Winter Wonderland

A Fresh Snow on the Metolius River

No, we have not forgotten about the blog simply because the cafe is closed for the holidays.

The truth is that we are trying to capitalize on our week-long break from work by getting out of Portland and putting ourselves in a place where we can make the most of our time off. What are we hoping to accomplish with all of our new found freedom? Nothing.

Well, we don't actually plan on doing nothing, but surely we hope to abstain from doing anything too cafe related. Somewhat ironic that I state this while sitting in a Sisters, OR coffeeshop, sipping coffee and making a new entry for the cafe blog (and as a side note feeling very glad that I have some CCR Sumatra Mandheling waiting for me back at our Central Oregon home base).

After some lovely holiday meals which we were fortunate enough to be able to share with family and friends, we escaped from Portland early Tuesday afternoon, just as the snow had descended upon our fair city. And what an exciting surprise that snowfall was. Ali mentioned that it was Portland's first 'white Christmas' since 1990.
The drive over the Cascades was fairly uneventful despite some occasional stops spent inspecting broken tire chains. Now almost 24 hours into our self-imposed exile from the city, the tension in our bodies that has become so commonplace over the past few months feels as though it is slowly melting away. I look forward to the activities that lay ahead for the coming days, such as catching up on some much needed sleep, delving into a new book, cooking food for ourselves, and watching the snow accumulate.
Wishing all of you merry and peaceful holidays from LRBC.



We have arrived. Our existence has officially been validated. Somehow we finagled our way into The Portland Mercury's Lovelab. Many of us at the cafe are devoted fans of the "I Saw You" ads. Perhaps religious followers is a better description. I mean the whole thing is terribly romantic, isn't it? How can you not be moved? Inspired? Curious? It's nice to imagine a place where half sees half. Half searches for half. Half suddenly finds itself Whole. So try to imagine our utter disbelief and joy when we discovered this Thursday that our little world was connected to the big one out there. That our place was this place. (Insert a tee, hee, hee, snicker, oh-my-gosh-life-is-sweeeeet here).

The occurrence needless to say has made our week. In fact it's been the topic of many-a-conversations amongst the staff. We are all in love with the idea of love a' brewin' at the LRBC. The least we could do was help a brother out. We feel it's our duty to play wingman on this one by spreading the word that a half has put a shout out to it's other half. To Man #906352, we hope you find your doodler.


Empty House

Just in case you haven't been by the cafe recently and seen the notice on the door, or perhaps were scheming about making your first trip in, Little Red Bike Cafe will be closed the following dates:

CLOSED Monday, December 24th through Tuesday, January 1st

The cafe will open its doors for the new year Wednesday, January 2nd.

In all honesty we have been feeling pretty tired lately, and are looking forward to relaxing and celebrating the holidays with family. A big thank you to all of our customers for your overwhelming support. Also, we are forever grateful to our staff and amazing vendors, without whom we would be nowhere.

While the cafe will be closed for a few days, stay tuned to the blog for a 2007 recap, as well as a look ahead to what's in store for 2008!


Those Knives Are Hot!

Coming Soon to a Cafe Near You?

A while back we asked our good friends the Hot Knives if they could help us come up with a tasty vegan breakfast sandwich worthy of holding down some real estate on our fixed menu. Experts in vegan fare, the Knives really came through this time with not one but TWO egg-less breakfast sandwich recipes for us to choose from. One of which will more than likely become a fixture at the LRBC. Check out the action for yourself here.

Have an opinion on which sandwich you think might be best suited for the cafe? Please leave a comment below.


LRBC Little-Known-Fact #117

I first tried baking these cookies when I was still a teenager attending high-school. My mom found the recipe in a popular magazine and after numerous attempts by the both of us, I came to the decision that I liked my version the best. Its a simple recipe really, and I love it because it offers a great deal of improvisational opportunities for the baker.

Years later while attending college here in Portland I would often mail these cookies fresh from the oven to Ali, who was living and going to school in LA. I'm not sure if the cookies themselves had anything to do with us being able to survive four plus years in a long-distance relationship, but I like to think that my baking played some small role in it all. At the very least I know for certain that they helped me score some major points with her roommate (don't deny it Alison).


What's for Dinner...

Maker's Nog
A lil' nog, a lotta Maker's and some freshly ground nutmeg to top it off

Not a very substantial dinner but hey, we're celebrating; we just picked up our tree tonight! A perfectly glorious 7ft. Doug Fir now resides in the living room and to top it off, our purchase from North Portland's Peninsula Optimists helps support the youth in our neighborhood. Ho, ho, ho.

Table for 50?

Mini Smoked Salmon Toasts

It was a good weekend. No, it was a great weekend. Thanks to everyone involved (family, co-workers, and customers alike). In addition to the normal weekend chaos Ali and her mom were able to put together a catering job for Tracy. The event was her second annual Holiday Open House, which raises money for the Children's Relief Nursery. We were told that the event went off without a hitch, and it is our sincere hope that the food played at least a small role in the day's overall success.

After giving it a great deal of thought Ali and I have decided that this is the last catering event we will be doing for a while. We feel a need to focus on the cafe itself, and while we do hope to add catering in the future, we want to make sure that we can do so without compromising another aspect of our business. In the meantime, here are some photos to tease your taste buds:

Mini Brie and Cherry Tarts Topped w/ Caramelized Onion

Curried Deviled Eggs Topped w/ Smoked Salmon and Red Bell Pepper

Homemade Spinach and Artichoke Dip Served w/Rustic Baguette

Mini Gingersnap Sandwich Cookies w/Lemon Curd Cream Filling


Mama Said There'll be Days Like This...

And Boy was she right. Today was one of those days. It started off deceptively calm and serene. We foolishly convinced ourselves that we could make it with just three on. There were several moments throughout the morning where it was just me, Evan, and Tim in the cafe. We stamped cups, practiced the art of the spatula-less egg-flip,made espresso for more Thai ice coffee ice cream batter, discussed Bush's latest flub, talked latte art, more specifically about Billy Wilson's latte art, and waited. And waited. By 10am I was convinced the entire pot of Free Range Chicken Tortilla Soup was a mistake. I had definitely made too much. What was I thinking? It's not raining outside? Why did I make such a ginormous amount?

