LBB bacon and cheddar cheeseburger with fries.

LBB bacon and cheddar cheeseburger with fries.

Well, this could be a problem.

Just months after Bunk Bar opened up next to Salt and Straw, Little Big Burger moved into the space previously inhabited by Flywheel skate shop on Alberta and NE 21st. Painted ketchup red with the brief menu and appealing prices printed in white lettering on the exterior, LBB is hard to miss, and harder to resist.

Located 500-ish steps from our front door (not nearly enough to cancel out any inevitable calories)  we headed over on a recent Friday night to welcome the new burger-focused inhabitants to the neighborhood. We ordered at the counter and had a seat at the bar to watch the staff hustle to fill dozens of orders with systematic efficiency.

LBB pepper jack cheeseburger.

LBB pepper jack cheeseburger.

"This ain't made in Salt Lake City."

“This ain’t made in Salt Lake City.”

Quarter-pound, burgers –not quite skinny patty, but not thick either — are cooked on the flat-top to a caramelized crust and ever-so-slightly pink interior. The perfect proportion to the toasted brioche bun on which they’re served, burgers come with what I consider essential burger toppings: pickle, onion, shredded lettuce, and your choice of cheddar, Swiss, chevre, pepper jack or blue cheese, should you swing that way. On the side, you’ve got one heavenly choice: truffle fries. Still sizzling from the fryer, they’re tossed in salt and truffle oil, pretty much transforming into crack. And though the Camden fry sauce bottle clearly and defiantly states “This ain’t made in Salt Lake City,” it does the hometown stuff proud.

Greedily thinking one burger each may not be enough — LBBs are deceivingly petite — we ordered three, plus two orders of fries, all of which turned out to be way more than we needed. Poof. It vanished nonetheless.

See what I mean by “problem?”

So, LBB, welcome to the neighborhood. We are glad you’re here and look forward to indulging in more of your skinny-patty, fry-sauce-laden goodness.

 

 

White prawn in a curry of Asian pennywort, longan and holy basil with fried lemongrass.

White prawn in a curry of Asian pennywort, longan and holy basil with fried lemongrass.

Tucked away in a snug corner within Thai comfort-food restaurant PaaDee lies a hidden gem. Or, rather, it used to be hidden. Lang Baan has enjoyed more exposure recently than Justin Bieber’s recreational pursuits, so while no longer undiscovered, it remains a jewel.

Upon arrival, you are led through PaaDee’s bustling dining room, toward the kitchen and around a corner where a second diminutive dining room is concealed behind a false bookcase. The greeter tells you which lever to pull to re-enter should you leave. The room is rustic and welcoming, with rough wood paneling and a small counter cook space. The staff, possibly the friendliest and most accommodating we’ve encountered in a while, adds to the warmth.

We dined here on a Saturday night in May with friends and fellow food lovers Lauren and Shawn, oohing and ahhing over beautifully crafted Thai dishes served family style.

Zingy, brothy quail soup, good for the soul.

Zingy, brothy quail soup, good for the soul.

The May tasting menu featured dishes from the northern part of the country, and the fireworks started with the first bite-size taste of pork belly, a salty-sweet mix of pineapple and coconut folded in a betel leaf. The second of our 12-course tasting menu featured pork stew scented with roasted coconut and spooned onto crisp crackers fashioned from sticky rice. A soup of quail, wild mushroom, kabocha squash and dill exploded with spice-laced flavor, belying the clear broth’s delicate appearance.

Twelve courses went on like this, culminating with head-on white prawns in lemongrass-scented curry; fork-tender Carlton Farm pork collar; and grilled halibut with a zingy chile dipping sauce. For dessert, Thai red rubies and jackfruit floating in a refreshing chilled coconut jasmine soup, mildly sweet with a focus on silky, chewy textures.

Lang Baan is like an amusement park for the senses, unlike any other Thai cuisine we’ve experienced in Portland. With two seatings a night, Thursday through Saturday, this place is bound to be booked solid as food-loving Portlanders flock to it. But that’s OK: Put our names on the list — we can’t wait to return.

 

Chinese sausage corn dogs.

Chinese sausage corn dogs.

Thirty years ago, or even 20, if asked what I wanted to eat on my birthday, I would have surprised no one with my answer: “Noodles.” Little has changed. However, if you had told me that for my 45th, my wish for the perfect birthday dinner would also have included corn dogs in a sultry cocktail lounge setting, I would have suggested you have your noodle checked.

