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Entries in portland (18)

Tuesday
May042010

Take Your Pix: The Pixie from Pix Patisserie, Portland

Say Bonjour to the Pixie.

Quest-ce que c'est, this Pixie?

It's a sweet little treat from Pix Pâtisserie, the Frenchiest little spot in Portland, OR.

Now, settling on the Pixie wasn't easy--after reviewing a small but well curated collection of European-style pastries available, including an Opera Cake, Queen of Sheba Truffle Cake, a particularly fetching triangular Dobos Torte, and macarons a-plenty.

But the unassuming and small-ish Pixie was humming to me, and so it was what I chose. Per the website,

Pistachios, almond paste, and raspberry jam are the main ingredients making up this layered concoction people can’t seem to get enough of. One woman replied after her first taste, “Oh! This makes me wanna dance!” Enough said.

And while I'd like to say for the record that aforementioned customer was not me, it might as well have been. This little pastry may be small but it's mightily magical, buttery pastry layers spread with an incredibly rich pistachio and almond paste mixture which is given a bright dimention from the sweet jam. All of this awesome, of course, is sealed with a kiss of confectioners' sugar on top.

As Mr. Spy commented upon tasting, "It tastes like a Christmas cookie...only better."

You heard it here first--better than Christmas!

Of course, it would be remiss to not mention the pâte de fruit (we tried the blackberry). This gel-y candy is one of those confections, like marshmallows, which is really at its finest when homemade, and Pix's is the real deal, with a texture which is yielding but not too sticky or gelatinous, and full of natural fruit sweetness. A subtle and sweet little bite, and quite the steal at less than a dollar each!

Pix Patisserie has two locations in Portland; visit here for more information. They also ship a variety of their baked goods; visit here to learn more.

Sunday
Mar142010

Cake Byte: Portland's Pix Patisserie Now Shipping Macarons!

Pix Pâtisserie in Portland, Oregon is pretty much the cutest place ever, and I feel sorry for anyone who has never visited.

Happily, now you can get a taste of the action even if you don't live near Portland: they've just started to ship their macarons nationwide!

Per a recent press release, owner Cheryl Wakerhauser

gives a nod to the classic French macaron with some taste make-overs for many of the 30 rotating flavors. The macaron flavors at Pix are inspired by artisan ingredients and the highest quality products available such as locally distilled Trillium Absinthe, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Fleur de Sel Caramel, and homemade peanut butter...and tempts the flavor palate with hints of sweet and savory from maple bacon to pumpkin spice, espresso, curry and Taylor Fladgate 10-year Tawny Port. And, there are always the French classics represented like cassis-violet, pistachio, and chocolate (only the Pix chocolate is triple chocolate dipped in 75% origin chocolate). For the real adventurer there is the Meka Leka Hi Meka Hiney Ho flavored with Trillium Absinthe and loaded with chocolate covered pop rocks.

Here's the full list of flavors:

  • Raspberry
  • Woodford Reserve Bourbon
  • Hazelnut
  • Passion Fruit
  • Espresso
  • Rose
  • Cheesecake
  • Taylor Fladgate 10-year Tawny Port
  • Pistachio
  • Chocolate Cinnamon
  • Curry
  • Spanish Almond and Sherry
  • Coconut Rum
  • Blueberry
  • Cassis Violet
  • Candy Cane (seasonal)
  • Spring Bank 10 Scotch Whisky
  • Fleur de Sel Caramel
  • Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil
  • Chocolate Chip
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Chocolate Covered Cherry
  • Meka Leka Hi Meka Hiney Ho (Trillium Absinthe and Chocolate Covered Pop Rocks)
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Chestnut Whisky
  • Maple Bacon
  • Apple Pie
  • Sesame Matcha Tea
  • Lemon Basil
  • Triple Chocolate 

Like, whoa.

Want the 411? These macarons are available in a 14-piece Chartreuse Box or seven-piece gift tube online with USPS overnight delivery and a 4-day advanced order on their online store. For a catered selection of flavors available by the dozen, please contact info@pixpatisserie.com. Shipping costs are $30 for the first dozen and $5 for each additional dozen. 

