Thank you Julie Barker
Every once in a while a person comes along that changes your life. Julie Barker, former owner of Bread and Ocean Bakery, is one of those people for me and the community. Julie just sold Bread and Ocean to a local family. This transition has brought lots of memories flooding in about Julie that I am so thankful for.
When I first met Julie in 1995, she was part owner and chef at the Blue Sky Café in Manzanita. I was new to town and still cooking hamburger helper for dinner. For those of you who remember, “The Blue Sky Café” was a luminary dinner restaurant that changed the way people thought about food…forever. I know it changed me; I fell in love with food there. It was open under Julie’s care (and a few partners) from 1987 to 2003. As one of my friends put it, “The Blue Sky became the watermark for all restaurants, everything was compared to it and still is.”
Julie didn’t start out as the chef she has become, she started as a bartender/server. Julie remembered, “When we bought (the Blue Sky) my partners came up with the name the “Blue Sky” which in the finance world means unrealistic and impractical expectations. Which was very true as we bought it for much more than it was worth.” She continued, “But you know, you fall in love with the idea of an amazing glamorous life where you cook and serve beautiful food and people come in and they love it. It is such a simple dream….but it’s actually a lot of hard work.”
They also came to realize how difficult it was to have good cooks as Julie said, “When we (Julie, her ex-husband and partners) bought Blue Sky in 1987, our cooks were pretty much run of the mill and we ended up weeding them out. I started messing around in the kitchen out of necessity.” She was completely untrained so she started searching for direction in her cooking and began devouring cookbooks like novels. “I would read hundreds of them and one of the important ones I got was The Café Beaujolais Cookbook” which Julie consumed.
Around this same time, Julie and her ex hubby stopped in Mendocino at the Café Beaujolais and had dinner. This turned out to be a game changing meal. “At this meal we ate things like a goat cheese salad with bacon vinaigrette, you know that was the very beginning of chefs using goat cheese, and it changed my life! From that one meal I woke up,” She paused, “and fell in love with food and cooking.” Manzanita has been ever thankful for this awakening!
Julie left the Blue Sky in 2003 and started Bread and Ocean bakery. This was an upheaval for the devotees of the Blue Sky, but we were able to wet our appetite on her crazy delicious sandwiches, deli salads and stellar baked goods. She continued to shine her great love of food down on us from this delicious place till she became restless once again.
That’s the thing, with a great lust for taste comes restlessness and we will benefit once more. Julie is going to open an ice cream and chowder shop in Nehalem this next spring called “Buttercup”. She shared, “I will be making 5 different rotating seasonal chowders – a traditional, maybe a spicy Thai-style seafood chowder, maybe a non-dairy, coconut milk based sweet potato, black bean and corn or smoked chicken or smoked salmon or shrimp chowder.” Julie continued, “My list of ice creams, sorbets, gelatos is long but plan on rotating 10 seasonal varieties including non-dairy.” I’ve seen her list of ice creams and it is going to be crazy delicious offerings once again. And once again she will be sourcing her produce, milk and even salt locally.
Meanwhile back at Bread and Ocean, things are going to be pretty much the same. All the fabulous foods offered there will stay there along with all the employees that are going to keep things running smoothly during the transition.. The new owners, George and Linda Reddish and their daughter Emily LeCompte will be making every effort to keep Bread and Ocean delicious so make sure and go on down and support this local family.
As a parting gift, Julie has generously shared her most requested recipe, her famous potted Montrachet that was served at the Blue Sky. We are so lucky she has brought her love of food to so many people, it’s contagious. After all, I am no longer serving hamburger helper. Julie, I thank you for this. You have brought such deliciousness to our lives.
Potted chevre or montrachet
This recipe is for a big or a little jar as you want to make it. I like to make it in half pint jars. They will last in the fridge for up to a month so make a bunch of them and have them ready for gifts or pot luck additions for the holiday season.
Layer in crock or mason jar or whatever in this order for EACH layer:
2 T soft goat cheese like chevre or montrachet
1 T. chopped sundried tomatoes
1 T. chopped roasted garlic
2 tsp chopped olives of choice…kalamatas are Julie’s fav
1 T. chopped fresh herbs…she liked to use basil and oregano
2 T. really good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Get out all the ingredients and prep them first. Layer the ingredients in your chosen clean jars and make sure and press down each layer. Pour you EVOO over each layer as you go. You should be able to get 3 layers in a 1/2 pint jar. Finish off with a generous pour of EVOO. Make sure and bring this most requested recipe to room temp before serving. Serve with baguette slices from Bread and Ocean.