Tag: The Sugar Cube

My Caffeinated Office: Working from Coffee Shops in Portland

As someone who works 99% of the time on her laptop, and can therefore work from anywhere with internet, it’s important to still get out of the house and interact with other humans. It sounds silly, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who work from home and feel the same way. Yes, maybe I get to stay in my pajamas all day, but there are also times that I don’t speak to another person until Jonah gets home at 5:15 p.m. Not great.

So I’ve always made a point of finding coffee shops in Portland that are good for working. The requirements are (fairly) simple: good internet connection, ample seating, plenty of outlets, preferably not too much noise, but also good taste in music (for those rare moments when my ears aren’t full of podcasts). There’s this handy website, Workfrom, that can help me find those spots. While good beverages are a plus, I also love places where I can grab a treat to snack on. Here are some of my favorites:

1) Case Study Coffee on Alberta

Case Study Coffee on Alberta, Portland, OR | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Photo from Google+

With this new location, Case Study finally came to my ‘hood. While I first fell in love with their fleur de sel caramel latte, they have lots of other tasty house made syrups and things for you to expand your coffee horizons. Past the beverages, they’ve got the fastest coffee shop internet I’ve experienced, not to mention incredibly nice staff and fantastic music choices (lots of Paul Simon, Elton John, and indie rock). In this new space, they’ve got a loft with plenty of seating, and I love the long communal table.

2) Tea Bar

Tea Bar, Portland, OR | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Kombucha and a Matcha Shake on a recent sunny day

This is quite possibly the most Kinfolk-esque establishment I have ever been to. A beautiful, open space on NE Killingsworth with a curated tea selection and blank white walls, big windows, and everything displayed just so. Tea Bar has some delicious tea lattes, like a Matcha Latte and a London Fog, as well as some other beautiful teas, which owner Erica Swanson is happy to tell you about. There are tables along the east wall, which also has a few outlets, but you’ve got to stake your claim. The communal table in the back is awfully appealing, but alas, there are no outlets there. It’s also important to note that between the blank walls and the concrete floor, it can get a little echoey and loud. You can read more about Tea Bar over on some friends’ blogs: Bakery Bingo and Martha Chartreuse.

3) The Sugar Cube

The Sugar Cube, Portland Or | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Photo Courtesty of the Portland Mercury

I’ve written about The Sugar Cube before, but it bears repeating: this place is great. While there are only 4 tables plus some counter seating, and the outlets are few and sometimes require crawling on the floor to plug in, I come here All. The. Time. Why? It feels like you’re sitting in a friend’s kitchen while they make you cookies. Except that friend is super talented baker Kir Jensen. I love the music (you’ll often hear Sharon Jones or old Motown favorites), the big windows offer plenty of natural light, and for some reason, the sound of mixers and kitchen timers in the back is so comforting to me. Oh, and you can get some of the most delicious treats in town. My favorite is the toast plate with house made lemon curd (available only before 1pm).

4) Bushel and Peck Bake Shop

Bushel and Peck Bakeshop, Portland, OR | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Tasty pastries and cute mugs at Bushel and Peck

This is my favorite neighborhood spot. The perfect distance for hopping on my bike, or taking a stroll if it’s sunny. There aren’t a ton of outlets (they’re all nestled in one corner near a two person table) or tables (3 plus a long communal table along the window) but gosh do I love it. The people working are always so kind and genuine, it has a nice little buzz, and there’s a nice energy in the air. The staff makes a delicious latte, and the internet works just fine. If you’re hungry, I highly recommend the biscuit (perfectly flaky and specked with black pepper) with whatever jam they’ve whipped up, or if you want something sweeter, the double chocolate orange cookie is chewy and perfect.

Runners up: Arbor Lodge, Coffee Division, Coava Coffee on Hawthorne, Tea Chai Te in Sellwood, Breken Café, Heart Coffee downtown, Townshend’s Tea on Alberta

I am always looking for new spots to try, so let me know in the comments if you have a favorite in town!

Weekend Finds 4:20:14

I know it’s not technically the weekend anymore, but this weekend was busy and I got distracted… So I’m giving you weekend finds on Monday. So maybe you can still pretend it’s the weekend.

1. Asian flavors

Sesame Noodle Salad from Love & Lemons // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
I love all of the colors in this noodle salad from Love and Lemons.

