Editor's Note: Ms. Viale actually wrote this Wednesday so take her time references accordingly.
The Hallelujah Chorus is playing in my mind as I begin to gather my thoughts for this blog post. (Okay I actually played the MP3 file on my computer to get me in the mood because it was the right thing to do.) I have just come from the new bakery, Scratch, which literally opened yesterday on the corner of 4th and Termino. I have been watching and waiting for this business to open for a while now. The wonderful “Bakery” sign on the vintage shingle has been up and teasing me as I go to and from my errands in the neighborhood. Finally, after wrangling with much red tape, owners and chefs Deborah Hirt and Roderic Reiswig have opened their doors.
I stopped in the first day they were open, not realizing it was the first day, but having noted the “open” sign in the window and I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. The blue-green color scheme is appealing in a modern way while the marble counters give a nod to baking history. The aroma that fills the shop is inviting and comforting. Sadly, I had no money in my wallet to purchase one of the gloriously fresh baked breads that I saw, and so I had to return today to satisfy my craving. My craving has indeed been satisfied--for the moment--but I will return soon and often to this darling little business. They even have good coffee (cue the chorus again). Scratch gets their coffee locally from Rose Park Roasters, which will deliver their own roasted beans on a bicycle (wow!).
Deborah and Roderic are delightful. Both have culinary backgrounds. Deborah ran a children’s cooking school and Roderic was a pastry chef in San Francisco for 10 years at Rose Pistola and a few other restaurants. Roderic said he grew up in Huntington Beach and after ten years in the cold he was ready to return. Both owners say they have received a genuinely warm welcome from the neighborhood and are happy to be in this location in Long Beach. As I talked to them another new customer came through the doors exclaiming, exactly as I had done, that he had been waiting for the place to open and he was so happy it finally was.
After I ordered my “lunch” (more like carbohydrate heaven) I chatted with Deborah and we agreed that it is strange that Long Beach has such a dearth of good bakeries and more sophisticated eateries. Yes, we have plenty of diners and coffee shops and family restaurants, but if you have ever dined in San Francisco, you know what I mean. I often commiserate with my friends over our lack of hipper, tastier options. But in this economy even some of the diners and coffee shops are closing. Accordingly, friends questioned why the two business partners would start up a business now. Their response was that customers will be there if it was good. It is good, and the customers are already there. They sold out their first day and had to close early!
Scratch is definitely filling a baked goods niche that has needed to be filled for a while. Babette’s used to do that, but their business model has changed with different owners. The Sconage, a newer scone bakery on Anaheim and Ximeno, has great scones but no place to have coffee and chat. Viento y Agua is fantastic for coffee and delish bagel sandwiches, but they don’t have that gourmet twist. So Scratch is it for our neighborhood right now. But that is fine because they are doing a great job filling that niche, and my tummy, with scrumptious sweet and savory creations.
I think I may have even shed a tear of joy as I inhaled my savory squash galette that was so caringly nestled in buttery, flaky, perfectly crumbly pastry. You can bet that I will be ordering one of their lovely holiday desserts for Thanksgiving dinner, maybe the Upside Down Pear Cake, “a fresh, ginger spice cake topped with Anjou pears and brown sugar caramel.” Mmmmm, and all from scratch.
3950 E. 4th Street
Long Beach CA 90814