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Tale of 2 Bakeries: Eclair

Posted on: Monday, March 31, 2014

“I love cookies: I just think the simplicity and the rustic approach to doing cookies is really cathartic, kind of like doing bread…and I love eating cookies more than anything”
-Jeremy Davenport, Owner Eclair Bakery

The second of two blog posts dedicated to telling the tale of two bakeries, both hailing from Arroyo Grande and each full of what it takes to succeed in the biz.

Things Jeremy Davenport likes: the Northern Coast, baking bread, surfing. So it’s no wonder he loves living in Los Osos and fantasizes about one day opening up a little bread bakery there. With the frequent foggy days along the back bay, the setting is perfect for early mornings mixing dough, scaling, shaping, letting it rise, and turning out a great end product. Jeremy can’t see himself doing anything different. And after eight years of owning his own bakery, he still is passionate about his craft.

Jeremy just acquired this Pendleton sweater from our store the other week, he'd had his eye on it for a while!
Jeremy bought Eclair Bakery back in 2006, but both him and the shop have prior lives to speak of. Eclair originally began in Pismo back in 1977, later in 2003 establishing its current space in Arroyo Grande’s Village. Getting his start at a wholesale bread bakery in San Luis Obispo while working at Boo Boo Records, Jeremy worked his way up to lead baker as his interest in the industry rose. A series of events then brought him to the Culinary Institute in San Francisco: visiting friends who attended the school, meeting a recent Cal Poly grad-now his wife-moving up to the Bay Area, along with his love for the city. He enrolled in the general program, but he admits: “I always gravitated towards the baking & pastry side of things: I loved going and looking at the wedding cakes that the students were producing and I even sat in on some evening classes- snuck in to hang out and take notes.” Simultaneously working at a old San Francisco staple in North Beach, Moose's, Jeremy fed his growing craft, gaining experience with plated, composed desserts.

Upon graduating, he moved back to the Central Coast and began apprenticing at Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara. Here, he worked with amazing chefs and guest chefs learning new techniques while composing desserts for the three restaurants on site, big banquet dinners and for weddings. He kept scouting places to call his own, and when Eclair Bakery went up for sale he tried to purchase it, this first attempt falling through. Still knowing he wanted to do something on his own and tired of the long commute between San Luis and Santa Barbara, Jeremy waited for his opportunity working at a winery in Paso Robles. He finally got the call: the owner of Eclair was ready to sell, to Jeremy.

The bakery, under Jeremy’s hand, not only shares its incredible pastries with its customers but also shares its kitchen space with dabbling bakers in pursuit of their craft. If you remember from our last post, Kelli first launched her business using Eclair’s space, and others like Kirsten Finberg of Little Red Hen Bread first began working here. This biz is all heart, Jeremy’s passion for baking reflects in his motivation to foster creativity and experimentation, inspiring and being inspired: 

“I’ve always loved the idea of having people come in. I was given a really great opportunity, so to give other people that opportunity is really important to me, because I know how good it feels, I’d like to pass that on, too…it’s the community thing, too, not being a jerk.”

One bite of anything from Eclair and you will surely agree: Jeremy is an expert at what he does. But he still longs to learn more, take more specialized courses, and absorb from those around him and other industry aces. His main influences are Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery and Culinary Artistry, a book full of vignettes from different top chefs. Instagram also proves handy in seeing what other shops are producing outside of this area, like G&B Coffee and Valerie Confections. Likely he is, and will be, as influential as the greats he looks up to now. We cannot wait to see what he comes up with next (there is talk of chicken pot pies and savory items joining the menu, stay tuned)!
The table runner (bottom right) is a purchase from Ruby Rose!
You can visit Eclair Bakery any day of the week:
Tuesday-Friday: 8-4:30
Saturday: 9-4
Sunday: 9-2

OR get his fresh baked bread Fridays at Rutiz Farms and on Saturday Farmers’ Market in AG
OR on Thursdays check out his booth equipped with a mini donut maker-turning out mouthwatering morsels at Farmers’ Market

Eclair is stuffed with amazing pastries like his ding dong cupcakes-chocolate cake with cream, then dipped in chocolate- and his vegan black & blue cookies. Jeremy also creates custom cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings. Stop by his shop or give him a call for more information.

Tale of 2 Bakeries: Sweet Pea

Posted on: Friday, March 28, 2014

Our next two blog posts are dedicated to telling the tale of two bakeries, both hailing from Arroyo Grande and each full of what it takes to succeed in the biz. Today, the first of our stories: Sweet Pea Bakery and owner Kelli Smithback.

As we sat outside her store eating morning buns that rival any I’ve ever had, it seemed as though every customer walking by had been a long-time friend of Kelli’s. She enthusiastically greets each with like warmth, they reciprocating and apologizing for interrupting her ‘break’. I am not convinced this girl takes breaks: between two farmers' markets per week, selling at Rutiz Family Farm each Friday, and open for biz five days a week, there is not much time off. And no sign of wear in her smile or passion. When you love what you do, it’s sustaining, which makes Kelli’s animated, energetic spirit conceivable after the days she puts in.

“I got inspired to bake because I have a ginormous sweet tooth.”

