Requiem for a doughnut
The Los Angeles area has its share of terrific doughnut shops -- Donut Man in Glendora, Stan's in Westwood, Bob's in the Farmers Market, as well as the dozens of mom-and-pop shops permeating the region's strip malls -- but to my belly, one rose above them all: Frittelli's Doughnuts & Coffee.
Frittelli's didn't simply make donuts. They wove sugar, dough, fruit and chocolate into poetry.
It was a small, easily overlooked store on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills, not an area known for its plebeian fare. But if there's anywhere consumers are willing to pay exorbitant amounts for gentrified food (and clothes and housewares and ... ), this would be the neighborhood. Still, $3 for a doughnut didn't make it an easy sell. Until I tried my first cake doughnut at Frittelli's.
It was a hot summer day, and the burst of fresh blueberry flavor on my tongue nearly made me weep. A doughnut shop that actually uses fresh fruit to make its glazes? I was in love. I determinedly worked my way through Frittelli's catalog of cake doughnuts: banana fritters, strawberry, the latte glaze, poppyseed with a lemon glaze, plain chocolate, creamy peanut butter and strawberry filled, praline crunch, maple bars and on and on.
I once splurged on two dozen assorted doughnuts to bring to a barbecue. As I was crossing the street to my car, the bottom of the box opened and all my doughnuts fell out. I was heartbroken. Not just for the wasted money but for the brilliance that nature had so cruelly cut short. I went back to Frittelli's and explained what had happened. They apologized, replaced all my doughnuts for free (this time in a more thoroughly reinforced box) and offered me a free iced coffee drink for my trouble.
The staff was always helpful and friendly, and the doughnuts were superb. So I was saddened when I walked by a few days ago and found the shop boarded shut. Tables sat empty, syrup bottles were still on the shelves and the phone had been disconnected. In a region overrun by high-end cupcake shops, it seems that a high-end doughnut shop has more trouble finding its niche.
Goodnight, sweet doughnut shop. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
-- Elina Shatkin
Photo: The merchandise at Frittelli's Doughnuts & Coffee. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)