But living in Portland does unexpected things to a food lover’s perspective and cravings, and on a soggy end-of-March Friday, I could not wait to get over to NE Killingsworth and 30th for my fix.

As we did the first time we visited Expatriate, J and I took a seat at the window facing Naomi Pomeroy’s Beast, the site of other memorable feasts.

Expatriate is a collaboration between Pomeroy and husband Kyle Linden Webster, lauded former bartender at St. Jack. (Also the site of other memorable meals. Sensing a trend here?)

On paper, this lounge, with its Asian-inflected bar-snack menu, already has a pedigree, but Webster and Pomeroy’s devotion to balanced flavors and hospitality makes it special. Indeed, Webster has a gift for making people feel welcome. When he stops by to check on patrons, it’s not a typical obligatory manager drive-by. Instead, he looks you in the eye and, despite being clearly busy, he lingers to chat. I’ve seen him run out to the sidewalk to talk with and offer suggestions to people who had come inside but couldn’t find a seat.

Cocktails to brighten the dreariest day.

Cocktails to brighten the dreariest day.

Crunchy, delicious brussels sprouts salad.

Crunchy, delicious brussels sprouts salad.

We started with cocktails, the No. 8 for me and the Precariat for J, sipping while we perused the menu, trying to narrow it down to an order that would not overwhelm our intimate corner of the window counter. On this visit, we skipped the deliciously simple onion and butter sandwich, an ode to James Beard on crustless white bread. Last time we were here, a fortuitous kitchen mixup brought us two orders, so we felt OK passing it over this time.

Not pass-up-able, however, were the aforementioned corn dogs, like the corn dogs of your childhood, stick and all, but made so much better with delicately sweet Chinese sausage in place of the standard hot dog. They are served with a potent sinus-cleansing mustard.

Oregon Dungeness crab Rangoon.

Oregon Dungeness crab Rangoon.

Burmese coconut noodles.

Burmese coconut noodles.

Following that was dungeness crab Rangoon: crispy wontons filled with local crab meat and cream cheese. New to us this time around was the most craveable salad: caramelized brussels sprouts, butternut squash cubes, Napa cabbage and ground lamb, every bite a delicious crunchy balance of sweet, salty, sour and savory. And from the “Hungrier” part of the menu, we ordered the tempura cod sandwich and, of course, the noodles: a generous bowl of coconut-scented broth and noodles with fried duck confit, topped with a beautifully soft-boiled egg.

By the time we had finished, the crowd had filled in behind us, and it was time to relinquish our coveted seats to some other lucky couple. We walked home feeling lucky to have so many delicious options in our neighborhood and grateful for another year.

 

Radishes, radish greens and compound butter.

Radishes, radish greens and compound butter.

In a break with tradition, we ventured out of our kitchen this Sunday evening to Old Salt Marketplace on NE 42nd Avenue. Sister restaurant to Grain & Gristle, Old Salt is rustic and neighborhood-friendly, a spot for a casual meal: spring radishes with miso compound butter; tangy beef tartare with thick-cut potato chips and piquant aioli; wood-fired duck egg on toast with chèvre; smoked half-chicken, roasted new potatoes and fiddlehead ferns; lamb, chèvre, sliced sugar snap peas and mint over linguini. Oh, and a couple of biscuits with sweet cream butter to sop up that chicken jus. Welcome, May, and happy Sunday.

Four Nights in New Orleans

January 26, 2014

Oysters and caviar at Bourbon House.

Oysters and caviar at Bourbon House.

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.” — Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

There you have it, from a master indulger: Happiness is a raw oyster and a bracing white wine. Lucky for us, then, that almost a year to the day after the commencement of the Grand Gavage, we pilgrims of the palate found ourselves reunited around a table, sipping, slurping and smiling deliriously amid the fray of Bourbon Street.

Our time would be short, our mission focused: venture out into beautiful, historic New Orleans in search of edible bivalves and other delectables. Our base was the quaint St. James Hotel on Magazine Street, far enough away from Bourbon to comfortably decompress, but near enough when the spirits moved us to quickly get back in the game.

