This Sunday, September 17, Ristretto Roasters turns one. It’s
been a fantastic year; the customers are great, the neighbors gracious, and
everyone says, we’re roasting the best coffee in Portland. Really, there’s been
only one teeny-weeny problem…
“You need to stop baking.” This, from Din Johnson, owner of and roaster for Ristretto Roasters, to Nancy Rommelmann, his wife, a.k.a., yours truly.
What, did he no longer like the chocolate chip cookies? Had he tired of the blueberry-bran muffins? And what about his mother’s pecan balls, which I lovingly made each week…
“Relax, geez, it’s not the baking,” he said. “But you’re writing all day, I’m roasting, and at night, we can’t even watch a DVD without you jumping off the couch and saying, ‘I’ve got to check the scones.’”
“And that was the plan, right? That we’d phase in a new baker?”
“Baby,” he said. “It’s going to be okay.”
More than okay, as I’ve passed the spatula to Marius Pop, owner of and baker for Nuvrei. When we first met Marius, we knew instantly he was as passionate and meticulous about pastry as Din is about coffee, and that an alliance would make each man’s work exponentially greater. We visited Nuvrei’s kitchen in The Pearl, and tried the raspberry scones; the ham-and-Emmental croissants; the jewel-tone macaroons, the blueberry-cornbread loaf-cake that tastes of butter, butter and more butter… Sold!
Marius, formerly of Payard Patisserie, David Bouley, and Daniel (all in New York City), and Paley’s Place, currently sells his work from a kiosk on the corner of NW 10th and Flanders, as well as in Mio Gelato, Moonstruck Café, Vino Paradiso and a dozen other places around town. His cakes also appear at forty billion weddings. When I asked him to sum up what he does—aside from turn out the best French pastry in Portland—he wrote:
In a nutshell: Nuvrei focuses on combining flavors that merge together with texture to create exquisite sweets. We do this for the energy, for the excitement of creating something beautifully… because we want to create a world of our own, where talent meets synergy and the two collide together into something amazing and great.
Stop by Ristretto for an exquisite Americano and a slice of that blueberry cake or one of, ahem, my chocolate-chip cookies, which Marius has most gallantly agreed to bake in my stead.
Also visit us on Saturdays, at the Hollywood Farmers Market
The Baker, 1681, Job Adriaensz Berckheyde