Getting Noggy With It

I’m going to risk seasonal sacrilegy here, but I’ve never been a huge fan of eggnog in its purest, straight-from-the-carton form. I’ve nothing against nutmeg-enhanced eggmilk but there’s something about the thick, cloying texture that reminds me of the fateful time I accepted a dare to drink a pint of buttermilk. Fortunately, this time of year, eggnog manifests itself in all sorts of delicious and novel ways, delivering the best of its festive flavor without taunting one’s gag reflex. Here are five ambrosial incarnations I’ve found around town this week:

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eggnogbreadpuddingSaint Honore’s Eggnog Bread Pudding

This perpetually-busy Nob Hill boulangerie specializes in sweet Gallic holiday extravagances like hazelnut caramel Bûche de Noël and almond cream-stuffed king cake, but their freshly-baked eggnog bread pudding is a winter pastryscape at its best–stare at it long enough and you’ll see craggy croissant cliffs towering over eggnog custard valleys, and streams of caramel sauce trickling between snowy confectioner’s sugar-sprinkled brioche mountaintops. Or, if you’re a less fanciful/hallucinatory type, you’ll just see one heck of a December breakfast. Owner/master baker Dominique Geulin created the Eggnog Pudding in the likeness of his popular Normandy Apple Toast, a French-style bread pudding built with brioche and croissant instead of regular bread. Gripped by the holiday spirit, he drowned the pudding in spiced rum-spiked eggnog custard, drizzled it with housemade caramel and added a dusting of sugar. Ooo-la-la!

($3.75, Saint Honoré Bakery, 2335 NW Thurman St., www.sainthonorebakery.com, 503.445.4342)

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saltandstraweggnogicSalt & Straw’s Eggnog with Butter Rum Caramel Ice Cream

I know, I know, it’s currently 34 degrees, you’ve lost three toes to frostbite because your new 4-inch-heeled lace-up knee boots are fashionable but poorly insulated, and your “loads of vintage charm!” apartment is doing its best imitation of an igloo–ice cream is the last thing on your mind or in your bowl. Well buck up, because Salt & Straw has a lineup of holiday scoops only a true grinch could ignore, and one of them is the Eggnog with Butter Rum Caramel. How’s it made? I’ll let them tell you, in their oh-so-salivatingly-lyrical way. “We’ve hand burned our own caramel sauce, added it to our secret eggnog recipe and boozed it up a bit with locally made Deco Rum from Portland’s Distillery Row.” Convinced? I thought so. Tape your toes back on and get thee to Alberta Street.

(Scoop prices vary, Salt & Straw, 2035 NE Alberta St., saltandstraw.com, 503.208.3867)

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clydenogClyde Common’s Egg Nog

Anything preceded by the words “Clyde Common” tends to be something worth paying attention to–Clyde Common’s chefs create highly edible things like prosciutto-wrapped trout with oyster mushrooms and confit rabbit in dijon cream, Clyde Common’s peerless bar recently claimed a spot in Food & Wine magazine’s 50 Best Bars in America, and Clyde Common’s bartenders are really hotsy totsy (see page 43 of Portland’s 100 Best Places To Stuff Your Faces for more information and a helpful diagram). Clyde Common’s Eggnog, created by bar manager Jeffrey Morgenthaler, is no exception, a silky, nutmeg-spiced blend of añejo tequila, Amontillado sherry, eggs, milk and cream. Ordering it is a sure way to make new friends at the bar, but if you’re antisocial or allergic to fantastic cocktails mixed by hotsy totsy bartenders at one of America’s Best Bars, make it at home–Morgenthaler published the recipe on his prominent bartending blog.

($7, Clyde Common, 1014 SW Stark St., www.clydecommon.com, 503.228.3333)

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jceggnogpuddingJacobs Creamery’s Eggnog Pudding

In true artisan style, local cheesemaker Lisa Jacobs makes her own eggnog, which she uses to create a lusciously creamy, possibly-addictive holiday pudding, a mere mention of which will immediately inspire a hollow, haunted expression on even the most stoic of men’s faces (the man in question being my dad, who pretends he is excited when I visit for the holidays but is actually just pining for his pudding ration). After crafting her eggnog from Jersey cow milk and loads of fresh eggs from her farm’s hens, Jacobs follows her Irish grandmother’s pudding recipe, supplementing it with extra spices, a splash of rum and plenty of farm fresh milk. “I find that even people who don’t like eggnog can enjoy the flavor in a custard form,” Jacobs sagely observed, shooting me a critical look that I pretended not to notice. Since this weekend marks the last PSU farmers market of the 2011 season, you can find Jacobs’ pudding at her PSU Portland Farmers Market booth this Saturday and this Saturday only, 12/17, between 9am and 2pm.

(8-oz tub  $6, jacobscreamery.com)

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eggnogtartPacific Pie Company’s Eggnog Cranberry Tart

There’s something so satisfying about preparing a pie or tart from scratch–gently rolling out your award-winning secret-family-recipe crust, carefully filling the pretty fluted pan or Grandma’s vintage pie plate, the scent of sugar and spice and everything nice wafting through the kitchen, the beauty of the finished product as it cools on the counter, the oohs and aahs of your admiring family and friends as they stand there with baited forks. There’s also something even more satisfying about simply calling Pacific Pie Company and ordering a pie or tart, because not only will it almost certaintly taste better than yours (especially because they always remember important ingredients like salt and butter and filling, which some of us occasionally overlook because they’ve had too many hot toddies), but there won’t be a sink full of dishes and flour in nooks and crannies you didn’t know existed by the time you exhaustedly sit down to eat it. This Christmas, the PPC baking wizards have dreamed up an Eggnog Cranberry Tart that’s exquisitely layered with crimson cranberry sauce and velvety eggnog custard. Stop into their Southeast Portland shop for a slice, or call now and reserve a whole one for Christmas dinner, which will leave you more time to sip hot toddies and feel sorry for the people spending Christmas Day cleaning flour off their kitchen ceilings.

(Pacific Pie Company, 1520 SE 7th Ave., pacificpieco.com, 503.381.6157)