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[PDX] Holiday Sweets: Baker & Spice, Criollo, Di Prima, Grand Central, Ken's, Papa Haydn, Pix, La Provence, St. Honore

extramsg | Dec 20, 200504:18 AM

Didn't have time or the insulin to do any more than these nine, but hopefully this will help someone find something tasty for Christmas -- or at least make you as fat as me! (The link has the full menus for each.)

Baker & Spice: I only tried some of the decorative shortbread cookies and they were tasty and quite cute. I should add, though, that their yule log is the coolest looking one I've seen this year.

Criollo: I tried the stollen, which was moist, fragrant, and delicious, and the eggnog cheesecake (pictured) which was very light and creamy and tasted exactly like eggnog. Not on this list is also a quince danish, which was tasty. I love that Criollo is using quince, a great winter flavoring. I don't know if it truly counts as a holiday item, but they also had a persimmon "fritter", which looked great. Criollo also has a variety of shortbread cookies.

Di Prima Dolci: Presentation can be a little homestyle but most everything I've tasted from Di Prima has been delicious. Not on the menu were colorfully frosted cookies and pomegranate mascarpone tarts. I tried the cucidati which looked...quaint, but were actually yummy, fragrant with holiday spices and sweet with figs.

Grand Central: I've tried two holiday items from Grand Central, the fig rugelach and and the gingerbread cupcakes, which, along with the chocolate ganache cupcakes (each $1.95) are not listed on their holiday menu. The former has a gingerbread muffin with sour cream frosting and candied ginger and is delicious. The latter has chocolate with chocolate frosting and crushed candy canes.

Ken's Artisan Bakery: I've only tried the orange and cranberry cheesecake, studded with cranberries and topped with candied orange peel. It has a wonderful glazed shell and a perfect blend of flavors.

Papa Haydn: There was a huge line of people getting their ordered cakes and my wife was waiting, so I haven't tried any of the holiday items. Except the caramel-nut tarts which is actually in their regular rotation and is one of my favorites. There's no denying that their stuff is beautiful, though. Not on the menu were shortbread cookies decorated like ornaments. They were some of the most elegant of any I've seen.

Pix: I've tasted all the petit fours, of course, and have a weakness for the delectable Opera. But I've also tried the croquembuche, which is good, and the Sicilian buche de noel, which was rich and creamy and nicely balanced by the cherries. Probably the most elegant buche de noel you're going to find.

La Provence: The holiday menu they gave me doesn't have nearly all their offerings. For example, they had a tempting trio chocolate mousse cake decorated with a Santa on top. They also had a white chocolate mousse griottine decorated similarly. Cookies cut and colored to look like ornaments and wreaths of holly joined gingerbread houses in their case as well. I felt like I was in a bakery in the Alps.

St. Honore: I only tried the pain de noel, an almost savory bread studded with candied fruits and nuts. Enjoyable, especially for those who do not want something overly sweet.



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