Ken's Artisan Bakery in Portland, Oregon is largely responsible for my obsession with high quality breads. This was the first good U.S. bakery I encountered that branched out from whole grain loaves to stunning European-style breads and pastries. Ken's brioche and cafe au lait became common study partners for me over those years, and I was truly sad to leave this wonderful bakery behind when I moved back to Chicago.
When Nick and I arrived at the Portland train station, we made our way directly to Ken's for lunch. Though we had decided on sandwiches, I couldn't resist purchasing one of their mouthwatering croissants. While explaining to Nick the reasons behind this addition to our lunch menu, the woman in front of us turned around to agree saying, "I lived in France for five years and I keep a vegan diet, but when I am back in Portland I always come here for one. They are the best."
Nick ordered the Pulled Pork Barbecue on a ciabatta roll with fennel coleslaw (pictured first). I ordered the Croque Portabello with bechamel, fresh thyme, and Gruyere on country bread. While the train food was better than we had expected, devouring these divine sandwiches helped remind us that good food should taste fresh and satisfying.
Anyone who may fancy themselves a bread nerd should look at the "Essays" section on the Ken's Artisan Bakery website. With titles like, "What is Good Bread" and " Preferments for Better Living," Ken's essays are not only endearing, but full of first-hand advice from a baker that very clearly loves good bread.
Ken's Artisan Bakery
338 NW 21st Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
Tonight we are going to see Heart (You stay away from "Barracuda", Sarah Palin!) and on Sunday, after months of fundraising and training, I run the Chicago Half Marathon. Wish me luck!