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Entries in portland (18)

Friday
May172013

CakeSpy Undercover: Blue Star Donuts, Portland OR

Blue Star Donuts

On my book tour's first leg (don't worry, there are more dates), I found myself in Portland, OR--a delightful city for foodies if ever there was one.

There were plenty of delicious new spots, both brick and mortar and of the food truck variety, that I wanted to try. With limited time and obligations filling my time, it was tough to make it to many, but--and I was assured by more than one person--you've gotta go to Blue Star Donuts.

Well, as it happened my first evening in Portland, my better half dinnered on a delicious Little Big Burger, a small burger joint with low prices but plenty of style. Tasty burgers, too. Guess what? Blue Star Donuts is owned by the same people! So even before going, I knew that they were probably going to be well made and served in a stylish setting (but then again, everyone in Portland is either a chef or graphic designer, so it's sort of a given). 

Well, once I got there, I knew I was going to like it from the moment I saw this sign: 

Keep Calm and Eat Donuts

I was also amused by this:

Blue Star Donuts

As you walk in, they have the donuts displayed prettily so you can see what each style looks like. Blue Star Donuts Blue Star Donuts

And when you order, they take your name. Why? Because they glaze each donut to ORDER, so it might take a minute or two! We got an old fashioned cake glazed, a yeast glazed, and a yeast donut topped with dulce de leche and hazelnut.

Here I am with a donut. If I look a little windblown, it's because I don't always let things like brushing my hair slow me down, preferring to head directly to the donut shop upon waking.Blue Star Donuts

Wow! Let's start by talking about the yeast doughnuts. They're so light and airy...almost briochelike in their lightness. They have a very good flavor. They have a very good texture. You'll never want to eat a Krispy Kreme again!

That brioche-like thing, btw, was in fact confirmed when I looked at their facebook page, which says this:

Our donuts are made from a classic brioche recipe that originated in the south of France. The dough is made from scratch every day: we start with a certified sustainable bread flour from Shepherds Grain, add Cage Free eggs from Stiebrs Farms, mix in whole milk from Sunshine Dairy, and then fold in a European-style butter from Larsen’s Creamery. All the fruits that go into our fillings and glazes are organic, and we only cook our donuts in rice oil. Our donuts are made fresh through out the day - selections change daily and sell out quickly!

Dulce de leche hazelnut donut, Blue Star Donuts Dulce de leche hazelnut donut, Blue Star Donuts

The dulce de leche hazelnut was VERY sticky, owing to the fact that it was so freshly glazed. This was a bit distracting, and perhaps it would have benefitted by waiting a few minutes before consumption, you know, to let it "set". But who does that? Who can wait with something like this within arm's reach? On to the old fashioneds. Both regular (yeast) and cake.

Blue Star Donuts

Once again, that dazzling briochelike dough. What a fine donut!

Blue Star Donuts Blue Star Donuts

and the old-fashioned cake for last.

Blue Star Donut

A dense dough, sort of like that of a sour cream coffee cake or something. A crisp edge. Very good--but not as dazzling as the other two. But nonetheless a pure pleasure to eat.

Blue Star Donuts

Blue Star Donuts--just donut! You won't regret it.

Blue Star Donuts, 1237 SW Washington Street, Portland OR; online here.

Sunday
Jan292012

Seriously Delicious: Serious Business Pastries, Portland OR

Serious Business Pastries

Seriously, dudes and dudettes.

I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorite new baking businesses. It's called Serious Business Pastries, and it's a special-order operation based in Portland, OR. 

What's so special about Serious Business Pastries? For starters, the sweet history.

I first "met" owner Lindsay Yousey several years ago when I discovered her blog entry featuring Starry Nights cupcakes. Now, consider that at the time, she was not baking professionally. Actually, her background was in psychotherapy. They looked pretty professional to me, though, so I urged her to become a professional baker.

And she listened to me! I love it when people do what I tell them.

After honing her pastry skills at Mother's Bistro and Grand Central Baking in Portland, she opened up her own operation.

