Friday, April 2, 2010

Sweets on the Road: Seattle and Portland

For my law school spring break this year, my boyfriend and I took a decidedly atypical spring break trip to Seattle and Portland. I had never been to either Washington or Oregon, so it seemed like the perfect time for me to experience the Pacific Northwest. I learned quickly that both cities are brimming with amazing culinary experiences. Seattle is especially lucky to have chef Tom Douglas who owns a slew of innovative and delicious restaurants (see below for those recommendations).

It took very little hunting on my part to find some great bakeries in the area. The first two I encountered are right by the famous Pike Place market, which happened to be our first stop.

Le Panier is a traditional French bakery, which may not have caught my eye had I not noticed the beautiful display of macarons in the pastry case. French macarons, of course, are all the rage these days, threatening the celebrity status that cupcakes are currently enjoying. If you haven't yet tried a french macaron (not to be confused with the coconut macaroon), I suggest you head over to your closest french bakery and try one immediately, they are truly a treat. I bought one macaron of each flavor, and was pleased when I tasted them later that they were as good as they looked: the perfect french macaron.

The next stop was a tiny little stand called Cinnamon Works. I was drawn to the stand because of the case filled with enormous cookies. There were so many delicious looking options, but we settled on a snickerdoodle - the classic American cookie. The cookie was so big that it lasted for the next 3 days. It was a little cakey-ier than I normally like my snickerdoodles, but tasty nonetheless.

I found Flying Apron bakery while exploring the Fremont neighborhood, a quirky, artsy little Seattle neighborhood that every year tries to secede from the rest of the country. Flying Apron bakery specializes in vegan and gluten-free baked-goods, which normally would not entice me to a bakery, but I just loved the design of their sign, so I had to go in. I settled on a gluten-free, vegan berry scone made with rice flour. It was much more flavorful and rich than I would have expected for a gluten-free, vegan treat, making me think I should perhaps experiment with some of this type of baking for myself.

We made a quick stop at the Grand Central Bakery, where I had a french macaron and purchased their cookbook for further experimentation. Our last stop in Seattle, however, was by far the best - Top Pot Doughnuts, which is located in Belltown, not far from the Space Needle. Top Pot was recommended to us by our guidebook, and boy was it worth it. I had a chocolate sandcastle donut, and when I had finished eating it I immediately wished I had ordered two. It was the perfect donut: crispy on the outside and moist and chewy on the inside. If only I could find these donuts outside of Seattle.

Our time in Portland was not as long, and unfortunately, was marred by bad weather, so we only made one bakery stop to another famous doughnut shop - Voodoo Doughnut.

We had to wait in line, in the rain, for about an hour. Once we got inside I was amused by the colorful donuts and the funny names for all of them listed on the overhead chalkboard. We decided to be boring and ordered a chocolate glazed and a regular glazed donut. They were good, but I'm not sure they were much better than the traditional Dunkin Donut, and certainly not worth the long wait.

Now it's back to my normal routine in L.A., which includes some extra trips to the gym to counteract the effects of all the eating I did on spring break.

Seattle + Portland Bakeries:
• Le Panier, 1902 Pike Place, Seattle, WA 98101
• Cinnamon Works, 1536 Pike Place, Seattle, WA 98101
• Flying Apron bakery, 3510 Fremont Ave, N. Seattle, WA 98103
• Grand Central bakery, various locations throughout Seattle and Portland
• Top Pot Doughnuts, 2124 Fifth Ave, Seattle, WA 98121 and other locations throughout Seattle
• Voodoo Doughnut, 22 S.W. Third Ave, Portland, OR 97204

Other fantastic Seattle + Portland eateries:
The Palace Kitchen (delicious northwest cuisine), 2030 Fifth Ave, Seattle, WA 98121
Paseo (amazing cuban sandwiches), 4225 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA
Serious Pie (speciality pizzas), 316 Virginia, Seattle, WA 98121
Pok Pok (innovative thai cuisine), 3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202
Wildwood (northwest cuisine), 1221 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR 97209
Caffe Vita Coffe Co.,various locations throughout Seattle
Stumptown Coffee,various locations throughout Seattle and Portland

((post by emily))


  1. Have you tried making macarons? I tried once last year with disappointing results.

  2. I did try making macarons, and it was a bit of a disaster. I'm determined to try again though, and hopefully it won't fail.