If this is the case, and your parents won’t let you buy cookies from the store, then you learn to make your own. What began with lemon bars, chocolate chip cookies, haystacks, and baking holiday gifts for friends is now famous Chocobloc cookies, a counter full of scones, macarons, cheesecakes, biscotti, and morning buns. Risen from a hobby into full-fledged business and without any formal training, Kelli began the transition about five years ago while getting her Business degree at Sonoma State. After trips home to Arroyo Grande and occasionally selling her baked goods at Rutiz Family Farm, it dawned on her, “Huh, maybe I could make a business out of this.”
Years of experimenting and recipes ensued, refining her style and developing her baking skill. Upon graduating and returning home, Enzos hired Kelli as their dessert person! After long hours and realizing her need to improve, she stepped away and remained at her other full-time position. Then in 2011, she took a leap of faith, deciding it time to make a go of it in the baking biz. She stumbled upon Eclair Bakery, giving her a commercial kitchen space-and so began the transition from hobby business into the world of permits to establish Sweet Pea Bakery. Kelli weekly sold her wares at the Saturday and Wednesday Arroyo Grande Farmers' Markets, being inspired by locals and tourists and building a following, all the while scouting for the perfect location.

You will find cookies at Sweet Pea with names like the wicked witch, bleeding heart and prince charming, reflective of the owner’s fun, not-too-formal approach to her work. But her knowledge of baking rivals any formally trained baker. In just our time together, I learned the difference between Tahitian and Madagascar vanilla, troubleshooting tips for croissant making, some talk of flavanoids, and how to use alcohol to marinade meat. With roughly 400 cookbooks in her arsenal, I do not doubt she has read through them all. I won’t list her entire collection, but here are her most-referenced: Tartine, Dory Greenspan’s Baking, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Thomas Keller’s Buchon. Through these and others, as she grew more serious about baking, Kelli found quality ingredients really do make a difference: “When you’re dabbling, you don’t realize the brand of coco powder you use changes everything.”

It was last Fall when she received a call from Brian, the chef at Ember, telling her about the available attachment next door to his new restaurant. After marinating on the possibility, Kelli decided to go for it. She enlisted friends and family, utilizing their expertise to help with tasks like steering through hoops of a the build out and picking out decor (including a metal table top from Ruby Rose, pictured above, bottom left). Now, her dream is a reality and her childhood nickname-Sweet Pea-sits above 1200 East Grand Ave, Suite 102 in Arroyo Grande.
You can still find Kelli at the Farmers' Markets in AG or at her shop:
Tuesday 8-5
Wednesday-Friday 8-1
Saturday 8-5
or by chance, if her doors are open.

Sweet Pea is full of amazing baked goods, including gluten free items (macarons, gf chocoobloc, granola and monster cookies, to name a few)! She also does dessert bars for weddings and events, stop by her shop or give her a call for more information. 

The Weekly Six

Posted on: Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Before we open our doors for the week, check out our top six picks. We are constantly updating our inventory, so we want to keep you in the loop of the new things coming in. So today we bring you:

1. A wooly, mammoth blanket! A perfect snuggle buddy for our impeding April showers, or a great blanket to lay amongst the May flowers.

2. Let me see you peacock. Necklace that is. If you like drinking wine at Kelsey Winery, you'll love this long, sterling silver pendant!

3. Time to bring Spring inside with fresh flowers and brighter colors. Meshing the two together, this oil painting keeps us smiling with its pleasant, wild strokes!

4. The time has come to take your meals outdoors and enjoy the sunshine! This glass table is the perfect garden accompaniment (the geese make great picnic guests).

5. This Free People jumper stopped us in our tracks. Pockets, lace razorback and flowy pants all in one? Yes please!

6. We always need little vases around after picking wildflowers and greens from the neighborhood. A repurposed salt & pepper shaker and silver sugar container work amazingly: whether imperfect or perfect, they are just perfect.

Snapped: SLO Street Style

Posted on: Monday, March 24, 2014

Our town is full of locals with an eye for style, so we took it upon ourselves to show them off! Snapped, SLO Street Style posts will highlight the daily fashion in San Luis Obispo that grabs our attention as well as our camera. Work it, SLO!

Springtime means fashion takes a turn: jackets are optional, sandals stay on in the evening, and everyone bares a little more. And our streets are no different! Here is Genoa, a Cal Poly student, with her colorful nails and accessories, including a sweet Brandy Melville bra!

Here is Kelly, she works at Rosetta in town. We found her strolling Farmer's Market with her bunches of greens.

These darling girls work down the street at a local clothing store, Ambiance: Mikaela and Emily.

Lizzie's style earned her our bohemian mama title-not to mention she really is a mom!

Right in step with the blooming wildflowers, Sierra, a music school teacher, rocks a cute sunflower dress while humming down the street-with perfect pitch of course. Are you next? Wear your best sunny style and we'll keep our eyes peeled for you!

Collections: Pigs, Clocks & Hankies

Posted on: Friday, March 21, 2014

This week, Kim shares her collections with us! (Looks like we are not the only ones who love to collect, either! We are drooling over Design Sponge's Great Collections and Ways to Display Them!)
Collections are really a reflection of your personality.
Having said that, I think I must have multiple personalities, as I like to collect lots of different things.

I collect Pig Cutting boards, because I love all things pork.

Clocks, because they remind me of certain places and times.

My Grandmother collected handkerchiefs, so I am collecting them, too. I am partial to the ones with scalloped edges. 
I also collect silver candlesticks, glass pitchers, antique keys, cookie cutters, silver spoons, vintage etched glassware, crochet tablecloths, embroidered pillowcases, buttons, bird pictures and donkeys.

Oh, and my latest collection is old dice. I found the green celluloid at a flea market and I’ve already added some red celluloid that I purchased at a garage sale.

If you shop at Ruby Rose, you may have gotten to take advantage of one of my many collection purges. In order to keep things under control, I occasionally sort through my stashes and part with some of the bounty. That is part of what makes collecting fun for me, is knowing when it's time to let it go . So when I find something I never knew existed, but love instantly, I know it can go home with me. 

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