After coffee, we headed over to check out Bakeshop, the bakery owned by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Kim Boyce. Boyce's book Good to the Grain has been a constant inspiration to me as I took the leap into baking largely with whole-grain flours. Her recipes always test out perfectly, she's charming and gracious in person, and I'd heard her bakery sold lots of the same treats that filled the pages of the cookbook. When we arrived, Boyce was forming croissants and greeted us with a smile. I was pleased to find pastries from the cookbook, including the Strawberry Scones and the Figgy Scones along with those pretty-famous Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies. And while the treats were delicious, I ultimately wanted a bit more selection, a little coffee, and more of a sit-down atmosphere. But maybe that's not what they're going for here -- I know Boyce does a brisk wholesale business, so the retail portion of the business may not be the focus. If you're a Boyce fan, you must visit when you're in town. If you're looking for a decadent, special bakery where you can sit down and enjoy a few sweets, I honestly wouldn't make the effort.
Morning Bun, Oregon Croissant, and Cannele at Ken's Artisan Bakery
When you've only got a little over 24 hours in Portland, one bakery is surely not enough. We decided to check out Ken's Artisan Bakery, well known for their breads and laminated pastries (hello, croissants!). We managed to score an outdoor table and shared the citrus morning bun, Oregon croissant, and cannelle. The Oregon croissant was studded with local berries and slathered in pastry cream. It was one of the best things I tried all weekend, and I'm looking forward to attempting to recreate it one of these days at home. The cannelle was pretty close to perfect, with a crisp, buttery exterior and a soft vanilla-scented interior that crumbled easily with each bite. Ken's was packed: a sure sign they're doing something right. Judging from the pastries we ordered, I'd venture to say they're doing virtually everything right. The neighborhood is charming and walk-able, too. A perfect weekend morning stop.
Buying Chocolate and Salt at The Meadow
After two bakeries in one morning, a break is in order. We drove over to The Meadow where I'd heard you could buy every kind of salt imaginable. This is true. We took home Rosemary Salt, Chocolate Salt and Vanilla Salt but were tempted by Red Smoked Salt, Lemon Verbena Salt and Saffron Salt. You can buy small little tins to try or larger glass vials that make a beautiful gift. They also have an incredible selection of bitters and vermouth and ... chocolate. For some reason, no one had mentioned the incredible chocolate selection they have at The Meadow: everything from San Francisco favorite Dandelion to Brooklyn stand-out Mast Brothers and local Portland chocolate makers Woodblock. I stocked up for our own cupboard, for Father's Day, and for a few friends. A splurge indeed, but I've been loving the vanilla salt on popcorn at home, and am so looking forward to wrapping up the special chocolates I bought as gifts. The Meadow was a pretty comprehensive website, so if you can't make it to Portland (or their New York location) you can still order a few things to try.
A Peek Inside the Kitchen at Olympic Provisions
For lunch in Portland, I can't recommend Olympic Provisions enough. It's the one place I've been raving about to friends and family. In short, it's Oregon’s first USDA-approved salumeria, open just three years now but boasting two locations that operate as European-style restaurants, happening neighborhood delis, and onsite meat-curing facilities. We were there later on a Saturday so they were still serving brunch, and if you find yourself in a similar scenario, the eggs benedict is something pretty special. It's piled high with house-cured Canadian bacon, perfectly poached eggs and a smattering of fresh chives.
The Chef's Choice Charcuterie Platter at Olympic Provisions
We also shared the Chef's Choice Charcuterie Platter because it seemed silly to visit and not try a few different cured meats. The salami and mortadella were pretty incredible and came with a variety of pickled accompaniments, good grainy mustard, and sliced bread. A most generous and filling offering. The kitchen is beautifully designed and open, so you can pull up a seat at the bar and watch the butchers, chefs, and pastry folks work their magic. A treat for the eyes, stomach, and the senses.
Salt and Straw: Ice Cream Flight!
Later that afternoon after ambling about the Hawthorne neighborhood checking out shops and antique stores and spending a good chunk of time in Powell's Home and Garden it was time for an ice cream cone. Friends who live in Portland swear by Salt and Straw and I've been reading quite a bit of good press lately, so I knew we had to check it out. We ended up getting the Ice Cream Flight ($9) which allows you to choose four flavors -- a good option if you can't possibly decided where to begin. While their delicious all-the-time offerings are always a good choice (The Salted Caramel or the Balsamic Strawberry are standouts), the Seasonal Specials are a good place to start.
Menu at Salt and Straw
We tried the Honey Lavender which was the loveliest shade of pale purple and just the right amount of floral and aromatic notes. Rhubarb with an Anise Crumble also made its way onto our sampler platter. For an afternoon stroll or evening dessert, Salt and Straw is my new favorite ice cream in the Pacific Northwest.
Of course after bakeries and ice cream cones, a proper meal is in order at some point and we ended up dining at Pok Pok, a restaurant specializing in the food served at pubs, restaurants, homes and the streets of Southeast Asia. Most of the dishes come from Thailand and, according to their website, "everything has been researched, eaten, and/or prepared in the country of it's origin." While many friends have reported that it's one of the best meals they've ever had, we both felt like it was good but not phenomenal and left wondering if perhaps we just hadn't ordered the right dishes. We did get the sweet and spicy chicken wings that folks rave about; I don't usually even like chicken wings nor does my partner Sam and we both loved these. While they're messy like most wings, they're different in flavor than any other wing I've tried and have a serious spicy kick to them. We also tried the green papaya salad and the coconut curry soup, a little sticky rice, and donuts with coffee and condensed milk ice cream for dessert. If you end up with a wait when you arrive, the Whiskey Soda Lounge right across the street has unique appetizers (try the "Chicken" Three Ways: a combination of peanuts, lemongrass, and shallot) and housemade cocktails. They're particularly well-known for their drinking vinegars -- the grapefruit will make the time spent waiting for dinner breeze right on by.
Late-night drinks at Clyde Common
Back at the hotel, we wanted to grab a quick drink before heading up to the room and Clyde Common is a very sweet, spare bar and eatery on the other adjoining side of the Ace. They're open relatively late and have a great bourbon and whiskey selection in addition to housemade cocktails (Negronis on tap!). The staff is warm and not at all pretentious, and we sat until they were closing up shop. If you can get a seat by the window, there's some prime people watching and you still feel some of the good energy from the folks at the bar while still maintaining a bit more privacy.