Day 1 — The Arrival

J and I arrived in New Orleans around 8pm, checked in and met up briefly with our accomplices. Bob and Dorothy had enjoyed an early dinner with James and Zandra and were ready to tuck in. So after a quick reunion in their suite, the four of us bid them goodnight and set off for Bourbon Street in search of oysters. Our first stop: bright, bustling Bourbon House, one of several Dickie Brennan-owned establishments in the French Quarter. We took seats at the curved bar and fell into conversation with the gold-toothed oyster wrangler behind the counter. He was making short work of the iced pile in front of him. “Stick it in and wiggle,” he said with a smile, holding up his knife.

Two dozen to start: one dozen plain, the other topped with two kinds of caviar — catfish and choupique — which lent the oysters a salty richness and a textural pop. Next, alligator boudin served with a piquant chipotle aioli; and shrimp and crab gratin, a creamy, cheesy goop irresistible on crostini. A second dozen oysters with caviar appeared, apparently a mistake by the kitchen. We slurped those down too and ambled out into the night.

Lucky Dog

Lucky Dog, happy man.

We detoured for a drink in the dimness of the famed Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop before heading to Frenchman’s Street, where the sound of music enticed us into raucous Cafe Negril. The room was gyrating under the supervision of a tight blues band and its priestly looking frontman. After a set or two, and one or two beverages, we started back along Bourbon toward Poydras Street. We stopped at one of the ubiquitous Lucky Dogs carts for a couple of juicy franks on steamed buns, a tasty introduction to the late-night options available. Found-beads around our necks, bellies full and happily weary, we made our way back to the hotel.

Day 2 — Exploring

Canal Street streetcar.

Canal Street streetcar.

Wednesday. A quiet knock at our door announced the arrival of coffee, orange juice and croissants — a delicious start to the morning. The six of us met in the lobby and headed out for the day. We walked up to St. Charles Avenue and caught one of the vintage streetcars bound for the Garden District for lunch and a walkabout.

At one of the stops along St. Charles, the driver shut off the engine, shouldered her purse, exited the car and trotted across the street into a Wendy’s. We and the dozen other passengers looked at each other, puzzled. We chatted. Mostly tourists, folks from Illinois, folks from Iowa. We waited.

Sitting in the rear of the car, one of the few locals aboard began flirting through the window, shamelessly, in a fetching Cajun accent, with a pretty, exceedingly polite brunette waiting for the streetcar going the other direction. “You quite something,” the man said. “Thank you so much,” the girl answered. We learned from her reluctant responses that she was Canadian. “Is cold in Canada, yeah?” the man said. “I’ll keep you warm.” The girl laughed self-consciously. She was finally rescued by the arrival of her car.

In our car, it began to get stuffy. Our resident Casanova rose and sauntered to the front and switched on the engine, activating ventilation. Smirking, he dropped languidly onto a bench. When our driver reappeared — it seemed like 20 minutes but was probably closer to 10 — he welcomed her with a slow clap, to which she responded: “I don’t know about you, but I don’t wear no diapers to work!” And off we went.

Shrimp and grits at Coquette.

Shrimp and grits at Coquette.

Fried chicken sandwich.

Fried chicken sandwich.

At Washington Avenue we got off and strolled a bit before lunch. Our initial destination, Commander’s Palace, turned us away — a couple of us were wearing shorts — but offered a recommendation for nearby Coquette, a sweet corner bistro with a smoker billowing on the curb. At our sidewalk table for six, we started with wine and a tangy pickle plate (okra, cucumbers, shallots, green beans) with fresh potato chips and ranch dressing. Entrees included a spicy mushroom gumbo, crisp Russian kale salad, shrimp and grits, tomato sandwiches on toasted white bread and, for James, a massive fried-chicken sandwich with fries, the table favorite. Dessert was, for most of us, chocolate beignets and mini banana milkshakes.

Lafayette Cemetery.

Lafayette Cemetery.

Sated (stuffed, really), we started our tour of the Garden District, beginning in Lafayette Cemetery, with its crumbling, time-stained vaults and distinct air of the supernatural. Our guide proved to be a font of information about the city, seasoning his stories with references to long-dead Confederate officers, Louis Armstrong, Katrina, Anne Rice, Nicolas Cage, Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, Mr. and Mrs. Angelina Jolie, the Manning boys, and on and on. Out into the neighborhood we wended amid the twisting, towering live oaks and the enormous wrought-iron-frilled mansions. Once again, we were the beneficiaries of Dorothy’s knack for finding interesting people, places and things to do.

Spicy, sticky duck wings.

Emeril’s spicy duck wings.

