Head baker Walter Chumley starts work at 2 a.m. every day to fill the cases with eclairs, cheery miniature tarts, fat whoopie pies and big, glossy croissants sometimes stuffed and topped with almond or fruit and ricotta filling by the 6 a.m. opening time. The slightly salty buttermilk biscuit with honey and fig jam is utterly satisfying with crusty edge and tender middle. The shells of the traditional cannoli with chocolate chip and citron-dotted ricotta filling break with that unmistakable muted crunch for which there must be a word for in Italian or ASMR lingo. “It’s very classic,” says Valk.
There are more whimsical rotating specials, like doughnuts topped with chopped Skor bars (an underrated candy), tea from Humboldt Herbals and coffee custom blended for Il Forno by Signature Coffee in Redway. For lunch, the kitchen offers grab-and-go salads, charcuterie boxes and sandwiches. Valk says, “I want it to be as little wait time as possible … you’re in and out in 10 minutes.” What you won’t find is a basket of yesterday’s treats. “We never sell day-old pastries, I donate them to the hospital at the end of the day,” she says. “They get very excited.”
Valk herself is partial to the tomato, mushroom, caramelized onion and cheese croissant, though the frittata is her go-to for breakfast. The contrast between the relatively luxurious offerings in her shop and the shuttered storefronts on the town’s main drag isn’t lost on her. “That’s really what we wanted to offer — something wonderful. Garberville doesn’t have to be [as sparse] as it is, people deserve something wonderful.”