I know that it’s technically the Donut and Beer Festival, but I refuse to call doughnuts “donuts”. The word looks like do-nut to me: do or do nut, there is no fry. Entry was a gold coin donation, with money being raised for Eat Up (Eat Up’s page).
I don’t think the organisers anticipated how popular the event would be. It was held at The Village on St Kilda Road, which was a short tram ride from the city. The poster listed the start time as 2pm, so we got there at about 1:40pm and it was already packed.
I wanted to try the vegan doughnuts, so we got into the line at Cocomama’s stall. The line didn’t look too long, but I don’t think they were ready to be serving people yet, and so it moved quite slowly. I’m glad it wasn’t raining, because I think we ended up waiting around 25-30 minutes and we were maybe 20th in line. Fortunately, the stall next door (Nieuw Amsterdam) didn’t seem nearly as busy, so MrFodder grabbed us a doughnut they called “Oreo to go”.
It was $6, which seemed like a lot for such a small doughnut, but it was delicious. I’ve never had a ball doughnut taste so perfectly sweet without an overly oily feeling. The cream was nice, too. Not too strong, so you could still enjoy the doughnut itself, but you could definitely taste the cookies ‘n’ cream. I thought there was a bit too much cream, but luckily, it’s MrFodder’s favourite flavour, so he was more than happy to eat it.
The variety of flavours at Cocomama was pretty impressive.
Definitely some inspiration for ice-cream flavours, or doughnuts, if I ever decide to go down that route. It was tough to decide which one to pick, but I chose Paddle Pop, as I’d never seem a doughnut with that flavour before. It had cashews, coconut flour, dried mulberries, vanilla, maple syrup, coconut oil, cacao butter, vegan friendly food dye, cinnamon and nutmeg.
But it has cashews – I thought you were allergic to nuts! Well, I found out I can eat cashews, after someone at work gave me some vegan chocolate, and it was only later that I discovered it had cashews in it. I was fine.
MrFodder decided to go for the Mars Bar: Cashews, coconut flour, dried mulberries, vanilla, almond butter, dates, maple syrup, cacao and coconut oil, cinnamon… the rest of the sign is obscured in my photo. :(
The first thing we noticed after picking the doughnut up was that it was heavy.
Biting into them revealed that the heaviness was due to the fact that they were incredibly dense.
I’m guessing it’s because they were gluten free, but it made it difficult to eat the entire doughnut in one go, so we decided to line up at another stall while waiting. We passed another gluten-free one that didn’t have a line, but none of the flavours stood out.
The last one (Dip’d) had a Russian Roulette sign, where you get six doughnuts coated in chocolate sauce, and one of them contains a ghost pepper. It sounded interesting, until I read the part at the bottom where it said you have to sign a liability waiver if you want to buy it, and MrFodder told me ghost peppers can cause people to be violently sick for days. Probably give it a miss…
They also had “The VIP doughnut”: 5 doughnuts topped with fresh mixed berries, coated in Moët and Chandon sabayon with edible diamonds and 24 karat gold leaf. There were only 5 servings available and it also came with a certificate of authenticity, not to mention a $50 price tag.
We ended up choosing Newman Espresso as our last doughnut stall to visit for the day, as we didn’t really want to spend our entire Sunday lining up. I picked it because I couldn’t go past an apple pie doughnut without trying it.
The line for this place was also really long, and moved pretty slowly. It seems they were preparing the doughnuts still, and one of the guys at the stall apologised, saying they weren’t able to keep up with the flow of people. We didn’t mind waiting at this stall, as the line was in the shade, so it wasn’t too hot.
I picked the apple pie doughnut (it contained vanilla custard inside):
MrFodder picked the caramel popcorn doughnut:
We weren’t able to find a place to sit, and since we were leaving anyway, decided to eat outside the venue. It’s a good thing that we did, as upon leaving, we saw that there was a massive queue just to get inside. It seemed like they had stopped letting people in, and so you could only enter if other people had left. Someone stopped us to ask if it was worth going in, and we told her no. The line had gone around the corner and went all the way to the Seek building.
I’m so glad the apple pie doughnut was delicious, the vanilla custard was nice and light, as was the entire doughnut, I could easily have eaten 6 of them. The caramel popcorn one was OK. I think I prefer sweet caramel, rather than salted caramel, which seems to be the craze right now.
We didn’t bother trying any of the beer.
While we were waiting, MrFodder and I thought about how they could have improved the design of the event. I think the first problem was that they had started too early. The advertised time was 2pm, so all of the stalls probably thought they’d have time to set up and prepare some doughnuts before people started flooding in. But for some reason, they started letting people in early, which meant the people working at the stall had to split up, with some people serving customers, and the rest preparing doughnuts. For the stalls that only had two people, that pretty much halved their throughput.
On the issue of throughput, a lot o the stalls didn’t have a menu, which meant unless you had already looked at what they had before lining up, people weren’t deciding what they wanted until they had hit the front of the line. For a stall like Cocomama’s, which had so many different doughnuts, this slowed things down a lot, probably adding an extra 30 seconds – 1 minute to each transaction. I’m not sure if they put up a menu after we left, so maybe that wasn’t an issue later.
Another problem is that there was a large marquee for the Zomato VIPs. I’m not sure what you have to do to become one of those, but since it was limited to certain people, there was a lot of space that could have been used for more tables, etc. But Zomato were sponsors, so they probably got promised that space, so it couldn’t be helped.
I think the last thing that wasn’t considered is the nature of the event. I think they were trying to follow the food truck model, where you get a bunch of food trucks in one place and people line up for food. In that case, most people will probably buy enough food for lunch / dinner, and then go and do something else, freeing up space for another person. But I feel having doughnuts and beer as the main focus encourages people to sit around with friends and relax (once you actually get in). So if you are restricting entry based on the number of people already inside, your throughput goes way down once the venue is full.
Still, it’s a good thing that the event was so successful in terms of people showing up. It means that there are lots of people who love doughnuts. :D