We moved to our farmhouse eleven years ago. Julia was ten months old and although I had spent days and weeks in this area, actually living in the Pioneer Valley was brand-new to me. I look back on that time now, with an infant exploring a new area to live in as a rather exciting time in my life. I had to find a grocery store, a new pediatrician and generally figure out the rhythms of daily life. You know how it goes... finding a favorite post office, choosing a bank, deciding which grocery store will be yours. All the things that make life real and give it a routine.
Finding a grocery store was easy. My choice was Foster's Market in Greenfield - only 6 miles down the hill from our farm and packed with lots of beautiful veggies, fruits, and local products. I love Foster's so much because it is small and easy to find things. The prices are excellent and there aren't any wacky temptations for small children (i.e. stuff they beg you for that they don't need).
A few months into our life here, my sister-in-law told me about a new bakery that was opening in Bernardston, the town next to ours and our go-to spot for the post office and library. I was really thrilled that the old real estate office my mother-in-law had worked in was being turned into a bakery. And so it was early on that I started visiting 7 South for bread, coffee. and other sweet things.
It turned out that the owners, Kay and Mike Dougherty, were new to the area too. The Farmer and I struck up a conversation and after many visits, we discovered we only lived 1/2 mile from each other. Kay and Mike are veterans of the food and restaurant industry and have really great insight into how it all ticks. I am forever learning things from them about food, baking, and an industry that I have always been an on-looker. We have shared many a good meal and even raised several pigs together over the years. I have given up on the pigs but they continue to raise them at their place and use their home-grown meat in many of the Bakery's products including country pate, tortieres, and ham and cheese croissants. Theirs is a friendship I really value.
And so today, I'm taking this spot to wish Kay and Mike and their 7 South Bakery a Happy 10th Birthday. It's such a special place - a jewel in the hills of the Pioneer Valley which is still undiscovered by many.
Kay and Mike work so hard baking bread and all kinds of cookies, cakes, and more that is of the highest quality. Mike's passion is the bread and it really shows. He bakes a fabulous "dutch crust sourdough" which is our family's favorite. It is a true sourdough with a crunchy rice based coating that gives the bread a lovely texture. We like it especially for toast and paninis. There is always a rotating selection of other breads too including an awesome "cider bread" full of dried fruits and nuts.
Around any holiday, Kay and Mike always pull out the stops and do something special. Kay makes an incredible selection of cookies including these little molasses gingerbread people. I love to watch her decorate. Her speed and skills have been honed over several decades. She is fast and precise and creative.
Last winter, they were making "bread cornucopias" for special display at a new local farmstand. Bread as art.
Here's the mold Mike built to bake the cornucopia on. Chicken wire and tin foil - how clever.
It's not every town that is lucky to have such a special bakery as 7 South. Thank you Kay and Mike for making our lives fuller in both food, spirit and friendship. If you are local, take a drive to 7 South. You'll also find their bread on the menu at The Rendezvous and the new Holy Smokes Barbeque in Turners Falls.
Happy Birthday 7 South Bakery Cafe!