Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Where We Eat: Buttermilk Provisions

Rumor has it Dana M., owner and chief baker of Buttermilk Provisions in Wesley Chapel, used to go on all out baking binges around the holidays. She would ask anyone important enough to be worth inviting to come to her place and eat some of the hundreds of donuts that she was baking. When I asked Dana about this rumor she laughed and said "I don't do that anymore. They want my donuts, they have to come here to get them."

Buttermilk Provisions can best be described as a bakery, coffee and tea shop. The shop is located in a strip mall just north of Wiregrass Mall. While the outside screams "typical Florida business experience" and "nothing unique to see here" the inside is anything but typical. The left side of the shop is lined with couches, chairs and coffee tables. This is usually where we wind up because Z-Bot prefers her coffee and donut experiences to be of the slightly more comfortable variety. The right side includes high tables, barstools and an entire wall covered by an old school chalkboard. This board has been decorated with chalk designed donut and coffee art, propaganda and quotes. It also serves as a coffee education zone (what makes a latte a latte?) and menu board. Buttermilk Provisions offers four rotating donut flavors per day. At least one flavor will be gluten free. Some days they offer vegan donuts, other times vegans will have to forgo the donuts and try out some of the vegan banana bread. Whether it is donuts or banana bread, Buttermilk Provisions makes it a point to have at least one vegan option daily.

My first experience with Buttermilk Provisions was a slightly dry slice of vegan banana bread that my friend brought to me at work during their soft opening phase. I wasn't really impressed with it so I felt no urgency to return. This summer that same friend told me that Buttermilk Provisions had rolled out a chocolate vegan donut. She, being a meat and dairy eater all the way, had gone out of her way to sample the donut. She loved it. When a second co-worker, also not a vegan, exclaimed how good it was, I decided it was time to give the bakery another go. I rolled in with my daughter last Friday and inquired about the vegan chocolate donut I had been hearing about. Dana informed me that they had a dairy free chocolate donut that day but she had unfortunately covered it with an egg filled caramel sauce. I'm sure my face didn't hide my displeasure. What the hell? Why go halfway vegan? (She later explained that people had been clamoring for her caramel sauce and she thought pairing it with the chocolate donut would be perfect. Once she finished she realized that she had now taken her vegan donut and made it not vegan.) I was informed that they had a vegan banana bread and I, begrudgingly, ordered a piece of it. For Z-Bot, I got her one of the halfway vegan chocolate donuts.

This time around I was blown away by the banana bread. It wasn't nearly as dry as the first time. I liked how the banana bread was dense and had only a slight banana taste to it. It wasn't overly sweet. There were chunks of vegan chocolate and walnuts spread throughout. They helped break up some of the denseness of the bread and assisted in making each bite a slightly sweet, crunchy, chocolatey affair. I was so impressed with the bread that when I returned today, and they had a vegan donut, I opted to get both the donut and the bread.

Banana bread with a fancy plastic cup of water

Today's vegan donut was a chocolate glazed, chocolate donut that was also gluten free. It was baked, like all Buttermilk Provisions' donuts are. Since I ordered the donut for Z-Bot, I only wanted to break off a small piece. When I did, about half the donut crumbled in my hands. It did not hold together very well. The donut was moist, something that is often times the downfall of vegan desserts. It looked, felt and tasted more like cake than a donut. Just know this. If you are vegan and expecting a donut that feels like a donut, uh, go to Brooklyn. If you are okay with a vegan donut that acts like a cake, go for it. I was pleased that the donut did not have any weird lingering aftertaste of earth balance or something fake tasting like that (another pitfall of vegan desserts). Vegan desserts are hard to pull off and Buttermilk Provisions seems to be doing a decent job of it. I'm interested to see if Dana continues to play around with more vegan donut variations or if she sticks with the tried and true.

The vegan chocolate donut and banana bread

Buttermilk Provisions serves about ten different flavors of artisan tea from Kaleisia. Their coffee consists of a cold brew, an espresso and a hot brew all from Buddy Brew. I decided a latte was in store for today. The latte was made with Buddy Brew's Double Dog Espresso (the same one I brew at home) and almond milk. Currently that is the only vegan milk that Dana offers. She has had a lot of inquiries for coconut milk but she is just tracking demand right now. Other options could come in the future or they could not. I liked that the latte wasn't overly sweet like other versions (ahem, Starbucks). You could really taste the Double Dog. This wouldn't be a good thing if the coffee wasn't up to par but, as far as I'm concerned, Buddy Brew's Double Dog is definitely a winner. The only thing I didn't like about the latte, my error of course, was that it came out warm. On a 90 degree day, I don't want warm coffee. I want it iced. But I failed to mention that when I ordered it. I've actually done this twice in the last few weeks. I'm so used to icing my own at home that I just assume everyone ices a latte. I guess I could've sent it back to have the barista fix it but I figured I wouldn't ever learn if I constantly have baristas fix my errors.

My almond milk latte, hot. Just how it should be on a stifling day in Florida

You want to make your own tea or coffee at home? Buttermilk Provisions also offers loose Kaleisia Teas and bags of Buddy Brew for sale. The Buddy Brew is especially awesome because I don't have to make the trek down to South Tampa when I run out. It is slightly more expensive than at the Buddy Brew roastery but it is the exact same price that Jug and Bottle and some of the other places that sell it around Tampa have it for. Buttermilk Provisions also has growlers for sale. 

Prices at Buttermilk Provisions are really inexpensive. This is a bit surprising considering that they use "locally sourced ingredients" and everything is "made from scratch daily." These descriptors usually mean that a business can tack on an extra dollar or two and nobody would flinch. The coffee and almond milk run you about four and a half. The banana bread is a little bit over two dollars and the donut is a little over one. Put that together and you've got two snacks, coffee and a tip for ten dollars. I am more than okay with that.

Just like Dana perfected her donut making craft over a number of years, Future Generations' new album has been an extended process. Eddie Gore had this to say about the new album: "This album has been at least 3 years in the making and we are extremely excited to finally be releasing it out to the world. We've grown so much through this process and I have to say that is probably the biggest theme through the whole thing: Growth." The album's new single, "Thunder in the City," fits nicely into my coffee, donut and banana bread runs because, well, it is summer in Tampa. That means everyday there is a period of lightning, thunder and rain.