Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bob's Red Mill

While traveling throughout Asia we would occassionally come across packaged items from brands and companies back home. Yes, there were multinational brands like Lays potato chips and Kraft products galore, but it was the local Pacific NW products that would surprise us the most. The most prominent products we recall seeing were Kettle Chips (mostly tortilla chips) and Bob's Red Mill flour products.

About 15 minutes south of Portland you can visit Bob's Red Mill retail store and cafe, where you will find their extensive line of over 400 products, as well as enjoy a nice breakfast or lunch in their charming red barn like mill.

So on the first rainy Fall day of the year we decided to make a trip out to the Whole Grain Retail store to stock up on some baking essentials at 20% off and enjoy a 50% discount on a breakfast entree thanks to our handy dandy Chinook Book coupons. The cute-as-can-be retail store/cafe was organized in several major areas. Cafe/kitchen/cashiers were at the back of the store where you can place your order for breakfast and lunch items, get a number and take a seat either on the ground floor off to the side of the packaged items, upstairs or on nice days, on their lovely patio area.

We placed our breakfast orders and went upstairs to get a full view of the store below.

While we were very impressed with incredible selection of goods offered in large bags, bulk, and pre-packaged, we weren't very impressed with the layout, they tried to cram way too much into the space. We were also impressed with the extent of their cafe menu. While there were no fancy cafe style breakfast items, instead focusing on traditional eggs and potatoes dishes, there were grits, biscuits, and a large variety of their famous baked items such as waffles and pancakes. The portions were great for the prices and the food was very tasty.

However when we got upstairs to find a table and wait for our grilled cheddar grits served with maple syrup (surprisingly delicious) we found nothing but dirty table after dirty table and when we asked to get a table wiped down, the staff seemed confused and we ended up finding a towel and wiping down the table ourselves. The same can be said for checking out at the retail store with confusion and cramped aisles making paying for our items a bit chaotic. Best to go on the weekdays when the store isn't packed with breakfast and store shoppers.

Bob's Red Mill is known for their traditional use of stone grinders to make their flours and baking products.

You can buy large wholesale size bags of all their products from garbonzo flours, rice flours, pastry flours, whole wheat flours, flours for bread machines and the list goes on and on. They also conveniently provide bins with airtight lids to store these large quantity bags. These ladies were consulting a list, something you definitely should have if you plan to shop here.

There was also an impressive area of bulk foods. We found one of the largest selection of dried beans we've seen in a while, including hard to find green french lentls and dried white beans. You can also find spices in bulk and normally extremely high priced thickeners like xanthum gum and guar gum which can run up to $10 a package in the store, available in bulk here!

There was also a bakery where you could buy fresh baked goods. It was hard not buy all the specialty breads made on premise.

There were also aisles and aisles of pre-packaged items such as scone mixes, pancake/waffle mixes and specialty cake mixes. Bob's Red Mill has an impressive list of gluten free, organic and hard to find products such as flaxseed flour or course millet flour all in one store. It is definitely worth the short 15 minute trek to visit this impressive and charming retail store for breakfast/lunch or to stock up on all your baking needs.

And if getting the ingredients to make bread aren't your thing, Dave's Killer Bread and NatureBake's stores are just across the street.

Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store 5000 SE International Way Milwaukie, Oregon (503)607-6455 6am-6pm Monday-Friday, 7am-5pm Saturdays, Closed Sundays

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