said before sheepishly biting into his Earl Grey doughnut and walking way.
The doughnuts are made in a kitchen on Commercial Drive. From Monday to Saturday, owner Jordan Cash and his team of doughnut makers cart a few carloads of doughnuts over to the pop-up shop space at the corner of Carrall and Hastings (until they secure a permanent retail space). The shop opens at 10 a.m. on Monday to Friday and at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and closes when the day’s batch has sold out (usually by 3 p.m.).
A few more people trickled out of the shop, boxes in hand.
“Damn, they must have bought a dozen,” I thought.
I started to worry that there wouldn’t be any doughnuts left by the time I reached the front of the line. I had my heart set on trying the Maple Bacon Bourbon doughnut—one of their top-sellers. At $3 a doughnut ($27 for a dozen), you would think that a lot of people would balk at the price (and a lot of people passing by did) considering you could get a doughnut at Tim Hortons for about a third of that price, but these are no ordinary doughnuts.
Cartems Doughnuts are handmade daily using locally sourced ingredients, including Chilliwack’s Anita’s Organic Mill flour, Richmond’s River Farms eggs, and Burnaby’s Avalon Dairy milk. The doughnuts are fried in organic coconut oil, and come in vegan and gluten-free alternatives.
Really, though, it’s probably the unique doughnut flavours that draw a line as long as the one I was standing in. The Earl Grey is a subtle, tea-infused cake topped with a white earl grey glaze and purple tea flowers. The Carrot Cake is just like the dessert, topped with a caramel glaze, candied carrots, and oats. The Sweet Heat for the adventuresome is a doughy blend of rich chocolate, cinnamon, and spicy chilies; while the Bee Sting marries honey, Parmesan cheese, and fresh pepper.
By the time I made it to the doughnut counter, there were only four varieties left—none of which were pork-filled. I counted my losses and decided on the Earl Grey and the Vegan Chocolate, which was spongy and moist, and topped with chocolate ganache and callebaut sprinkles.
”Next time, I’ll be there earlier,” I told my doughnut seeking companion on my way out (I had overheard someone saying that true doughnut devotees get there 10 minutes before they open).
As I walked away nearly 45 minutes after I had first arrived—the taste of a small victory in my mouth—all I could think about was how I could really use a glass of milk to wash all of the doughnuty goodness down. Then, maybe a nap.
Below, Michelle da Silva photos
The vegan chocolate doughnut comes with a chocolate ganache glaze and callebaut sprinkles.
Finally, a doughnut that gluten-free diners can indulge in.
You can follow Michelle da Silva on Twitter at twitter.com/michdas.