Evan tried to ease my anxiety, "It's only 10am Babe, people may still show up." And then our peaceful reality subsided. What we had conceived as an unusually slow Friday swelled into a massive tidal wave of a rush, complete with an appearance of aforementioned Latte Artist. Was this really happening? It wasn't until we found ourselves being sucked into a disastrous undertow that we understood that the early morning had been the calm before the storm. If I left the register Tim was stranded in no man's land between the Synesso, the register, and the mob. When I left the kitchen Evan faced dozen of tickets, each with it's special requests: Extra egg here, No onion there. As the Ultimate Queen of Substitutions in a High Maintenance Kingdom (Sally ain't got nothing on me), I never understood the reasons why restaurants request "No substitutions." I really found it quite annoying. I just wanna order it the way I wanna order it. Well, now I get it. It's nearly impossible to get any sort of rhythm or flow going when you hit all of these little speed bumps. Sure, you're removing something, ideally that would mean you're making my job easier; you're subtracting from the equation. However, that something is programmed in my brain to be there so when my brain tells me to put onion on before it tells me to read the ticket to see if you want onion or not it creates a bit of a speed bump. And these speed bumps tend to create a bit of a traffic jam in the kitchen. I get it now, okay? I get it. But I'm still going to allow substitutions just as much as I have grown used to making them myself. Why? Because sometimes the person that knows what tastes the best to me is me. And I surely respect the fact that the same goes for you too. That being said, be kind to your server when you ask. Be patient with the staff if they mess it up. It's not that they are trying to ruin your meal, or delay it. At least not in our case. Our excuse is simple: We're like programmed robots back there, desperately searching for a pattern, a rhythm. Sometimes we are able to process the code, sometimes we're not. Most of all we're trying to ensure that you just really, really like your meal. That I can guarantee.

By 1:00pm we were all feeling like it should be more like 2:45pm (near closing time). But it wasn't. And the storm wasn't over. First we ran out of multi-grain (A First! Usually it's the ciabatta that goes), then came the Texas Toast (Another First--we NEVER run out of this) and then we finally hit the bottom of the ciabatta stockpile. That was it. We had literally SOLD OUT of bread. And it was 2:30pm, thirty minutes still remaining on the clock. I felt as though we had hit an all-time low. What was going on with today? Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse a four top (a super-cute couple with what we assume was their parents) came in. After making one last attempt at this end-of-the-day lunch rush we blew the fuses on half our kitchen equipment and had to refund the money of these lovely people. Who had been waiting...to eat...and for us...to feed them. It was like our kitchen just said, "That's it. I just can't take it anymore." We sent the family away with empty stomachs and a roast beef sandwich on the house. For lack of a better word I was pissed. I felt defeated, guilty, sad, and angry. I cannot give excuses. We ran out of bread. Our fault. Our kitchen blew up. Humm...possibly our fault. We sent good people packing because we couldn't do our job. Definitely our fault. And all of those things combined don't feel very good. It wasn't all bad but it's difficult feeling as though we let people down. We try to take great pride in our care of our customers. At times we feel it's all we have. And when we don't have that well, we don't have much.

However, mama also said this: "Every cloud has a silver lining." The highlight of my day today? Bonnie, a dear customer and friend donated this vintage apron (you see above) to my ever-growing collection. Aside from the act of undeniable generosity, I was particularly moved when I found out that Bonnie's own mother made it. Thank you, Bonnie, for stitching the silver lining on my cloud. I do believe you saved me.

And just in case you were wondering, that entire pot of soup? Well, the very, very tail end of it was given to Tim for his lunch. Which really wasn't a lunch at all. More like a 10 minute wolfing down period in-between coffee orders. Thank you, Tim. You are a good employee and more importantly a good friend to us. We couldn't have made it through the day without you. Literally.


We've Got Spirit, How 'Bout You?

Tuesday night we were fortunate enough to attend the Portsmouth Neighborhood Association meeting in the beautiful Columbia Park Cottage.

Once there we were greeted with a roaring fire, we were engaged by several compelling neighborhood topics, and we filled our bellies with plenty of delectables made at the hands of our amazing Portsmouth neighbors.

In addition to business issues the neighborhood association also happened to be passing out their annual Spirit of Portsmouth Awards. These honors commemorate helpful neighbors, choice home landscaping, proactive community members, etc. We were honored by not only being selected for one of these but to be placed alongside of so many wonderful neighborhood icons was such a blessing. Simply too good to be true!!! Thank you to all who voted. Coming from all of you, our fellow community members, this is the best accolade we could've asked for.

Once again, we are humbly reminded of just how happy we are we moved to North Portland. Time and time again it is brought to our attention of just how much our neighborhood rocks.


Savor the Chill

Yes, its getting colder out every day. We don't care. We still make ice cream. Well, Ali does to be more specific. She has been very busy this week whipping up some new flavors.

See something you like?

The New Steam Tips Are Here!

I feel about as excited as Steve Martin in The Jerk when new phone books containing his character's name are delivered to the gas station where he works. He exclaims upon reading his name 'in print' for the first time, "Things are going to start happening to me now!"
Well, things are going to start happening to the LRBC now. Perfectly steamed milk to be specific.

Thanks to Joel for bringing over the new tip that the folks at Coffeehouse Northwest and Acorn are already raving about. Both coffee shops work with the same brand of espresso machine we use, and both have switched at least one of the tips on their steam wands from the stock tip (pictured on the left) to a more restrictive steam tip (pictured on the right).

My first impressions? While the old tip allowed for milk to be steamed very rapidly, it also allowed for very little margin of error due to the powerful volume of steam it released. Ironically, over the past few days I have just begun to feel as though I am getting the hang of consistently steaming high quality latte milk on the Synesso (this after three months spent working on the machine). So along comes Joel with the new tip. Without making any adjustments to the pressure, the amount of time it takes to produce quality milk is increased. That said, after working with the new steam tip for a few hours it seems much easier to produce quality milk on a consistent basis.