That evening, we had reservations at Emeril’s, a large lively space with a small army of waiters for each  of the white-linen-topped tables. For openers, sticky-spicy duck wings, one of our favorite dishes of the evening, and of the trip. Among the refined clientele, we felt a little out of place sucking sauce from our fingers, but it couldn’t be helped. Hot wet towels appeared, restoring decorum.

Entrees included baseball-size filets for James and Zandra; a mountain of crisp fried chicken and sweet-potato fries for Dorothy; buttery sea scallops served in a steaming oversize escargot plate for J; and for me, squid-ink fettuccine Nero laden with shrimp, mussels and cheese. The dinner was memorable, but the highlight was the shared desserts: fluffy chocolate soufflé, and a delectable wedge of banana cream pie. The pie stood 6 inches tall and featured thick-sliced fruit suspended in custard.

We waddled down the street for a nightcap at W.I.N.O. (Wine Institute New Orleans), a newish-concept wine bar with vending machines that dispense tasting-size (or glass-size) pours of dozens of wines from around the world. There we toasted the close of our first full day in New Orleans.

Day 3 — Halloween

Bob and Dorothy steppin' out on Bourbon Street.

Bob and Dorothy steppin’ out on Bourbon Street.

Halloween started blustery and overcast. We headed out on foot toward the river, where an enormous tanker glided gulfward. We browsed through the French Market — Cafe du Monde overflowed with patrons — and in and out of several art galleries on our way back to Bourbon Street. As the costumed crowds and street performers started to converge, our appetites prompted us into Royal House Oyster Bar for sustenance. Our waitress, a very friendly witch, brought us the day’s first installment of oysters: two dozen on the half-shell, one dozen Rockefeller, a half-dozen grilled and a half-dozen Royale. These, a couple of redfish beignets, a cup of seafood gumbo and two bottles of white wine, and we were content. Onward.

Next, Pat O’Brien’s, where we took seats in the dim, cavernous piano bar. Despite the small crowd (it was early), the drinks and song requests were flowing. Naturally, Hurricanes were in order — they lubricate the singalong muscles, don’t you know.

Improvised costumes

Who dat?

We hummed our way back to Bourbon Street and into My Bar@635, lured by more live music. After a couple of cocktails and a dance or two — one of the regulars took Dorothy and me for a turn around the floor, to the amusement of the crowd — we realized we were out of place without costumes. Luckily we didn’t have to venture far to find glittery masks, sequin hats and other wacky adornments in the Carnival capital of the United States.

Dozen raw at Acme Oyster House.

A dozen raw under the neon at Acme Oyster House.

After a short respite at Musical Legends Park it was time for an early dinner. Fortunately, the queue for Acme Oyster House was less than half a block long, and we were seated relatively quickly. Our order eerily resembled lunch: two dozen raw oysters, two dozen grilled and a couple of oyster po’boys to share. And, Lord help us, drinks all around.

By dinner’s end, Dorothy and Bob were spent. We pointed them in the direction of the hotel and off they toddled, soon swallowed by the crowd. The remaining four of us bumped along with the masses, dazzled by the noise, the spectacle, the alcohol and the astonishing number of bustiers. Over the next few hours, we patronized several drinking establishments, watched a Halloween parade materialize on Decatur Street — beads rained from truck windows and from the beds of floats — and wound our way back to Cafe Negril on Frenchman’s, where we briefly escaped the onset of rain. By the time we stepped out of the bar, it was pouring — though certainly nothing four Portlanders couldn’t manage.

Rainy Halloween on Bourbon Street.

Rainy Halloween on Bourbon Street.

We slogged onward, stopping again at My Bar to watch the Bourbon Street party from under an umbrella on the balcony. Throngs of costumed partiers meandered along the street, unfazed by the downpour: A bubbly pair dressed as Jeannie and Major Tony Nelson from “I Dream of Jeannie” and a school of ephemeral jellyfish under clear bubble umbrellas, cleverly lighted from within, won our votes for best getups.

Having survived upright until the respectable hour of 11, we needed something to buffer the effects of the alcohol. Burgers, of course. Bourbon House had a table but no beef, so the sympathetic waiter recommended Yo Mama’s Bar and Grill on St. Peter Street.

Yo Mama's classic.

Yo Mama’s classic.

