Pandemic shows value of the bakery
By Greg Sabin
With each month it becomes more difficult to see even a few weeks into the future when it comes to the restaurant scene. We’ve lost beloved favorites. Local treasures have reopened only to shut down again within weeks. Some landlords have been graciously flexible with rental and lease terms. Others have not.
It’s with confidence, though, that I say the following local institutions will still be plying their wares well after this column comes out. The humble bakery—set up for takeaway business and designed for in-home consumption—is an integral part of the community.
Freeport Bakery is one such institution. Owned by Marlene and Walter Goetzeler since the 1980s, Freeport puts out special occasion treats, such as cakes for birthdays and weddings, yule logs for the holidays, and a slew of brightly decorated cookies and sweets.
If you’re not a frequent morning visitor, you might not know that Freeport Bakery also serves a delectable “morning bun” that is the perfect combination of flaky crust and slightly sweet glaze. Or you might not know that most mornings you can find dozens of other pastries for the (home) office. With the same exquisite skill employed on every special occasion creation, Freeport creates morning baked goods deserving of special occasions all their own.
Faria Bakery is one of the area’s newest bakeries. Located on Broadway in Oak Park, Faria turns out a carefully crafted, limited menu of gorgeous breads and pastries. It’s what I call a savory bakery, with a few sweet items but a focus on breads and an occasional pizza night.
The seasonal Danish (apricot when I last visited) was not only gorgeous, but fundamentally excellent in flavors and textures. From the beautifully articulated slices of apricot to the perfectly seasoned cheese, from the golden-brown pastry crust to the subtle dash of spices elevating the flavors, it was a work of art.
ESTELLE BAKERY & PÂTISSERIE
Estelle—Downtown and on Arden Way—brings a decidedly French impression on its baked goods. Starting with a copious collection of macarons in every color in the rainbow and then a few that only a baker’s imagination could conjure, the Gallic tilt to the offerings is up front for sure.
Madeleines, croissants and quiches all delight with obvious craftsmanship. But, for my money, the brioche breakfast sandwich is in another league. What better role for a brioche roll than to support a slightly runny egg topped with swiss cheese, French ham and aioli? None, I say. None.
ETTORE’S EUROPEAN BAKERY & RESTAURANT
Ettore’s has been a local institution for decades. When the organization filed for bankruptcy in 2018, longtime employee and manager Lisa Calk bought the brand and continues on at the original Fair Oaks Boulevard location.
To the regular customer, very little has changed. Ettore’s puts out incredible croissants, decadent coffee cake, sumptuously gorgeous cakes for any occasion and flaky cinnamon rolls sure to please. With Ettore’s focus more on the restaurant side than most bakeries, it has enough outdoor seating to keep up with demand and stick to the rigorous conditions of our current dining rules.
La Bou, it’s safe to say, is an integral part of the local food scene. So integral it’s easy to take for granted.
When I speak to friends who grew up in Sacramento in the ‘80s, they talk about La Bou. They talk about the ham and cheese croissant (the world’s best? We may never know). They talk about the dill dressing (how can something so simple be so good?). And they talk about how almost every recipe seems unchanged from when Reagan was in office (they’re not wrong).
If there’s a La Bou near you right now (trust me, there is), head on over and treat yourself.
PICK-UP & DELIVERY
I also want to call out those souls who are getting creative during the COVID-era and creating incredible baked goods for pick-up and delivery. Dessert by Jackie Robinson is delightful. Robinson, the former pastry chef for Bacon & Butter, puts out bagels, scones, cinnamon rolls, cakes and more for delivery or pickup. Check out her Instagram or website at dessertbyjr.com.
Similarly, Terri Does Desserts puts out lovely sweet cakes (her signature item is the German chocolate) for any occasion, from birthdays to any Tuesday afternoon. The bakery also supplied desserts for one of my favorite spots, Louisiana Heaven. The care and craft is evident in the product. The flavors couldn’t be more comforting. Visit terridoesdesserts.com.
Greg Sabin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.