We’re now so far into Spring that daffodils have been replaced by eager tulips, and camellias have faded to make room for the first tentative rhododendron buds. Everything is awash in color and pollen. If you can see through your allergy haze, you’ll notice that spring food is following a similar path. As the days become consistently warmer, the most obvious sign of spring at the farmers’ market are the tables heaped with raab and rapini.
In late March and early April, there’s a limit to my cuisinal inspiration. With the supply of root vegtables dwindling, and the advent of most spring greens (not to mention asparagus or snap peas) yet to come, I struggle every single year with this time period of seasonal eating. I recognize that in a few short months I’ll heap my kitchen counters with more perishable fruits and vegetables than I can eat, preserve, or freeze, but in the meantime, my creativity feels taxed, especially with this recent spell of 70 degree weather that just begs for an edible partner.
Paola Smith is covered in flour and moving lithely hours before most Portlanders have sipped their first coveted cup of coffee. Between 5:30 and 9:30 each morning, Smith, alone except for a few fellow bakery employees and the cranked up sounds of a playlist that shuffles between Bob Dylan and Fleetwood Mac, bakes as many as 200 hundred loaves of bread in Tabor Bread’s massive wood fired oven. Other bakers across Portland perform parallel tasks, scoring the bread, testing loaves’ temperatures. Yet the bread that’s hoisted out of Tabor Bread’s deep oven on peels so long they could pass as ores differs in several noticeable ways: every loaf, no matter the shape or style, is created exclusively from whole grain flour. And that whole grain flour is milled on premises in a small milling room mere steps away from the oven.