We walked the five blocks in a light shower, slid into a booth and ordered massive half-pounders: blue cheese burger for James; mushroom burger for Zandra; the bullfighter, piled with cheddar, salsa, avocado and jalapeños for J; and the classic Yo Mama’s burger for me. Despite its obvious restorative properties, the peanut butter burger with bacon tempted no one. Surprisingly, Yo Mama’s doesn’t serve fries — sides comprise baked potato, potato salad or green salad. Most of us opted for potato salad, with J going all in with a baked potato.

Stuffed after a second but wholly necessary dinner, we plodded back to the hotel and dropped into bed.

Day 4 — Winding Down

Amazingly, we awakened little worse for the wear and set out for breakfast. Friends had recommended Mother’s, a popular cafeteria-style operation nearby where you line up and order your meal at the counter before claiming a table in one of the cavernous dining areas. I had anticipated the famed Ferdi sandwich (ham, roast beef, debris — the bits that fall off the roast when carving — and gravy) but it was not on the breakfast menu. So we all ordered eggs in some form, dense, flaky biscuits, ham or sausage, and grits. Turns out, grits are not beloved by the Weises or the Waltons. Still, the meal was filling.

Thick, rich gumbo.

Thick, rich gumbo.

The rest of the morning was spent touring the massive, impressive WWII museum — a must-see for history buffs like Bob. We then headed back to the French Quarter for lunch, landing a table at Tableau, which with its sturdy dark-wood furnishings and contrasting thick white plaster walls exuded a stately Southern charm. The menu featured classic French Creole cooking, and we ordered a variety: Salade Lyonnaise with perfectly oozing egg; fried oyster salad; rich duck and andouille gumbo.

Marinated, truffled crab claws.

Marinated, truffled crab claws.

The most memorable dish of the day, and for me, of the trip, was the truffled crab fingers — peeled crab claws marinated and chilled in a white-truffle vinaigrette. I could have eaten these all day long with crusty bread to sop the sauce.

After lunch, we walked through the cathedral and Jackson Square, then made a shopping stop or two on Decatur Street before returning to the hotel for a nap. That evening, lacking dinner reservations and competing with a horde of American Dental Association conventioneers for a table, we ended up at Desire Bistro and Oyster House — a large, lively spot with closely spaced tables, a retro tin ceiling and black-and-white tiles underfoot. It being an oyster house, oysters were in order: three dozen to start — a dozen for Bob and two for the rest of us. Another kitchen mix-up resulted in an additional dozen, which, of course, we slurped without hesitation. At that point, the rest of the dinner was an afterthought, but tasty nonetheless. I had a delicious muffuletta half-sandwich, an addictively salty pile of ham, mortadella, salami and provolone with a thick spread of olive paste on crusty bread. Zandra went light with a trio of sliders from the appetizer menu — kobe beef, pulled pork and alligator. J chose a rich crawfish étouffé. A fine and casual dinner to cap off a memorable trip.

New Orleans is a banquet — not only its irresistible cuisine, but also its spicy mix of colorful locals and uninhibited tourists, its weather, its open-container laxity and live music at every turn. The perfect destination for a food adventure, and we were lucky enough to have been invited. Bob, Dorothy, James and Zandra — we couldn’t invent better travel and dining companions. Our minds operate alike: Start with a nice bottle of wine, then get down to the business of eating.

Raviolo

Mushroom and cheese raviolo.

A beautiful Saturday in every way: sunny, unseasonably dry, and at the end, a truffle dinner.

Hosted at Tabor Bread on Hawthorne and presented by Chef Kathryn LaSusa Yeomans in conjunction with Roger Konka of Springwater Farm, the Farmer’s Feast was a seven-course meal featuring locally foraged wild truffles  — white and black — and other seasonal ingredients prepared and presented simply and beautifully.

We four — Zandra, James, J and I — are very fortunate to have participated in some unforgettable truffle dinners. Even so, our little section of one of three long communal tables spanning the bakery’s dining room was wowed by the big flavors that Chef Yeomans shared with us. Among them, a marble-sized white truffle warmed in parchment with an addictively delicious jus and served with a toasted piece of Tabor Bread brioche; silky, sweet Tamworth heritage pig liver mousse topped with slivered black truffle alongside a ramekin of maitake mushroom and leek custard and shaved white truffle; a triangle-shaped raviolo filled with creamy cheese and topped with wild mushrooms in an earthy broth; pork saltimbocca and luscious truffled celery root puree. At the end, a pear granita and warm almond cookies.

