BY MESHELL WOLIVER
LANDSTOWN — Recently at Seasons Best Bakery, the oven was on and fresh-baked dishes, sweet breads and treats await to be devoured.
Breads, tarts, pies, and savory dishes occupied part of the store. The other side was lined with glass jars and colorful bins of vintage-style candies – Turkish Taffy, Mary Janes and more.
Barbara and John Morrisette, owners of Seasons Best Bakery, pride themselves on using fresh, seasonal and, when possible, local produce. The bakery is celebrating its seventh anniversary at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market at the intersection of Dam Neck and Princess Anne roads.
Barbara Morrisette said the bakery has a mission to preserve Southern heritage by using fresh, local ingredients that are paired with traditional, yet innovative recipes.
The Morrisettes began Seasons Best Bakery in the former Candy Barn store. “That was in 2008,” Barbara Morrisette said. “The vision was to not only do candy but bakery items as well.”
Having been in the restaurant industry most of her life, Morrisette’s passion for baking and experimenting with recipes took hold once she started gardening. “I have learned from my garden,” she said. “It’s my inspiration.”
Morrisette embraces the traditions of southern cooking, especially when it comes from your garden. “It’s a tradition of cooking for me. You harvest all summer and eat all winter.”
The Morrisettes grow some produce on site or in their backyard for use in their recipes.
“At home, I have about seventy tomato plants, thirty eggplants, thirty cucumbers, and a variety of peppers and herbs,” John Morrisette said. “Barbara will take these and make cucumber salsa, fried green tomatoes, tomato pie or use the peppers in jalapeno corn bread.”
Soon, the eggplant will be ready to harvest and turn in to eggplant Parmesan hand pies.
Additional savory items – Morrisette considers them her favorite things to bake – are tomato pie and chicken pot pie.
“I thought the chicken pot pie would only be something people would want in the winter,” she said, “but that’s not how it has been. I make chicken pot pie every day and typically sell out of it.”
While Morrisette has come to be known for her tomato pie and sweet potato monkey bread, her homemade desserts are popular with customers. Behind the glass cases await monster chocolate chip and jumbo oatmeal raisin cookies that are bigger than your hand. Seasonal sweet breads such as summertime strawberry bread and autumn harvest bread in the fall are also available.
“In another seven years, I hope to see us here, where we started,” she said. “My vision is to expand to a café where you can eat in-house. Come in for fresh soup and bread. I would also love to have a farm space where the customers can see what is being grown and used.”
In the meantime, the oven is on. “I like it that way,” she said. “I’m cooking and baking all day so what you know you are getting is hot and fresh.”