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December 2007

Amador Cookie

Check-out the delectables at Andrae's Bakery in Amador City.  I am really not BIG into desserts or chocolates -- yes, I know it's sacrilege by some people's standards! But I have to tell you, Andrae's has created this irresistible Nibby Cookie- chocolate, hazelnuts, and cocoa beans -- that is just about the yummiest thing this side of Heaven.

Don't EVEN think about sharing!

by Barbara L. Steinberg

40 Miles Felt Like A World Away!

Harkey_house_yuba_city_night_cred_2 More and more I find that great getaways really are in your own backyard. This was proven true, once again, on an overnight to Yuba City. Yep! Yuba City. A mere 40 miles from my Sacramento home. It had been many years since I even stopped in this “on my way to someplace else” destination. At least I imagine that’s what most people think. Well, think again.

I was organizing a long awaited hike into the Sutter Buttes; something on my must-see list for more years than I can say. For the hike, we needed to be in Yuba City by 8:15 a.m. Though the drive is less than an hour, I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to check-out a couple of other bucketlist must sees: Bok_kai_temple_marysville_credit_bathe Bok Kai Temple (Marysville) and Salúte Italian Restaurant (Yuba City).

After some inquiring, I located YC’s only bed and breakfast inn, The Harkey House. A charming Victorian situated in a small historic neighborhood, it’s comfy, cozy and feels a lot like home. Except, I don't have a wonderfully HUGE back garden with a pool and Jacuzzi. What an amazing adventure...and just 40 miles away We had a great dinner at Salute, less than a mile from the B&B in bustling "downtown" Yuba City.

And the Sutter Buttes were (from a first-timers perspective) perfect. Can't beat viewing the tagging of Ring Tails by the Field Ecology class from Sac City College. That was a bonus.

Speaking of Cookies

Peace_cookies_on_earth_2  Peace & Cookies on Earth (originally published in Sacramento News & Review)

It’s shocking to hear that some of you are not into sweets!  A box of expensive chocolate truffles holds no fascination and luscious cakes aren’t your Achilles’ heel.  You don’t wait breathlessly for all those candy-laden holidays – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, or Christmas – to be swept away into a sugar coma.   However, on the rare occasion when your sweet tooth is itching to be scratched, you know where to go.  A nearly closet-sized and (yes) hole-in-the-wall cookie shop.  A place – special above all others – called Goodie Tuchews. 

Sacramento’s bona fide cookie castle; and where Terry O’Reilly, owner and lone baker, reigns as the Cookie Queen.

It’s amazing – nay, stunning – that longtime downtown residents and workers say they’ve never noticed the cookie heaven that used to reside at 1006 – 10th Street.Well, you can’t blame them entirely. It was hardly one of those cookie-cutter (pardon the pun) establishments with chic storefronts and sophisticated décors.  The corner of 10th & J streets was no garden spot.  Most people hurry past the narrow shops coming and going from J to K streets.  With the opening of the new boutique Citizen Hotel and upscale retail in the street-level shops this is all about to change, along with the closing of the landmark Goodie Tuchews.

Okay, stop gasping for air. Yes, Goodie Tuchews is no more. But have no fear! She has relocated to a shiny new location at 1015 L Street !  Those who love and support Goodie Tuchews feared she would be forced from her shop of 25+ years…and they were right. However, what started out as a moment of anguish has turned into a phenomenal opportunity for Terry and cookie-philes everywhere.   

The road to the L Street location has been bumpy. Most of Goodie Tuchews’ clientele in the old Cal Western Insurance building were vacated over the past three years.  This loss of customer base cost her nearly 40-50% of her business.  “I was hanging on by my bitten-down fingernails,” she said about some of her worried days. “All of my customers said, ‘We’ll still come.’ But it’s a convenience thing – they didn’t come. And with all the construction, many people thought I was closed.”

At first the building owners told her she didn’t have to leave and “had nothing to worry about.”  Terry never saw them again.  She realized there was plenty to worry about when building owners finally said they weren’t extending her lease option. “This is not a hobby! I’m supporting my family! But we were nobody to these people!” Soon after, the city and the Downtown Sacramento Partnership got involved.  They provided assistance with relocation funds “and things just started happening.”  She found the new location on L Street and closed the 10th Street store on March 9…the end of an era…she was back in business in early May 2007.

Terry’s love affair with cookies pre-dates Goodie Tuchews’ 1981 opening.  For five years she honed her cookie skills as a regional manager for Cookie Magoo, a Berkeley cookie chain (which eventually succumbed to the wilds of Mrs. Fields.)  Terry had a short-lived break on the road to cookie connoisseur when she went to “live” in Europe . Three months later she was back in Sacramento working at the family-run Goodie Tuchews. 

Terry’s dad came up with the 10th Street location. Though lackluster, the rent was cheap. And the name?  Just a fun play on words, Goodie Tuchews, it was somehow fated.  They found out after the fact that people use to call the Cal Western building the “Goodie Two Shoes Building ” because it housed so many non- profits.  Terry, along with her father, Gerald, and six siblings crafted their cookies.  Six Cookie Magoo recipes (Terry was granted these as long as she stayed out of the Bay Area) evolved into 19 and a local cookie legend was born.  Eventually the other family members left the business and Terry became the cookie maven in 1994.

In more than 25 years at the 10th Street shop, Terry has baked thousands and thousands of cookies. (Her largest order to-date was 300 dozen!)  About relocating she said, “Everything happens for a reason. The new space is luxurious and a better location.”  Though she’s joined the ranks of prettier storefronts, her cookies will never be cookie-cutter.  Each one is made with love.  The most popular cookie is always the semi-sweet, chocolate chip without nuts. The only cookie to ever be retired was the gingersnap – due to lack of interest.  And rumor has it that the chocolate cookie with peanut butter chips is a real “adult cookie”…try it with red wine.  For something truly special, ask for a custom-made ice cream sandwich – vanilla ice cream squeezed between two of your favorite cookies. 

The new store is still closet-sized. But the interior is bright and sunny; a huge step-up from the old Another_satisfied_cookie_customer location. You can’t beat the upgrades! Central AC is a big bonus!! Just ask Terry.  And the view of Capitol Park is a major improvement over the vacant storefronts and Rodney’s liquors at 10 & J streets.  Yes, things are definitely looking up in the cookie kingdom.

Chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter, snickerdoodles….  “People said, ‘We thought you’d never make it!’ I never imagined after 25 years that I’d still be doing this. I made myself a job that I love. My motto has always been, Peace & Cookies on Earth!”

BTW - Since relocating, Goodie Tuchews has found a whole new flock of cookie fans.

Barbara L. Steinberg