Part of the inspiration behind us trying out the new tip is that we are hoping to talk the folks of Coffeehouse Northwest into doing a milk steaming workshop for everybody at LRBC. NW uses the same machine as us, and now with our new tip, we have yet another variable in common. Only differences left are our steaming pressures and the milk we use. Yes, those are big differences, but the thought of learning from these guys (who we consider to be in a class of their own) has us more excited than ever about hot milk.

Oh, and we are fully stocked with Kenya Thika Gethumbwini Peaberry for the remainder of the week. This is definitely among my favorite CCR coffees out there right now. Stop by for a cup, or stay and savor a French press all to yourself.


We Were Having a High Time

Upon closing today a New Belgium rep or 'beer ranger' decided to stop in and check us out after driving past the cafe and seeing our logo. As luck would have it we happen to be people who have been known to enjoy a cold beer from time to time. To us good beer is always welcome, but free good beer that is delivered to you on a whim? That's some creative marketing.


Back by Popular Demand

You may have missed it today, but it will make an encore appearance for tomorrow's breakfast.

What is it you are wondering?

Two Eggs Our Way
An open face sandwich of two fried eggs, with roasted red bell pepper, crumbled feta, fresh basil, and a cherry balsamic reduction on olive ciabatta.

The reason why this entree is making a repeat performance tomorrow is because it literally flew out of our kitchen today, and as a result we had a few unhappy customers who wished they had come in just a little bit earlier. Our promise was simple, return tomorrow and we will provide the goods.

Some other items on the menu:

-Chicken and Chive Dumpling Pot Pie

-Onion and Gruyere Tart, served w/ mix baby greens or side of fruit

-Moo's Now Famous Potato Gratin

-Pumpkin Bisque, served w/ toasted pumpkin seeds and creme fraiche


Friendly Reminder

Today a customer helped remind me why we came to the decision some time ago that Ali would take care of running the kitchen while the majority of my efforts would be spent pouring coffee and running the front of the house.

Upon leaving the cafe after purchasing a coffee, a friendly customer inquired about Ali's special soup of the day, Sweet Potato Bisque (served w/ cheddar cheese and fried onion garnish).

"What is a bisque?" he asked me.

Momentarily confused as a result of the many popular seafood based bisque recipes I have run into throughout the course of my life, I replied with half confidence: "I believe the word 'bisque' refers to a soup that has a smooth creamy texture as a result of the fact that it is pureed."

With about as little confidence in my answer as I myself had the man offered a polite "thank you" and went on his merry way. I turned back to the espresso machine, eager to work with a medium I can confidently answer questions about.

The day finally over, I am humbled by the experience and have completed my homework. If you would like to learn more about bisque click here. If you are eager to taste Ali's aforementioned bisque come here.


LRBC Little-Known-Fact #58

This past summer we actually debated whether or not the cafe might require the assistance of an automatic dish sanitizer. Has it come in handy? Well so far, yes. Yes it has come in handy. Approximately 1825 times.


Have No Fear

Yes folks, Egg Nog is here. Old Fashion that is.

The hard part is over. Last year we risked our health and wellbeing by actually embarking on an egg nog tasting, determined to find the blend which would earn the title "Best Nog." We sampled 8 different brands (including one soy based product, and guess which one came out on top?

Seems fitting that Oregon's own Umpqua Dairy was the only brand we sampled which sold its product in a gold colored container; seemingly flaunting its own self confidence while simultaneously commanding the attention of every display case. Whether you drink it straight, steam it up in a latte, make a milkshake out of it, or our favorite, enjoyed over ice with a generous amount of bourbon, its a classic seasonal treat for anyone who can handle its scary-dairy core ingredients.

Visit the cafe anytime over the following month and we'll be sure to help you get your egg nog fix no matter what method you prefer to indulge.


Giving Thanks to All Things, Including Pot Pie

Chicken Stock Makings

Simmering Gravy

A Classic Chicken Pot Pie is Born

And just like that another holiday comes and goes. Did yours pass just as fast as ours?

For the last week and a half we have been house-sitting for my father in Beaverton which has proved to be both a delight and the largest pain in the a$$ of all time. Delightful because we have the opportunity to watch over his slightly mentally-challenged but oh-so-loving dog, Caesar. We also have full access to a plasma flat screen (hooray for Top Chef, ANTM, and Kitchen Nightmares and tv/cable in general...addictive albeit terrible, nasty habits) a steam shower (sinus infections BEWARE) and a beautiful open kitchen complete with gas range, granite counter-tops, and convection oven with adjoining warming drawer (Sigh). However, this "move" has proven to also be a painful experience given we have to commute back to North Portland which equates with earlier waking hours and unforgivable traffic (I HATE you Highway 26, you hear? I HATE YOU).

Regardless, it has certainly been a treat utilizing their amazing kitchen and you best believe we have been cooking up a storm. One might be tempted to wonder, did we spend our "free time" whipping up delectables for a Thanksgiving Feast? Uhh....not exactly. For the first time in what must be years, Evan and I were more than happy to comply with our hosts' requests to "Not bring a thing." After spending the past 90 days doing nothing but cooking for others we were supremely pleased to be nothing more than guests this year. However, we did not solely rely on our selfish, glutenous instincts this holiday. No, by chance Evan's dad's birthday fell on Thanksgiving Day this year. This happenstance equated to the fact that we spent the ENTIRE day eating. No really, birthday breakfast at 10:30 am which (after a movie) lead to Thanksgiving hors' doeuvres at 3:00 pm which eventually lead to full blown Thanksgiving dinner at 6:00 pm. Yeah, we did it all. We're sort of professionals when it comes to eating. (REPEAT: Professional Eaters, NOT Competitive Eaters --yes, there is a HUGE difference). Anyways, the point being Thanksgiving was also Mark's birthday so rather than opting for a baking a traditional cake, we chose to bake one of his favorite dishes: Chicken Pot Pie.

