a baker’s tour of portland

20 Jul

Portland is a great place for foodies, no doubt. Whether you’re vegan, omni, microbrew aficionado or mixologist, Portland has you covered. That’s all fine and good if you wish to be served, but what if you want to be the one behind the apron? One of the things that Portland has going for it, that appears to be underrated, is that it’s a great place for bakers.

In Milwaukie, a southern suburb of Portland, a large red barn houses the holy land for baker’s and conscious eaters alike: Bob’s Red Mill.


This water wheel operates a large display grind stone inside.


In a standard grocery store, even in many co-ops, you are lucky to find a little sections featuring Bob’s grains. If you have ever looked for wheat gluten, alternative flours, or gluten-free mixes, chances are you’ve come across Bob’s, no matter where you live. And with good reason. Bob’s Red Mill has been leading the way- with wholesome stone ground grains, beans, and baking mixes- for several decades now.

At the Red Mill, you can order up some food for breakfast or lunch. They have a separate vegetarian menu featuring a few vegan options. The staff there are very helpful in answering any menu questions you have, as well as welcoming substitutions.

Rather than having a little section to select from, the store carries the whole line of BRM goods, seeing as it’s only about 1/2 mile from it’s actual processing facility. That means over 300 products made by BRM. It’s easy to get lost for hours, reading over each little bag and oogling all of the exotic baking goods.


Pretty much anything under the sun that you could need is housed within the big red barn. This picture shows only about 1/3 of the store. There is also a huge bulk section, some ready-to-eat food and baking/cooking supplies. You can buy grains in bags as small as 16 oz. or you can pull out the big guns and haul home a 25 lb. bag of grain for a very reasonable price. They also have a large filing cabinet stocked with free recipes for nearly all their products.

If you are lucky, you may run into Bob himself. There is an upper level with some festive decor and a sitting area for those enjoying a meal. I have seen him up there a couple of times, sitting at a table doing paper work. He wears the Bob attire, the famous hat and vest ensemble. This last trip, he actually saddled up to an upright piano and played some music, as well as sang a tune! I would have taken a picture, but that would have involved leaning over some poor diner’s table to get a shot, so I erred on the side of good manners and held back.

Directly across the street is vegan bread headquarters: Dave’s Killer Bread.


This is the outlet for Dave’s Killer Bread and it’s sister company (actually brother company) Nature Bake. Everything that Dave makes is vegan and most of Nature Bake’s products are as well. DKB is truly the most amazing bread I have ever tasted. When you toast a slice of it, it smells as if you are baking a fresh loaf at that very moment. Dave takes Bob’s excellent ingredients and makes magic with them.


Inside the outlet you’ll find racks and freezers full of bread, buns, rolls and cookies for lower prices than the store. Depending on whether you get day old loaves or frozen loaves, you can save over half of what some local stores charge. The other advantage is that you can get some of Dave’s low production goodies that are normally only available at the farmer’s markets, such as the infamous Cinn-dawg or these yummy looking Good Seed hoagie rolls.

daves good seed

I replenished our bread supply and came home with my loot from Bobs.

Bob's loot

Wheat and spelt berries for the Vita-Mix, spelt flour, millet flour, barley flour and some regular all-purpose flour. I also picked up tapicoa pearls to make some long-awaited pudding (I haven’t had tapioca pudding in probably 6-7 years!) and semolina flour to make some homemade pasta. Before I got on this whole canning kick, my original summer project was to make homemade pasta noodles, so I picked up a very reasonably priced pasta maker as well. A packet of sourdough starter and some (not pictured) evaporated cane juice rounded out my purchases.

Whether you call Portland home or are just passing through, it’s worth the trip to the big red barn to fill up your pantry and your tummy with all sorts of wholesome goodness.


12 Responses to “a baker’s tour of portland”

  1. jumbleberryjam July 20, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    Time to pass thru again! Any discounts, or is everything full retail?

    • Kris July 20, 2009 at 8:27 pm #

      It’s not discounted, per say, but it’s cheaper than the regular stores because you’re buying it direct. And if you buy a box with 4 of the regular sized bags it’s 10% off as well. I have always been happy with the prices.

  2. Andrea July 20, 2009 at 6:45 pm #

    Sounds like a field trip I’ll have to make some day.

  3. Vijita July 20, 2009 at 8:58 pm #

    really really really coveting Dave’s Killer Bread! Nice post. Oh, silly Portland and your ridiculous vegan-friendliness!

  4. jessy July 21, 2009 at 3:34 am #

    wow! i had no idea portland offered so much for bakers & lovers of baking, too! we make a loaf of dave’s killer whole wheat bread every week for dan’s sammies, and i love bob’s gluten-free flours for my gluten-free yummies! i think i too could get lost for hours in bob’s! so awesome!

  5. Josiane July 21, 2009 at 7:45 am #

    You really have it all! I really must plan a trip to Portland!

  6. tekuno July 21, 2009 at 8:33 am #

    I have never had Dave’s Killer Bread, but I do enjoy bread from Gabrielle’s Bakery…have you had it? I usually buy it at the farmer’s market downtown but they have it in most stores around here. The quinoa bread is the best sliced bread I’ve ever tasted.

    • Kris July 21, 2009 at 10:13 am #

      No, I’ve never even heard of them. Thanks for the tip, quinoa bread sounds fantastic.

  7. Courtney July 21, 2009 at 1:37 pm #

    How cool is that?! I never realized that Bob’s Red Mill was in OR! I am super jealous…it is even better than having French Meadow right down the street from you 🙂

    Oh! Are you going to use that recipe for your tapioca? Will you post on your results? I have been eying that recipe for a while too…or if you come up with a recipe, I would love to see that too!


  8. celine July 22, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    I had big plans of going there, alas.
    and I recognize the DKB! it was so tasty. it was so DAMN tasty, VEGAN. hardy-har. ahem…

  9. shellyfish July 23, 2009 at 3:17 am #

    That was fun – felt like I just went on a little trip with you!

  10. Vegetation July 25, 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    OMG! Can you say JEALOUS!!! I want a Bobs Red Mill!!!!!!! (I’ll take an awesome vegan bakery while I’m at it too :D)

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