Welcome back to Take Five, a fresh Eat Beat feature that offers up five must-try culinary finds from food and drink experts around town. Next up, things get a little twisted...

Local author and culinary instructor Andrea Slonecker has spent the last year kneading, fermenting, rolling, pinching, twisting, lye-dipping, and baking hundreds of homemade pretzels for her new cookbook Pretzel Making at Home (out April 2013 from Chronicle Books).

The book makes the case that DIY pretzel baking can change the way we think about these ballpark and brew pub stand-bys with over 50 recipes for crunchy, chewy, savory, and sweet artisan pretzels—from the authentic German variety to modern, creative takes (pretzel brittle with pepitas and Piment d'Espelette, anyone?).

After all those test batches, you can't blame Slonecker for wanting to give her dough-rolling muscles a rest. In honor of National Pretzel Day (which gets baking each April 26) here are the five Portland pretzels Slonecker turns to when she's not doing the twist in her own kitchen:

1. Grüner
527 SW 12th Ave
"The twisted pretzel that comes in Grüner’s breadbasket has all the qualities that I look for: a deeply burnished crust, a chewy, slightly sour middle, and that curious minerality that defines the pretzel flavor. I had this one in mind as I was developing my own pretzel recipe for my book, and I think I got pretty darn close."

2. Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen
3119 SE 12th Ave
"It’s not that the pretzels at Edelweiss are better than others in town, it’s that this place is just so awesome. It’s a treasure trove of German delicacies, including large, bready, biergarten-style pretzels. Stop in at lunchtime for a sausage plate with sauerkraut and mustard, but skip the roll and request a house-baked pretzel instead."

3. Nuvrei
404 NW 10th Ave
"I visit Nuvrei for breakfast at least once a week, but it’s not the viennoiserie that draws me in, it’s their incredible 'pretzelized' bagels. This hybrid creation is just right: soft and chewy with a dark, lacquered crust, and the irresistable shape and toppings of a bagel. 'Everything' with cream cheese is my favorite."

4. Little T American Baker
2600 SE Division St
"Little T’s petite-baguette-shaped pretzel bread is perfect for sandwiches. The simple ham and cheese on pretzel bread on the menu is delectable, but it’s fun to buy a few to take them home and create your own pretzelwiches. Picnic fare extraordinaire!"

5. Fressen Artisan Bakery
523 NE 19th Ave
"I spent a day in the kitchen at Edgar Loesch’s bakery to learn the craft of pretzel making from a real-deal Bavarian baker. His pretzels are the shape I love, with fat bellies and spindly arms that make the eating experience all the more enjoyable. The best lesson of the day was when he pulled a batch of hot pretzels from the oven, tore one in half and handed me a stick of butter; if the pretzels are hot and fresh, cold butter is the only accompaniment you need."

For even more tasty pretzel finds around town (and some not so tasty ones!) check out Holly Roe’s blog Portland Pretzels

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