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