Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Coffee and pastries

Mix Sweet Shop café and bakery: 57 N Main St
Ashland OR 97520; tel. (541) 488-9885

Ken's Artisan Bakery: 338 NW 21st Avenue, Portland OR 97209; tel. 503.248.2202

HOORAY! ASHLAND NOW HAS really good coffee and croissants, a necessary combination that's been lacking until now. Mix is on a strategic corner down by the triangle where the Lithia water flows (yes, that's made a long-desired reappearance); it's run by the pastry chef of the restaurant Amuse whose founding chef, a Berkeleyan, made his adolescent run through the kitchen of Chez Panisse quite a few years back; it serves Portland's Stumptown Coffee with which it makes absolutely delicious caffè latte; and all the pastries are made on site, from excellent ingredients, and baked until they have both color and flavor.

We stopped in for a latte to go yesterday morning, and I mentioned we were on our way to Portland, to visit Ken's. "One of the best there is," said the proprietor of Mix.

, in Portland, has the best bread in town, and that's saying a lot: Pearl, running a close race, is also an excellent baker of bread. Ken's a little farther from our digs, but unlike Pearl Ken's also bakes canalés, those soft, crunchy, dark, pale, sweet, solid teacakes that are quite unique. (Insinuating, too: a fascinating blog of three years ago collected quite a number of reponses from canalé fans around the world.)

Last month for my birthday I was given an ideal present, a whole box of canelés, a couple of dozen I think: fortunately, they hold well; they needn't be eaten only fresh. Today we brought a half dozen home, with our bread; after supper — a delicious potato salad with sweet onion and tasty homemade vinegar — we had them with our tea. The Cubs lost, 4-3, but the canalés helped dull the sorrow.

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