Serious Business Pastries

And when I was in Portland for Crafty Wonderland, I got to sample her baked goods--she brought me a big stack of freshly-baked "Serious Snickerdoodles", which are described thusly:

Our bakery’s hallmark cookie. We developed and nurtured this recipe over a number of years, and we’re quite pleased with it. Tender sugar cookie base, with all-natural cinnamon chips, and rolled in our blend of vanilla-cinnamon-sugar. They’re outrageously delicious, whether fresh from the oven, or the day after. 

Serious Business Pastries

And oh, are these cookies good. Soft but not gooey, buttery but not too crumbly, these cookies yield to your greedy teeth, linger on your tongue long enough to impart a buttery flavor all over your mouth, and then melt into sweet oblivion into your belly...and make you want to repeat that bite over and over. 

Serious Business Pastries

 

But that's not the only item offered on the menu: they've got plenty more cookies, cakes, and even the outrageously delicious-sounding "Muffinletta":

Inspired by our love of food from New Orleans, this is a large savory yeasted muffin that’s almost as filling as the sandwich that bears a similar name. We begin with our own sourdough starter muffin base, and mix in olive salad and shredded smoked provolone. From there we add artisan cured capicola, soppressata, and Genoa salami and top it off with sesame seeds and a pierced olive. No mayo ever touches these muffins, ever.

So, I suppose you must know what I am getting at here. If you live in Portland, it is my strong suggestion that you seek out Serious Business for your next special-order batch of baked goods, or seek them out at an upcoming farmer's market!

Serious Business Pastries

For all the info, visit the Serious Business Pastries website or find them on Facebook!

Wednesday
Oct262011

Cakewalk: 13 Sweet Moments from CakeSpy's Portland Book Tour

Treats and my book at Saint CupcakePortland totally ruled! Don't believe me? Here's proof: 13 of the sweetest moments from my Tour de Sweet, Portland leg:

TV! How fun was it to be on Fox 12 and demo my cakes made in orange shells? So easy to customize in a Halloween-y way.

Take your Pix: I got to hang out for a few hours at Pix Patisserie, where I gorged on Salted caramel macarons, signed books, and hung out with a bunch of awesome people, including owner of Perch, Willi Galloway.

Delicious Donuts: Finally! After being greeted with the "sold out" sign so many times, I finally hit up this holey spot while they were open (just after 6am on Saturday). The donuts, as promised, were delicious, but the victory of finally trying them was the sweetest part.

Alder Pastry: I learned about this place in one of the Portland weekly papers, and knew I had to visit. I picked up a lovely salty-caramelly kouign amann, and ogled at their other pastries and gelato offerings. Go there!

Tasty N Sons: Le nom nom nom. I ate mostly savories here, but the biscuits were simply amazing, and the "is it sweet or is it salty" apples with pork bits and syrup were divine. Here's their website.

Tinymeat: I got to visit the HQ! How sweet is that! I also picked up a new Unicorn Versus Godzilla wallet, and they told me to visit Salt and Straw ice cream.

Salt and Straw Ice Cream: Several people told me about this new ice cream joint, with its creative flavor offerings, and I was absolutely delighted by the Bourbon Pecan Pie ice cream, which was studded with chunks of rich, delicious pie, crust and all. Also very interesting: flavors such as Pear and Bleu Cheese! Find their website here.

Tonalli's: Sometimes you have to "Just Donut". This place pretty much rules. Find them online here.

Buy Olympia: Guess what? They have my book there. Go there, and buy it.

Two Tarts: Like, OMG. How adorable is this place? With $8 per dozen of their tiny and tasty treats, this is a killer deal and a very sweet spot to visit. Pictured above: a peanut butter cream sandwich cookie. Find them online here.

Papa Haydn: How could one not visit this famous spot when in portland? I tried one of their current specials, the champagne cake, which included layers of buttercream, strawberries, and rich cream cheese. Le nom. Find them online here.

Fizzy Party: At my Saint Cupcake signing, I met the lovely and amazing Tiffany of FizzyParty - check out her totally sweet website posting about our meeting!

Saint Cupcake: This was the best event ever. The treats were delicious, I felt so welcome (there was a cupcake that said "Welcome CakeSpy!" to greet me), and everyone was so amazingly sweet. They had a bunch of cupcakes and bonbonbunbuns (yup, their real name--sort of like doughnut muffins) for me to share. I also got to meet Brigitte Nguyen, who is just as enthusiastic about sweets as me (and more proof that famous people like my book!)! I can't wait to go back. Here's their website.