As many of you know Evan and I are big fans of the Pot Pie. Also commonly understood is that fact that we have been hoping/planning on expanding (eventually) into dinner hours. It is our belief that pot pies will be the at the forefront of our dinner service. For quite some time now we have had visions of chicken curry pot pies, eggplant parmigiana pot pies and the best damn vegan pot pie you coulda ever thunk. But for Mark we wanted to go the classic route. We wanted something decisively delicious as well as downright simple, classic and comforting. We landed on a classic Farmer's Market Chicken Pot Pie. E and I have always considered ourselves a team, regardless of what obstacle it is we are facing. It's true. I often feel very Captain Planet when I'm with Evan. Very "By Our Powers Combined..." In my humble opinion we have perfected the art of dividing tasks and conquering. When it came to this particular task, this Birthday Pot Pie, our individual jobs were immediately clear; I would tackle the filling while Evan devised an outline for the perfect crust. I began with cooking the chicken by making a stock comprised of onion, carrot, parsley and a bay leaf. In making the gravy I used this stock in conjunction with a combination of water and flour (as the thickening agent.) I later added onions, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, peas, rosemary, parsley and chicken to the gravy. And God said, "Let there be filling." Meanwhile, Evan was busy thoughtfully combining, rolling and chilling the ingredients for his sour cream dough. And then all of the sudden, in a very "Our Powers Combined" sort of way, the perfect gift for my soon-to-be father-in-law's birthday was born. This Thanksgiving it was an absolute pleasure giving Mark this gift. A very small token of appreciation for his unconditional love, support and knowledge of QuickBooks. (As many of you have the great privilege of knowing, all of E's family really is amazing and I cannot express how fortunate I am to be able to call them my own.)

Despite having two days off in a row (a first for us since opening the LRBC) I think we're both still in shock that Thanksgiving even happened. Not just because it seemed like a flash in the pan but also because for the first time in what seems like a long time, Evan and I truly feel like we understand the essence of gratitude. Sure, we all know the know the fundamentals of Thanksgiving. It's a time to "Give Thanks." To reflect. Yada, yada, yada. My family has had a long standing tradition of going around the table during Thanksgiving dinner and expressing the thing you are most grateful for this year. While this task has always seemed somewhat daunting for one reason or another, this year it was harder than usual. After all, where could we start? Undeniably we feel our list of things we are grateful for this year really is endless. While we tried to keep things short and sweet at the dinner table we later tried to make an extended more in-depth version of the list once we were in the privacy of our home. For the sake of sharing, here's a brief glimpse of our list, the unabridged edition.

In no particular order here are a few of Evan's:
I am grateful for:
  • Support of family
  • Getting engaged to the love of my life (I didn't even have to coerce this one out of him, however I, understandably, did choose to include this particular item in this post)
  • 2oth Century coffee ingenuity, especially in terms of our dear and fateful friendship with Joel Domreis
  • The arrival of Greg Oden to my fair city
  • Our trip to Guatemala and all of the good fortune that arose from it
  • The arrival of our 1973 Schwinn Twin Deluxe Tandem
And a few of Mine:
I am grateful for:
  • My friends for being family and my family for being friends
  • The daily inspiration I find, be it in the kitchen, on the sidewalk or in thinking about our upcoming wedding
  • The support and graciousness of our neighbors and community
  • The discovery of Fleur de Lis Bakery's cinnamon rolls
  • The opportunity to pursue a long standing dream and having the satisfaction of knowing we at least tried
  • The arrival of our 1973 Schwinn Twin Deluxe Tandem
If you feel so inclined to share, to return the favor, or to at least do me the favor of catching a glimpse of your list or holiday experience, please feel free to post your Thanksgiving occurrences, graciousness, etc. on the comments page.


Taking Chances

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Ice Cream w/ a Strawberry Swirl? Yes, it works. Though not all of our attempts at unique flavor combinations have worked out as well as we would have liked (ahem, Gorgonzola and Honey, and Sweet Corn Ice Creams), some of these recipes turn our to be winners (Maple Bacon, and Cap'n Crunch Ice Creams).

We hope something from tomorrow's breakfast might prove as memorable:

Green Eggs and No Ham Sandwich
Scrambled Eggs, Sauteed Organic Spinach, Blanched Asparagus, Pesto, and Goat Cheese, served on Fleur de Lis Ciabatta.

Vegan Lentil Barley Soup

Corn Chowder w/ Bacon Soup

Oh, and we are proud to announce that you can now buy your 2008 Sprockettes Calendar at the cafe!


Just Born

They're sleeping now, or incubating perhaps. The week before last Ali and I had some rare time to ourselves at the cafe. On a slow Wednesday morning it just so happened that Dekin had a prior commitment that kept him out of the cafe from 9:00 am till 11:00 am. Coincidentally, Jo had a morning meeting regarding her blossoming new startup business. All the coffee cups had been stamped, as well as our two different sizes of takeaway bags, and white sandwich boxes boxes. Turkey and roast beef sliced, onions cut, aiolis whipped up...did I mention it was slow?

I can't remember if Alison Krauss or Aretha Franklin was playing...we were both in a good mood and wanting to make something new...and from this idle time, mini cupcakes were born. We were simply trying to have some fun while passing time. As soon as we placed the treats in the display case a customer walked into the cafe and decided to buy fourteen of our new little arrivals. The next person to walk through the door bought a dozen, and the next person a half dozen, and well...you see how it goes. Since that fateful morning we have tried to keep making more whenever we can find some free time. We try to tell everyone who buys one or more to let the cupcakes rest until they reach room temp, but due to their small stature, this heeding seems to prove difficult to most people.

Recent flavor offerings include:

-Chocolate Chip w/ Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
-Coconut w/ Toasted Coconut Frosting
-The Yin and Yang (Chocolate w/ Chocolate and Vanilla Cream Cheese Frostings, topped w/ a Sliced Strawberry)
-Buttered Almond
-Chocolate w/ Chocolate



With Thanksgiving almost a day away it is safe to say that we have already begun our descent into gastronomic exploration (or should I say exploitation). No, neither Ali nor I can take credit for the culinary masterpiece you are now drooling over. Much thanks to our good friend Elizabeth for such a thoughtful and tasty holiday gift. Last Father's Day, before any of us had ever met, Ali and I purchased some of her amazing cookies to serve at the culmination of a sausage and beer tasting we prepared for my Dad. Just one taste of her amazing cookies was all it took and we were battling one another for seconds! Flash forward a few months and she and her family have deservedly earned their "most devoted customer" status as a result of their regular (sometimes twice daily) visits to the cafe. Thanks for your support, thanks for practicing so much patience with our inexperience, and thanks for the tasty pie.


