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Schat's Bakery: Best Bread in California?

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Photo by Just_Tom via Flickr
Any Angeleno who's ever done a road trip up to Mammoth Mountain or Tahoe knows the town of Bishop, California. It's one of the few pockets of civilization along an otherwise desolate (albeit beautiful) drive. And if you know Bishop, chances are you'll probably know Erick Schat's Bakkery as well: it's the perfect spot to refuel, relax, and most importantly, eat.

Schat's (not to be confused with the similarly named Schat's Bakeries & Cafes in Ukiah) is a true Californian treasure, a Dutch bakery and lunch spot that thrives despite its remote location. Their Sheepherder bread is a culinary gem: simple, hardy, and made by hand. Or you can choose from sourdough, wheat, white, squaw, jalapeno cheese, raisin, or chocolate breads, as well as sandwiches, pastries, and cookies, everything of the highest and freshest quality.

Their website, which is minimal, proudly proclaims their Basque roots and artisanal baking processes: "we shape the loaves by hand and bake in the finest European Stone Hearth Ovens. The Original Sheepherder Bread ® 1938, as well as all other delicious products, are made of only the purest ingredients: Well water from the Sierras, stone ground unbleached flour, and never any chemicals."

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But Schat's isn't just a foodie find, it's a nostalgic headtrip: it's the embodiment of a certain type of Californian spirit, a tangible expression of independence, of diversity, of commitment to quality. It's also a reminder that the West is still pretty wild: but perfection can still be found in the most remote little towns.