Portland is a city full of world class dining options. But its reputation is built on the backs of the artists that produce sweets in the Rose City as much as it on their savory counterparts.
Donuts may be the sweet that gets Portland the most attention. Almost everybody has heard of Voodoo Doughnut, the quirky shop that whips up breakfast pastries adorned with a Willy Wonka avalanche of candy and breakfast cereal. If you haven't, Google Kenneth "Cat Daddy" Pogson and Tres Shannon's shop - just about everybody has been there.
The house donut is the Voodoo Doughnut, a vegan anthropomorphic jelly-filled pastry complete with a pretzel pin to jab into its heart. About one third of the donuts are vegan, and they are marked on the shelves and on the menu boards.
A pink box of donuts is a great conversation starter. The $110 coffin full of donuts is even better.
Those who find Voodoo Doughnut too whimsical might find Blue Star Donuts more up their alley. Blue Star is haute where Voodoo is hilarious.
These donuts, which also have received a great deal of media coverage, are made for grown ups, with bourbon and Cointreau as two of the boozier ingredients. Blue Star features coffee from local stalwart Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
The can't-miss choice is the blueberry bourbon basil glazed donut. It is sweet, smoky and mildly herbaceous in the most addictive way possible.
If you are more in the mood for frozen dessert, Salt and Straw is worth a stop. There are multiple locations of the shop throughout the city.
Columbus residents are familiar with adventurous ice cream flavors from local star Jeni's. Salt and Straw takes the modern approach into the next gear with choices including bone marrow, green fennel with maple and pear with blue cheese.
The off kilter combos work. The honey balsamic strawberry with cracked pepper sounds like a salad, but tastes like a revelation. The sweetness of the fruit is brightened by the acidity of the vinegar, and the pepper adds a subtle spice that fades delicately on the finish.
Some of the flavors might be too bizarre for a full scoop. But samples allow you the chance to try any ice cream, no matter what crazy ingredients are used. You might even like it.
I only visited Portland for a short time. There were more great looking places to satisfy a sweet tooth than there were hours in the day.
Some other spots for sweets: Quin Candy Company. fancy candy with local ingredients. It looks good for all ages.
Cacao was a cool looking spot with artisan hot chocolate. Chocolates come from local producers and are sourced from international markets. It must draw people like a magnet when the temperature drops.
There were more fantastic bakeries than I could possible name. Highlights included Sweedeedee, St. Honore, The Sugar Cube and Roman Candle.