A beautiful Saturday, and a beautiful meal. Life does not get much better.

Tradition: NYE Celebration

January 1, 2014

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Every year since 1999, J and I have rung in the New Year with our annual tradition of caviar, homemade buckwheat blini and bubbles. (This year, we celebrated with a special bottle of bubbles, a gift from Robb and Dana. Wow!) We remember our families and friends, and toast our good fortune. We are truly grateful.

Happy New Year!

Impromptu Oyster Feast

December 28, 2013

Oysters Rockefeller.

Oysters Rockefeller.

One morning last week, James called to ask if we had plans for evening. He said that he and Zandra had received a hefty parcel on their doorstep: a box of fresh Gulf oysters, courtesy of Dorothy and Bob, a reminder of our recent trip to New Orleans together. They had no idea how they were going to eat them all. So that evening, they knocked at the door carrying a huge Styrofoam cooler and a couple of bottles of wine.

An inquiry to our benefactors revealed that the oysters were from Joe Patti’s Seafood Company in Pensacola, Fla. Dorothy had ordered two bags, each containing two dozen. The open cooler revealed a mass of oysters, three dozen (the other dozen J&Z saved for another meal), certainly more than we could eat in one sitting. But, reminding ourselves that this was not our first oyster rodeo, we poured some wine, snacked on a bit of cheese, and got down to shucking.

Shucked and ready.

Shucked and ready.

First order of business: baking a dozen Rockefeller-style with a topping that Zandra had prepared. While those bubbled in the oven with butter, spinach and Parmesan, the other two dozen were pried open and arranged on a platter. (The proper method, we learned from the man with the oyster knife at Bourbon House in New Orleans: “Stick it in and wiggle it.” Good advice for the uninitiated in any number of circumstances. The Hokey-Pokey, for example.)

And the feast began. The Rockefellers were consumed in moments, bright and savory with fresh spinach, a bit of cheese and a hint of anise. Then, on to the raw: a squeeze of lemon, a splash of homemade mignonette, a dab of horseradish cocktail sauce. Top, slurp, repeat. These oysters were so fresh and clean-tasting, we might as well have been seaside.

Before we knew it, the mountain of oysters was a pile of shells.

bread

A perfect boule.

One of the most-used gifts we received this year was a birthday present from James and Zandra to J back in June: a copy of Ken Forkish’s Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast. I never thought I’d stray from the ridiculously easy Sullivan Street Bakery No-Knead Bread recipe or Mark Bittman’s basic pizza dough, but once I started experimenting with Forkish’s methods, I became a devoted follower. And, indeed, Forkish is a masterful teacher, explaining the whys and hows of his bread-making methods in clear, descriptive language. The opening chapters of the book tell the story about quitting his corporate job to follow a dream of becoming a bread maker, followed by a chapter on the important details for delicious bread and an outline of the equipment he recommends. Chapter 4 is an overview of the basic bread method with step-by-step photos. Contrary to many other cookbooks, the first several chapters, save for perhaps Forkish’s interesting back story, are required reading before diving into the recipes. Every recipe I’ve made has required referencing Chapter 4; though now that I’m more familiar with the terms and techniques, flipping back and forth is becoming less frequent.

Requiring only four basic ingredients in varied proportions, the recipes’ other essential elements are patience and especially timing. The recipes are not difficult to execute once you have the basic method down, and the result is  heavenly. Puffy bubbles that emerge during the rise transform into gorgeous air pockets in the finished loaf, and the flavor lent by fermentation and baking to a dark brown is unparalleled in supermarket loaves.

We spent the summer and fall, and indeed last night, up to our elbows in flour, surrounded by bulging masses of fermenting dough. And we went through at least three bags of flour this past summer making pizza dough, focaccia and beautiful artisan boules. It has the potential to become an addiction, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Fresh strawberries over biscuits. Summer.

Fresh strawberries over biscuits. Summer.

Portland is twitchy for summer.

For the past few weeks, a wet gloom has settled in, granting only brief merciful glimpses of warmth and sun. Then, June 1 dawns, and with it a glorious Saturday.

After a walk around the neighborhood, a drink or two at one of our favorite wine bars and dinner on Alberta Street, a sweet treat beckons. On the stroll home we duck into Pine State Biscuits for this beauty: Two biscuit halves topped with fresh, sweet strawberries and whipped cream.

SOS: summer on a shingle.