The marriage of flour and water remains one of life's great treasures; the elemental force behind all things baked goods... Except for baked goods that don't use flour, like flourless chocolate cake. And spelt bread. And baked Alaska. Okay, forget the flour. Water! Water remains one of life's great... ah, forget it. Just shut up and read about these cool bakeries...

Pearl Bakery

102 NW 9th, 827-0910

Simultaneously spacious and cozy, the divine Pearl Bakery features some of the best sandwiches in town. The tuna salad on pistolet is rich and smooth, packed with olive oil and mixed with capers, red onions, and dill aioli. And the baguette-bound finocchiona salami with roasted red peppers, provolone, and green olive tapenade is as good as it sounds. The Pearl's a great place to snack at while on break from browsing at Powell's. JWS


111 NE MLK, 235-5526

Ararat is a mom 'n' pop Russian/Armenian bakery, restaurant, bar, and dance club, where you can have a dish of hearty stroganoff for dinner with a shot of vodka, then come back around midnight on a Friday or Saturday to find a dense crowd of mostly Eastern Europeans dancing to out-of-date foreign disco music. But during daylight hours, prepare to find authentic gems like Ararat's sweet rolls and other baked goods prepared with a slightly Middle-Eastern flair, all baked on the premises. MS

Blue Gardenia

3747 N Mississippi, 460-2583

If you're hankerin' to pair your pastry with a cup of joe, the delightful Blue Gardenia bakery is the place to be. BG purchases its "single origin" beans on a seasonal basis, buying an entire shipment from one region to "evoke the indigenous flavor, aroma, and tradition of [its] natural environment." So grab yourself a cup of velvety Ethiopia Harar Horse M.A.O. and sip it in between bites of one of BG's incredible cinnamon rolls, or a lemon meringue mini-pie. Or a sharp cheddar and jalapeno biscuit. Or a... a... [CUE: coma of drooling anticipation]... JWS

Saint Cupcake

407 NW 17th at Flanders, 473-8760

With their palm-friendly shape and quaint pile of perky frosting, few edible treats are more appealing to look at than cupcakes, and Saint Cupcake's versions are delectable to boot. They feature welcome batter additions like pumpkin and chocolate chips, and frosting colors like pink and light blue that just make you want to smooch 'em they're so delightful-looking. The prices are right, too; get more than full on a big one for just $1.50, or go the sample route, and snarf down a few bite-sized ones for just $.75 a pop. And naturally: Plenty of coffee and tea for all. JWS

Redwing Coffee and Bakery

1700 SE 6th, 445-9900

This extremely comfortable little nook tucked into the industrial area of lower SE has pretty much everything you could ever want from an eatery. They bake their own fabulous pastries, focaccia bread, and already-legendary pies, and roast some of the strongest, tastiest coffee beans around (which, as you know, is saying a lot in this town). They also serve up a rotating slew of homemade salads and soups, plus sandwiches, and even a damn fine quiche. Combine all that with an ambience as cozy as your living room, and the result is, I believe, referred to as Heaven. JWS