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.
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.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 11:32 AM
Homemade Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins & Japanese Donuts
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*
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:49 PM
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.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:28 PM
Pain Au Chocolat Bread Pudding
with Gingered Marmalade Cream
Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich
Golden Raisins, Toasted Almonds, Coconut and Mango Chutney on Fleur de Lis Ciabatta
Four Bean Soup
with Carrots, Zucchini, Yellow Squash & Tomatoes
Chocolate Covered Banana Ice Cream
Maple & Bacon Ice Cream
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:03 PM
If you have any information as to the whereabouts of the individual pictured in the above photograph, please call the Little Red Bike Cafe at 503...
No, actually Joel has not been MIA. He is always easy to get a hold of, often picking up his phone on the first call, second or third ring. He may be hard to see though, 'cause he is busy. Whether he's riding through the streets making the rounds to one of his many accounts, or on his way back to the roastery to make some more great coffee, the guy spends a lot of time on his bike. And there's little time to pedal leisurely or take the scenic rout. Business is good, time is precious, and there's always somebody low on coffee.
When we first contacted Joel this past spring we had no idea how busy he was going to be come time we required his services. But we had a feeling things would get this way, that's why we contacted him before we even had a retail location picked out. By the time we signed the lease it was the beginning of summer, and the weather was good. The 50 minute ride from our place to the roastery wasn't enough to get Joel to change his mind about supplying a cafe so far from his home base. Now its mid-October and the weather has turned, and we find ourselves overcome with guilt when making the phone call to let Joel know we will soon be in need of more coffee. The rain outside seemingly intensifying with each number we dial. It's a long pedal out here.
Still, he keeps on peddling. His accounts keep growing, and the coffee, well the coffee keeps getting better. There are many great things that result from the fruit of his labor. Not even broken roasters seem to slow the guy down. Oh, and did I mention that this once one-man operation has now mushroomed to a two-person company. Yes, that's right, CCR has hired an employee (perhaps a separate interview and post is warranted here). Brazilian coffees should be coming around the beginning of next year, and some new Guatemala and Sumatra coffees have just arrived. Currently Joel is playing with the Half & Half's Rio espresso machine, tasting a blend which he admittedly wishes he has had more time of late to taste. And while there is no 5-year plan in place, owning his own coffeeshop seems likely.
Ah yes, it's a good week to be a coffee drinker in North Portland. A great deal of ominous and sometimes downright nasty looking clouds seem to dominate the skies, only rarely breaking apart long and large enough to let the sun shine through--tempting us with a glimpse of the Indian summer that could have been. But alas, we have the perfect weapons for a preemptive strike, ready to annihilate any potential S.A.D. developments in your life...
Joel hath delivered upon to us two coffees for your drinking pleasure:
The first, is a Guatemala San Juan (that we will most likely run out of some time tomorrow afternoon). This is a good coffee. I seem to like Guatemalan coffees a lot. The taste is rich and sweet to me, and this particular San Jose is among my favorite roasts of this particular coffee that I have had yet.
Debuting whenever we run out of the above (again, most likely some time tomorrow afternoon) is a coffee that Joel recently remarked was among the favorites of the coffees he is currently roasting, Kenya Kaganda ("when done right." he says. Meaning, when he is happy with the overall roast).
As for the weekend, we shall know sometime tomorrow afternoon what has been roasted and set aside for us. Joel certainly has a lot on his plate right now, and we are happy he is willing to bike all of the way out to North Portland to deliver coffee to us.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 5:53 PM
The other day the mother of my very oldest, very dearest and very best friend dropped off an engagement gift for Evan and I at the cafe, the Le Creuset casserole dish you see pictured above. This particular gift is dear to my heart because the woman who gave us this present met Evan when he was a spry 12 year old, and I was 11. In other words, she is one of those people in our lives that has watched this whole thing happen. It truly is quite amazing. The whole me knowing Evan for over half our lives thing.