LRBC Little-Known-Fact #1

In a given week we are likely to go through 65 lbs. of onions. Yellow onions that is. All of them devoted to the art of caramelizing.


After a small catering gig for a wonderful friend, E and I were able to take in dinner and listen to another friend's music last night at the Kennedy School. Over dinner we were able to discuss what we were interested in bringing you on this cold, wet, rainy weekend. Here's what we came up with to warm you from the inside out...

The Hawaii 5-O
Fried Egg, Canadian Bacon, Grilled Teriyaki Pineapple and Cheddar Cheese on Fleur de Lis Ciabatta served "Plate-Lunch-Style" aka with Moo's Mac Salad

Ham 'n' Apple Sammie
Thinly sliced Country Ham, Homemade Apple Slaw, and Honey Mustard on Fleur de Lis Ciabatta serevd with your choice of Kettle Chips, Mac Salad, or Organic Mixed Baby Greens

On the Stovetop
Split Pea and Ham Soup

And if you've heard the rumor it's true, mini cupcakes have made their way to the LRBC. Today we have Toasted Coconut, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate w/ Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting and Pumpkin-Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. So come on down. We'll be waiting for you.


An Anonymous Gift

When Evan and I started thinking about decorating the cafe we made a conscious effort to not go overboard. Deep down we coveted nearly every red bicycle we saw but we always approached with caution. Our goal with the cafe and its overall design was to let it grow gradually and organically. We hesitated to display anything in the red bicycle nature for fear of overcrowding and bombarding the space prematurely. From the beginning we have always liked to imagine the cafe, years down the road, filled with oodles of little red bicycles of every nature; each representing a token of its own unique story of how it made its way to the cafe and how it eventually wound up calling the LRBC its home. We have always understood however, that things like this take time. So we've been waiting. Patiently.

My sister and future brother-in-law started the trend by purchasing an original copy of Tell-a-Tales' The Little Red Bicycle and gifting this to us two weeks before we opened our doors. On the inside cover they affectionately scrolled:

Ali + Evan
Enjoy the Ride...

In my ideal world this prized piece of what inspired our "Little Red Bike Collection-to-Come" would be framed artfully in a custom shadow box. Something that would protect its thin pages but also allow people to view some of the timeless images contained on those pages. I still can't get over the fact that Stevie's father is smoking a pipe throughout the entire tale. Ahh, who can't appreciate a 1953 copyright date?

We have always imagined that the little red bikes out there in the world would come find us. Just as this book had. That somehow, some way they would make their way into our cafe. And the other day one did. Just. Like. That.

Yesterday we received an anonymous gift at the cafe. A small box containing the little red bicycle you see pictured above. Attached was a note that read:
"Good Luck! From a Happy customer"

Upon opening this gift I was overcome with such immense gratitude. Well, more like I was humbled speechless. As an uncontrollable grin spread from ear to ear, I immediately turned to Evan and mustered up, "This is EXACTLY what we've been talking about happening for so long. And it just happened. Just now." After that there were no more words. Just happiness, and a nodding reminder of why I love my job.

I scoured the box for any possible clue as to your identity. All I can say is you have beautiful penmanship. If you're out there and you're reading this, and if you ever do wish to reveal your identify, please introduce yourself so that I may thank you properly. Until then, Thank You. Your thoughtful gift made a lifetime of days. I went home that day and called every single one of my family members and told them of the occurrence. We all sighed and "ooh and ahhed" and thanked our lucky stars that people like you exist out there. There is nothing better than getting a boost of cheer just when you needed it. So Thank you for your gesture. Thank you for your words. Sometimes I don't know how we got to be this lucky. Just know "Happy Customer," whoever you are, that you make us quite Happy too. Next time you're in please feel free to have a scoop on us. After all, it was you and your gift that inspired this week's newest churnings:
Mocha Sherbet
Cardamom Honey
Chocolate-Orange Sorbet
Caramelized Pear (Not Pictured)


Winter is Coming

Its getting colder outside. Today's windy storm seems to have taken down the majority of the fall leaves that haven't yet given in to the changing season. Just one of many signs that winter is just around the corner. Given the cooler weather, thoughts of the impending long rain, and the fact that not too many of you seem to trickle into the cafe between the hours of 7am-8am on the weekends, we have decided to scale back our hours...an hour. Starting this coming weekend, the cafe will now open from 8am-3pm (Sat and Sun only, we will still remain open from 7am-3pm Tues thru Fri). I mean c'mon folks its the weekend, you should be sleeping in late anyway. And trust me, we will be making the most of our extra hour coming up with new methods to satisfy all of your weekend brunching needs.

What's in a name?

