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Princess Cake is a star at Sonoma Bakery, where locals gather for morning coffee

By Jonathan Farrell
Posted Aug 26, 2012 in Food
While "The Square" in the town of Sonoma is charming, this reporter learned where the locals go to have their morning coffee and pastry. It is Scandia Bakery on West Napa Street, which is away from the square. The setting is simple and no fancy decor. Yet as soon as I walked in the door, the bakery felt like home. All the locals were there. Down-to-earth, friendly and happy to chat, the atmosphere was welcoming and easy-going. The aroma of fresh baked goodies filled the air and of course all those scrumptious looking cakes. They are the type of cakes that are like works of art.
Scandia Bakery's signature cake is "The Princess Cake." It is a cream and fruit filled layer cake that has Marzipan for frosting. When I was told the cake was sold by the slice, I just had to have a piece. It was delicious and such a treat. Yet, I am not sure it is something to have for breakfast. Ha!
I was told by one of the locals I met there briefly, that the scones are among the best and if you arrive early just as the bakery opens all the best morning pastries are brought out fresh from the kitchen. "If you get here after 9 AM, then you have less selection and have to choose from what's left," said Joseph. From the empty spots on the serving trays, I could see that much of that morning's inventory (on Aug. 10) was gone. Yes, most of the scones had vanished, just as Joseph had said. Yet I also noticed that the pecan roles were dwindling in number. Those pecan roles looked delicious. Yet with my slice of Princess Cake I thought it best not to overload on sweets in the morning. Joseph asked if I was visiting and if I knew anyone in town.
He quickly and graciously introduced me to Dolores, one of the many friends he sees just about every morning. Joseph, Dolores and others at the table asked me where I was from and when I said, "the City" I was anticipating some indifferent response like 'oh, your from out of town.'
Yet to my surprise Joseph and others chimed in, "you will find lots of people from the City here." "I am retired, said Joseph, worked in the City most of my life."
"It will take some time getting used to the slower pace of life here in Sonoma," said Dolores. (While the over all pace of life is more easy-going, the cars still zoom fast). It was good to be greeted by people who knew where I was from and understood that point of reference.
As it turned out, Joseph knows the former Mayor of Sonoma, Larry Murphy, (who is also among the regulars at Scandia).
Like Joseph and others, Murphy is also someone who came to Sonoma, from San Francisco. He moved to 'The Valley of the Moon' as it is often called, in the 1970's. Murphy was a potter and a friend recommended he check out the artistic and ceramics scene that was thriving in smaller communities north of San Francisco. He did and Murphy was charmed by Sonoma; so he and his wife moved. They decided that it would be an ideal place to raise a family. They have raised three children.
After being a teacher and art instructor for more than a decade at college prep high school Justin-Siena, Murphy followed his heart's desire and opened a pub just off 'The Square.'
Murphy's Pub has since been a fixture in the local community, firmly anchoring the Murphy family into the life of the community. "Everyone knows Larry Murphy," said Joseph. (He was just mentioned by a columnist in the Sonoma Valley Sun). It just so happens this reporter does know Larry Murphy too. Murphy has been blessed to be an artist, former mayor, pub owner, teacher and now happily retired grandfather. How do I know Larry Murphy? Well, that is another story to write about later. Back to Scandia Bakery.
Scandia offers a wide selection of baked goods that it was really difficult for me to make a decision of what to have on my next visit. I was told by the staff that Scandia serves lunch beginning at 10:30 AM. And that there is a chef's special each day. I want to go back. When I do, I will have more to write about.