Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. shows farm-to-fork boom

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE FOOD PARADISES are in the Bay Area, such as the Ferry Building Marketplace or the Rockridge Market Hall. Now a vibrant community of farmers, artisan food sellers and artists is emerging in downtown Nevada City.

Located in the heart of the historic district on Commercial Street, it is anchored by Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co., opening this summer. Three Forks is next to the busy Nevada City Farmers Market, open on Saturday mornings from June-November.

Lower Commercial Street also is home to an annual farm-to-table banquet and the “Boardwalk,” an outdoor space where locals gather to socialize. The Boardwalk is a hub for the First Friday Art Walk. “This whole corner is getting revitalized,” says Dave Cowie, co- owner and brewmaster for Three Forks.

Three Forks exemplifies the boom in the farm-to-fork movement. It reminds us of the newly expanded Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli, which is revitalizing the Colfax Avenue neighborhood in Grass Valley—or Nevada City’s ol’ Republic Brewery or Knee-Deep Brewing Co. in Auburn, also expanding.

Like an old-fashioned barn raising, Three Forks is opening thanks to collective community action, including more than $40,000 in crowd funding in a “Kickstarter” campaign and “friends and family” investors.

Along with Three Forks’ founders, locals such as former Mayor Reinette Senum, contractor Gary Tintle and city officials have helped revitalize the area.

Three Forks’ visionaries are Cowie and co-owner Shana Maziarz, who is the baker. “Our vision is serving high quality, locally grown food that is approachable,” says Shana. “We want to become a community gathering place.”

Shana has been baking since she was a child, and opening a bakery has been a lifelong dream. Dave has been brewing beer for 23 years. Shana and Dave have solid business experience and have scouted out similar businesses in Northern California to help refine their plan.

Three Forks’ menu includes wood-fired pizza, craft beer brewed in a seven barrel brewhouse, artisan breads, baked goods, soup, salad, sandwiches, as well as aguas frescas (fresh seasonal juices), regional wines, hard cider, espresso and loose-leaf teas. It will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

An example of a house-made pizza is homemade pancetta, Sun Gold tomatoes, fontina cheese, fresh tomato sauce and fresh sage, says Shana.

Sandwiches include local, free-range chicken roasted with tarragon and shallots, house-made mustard and aioli, arugula and tomatoes. Salads include a kale Caesar salad with croutons and shaved parmesan.
A dessert item that caught our attention: a flourless chocolate cake, dubbed “Insouciance” for “a feeling of not worrying about anything.”

Three Forks plans to offer at least four of its homemade brews on tap, such as a hoppy IPA, light craft beer, stout and seasonal brews. The beer will be sold “to go” in growlers, just like at ol’ Republic Brewery.

The 3,200-sq.-ft. restaurant and brewery is an open, airy space, with an open kitchen, seating in front of the pizza oven and communal tables “to encourage the lost art of conversation,” as Dave puts it.

The wood-fired oven, for baking pizza, bread, veggies and other food, is a masterpiece, built by Mugnaina in Watsonville. The ovens are used at Culinary Institute of America, Chez Panisse and Sunset’s demonstration kitchen.

Three Forks will get its ingredients from Mountain Bounty Farm, Riverhill and Fowler Family Farm, among others. Local wines include Nevada City Winery and Smith Vineyard.

Three Forks also identifies with its region. “Our name ‘Three Forks’ honors the three forks of the Yuba River,” says Shana, also a board member of the South Yuba River Citizens League, the leading voice for protection and restoration of the river.

Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co.
211 Commercial St
Nevada City, California 95959

(Photos: Simon Weller, top; Claire Pottin, bottom)

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