Red Fox Bakery
328 NE Evans St, McMinnville, OR
My nephew, Ben (age eight) and I took a little day trip to McMinnville last week to visit the Evergreen Air and Space Museum (home of the famous Spruce Goose). After the hour-long drive, we wanted bit of lunch before embarking on our (much more compelling than I had been expecting) tour. Even though the museum proved to be very worthwhile, I was, frankly, more excited about revisiting Red Fox Bakery* than I was at the prospect of seeing vintage airplanes.
(*Not to be confused with Redd Foxx. Sadly, Fred Sanford is not the proprieter of this business.)
I first came across this place a couple of years ago while touring Oregon’s wine country and was immediately comforted by the 1970’s hippie bakery so evocative of my Eugene (OR) childhood. Truthfully, Red Fox is more appropriately categorized as “artisan” (as touted by their signage) than “crunchy” (no carob chips spotted on the premises, mercifully), but something about the energy of the joint sent me right back to Humble Bagel, circa 1978.
As all full-sized sandwiches served in the café, the very above-average, rustic grilled cheese sandwich that Ben ordered (made with excellent, sharp white cheddar on a crusty, country-style loaf) came with one of the bakery’s signature coconut macaroons. My lunch did not, which meant I was forced to order Red Fox’s OTHER signature big-ass (and very unique)cookie – which I will talk about another day. The sandwiches, by the way, are served on a variety of their own excellent breads, including a toothsome and dense multi-grain, cornmeal rye, challah, classic baguette, and several other daily-rotating choices.
Okay, back to the mac: I suppose there is nothing terribly groundbreaking about it – other than the fact that it is roughly the size and heft of a Popeye’s buttermilk biscuit. Such proportions may not be out of the ordinary for some of you, but if you’re like me, your baseline macaroon reference point lies within the Manischewitz can. Not that there’s anything wrong, as store-bought cookies in a can go, with the Mani-mini mac; I can’t be too unkind to a sugary morsel that has seen me through almost (emphasis on the “almost!”) 40 unleavened weeks of my life.
But there are some cookies for which ground need not be broken. A perfect coconut macaroon, for example, should be nothing more than this: shredded coconut, egg whites, sugar, salt – and maybe some vanilla. Sometimes it will get a little dose of flour, but this really only gets in the way of the chewy, candy-like texture that I favor in a macaroon. Indeed, this Red Fox number recalls the inside of a Mounds Bar.
Again, not groundbreaking, but the fact that the coconut is slightly toasted gives this one an edge over its counterparts. It’s a small step that makes a pretty profound difference in taste, bringing out the full-bodied flavor of the fruit (yep, coconut is a fruit). Also, there’s a very pleasing chewy ridge that forms around the base – egg whites and sugar, sans coconut. It all works.
As Ben aptly put it – before polishing off the whole damn thing minus my one measly bite: “It’s moist and gooey – in a good way.”
In a nutshell: If you brake for macaroons, this is one worth stopping for.