As we shut the door and closed Sunday afternoon I breathed a deep sigh of relief. It was a long week. With Ali out sick most of the week my brain was working overtime, and by Sunday afternoon I was forgetting customer's Oreo milkshake and americano orders. There have been times when I have felt more physically tired, but this past Sunday my brain hit a wall. Like I mentioned in a previous post, we are extremely dependent on the help of family and our amazing employees, but when half of the "we" is out sick, then the other half has no choice but to try and pick up the slack. I tried to do my very best, but that best was pretty tapped out by week's end.
Today has been everything I hoped it would be. Ali and were able to sleep in 'till 8:15 am, which for us is pretty late. I am feeling rested, and she is feeling better than she has...well, in about a week. Its amazing how just a little rest can transform one's outlook. With my partner back at my side, I am hoping that this will be a productive week. I hope that we will be able to get around to many of the "to do's" that we haven't had time to get around to doing in weeks past. I am itching to do more baking at the cafe. Pot Pies have been in the back of our collective mind for some time now, and I am thinking now is as good a time as ever to start experimenting with recipes and employing you, the cafe customer, as our official taste tester. In addition, I hope to start preparing variations of an Anzac Biscuit recipe I have enjoyed making since high-school. These little Australian cookies are pretty simple, but make for a tasty and not-so-unhealthy post meal dessert option.
Yes, I hope its a week of getting around to things that we have been putting off until now. Which brings me to our name. Among the questions we are often asked at the cafe, many people want to know where we got our name. This is a difficult question to answer. Initially, the name was inspired by Ali's sister, but over time we have realized that there are many different reasons as to why we chose to name ourselves the Little Red Bike Cafe. Some of which we didn't even realize until after the cafe first opened its doors. One such example, the old man who rides his red bike by our cafe every day. Though we have not yet met him, Ali and I see this man nearly every day as we close up shop. He rides by the cafe going west bound, and rolls past again a little while later, presumably on his way back home. We don't yet know his name, his story, or why he rides. But he rides on a classic red bicycle, and after weeks of passing by without a glance in our direction, we now make eye contact on a regular basis, and sometimes smile and wave at one another. We can't help but feel as though, in some way, we named the cafe for him. Perhaps it is time we all meet and exchange our stories. Undoubtedly it has been a long time coming. Perhaps this week we will get our chance.


Supply & Demand

Bakery Case Bonanza:
Gingerbread-Pumpkin Muffins with Lemon Glaze

Pumpkin Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Breakfast Sandwich Special:
Fried Egg, Wild Smoked Salmon, Avocado, Cream Cheese & Chives on Fleur de Lis Ciabatta

Lunch Special:
Pear, Prosciutto & Gorgonzola Tart served with Organic Mixed Baby Greens

Soup's On:

Chicken Enchilada Stew served with Mini Cornbread Muffins

From the Soda Fountain:
Caramel Apple Milkshakes

Also proudly (not to mention devotedly, wholeheartedly and blissfully) serving Courier Coffee & Espresso

If You Make Them, They Will Come

Yes, it's true. Coffee Cards have finally made their way to the cafe courtesy of the always dependable, super talented, Tracy. So thank her, not us. To get yours just ask at the counter.


Pedaling Forward

He may looked surprised about it but oh, how I do love this man. Because of him I am typing this blog post in bed, where I have been lying for the fourth day in a row, away from the cafe. "Doctor's" orders.

As I mentioned in my previous post the last couple of weeks have not been my best. Just when I thought things might be turning around, Monday my cold returned. With vengeance. Although at the time, I was not so sure this really was just a cold. Six years ago, while living in Honduras I was viciously attacked by a mosquito carrying the dengue virus. Dengue fever, otherwise known as the bone-breaking disease left me bedridden with debilitating pain and a high fever (not to mention a few more unpleasant side effects) for over a week. The reason why I mention this incident is that if I didn't know any better I might think I was stung twice by the same bug. My body ached that bad. My fever spells have been that intense. However, the reason why I do know better is this: a) Dengue rarely (if ever) stretches beyond our border with Mexico and when it does enter the United States it prefers tropical environments and b) My doctor told me that the exact symptoms I'm describing have been going around for the past three weeks and c) I was informed that if I ever received another bite from an infected mosquito I would be prone to bleeding to death from the inside out. Hummm...I feel bad but not that bad.

And the good news is that upon waking up this morning I realized that today is the best I've felt in over a week. My battery finally, after weeks of running on empty, feels recharged. Yes, I guess you could say I have treated this break from the cafe like a mini vacation. For example, I was finally able to listen to the entirety of Philip Glass' Glassworks while sitting in a hot bath, something I've been dreaming of doing for years. Sure, the purpose of doing so was in an attempt to ease the pain in my lower back but I still did it. I was finally able to sleep for hours and hours on end. Sure, much of it was spent in a self-induced NyQuil coma but I think that is exactly what I needed. Evan, as he always does, knew this. He gracefully ordered me to stay home, to sleep, to bathe, to drink echinacea tea and to get better. And so I did. And while doing so I have been able to devote a few hours to thinking about the future of the cafe.

Since opening we have consistently brought you weekend specials, like the French Dip you see below, with cheddar cheese and caramelized onions on Fleur de Lis ciabatta. We served this two Saturdays ago with a housemade au jus & sweet potato salad (my grandma's recipe).
While I try not to, (okay, now that's a BIG FAT LIE) I have been prone to reading the buzz out there about us. From what I can gather, the biggest complaints regarding the cafe are our "limited" hours (7am-3pm) and the smallness of the menu (three breakfast sandwiches, a honeyed granola bowl, various breakfast pastries, and nine lunch sandwiches). My response to these two concerns are this: Being open from 7am to 3pm equates to much more than just an eight hour day for us. The reality is that on average Evan and I find ourselves putting in fourteen hours/day. Not a minute goes by in our day or night that isn't devoted to thinking/talking/doing cafe. Our dreams are not even free from the invasion. In short, there is so much more to a cafe than its posted hours and its various menu items.