Saturday
Jan022010

French Connection: Croissant French Toast at Doug Fir Lounge, Portland OR

Croissant French Toast
We're going to talk about a very special sort of French toast from the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, Oregon right now.

Entitled "The French Connection", the menu describes the item thusly: "two croissants, battered with egg, cinnamon and orange zest, served with maple or blueberry syrup".

Now, in case the description didn't get the point across, I made a venn diagram for you:
Pleasuretown
This is possibly the most wonderful way to bring day-old croissants back to life that I have ever seen. These compressed crescents contained rich, buttery flavor in every bite, and the orange zest worked beautifully to add a little tartness to slightly counter the sweetness.

The final word? I used to think that chocolate croissants were the epicenter of croissant awesome, but now I am not so sure.

"The French Connection" is available at the Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside, Portland, OR; online at dougfirlounge.com.

Doug Fir on Urbanspoon

Wednesday
Dec092009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Brittany Blanchard of Brintinis, Portland OR

Delicious Pairing C/O Brintinis
Have you ever wondered about how dentists (and their employees) feel about cupcakes? Well, they love them--and there's proof, as proven by Brittany Blanchard, who works for a dentist by day and is the proprietress of Portland-based custom cupcake business Brintini's by night. Want to find out more? Here's the interview:

CakeSpy: Tell me more. What made you decide to start a custom cupcake business?
Brittany Blanchard: I decided to start a custom cupcake business because I have always really loved cooking but I especially love baking and I have the most ridiculous sweet tooth of anyone I know. Really it's just an excuse to eat delicious dessert every single day.
Snickerdoodle C/O Brintinis
CS: Are you interested in opening a retail shop at some point, or do you intend on focusing on the custom orders?
BB: I would eventually like to open a shop in Portland but for now I will focus on custom orders. I will also be slinging cupcakes in local farmers markets after the new year.

CS: Rumor has it you work in the dental industry as well as making cupcakes. Would you consider your cupcake-self your Peter Parker/Spiderman style alter ego?
BB: I do work in the dental industry! You know, I get similar questions all the time.I was recently asked if I had a contract with the dentist I work for to bring in my clients with cavities. It does seem funny that someone promoting good oral care would be promoting sugary treats as well but what can I say, it's job security. Just Kidding! I think its okay to enjoy a treat from time to time(or in my case all the time), if you take good care of your mouth.
Peppermint C/O Brintinis

CS: ...you mention that dentists buy your cupcakes. What flavor do dentists go for when they go to the dark (sugary) side?
BB: The dentist I work for has ordered the Snickerdoodle and Red Velvet. He actually bribed me for the Snickerdoodle and Buttercream recipes because his son loved them. He is so cute, he can't say cupcake so he calls them Pupcakes. His son I mean. He calls me the Pupcake girl! I also recently made an order of Gingerbread Cupcakes for a local dentist. Apparently dentists can have a sweet tooth too.

Landslide of delicious, C/O Brintinis
CS: While you offer the typical flavors, you also have some seasonal/specialty ones (Plum spice, etc!). How do you decide on new flavors?
BB: I get inspired to create new flavors by other desserts that are delicious, for example: I have cupcakes inspired by Rocky Road Ice Cream and Snickerdoodle Cookies. I also like to get ideas from family and friends on what flavors to experiment with, so I have a huge list of different flavors to try out!

CS: If you had to replace one meal with a cupcake every day for the rest of your life, which flavor would it be?
BB: If I had to replace a meal with a cupcake for the rest of my life it would be the Vanilla Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting. Believe it or not, my favorite flavor is vanilla! Other flavors I love to have in moderation but if I had to eat the same flavor daily it would definitely be vanilla.

CS: What are some of your favorites from your current menu?
BB: My favorite flavor to eat off my current menu is the vanilla velvet, but I have some new experiments involving vanilla that may soon be on the menu so we shall see how long that lasts. My favorite flavor to make though is the Red Velvet. I think Red Velvet cake is so pretty that I am always excited to bake it!
Gingerbread Cupcake C/O Brintinis
CS: What's next for Brintini's?
BB: What's next? Hmmm...I guess Farmers Market will be Brintini's next destination and hopefully maybe a cute little cupcake shop following that.

For more sweetness, visit brintinis.com.

