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The Portland Pooch
I liked Portland a lot. Amazing food, some of my favorite people in the world, and then, if I lived there, there’d be no need to get a house or an apartment, as I’d be moving into Powell’s Books.

There’s one area it’s lacking, and it's in feminine scenery. We sat outside Friday night at Typhoon, the excellent Thai restaurant at our hotel, and not one woman we saw in the span of a couple hours was without a pot belly of some sort –- from pooch to pouch to paunch to pregnant-esque, and beyond -- and almost all wore these very tight shirts that really hugged their fat rolls.

Then, of course, there’s the problem of "lack of interesting" in terms of fashion. There’s rarely a piece of eye-candy to be had on Portland’s streets.

Finally, I came upon this girl. Now, her style isn’t my style (even when it was in, during the Desperately Seeking Susan era when I first got to New York), but at least she has style.

I thought she was adorable, and told her so, and she let me take her picture. One tasty eye morsel for a style-starved Paris-obsessed Angeleno in Portland.


Nancy Rommelmann, of course, is in fabulous shape, despite the fact that she’s not only writing her ass off, but baking it off, too. She made all this stuff in the span of about 30 minutes, baking not included.




By the way, if you haven't eaten Nancy's baked goods, it's worth a trip to Portland, and a visit to Ristretto. (And no, she hasn't been there long enough to be blameable for the Portland Pooch.)

Posted by aalkon at August 27, 2006 11:18 AM

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Adorable but sexless. Pigeontoes are childish, even if they're in blue suede under slender teenage legs. Colors that loud seek to distract us from the shape. Her lunchbox doth protest too much. Gimme wunnadem grownup women who knows how to enjoy her biscuit and muffins.

Posted by: Crid at August 27, 2006 9:15 AM

Dear Amy,
You better go back to Paris..Nancy needs to make her baked goods look a little less basic...

Posted by: emily at August 27, 2006 9:41 AM

You are right that I need to get back to Paris, but while Nancy's baked goods may look ordinary, they're pretty extraordinary in taste. These are just breakfast foods -- muffins, scones, and pound cake.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 27, 2006 10:19 AM

As for pastry pulchritude: Emily is correct, what I bake is bake sale stuff, albeit the best damn stuff at the bake sale. When Ristretto first opened, I made truffles dusted in dark cocoa; pecan tarts; lemon financiers. Did they fly out the door? No. People wanted the blueberry bran muffins, the pound cake, the chocolate chip cookies; the scones. Well, how about croissants? We had them; no one bought them. They also will not buy a slice of, say, Doboshtorte, because in their minds, they are then committing to "dessert," which they'e not ready to do on their way to work, or even at two in the afternoon. Yes, they will in Paris, but not in Portland. Here, they want something grab-and-go; a shortbread heart for their toddler; a crumbly pecan ball with their Americano. I think most people go to a cafe expecting to be insulted by the baked goods, e.g., the Starbucks scone as dry as a sidewalk paver; the bagels that are actually rolls-with-holes at Coffee Bean; the sad, saggy, wrapped-in-plastic brownies and cookies sitting in apothacary jars at most places; who knows how old these are? What I bake may be a homey cookie, but I baked it last night, and if I am to believe my customers, it's the best of its kind.

Posted by: nancy at August 27, 2006 11:25 AM

"if I am to believe my customers, it's the best of its kind."

I tend to eat small portions of everything (thanks to Paris training) and Nancy gave me a slice of her pound cake, which I thought was twice the size of what I'd eat in an afternoon. Nancy watched as I gobbled the whole thing down in about five minutes. It may look simple...but it's GREAT.

PS Nance, we were at Powell's yesterday, and they had three of your food book, Everything You Pretend to Know about Food and Are Afraid Someone Will Ask, and I told them you were a local author. Now, anyway! Here's a link to the book:

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 27, 2006 12:22 PM

Amy, You do need to go back to Paris. The cute little clownesque number you took a picture of looks more London to me.

Posted by: LA Frog at August 27, 2006 8:58 PM

I'm not saying I find her redolent of Paris at all...just that she was about the only bright spot in a town rather grim in terms of its feminine fashion bent (if even you could call it that).

This is not my kind of style at all (if I could, I'd walk around every day in one of those deep green Rochas evening dresses from last season), but at least she HAD style. In my experience, it's a quantity in exceptionally short supply in an otherwise very pleasant town.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 27, 2006 11:14 PM

Amy et al -

Just ordered my first Ristretto last night. As a Peete's devotee, how will it compare?

Posted by: snakeman99 at August 28, 2006 11:26 AM

Well, I can't drink Peete's now that I drink Ristretto. I hope you feel the same way. I'm ruined for other coffee, quite frankly, and I'd say that even if I detested Nancy (it's her husband Din's coffee biz -, which I most certainly don't!

I mail-order Ristretto's Sumatra Mandheling, ground fine for espresso, and use a Chemex (the glass beaker with paper filters).

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 28, 2006 11:37 AM

Allright then. Looking forward to it.

I got the Mexican Chiapas, for no other reason than it was the first one listed and I like the flavor of vanilla.

Posted by: snakeman99 at August 28, 2006 12:02 PM

You aren't the first to observe this about Portland. Tom Leykis (a syndicated radio talk host) calls it "Porkland, home of The Other White Meat."

Posted by: Rex Little at August 28, 2006 1:11 PM

I was there yesterday and this morning but I missed ristretto. That's what I get for taking off a few days from reading the blog. Damn. I did have the gorgonzola fries at henrys tavern and they were so good I wanted to bathe in them.

Posted by: christina at August 29, 2006 7:11 PM

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