When in 1999 Robertson and Pruitt relocated Bay Village
Bakery from Point Reyes to Mill Valley, Underwood — along
with Devlin, for whom she’d apprenticed at Bovine — bought the
former bakery and its oven. Five years later, Under wood bought
Devlin out, and today, she offers six kinds of bread, including
whole-grain wheat loaves — along with salted potato loaves and
kalamata olive loaves — and pastries that locals fawn over.
Under wood and Devlin aren’t alone in the local bakery scene.
A short drive up Highway 1 beyond Point Reyes is Tomales
Bakery, another popular pit stop where bicyclers and tourists
visiting Dillon Beach and points north grab a bite and a rest
on the outdoor patio. The hole-in-the-wall oasis, opened in
1992, specializes in cheesy pastries like Gorgonzola cheddar
twists, as well as mini pizzas and chocolate “devils,” all baked
in house and with locally sourced ingredients. Cameron Ryan
purchased the bakery in 1997, then sold it to Larry Peter, owner
of Spring Hill Cheese and the Petaluma Creamery, in 2015.
Part of the local preference for grab-and-go dining, espe-
cially at breakfast time, is pragmatic, Underwood explains.
County regulations prohibit most local businesses from offer-
ing sit-down dining, as the area operates on a septic system.
“That’s the unromantic reason,” she says.
But there’s a deeper legacy here too, rooted in reverence
for natural, locally sourced foods. In fact, most of the region’s
signature dishes — the world-famous oysters, the top-flight
organic cheeses, the bakery bread made from wheat milled
nearby — have a very short route from farm to table.
“There’s a definite focus here on authenticity and artisan
and community oriented and smaller scale,” says Elizabeth
Ann Hill, operator of West Marin Food and Farm Tours. A
chef and master gardener who often visited this area while
growing up, she began offering food tours in 2012; the most
popular, “Flavors of West Marin,” stops at Brickmaiden and
the popular Cowgirl Creamery cheese shop. The culinary
scene here, she says, is “all about family farms and sustain-
ability — what comes from the land, who’s growing what,
who’s touching what. It’s about honoring the land and the
farmers working it.”
Bovine owner Devlin says the region began embracing
organic, small-scale production early, with pioneers including
the Giacomini Dairy in Marshall, Warren Weber’s Star Route
Farms, and Niman Ranch in Bolinas.
Laurel Robertson, whose cookbook sold more than a
million copies, traces these leanings to the free-spirited,
back-to-the-land types who moved here decades ago — and,
in part, to Scott himself. She moved to Tomales in 1970 and
recalls him showing up with his whole-wheat desem — or
leaven — sourdough at Blue Mountain Center of Meditation,
the Eknath Easwaran–founded ashram where she still lives
and where Scott built his first brick wood-fired oven. She
began baking the desem in her own backyard oven, immortalizing it in Laurel’s Kitchen.
Scott dreamed of a tidy little self-contained grain econ-
omy, Robertson says: local farmers growing and milling their
own wheat, local bakers making simple loaves and selling
nearby. “He wanted everybody to make their own wood-fired
ovens,” she adds. “People got really into it. There were just
heaps of people around here who were completely happy mak-
ing their cheeses and breads.”
As Scott’s brick ovens and old-world baking methods
caught on, a new generation of bakers sought him out for guid-
ance. Many, including Chad Robertson, ended up living for
This page: Rolling
it up at Bovine;
prepping deliveries at
Ready for the oven