Friday, June 29, 2012

Walk And Roll: The Best Summertime Stroll and Food Spot (Almost) In Howard County

Croissant by the Breadery
I'm not saying that you should go out in 100-degree weather, but the best spot for a summertime stroll is definitely the Breadery in Oella -- just across the river from Ellicott City.

The Breadery is a terrific bakery that moved from Rte 40 to the hill in Oella.  It's a bit of a drive, but the new mix of dense whole grain and crusty loaves makes every trip worthwhile.  I love the rolls, and we had a savory potato focaccia that we reheated for Sunday brunch.

Shady walk under the bridge
But the Breadery's attraction goes more than the food.  The parking lot abuts an entrance to the Trolley Line #9 trail -- a paved walking path that runs from the river at the Howard County line up the hill to Edmondson Avenue in Catonsville.

The Trolley Line trail runs in deep shade.  Even on a hot day, it's a dozen degrees or more cooler as you walk next to a stream from the Breadery a little more than a mile downhill to the river.  You cross under the one-lane bridge.  You walk past high stone walls.

You can enjoy coffee, maybe a croissant from the Breadery.  But you should go early if want your choice.  When we arrived in mid-morning Saturday, the chocolate croissants were sold out.  (Guess who had promised a chocolate croissant to Mrs. HowChow.)  We walked downhill with a muffin and a regular croissant.  We then spent a fun morning eating around Main Street -- including the hot sauce at the Man Cave and the ice cream at Scoop-Ahh-Dee-Doo.

You can do some variations.  There is a parking lot at the bottom of the trail on Oella Avenue.  It's on the right just past the Trolley Stop restaurant.  You could park there and walk up to the Breadery.  That lets you walk downhill in the second half.  Either way, it's a perfect path for stroller walks or to tire out some kids that you want to entertain.

One of the big fans of the Breadery and the Trolley Line trail is Bmorecupcake.  I respect her opinions about food, included baked goods.  Her comment about the crusty breads was my inspiration to visit Oella.  After my recent post about the Breadery, she emailed about how she goes every Thursday morning because that's the first day of the week that they bake croissants.

Bmore is a fan of the Breadery, but she does recommend going early to get the goods right out of the oven.  They'll hold your goods while you walk.  We bought rolls, focaccia, jam, and coffee, and they held it for hours while we were on Main Street.

Bmore also points out that the Breadery doesn't have identical breads every day.  Different people bake different products:
I swear if I ever start my blog, it will start with the crazy four-mile tour that baby and I walk every Thursday morning.  (Four miles so I can burn off the carbs.)  Last week, their croissant dough over-proofed, so they had only a few croissants on Thursday morning and that was it for the week.  Sundays, however,  the baker who does the croissant and "hard crust" bread takes off.  That's why none of those items are available at the JFX Farmers Market.  So croissants are Thurs/Fri/Sat.  And no new hard crust bread or croissants on Sunday. 
Get there early because something very strange happens with their hard crust bread and croissants.  At 7 when the bread/croissants come out, the crust is crunchy and the inside is nice and soft.  When we walk by usually around 8:30 on Thursday, we'll grab croissants, ciabbata rolls, or a baguette (same bread base as ciabbata) to munch, and it's perfect texture all around on both the bread and croissants.   On the way back, around noon, the crust is already starting to deteriorate.  By 1:30, the croissants and hard crust breads have lost there crustiness.  
The bread will toast nicely.  It's never the same, although usually still good.  I will say I haven't had a stellar chocolate croissant from them yet, even early.  I think they will perfect it eventually though.  It probably has to do with the large croissant diameter.  
On weekends, the baking finishes at four, so you have to adjust times accordingly.  Their cookies also taste better before they wrap in clingwrap -- crunch and stick qualities, not the softness that develops after wrapping.  I wish they could get a good crust on the muffins, but I wasn't upset with the flavor of the chocolate-strawberry muffin we purchased last Thursday.  I would probably get it again.

In general, Bonaparte still has superior bread for now, but it's too hard to get their bread fresh, so The Breadery wins for me due to location.  Bonus tip: Bonaparte bread is baked at the Savage location daily, so go there (not Fells Point) for fresh bread.  We've had some day-old bread sold to us as "fresh" at the Baltimore location. 
Don't just take out word for it.  A bunch of people commented about the trail and their favorite baked goods on a prior post.  If you go to the Breadery on a Tuesday to Saturday, consider stopping at J.W. Trueth around the corner for meat.  They butcher their own beef, and they sell sausages, chicken, and even seafood.  With bread and a steak or rolls and hamburger, you're set for dinner as long as you can scrounge up a vegetable or two.


Jill Dorsey || Made with Moxie said...

I will have to check out that bakery! I love a chocolate croissant and coffee and my family will love the walk in the woods.

I had to post to tell you this. Today my family and I took our innaugural shopping trip to Wegmans. We have a nine month old and a two and a half year old, so we waited until the crowds died down. I had planned on curry chicken salad for dinner and wanted to get pretzel breads to have it on. I asked the man at the bakery if they had bread or just the rolls. After he pointed out the rolls to me he asked me what made me ask for pretzel rolls and remarked that he had four different customers ask for them today! I told him about your blog. You're driving the sales of pretzel rolls at the Columbia Wegmans. :)

HowChow said...

I love it! I'm always glad when people tell folks that they heard about something delicious on the blog.

Annie Rie said...

I still think Atwater's has the best breads in the area. Not much farther to drive than Oella.

Much better grains.

And, their dark and stormy cake is heaven.

You can also have lunch there. Gazpacho last week. Yum!

CrunchDaddy said...

You know, Mrs. HowChow REALLY likes the chocolate croissants...

lucky little bird said...

We are moving out of state this summer and I already miss the #9 Trolley Line Trail. The perfect stroll for kids and dogs and those without either! We like to walk to the Ellicott City end and stop into the Old Mill Coffee shop. Delicious egg sandwiches, and tasty treats.