For my nineteenth birthday party I had a "Where Will You be in 10 years" themed party. Guests were asked to dress and act accordingly for the evening. At the time (as I had for most of my life) I fancied myself a writer. Supposedly living in New York, dressed head to toe in all black, pack of cigarettes stuffed in my back pocket and a long cigarette holder pressed firmly to my lips All. Night. Long. A sort of Audrey Hepburn crossed with a Charles Bukowski. Evan was an Outward Bound Instructor, long-sleeve button-down over a generic t-shirt, wearing loose-fitting khaki pants and hiking boots, a Nalgene water bottle hooked to his pants by the oh-so-appropriate carabiner. Obviously it was clear that we didn't see each other in our respective futures. Or did we? Was Evan leading backpacking expeditions during the summer months and wintering in the icicles of NYC? Was I an avid chain-smoking, Pulitzer-prize coveting rock climber? It certainly didn't look like it.
Well, we are shy of that 10 year marker but from the looks of it, Evan isn't heading off to the Bigelow Mountain Range any time soon, and my long-standing fascination with certain self-deprecating lifestyles has faded with maturity. Yes, things worked out differently for us. Six years after that party we are still together. Not rock climbing (though we did our fair share in New Zealand). Not spending afternoons writing in Central Park (though many afternoons are spent dedicated to this blog). But Together. The most important thing of all.
Tonight I will take this lovely engagement gift and I make a White Bean Cassoulet for me and my fiance. We will light a fire, drink French wine and I will have the great fortune of reminding myself that in 9 short months I get the opportunity to marry this man.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 11:09 AM
Fried Egg, Delicately Sliced Prosciutto, Cream Cheese & Chives on Fleur de Lis Ciabatta
Smoked Ham, Cheddar Cheese, Pear, Dijon Mustard and Plum Jam on Fleur de Lis Ciabatta
Curried Red Lentil with Butternut Squash
made with Nesbitt's soda and organic vanilla ice cream
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:01 PM
We didn't land on bread pudding, bread pudding landed on us.
A little over one year ago, back when we were Green & Green(er), we stood patiently every Saturday morning and watched our buddy Mike sell hundreds of Breakfast Burritos. Waiting. Patiently. For the lunch rush.
Lunch would come, and we'd get busy. But what to do about breakfast? Some background: When we had our booth at the Portland Farmers Market, each vendor had to "jury" any food product they wanted to sell so that the PFM could ensure that vendors weren't stepping on each other's toes by selling similar products. For example, here's our story:
Q: Can we sell crepes? A: A crepe vendor might be joining the market mid-season. So no.
Q: How about fried egg sandwiches? A: Another vendor is making a product that is "too similar."
Weeks went by, and each morning, we waited, patiently, for lunch.
Finally it happened..it clicked.
Q: What about a French Toast Bread Pudding? Q: What's that?
And we learned that the Portland Famers Market couldn't say "no" to what they didn't know. After a few weeks we brought on the savory bread puddings, new sweet recipes, and it kept getting bigger. The rest is history.
Now we will continue to bring you the fruits of our labor. Saturday's treat:
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:55 PM
A friend recently reminded me that not all of our readers live in Portland, Oregon. Or the United States for that matter. I think what he was getting at is that not everyone has the luxury of being able to ride their bike a few blocks down to the cafe for breakfast. Even more so, I think the point is that many of you have been waiting for your opportunity to actually SEE the cafe. Unleash yet another Homer Simpson "D'oh!" moment.
Without further adieu, Little Red Bike Cafe, at last...
Ahh...the dining room. It looks so peaceful and serene here. Fortunately, the people who dine in it seem like a pretty peaceful bunch so very few elbows are thrown in here despite it's cozy quarters.
Tim and Lindsey are responsible for these beauties. They like to pick fruit and make jam. We like to eat jam. We told them to sell jam at our cafe. Spiced Plum, Apricot, Golden Raspberry, Spiced Pear Butter, Veteran Peach...The rest is history.
