The Fudge Factor (South Coast) by Laurel Gerkman Excerpt taken from Oregon Coast Magazine, March/April 2008
What's a visit to the [Southern Oregon] Coast without a little indulgence? A special bottle of wine, a splurge dinner at an oceanfront restaurant, or, maybe the most blissful of all, the sweet, sensuous delight of fudge melting on your tongue.... Dockside Gifts (120 Coho Point Loop, Winchester Bay, 541-271-1210)
Its exactly that literally by the docks, across from dozens of bobbing pleasure crafts and commercial fishing vessels with seagulls circling overhead.
When Ron Schmidt and Wendy Clawson bought the business in 2003, several regular patrons took them aside with a warning.
"Our customers threatened that if we made any changes to the fudge; they would get us. Thus far, they continue to be satisfied. Whew!", says Schmidt.
Besides their controversial fudge, the couple stocks a variety of traditional coastal souvenirs. Windsocks and kites dangle overhead, and theres browsing room only between racks of sweatshirts and shelves full of seashells, magnets and lighthouse figurines.
The quality of basic ingredients is the key. We use fresh butter and cream, and pure, Dutch-process chocolate liquor as a base along with other cocoas and sugars, says Schmidt.
In the summers, Schmidt makes Marionberry and various cheesecake versions. Creamsicle, Key Lime and Tiger Butter stay in demand. Occasionally, the child in him comes out with the Banana Split, a swirled combo of banana and chocolate cherry fudges with almonds, coconut and maraschino cherries.
Oregon Connection & House of Myrtlewood (112 South First St., Coos Bay, 541-267-7804). In 2006, the business was purchased by Star of Hope to provide an additional catalyst in support of their overall mission to serve adults with developmental disabilities.
The nonprofit organization sells hand loomed rugs, greeting cards and an array of Myrtlewood items, in addition to their trademark fudge. Customers are welcomed with complimentary popcorn or a cup of tea or coffee.
The fudge shop is decorated like grandmas house with gingham curtains, jars of jam and a couple of vintage General Electric Hotpoint stoves. Theres a seating area warmed by a pellet stove. From the counter, you can see into the kitchen watch the confection being made by Stacy Dewater.
Each batch makes 33 lbs., and it is critical to monitor the temperature and thickness. I cannot leave during the 45-minute process. The same recipe book has been used since 1986, says Dewater.
Fudge fanatics here most often choose the house-specialty, a sinfully rich Vanilla-Chocolate-Caramel-Nut, and the Apple Pie is a holiday favorite.
Oregon Connection has a sucrose-free (sweetened with fructose) in chocolate, vanilla or chocolate/vanilla nut. Join the Fudge Lovers Club, and for every 10 lbs. purchased you receive one gratis pound.
Big Wheel Farm General Store (130 Baltimore Street, Bandon, 541-347-3719) is located in Old Town, recognizable by authentic wagon wheels in the windows. This historic mercantile is embellished with worn-out harnesses, rusty coal oil lanterns and worn-out farm implements. Its also filled to the rafters with an eclectic array of retail items from incense to denim overalls.
Don and Marykay Whitmer own and operate the Big Wheel. The structure was built as a farm supply and feedstore in 1937, after the Great Bandon Fire that leveled most of the town. Its a step back in time: plank flooring, exposed open beams, weathered wood.
The fudge counter showcases 22 or more varieties, and theres hard candy jawbreakers, lemon drops and black licorice and alike to the left and an ice cream parlor on the right that scoops out sixteen flavors from the Umpqua Dairy. Samples of any ice cream or fudge are yours for the asking.
The Whitmers use local cranberries in their Cranberry Nut fudge. Chocolate walnut is the consistent favorite. In the spring, they add Penuche and Cookies & Cream to the menu and Divinity nougat-based, not butter is usually available.
Sweetbriar Fine Gifts & Candy (29865 N. Ellensburg Ave., Gold Beach, 541-247-2231) is home to The Chocolate Frog Fudge Factory. Proprietor, Kathy Roseberry, passionately makes 35 flavors having a dozen or more on-hand at any given time.
If you have a passion for something, youll do it better! Good olchocolate walnut is my best seller with peanut butter a close second. If I mix the two, I cant keep it on the shelf says Roseberry.
For Valentines Day, its chocolate-covered cherry or a Neapolitan mix of Amaretto and vanilla. She creates jalapeno fudge for Cinco de Mayo. Seasonal lip-smackers include: peppermint stick, eggnog, pumpkin pecan and chocolate rum-raisin.
Sweetbriar Gifts was named for Sweetbriar Farm. It was a 348 acres Old MacDonalds-type I grew up on near Troutdale. My best memories are of that place, says Roseberry.
"Is this fudge a gift?" asks Roseberry while packaging a selection for Dale Giottinini, a Gold Beach resident.
"Oh my no, its to be eaten by me. ASAP," says Giottinini, a Gold Beach resident.
Beachfront Gifts (16011 Boat Basin Road, Brookings-Harbor, 541-8025) shares a building with Smugglers Cove Restaurant and Lounge. It is also across the street from oceanfront lodging at Best Westerns Beachfront Inn and public access to a popular stretch of sandy beach that is often protected from most winds.
The fudge counter is centrally located amidst a gift shop stocked with a miscellany of merchandise from key chains and t-shirts to crystals and sound therapy recordings.
Fudge-of-the-day samples are ready-cut for the taking, or customers can choose to try any of the usual 16 flavors on-hand.
"Killer Fudge is our number one seller. Its a blend of peanut butter, caramel, pecans and chocolate. During the holidays, we make a popular pumpkin fudge using cloves, spices and real Libbys pie filling," says Alice Aimar, fudge-maker.
If youd like to see your favorite concoction in fudge-form, Aimar welcomes special orders. For calorie counters, a sugar-free chocolate walnut is available, sweetened with Splenda.