When Cheryl Wakerhauser served her apprenticeship at a patisserie in southern France, surrounded by gruff men who couldn't exactly be called feminists, she wasn't always able to muscle in on the hands-on work. But she watched. And took reams of notes. And absorbed the p‰tissiers' passion for their craft.

Now, with a commercial kitchen to call her own, a growing catering business, a highly individual line of sweets and a cafe that will open later this fall, it's clear that Wakerhauser's keen observation is paying off.

If you're lucky, you've already sampled some of Wakerhauser's Pix P‰tisserie treats, which are available at the Portland Farmers' Market, Pastaworks stores and other retailers. The stunning, sumptuous creations range from the petite La Framboise, a juicy raspberry encapsulated in a ziggurat of almond cake, to the Carmen Miranda, the most voluptuous fruit tart you've ever seen.

Wakerhauser's precise artistry belies her engineer's inclinations (she was an engineering major before discovering the world of good food) but her sense of what works in a recipe seems innate. Pix delights are so good, specifically, because they're not too sweet; instead of loading on the sugar and vanilla, Wakerhauser relies on judicious portions of liqueurs.

Wakerhauser plans to offer coffee and sweets Thursday through Sunday (to start), and a three-course dessert tasting menu plus dessert wines and port late into the night on Friday and Saturday.

In time, Wakerhauser hopes to add a weekend brunch (featuring a dynamite-sounding brioche French toast stuffed with pastry cream and berries) and Wednesday night pastry classes that share tricks of the trade. Wakerhauser refers to them as 'magic shows,' because 'at the end of the class, everything disappears.'

3402 S.E. Division St., 503-232-4407 (slated to open by November)

Comers and goers

A is for adieu and B is for beginning: Grande dame L'Auberge closed last week, possibly for good, possibly for the time being. Ashoka Palace, the Indian eatery that opened in March in the old Couch Street Fish House, also called it quits. Word is the Palace is relocating to Gresham.

Pick up a copy of the October Better Homes and Gardens for a feature that captures the spirit of Ripe's quasi-underground family suppers. Count on seeing more of culinary rising stars Michael Hebb, Naomi Pomeroy and company in the media.

Readers are raving about Be Won, the new Korean restaurant that has replaced Celadon. See for yourself: Be Won is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.

1203 N.W. 23rd Ave., 503-464-9222

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