Portland is a city of unabashed culinary freaks and geniuses, picking up whatever cuisine speaks to them and running full speed in the direction of excellence with a half-mad grin of dopey love the way Brett Favre—bless his heart—still carries a football. Pix Pâtisserie is the very epitome of this passion and greatness, and it puts perhaps every other American pâtisserie to shame.
Where to begin? With the eclectic, absolutely charming shops; the perfect-with-pastries Belgian beer and Lambic selection; the top-shelf liqueurs, apéritifs, and dessert wines; or with fun and innovative events like Dessert Dim Sum, make-your-own-dessert nights, actually challenging gastronomic trivia, and weekly movies?
Let’s begin with the pastries, since we’re dying to explain them—or let’s try to, anyway, as the description of these beauties would elude even Keats. These are creamy tarts covered with vivid, glossy fruits; a flawless orange-vanilla crème brûlée floating on top of a glazed chocolate mousse topped with a Cointreau génoise and caramelized hazelnuts; and a classic gâteau topped with cream puffs, Grand Marnier, and vanilla crème Chantilly. Each looks more opulent than the one before it—you scarcely want to put a dent in it with timid licks, at first, before succumbing to a full-on, eyes-closed, moaning bite.
This is the part that gets us: the flavor and texture on these desserts actually follows through. They’re not at all cardboardy and stiff or undersweetened—or overly sweet. These taste as French as they look. Perhaps most beloved here are macaroons, whose variety of Easter-egg colors and flavors inspire Proustian memories: blueberry, pistachio, rose, tawny Port, passionfruit. The list—and rainbow of colors—goes on, and makes for one lovely gift box or tower, which you can order as a wedding cake substitute.
We could hang out forever in these cafés as well; our favorite is the North Williams location, which features little windows in its red-velvet wallpaper that you can peer through to watch the magic happen in the kitchen. Pix also makes its own delectable ice creams, which can be plopped in a lambic or beer to make one mighty fine grown-up float.
If solids aren’t your thing, drink equally precious Clear Creek eaux-de-vie, Jacopo Poli Merlot grappa, or Lustau Palo Cortado sherry.
Get the 384-page book—it’s an indispensable reference and a great gift—available online or at a Portland-area store.
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