Sunday, October 24, 2010

Portland Shops

I thought long and hard about how to squeeze all of the amazingly wonderful things I love about Portland, Oregon into a few blog posts. I finally decided that I would do a series of three segments: Portland Shops; Portland Sights; and Portland Markets. I'm not going to talk about Powell's because most people already know the awesomeness that constitutes the 5 level labyrinth of new and used books. We did spend a whole morning there in the largest independent bookstore in the world and I did leave with several additions to my library.

Moving on... Let's start with breakfast, shall we?

One of the best bakeries in Portland is Baker & Spice, brought to you by the authors of one of my favorite dessert cookbooks, Rustic Fruit Desserts. They specialize in seasonal, delicious baked goods and cakes. Everything we ate there was out of this world, and while empty chairs were hard to come by on a Friday morning, we managed to snag two seats and enjoy our breakfast. Hot chocolate and pain au chocolat for the husband; lavender chamomile tea and Garden Bread for me (a spiced combination of carrot, zucchini, raisins and walnuts). Later, for dessert: a delicately spiced applesauce cake with nuts and a maple glaze.
Portland being the green, eco-conscious city that it is, the thrift stores are excellent places to find re-used treasures. From chains like Goodwill and Buffalo Exchange to smaller independent store like Rerun, we felt like kids in a candy store and made off with great quality, name brand stuff for cheap.
Here's a unique stop: I read about The Meadow in a magazine article a few months ago and made a mental note to check it out when we were in town. The store boasts over 150 varieties of salt, from maple bacon infused to French fleur de sel to volcanic Hawaiian types. You are welcome to sample and purchase in whatever size fits your budget. Behold, the Wall O'Salt!

The store also boasts a gorgeous selection of flowers (above) and fine chocolates (below). We tried their house salted chocolate and it was a delightful combination of delicate saltiness with dark sweetness.
The owner of the store, Mark Bitterman, just came out with a book called Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral. You can check out at a store near you... or on
Right next door, we smelled a fragrance wafting by that was definitely deserving of our attention. It turned out to be homemade waffle cones at an ice cream store called Ruby Jewel Scoops. Their ice cream flavors and topping are inventive, original and I must say, fantastically good. Think rosemary-cayenne toasted pecans, Mexican Chocolate ice cream, and a tribute to their next-door neighbors, Caramel with Salted Dark Chocolate ice cream. My husband went over the moon for the latter, with good reason.

As we were eating our ice cream, the owner came out and offered us free samples of the hot chocolate they are working on perfectly, topped with homemade marshmallows. Looks like even when winter comes there will be a good reason to stop in!
Pistils is just down the street, an adorable nursery that looks like a doorway to Eden from the street.

Inside, you can peruse the plants, seeds, and fertilizers, or watch the chickens that roam freely in the store...
and graze in the abandoned lot next to the store. I thought this was a great example of urban farming. Man, I wanna raise chickens. That would be rad.
Let's talk about our first dinner in the city. The Farm Cafe was a bit of a disappointment. While I loved the fact that everything came from local farms, I kept wishing that we could feel good about our meal and have it taste good, at the same time. The seasonings were funky (our catsup tasted like curry- weird) and my "mixed salad greens" consisted of bitter greens and cabbage. If I wanted cabbage, I would have asked for coleslaw, people!
When I return, I will surely eat at one of the many food stand or food trucks that Portland is famous for, like the sweet one below. You can find nearly every ethnicity or food imaginable within the city's fleet of portable food establishments. I could probably do a whole food tour built around this theme. Next time...
Tomorrow, come back as I share my favorite Portland sights, plus my two favorite eateries that we discovered on our trip! One required lots of waiting in lines...


  1. What fun. I'd love to see the roaming chickens and the Wall O'Salt.

  2. what a bunch of fun places you went! I served my mission in Portland and absolutely loved it!

  3. I'm jealous:) I haven't been to Powell's once and you're practically a regular there now:) Enjoy!


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