City Dunkers in Ashland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

"CITY DUNKERS" at COWSLIP'S BELLE Jon and Carmen Reinhardt Cowslip's Belle 159 North Main Ashland, Oregon 97520 (800) 888-6819 (541) 488-2901 Attention coffee connoisseurs! Set down your cup of cultured beans for a moment and ponder this dilemma. To dunk or not to dunk! That is the question. Or, more importantly, WHAT to dunk. It seems somewhat blasphemous to despoil your French roast Americano with a mere doughnut. A good "dunk shot" is what Jon Reinhardt set out to create when he began "City Dunkers," a wholesale baking business. Since then, his biscotti and chocolate-drenched macaroons have become poetry to the palates of theatergoers at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The Festival continues to be his biggest customer, consuming more than 36 dozen of his "dunkers" each week. The business also fills orders for discerning dunkers from Seattle to San Diego and wholesales to coffeehouses and restaurants throughout southern Oregon. And the numbers, like the batter, continue to rise. But until three years ago, baking was only a side dish to Reinhardt's main entree - running Cowslip's Belle bed and breakfast with his wife, Carmen. It was the only Northwest bed and breakfast to be cited by Sandra Soule, editor of "America's Wonderful Little Hotels and Inns," in an April 1995 article in McCall's magazine. Now Reinhardt's baking awards rival his recognition in the hospitality trade. He took the "Best of Bake-Inn" in 1993 for his petit fours in a contest sponsored by the Oregon Bed and Breakfast Guild. His chocolate pastilles won the OBBG grand prize in 1992. The big winners, however, are Cowslip's guests who are the first to pass judgment on what they call, "Jon's chocolate masterpieces." In fact, the inn's guests initially encouraged Reinhardt to pursue his baking business. One of them even suggested the name, "City Dunkers," during an afternoon tea and sample session. The Reinhardts' recipe for success began in 1985 when they bought and renovated Cowslip's Belle, a 1913 Craftsman bungalow and carriage house. Carmen Reinhardt started stirring things up with her chocolate mousse truffles, which she placed on guests' pillows as after-theater treats. Then, four years ago, Jon was asked to help a friend with a wholesale bakery venture, which didn't fulfill its promise, but Jon's biscotti won rave reviews from the Shakespeare Festival. So the Cowslip's kitchen became the scene of his latest production. After serving guests a lavish morning feast of blintzes, crepes or souffles, Jon ran his biscotti through rehearsal after rehearsal until he had four varieties which rated a standing ovation: cinnamon-pecan, chocolate-hazelnut, orange-almond, and lemon-almond. But the sudden demand for biscotti also created a problem. What was to be done with all the leftover egg whites? That conundrum soon lead to his newest dunker - a macaroon rich in egg whites. With some experimentation (on his guests, of course!) Reinhardt enhanced the texture to produce a moist cookie which he painted with a dark, rich chocolate finish - truly a masterpiece. Now Reinhardt has another problem - he's constantly out of egg whites.

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