Bakery Quest

Dear Liza,

With the weather being warmer and our spirits rising with every vaccination, we are feeling inspired to get out for longer walks. My dad, your great grandpa Lowell, always said you should only walk until you were half tired, so you could turn around and walk back home. We have discovered that if there’s a bakery along the way, you can just keep going!

When we bought this house, one of the reasons we loved it was the proximity of restaurants and businesses…. Lebanese food around the corner, pizza across the way and a nice pinball tavern and pulled pork just down the block. But no bakery! This has probably, in the long run, been a blessing. Baked goods are less dangerous if they are at the end of a good long walk.

So, we walk. Helen Bernhard, Grandpa Nelson’s favorite, is two miles north of us through lovely neighborhoods. Their donuts are the best in town (Sorry, Voodoo Donuts) and they have Florentines rolled into tubes and filled with peanut butter cream. Need I say more?

Helen Bernhardt Bakery on NE Broadway

The Fleur de Lis, just off Broadway, at 1.7 miles. away. I haven’t walked to it yet, but Grandpa Nelson has! They have all sorts baked goods, including his favorite cinnamon rolls, as well as huge slices of quiche and sandwiches on fresh baked bread. They even had, before the Covid restrictions, live music on Sundays.

Caught red-handed with brunch at Fleur de Lis

And just yesterday, Auntie Bridgett and I discovered yet another one!
Lauretta Jean’s, on Division, is just a mile south. They have been at their current location for ten years, but we have somehow missed them. During Covid they changed from a dine-in cafe to a walk up window, with a pretty awning and delightful signage. They even have a few small tables out front for on-site snacking.

We picked up a lemon bar, a piece of chocolate oatmeal pie, and a piece of birthday cake to take home for Friday’s dessert. The pie was a bit too sweet, but the cake and lemon bar were spot on wonderful. It’s nice to know that there are still fine baked goods to be discovered!

Birthday cake in the window, with reflection from across the street…

I don’t know if the search for local baked goods is Holy Grail worthy, but it sure is delicious!


Grandma Judy

North in the Sunshine

Dear Liza,

The other day I knew I needed to get out of the house, but had no motivation. Grandpa Nelson suggested a walk, and promised me goodies somewhere along the way. I went.

We headed north through the Laurelhurst neighborhood, then kept going up to Kerns. About a mile and a half from home, we stopped at Oregon Park and watched two little girls learn that going down a slide doesn’t have to be a straight forward proposition. It was fun to see their inventiveness.

“Where next?” Grandpa asked.

“I’m not sure, but it seems I remember a bakery just over that way,” I said, pointing north west-ish. He checked his phone.

“Good call! Helen Bernhardt Bakery is just 1.2 miles away. Practically around the corner.” So off we went. In the neighborhood in between, we found all sorts of delights. These stone lions are very stylish and Covid-aware.

These vintage, hand-carved children’s rocking chairs sat outside a turn of the century home, as if waiting to be adopted.

Window art is wonderful along Broadway.

We got to Helen Bernhardt’s Bakery, which has good Covid procedures in place, and chatted with the lady behind the counter.

She said that this past Easter, a week ago, was the best Easter ever for the business. That’s since 1924! It’s nice to know that some businesses have been able to survive and even thrive in this weirdness, and that we will have this lovely bakery around for a long time.

Grandpa Nelson has been eaten by a camellia!

After sitting on a low wall outside the bakery, enjoying our donut, Florentine and coffee as we watched happy folks come and go from the bakery, it was time to “South” a little. That is, to head towards home. We found this incredible camellia bush that was huge outside and magical inside. The flowers under the ‘umbrella’ seemed to glow pink with the afternoon sun.

We walked back across the Banfield Freeway and were soon in our own neighborhood. We stopped to say Hi to Auntie Bridgett, who was working her shift at the SideStreet Arts Gallery, then got home to crash before dinner.

The Banfield….. an ugly scar of a road with good views

Another fine adventure!


Grandma Judy

Early Morning Donuts!

Dear Liza,

It was really crisp and cold this morning, which is great if you are describing celery. But 37 degrees and crystal clear are new and a bit difficult for me. However, this morning was an up and out early day, because Grandpa Nelson was out of breakfast!

Clear and cold!

A doughnut run was needed, and as long as we were in the car, we went up to Broadway and NE 17th, to Helen Bernhard Bakery, which has what Grandpa Nelson says are “the best doughnuts in the city…and maybe the world.” The bakery is a cute little cottage building on the busy street of Broadway, just six short blocks from our favorite Tiki Bar, Hale Pele.

Helen Bernhard ect. .jpg
A lovely little building

The bakery has all sorts of things, not just doughnuts…wedding cakes, cookies, muffins, the full range of baked yumminess. I got a cinnamon roll for me and Grandpa picked out a Christmas Tree cookie for Auntie Bridgett. The ladies who run it are very pleasant and conversational.

counter Helen Bernhard.jpg
Grandpa Nelson and friendly ladies with doughnuts

On the way home we stopped for gas for Miles the Volkswagen, which is only the 2nd time we have filled the car in the more than 3 months we have owned him. We simply don’t drive much….this is such a walk-able city, and buses are easier than parking if we go downtown. I love it! I have been on a freeway ONCE here in town, since July! Such a miracle.

Another thing about filling up the car: Oregon is a NON-SELF SERVICE state. State law forbids you from getting out to pump your own gas….one of the few things we have in common with New Jersey. This feels odd for a California native like me, but on a cold day like today, or a dark rainy evening, it seems like a mighty good idea.

I hope your house is feeling like Christmas and you are having lots of fun with Baba Alla. I will see you in January!

Love, Grandma Judy