When my corporate group had its employees, a high-performing contingent of information technology professionals, take a strengths assessment, the results were contrary to the stereotypes often painted about techno-geeks. None of us, for example, were profiled as Megadeath tee-shirt-wearing introverts who live in our mother’s basement and play World of Warcraft online against disembodied “friends.” Most of us were correctly pegged as being high achievers with healthy interpersonal skills and altruistic inclinations.
The employee who defied the IT stereotype most was my friend and fellow Peñasquero Antonette whom the assessment categorized as a “Woo” for her naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior. Even though Antonette was a cheerleader in high school, Woo in this case, is not a cheer or an onomatopoeia of excitement. Woo is an acronym for “winning others over.” In the world of a Woo, there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met–lots of them. Woos relish the challenge of meeting new people and derive satisfaction from making personal connections.
Woo fits Antonette to a tee, but it’s admittedly not a characterization one would ascribe to me, a pretty plebeian guy. To me, woo (or woot as my friend Andrea Lin has been known to say) remains an expression of excitement, albeit one uttered in my usual Ben Stein deadpan and stoic manner. It’s something I say upon receipt of exciting news–such as the launch of a promising new restaurant. If my restaurant ratings were to be expressed as utterances of excitement, I would rate restaurants on a scale of one to four woos. Whoo’s Donuts in Santa Fe would earn four woos (and certainly more than one “mmm donuts” from Homer Simpson) and not just because of the obvious alliterative similarities between the words. It’s simply one of the most exciting donut restaurants in New Mexico. Woo!
Until the September 30, 2011 launch of Whoo’s Donuts, Santa Fe was surprisingly lacking in a high quality non-chain donut shop to complement all the highly regarded gourmet restaurants which make the City Different one of America’s premier dining destinations. The recognition of this niche opportunity makes it only fitting therefore that this denizen of donut deliciousness be named for the wise owl. Whoo’s Donuts is the brainchild of Jeff and Kari Keenan, owners of The ChocolateSmith which gained national prominence when featured in the Food Network’s “Road Tested” program. Whoo’s Donuts is situated next door to the ChocolateSmith.
The notion of a donut shop taking pride in its use of “organic” and “locally sourced” ingredients may seem antithetical in a market dominated by caloric and processed sugar overachievers, but Whoo’s Donuts pulls it off with absolutely no sacrifice in the flavor and decadence departments, not to mention in imagination. Where the chain donut shops have become predictably banal, Whoo’s is an exciting breath of olfactory arousing air with an inventive array of über-delicious donuts showcased under glass in twin cases. A wooden plank sunburst behind the counter seems to herald the dawn of a new era–an era Whoo’s time has come.
While much of the shop’s business is of the take-out variety, Whoo’s does offer seating (around wooden barrels) for patrons who aren’t in a hurry. Make it a point to stick around where you can also enjoy a custom blend from Fat Boy Roasters of Cedar Crest. You’re bound, as we did, to run into other Homer Simpsonesque donut aficionados happily regaling one another with tales of donuts past and to come. We ran into a couple from Portland who eschewed hometown pride to declare Whoo’s Donuts better than the legendary Voodoo Donuts. That’s high praise indeed.
7 January 2012: If Portland’s Voodoo Donuts didn’t invent the maple bacon bar, they sure did popularize it. Whoo’s Donuts one-ups Voodoo with a bit of New Mexican alchemy–a maple bacon bar with dark chocolate glaze and chili (sic) brown sugar. Sliced into tiny strips, the bacon is a crispy and savory complement to the adult dark chocolate glaze and the discernibly and very pleasantly piquant chili brown sugar. Great tastes that taste great together! Another terrific triumvirate can be enjoyed in the pistachio cake with white chocolate lemon ganache. The toasted pistachios with their salty underpinnings form a wonderful marriage with the tangy and tart lemon ganache.
7 January 2012: Toffee chunks of all sizes punctuate dark chocolate in the dark chocolate toffee donut which just might answer the question as to what a Heath bar might taste like in donut form. It would taste like a delectable bit of paradise. The ChocolateSmith is famous for its chocolate-covered caramels with sea salt, a combination which also works well in a dulce de leche (a sweet cream caramel) donut with chocolate and sea salt. Sea salt both complements and contrasts the sweetness of the caramel and the ecstasy eliciting flavor of dark chocolate. It’s a magical combination. Whoo’s cinnamon rolls are gooey, rich and very cinnamony, better if heated with a pad of melted butter for contrast.
29 August 2020: With the Albuquerque area experiencing 90-degree plus days every single day in August, we needed something to evoke the feeling of autumn. We found our panacea in the form of apple cider donuts from Whoo’s. Wholly unlike the textural experience of biting into a crisp, juicy apple, biting into an apple cider donut is akin to biting into a moist and silken orb miraculously imbued with the flavors of an apple not far removed from a tree. Close your eyes and within the confines of an air conditioned vehicle, enjoying an apple cider donut kindles the spirit of fall.
29 August 2020: In New Mexico, red and green chile probably do more to channel autumn than anything else. As such, it only made sense that we would also enjoy a green chile apple fritter (pictured in the August, 2020 edition of Red or Green). The pairing of fresh, crisp apples and roasted green chile works very well. It’s a palate pleasing combination that should evoke, at least momentarily, the sensation of summer’s departure and the long overdue advent of cooler autumn climes.
Whatever your expression of excitement might be, Whoo’s Donuts certainly warrants it be expressed loudly. This is a true woo if there ever was one!
851-B Cerillos Road
Santa Fe, New Mexico
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LATEST VISIT: 29 August 2020
1st VISIT: 7 January 2012
# OF VISITS: 2
BEST BET: Dulce de Leche, Cinnamon Roll, Maple bacon with dark chocolate glaze and chili brown sugar, Pistachio cake with white chocolate lemon ganache, Dark Chocolate Toffee Donut, Apple Cider Donut, Green Chile Apple Fritter