Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Bites Have It!

We all have our accept-no-substitutes, go-to foods that we simply must have when the craving strikes. So when Karen Brooks of the Oregonian's A&E section asked me for a list of my top faves for their Best Bites '08 section, I fired off my picks faster than a Corgi can down her dinner.

And the picks that made it in? Here they are:

Best Waffles: Belgian Waffles at the Waffle Window, SE 36th Ave. at Hawthorne. Phone 503-239-4756.
Forget the gooey, cloying versions around town. These are the genuine yeast-raised street waffles found in any Belgian city. The secret to their unique taste and satisfying crunch? Pearl sugar. Have them plain or with nontraditional toppings like hot apple pie, pumpkin pie or sacher torte. Either way be warned: One taste of the real thing and there’s no going back. Available on weekends (look for the blue Dutch door) - or packaged at the attached Bread & Ink restaurant for $9.50.

Best Brownies, Cakes and Cupcakes: Almond Cake at Bar Avignon, 2138 SE Division. Phone 503-517-0808.
This newcomer to Division Street’s burgeoning restaurant row is known for simple meals and wine savvy, but insiders come for the almond cake, a small round of light, sweet cake surrounded by a fabulously crunchy crust with a perfect almond flavor. The formula changes - recently, that meant a topping of citrusy balsamic orange reduction. Be sure to ask owner (and former Wildwood wine director) Randy Goodman to recommend the perfect foil for its airy richness.

Best Gelatos and Ice Creams: Ice creams at Bread & Ink Cafe, 3610 SE Hawthorne. Phone 503-239-4756.
Owners Bruce and Mary Fishback love conjuring up new ice cream flavors for their Hawthorne cafe. The dream du jour might be orange blossom crunchy with Guittard bittersweet chocolate chips or perhaps the herbal sophistication of lemon verbena or even a refreshing grapefruit spuma, an airy type of sherbet made with sugar syrup and egg whites. Mary also is pastry chef at Rimsky-Korsakoffeehouse, so inspirations usually come with a bonus: a specialty cookie.

Best Chocolate...To Drink: Chocolate milk at Pine State Biscuits, 3640 SE Belmont. Phone 503-236-3346.
Forget Ponce de Leon. If you want to drink from the fountain of youth, just pop into this outpost of biscuit deliciousness and order the rich, thick, luscious, not-too-sweet chocolate milk made with a magical mix from Portland chocolatier David Briggs of Xocolatl de David truffle fame. One sip, and you’ll be skipping down the sidewalk in no time.

Best Sandwiches: Hot and melty Beecher's Flagship Cheddar at Foster & Dobbs, 2518 NE 15th Ave. Phone 503-284-1157.
Luan Schooler and Tim Wilson have an advantage over most sandwich shops: Their Irvington cheese-shop-cum-gourmet grocery is stocked with local and international cheeses, condiments and artisan-made charcuterie. The seven or so daily options, made to order with Pearl Bakery bread, feature scrumptious combinations like molé salami with cheddar and chili jam. Our current fave: Hot & Melty Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar (a Seattle cheese) with mango chutney and sweet hot mustard. Grab a glass of wine or beer and settle in at a table.

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