The "Locker Room." The locker room is basically the passageway from the dining room to the bathroom. Inside this passageway we have a community board filled with event notices, business cards for photographers, sculptors, tile installers and reiki therapists; two white IKEA high-chairs (slightly cooler than your average high-chair but only slightly); a Polaroid mural of cafe Movers and Shakers; a framed sketch of a vintage red cruiser bike; a sad excuse for an indoor palm (some things were just meant to be grown outside..oh yeah--like plants...) and this locker, where we like to keep our coats, our helmets, and our ever-growing collection of aprons. Honestly the stencil on the locker is what makes this room for me. Specifically because it's rad and because we got it for free. Free things are always rad but rad free things are even better. The fact that I was always packin' red spray paint and had the authority to go nuts for the first two weeks of opening was an added bonus. We received this stencil of our logo courtesy of Atlas Stamps, the talented, smart people who also designed our logo stamp. Thanks, guys! Our locker and outdoor tables wouldn't be the same without you. This bag represents a part of who we are because every time Joel bikes our coffee to us he sits up at the counter, brings a pile of brown bags, and hand-draws his labels on every single one. He draws compassionately, seemingly lost in the process. He never looks up. He barely stops to eat. Joel once told me he's not even sure how to draw his logo unless he's using a brown paper surface. The process is so ingrained in his brain. I find his attention to detail heart-moving. Literally. My heart weeps for his poor what-must-be-nearly-arthritic hand. In the past we've mentioned to Joel the possibility of having a logo stamp made for him, to help aid the process. He merely smiles and shrugs. But he does so because that's how much love goes in to what he does. From the picking of green beans, to the roasting, to the delivery. When somebody buys Joel's coffee at our cafe, these are the bags we use. Think about that next time you stop in for your next 1/2 lbs. of espresso.Ha! Ha! Ha! This picture amuses me because this is what the kitchen looks like only first thing in the morning and last thing at night. What can I say? We try our best during the day.
I first fell in love with the sandwich prep station when I was merely an 18 year old girl working the Pizzicato salad line up on the Sylvan Hill. I found the compartmentalizing so rewarding, so easy, so efficient. I loved the notion of each thing having its rightful place, and being able to maintain that order all the while being refrigerated. Simply amazing. Never in my wildest could I imagine that one day I'd have one all to myself. Needless to say, I am in love. We hung that shelf above with the help of Evan's sister, Jamie the night before we opened. We have her to thank for a functioning kitchen. The red broom was a recent purchase, a replacement for the first one we bought that would rapidly disintegrate during use, making a "clean sweep" of the cafe not only impossible but somewhat of a sketch comedy routine. We like the more durable plastic bristles on this new one, not to mention its obvious radiant color.
This is our Saint, Maximon. Known as San Simon to the Catholics, we were first introduced to this ancient deity when we were in the religious town of Santiago de Atitlan in Guatemala. We keep him above the baked goods, offer him shots of rum and make sure he's the first to sample the newest incoming espresso (for example please see his left arm and in-between his feet). Yeah, I'd say we're a pretty spiritual bunch at the cafe. E and I have been known to light our fair share of sage upon of exit of the cafe and lit candles in the kitchen are proving to be a must during the work week.
Welcome to the Ice Cream Station. At times (say around 7am-3pm) this area is also known as the Panini Station (ahhh, always multi-tasking, we are.) When this picture was snapped I believe we were in the process of making Organic Whipped Cream and Berries Ice Cream. I also love the fact that the Nancy's yogurt container made it into this shot. We have hundreds of these lying around the cafe filled with various cafe components. At any given time you may find bacon fat, tuna and tempeh salad, sliced raw yellow onion and/or ice cream batter inside one of these things. Yeah, that's right. Nancy's, the official Tupperware of the LRBC. By the way, this afternoon we made use of the Ice Cream Station by churning up some fresh homemade Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream made with real Fleur de Lis Cinnamon Rolls. And before I forget, tomorrow is Dairy-Free Friday so I'm whipping up an Almond Chocolate Ice Cream that won't soon be forgotten. (P.S. Start your diet after the weekend because I have a feeling these two flavors won't last long.)
So that about sums it up. I hope you enjoyed the view. It's certainly a work in progress but we just try to take it one day at a time. Until next time...
Oh wait! I forgot to tell you, we made vegan mac today.Aaaaannnnnndddd...I should mention that a vegan Southwest Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup is on the menu for tomorrow. Sigh. I Love Fall.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 6:38 PM
As many of you may know, a roux is the mixture of flour and fat and is essentially an edible thickening agent. Lard, oil, and butter are all fats commonly used but the fat my momma taught me to know and love is butter. In my humble opinion rouxs make up the backbone of all things yummy such as: gravy, gumbo and bechamel sauce. But what is a girl to do when they need to make a "creamy" vegan backbone? I first tested this vegan roux back when I was desperately craving my mother's biscuits and gravy but also happened to be on a vegan binge. Fortunately for me they do make decent vegan "sausage" out there, and even more fortunate is that vegan roux does in fact kick just as much a$$ as the traditional; though I'm sure there are a million people out there who would disagree with me, I know plenty of vegans (and non) that would agree. I say, don't knock it till you've tried it.
