Some believe that all good things begin with a dream. Cartems Donuterie in Vancouver is proof this is true. Currently housed out of a shared kitchen space on the Drive, with an additional pop-up location on the corner of Carrall and Hastings, it began with a dream by owner Jordan Cash. In 2002, while teaching English in South Korea (which he told a captive audience in the shop waiting for his next batch of donuts, is what you do when you don’t know what you’re doing with your life) he had a dream. Jordan dreamed about opening a donut shop, about serving donuts with a knife and fork and about a name for the shop: Cartems.
Fast forward 10 years later and the little donut shop that could (and opened only 3 weeks ago) is taking the Vancouver food scene by storm. The donuts aren’t served with a knife and fork (yet) but they are delicious. Finding Cartems’pop-up shop in Gastown proved easier that we expected – the line of customers out the door gave it away. If there is no line to guide you – it’s in the Pennsylvania Hotel. We joined the line, waiting in the drizzling Vancouver rain to see what all the fuss was about. When we got to the end we were part of a few waiting for the next batch to arrive. For the next hour a well-spirited crowd of donut-seekers waited eagerly for a fresh delivery from the kitchen on Commercial. The happy chattered ranged from the changing neighbourhood (we shared an ice cream sandwich from nearby restaurant Meat and Bread), other donut hotspots in the city(or lack thereof) and as is inevitable in Vancouver the price of housing. The owner’s and their friends who volunteered on this unexpectedly busy day chatted with the waiting crowd until an hour later, a vintage green Porsche arrive, with a rubber bin full of donuts.
We took home one of each flavour available: early gray, sweet heat, citrus zest, triple chocolate threat, carrot cake and a classic. We rushed home warm box in hands to devour two while they were still warm (the other four were going to some much deserved Hobbyists for dinnertime dessert). The first two we tried were delicious. The classic was just that: a plain donut with a slightly crispy, but moist vanilla bean glaze. The kind of donut that reminds you of your childhood, but just a little more gourmet. The outside of the citrus zest had that fantastic deep fried crunch with a moist cake inside. The zest was surprisingly potent, creating a sweet citrus tingle on your tongue. The two favourites at that night’s dinner party were the sweet heat and earl gray. The amount of heat in the sweet heat was pleasantly surprising. If you love a good chili/chocolate combination this is donut for you. The heat lingers and the cinnamon in the dusting rounds out this full flavour combination. The earl gray is beautiful looking and has a subtle but unmistakeable flavour. For this donut texture pulled it to the top of the list: soft crunch to the icing, crunchy donut outside and moist middle. If you like carrot cake you will like the carrot cake donut. We were missing the candied carrots and oats topping (they ran out) to give the donut that extra blast of carrot flavour. The triple chocolate was a little bit dry and heavy – our least favorite of the day. We will try it again – even a donut has an off day.
The donuterie has been open for 3 weeks. They have gone from making 60 donuts a day to over 700 – who knew Vancouver foodies were yearning for a great donut? Apparently the team at Cartems Donuterie did. If you are in the area stop by. We’ve already got a coffee and donut date planned for next weekend – so you can count us in as repeat customers.
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