Belly-Warming Scandinavian Cuisine

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Lefse Special, Cafe Broder

Surviving a Portland winter requires a transformation of body and mind from mere mortal to Pacific Northwest god. The beards donned by natives [now often seen in metropolitan areas abroad] surfaced here not as a fashion statement but as a survival tactic. Until you have felt the assaulting left hand of rain and right hand of wind tackle your face in a fatal one-two blow, you won’t understand what it takes to be initiated by the Rose City.

A winter morning arrives not by approach of dawn’s light but by the creeping, never-ending darkness of eternal night. There will be no natural indicator of time now, no; only measured moments between downpours of baptizing rain and the empty promise of a forgotten sun’s rays teasing behind a cluster of clouds.

Until late spring you must lie to yourself daily that there will be flowers blossoming one day; that your socks won’t soak through within seconds of stepping outside. You’ll need to stoke a fire in your belly with the hope that comes with warm nourishment and Scandinavian food is sure to do the trick.

Often the smallest factors bear the largest impact, a constant reminder to never judge a book by its cover. Cafe Broder is such a place, unimposing in size and almost unnoticeable if it weren’t for the queue that forms outside on the regular. The generated warmth of body heat and lively banter welcome you into the quaint oblong cafe. Vintage baubles, stainless steel cabinets and a slack-jawed bass mounted on the wall muddle Danish

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Half-eaten lefse, Cafe Broder

modern with rustic industrial.

Perched at the bar, I couldn’t help but notice muscles (bulging under a stranglehold a of faded black fabric) sling what looked like a muffin tray of gooey batter into the oven. The muscles belonged to the head cook who expertly manned multiple orders destined for either the frying pan or the oven;

I ordered the daily lefse special, consisting of potato pancakes with ham, farmer’s cheese and lingonberry jam topped with two eggs and greens. I tried not to notice when I saw “Muscles” pour half & half into the mini square skillet that held the eggs. I needed sustenance to guide me through the assault of rain pellets that waited for me beyond the cafe doors.

The first bite launched an ephemeral twitch of my taste buds, a gentle nod of agreement in response to the artfully combined sweetness of ham and lingonberry with the savory bite of cheese and pancake. I could feel my belly warming with each slice and swallow and I almost missed the sound of wind scraping natural elements against the window outside.

As I took my last bite, I let the flavors linger in my mouth and prepared for the journey home. I layered my waterproof jacket on top of my sweatshirt and folded my scarf under as I zipped up. I was unaware of the assortment of weather that would soon greet me, but for the first time since the sun last shone I was smiling.

 

 

Next stop: Stumptown

baowry
In early February I decided to stretch my wings a bit and travel northwest. I’d never been that far up the coast and I had a hankering for some vegan treats and beautiful scenery. One of my jam buddies had just moved back to Portland and my wanderlust was in full effect, so I booked a flight and set off a couple weeks later.

The next few posts will give you a bit of insight into my experiences and of course I’ll post some tunes to go along with them. I spent five days there but it was love at first sight. Portland is definitely my favorite US city, and I hope my words and music do it justice. Without further adieu…

I arrived around 10 at night and the sky had just cracked open when my friend parked his Subaru. The frigid air made me glad that I brought my heavier, hooded jacket. We were in St. Johns, a laid-back, friendly North Portland suburb and The Baowry was our first stop.

The music was turned down to the perfect volume and the decor was tastefully Asian. Our waitress had Siamese blue eyes and a dress that rose just high enough to make it interesting. It was the calm before the storm and I couldn’t wait to begin.

Playlist
Warpaint: Keep It Healthy 
Glasser: Shape
Temples: Colours to Life
Boy Friend: Rogue Waves I
Diiv: Air Conditioning
Marissa Nadler: Dead City Emily
Angel Olsen: Stars
I Break Horses: You Burn
Friends: Ideas On Ghosts