After my successful rendition I haven't looked back. I mean, why would I? This:
is what allowed me to take these:
and make this:
When our friend Evan George of the acclaimed Hot Knives asked for a vegan recipe for a blog collaboration I knew just what to do. Cream of Mushroom Soup, and today I served it at the cafe. After rave reviews we thought it would be nice of us to share the recipe.*
Vegan Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (any mushroom will do but we particularly love chanterelles with this recipe)
1 1/2 tsp dill weed
1 Tbsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp caraway seeds
4 garlic cloves, coarsely minced
3 Tbsp tamari
2 cups vegetable stock (we’re big fans of Imagine’s Organic No-Chicken Broth)
2 Tbsp vegan margarine
3 Tbsp flour
1 cup soymilk/soy creamer
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp red wine
Fresh cracked pepper
1. In a soup pot, saute onion in oil until soft, about 5 minutes
2. Add mushrooms, dill, paprika, caraway, paprika, and cayenne then saute for 5 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp of the tamari and stock, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. While soup simmers, melt the margarine in a separate saucepan and add the flour. Cook one minute, stirring constantly, then whisk in the soymilk/creamer til smooth.
4. Once smooth simmer white suace over low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened.
5. Once thick, whisk in the last Tbsp of tamari and then transfer to the mushroom mixture and stir in. Add garlic. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
6. Just before serving stir in the lemon juice and red wine, finish with cracked pepper.
*This recipe is an adaptation from "The Peaceful Palate" by Jennifer Raymond
Posted by Ali and Evan at 1:26 PM
Would you deny this face? Like. Ever?
So Mondays are more like days where we can enter the cafe after a leisurely coffee'n'waffle breakfast at the Flavourspot. That is really the only guarantee. Well that and our delivery from our lovely Noris Dairy Milkman. Noris is an organic family farm located just south of Salem and is run by the unbelievably adorable Angela and Franz. Every week we have to call Noris to place our order, and every single time we call Franz picks up the phone. We know who to expect when we call and I cannot even begin to tell you what a rarity that personalized attention can be in this business. All I can say is we heart you Noris Dairy/Wenz Family. More. Than. Words. Can. Be. Typed. And. Then. Read.
This decadent treat came to us as a special request for 6 gallons of all organic ice cream for a public event. After some discussion two flavors were created: the Whipped Cream & Berries Ice Cream pictured above, as well as a Very Dark Chocolate Pudding Ice Cream, having received its namesake for the use of Equal Exchange's Organic Very Dark Chocolate Bars to help create it's smooth, pudding-like consistency. Our version of Chocolate Pudding Ice Cream last month was a hit with the kids but I think this darker, richer, okay I'll say it, sexier "adult" version will become a favorite of the party.
This week's totally too cool to be true but it's not a rumor I swear, I heard it from Evan who heard it from this guy in LA who is also named Evan who might get to know this girl Jo who works at this cafe in Portland, OR who also confirmed the following:
The Chocolate Rabbit, Portland's hottest, newest vegan raw chocolatier is preimering their decadent goods this Tuesday (yes, as in tomorrow) at the Little Red Bike Cafe in North Portland.
In celebration of this most exciting and fully celebratory event, we are collaborating with our coolest Vegan-Chef-Dude-Friends down south, The Hot Knives in honor of two of our favorite things: beer and soup. You may remember our post about these guys last spring. In the post we happened to mention just how much these guys know and love good food. What we didn't happen to mention was that these guys know and love beer just as much. if not more. So...we decided we're going to do a blog'n'menu collaboration of sorts. The ending result? The most honorable vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup you've ever had and Beer Ice Cream. Oh, stop. You don't have to thank me. No seriously, stop...you're embarassing me. Oh, okay, fine. You're welcome.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:48 PM
Us: "Okay so here's what it is; this is the dealio, Man. Lucky for us we met a little guy named Todd who uhhh...knows where to score some really great mushrooms and like, we could like, be the middleman for you if you were looking to hook up or something.
You: "Say what?!?"
Us: "Yeah, that's right. Todd hooked us up with a couple of pounds of freshy-fresh wild chantrelles ripe for the picking alongside Mt. Hood, Dude."
You: "Oh, no you didn't."
Us: "Oh, yes we did."
