I swear I have been trying to get into a position where I can have something non-snarky to say about local Fresno food. There IS great food out there. I’ve just been luckless and lazy in my culinary pursuits. And drunk. Very, very drunk.
And that brings us to The Cinnamon Roll Shoppe. Another long standing Fresno institution. They have been at their location on Fresno and Gettysburg as long as I can remember. Easily 30 years. And I have some very wonderful memories of stumbling into their lobby after a 10 or 12 hour drinking marathon to grab a hot nut-roll to stagger home with and devour before passing out, upright in my chair, with a nutty cinnamon sugar cascade running down my chin, like I died from a baker’s heroin overdose. Good memories of what was a great pastry.
Alas, my memories were to be betrayed in a most foul fashion. It was 8 in the morning and I was dragged unhappily out of my booze cocoon for an early morning adventure. In the midst of this, I realize that I’m actually awake and outside during the short period the Cinnamon Roll Shoppe is open and serving! Mmmm, hot buttery cinnamon roll with nuts baby! And so we duck in, that I might purchase my heart’s delight. And alas, he says that they’re out of nut rolls… How the hell? Do you have walnuts? Then throw some of the damn things on a regular cinnamon roll! Normally I’d say it, but this poor, portly, baker had that aura of praying for just the right excuse to throw himself into a running mixer, ending his cinnamon pain forever.
So, I settle for a regular non-nutty roll and proceed to drag it back to the cave to be devoured with extreme prejudice. It’s a good thing too. If I had tried to eat what I found in the box, in front of this semi-suicidal chef de patisserie, I’d have sent him into the bathroom to smother himself to death with the very dough that has destroyed his will to live. I didn’t want to be an accessory or anything.
I have eaten many cinnamon rolls from many sources. Sealed plastic bags from vending machines, kiosks in malls operated by slope browed teenagers, fabulously fresh baked at the county fair. But never in my life has a roll been this gut churningly disgusting.
The bakery fresh cinnamon roll is supposed to be a little bready, with the wonderfully caramelized tops and hot, buttery, cinnamon sugar melted around the bottom. They’re not gooey, not covered in cream cheese frosting. Nuts. Pecans or walnuts. That’s the only allowable topping. When cinnamon rolls are ALL that you do, you simply must put out the best possible product. And believe me, I love the Cinnamon Roll Shoppe! That’s the very reason for my shock and disgust. I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that they know how to put out a higher quality product. If times are hard, I would rather pay more for a superlative product than pay the same for awful quality.
So take a note from the Pillsbury Dough Boy and cheer up fatty! Go to the store, buy some butter and some sugar and some cinnamon. Dig around in the back, find the old recipe, the old pans and if required, the old owner. But whatever you do, stop serving food that is awash in a slimy, viscous fluid that cannot be discerned from sperm in any way but odor. If you must bow to convention, then just make some damn icing and sell it on the side. But I beg you, for the health of your business and my own general wish to be able to say something nice about a beloved Fresno institution, get your shit together!