Category: gluten-free

Vancouver: Cartems Donuterie

Since it opened in Vancouver just a few weeks ago, Cartems Donuterie has been making a big splash. In fact, they’ve been so successful that they’ve had to suspend the online ordering and local bike delivery that they originally offered.

The donuts are made at their Commercial Drive site; I picked up mine at the Gastown pop-up location that they’re currently occupying while they look for a permanent home for their store. Though some folks have reported lines and shortages, the near-constant rain on Friday seemed to work in my favor, since I didn’t have to wait and had many varieties to choose from.

The local press and blogosphere (see these early online reviews) have been talking up Cartems. So, what’s all the fuss about? Here’s what the Cartems fellows have to say themselves:

Cartems is all about quality ingredients, creative flavours, and making people smile, one donut at a time. We’ve got the tastiest donuts around…. Cartems donuts are handmade by skilled pastry chefs and are a fresher, healthier alternative to traditional fast-food donuts. We even offer vegan and gluten-free donuts, as well as baked donuts to give you a lighter alternative to the traditional fried donut (and for the record, we use organic coconut oil to fry our donuts!).

Our ingredients are fresh, and our donuts are never ever frozen. Our ingredients are sourced from as close to home as possible, and organic wherever we can. Flour comes from Anita’s Organic Mill (Chilliwack), our eggs are from Rabbit River Farms (Richmond), butter comes from Golden Ears Farms (Maple Ridge), our milk is from Avalon Dairy (Burnaby), and our spices come from Gathering Place Trading Company on Cortes Island.

Local ingredients – ethically sourced and sustainable – mean a higher quality donut you can feel better about eating, giving you more reasons to smile.

Our goal is to hand make the best donuts possible. Sure, they take us a little longer to make, and the ingredients may cost a bit more, but we hope you’ll agree that it’s worth it.

So, what’s my take? In short, the donuts are as good as advertised! I picked up an assorted half-dozen (yes, 6 donuts for little old me) to try a variety, and I thought they ranged from good to amazing. Here’s my rundown, staring with my very favorite and working down from there.

  • Vegan vanilla with chocolate icing and shredded coconut: This light, chewy donut also featured a beautiful balance between the chocolate and coconut, neither of which overwhelmed the other. I thought I died and went to heaven. Only the last bite remains in the photo, since I couldn’t resist diving in before snapping a pic!
  • Vegan Chocolate Delight [upper right of photo]: A baked chocolate donut, topped with chocolate ganache and callebaut sprinkles, this was fan-fricking-tastic. Moist, rich, decadent.
  • Cinammon Sugar [center]: Despite the yeast variety featured on the website, I had a cake version of this one. Sooooo good. Great texture, a simple classic that, despite the sugary dusting, wasn’t overly sweet.
  • Flourless Bouquet [left]: This baked, gluten-free donut had a very cake-like texture and was topped with a tasty, not-overly-sweet berry tea glaze. As a gluten-free donut, this is a truly impressive accomplishment. The donut guys told me that they spent a very long time trying to perfect this GF treat, eventually settling on a bean flour rather than the more common rice flour.
  • Earl Grey [right center]: As detailed on the website, this “cake donut is infused with an organic earl grey tea, topped with earl grey glaze and a sprinkling of mallow flowers (the purple flowers in earl grey tea!)” I liked the donut itself quite a bit; it had a very inviting, subtle flavor, a lovely crunch on the outside and flecks of tea inside, but I found the icing excessively sweet.
  • Triple Chocolate Threat [lower right]: This chocolate cake donut is a dense and filling classic. It reminded me of a really good, fresh version of the Entenmann’s donut I grew up with, and I mean that as a compliment. In the end, though, this one was just a little too heavy for me and couldn’t compete with the truly fantastic vegan chocolate variety.

Bottom line? Cartems is making some of the best donuts I’ve ever had. With quality this high, they are more than worth the price ($3 each or $15 for a half dozen); after all, you get what you pay for!