Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Saint (Cupcake), Two Tarts, and a Vegan Monk

It was a weird Sunday. I woke up to a saint, lunched with a vegan monk, and went to bed with a beer and two tarts. I found one artisan raspberry macaroon taped to my front door, bought two red frocks for the Red Dress party this weekend, and saw Jesus, or someone who looked a lot like him, three times--once riding a bike with his oboe poking out of his knapsack, once drinking Stumptown and reading the Mercury, and once clad in a big dirty pink doily and smoking a cigarette. Like I said, it was a weird Sunday.

My friend Reatha and I planned to spend the morning shopping for red dresses for Saturday's Red Dress Party, but before we commenced said frock hunting, we desperately needed breakfast, so we went to Saint Cupcake on SE Belmont (3300 SE Belmont @ 33rd)( There's no finer breakfast of red frock-hunting champions than cupcakes, so Reatha got the frothy pale green frosting-swirl topped pistachio and hearty banana chocolate chip dots, and I got the rich cream cheese frosting-smothered chocolate and sweet, chewy coconut-topped dots, and we shared them on a bench outside the store during a respite in the sporadic rain squalls while we watched morosely-dressed people taking their Sunday strolls down Belmont.

By the way, is it possible to yearn for something more than I ache for that pink Big Chill refrigerator ( that bookends the cupcake case? Honestly, my feelings for that fridge are the definition of 'pining'. It has spoilt me for any other fridge, even, I daresay, a built in stainless steel Subzero.

Momentarily distracted, we wandered through Jackpot Records, where I bought the deliciously-titled whitechocolatespaceegg by Liz Phair and a packet of Hot Cinnamon Fire-Pix (, pungent cinnamon-flavored toothpicks I used to eat by the handful as a child. Which could explain a lot. They are kind of like wooden Fire Jolly Ranchers. It was a 50-cent blast into the past, to a time when my brothers and I used to chew these after dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant and then try and stick our spicy cinnamon-oil stained fingers into each other's eyes. We were a very loving family like that.

Reatha and I got serious about red frock-hunting after breakfast, and we dove into rack after rack of old-deodorant-reeking vintage formalwear and cheap, mass-produced, child-labor-reeking tawdrywear, and six hours later we emerged triumphant, with red dresses and heels in hand and a raging case of low blood sugar.

Since our breakfast had perhaps been less than nutritiously fortifying, we went vegan for lunch at Blossoming Lotus ( the Pearl, where we ordered the Monk Bowl--brown rice, pinto beans, steamed kale and a spicy peanut sauce ($7), and the Indian Bowl-brown rice, steamed kale, and curried veggies with mango chutney ($8). Reatha opted to add tempeh to her bowl for an additional $3, and she also ordered one of Blossoming Lotus' fresh juices--applelemongingergreens, which could be the title of a Liz Phair album! It was sweet and tangy, lemonade-like, with the crisp sweetness of the apple juice mellowing the bite of the lemon, and the spicy ginger lingering in your mouth and mingling with the slightest grassy aftertaste of the greens.

Over lunch, Reatha and I discussed our favorite raw foods cookbooks, "Raw" by Chicago superchef Charlie Trotter and organic living foods superchef Roxanne Klein (, and "The Raw 50," by former Sports Illustrated model and actress Carol Alt ( Carol looks pretty good, we said, so maybe instead of stuffing cupcakes for breakfast we should be coming in for some of Blossoming Lotus' Live Buckwheat Granola--walnuts, pumpkin & hemp seeds, fresh & dried fruit, hemp milk ($5) or Spelt Toast with Almond Butter and Fresh Fruit ($4)? Let's not be silly, we agreed, but we also pledged to eat more often at Blossoming Lotus, for we felt sated in both body and soul upon our departure, or something like that. We felt so noble, we decided to go for a run on the Eastbank Esplanade, where Reatha bravely threw herself in my deranged path to prevent a side trip to the Bakery Bar (, which would have been futile since they are closed Sunday anyway. But I could swear I could smell the Ham and Brie sandwiches and Lemon-Rosemary shortbread from the esplanade...oh my gosh, it's possible I pine more for these than the Big Chill. I said possible.

I came home from our run to find a small white bag taped to my door -- my fantabulous friend and downstairs neighbor Jennifer had left me a raspberry macaroon from Ken's Artisan Bakery (! Pale pink in color, with a rosy pink filling that tastes of fat red summer raspberries...Ken's makes mighty fine macaroons. They are trumped only by Miette Patisserie ( in the San Francisco Ferry Building, which has a row of glass jars lined up on the pastry case, each filled to the brim with little jewel-toned macaroons the like of which I've not yet been able to duplicate in my own kitchen (big surprise, I know).

Thrilled with our many, many accomplishments this particular Sunday, Reatha and I ate butternut squash (healthy!) and leftover Apizza Scholls ( Pizza Amore (um, also healthy! the sauce was full of tomatoes!) for dinner, then trotted off to the Towne Lounge on West Burnside to listen to Dramedy, who we liked very much, although their fan base seems to consist mainly of chain smokers and Jesus-lookalikes wearing dirty pink doilies. Reatha, Angel of Amazing Portland Baked Goods that she is, craftily pulled a small brown box from her bag, and spread out an eye-popping assortment of Two Tarts ( cookies she had gotten yesterday at the First Downtown Farmer's Market of 2008. She'd purchased one of each of Two Tarts' dainty, delectable creations. There was a Cappuccino Cream--two bitsy espresso shortbread cookies united with cinnamon buttercream; a Pecan Tessie--which Two Tarts' describes as "a tiny pecan pie"; Peanut Butter Cream--peanut butter oatmeal cookies sandwiched together with peanut butter cream and drizzled with bittersweet chocolate; Hazelnut Baci--which features two impossibly light (think Mexican Wedding Cake cookies) domed cookies glued together with chocolate ganache and rolled in hazelnuts; Pistachio Shortbread; ANZAC Cookies - a coconut oatmeal cookie named for the Australia New Zealand Army Corps; Double Chocolate Chew--my favorite, so chewy, according to Two Tarts, it's pretty much all bittersweet chocolate and a pinch of flour; the startlingly good Ginger Chocolate Chip--chewy chocolate chip cookie studded with crystallized ginger; Marionberry Linzer--cinnamon hazelnut cookies filled with marionberry preserves, and the Not-So-Thin Mint Bars - a thin layer of chocolate brownie covered in mint-enhanced buttercream and drizzled with bittersweet chocolate. We paired this tiny cookie feast with a fresh Miller High Life ($2.50) and a glass of the lovely 2008 WaterFromTheServeYourselfIglooCooler (free), which had musty plastic and mildew notes and a slight formaldehyde finish.

I went to bed still hearing frantic drum beats, with the taste of mint buttercream and ginger lingering on my tongue, dreaming of Jesus wearing a red dress and picking steamed kale and tempeh from his teeth with Hot Cinnamon Fire-Pix, then poking Saint Peter in the eye as he tries to converse about the perfect pistachio frosting with Saint Cupcake (my favorite saint of all! why didn't we learn about her in Sunday School??) It was a weird and wonderful Sunday, to be sure.

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