Okay, so here's the real deal. We actually do know a guy named Todd, actually since like middle school, and this fellow happens to be a very dear friend of ours as well as an avid mushroom forager. Lucky for us Todd is a generous guy and he "unloaded" several pounds of wild Oregon chantrelles upon the cafe. And lucky for you we know what to do when a guy hands you over a brown paper sack full of organic wild mushrooms. Tomorrow's Bike Special:
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:51 PM
Attention: In honor of one of this season's undeniable classics, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, this Saturday's sweet bread pudding special is......Pumpkin French Toast Bread Pudding. We just couldn't help ourselves. Not to be outdone, Drinking Chocolate is making a special appearance on this weekend's menu. Sunday's savory bread pudding is also in the works and I promise you this: You. Will. Not. Be. Disappointed. Period.
Which brings me to my second point, an update of sorts. However, like all good updates this one come with a preface. The other day Jo politely said to me, "I like reading your blog about the cafe. You make it sound so cheery. I mean, it's not like it's not, it's just so funny the way you write about it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's interesting to gain your perspective on things."
Responding to this caused me pause. How was it possible that Jo wasn't aware of my perspective on cafe life given that we see each other 32 hours of the week at the very cafe in question? Was it possible that we weren't communicating well? Or was it that I'm aimply not as "cheery" in real life as I am in the blogosphere? With some thought I came to the following conclusion. Jo was right. We don't really talk work at work. (E and I feel we have enough work on the brain as is). No, we basically talk about three things at work: we gossip (aka: "WTF Brit-Brit? Get it together, Girlfriend" or "What do you think Cheney is doing right now. No, like right at this very moment?"; we talk about our histories (aka: "I have a sister named Alli, but her full name is Allison so she's spells it differently," or "I used to play baseball in college but when I left Iowa I left baseball"); and we talk shop (aka: "How's the decaf pouring?" or "How's the grind working out for you?" or "Do we need to make more tempeh salad because it's been selling REALLY well.") Yes, this is the dialogue that consumes our day here at the LRBC. And to be honest it kinda makes me sad. Because I wish I could share with all of our "employees" (quotations marks utilized not because of their lack of status but because in reality these people are all our friends we basically pay to hang out with us) just how happy we really are here. Thus far into the adventure the cafe has proved to be everything and nothing like we always imagined it would be and I wouldn't want it any other way. Without the assistance from these fine individuals it would cease to exist and my only concern is that we have not done a good enough job expressing that to the most important people in the equation: Them.
Jo's comment has weighed heavy on my mind. The reason being I don't want this blog to be anything but an honest account of everything we're doing and how we're feeling. Evan and I made a point to not utilize the blog as a tool to focus on any of the bumps we've hit along the way. Not just because we have no desire to promote or contribute to the excessive negativity already plaguing in this world, but because we ourselves don't wish to reflect upon the bad. Our blog is our journal, (albeit an online journal read by a few people) and we ourselves possess little desire to reflect or hold on to any of the bruises. Besides, the ones that really hurt left a mark and recalling them when necessary shouldn't be a problem.
However, that alone is my only explanation to Jo's quandary. No, it's not that everything here is peaches and cream daily but to be honest it ani't all that bad either. Sure, we have stressful days. Days when I've got nothing left to give but tears dug up from somewhere I don't even want to know exists, days when yolks break, when the alarm clock doesn't go off when "scheduled," when entire sheets of bacon are burned and ruined beyond repair, when the decaf inexplicably runs out (but really-who knew N. Portlanders loved decaf SO much) or when you have to run out to IKEA to replace 13 chairs because the ones you bought previous to completely failed you, and replacements are needed STAT.
But there are a lot better days than those. More often than not there are days when Dekin and Jo kick so much synchronized a$$ is the kitchen that I can remove myself from the endless rush of tickets piling up to attend to the favorable act of coming up with flavours for ice cream batter and bread pudding makings. More often than not there are days when Lindsey's undeniably saturating charm knocks people off their feet and literally makes their day. More often than not there are days when Tim goes out of his way to make sure the coffee he's pouring is the best coffee experience people can recall to memory. More often than not there are days when E takes the portafilter in hand and the smile across his face stretches from ear to ear and I know he's experiencing nothing short of his "bliss." In short, we're pretty darn happy.