While it sounds nothing short of a dream to have a magical truck pull up and unload all of our products directly to the cafe, we made a commitment to ourselves and to our customers to source our menu locally, to support other small, like-minded businesses and to make long-lasting personable relationships with real people. What this means is that we do not have a huge truck from Sysco or FSA dropping off the majority of our items. What this means is that rather than having one or two distributors/vendors we have much more. What this means is we rarely make delivery minimums and that we have to physically go and pick up many of our items, like our tuna from Provvista or our produce from New Seasons (yes, we have to buy retail-which equates with retail prices but hey--at least we can guarantee our fruit and veggies are local and organic). Are we making things harder for ourselves? Of course; we'd be the first to admit it. Sure, we could get generic produce, meat and fish. We could get mass produced baked goods. We could rely on any old egg and any old pad of butter to make our fried-egg sandwiches. But if we did these things it would mean we wouldn't have the opportunity to work with some of Oregon's greatest producers and distributors. We wouldn't have the enormous pleasure of working with Angela and Franz from Noris Dairy, with Greg and Lisa from Fleur de Lis, with Joel from Courier Coffee Roasters or with Morgan from Dovetail Bakery to name a few. It would mean our meat wouldn't be free-range or hormone free, our fish wouldn't be local or line-caught, and our eggs wouldn't be cage-free or vegetarian fed. But then reality would be that Evan and I wouldn't eat our own food. We only serve what we ourselves would feel comfortable eating and so we do what we do. It equates with more work. More time spent away from work getting things for work. But the rewards are so much more. Our food tastes better. We have made friends out of vendors. And in the end those two things matter more to me than anything else.
Does this mean that in the future we won't expand our hours or our menu? Of course not. In fact, we have our very first dinner in the works. But it does mean this: we are doing our best with what we got. It means despite frequent requests, we do not plan on knocking down any walls and expanding the dining room any time soon. It means we are still taking it one day at a time; we're still learning; and we're still trying to get our bearings. It means we are dreaming big and thinking about our newly acquired liquor license, future family-style dinners, longer hours, and more menu items. But in the meantime it means we will bring you as many specials as we are physically capable of producing. It means we appreciate your patience and your support while we figure all of this out. I promise you, we'll make it well worth the wait.

And on an ending note, much thanks to Dekin, Jo, and Evan who held the cafe down while I was away this week. Dekin literally filled in for me by arriving to work earlier than his scheduled shift, Jo dished out an amazing rendition of our Farmers Market famous North African Sweet Potato Peanut Stew, and Evan, aside from waiting on my sickly self hand and foot (the drawn baths, the tea, the back-rubs, the medicine inductions, the renting of various episodes of The Wire, etc. etc.) managed to even whip up a Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream. Lord knows kids, we couldn't do it without you. My deepest and utmost gratitude for all of your existence in my life. XO



Its amazing how one day off can make me so relaxed that I somehow manage to 'forget' some of the more difficult moments of cafe life...until I saw this picture and I was reminded of just how dependent Ali and I are when it comes to making this whole thing work. These are peaches Tim and Lindsey picked this past summer. Tim and Lindsey, just like everyone else who works with us at the cafe, are essential to our success. Jo, who was nice enough to label this jar for us, is yet another intricate piece of our puzzle. Which brings me to this past weekend, when we received help from two new sources.
Early last week we realized that Moo, Ali and myself were the only scheduled hands on deck for Sunday...but low and behold came my sister Jamie, and Alex, of The Acorn fame. Both were fantastic in their inaugural appearance at the cafe, easily slipping into a weekend rush as though they were seasoned veterans. Thanks guys, you saved our asses this Sunday. And thanks as well to Jeff for allowing us to solicit one of his employees to help bring aid to our crisis.

Seize the Day

We've rolled into November folks. I know, I can't believe it either. The weather the past couple of weeks has been nothing short of spectacular, though I can't help but feel that the Oregon winter we all know too well is just around the corner. Recently I have left the house each morning by stepping out into a cool dryness, and I stop for just a moment and take a deep breath, savoring the fact that the lasting rains have not arrived. Not yet.
Cafe life is becoming, dare I say it, comfortable. Just two months ago, every day was a new adventure, and we could count that a mini-emergency would occur each day. Also daily were the grocery runs, with us never quite able to remember the entire shopping list on a given trip. Now the days fly by without too many bumps along the way. We have learned how to shop more efficiently, and while still shop frequently, our method is less frantic. We are beginning to have free time to do things that we simply did not have time to do just a few weeks ago.
We have learned a great deal. Certainly we still don't feel like the professionals we hope to later become, but the learning curve has been steep, and we feel as though we are approaching the summit of the first hill along our long journey. "The beginning" is now behind us, and we have entered the next chapter, one I will refer to as the "now what?" era. We have many ideas for the cafe's immediate future, but how we will make it all work will only be figured out over time. One thing I struggle with most is focusing on the present, and allowing the future to work itself out. Again, the recent good weather has made this part easy.
For now, I'll offer another thank you. Thank you for making our opening greater than we ever could have expected. You relieved us of a lot of stress that we never had to face because of your patronage. And for that, we are humbled and grateful. Thank you for making us your morning coffee stop, thank you for stopping in for a pastry or a quick lunch, thank you for indulging in our homemade ice cream, and thank you for riding out on all of your diverse and colorful bicycles.


LRBC, Live!

Coming to you Live from the cafe this morning. Many of you may not be awake yet, but the ladies and I are busily working to make your Saturday more enjoyable. A few of today's highlights:

LRBC Special Savory Sandwich
Fried egg (always cage/hormone free vegetarian fed, just in case you forgot), American cheese, choice of country or veggie sausage, served on Fleur de Lis ciabatta.

Savory Asparagus-Mushroom Bread Pudding
Asparagus, mushroom, and Gruyere cheese make this a bread pudding thats not to miss.

Fall-Back Ham Sandwich
Smoked ham, Tim and Lindsey's pear butter, Brie, and Dijon mustard, served on Fleur de Lis ciabatta. Don't forget to set your clocks back tonight so you can get an extra hour of sleep tomorrow.

Madeline's Brownie Bundles
Chocolate and Peanut Butter brownie cakes wrapped up as pretty as can be.

On Tap:
Courier Coffee Roasters Grade 1 Sumatra Mandheling (organic). Heavy, rich, yum...


The Little Red Bike That Could

I will be honest. I have been in a funk. That is why the most you've heard from me during the past 2.5 weeks are seemingly muffled murmurs of Weekend Specials. At the time that was about all I had left to give. An ill-timed cold combined with a slew of heartbreaking recent events have managed to completely exhaust, devastate and anger me.

