Portland is a city obsessed with rarefied goods, not just rarefied salts and olio nuovo but artisanal pastas from Italy and cheeses from everywhere. Thus, boutique markets. One doesn't so much shop here for specific items as ogle at the museum of food, submitting oneself to the tastes of the shop as one would when viewing a turn-of-the-century cabinet of wonders.
2518 NE 15th Ave., 284-1157, fosteranddobbs.com.
If Portland had a day spa for food, Irvington's Foster & Dobbs would be it. The lovingly curated shop carries most everything you need to make a Eurocentric ingredient whore happy, including a half dozen fancy salts spiked with the likes of hibiscus and fennel, weird Japanese bamboo salt sticks, and a fridge case bursting with salumi and Fra' Mani meats, duck confit and a nice rotating mix of Euro and local cheeses. Foster & Dobbs hosts free wine tastings every Friday afternoon.
Shopping list: Rick's Picks pickles, Parma hand-salted/cured prosciutto, molé chili and chocolate-laced salami and tomato jam sandwich to go.
6031 SE Belmont St., 222-6014, cheese-bar.com. Closed Monday.
Steve Jones' fabled cheese case is filled with a personally vouched-for selection of amazing fromage from small producers across the globe. Jones, who was named the best cheesemonger in the country at the 2011 Cheesemonger Invitational, is particularly taken with Alpine "mountain cheeses," which, he explains, refers to anything produced when animals graze exclusively at higher altitudes, and therefore on fresh, green grasses, yielding cheeses with a nutty, rich, funky flavor. The fact that I can now listen to this kind of information with a beer in hand is truly marvelous (six rotating taps, plus lots of bottles). Oh, and did I mention the other case full of Olympic Provisions sausages? I know. Mind blown.
Shopping list: American artisanal cheeses, fine beer on tap.
Milwaukie Kitchen & Wine
10610 SE Main St., Milwaukie, 653-3228, milwaukiekitchen.com.
After leaving downtown's Carafe Bistro, where he was chef for eight years, Pascal Sauton did what a lot of guys do after a breakup: surround himself with his favorite things. His new deli, coffee shop and wine store is a very selective collection of the best Portland and France have to offer, with a small case of charcuterie by Chop, Tails & Trotters and Olympic Provisions; spendy jams, mustards and dry goods; and wines from the Northwest and France. Sauton, who recently was voted hottest chef in America by the Eater food blog, has been putting as much emphasis on the store's kitchen as on its shelves. The market began full-service dinners this spring.
Shopping list: Punt e Mes, Penner Ash Rubeo, Ristretto coffee, Xocolatl de David bars, Italian pasta.
3735 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 232-1010; 735 NW 21st Ave., 221-3002; pastaworks.com.
Although not a place where you'd probably do your weekly grocery shopping (or maybe you do, Mr. Moneybags, what do I know? Journalists live off Top Ramen and self-righteousness), Pastaworks is the place you want to go to throw a knock-their-socks-off dinner party without getting your hands dirty. Start with the eponymous pasta ($8 for 16 ounces)—fresh and supple and ready from packet to plate in about three minutes. There are housemade sauces, but why drown your $8 ravioli in marinara? Buy a tub of sage butter for $3 instead. The cheesemongers will throw together an impressive cheese plate, and the Hawthorne store has a formidable meat counter that offers terrines and sausages and house-cured animal bits. For your inevitable vegan guest, there are good-looking carrots.
Shopping list: Fresh pasta, olive oil, cheese, wine.
The Woodsman Market
4529 SE Division St., 971-373-8267, woodsmantavern.com.
Upon first glance, the main trade of the Woodsman Market, the concern Duane Sorenson has situated in a vacant storefront between his successful tavern and coffee roastery, seems to be a random assortment of products with attractive packaging. Inside the boutique bodega, you'll find Cerise Noire cherry jam, a $175 Shun chef knife, 5-pound bags of whole-wheat pastry flour, local bee pollen, Svensk Drom sea-salt soap, Le Creuset mini cocottes (three for $60) and toilet paper (Cottonelle, no price). Does anyone buy toilet paper here? "I've never seen anyone buy it, but maybe if you lived in the neighborhood," says the cashier. So what does the Woodsman Market do? Sometimes, it sells milk, cheese, deli meat or salty beef-jerky sticks ($2). Mainly, though, it makes sandwiches on hearty bread with fine meats and cheeses.
Shopping list: Duker's Dills pickled carrots, housemade sea-salt dusted focaccia, Empire mayonnaise, smoked kielbasa, celery soda.