Yeah, good sh*t is happening at the cafe daily. Really good, inspiring stuff. Like Jo's blossoming raw chocolate business, Chocolate Rabbit:
And having the tenacity to embrace fall with open arms by taking this:
And making Gingerbread Ice Cream
And feeling inspired by the season's changes to make weekday Blueplate Specials like Mac n' Cheese done the LRBC way:
And a Garden Vegetable Fritatta with Hashbrown Gratin and Organic Mixed Greens:
So yeah, if you are lacking a little "cheer" in your life,float on down to the LRBC and we can see if we can sort you out. But if you're unable to get here we graciously invite you to keep reading and then maybe, just maybe you can catch the infectious waves via the blogosphere...
Posted by Ali and Evan at 6:22 PM
I didn't realize until today that is has been quite some time since any insight has been offered into the coffee side of LRBC, and for this I apologize. I'm not going to try to make any excuses, but I will say that I am going to make a concentrated effort to keep y'all in the know as to the latest coffee news coming out of the cafe. To summarize our first month:
Since day one we have been rocking the bottomless portafilters-in the beginning the decision to go bottomless was based on the ability of the design to be used as a training tool. Of late, we all simply seem to like the way the bottomless pours the espresso. For the gear heads out there we are currently using 18 gram filter baskets, and pouring at a temp of 200.00 degrees Fahrenheit.
As for the for the coffee itself, Joel recently revamped his espresso a few weeks back after running out of a coffee that had been a staple in his previous espresso. After some tweaking the new blend has finally come into fruition and is proving to be very enjoyable.
As for the drinking coffee, we have had many different coffees to enjoy. Personally I am a real big fan of being able to try so many different coffees all the time. I know that for some people, consistency is really important, but I tend to feel that so long as the coffee is consistently good, that is all that matters. If I had to pick a favorite (or two) of the coffees Joel has roasted for us to use thus far, I would have to say that the Kenya Thika-Gethumbwini Peaberry and the Guatemala Atipi have really stood out for me. The Kenya was smooth and held some pleasant berry/fruit-like notes, while the Guatemala was wonderfully acidic and oh-so chocolaty.
The LRBC Barista Team is doing a great job. Jo came to us with years of previous coffee experience in the great states of Hawaii and Wisconsin. No training necessary here, she is consistently making great coffee while always offering insight on technique as well as organizational ideas for our 'espresso area.' Tim (aka In House Onion Boy) has proven to be a young lion of the Synesso art. With no previous coffee experience, Tim has approached the machine with an inquisitive and observant mind, and has proven to be a quick study. In about a week he was pouring consistent latte art, which of course does nothing to improve the taste of a drink, but does stand as a testament to his effort and hand-eye coordination. He is pouring great coffee, and I am sure will continue to develop on his already strong technique. I have learned a great deal from both of them, and take pride in the fact that I can trust them to do their very best when pouring coffee for a customer of the cafe.
Among the many highlights from the past few weeks, one of the more memorable coffee-moments we have had thus far came this past Sunday courtesy of Jeremy, whom we first when picking up our Synesso this past August. The 'new guy' at the shop, Jeremy was a barista for more than 8 years before he decided to help build the very machine we use to make our espresso (he also likes old-time music and plays Clawhammer banjo and guitar). When Ali and I visited the factory Jeremy poured me one of the best double shots that I've ever had. This past weekend he and his wife Joy were visiting some friends who live in St. John's, so they decided to pop into the shop to see how the machine was working, and taste Joel's coffee. Without too much prodding we were able to get Jeremy behind the machine, where he gave myself and the rest of the day's crew a mini-workshop, while also pulling shots and making drinks for unsuspecting customers. To watch the guy work was poetry in motion. His years of experience definitely showed in his left-handed tamp and his swift handle of the portafilter. In fact, the visit was so significant that it completely changed the way I plan to approach pouring the epsresso. After watching do his thing it became apparent to me that a more ristretto shot really affects the flavor of the espresso. It was one of those Homer Simpson "D'oh!" moments. I know that this is how many, if not most of the city's best coffee shops opt to serve there coffee, however I have still consistently been pouring that extra 0.5 ounce of coffee in most of the shots I have served thus far (sorry folks). No...its really not as though the coffee has been bad, its just that I think it now kicks major a$$. I encourage any and all of you to come in and check out the difference for yourself.
Alright, thats enough coffee ramblings for now, but I hope that you all are feeling a little more in-the-know. Its time for me to go to bed so that I can get up again and enjoy some more coffee.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:50 PM