Hawthorne Street Cafe, 3354 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 235-8286.
Begin the day at the cheerily domestic Hawthorne Street Cafe, which serves stolidly thick and hearty wheat cakes—a bit dry, perhaps—with huge chunks of marionberry inside, almost like a flattened marionberry muffin with syrup on top. But, alas, even though it’s the end of marionberry season, the berries used in the pancakes were underripe, which meant it was sort of like a Sour Patch Kids pancake.
Gluten-free marionberry streusel
Tula, 4943 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 764-9727, tulabaking.com.
In the anti-flour power department, Tula makes a delicious no-gluten streusel using some sort of Space Age ingredient that tastes pretty much exactly like flour. The crumbly crust on the tiny marionberry cake was reminiscent of every cinnamon-topped crisp ever made by a church grandmother.
PBJ’s Grilled food cart, 919 NW 23rd Ave., 743-0435, pbjsgrilled.com.
Everywhere I went with this sandwich, by smell alone people were prompted to ask where it came from. It’s an unlikely regional-fetishist combo of marionberry jam, Rogue Creamery blue cheese and hazelnuts, on buttered and grilled bread. Well, it was one of the best new sandwiches I’d tried in quite some time. At the eastside location in the doomed Cartopia pod—they’ll soon move to the Tidbit pod on Southeast Division Street—they’ll add smoky Muscovy duck for $2.50.
Hotlips Pizza, various locations, hotlipspizza.com.
Available at New Seasons or any Hotlips shop, the local marionberry soda is made with just marionberries, water and sugar. It’s a bit light on effervescence, leading to a syrupy texture with a little pulpiness. But aside from the sugar, the mix of berry flavor and sparkling water made it taste a bit like an old-school, German-style schorle made with club soda and fruit juice.
Marionberry hand pie
Pie Spot, 521 NE 24th Ave., 913-5103, pie-spot.com.
This bakery moved out of its cart last year, but it’s still making baby pies fist-sized and fork-free out of a little shop tucked by the wayside of the Ocean food mall. Pie Spot’s crenelated marionberry pastry is about the size of your palm—not nearly pie-sized, not quite a tart. In practice, it’s a bit like a marionberry dessert empanada made with pie crust. It’s terrific, with the most substantial crust of the pies and a solid balance of tart and sweet.
Sweedeedee, 5202 N Albina Ave., 946-8087, blog.sweedeedee.com.
Tiny Sweedeedee has a line out the door even at 10:30 on a Wednesday morning, filled with those who apparently don’t have to work: visiting San Franciscans, Japanese, and eerily healthy-looking young couples. I wandered in on a hunch, and of course they had marionberry pie: old-school, shortening-thick crust brimming with thick berry filling. Get your pie to go, rather than gamble on getting a table after ordering food from the counter.
Alotto Gelato, 931 NW 23rd Ave, 228-1709, alottogelato.biz.
Salt & Straw seems to have abandoned its marionberry habanero blue cheese flavor for the time being, which is a relief, because rather than stand in line for an hour with Minnesotans for habanero ice cream, you can just walk three blocks and grab a cup of sweet, sticky marionberry sorbetto (that’s Italian for sorbet) from family gelato shop Alotto Gelato. When the sorbetto begins to melt, it tastes exactly like the blender-mixed berry popsicles my mother used to make in Tupperware molds, right down to the oddly satisfying granular texture of crushed seeds.
Staccato Gelato, 232 NE 28th Ave., 231-7100, staccatogelato.com.
This bright-orange shop in Kerns caters mostly to young parents, serving plenty of coffee and doughnuts on the weekends. But the best thing they make is marionberry gelato from fresh berries, prompting me to make a special trip to the place in berry season. The gelato is creamy, with an intense berry flavor that caused me to gasp audibly, like a gawky high-school freshman who suddenly stumbled into cheerleading practice.
Marionberry pie ice cream
Lake Oswego Ice Creamery and Restaurant, 37 SW A Ave., Lake Oswego, 636-4933, lakeoswegoicecreameryandrestaurant.com.
Don’t be confused, this isn’t an official outpost of the quintessential Oregon dairy company. But the restaurant does have a confusingly strong association with the coastal cheesemaker thanks to ample signage—the Tillamook logo is bigger than the restaurant’s name—and many tubs of Tillamook, including marionberry pie: a creamy vanilla ice cream with marionberry swirled in with little chunks of frozen pie crust. It’s sort of awesome.
Burgerville, various locations, burgerville.com.
Burgerville marionberry desserts are what childhood in Portland tastes like. Since back in the day, there are occasional marionberry sundaes, and lately there’s a sweet marionberry lemonade and nonfat-froyo marionberry smoothie, but the milkshake endures. When the marionberry sign went up on the Burgerville marquee when I was a child, that was the cue for my parents’ car to U-turn into the drive-thru. The milkshakes are pretty much the same as they ever were: swirly pink, more sweet than tart, and thick with berries straight from Liepold Farms in Boring.
Eastside Distilling, 1512 SE 7th Ave., 926-7060, eastsidedistilling.com.
Time for a nightcap. I generally prefer
whiskey no sweeter than Maker’s Mark. But while Eastside Distilling’s
marionberry whiskey may be distilled like bourbon, it tastes like
blackberry brandy, with the same heat on the nose and tannic sweetness
hitting the back of the throat. In the old country, we would have called
it schnapps, and at a gentle 60 proof it flirts teasingly with liqueur.
But it does not cloy, and the flavor maintains just enough complexity
that it cries out for curdy, after-dinner cheese and grassy tobacco to
stuff into a pipe.