In California a couple of weekends ago, our realtor recommended that we go to the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market for breakfast. Boy, were we glad we did! Not only did the plates from a couple of booths look amazing, but we also stumbled upon two incredibly passionate, inspiring bakers.
First we were drawn to the huge array of baked goods at the Raymond’s Bakery tables. Focaccia, cookies, brownies, and dozens of loaves of fresh bread were all neatly wrapped in those brown waxy kraft paper packets and lined up for display. We were drooling over a pan of focaccia when the friendly, energetic man told us that he also had a gluten-free version! He overflowed with enthusiasm as he told us about how he picked the rosemary out of his garden at 4am that morning, and how he and his wife had been baking since 2:30am. He told us about how they use only the most nutritious gluten-free flours, and how he tops the focaccia with a layer of mashed potatoes under the cheese, and named all the ingredients off the top of his head. He insisted that we try samples of the focaccia and gluten-free brownies. His passion was contagious and inspiring.
When he found out that we were planning on moving to the area, he pressed a loaf of bread into our hands, exclaiming “Like the Italians say, a bottle of wine, a loaf of a bread, a new friend, or something like that!” We shared the bread later with my siblings at my sister’s apartment, and it was fantastic- soft, substantial, and seemingly full of whole grains. Pictured above is the gluten-free focaccia and the (not gluten-free) loaf of bread. The focaccia was the best we’ve had since Italy. We went back for a second helping this past weekend, while we were in Sonoma County house-and-job-hunting again.
And now that I see that Raymond’s rents cottages nestled among the redwoods off the beaten path in Cazadero, it seems like a great vacation idea to spend a night or two at their bed and breakfast, enjoying their baked goods, campfire, and peaceful forest setting near the coast, Russian River wineries, and kayaking. Cazadero is about an hour west of the adorable wine town Healdsburg, or 30 minutes north of Occidental.
As if all that wasn’t exciting enough, we then strolled down to Mama Baretta’s vegan, gluten-free, organic booth and discovered an equally passionate, knowledgeable man. We heard about the bakery’s award-winning cookies and how carefully they choose their ingredients to be health-conscious and allergy-friendly. Best of all, we discovered that their loaves of bread are the ones that had so impressed my mom and I when we had sandwiches at the Wild Goat Bistro in Petaluma last summer! My mom bought half a loaf of the multi-seed variety, and the man told her exactly how to store it for maximum taste, texture, and freshness.
All in all, it was refreshing and inspiring to come into contact with people who cared so deeply for their work and for the food they produce. And it was thrilling to find healthful, thoughtful options for baked goods. I hope both businesses continue to serve the Santa Rosa community for as long as we live there.
Who are your favorite passionate people pouring their values and knowledge into their work, or surprising local sources for health-conscious foods?