Sunday, November 25, 2012

Coffee in PDX: Random Order.

While our departure date from Portland still hovers in the distant future, uncertain and annoying to practically everyone, I make slow lists in my head of the things I know I will miss about it someday, as I do with practically anyplace I have lived or visited or loved. For Portland, while there are a lot of things that could fill out this list, two recently have been sticking out: the houses, and the coffeeshops.

I used to be a Not That Big on Coffee, Although I Love Tea type of person. Whether through working for Starbucks for an obscene number of years, or from living in Portland for any duration of time at all, that has changed decidedly. What a bummer it would be to live in Portland and not love coffee and beer. The missed opportunities! Although with coffee, you could still sneak by and indulge in all the glorious coffeeshops there are to be enjoyed, as coffee is frequently only one level of awesomeness in these places. From the atmosphere to the pastries to the local bagels to any number of things, there's something for everyone, and particularly, there seems to be a shitload of good pie.

And when it comes to the best pie of them all, Random Order is undoubtedly at the top o' the list.

strawberry rhubarb
Strawberry Rhubarb: Be still my heart.
Random Order is right in the thick of Alberta Coolness, a street in the northeastern neighborhood of town that oozes with hipness and Young People Crowding Out the Black Folk Who Used to Live There. An act which is especially tasty with pie! In seriousness, while Alberta, like all hip streets in Portland really, can teeter on the balance of almost-too-annoyingly-hipster, and, oh-my-God, so-many-cute-shops, I-want-to-live-here, I learn more towards the latter every time we make our way up there. It's a tough totter to teeter.

You can get a range of things at Random Order which are available at most local coffeeshops, namely delicious coffee beverages as well as alcoholic ones. They add the fun touch of writing your name on the cups though, which always makes one feel pretty special.

Bonus: A slice of Kathy leg!

Sometimes I'm spicy, sometimes I'm sweet, y'know?
But then there's the real reason everyone goes there: the pie. Their claim to fame is the Vanilla-Sugar Salted Caramel Apple, which was declared by Travel + Leisure to be one of the best pies in America, and which also wins for Perhaps Gratuitous Number of Words in a Pie Title. They always have a variety of seasonal fruit/traditional pies (using only LOCAL ingredients, duhhh), and a number of tantalizingly fluffy meringue/cream pies, as well. Today, to fulfill my lingering Thanksgiving spirit, I had the SDF-PDX Salted Pecan, made with LOCAL BOURBON. We think local for our fruits AND our liquors here, thankyouverymuch.

And if all of that shit isn't enough--seriously, there is a LOT OF PIE CHOICES--they also then have a case full of SAVORY pies, full of all sorts of things that could comprise an actual meal, for those who don't think sugar/coffee/alcohol alone counts. I've never gotten to try one of the savory ones, as when I'm around sugar my brain automatically blocks out all other sensations or desires, but, they always look damn good.

A mother playing Memory with her daughter: seriously, this kind of shit happens every day.
Also included: half of Cameron Browne's beautiful beard.
Final thoughts about Random Order, if for some reason you aren't yet extremely jealous that you're not there right now: they're open late most days of the week, an occurrence which is sadly lacking in many other PDX shops. Also, their store isn't too large, in a cozy way, but has beautiful windows facing the street which are adorned with festively warm lights, and I love a good string of lights on a window/storefront. Their logo also features an ostrich, for whatever reason, and you can get a free ostrich sticker at the front counter, and really, on top of everything else, what more can you ask for?

[I'm planning on making this a regular series. Here are some coffeeshops I've mentioned before which should also be included: Speedboat, our local neighborhood favorite. The blog entry about it also includes 1) a somewhat hilarious, if I say so myself, table about the differences between being a young person on the East and West coasts; 2) a shitload of blathering about how I'm going to spend more time writing in coffeeshops, finished off with a comment by my mom saying, "Went here with you. Didn't see you write anything."

Other local favorite: Sweetness Bakery. A nod should also be given to the now-out-of-business Guapo Comics & Coffee, which I wrote about at some point somewhere. RIP.

This particular entry could also fit in my abandoned-but-not-forgotten series, Cake v. Pie? Because life is too short to not ask the big questions.]