Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On the road again

Medford, Oregon, November 28, 2010—
TRAVEL DAY TODAY, with predictably mixed and unforseen dining implications. We breakfasted as we generally do on a last morning in Portland: at Ken's Artisan Bakery, where the coffee isn't bad, and the pastries and bread are spectacular — I do believe Ken's is my favorite bakery in the world, and bakeries are in my family. Then for my second coffee we stopped in at Sterling Coffee, which operates a stand just a block away. It was so good I bought a pound to take home with me.

Lunch was at another bakery, Le Patissier, oddly placed in a shopping center in Corvallis, a hundred-odd miles south. Here Didier Tholognat presides over a patisserie right out of the Paris of thirty years ago. The glazed fruit-filled pastries, the millefeuille layers of puff-paste, the display cases, the uniforms on the serving girls (and here a dated locution, probably politically incorrect these days, seems both appropriate and inevitable) — it's almost a parody of a Parisian bakery, except that the skill and the focus clearly reveal Tholognat's seriousness of purpose.

We had quiche and salad for our lunch, and then split a crèpe, very beautifully cooked, filled with a first-rate plum conserve with a few apple slices right out of a tarte Tatin, garnished with the inescapable crème Chantilly. Perfect.

The day ended in Medford, near the southern border with California. It was freezing cold and we didn't feel like driving more miles for dinner, so we stopped in at the nearby Regency Inn. I thought I'd have a Caesar salad or something like that. Their description of a Caesar salad was not promising, so I ordered my fall-back, pasta. The ravioli that came were loaded with gluey ricotta-like substance and covered with guar-gum sauce, with bits of unripe tomatoes added for color. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood.
Pinot grigio, "Cavit," 2009
  • Ken's Artisan Bakery, 330 NW 21st Street, Portland, Oregon
  • Sterling Coffee Roaster, 2120 NW Glisan Ave., Portland, Oregon
  • Le Patissier, 956 NW Circle Blvd., Corvallis, Oregon; tel. 541.752.1785
  • Regency Grill, 2300 Biddle Road, Medford, Oregon

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