September 16, 2014

The Hug Behind Brown Bear Baking



Over the weekend, a friend and I stumbled into Brown Bear Baking in Eastsound on Orcas Island in Washington. We were welcomed with a smile so warm and genuine, it practically felt like a hug. But that's not the hug, read on.

My silky smooth cup of Victrola coffee brought us back the next morning for breakfast. The breakfast will be bringing me back to the Island forever.


We both ordered the Brown Bear's Salmon Chèvre Spring Onion Quiche baked light like a cloud with a locally-sourced wheat in the flaky crust. This is food fit for angels. The balance of the tangy goat cheese with the salmon sold even me, a sworn no-fish-for-breakfast gal. The strictest of instructors at any culinary school would give this combo an A+.


Our view.


The coffee was from the mainland, Victrola Coffee Roasters in Seattle. It was second in silkiness only to the masterful quiche, but a destination goodie that will be tempting me to drive to Seattle next weekend for another cup.  It was that good.

But the story only begins with this delicious bakery. Inspired by a story of a woman in the 1800s who used to walk around Eastsound with a brown bear cub on a leash, David Ellertsen and Lee Hilands Horswill had already picked the name for their bakery venture. Post architect and creative director, respectively, in another state, their location and name for this bakery has a mystical bent.

While they were preparing to open their new bakery in Eastsound, one Sunday morning on their drive home, their vehicle left the road and landed upside down in the water. The police reported David's heroic efforts to expel water out of Lee's lungs as a "bear hug." Click here to read a local account of the story. And here for another account.

I believe that there are no coincidences. This establishment was meant to be and these two men were meant to share their extraordinary talents beyond their previous careers.



Folks move fast behind the counter. We met, David, above on the right. I look forward to meeting them both next time.


Took my breath away.


Who could choose?


Thank you, David and Lee for your mystical and delicious new life on Orcas. We'll be back. See you soon.