I don't believe Evan and I were ever fully aware of just how much this cafe would change our lives. We started this cafe out of love. Love for food. Love for this city and ALL of it's inhabitants. A gift to one another. A promise to work hard and go after something we both knew we could accomplish or regret later for not trying. We were delighted at the idea of spending all of our working time as well as what little free time we had around food and each other. We have found that while we were hoping to be the ones supporting you, more often than not you are the ones supporting us. We were overwhelmed by the community we joined once we opened- a community made up of friends, neighbors and bicyclists. We felt a bike-friendly cafe was a wonderful way to celebrate this tremendous and unique aspect of our city's culture. And surely in undeniable ways it has. We have had the great fortune of meeting some of the most lovely, the most dedicated and the most proactive individuals living and biking in this city- from the east to the west and certainly from the north to the south. I would like to think, on some small level, our cafe has helped promote awareness and support bike safety. Or at the very least has created a safe haven on a stretch of road that might otherwise discourage or scare bicyclists. Certainly our goal has always been to support our fellow cyclists. To honor them. To celebrate The Bike and its universalism, its social and environmental utilitarianism, and its essential existence to our beloved hometown. (Yes, that's right I said essential. It is my belief that without bikes here there would be no Portland. At least not the Portland I grew up in or wish to continue living my adult life in).

This mission seemed simple enough.

I never imagined that the creation of this cafe would cause so much fear, so much distress and so much anxiety that upon hearing of a death of a cyclist I would immediately wonder if I knew this person. Or their family. Given our current occupation this fear has consumed me over the past month. I have met more local cyclists in the past two months at the cafe than I have in my whole life combined. I have been plagued by a desire to shut my eyes every time I see a cyclist leave the cafe, whispering in my head, "Please be safe out there," and desperately hope that the people this person encounters on the road are mindful, polite and at the very least are aware and abiding of the law.

The loss of Brett and Tracey were certainly a wake-up call for all of us. As with any tragedy you are bound to feel a loss or sadness. But to have that loss and fear in your face on a daily basis has certainly knocked me off kilter. I cannot help but look to our city officials and law enforcers, our news reporters and our automotive drivers with a great sense of anger, sadness and desperation. Why are we not taking care of ourselves? Why is valuable time spent arguing and making excuses? I am tired of the arguing. It is not a matter of sitting there and pointing fingers at one another. We could all afford to slow down; to be more courteous; and to check our blindspots twice. Three times.

In light of these recent events I have asked many questions and been forced to recognize that sometimes there are no answers. None that make any sense or alleviate any pain for that matter. However I do know this: As the country's "Friendliest Bike City" there is no doubt in my mind that there is certainly more we could be doing to earn that title. Not only do we have a responsibility but an opportunity to set an example for other cities, other drivers and bikers. To set and then exceed expectations. It starts with communication. Honesty. Education. The setting of safer and clearer laws. Not to mention the enforcement of these laws. We have a right to be proud of receiving the title "Friendliest Bike City." It is a true an accomplishment. But it doesn't end there--in a title. Mere words. Fluff. Portlanders like action. So let's take it.

Just when I was starting to lose hope that I would ever start feeling better about our situation we had a little red bike and its owner ride to the cafe this week. In more ways than I can describe, this occurrence saved me. The Little Red Bike That Could. The Great Reminder. She reminded me of why we started this thing in the first place. For her. For bikes. For bells with handlebar streamers. For hot chocolate with whipped cream on sunny, crisp, Fall days.
Undoubtedly one of the best things about this city is its accessibility both on a personal as well as physical level. We are Portlanders. From Max Trains to bridges, and waterfronts to esplanades we are a city of accessible public and private transport. Daily we rely on our cars, our bikes, our streetcars, buses, trams and our feet to take us from Point A to Point B. It is of the utmost importance that we keep the safety of our fellow riders, drivers, and companions in perspective at all times.

We have an obligation to each other. For the sake of everything we value and hold dear about our lives and this fair city we love calling "Home." Please, no more Ghost Bikes. Not here. Not anywhere.


Sunday LRBC Brings You:

In the Bakery Case
Homemade Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins & Japanese Donuts

Out-Comboing-the-McMuffin-Combo-Meal (gasp!!!)
Fried Egg, Canadian Bacon and American Cheese on Fleur de Lis Ciabatta. Served with Our Hashbrown Gratin and your choice of Coffee, Tea, or organic OJ

On the Stove Top
Split Pea, Lentil & Ham Soup
served with Fleur de Lis Bread n' Butter

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie
Pink Grapefruit & Champagne Sorbet
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough*

*Indicates: "This Bad Boy is Vegan"


Cause for Celebration

In effort to mark the end of a very eventful week, today Ali whipped up some fantastic Pink Grapefruit Champagne sorbet (pictured above). Though it was actually slower than usual at the cafe last week, there was a great deal happening throughout the week that kept us busy...

On Wednesday a number of riders from the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club stopped in at the cafe for a quick refueling before continuing on their ride. I admit, sometimes we forget to give customers their "rider discount," but it was pretty obvious to us that these folks arrived via bicycle, and all were awarded their respective $0.50 discount on beverages. Thanks for peddling over to the cafe guys and gals, we hope to see you again soon.
Also on Wednesday, our good friend Travis stopped in at the cafe and delivered 55 grams of some very tasty coffee. La Esmeralda set records this year when it sold for over $130/lb in an online auction, becoming the most expensive coffee ever sold. I saw on Travis' blog that he had scored some of this much talked about coffee, and wouldn't you know it after leaving a brief comment on his blog, there he was in the cafe with coffee in hand. La Esmeralda proved to be an experience. I was able to share the fun with Jo and her friend Jake, which is always better than drinking alone 'cause you get to compare notes and bounce immediate reactions off one another. What fun, and a very good coffee it was. HUGE berry notes were overwhelming throughout. Definitely unique, definitely tasty. Thanks Travis!
Also on Wednesday, Drew Jr. was born! I know, it seems as though our friends are having babies like crazy. This one was extra special, and Thursday night we were lucky enough to get to visit the little guy and hold him when he was only 30 some hours old. Congrats to Andy and April! This little guy is amazing, and you guys should feel very proud.
Last but not least, Saturday night my aunt Barbara married Gary, her boyfriend of many years. Now the two of them are off celebrating someplace warm. Congratulations to you both! We couldn't be happier for you.

Whew! What a week, and here we are already knee deep into another. Like I said to a customer earlier today, life has been a blur since we first opened the doors to the cafe almost 8 weeks ago. Still, we continue to enjoy every part of the ride. Thoroughly.