I’ve had La Farm Bakery in Cary on my radar for some time now but for one reason or another I just simply have never had the opportunity to visit. As a lover of bread I just couldn’t let this go on. I finally visited this wonderful local bakery a few weeks ago and now that I have experienced first hand the fantastic breads, coffee and lunch in their cafe La Farm will now be a regular stop for me each time I am in Cary.
La Farm Bakery introduced Cary and the greater Triangle area to their quality breads back in 1999. The bakery is the realization of a lifelong dream for Lionel Vatinet, a distinguished Master Baker and one of the most sought-after bread consultants in America. Located at Preston Corners Shopping Center on Cary Parkway, La Farm is a modern bakery that continues to respect and honor the centuries-old baking traditions and techniques Vatinet learned in his native France.
During my visit I toured the bakery to learn more about how they create their fresh baked breads. I was pleased to learn that La Farm uses local products whenever possible. This includes using local flour from Carolina Ground in Asheville, connecting the farmer, miller and baker. I also learned that in April they installed a new MiWi “Ideal” deck oven that came all the way from Germany. With its precise temperature settings and six baking decks La Farm is able to step up their already impressive production to meet the ever increasing demand for their breads.
As soon as you walk in the door there is a wonderful of array of breads and baked goods on display. La Farm typically offers around 15 different standard breads daily with 20 seasonal breads and baked treats added to the mix throughout the year. They feature a special bread each month. I visited on the last day they were offering the popular Jalapeno Cheddar Bread. June’s featured bread is a Pepperoni Cheddar Bread. I must go back and try this soon!
I had the opportunity to sit down with Lionel to sample some breads and learn more about the process of baking the different styles of breads they offer. Lionel has dedicated his life’s work to teaching the art & science of bread baking and I was very impressed by his warm and friendly interactions with customers and how he takes the time to explain his craft. I could tell that while the focus of the bakery is on the bread he also strives to educate the consumer. He regularly holds baking classes at both at La Farm and at his home and just recently published his first book “A Passion for Bread: Lessons from a Master Baker.”
One of my favorite breads was a large crusty loaf called the “La Farm”. This 5-lb boule is Lionel Vatinet’s signature bread, developed following his tour in France, working with masters across the country. This bread combines several different types of flour, including local, organic ‘Carolina Ground’ flour. Lionel explained that in years past, families in small villages throughout France would visit community ovens to bake breads for the week. The “La Farm” bread pays homage to that time.
It is also no secret that I love a good espresso and I never miss a chance to enjoy a drink while visiting a cafe for the first time. It makes me very happy that La Farm offers excellent coffee and espresso drinks using locally roasted Counter Culture Coffee. The coffee isn’t just an afterthought either. It is well prepared by trained baristas. I had a great cappuccino when I first arrived and just sat back to take in the in the bustling scene at the bakery.
Learning about bread makes me hungry so I made sure I had lunch before the end of my first visit to La Farm. The cafe side of the bakery offers a wide variety of French and American-inspired sandwiches, salads, soups and entrees featuring artisan breads; for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. Some of the most popular items are the Croque Madame or the Quiche du Jour. My sandwich was excellent and I am now looking forward to going back for brunch to try the French toast!
One other important note. Before my visit everyone I spoke to mentioned I should try La Farm’s White Chocolate Baguette. Since bread and chocolate are two of my most favorite things in the world I had a hunch I would like it. Let’s just say the baguette lives up to the hype and is definite “must try” for any visitor to the bakery.
Don’t be like me, don’t wait nine years to visit La Farm. It is a real gem of the Triangle and a fun place to take out of town guests. If my visit has left you inspired to learn more about the bread making process visit make sure you attend their open house on June 21st. See details below:
Bread Bakers Guild of America Open House – June 21st.
Master Baker Lionel Vatinet of La Farm Bakery will host his second annual Bread Bakers Guild of America Open House at La Farm Bakery on June 21st from 3pm to 4pm. He’ll offer behind-the-scene tours of the bakery, followed by a bread shaping demo, and the opportunity to practice shaping dough by hand. Following the demo, guests will have 20 minutes to learn from Lionel’s European bread shaping techniques and practice with their own dough, which they’ll take home to bake. Many of Lionel’s breads will be sampled throughout the afternoon.