Bonus: My new favorite person, Becca, came to my Saint Cupcake signing and brought me a sweet treat she'd created just for me: Cuppie Barrettes! OMG!!

Thanks Portland - you're tops in my heart!

Thursday
Sep012011

Seeking Sweetness: Daily Snapshot, Whisk Bike Rack, Saint Cupcake, Portland OR

CakeSpy Note: if you follow me on facebook or Twitter, you probably know I'm partial to observing (and sometimes adding) sweetness in the natural world and urban landscape. Here's where I post a daily feel-good photo or image, for no particular reason other than to showcase these sweet little nothings, in hopes that they'll make you smile.

This bike rack, outside of the new location of Saint Cupcake in Portland, OR (a stop on CakeSpy's Tour De Sweet Book Tour, btw) is pretty much topping the list of things that are Great in my mind right now.

Tuesday
Aug302011

CakeSpy Undercover: Mio Gelato, Portland OR

Guess what guess what guess what?

I love gelato, and it loves me back. See picture above. Proof!

Most recently, I loved it at a place called Mio Gelato in Portland, OR.

I hadn't read up on this place before going to Portland; I simply happened to walk by their NW 23rd location, thought "Gelato, yum!" and walked right in. Some reviewers said that the service hadn't been friendly, but I found it to be rather prompt and sweet. 

The case was well-stocked with interesting flavors; I went for a scoop of what I am pretty sure I remember as Oro d'Oro (a vanilla egg custard flavor) and the vanilla-caramel.

The Oro d'oro was the clear star, extremely rich and creamy and given a nice little je ne sais quoi-type contrast from what tasted like bits of lemon zest. 

The caramel was also quite good, but it got better when the custardy flavor got melty and mingled with it a little.

All said and done? A deliciously sweet gelato experience. 

Mio Gelato, Portland; several locations, find 'em online here.

Mio Gelato Caffe Italiana on Urbanspoon

Sunday
May222011

Sweet Love: A Bakery Crush on Willamette Valley Confectionery

A couple of weeks ago, at Crafty Wonderland, I met the two men of my dreams.

They were at a booth surrounded by cake pops, homemade pâtes de fruits, chocolates, and toffee. There was a dreamy sign that said "Willamette Valley Confectionery".

Of course, they also appeared to be a couple, but that was ok with me, because I really just wanted their candy. 

And oh, what candy it was.

Let's start with the cake pops. They really, really wanted to upsell the fact that they were gluten-free, and that is fine by me, and it made me happy for people who can't eat gluten, but it really wasn't of great importance to me.

But happily, devoid of gluten as they might have been, they were full of flavor: very moist, rich, and extremely--like, your tooth might fall out but it would fall out so good--sweet.

The pâte de fruit was a bit more subtle, still very sweet but made with local Marionberries. And shaped like a heart! Love.

Willamette Valley also boasts a full line of confections, such as barks, chocolates, and tiny cakes. 

Happily, if you are in Portland or the environs, you can pick up their goods at Whole Foods markets; it is slightly pricier but still delicious to have the goods shipped, which you can do via their website, willamettevalleyconfectionery.com.

Monday
Jul262010

Well Bread: Delicious Bread Pudding with Banana Ice Cream at Deschutes Brewery Portland Pub

If I didn't have photo evidence, I might almost believe that this dessert had been a dream.

Coconut bread pudding with chocolate sauce, served warm with a healthy scoop of banana ice cream. And caramel, for good measure (At least, I think that's what comprised the whole thing: it's not on their regular menu, which leads me to believe it is a summer special--or maybe it was just there for that one magical evening when we visited?). 

Oh, dude, was it good. And what an unexpected treat: we devoured it at Portland's Deschutes Brewery Pub--a place better known for its hops-based carbohydrates than its sweets.

This concoction hit just about every taste and texture sensation you could desire in a dessert, and after pairing it with some of the pub's specialty beer, we definitely left feeling fat and happy--the ultimate carbohydrate coma.

Will it be there if you go? Why not find out? Deschutes has various locations in Oregon--visit their site to learn more and peruse the menus.

