ADDISON, Maine — Walking through the door of Bohemian Mama’s Bakery is entering olfactory nirvana.
Savoring the aromas that waft from the tiny kitchen where Linda Clouser creates a culinary kaleidoscope of baked treats makes the effort of finding the place worth the search.
Hidden away in an old house on Ridge Road, a mile off the beaten path of Washington County’s Route 1, this culinary sweet spot offers baked goods and Italian-flared luncheon and carry-out entrees from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Clouser is from away, a Pennsylvanian who as a teenager began her love affair with baking and with books. “I’m a reader,” she says. “But I didn’t read normal books; I read cookbooks.”
At age 19 Clouser enrolled in cooking school. Decades later, she’s still baking up a storm. “I used to make wedding cakes,” she says. “I’m glad to say that, since coming to Maine, I got rid of my wedding cake pans. I never want to do a wedding cake again.”
When Bohemian Mama’s needs bread — baguettes and hefty loaves of multigrain, rustic white, rye and sourdough — her “crazy” workday begins at 11 o’clock, as in an hour before midnight, not an hour before noon. Most days, she’s in the kitchen by 2 a.m. concocting everything from flaky, mouth-melting croissants to crispy wands of biscotti laced with bits of apricot.
Breakfast bakery fare includes cinnamon buns and sticky buns dotted with pecans. Sweet dough cheese buns incorporate cream cheese and fruit rinds with mango, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries or peach. Also popular are Clouser’s cheesecakes, especially the Key lime and the triple-berry version, which incorporates blueberries and red and black raspberries.
Other best-sellers include bars — pecan and lemon sell out quickly — and cookies, with molasses/ginger and chocolate chip being favorites.
Between 7 and 11 a.m., Bohemian Mama’s serves a croissant breakfast sandwich stuffed with cheese for $2.50 or with cheese and breakfast meat for $3.50. Lunch entrees are available between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and include peppered beef au jus, chicken or meatball parmesan, manicotti with or without meatballs, and lasagna served with garlic bread, Prices range from $4.50 to $7. Italian salads are also available at serving sizes of $3.50 or $6.50.
Now in its fourth year, Bohemian Mama’s is open year-round on the first floor of a late 1800s house, its parlor and dining rooms reconfigured to serve as a small restaurant. There are only four tables, seating 12, although summer months find tourists inhaling baked goodies outside at picnic tables.
“The tourists leave in September, and I rely on the locals to carry us until May or June,” Clouser says.
The bakery is also something of a gallery that showcases local artists. On sale are paintings, photos, jewelry, notecards and even small swaths of fishnet crafted into tiny, squirrel-scale hammocks, hand-woven by a local man pushing age 100, who learned the craft of net-weaving as a boy in Scotland.
As for the bakery’s name, Clouser says it’s a reflection on heritage, although hers is more Italian and Austrian than Eastern European.
“Some years ago I went backpacking through Europe with my daughter and grandkids,” she said. “We visited friends in Romania and in southern Italy. The whole experience helped me to appreciate that we all come from somewhere over there. I have people come in and ask: ‘Are you Czech?’ I’m not; I’m Italian and German. But the term ‘bohemian’ covers a lot of ground, including Gypsy and Czech.”
The bakery is located a mile south of Route 1, at 251 Ridge Road, which is a quarter-mile west of Columbia’s four-corners intersection. While there is no website, Bohemian Mama’s has a Facebook presence. The phone number is 483-6132.