Tuesday
Nov032009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Food Photographer Ryan Nowell

Photo by Ryan (used for interview)
One of the best parts of looking at food websites and recipe books--bar none--is the pictures. A compelling food photo can draw the viewer in, evoke taste memories, and create new appetites. But what goes on behind the lens? Who could tell us better than Ryan Nowell, a Portland-based photographer with a great eye, and a penchant for sweets (as evidenced by the collaborative blog, The Chef and the Photographer, which he writes with his pastry chef wife).

CakeSpy: What was the last sweet you ate?
Ryan Nowell: Well the last baked good was the Chocolate Bundt cake from this post on our website. I actually ate the piece in the picture the evening of the same day. I may be biased but it really was wonderful! Nice and dense but not too chocolatey. We missed out on taking a photo of the whole thing.....wanted to eat it too much! The outside was nice and shiny and would have made a great shot. Oh well, good excuse to make another.

Photo by Ryan (used for interview)
CS: Tell me what photography means to you.
RN: Photography is really a great way to show people what I see in everyday items and moments. I always feel like there are so many wonderful images that we are surrounded by but most people are too busy to notice. Food especially is something that everyone enjoys and by taking photos it makes it easier to explain how all the ingredients came together.
Photo by Ryan (used for interview)
CS: As a photographer, how does food stack up to other subject matter (people, landscapes, etc)?
RN: Food is just about the easiest and sometimes the most challenging as compared to people or landscapes. People are really great to work with but it can sometimes depend on the person. I like to shoot candids which can sometimes catch people off guard and not everyone, in my experience, likes to have their photo taken. Landscape is another of my favorite subjects. Living in the Northwest really gives you so much to shoot but can sometimes be a challenge when its raining most of the year. With food, you have complete control of everything in the image but then some elements can be tricky to control and light. I like to mostly use natural light when its available but other times I use a light box I made at home to mimic natural light and to help with shadows. Shadows in food can be tough since each object will have so many angles, textures, and colors. Sometimes shadows can really take away from what you would normally see with your eye which has the ability to adjust to light in a fraction of a second. I don't use any flash at all at the moment which makes me work a little harder to work with what I am given.

CS: Tell more about your blog, Chef & Photographer. How did it come about?
RN: Our blog came about with my love of photography and my wife's culinary passion. Its a great way for us both to work together and to then enjoy her creations and share them with family, friends and anyone that may come across the site. It's also a great way for my wife to document a recipe that she has created and reference it later if she needs to. She also really enjoys the challenge of the setup of the shot and really does most of the styling of the food since she is sometimes looking for a specific look or detail in the food.

CS: Your wife is a pastry chef (!). What is your favorite dessert that she makes?
RN: Yes, my wife is a Pastry Chef and teaches at a local culinary school. I am not sure if I have a favorite since she hardly makes the same thing twice but a few of my favorites are her Cheesecake and Pumpkin Pies. Luckily many recipes have been created and tested on me which I thoroughly enjoy!!
Photo by Ryan (used for interview)
CS: It seems that the desserts featured on your blog seem to honor seasonal ingredients. How does it change food to keep your ingredients seasonal/local?
RN: We do try to use as much local ingredients as possible. We have a modest garden in our backyard and sometimes we end up with more then we can eat which gives my wife some more inspiration to try and create something savory or even desserts using vegetables.
Photo used w/Permission from Coco & Co
RS: You recently did some photography for the Coco and Co. Chocolates site. Now, chocolate seems like it's a particularly hard food to shoot and make look good. Any tips for getting sexy chocolate shots?
RN: The main issue with chocolate is lighting for sure. For the chocolate truffles for Coco and Co., I used the light box I mentioned earlier. It really cancels out the shadows nicely and helps to light up all sides of the truffle and works well with any textures that be present.
Photo by Ryan (used for interview)Photo by Ryan (used for interview)
CS: Where else can we view (or purchase/ commission?) your photography?
RN: I am about to release my website which will be coming soon! It will be ryannowellphotography.com. In the meantime, check out Ryan's photos via Flickr!

Tuesday
May122009

CakeSpy Undercover: Little T American Baker in Portland, OR

Little T American Baker
If there's anything we love, it's getting reader suggestions for bakeries we should visit.