Deschutes Brewery & Public House on Urbanspoon

Friday
May212010

Mother's Love: Delicious Sweets at Mother's Bistro and Bar, Portland OR

Sometimes, I don't even have to seek out sweetness: it finds me.

Case in point: on a recent trip to Portland, OR, I found myself out to dinner with friends Mary and Dave at Mother's, a bar and restaurant downtown. It was all extremely delicious--most notably the biscuits.

When it came time for dessert, something terrible happened: they declared themselves to be "too full".

Happily, our perceptive waiter could sense my sadness at passing back the dessert menu, and soon after appeared with a small tray of cookies--a crumbly, buttery shortbread, and a sort of cherry-nut-oat cookie. 

Needless to say, this prompted discussion with said waiter about said cookies, which then resulted in even more freebies: this time, a sweet lemon-coconut bar which was beautifully rich and decadent. 

Happily, Mother's has a bakery case by the entrance, making it easy to go in and pick up some sweets-to-go, including big versions of the cookies we sampled.

And, most importantly, they're all baked on premises:

Mother's Bistro and Bar, 212 SW Stark St, PortlandOR; mothersbistro.com.

Mother's Bistro & Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday
May152010

Bittersweet: A Tale of Donut Despair Diverted in Portland, OR

I want to tell you a sad, sad story about Delicious Donuts in Portland, Oregon.

Based on many accounts, this is the donut place in Portland--"better than Voodoo" was the bold claim of one trusted source.

But I couldn't tell you for myself, because I've never tasted them.

Oh, I've tried. In the past, when showing at the Crafty Wonderland fair in its old location at the Doug Fir Lounge, I had tried to score a doughnut on my way to the fair, but each and every time I was confronted by this sign:

I wasn't too put off though--generally I was heading over there at 11 a.m. or so, and I can understand if a popular shop might be sold out by then. If anything, it heightened the anticipation.

And on a more recent trip to Portland for the Crafty Wonderland spring fair, I was prepared, and got up early on a Sunday morning and headed over to the donut shop, a spring in my step from the sweet prospect of glazed and fried  goodness in my near future a bit before 8 a.m. Cars were parked outside, and I felt hopeful: this was gonna be my day.

But here's what I found:

The only difference? The sign was slightly nicer. But somehow, this provided little comfort.

Sold out of donuts before 8 a.m. on a Sunday? I can understand if you're a popular place, but come on. If you're selling out that early, you need to make more donuts.

Yes, I was facing deep donut despair, but happily this story has a sweet ending: because a mere few hours later I was delighted with a surprise Voodoo Doughnut, thoughtfully delivered by friends Mary and Dave Sheely. Delicious Donuts might be the best, but Voodoo definitley won my sweet affections on this fateful day.Delicious Donuts, 12 Southeast Grand Avenue Portland, OR 97214-1112 - (503) 233-1833.

Voodoo Doughnut, 22 Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204-2713, (503) 241-4704; online at voodoodoughnut.com.

Tuesday
May112010

Sweet and Tart: White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Fudge by Rose City Sweets, Portland OR

As a card carrying member of the White Chocolate Lovers Club, I'd like to introduce you to my newest obsession: 

White Chocolate Fudge with Cranberries and Pistachios.

This sweet manna from heaven is produced by the brand new Portland, OR-based confectionery company Rose City Sweets--in fact, they're so new that they just made their public debut last week at Crafty Wonderland, and their online store doesn't even have stock yet (I know, it is pretty mean of me to tell you about them, considering this). But when their store is stocked, you can expect to find small batch fudge, caramels, toffee, and other confections.

But what's so great about this white chocolate-cran-pistachio business?

For one thing, the fudge is unbelievably smooth and creamy--it is not plagued by the gritty candy-sand texture that is a characteristic of inferior fudges--not to mention extremely rich and flavorful. The sweet white chocolate flavor is perfectly accented by the slight savory saltiness of the pistachios, and nicely punctuated with tart bits of cranberry.

Let's just say that the brick of fudge I obtained at aforementioned Crafty Wonderland did not last long, and I predict a very sweet future for Rose City Sweets.

There's nothing in the shop now, but for future reference and shopping, bookmark the Rose City Sweets Etsy page.

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