On the Road

Gourdough's in Austin

Homer Simpson and I have two things in common. First, we have both been exposed to above-average levels of nuclear radiation (he from working at the Springfield Power Plant, and me from having grown up very close to Three-Mile Island). Second, we both really, really like donuts.

I've often bemoaned the lack of good donut shops in Houston. Shipley's is all right and they do make a wonderful apple fritter, but I wish there were more creative, decadent options.

Gourdough's in Austin is a donut shop -- er, trailer -- after my own heart. The over-the-top donut and topping creations, like the Mother Clucker (a glazed donut with a fried chicken strip and honey butter) and the Puddin' ( cream-filled donut with cream cheese icing, vanilla wafers, and bananas), seem like a nutritionist's worst nightmare, or at least a candidate for that obnoxious website This Is Why You're Fat.

I, however, would gladly shake (okay, kiss) the hand of the man or woman behind these magnificent concoctions.

A few weekends ago I stopped by the silver trailer on South Lamar only to find they had stopped making donuts for 20 or so minutes because of a snafu regarding ingredients. Although I was more than willing to wait for a Gourdough's masterpiece, my companions didn't want to. I batted my eyes and inquired if there might just one donut left from their last round of baking. The sweet-tempered attendant smiled. "Yes, but it's been sitting out for a good ten minutes. Won't be hot." I didn't care. "What do you want on it?" I told him to surprise me, and two minutes later he emerged with a giant cake donut, covered in strawberries, vanilla frosting, chocolate Oreos, and fudge. A donut man among men, let me tell you.

My Gourdough's to-go package felt heavy in my hand, but I didn't doubt I would finish every last bite.

Even a "stale" Goudough's was pure ambrosia (a piping-hot Gourdough's is delicious beyond words). At room temperature the donut's oil had settled, rendering the wrinkles around the hole crispy with salty grease. The dense, rich cake interior easily absorbed the ripe strawberry juices, which mingled with creamy frosting and fudge to create a smooth, sweet contrast to the crunchy chocolate cookies.

Back at the hotel I savored my large-and-in-charge donut with hot milk and promptly drifted off to sleep, dreaming of a world where Gourdough's opened a Houston branch.

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Joanna O'Leary