Costello’s Travel Caffé
2222 NE Broadway – Portland
I had driven by this place countless times over the past several years and never thought to stop in. I guess I just thought it looked and sounded kind of dopey: “Travel Caffé.” Like it was trying too hard or something. What the hell is a “travel café”, I would ask myself? And anyway, I am not traveling, I live two miles from the joint.
I still do not know the answer to that question, but what I do know is that I must keep reminding myself not to judge on appearances. Because what I found out a few months ago while at a meeting with a colleague in this very coffee house (her suggestion, natch) is that Costello’s does all of their baking in-house! Of course, a cookie is not awesome based on this virtue alone; plenty of people, as I sadly discover over and over again, bake shitty cookies in-house. I am happy to report, however, that Costello’s is doing a more than respectable job of it.
I cannot vouch for their pies, (they seem nice: both sour cherry and rhubarb ginger looked delicious), but a few of the cookies I’ve tasted have been – while not freak-my-shit-out, must-have, amazeballs good – certainly above average. In addition to a ginger molasses (would buy again), chocolate chip (good) and a “monster cookie” (not something that I have ever or would ever buy but I know a lot of people who dig peanut butter and M&M’s in their cookies and it’s not every day that you see this one outside of elementary school and church bake sales), they also have three jars stocked with small shortbread in various flavors.
I should mention here that I am not drawn to shortbread in general (which is why I’ve posted almost no shortbread entries on Carpe Cookie). It is not that I dislike it, it’s just that I crave a more dynamic texture and flavor than straight-up shortbread – something happening in my mouth beyond butter and flour and sugar. (Nothing against butter and flour and sugar. I love those things a lot. I doubt I need to point this out.)
But when I saw these ones – studded with thick flakes of oats plus chunks of candied ginger (the featured ingredients of my two top favorite kinds of cookies of all time: oatmeal and ginger molasses) I figured this might be a shortbread I could get with.
Turns out I could. And I did.