Our daughter Mary Leigh walked into a bakery kitchen for the first time at Zoe’s in Covington. She was barely legal to work. It was an eye-opener for her. There would be several other experiences in bakery kitchens, her favorite at Maple St. Bakery in Abita Springs. She also was a boss lady at a very big bakery when she lived in Maryland. Another eye-opener. And there was a stint in the commissary kitchen at Sucre, and she has done many a free-lance cake in the last ten years.
All of these experiences have converged now, allowing her the skills and confidence to pop up under her own banner in a brick and mortar at The Greyhound in downtown Covington. Del Porto and Greyhound owner Torre Solazzo was kind enough and even delighted to mentor her, and Boguefalaya Bakeshop opened Sunday as the first one, to be followed by most Sundays hereafter. (Except next Sunday when Del Porto will be open for Mother’s Day Brunch.)
It came up quickly, so there was little chance of panic. As much as she wanted to sell everything she knew how to make, restraint was in order. She is the owner and sole baker, and she has a “day job.” I wish I could have helped her more, but she has always been Marilyn Munster in this family, and our personal styles clash enough to drive her to distraction. The feeling is not mutual. Still, I am fired before I start.
I could help by running for her, picking up balloons and the banner and strawberries, etc. And that was actually helpful. Staying up most of the night was not required. Whew.
So at 6 am on Sunday morning we went to set up the balloons and the banner and the cake stands, filling them with delicious baked goods. Too bad the skies broke as soon as the last balloons went up. They came right back down as soon as they got wet.
Inside, Torre cooked eggs in the kitchen and Mary Leigh set up the station in front of The Greyhound’s wood-fired pizza oven. There simply could not be a better space for this. The Greyhound has a front bar area that is large and takes up two rooms and an even larger space in the back that is the main dining room.
The front is bright and airy and absolutely perfect to be a Sunday hangout, which I expect it to become. Tom and I sat in the smaller bar area where beverages were made, and where everything was ordered in fast-casual style.
It was such fun to see our daughter where she couldn’t really see us. She and a dear friend who came to help worked the counter, Torre and her adorable staff took orders and delivered beverages.
At one point I had a moral dilemma: should I get drunk at my daughter’s pop-up? Answer, no, of course, but the fact that I even had the thought explains how delicious Torre’s mimosas are. I drink champagne, period, so I can occasionally go for a mimosa if the mood strikes. I wanted to buy something to drink from Torre because it is a great deal for our daughter.
But this was an exceptional mimosa. Maybe they use exceptional orange juice? Exceptional champagne? Easy to believe that both are true because these people are all about quality. Whatever, the first mimosa went down too easily, and I wanted another, even though I was mildly tipsy. (Yes, I know. Very sad.)
So I had another mimosa, while Tom downed a cappuccino and two double espressos. He likes the java jolts.
In the other front room, the food was set up on the counter surrounding the pizza oven. This is David Solazzo’s territory, where he mans the pizza oven during food service when The Greyhound is open. He came in and swept last night’s pizza ashes and stood by to assist Mary Leigh in managing the oven. This is where the mainstay of the menu, the breakfast sandwiches, were assembled. There were two choices: Housemade biscuit with egg, bacon, and cheese, and housemade croissant with the Fitzmorris brand Root Beer glazed rustic country ham slice, Gruyere, egg, and arugula.
She also offered a cheddar bacon scone and a chocolate-covered strawberry scone. There were two types of hand pies. One filled with strawberries and the other chevre with roasted tomato and garlic. And she had two of her signature cakes by the slice, as well as homemade ice cream sandwiches filled with homemade sweet cream ice cream.
It all went by so quickly! The rain was not a deterrent, and the first customers arrived at 8am. And when the sun came back, people trickled in steadily, until she was sold out before 11:30. All that was left was a fourth of her praline-filled almond cake, and her chocolate mousse and raspberry-filled chocolate cake. A late customer bought the remainder of the almond cake, and she closed. The last few slices of the chocolate ganache cake went to the crew at her day job.
The first-ever bakeshop pop-up was a tremendous success. Next time she will be leaner, with twice the biscuits and croissants, and less cake. She could have sold double the breakfast sandwiches, and next time she will be ready to do just that.
Tom and I look forward to hanging out there every Sunday. It’s a great place to do that, and just what Covington has been waiting for: gourmet baked goods and specialty beverages as accompaniment in a jazzy, comfortable environment that feels good and fits everyone’s lazy Sunday mood.
(For information on future pop-ups, follow @boguefalaya_bakeshop)