So when CakeSpy reader Cynthia dropped by and visited the CakeSpy booth at Crafty Wonderland in Portland last weekend, my friend Danny and I were delighted when she told us about one of her favorites: Little T American Baker. So delighted, in fact, that Danny went right on over to pick up some treats to sample.
Little T boasts an awesome pedigree: it was opened by Tim Healea of Pearl Bakery and Kenny & Zuke’s (both CS favorites!). It's a stylish little space, and while the service wasn't necessarily swift, it was friendly. 
We sampled their peanut cookie, a shortbread cookie shaped like a puzzle piece, and the lemon tart. 
Let's start with the cookies. First was the "peanut cookie"--not a "peanut butter cookie". And it seems that there is a difference--this cookie, which was fat and very buttery, didn't have a strong peanut butter taste throughout, but rather got its nuttiness from a generous smattering of whole peanuts throughout. It was pretty delightful.
The shortbread cookie, which Danny declined to share, was declared "very good". 
But oh, the lemon tart. Lemon tarts and bars can be tricky territory, often falling into the category of too eggy or too sweet. A well-balanced filling is hard to come by, but so wonderful when you find one. And Little T's lemon filling was perfect. Smooth and creamy, rich and yet still tasting of fresh citrus, it was perfectly complemented by a shortbread-y crust. Heaven!
Our most sincere thanks to Cynthia for introducing us to Little T American Baker.
Little T American Baker, 2600 SE Division, Portland OR (503) 238-3458; online at littletbaker.com.

 

Sunday
Feb242008

Cakewalk Special: 36 Hours of Frosting in Portland, OR

 

Lemon curd tart, Papa Haydn, Portland OR

Portland, Oregon: it's just so cool. It's got a great art and design scene (you just try to find a bad logo in this town--we dare you), cool architecture, an emerging music scene, great restaurants, great wine. But on our recent trip to the City of Roses, we bypassed these things in search of a simpler pleasure: sweet, creamy frosting. Knowing that we would only be there for 36 hours, we decided to make the icing on the cake our gospel; as such, it wasn't about hitting every bakery as it was about seeking frosting nirvana wherever we went (and thus, if your favorite Portland bakery isn't listed, it's not because we didn't want to visit; it was merely time and distance constraints, as we were on foot through all of the below). Here's where we went:

Off the train, our first stop is Cupcake Jones, still a fairly new kid on the cupcake block in Portland. The space is cute, and the employees are very friendly. We choose the Peanut butter and Jelly Mini Cupcake, which is one of the few mini cupcakes that has a filling (in this cake, a peanut butter frosting-ed cupcake with a dollop of jelly inside. The frosting is good--unfortunately, the cake is--in our opinion--not as good. However, they do offer a frosting innovation we like--"Frosting Shooters", an extra dollop of frosting in a mini to-go container, for just a dollar. Perfect for when you need a little fix--why not stock up and have them at the ready in your fridge? Cupcake Jones, 307 NW 10th Ave., (503) 222-4404; online at cupcakejones.net.

 

We continue to walk up the hill to Saint Cupcake, where we choose a red velvet and a big top cupcake (both in the mini size). We believe that cream cheese frosting is a delicate art: it can quickly become too rich, too overpowering, too much. But not this one, which is creamy, just a little bit tangy, and completely delicious. Oh yes, we like this cream cheese frosting. And while we didn't get a vegan cupcake on this trip, having tasted them in the past, we can attest that their vegan frosting, while a different texture than the dairy-based ones, is still quite good in the eyes of these little Cake Gumshoes. Saint Cupcake, two locations; visit saintcupcake.com for more information.

Having worked up an appetite for lunch by this point, we head to Papa Haydn, a venerable old restaurant which has two locations in Portland, both of which have been around for many years, and which while serving full meals, are known for their desserts. We can be wary when it comes to places like this--would they be coasting on their reputation? Happily, we found them to be a delight: the main dishes were served with care, the bread was good, and oh, the desserts. When we settle on the Meyer Lemon Curd tart, we get an unexpected flash of frosting: sandwiched between the lemon curd and the shortbread crust, there is a modest layer of buttercream frosting which tickled and delighted these spy palates. Papa Haydn, two locations in Portland; for more information, visit papahaydn.com.

