Friday, June 24, 2011

Petite Provence

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Portland, OR. Those who know me can tell you that my favorite pastry obsession as of late is the 'cheese danish.' Although simple in concept - lightly sweetened bread with a sweet cream cheese filling - it seems quite difficult to find, despite the verbal recommendations and online search engines stating otherwise. Where can I find one that will make me close my eyes and let out that sigh of happiness? Well, one such place is Petite Provence, in Portland, OR.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Brioche
On an inconsistently sunny day in the city, a friend and I woke up with the inkling for a good pastry. After nearly a week of "living" as a local, I had asked around enough to get consistently pointed in the direction of this eatery.  Not surprising, enough of a French food following has been established over its 15 years of business, and the eatery now boasts 4 successful locations. Even more unique, is that each location caters their menu to local palette and community vibe, with the bulk of the items remaining similar to its sister locations.

The Division bistro has ample indoor seating, with only a few tables outside. A bit tight on the seating for larger groups, I'd recommend cozying up with a friend or two to some good eats, sweet treats, and great conversation.  The menu covers breakfast and brunch favorites (berry this and french toast that) but my focus was their bakery. Throughout my week I kept hearing about their pastry items, and having explored through several pastry shops, I couldn't wait to see what options I'd come across in this bakery. 

Croissants, danish, rolls, buns...baked bundles of gluttony sitting before me and I found it...the holy grail of sweet cheese pastries: a Chocolate Cream Cheese Brioche!! My eyes certainly widened and the French server didn't even have to ask before grabbing the wax paper and putting it in a bag. After surveying a few of the other options, I decided on a Walnut Bun and a Cheese Danish Croissant to indulge on with a cup of coffee at another local spot.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Brioche
Chocolate Cream Cheese Brioche - No HEATING NECESSARY. Rare that I can say that. A thin chocolate layer baked into the top of the brioche, soft in flavor. Brioche subtly sweet, soft to the bite, fluffy in feel. Cream filling sweetened to perfection and easily 1" in depth from the top of the brioche. Overall, exactly what I needed and what I've been searching for...the challenge will be to find something similar in a local venue...and I'm determined.

Walnut Bun
Walnut Bun - Crispy exterior reminiscent to a glazed croissant with an enjoyable sugar swirl and generous topping of walnuts. The pastry was flaky and readily edible. Heated in a toaster oven, this pastry would make for a great alternative to the traditional cinnamon bun as a morning eat. 

Cheese Danish Croissant

Cheese Danish Croissant - Similar to the brioche, a generous portion of sweet cream cheese filling layered nicely in the center of this flaky and buttery pastry. Although the other was preferred, this was a  close second to my newly discovered favorite cheese pastry.

As we enjoyed each bite, mutually sharing in the joys of eating, my friend nodded in approval at the find. If I could travel 900+ miles on the regular for a great cheese pastry, I would. Portland had a surprising number of great eats with only the occasional mediocre fare as I ate my way through the city. 

With already living in a city of its very own delicious food options, I'm even more determined to find this particular type of pastry shop or specialty patisserie. There's one in almost every city, right? I'll keep you posted!

Petite Provence
4834 SE Division
Portland, OR 97206

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