Several years ago, our family visited La Center for the summer concert series in Sternwheeler Park. We attended a packed performance by Beatles tribute band Abbey Roadster and barely managed to find a spot in the last row of the amphitheater. We clapped and sang along, savoring the late summer sun and the blue sliver of the East Fork of the Lewis River visible from our hillside perch.
Earlier that day, we’d enjoyed a lazy hike through La Center Bottoms, the 314-acre county-owned stewardship site that sprawls across the grassy river floodplains, bisected by Brezee Creek. We followed the easy out-and-back trail from Sternwheeler Park to the East Fork of the Lewis River, which in the early 1900s served as an aquatic highway to transport the region’s timber products — mainly cordwood and railroad ties — via sternwheeler to Portland.
Last Thursday, though, I was there for carbs. Sadie and Josie’s bakery at 582 N.W. Pacific Highway, owned by sisters, is not a sit-down place, but it’s still plenty entertaining. It’s like a carbohydrate Disneyland in there. The bakery serves up heaps of bread loaves, doughnuts, cakes, pies, rolls, biscuits and brownies. It also offers a selection of locally made jam as well as fudge, chocolate truffles and cheesecake. I lingered over the cinnamon rolls but eventually settled on blackberry coffee cake, moist and sweet with plump blackberries and a drizzle of royal icing.
After being so near the freshly baked doughnuts (why, oh why, hadn’t I gotten a cherry fritter?) I felt the need for coffee, so I walked over to the Stonehill Coffee House, a small but cheerfully modern coffee bar in a refurbished house on East Fourth Street. The air conditioning was going strong as I perused the menu of Stumptown coffee drinks featuring unusual flavors, such as chocolate-orange mocha and white chocolate lavender latte. This husband-and-wife-owned business doesn’t have an online menu so you can’t research your options before visiting; you’ll just have to be delighted when you get there.
I sat at one of two tables in the adjoining room, which contained a thoughtfully curated collection of vintage home décor for sale: cream-colored ceramic stacking mugs, wooden bowls, a soft white knitted blanket and natural fiber placemats. A pair of etched “Bride” and “Groom” champagne glasses came home with me as a gift for a soon-to-be-wed co-worker.