I’ve been known to go out of my way for good food. There was the time I broke all my rules and stood in line for two hours in the freezing cold for Filipino food at Bad Saint in D.C. Then there was the time I took a bus for an hour to go to a new bakery that had just opened in Portland, Oregon. If I get an instinctual feeling about a place, and I’ve heard good things, there’s nothing that can stop me.
Which brings me to the grapefruit rose doughnuts at KNEAD. I already know and love the bakery, which is located in St. Louis’s Southampton neighborhood. I was scrolling through their Instagram earlier this week and I saw a picture of a grapefruit rose doughnut. It looked so good, I temporarily stopped breathing. I decided to get one as soon as possible.
Work was unexpectedly busy on Tuesday so I couldn’t get over to KNEAD until around noon. When I walked in, I didn’t see the doughnuts anywhere. “Do you have any grapefruit rose doughnuts?” I asked the cashier. “I just sold the last one,” she said apologetically. I looked behind her and the doughnut was sitting on a metal tray on the counter, waiting for someone who wasn’t me. “That’s okay,” I said, trying to hide my disappointment. “I’ll come back earlier tomorrow.”
Yesterday I walked in at eleven. I didn’t see the doughnuts anywhere. Me and the same cashier locked eyes. She recognized me and looked instantly apologetic. “You’re sold out again?” I said, somewhat incredulously. “Yes,” she said. “I’m so sorry, I meant to set one aside for you.” She gave me a free homemade pop tart, even though I protested. “It’s the least I can do,” she said. I guess the disappointment was written all over my face, even though I was trying to hide it.
At this point, many people would give up. I mean, why drive yourself crazy trying to get something after multiple attempts? The answer is, because you know how good it will be, and despite all reason, you know in your heart that you’re meant to try it. Also, there’s a part of me that refuses to give up no matter what’s thrown at me. Call it stubbornness or sheer persistence, but if I want something, I go after it.
This morning I woke up an hour early so I could get to KNEAD before work. I pulled into the parking lot a few minutes before they opened. A friendly cashier let me inside. I saw the grapefruit rose doughnut sitting behind the glass case. I felt happy and relieved. This was the moment I’d been waiting for.
I got the doughnut and a cup of coffee. I ate it at the counter by the front window. The sun shined through the glass and felt hot on my face, but that’s okay. It’s winter and I hardly ever see the sun these days.
I sat there, enjoying the bright citrus and soft rose flavors in the doughnut, the warmth of the sun and the coffee, and the peacefulness of the bakery in the early morning. I felt more relaxed than I have in days. I realized that life is about these small moments of pleasure. On some level I’ve always known it, but my experience at KNEAD this morning confirmed it.
With that happiness brought a certain clarity. I want to open my own bakery someday. I want to bring that same feeling of satisfaction to other people. It might not happen in a year or ten years, but I know it will happen eventually. Until then, I’ll enjoy the journey.