After a few hours of making like spies, we imbibe strong and delightful green tea at the charming Blend (where if we recall correctly, they said the baked goods are from Marcy Baking, which we ooh and ahh at but do not try), we find frosting nirvana at Crema Coffee and Bakery, where the absolutely gorgeous cupcakes are offset by equally appealing blood orange and cream tarts (next time, next time). They get points for both flavor (lemon poppyseed cake with raspberry buttercream frosting) and for the appealing precision of the decoration. Crema Bakery + Cafe, 2728 SE Ankeny, (503) 234-0206; online at cremabakery.com.

Backtracking en route to our digs at the Ace Hotel, we stop at the still quite new Sweetpea Baking Company, a vegan bakery which is part of a "Vegan Mini Mall"--a suite of several vegan-friendly businesses on that block. While the cupcakes look awesome, but opt for a change of pace with the adorably pink-frosting-filled chocolate Whoopie Pie. (Note: We were informed that the pink frosting was just for show and not a different flavor...but pink is just so cute). While the cookie is soft and crumbly, the frosting is a bit stiffer and less creamy than we'd hoped for. While not a disappointment per se (we finished every bite for certain), we think that next time we might go for the cupcakes instead, which we hear are lovely; certainly the frosting texture, which can tend toward stiff on vegan cupcakes, looked creamy and smooth. Sweetpea Baking Company, 1205 SE Stark St., (503) 477-5916; online at sweetpeabaking.com.

Approaching sugar coma, we call it a day.

We wake up way too ravenous to go much further than Stumptown Coffee for some lovely Americano, and then next-door to Kenny & Zuke's, a Jewish-style diner which we initially cannot decide if its look is contrived or cute. Ultimately though, the food wins us over, preparing us for the day ahead and staving off our imminent sugar crash just a little longer. While we don't sample them, we're appealed to by their lovely cupcakes, whose creamy, pink-frosted peaks resemble soft serve ice cream cones; though we don't sample them, certainly their beauty is worth mentioning. Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen, 1038 SW Stark St., (503) 222-DELI; online at kennyandzukes.com.

We aid digestion by swinging down to Voodoo Doughnut, in front of which we're greeted by a man who says creepily, "I hear those doughnuts are cursed". In a movie, this would be a moment later referred to as "foreshadowing". Luckily this is real life, so pushing these thoughts aside, we enter to find a true Mecca for doughnut lovers (they will do weddings, in case you were wondering), making sure to pick up a chocolate frosted for later. Like it's been said, they put a spell on us. Voodoo Doughnut, 22 SW Third Ave., (503) 241-4704; online at voodoodoughnut.com.

With our train departure fast approaching, we bypass the long line at the Pearl Bakery (where we love the shortbread) but do find time to swing by the impressive Whole Foods Bakery (where much of the stock is made in-house--including a large selection of vegan baked goods), where we pick up an oatmeal cookie, filled with a healthy dollop of maple frosting. We're highly impressed by the thick, rustic-tasting frosting, which acts as the perfect complement to the dense, oaty cookie. The oats make it practically health food, right? Whole Foods, 1210 NW Couch St. Portland, (503) 525-4343; online at wholefoodsmarket.com.

At the end of the train ride, we bus it back home to Queen Anne, where we watch an episode of Law & Order and promptly fall asleep. Call it the crash at the end of the sugar tunnel--a sweet ending indeed.

 

Sunday
Dec022007

Cakewalk in NW Portland

Portland is an up and coming city, with burgeoning music, design, culinary and literary scenes. It also happens to be the home of some of our favorite visual artists: Amy Ruppel, Evan B. Harris and Trish Grantham. And frankly, it's got to have something going on if Michelle Williams is up and moving there; one might even say that Portland is enjoying the darling-city status that Seattle had in the 90's. But are hip boutiques, cool art and nice city planning enough? No way: take us to the bakeries. Cakespy recently took a trip to the NW districts of Portland; here's what we found:

City Market: We can't resist a good-looking market, and we were rewarded by a lovely bakery section, which had an impressive array of baked goods from local bakeries. But what we found most exciting was getting a sneak peek at the wares of Pix Patisserie (which itself is located in the SE part of the city), a beautiful collection of tarts, gateaux and other French-style pastries which made us very eager to do a Cakewalk in SE Portland. 735 NW 21st Ave., (503) 221-3007.


