The Cottage at Blue Ridge
Chasing the “Perfect Loaf”
by Carol Banks Weber
People line up around the block at The Cottage at Blue Ridge’s Perrinville pop-up every Saturday for Conor O’Neill’s chocolate chunk rye cookies. In an hour, the cookies, Country Sourdough, Cardamom Buns, Bavarian Pretzels, everything is gone.
The Cottage’s naturally leavened breads, pastries, and cookies are the stuff of legend, unique bakery classics and discoveries that bite back. You’re not likely to find baked goods like this anywhere in Sugar Cookie Cutter U.S.A.
His treats are the byproducts of Science and Nature, made with a patient, deft hand, generosity of spirit, and a little magic. Cookies for breakfast. A slice of Toasted Walnut, with a cream cheese smear, to last for the rest of a long, hard day. Oat Porridge Honey Bread to make you sing.
One of the most rewarding parts of operating The Cottage has been seeing the line of people every Saturday, sometimes 200 or more, waiting patiently to collect their weekly baked goods on the corner in Perrinville, enthuses the young Lynnwood baker.
“It means so much to me that my community enjoys bread made from local grains, and continues to show up each week with such enthusiasm. Another one of my favorite parts is getting to work alongside my family at each pop-up. They’ve all been so supportive since I began this business a year ago, and I am so grateful for their willingness to help out when necessary.”
A passing interest in college — following online bakers like Food & Wine’s Nancy Silverton, “learning to develop recipes, making a loaf every week, trialing all the important variables, like temperature, hydration levels, flours” — soon snowballed into a business. He began selling cookies, pretzels, and “a few dozen loaves of bread,” for donations, out of his parents’ driveway in Lynnwood’s Blue Ridge neighborhood.
A trip to Paris sealed the deal. “It was my first chance at experiencing a culture that has so much respect for the food they harvest and consume. The relationship with food in Europe is very different from the relationship I had growing up. There seems to be a more commonly-held respect for every meal. I hadn’t quite fallen in love with the art of bread- baking until returning home from Paris. You don’t know what you had until it’s gone, huh?
“I have one specific memory that I will always remember. We sat down for lunch at a small, family-operated bistro. Toward the end of our lunch, my friends and I still had some cheese and fresh fruit left on a plate we were all sharing. The owner’s daughter asked us if we’d like more bread to finish our meal, to which we unanimously agreed. She walked across the street to the local boulangerie for a fresh baguette, brought it back to the bistro to cut and present to us, to accompany our leftovers from lunch. We still talk about this act of kindness to this day.”
O’Neill’s unfailingly kind himself, paying it forward at every opportunity, whether he’s sharing his mother starter/flour/the recipe for those chocolate chunk rye cookies, promoting/partnering up with other artisan businesses on social media, or raising funds for those less fortunate in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic.
I want to live in a world where everyone is taking care of each other.
I believe that it’s what we’re meant to do, in perpetuity. How else will we continue to learn, adapt, create, and explore the world and further, the universe? I feel good when others are lending a helping hand, so my hope is to offer my kindness to others when I can.”
After celebrating his one-year pop-up anniversary in July, The Cottage will open a store across the street, with a build-out wrapping up sometime this winter. His fiercely loyal fans can’t wait. ✦
76th & Olympic View Dr., Perrinville, Edmonds 206-910-9423 | cottageblueridge