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One of the endearing pleasures of living over the shop, just off our Market Square was (and still is) the Farmers’ Market, that has been in existence since the era of George Washington, with produce from his Mount Vernon farm sold there. My daughters looked forward to skipping across the street on Saturday morning for treats. And later, when they had friends over for sleepovers, getting breakfast from one of the stands was considered “totally cool”. One daughter and a friend briefly sold baked goods they had made with the help of maternal parental units. They were nicely told by the market manager after the third time that they were too young, and if they wanted to stay they needed to register and pay for their table space. They chose to pursue other interests.
At some point, I remember buying some baked items from a stand hosted by a young woman named Maribeth. This single stand later evolved into one of the busiest multi-tabled affairs that you see today under the banner of Maribeth’s Bakery. Maribeth Nyerges started with her small stand 34 years ago at the Old Town Farmers Market and now delivers not only within Alexandria, but also to Mount Vernon and Crystal City. Plus, her bakery has a large wholesale business in addition to a storefront on Colvin Street, which is managed by her husband.
A Musician Turns Baker
Maribeth Nyerges rented a space (unlike the Pollard daughter) in the 1980s while she was still a musician at the White House (French horn). While she has midwestern roots and an affinity for baked goods dating to her childhood, she did not come from a family of bakers. Nevertheless, Maribeth loved the experience and, as she wrote me, she worked hard at the challenge. So much so that she enrolled in the professional pastry program at the now closed L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, MD. This was a tough challenge to overcome for a young American woman not connected to the professional pastry world. She persevered in a somewhat elitist male environment and stuck to her very firm commitment to using good ingredients to bake mainstream American goods along with some French style pastries she learned in her professional baking program. Personally, I think one of the biggest problems with much of what is sold in American bakeries is that the owners are often seduced by the cheapest ingredients offered by Sysco and other institutional food suppliers. Maribeth had other convictions.
The Right Stuff
She is rightfully proud of her company and employees, many of whom have stayed with her for years. Seven of them have worked so long at Maribeth’s Bakery that they have become US citizens. And of course, as a former retail business owner, I applaud her tenacity in surviving her leases and landlords and finally purchasing her own building. And not a moment too soon – right before the pandemic. Her bakery services include not only a storefront at 3103 Colvin Street in Alexandria, but also an astonishing selection available for online shopping on the bakery website, with delivery to Alexandria and Mount Vernon or for free pickup at their storefront or Old Town Farmers Market.
During the pandemic home bread-baking frenzy, her home deliveries were a lifeline during the flour/yeast/butter famine. When store shelves and even Amazon had not a speck of flour or yeast available, Maribeth was happily shipping to local customers, ultimately saving the life of our sharp-penciled editor’s sour dough starter and probably sparing countless others. The team offers wholesale accounts to restaurants, hospitality venues and other institutions. She took advantage of obtaining a Woman Owned Business certification, which currently the Old Town Market promotes.
Butter By The Ton
An exploration of their successful products must include the Cinnablob, which came about from a contest within the Maribeth Bakery family. This amorphous mound is the result of a $50.00 prize offered to any employee who devised the best suggestion for using up scraps of croissant and danish dough. You can’t waste all that buttery goodness, for Heaven’s Sake! The contest winner was a one-time summer employee who suggested the caramelized cinnamon sugar “bun”. Both my daughters, along with hundreds of other market shoppers, can attest to the success of this unlikely creation. Cinnablobs are so popular that now the bakers have to make extra batches of danish and croissaant doughs to keep up with the demand. I appreciate her fruit-filled turnovers and her almond croissants with almond filling, which are the real thing, not simply some almond spread blobbed into leftover croissants – the customary practice of way too many bakeries.
But don’t overlook their nicely decorated and colorful cookies, a favorite of my grandsons. Do you want a project for you and your kids? The bakery’s online order form includes several sets of cookies with filled icing bags and decors.They even offer a pizza kit with their own dough, toppings and apparently top-notch marinara sauce created by Tom Nyerges. When you explore MB Bakery On The Go website, I think you will be amazed at what is on offer, and all orders are freshly made. Delivery to a wide selection of zipcodes in the Northern Virginia area with only an $8.00 delivery fee with no minimum.
Someone here who is a master of the BLT and, if truth were told, a lover of smooshy white bread, swears by the sandwich loaves. And even I have come around to this after we had tried sandwich breads from other bakeries and grocery stores. There is something to be said for creating an American sandwich loaf that has flavor and the right texture but does not last as long as a Twinkie. I make a lovely version of Maida Heatter’s Bread and Butter Pudding with leftover slices. And, yes, Maribeth’s Bakery really does buy butter by the ton!
After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes a blog about food in all its aspects – recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food related issues.