Cupcake Jones: Unlike the retro-trendy cupcakes that are abounding right now, Cupcake Jones' wares leaned more toward a European style of cake, with cream fillings and rich, ganache-y frostings. The cupcakes are good, but in our opinion, not quite as good as those up the street at Saint Cupcake. However, this is just our opinion; if you do prefer the more rich and dense type of frosting, this might be your place. 307 NW 10th Ave., (503) 222-4404; online at cupcakejones.net.

Ken's Artisan Bakery: Beautiful artisinal treats presented in a large, high-ceilinged and lovely space, with rows and rows of European-style bakery cases that were like boulangerie meets patisserie, with a dose of American Comfort food. The leafy, buttery puff pastry was to die for; the hazelnut cake was rich, moist and crave-inducing. Cakespy Note: the Ken's camp also recently opened Ken's Artisan Pizza; even we know that sometimes you need to eat something savory to work up your appetite for dessert. 338 NW 21st Ave., (503) 248-2202; online at kensartisan.com.

Papa Haydn: This is the type of place that always gets awarded "best dessert"...and it's fully deserved. It's a sit-down cafe and a little bit pricey, but worth it: the cakes are made with precision, impeccably decorated yet still extremely inviting, and portions are extremely generous. The Baked Alaska was wonderful; dare we say it was "the bombe"? (sorry, just a little pastry humor). 701 NW 23rd Ave., (503) 228-7317; online at papahaydn.com.


Pearl Bakery: Their t-shirts say "Eat Bread", and we like that carbohydrate-friendly attitude. Their shortbread cookies crumbled just right, and their cakes are of the more muffin-y sort, a buttery delight. The large streetside windows are ideal for people-watching in the fashionable Pearl district; we couldn't imagine a nicer place to while away a chilly northwest afternoon. 102 NW 9th Ave., (503) 827-0910; online at pearlbakery.com.


Powell's City of Books: Sure, it's the Mecca for book lovers, but we were pleased to see that they didn't skimp on the baked goods in their cafe. Their pastries come from several local bakeries, and included several good-lookin' vegan options. Plus, there are always magazines and books to browse through. 1005 W Burnside St., (503) 228-4651; online at powells.com.

Saint Cupcake: It was love at first bite here once we were able to choose a flavor from the festive rows of sweetly decorated cupcakes . The taste was vaguely reminiscent of the cupcakes from elementary school class parties...but a major step up in quality. As a bonus, there's a cute legend of the patron Saint Cupcake on the wall to give you a little story to go with your cake. Cakespy Note: They also carry a nice selection of vegan and gluten-free cupcakes. 407 NW 17th Ave. (with another location in SE Portland), (503) 473-8760; online at saintcupcake.com.

St. Honore Boulangerie: This place was hella crowded when we walked in around lunch time, and it's not hard to see why. A beautiful selection of French breads greets you as you walk in the door, but we resisted the urge, instead going for the gorgeous namesake St. Honore pastries, the rows of glistening eclairs and a ridiculously perfect apple chiboust. 2335 N.W. Thurman St., (503) 445-4342; online at sainthonorebakery.com.

 

Sweet Masterpiece: Upon heading back to the Amtrak station to return to Seattle, this cute chocolate cafe was well-lit and inviting; we figured, one last stop couldn't hurt. And we were rewarded, with tiny but exceedingly flavorful little truffles that tasted so much bigger than their tiny presence would let on (and made us understand why they were so pricey per piece!). We hear their hot chocolate is excellent as well. 922 NW Davis St., (503) 221-0055

Whole Foods: A veritable best-of, Whole foods in the Pearl District features beautiful offerings from the Pearl Bakery, St. Honore Boulangerie, and many other local bakeries. But they also have a fine selection of their own made in-house pastries which are exceedingly good: cookie sandwiches with a maple frosting filling; creamy and adorably decorated cupcakes, and scones of all sorts. 1210 NW Couch St., (503) 525-4343; online at wholefoodsmarket.com.

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