This week’s HCF is coming to you from the Petite Provence on Alberta in Portland. We were in Portland a couple of weeks ago to drop off some wedding books and I decided to do a search of great bakeries in the area and PP came up on several lists.
Their website says that the three owners are originally from France and decided to open up a French food joint in Lake Oswego and it was so popular, they went on to open up a couple other stores, with the last one being on Alberta. The really fun thing is that one of the owners’ names is “Didier” and of course my mind has this guy looking like Gerard Depardieu and I’m immediately a fan of the place before I enter the doors. Does it get more bonafide than having the Chef Didier being an owner? I don’t think so.
Because we were on our way out of town, I only had time to run in and grab a couple of cookies to eat on the road. As soon as I made it through the entrance, I knew that plan had been a mistake. Petite Provence is definitely a place where I want to sit down, linger over the menu, fog up the glass counters, and just breathe in the Frenchiness. I don’t like pretentious Frenchery, either, but this is a relaxed, warm, even anti-French feel to the place that makes you want to stay. I don’t mean to say that I’m anti-French, it’s just that I don’t like the aloof, pretentious atmosphere I associate with bistro’esque places. This convinced me that Gerard really was somewhere in the kitchen.
I don’t even like pesto and I want that Riviera Sandwich!
One of the most disappointing things in the world is to go into a bakery and see empty shelves. I watched a documentary once about “How to Get People to Throw Money at Your Business” or some such and what stuck out the most was when a guy went into a cookie store and the first thing he told the counter lady was to fill every shelf with food because people want to see packed shelves to choose from. Nobody wants that last old cookie that obviously nobody else wanted. That is, nobody wants to see that last straggler unless you’re going into the Bakery Nouveau and you see you made it in time to snag the last twice-baked almond croissant, and then you’re just plain victorious. But the truth is, shelves filled with bread look better than empty shelves. Of course baked goods have to be made fresh daily and it’s great when bakers sell what they make, but there are work arounds–fill those shelves with other things, don’t torture me with cookie crumbs from that macaroon I missed, man.
There were plenty of goods in Petite, even though it was late in the afternoon, so I asked what time they closed. The great news is that PP is open ’til 9:00 every day, and this is pretty rare for bakeries in my neighborhood.
The tables were full on both levels and this was more proof that we should’ve scheduled more time for a proper visit. Next time. A very helpful and friendly salesman helped me out to a pair of cookies.
I don’t know what it is that draws me every single time to the checkerboard (sable $2.25), but once spotted, I can’t resist.
I can see the layers of butter in there, can’t you? Bliss. The sable could’ve been a little sweeter, but it was a good cookie.
This is a coconut chocolate chip cookie (I don’t recall the price, sorry). I have no idea when coconut became acceptable to my palate, but it’s happening. This cookie was awesome. The toasted cocunutty goodness gave flavor to this cookie that probably would’ve been an average, ordinary treat without it.
The cookie was a bit too cakey on the inside to be perfectly textured, but the flavors were outstanding. Happy Cookie Friday, man.
Sitting here looking at this blog and the photos, I can’t believe that with all the variety of goods at Petite Provence that I only came away with two measely cookies. What was I thinking? I definitely feel a “Part Dooce” coming on to to this place, and I hope it’s soon.