I thought what would happen is that I’d come back from Vietnam and be a little tired of Asian flavors for a while. Turns out the opposite is true. All I want is Asian food, preferably Vietnamese, but Japanese and maybe even Thai will also do. (I leave out Chinese food because DAMN is it hard to find good Chinese food in Portland. Don’t even get me started.) So this noodle salad recipe will be making an appearance soon, as will, hopefully, the Bun Cha that we learned to make in Hanoi.

2. Soy and Garlic Marinated Pork

Marinated Grilled Pork // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Our grilled pork looked even better than this. I swear.

Yesterday, the weather was decent enough that we got too excited and grilled a whole meal. There was corn and Japanese eggplant, and there was also this marinated pork. I wish I could tell you what was so magical about it (maybe it had something to do with the fact that Jonah brushed the meat with the marinade every time he flipped it), but I’m not totally sure. Either way, you should fire up your grill and make it sooner rather than later.

3. Broccoli Rabe Crostini

Broccoli Rabe Crostini from Honestly YUM // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Crostini topped with burrata, prosciutto, and broccoli rabe.

In another edition of stuff I ate this week: I got excited and bought broccoli rabe (raab) at the market last week, and when I found this recipe, I knew this is what I’d be using it for. Our grocery store didn’t have burrata, so we used good old mozzarella, and it was awesome.

4. Cardamom Short Bread

The Sugar Cube (photo from Portland Monthly) // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
I couldn’t find a picture of the actual cardamom shortbread, but here is a picture of the pastry case at Sugar Cube, just to tickle your tastebuds. Also, mastermind Kir Jensen on the right. (credit: Portland Monthly)

Easter was a thing this weekend, and while I didn’t really celebrate (unless band practice counts), my roommate Carmelle had her family in town, and made a sampling of beautiful desserts, including this cardamom short bread from the Sugar Cube cookbook. Now, you know I love the Sugar Cube – in face I may have a mild addiction – but even if I hadn’t already fallen in love with Kir Jensen, this short bread would’ve done it to me. It was light and flaky and beautifully flavored. Yum.

5. Honey Barbecued Chicken

Honey Barbecued Chicken from Use Real Butter // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
I love how many spices and flavors there are in this honey barbecued chicken recipe from Use Real Butter.

Apparently this week all I can think about is what I want to eat, or have eaten that I want to eat again. Since firing up the grill this past weekend, I’m on the lookout for delicious BBQ meals. This honey barbecued chicken looks pretttty flavorful and tasty, what with 24 hours marinating in that rub and then adding a glaze on top.

Restaurant Review: The Sugar Cube

The Sugar Cube // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

The Sugar Cube // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Not too long ago, The Sugar Cube was a little pink and brown cart, sitting outside Lardo’s eastside location. It was good, but you couldn’t do too much in the space of that cart. It was smaller than most that you see around Portland, and I certainly can’t imagine trying to frost a cake in there.

Now, The Sugar Cube has taken over a small, bright space on NE Alberta. (Warning: my grainy, dark iPhone pictures don’t quite do it justice.) There aren’t a lot of seats, but it seems to be enough, and coming here on a weekday morning to meet a friend for coffee and pastries, when it’s relatively quiet, makes you feel like you’re in on a very delicious secret. I was more than excited when my friend Elaine suggested it for coffee and pastries.

The Sugar Cube // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

The Sugar Cube // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
The Sugar Cube // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

The best part of their new shop is that the kitchen is twice the size of the front room, meaning pastry master Kir Johnson now has the space to make sugar sing. And boy, does it hit some high notes. I was there for breakfast, so I didn’t get any chocolatey or dessert-y treats, but I did indulge in the spiced buttermilk cornbread.

More like a slice of spice cake, but with the perfect notes of cornbread, it was doused with a unique salty molasses butter, which balanced out the sweetness perfectly with some more spice and salt. Elaine had the savory strata with mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, and both goat and cheddar cheese. Delectable. And of course I brought Jonah home a couple of jammers – one was oat filled with strawberry rhubarb jam, and the other was poppyseed filled with a lemon curd.

Next time, I’m going for the sweets no matter what time of day it is. The ultimate brownies with olive oil and sea salt look too good to pass up.