The story of Portland is written in sweets.
From the demure chocolate-frosted ginger cookies at Roste Chocolate House to the gargantuan Boccone Dolce at Papa Haydn, desserts are the way residents of this city mark a special occasion and say “I love you.” Even our perennial, exhausting debates about doughnuts are a tell: This town takes its sweet tooth seriously.
As we head into a season when loved ones are near (and expecting gifts), it’s little wonder that our minds start compiling lists of sugary indulgences.
Craving something deceptively simple? Read up on Lauretta Jean’s salted honey pie and its “pillowy” interior. Hungry for the deliciously extravagant? Turn to our profile of Screen Door’s triple-layer red velvet cake and let the drooling begin.
Flip through this issue and you’ll see the story of Portland emerge. Old Portland lives on through our ode to the bananas Foster at El Gaucho and the late wunder-chef Sherwood Dudley. The diversity and energy of the Foster-Powell area wafts through our profile of An Xuyên Bakery, famous for Hawaiian doughnuts and guava cookies.
For a taste of the future of Portland desserts, we visited new dessert bar Libre, whose inventive menu includes apple cake with mole ice cream. But we didn’t neglect the usual suspects. We conclude with a quest for the perfect grocery store birthday cake, a mouthwatering reminder that great desserts aren’t the sole province of boutique bakeries.
Look, we know a lot of our covers contain a somewhat tortured stab at topicality. (What does red velvet cake say about the prospects of downtown, anyway?) But the premise of this package of stories is simple: We’ve tasted some sumptuous goodies, and we’d like you to try them. A truly transcendent dessert begins with a baker’s detailed vision, but the experience of eating it isn’t that complex. Flour + butter + sugar = yum.
—Bennett Campbell Ferguson, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor