Aurora, Oregon is not the kind of place you'd expect to drive through and stumble upon sophisticated food finds. Sure, amidst the quaint antique malls and charming farmhouses, there may be an ex-Texas diner fry cook serving up hash worthy of a Diners, Drivers and Dives visit. Or maybe a sweet granny spicing legendary fried chicken with a blend she's taking to her grave. White Rabbit Bakery, however, seems as though it got lost on the way to NE Ainsworth and decided to settle its roots in alien territory, like an orchid in the tundra. Gluten-free cookies and bacon-topped "Swine-Amon" rolls? Are we really five miles from Canby??
The interior of the coffee shop and scratch bakery (no Galaxy Desserts or Mostly Muffins in sight!) is full of whimsical reminders of its namesake, and a modern Victorian feel. The moment you walk in the door you're face-to-face with a mad world of tempting patisserie.
I ordered a White Chocolate Raspberry scone and caramel latte to go, because I had this work thing to get to (huh? We have to work for a living? Boo...). Carrying the giant pyramid of scone into the car, I figured I'd be throwing most of it away for sure.
That's until I starting eating it.
Scones generally have a pretty bad rap for being dense, dry dough pucks. And rightfully so. Have you ever gotten one of things from Starbucks in desperation for a breakfast fix? I know, it's not a decision we're usually proud of in retrospect. This fresh, still oven-warm pastry was (correctly) crusty on the outside, but inside, the soft, airy dough was the perfect cross between cake and biscuit. That lightness and flakiness is something that will not survive a freeze. Stained with the fresh, sweet raspberries, it reminded me of the Fischer's fresh-baked scones I was treated to at the Puyallup Fair once a year as a kid. Just bigger, better, and with far less carnies.
Is Aurora an anomaly, or an archetype for the future? Doesn't it only make sense that from where the good food grows, the good food is prepared? Already Aurora is sporting this gem of a bakery, a chocolate-covered fruit and nut factory with a gift shop that's worth any drive, and a barbecue kitchen I've been begging Matt to let us try. Why should we have to drive into the 'big' city limits to eat the fresh, real foods sprouting out of our bucolic backyard?
I'm holding out for the day a chef from Aurora is nominated for the James Beard award. Until then, I'm just rejoycing the return of the SCONE.