Cape May, NJ - It’s not even 10AM on a dreary Saturday morning. But on Sunset Boulevard, near Cape May Point, people have abandoned their cars on the side of the road and are standing in line. Waiting. Patiently. A few minutes before ten, Elizabeth Degener starts unloading the goods from the back of a pick up truck.
There’s a little squirming in line, but no pushing. The early birds know they will be scoring what they came for today – loaves of freshly baked bread still warm from the wood fired clay oven.
This is not your mother’s or your grandmother’s bread.
Cape May Foodie carefully studies the hand lettered list of this morning’s offerings: Classic French Bread, Rosemary and Thyme Bread, Multi Grain Bread with Sunflower and Sesame Seeds, Polenta and Sage Bread, Curry Fennel Anise and Coconut Milk Bread (a nod to the baker’s time in India,) Raisin and Spice Bread and Olive Oil and Black Pepper Bread.
And then there’s Toasted Millet Flax and Poppy Seed Bread, Oatmeal Yogurt Bread with Sunflower Seeds, and the intriguing sounding Black Rice and Coconut Milk Bread. Oh don’t forget the Chocolate, Coffee, Cocoa and Candied Ginger confection. And Everything Bread – an onion garlic loaf with three kinds of seeds.
And muffins. Did Cape May Foodie forget about the muffins?
Degener smiles warmly and chats with her customers. She knows many of them by name. They stand in front of the amazing cornucopia of freshly baked goods, trying to decide which loaves to buy.
You want one of everything. It’s the American way. But you also are aware that behind you wait many more people who are hoping to walk away with at least one or two loaves of bread today. So you restrain yourself.
This is the first day this season that the roadside bread stand is open for business. The word got out fast. Most of the people standing in line this morning saw the hand written sign by the side of the road announcing Degener’s return. Some of the regulars got an email. The news even made it to Twitter.
Degener was up at 4:30 this morning firing up the clay oven in her backyard.
That’s how she learned to bake bread – in a wood fired clay oven – while she lived in Germany. Clay ovens yield bread that has a thin, crisp crust and a moist interior. A Dutch baker taught Degener the secrets to the perfect loaf. Two years ago, Degener got her own clay oven. Her European style bread was an instant hit.
She bakes 20 loaves of bread at a time. This morning, she has 90 plus loaves ready for sale by 10AM.
Within an hour and a half, all are gone. Latecomers are out of luck.
Cape May Foodie walks away with loaves of Rosemary and Thyme Bread, Olive Oil and Black Pepper Bread and a Roasted Garlic Boule. Lunch is chunks of the warm, dense, flavorful bread dipped in olive oil. Forget about carbs. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Beginning Easter weekend, Degener sells her bread on both Saturday and Sunday mornings starting at 10AM. Once Memorial Day rolls around, she plans to expand her bread sales to four mornings a week. Look for the sign on the right, on Sunset Boulevard, near the Point.
Whatever you do, get there early.
Cape May Foodie will see you there.