Christian Ramirez can’t talk right now because his mouth is full of donut. The Minnesota United forward is sitting on a violently pink settee in Glam Doll Donuts’ Eat Street location, a sampling of donuts both outrageous and more traditional on a triangular side table in front of him. An avowed dessert and donut connoisseur, Ramirez is currently trying an Outlaw, a cherry cheesecake donut whose frosting is a darker, heartier shade of pink than the furniture.
“It's got some sort of cream in the middle — it's almost like cheesecake,” he says once he’s taken a sip of milk (he is not a coffee drinker.) “That's really good. The cream on the inside gives it a different feel, a surprising feel. It blends in with the donut. First impression, a 7, maybe 7.5. It seems like it's a glam donut.”
Ramirez — who’s currently tied for third in scoring in MLS with five goals so far — is no stranger to Glam Doll. He discovered it as part of Adventure Fridays, an initiative the four-year vet of Minnesota United started with his wife and friends Miguel Ibarra and Kevin Venegas to get out and sample some of the delicacies around the Twin Cities. It’s not just desserts, though. The California native has come up with a few new favorites for meals as well.
“Favorite place? I got my healthy one: Crisp & Green,” he says. “That's new, right by Freehouse. And then there's Taco Libre in Saint Paul. That one was outrageous. They have the biggest quesadillas around, apparently. If you look up a picture of them on Google, it's ridiculous.”
He moves on from the Outlaw to the Femme Fatale, a raspberry curd-filled donut with vanilla icing. A tiny candy heart sits atop the frosting in the middle of the confection.
“That one has a lot of sweetness,” he says. “That one, I think, is an 8. I'm not big on filling, but that one is good. I don't like it when I get messy when I'm eating.”
The clear winner turns out to be the simplest: the Starlet, a raised donut with vanilla icing and rainbow sprinkles. Ramirez isn’t exactly a purist: “I'll get pretty out there,” he says. “You can throw any cereal on it or Oreos on it and I'll dive in. I'm open to try anything.” But he appreciates the simplicity of the classic donut, as well as the nostalgia it evokes.
“This is the ultimate,” he says. “I think it's just because it makes me feel like a little kid again. That's all I used to eat when I was younger on soccer trips. When we had an early morning game — probably not the best but — my dad would take me to get donuts for me and my teammates before an 8 a.m. game.”
Even now, when he’s on the road with MNUFC, Ramirez looks for chances to get away and experience a little of what a new city has to offer, either after the match or maybe early the next day before the team flies out. The jump to Major League Soccer has been an adjustment in a lot of ways, but Ramirez feels the team has started to settle in after a rocky start.
“This last month I think we've played really well and shown the potential that we have,” he says. “It's about believing in that, continuing to push through those low points. I think a perfect example was Colorado at home. It was one of our ugliest games but we dug in and we grinded a win out. I think those wins will come to be huge down the road. We'll say, man, we really dug for that one. We just have to maintain that edge.”
That edge will be especially necessary against a tough Sporting Kansas City side that comes to town this weekend to face Minnesota United. The teams’ history goes back several years in U.S. Open Cup play and Ramirez is well familiar, having scored on a penalty kick in a rough and tumble match last year that went to overtime and saw 11 yellow cards handed out.
“I've had Sporting circled on my calendar just because they're one of the few MLS teams that we've played against regularly the last couple years,” he says. “It's always been such a good game against them. Their crowd gets up for it, our crowd gets up for it. As big as TCF is, the crowd has been one of the loudest in the league for us. To hear 17 or 18,000 people on their feet for the majority of the game has been outstanding.”
On the road, Ramirez seeks out a bit of comfort or a bit of a novelty when it comes to food. He’s a big fan of the regional chain BJ’s and their Pizookie — a warm cookie with ice cream on top — and Applebee’s maple butter blondie is always reliable. But a hole-in-the-wall donut shop like the ones he grew up with works fine. Anywhere with a tres leche cake will do the job. But there’s nothing quite like that home cooking by the supporters at TCF Bank Stadium. Even if it’s not donuts.