A free afternoon, and a free and fun tour of some amazing breads. What, you don’t think you can tour breads? You can if you’re in Rockland County, NY.
The Rockland Bakery is a local icon. Friends who grew up in the neighborhood tell stories of stopping by in winter to put hot rolls in their pockets for the bike ride home. All I know is that they let us into the inner workings of the bakery itself, and we can grab hot rolls as they get dumped out of the ovens if we stop to put on gloves first.
You can enter through either the pastry counter area, or a newer deli. Afterwards, in a big hallway, you choose your bag size and put on plastic gloves before walking through the swinging doors into the actual bakery. Most bakeries of this size keep the retail public far from the mechanics of the ovens and cooling areas, but Rockland has held to on to its local personality as it’s grown to the current volume of 700,000 pounds of flour per week. That translates to fourteen 50,000 pound truckloads every week. For a real-world reality check, that’s 538.46 acres of wheat every week, less than the 640 acres that comprise a square mile, but equivalent to 28,000 acres per year. That’s over 43 square miles of wheat. Yowza.
It’s one thing to talk about the huge volume … but New Yorkers are serious about bread. I mean “Serious”. The only way a bakery could continue to grow in this market would be to consistently put out delicious products.
Rockland does a great job. The Hubby and I wandered around the cooling area trying to make a purchasing decision. We went back out to the pastry area, ogled the sweets, then went back for gloves and a big paper bag in which we could place our bread.
The Universe smiled upon me, and dark brown pumpernickel bagels were coming out of the first oven as we reentered the bakery. “Yes, Thank You!” I grabbed some before they rolled up into the spiraling cooling carrousel.
We then threw random items in, such as an 8-grain baguette, a Semolina loaf, a loaf of Vegetable Bread, and a couple of big pretzels to compare for possible festival sales.
Half a block away, we found an Old-school cheese shop, (which will require its own review), and so our dinner plans have been agreed upon. In an ever-so-decadent end to a hot and sticky day, The Hubby and I have spread a vintage tablecloth over our bedding, and enjoyed a picnic of bread, cheese and wine under excessive air conditioning. Life is good.