The debut book from Joshua D. Fischer – and the first to come from Bedford + Bowery – is called “Meet the Regulars: People of Brooklyn and the Places They Love.” To get you psyched for this hardcover collection of photos and interviews (out in May from Skyhorse Press), here’s a new installment of the series.
“I’m not a person who wakes up happy,” says writer Camille Perri. She usually starts her morning with “loads of anxiety and dread for my day,” she says. And so Camille plays a “trick” on herself and heads directly to The Blue Stove bakery. It’s easy to smell why: “When I leave here,” she says, “I smell like butter.” That’s both a good and comforting thing. It’s also an insanely tempting thing.
The quaint n’ cute bakery on Graham Avenue in the traditionally Italian part of Williamsburg opened in 2009 and boasts distressed display cases of So. Much. Freakin’. Pie. On the day of our visit, The Blue Stove presented its latest small batch of sweet and savory pies made from scratch: poached pear, apple rosemary bramble, key lime, red velvet custard, and don’t forget good ol’ peanut butter pie. Under tin ceilings, and in the center of the old-fashioned, country kitchen setting stands a long wooden communal table adorned with roses in vintage glass bottles and twenty folding chairs for customers to sit, read, work, chat, and chow down on even more sweets.
In the corner, Camille has her own usual spot at a small vintage table, right next to the actual antique blue stove handed down to owner Rachel McBride from her grandmother. Since 2002, Camille has lived steps away in three different apartments, and she began visiting The Blue Stove the year it opened. It’s here where the 36-year-old writer and editor for the likes of Esquire and Cosmopolitan labored over her debut novel The Assistants (which comes out in May, and she even thanks The Blue Stove in the book’s Acknowledgements), as well as several young adult novels she ghostwrote. Born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, Camille currently lives in an apartment with her girlfriend of three years. “I’m here every day,” she says. “I just like the way it sets the tone for my day.” For our conversation, we set the tone by sharing a slice of crumbly, sugary, buttery and delicious American apple pie.
I probably connect better to places than I do to people. I always have. Even as a kid. This is one of those chosen places.
Before I fell in love with Blue Stove, I was a regular at another coffee shop called the Verb on Bedford. I “lived” there when I was a lot younger and had no money and a very different lifestyle. I bought a lot more into the starving artist life; I was really drinking the Kool-Aid of what Williamsburg was in those years, and I loved being a part of it.
When the Verb closed, I was devastated. I still haven’t gotten over it. I can’t even look at that horrible soap shop or whatever [replaced the Verb]. I was fortunate to already have started going to Blue Stove.
The first time I stepped into Blue Stove, I fell in love with it immediately. You feel like you’ve stepped into something special when you walk in here. Warm is the first word that comes to mind.
If I didn’t come in here, they’d be like, “Where were you? We missed you.” It’s nice to be missed.
I did not grow up in a house where we were baking pies. I grew up in a working class household. My father is a tailor. He came here from Italy when he was eighteen and grew up on a farm, very poor. My mom died when I was seventeen. She was sick for a number of years. I don’t think I had a typical American upbringing because my parents are Italian and because we had a lot going on.
There’s something wholesome about [Blue Stove]. This [actual] blue stove here belonged to the owner [Rachel McBride’s] grandmother. These are her family’s recipes. I enjoy that. There might be a little psychological thing going on there [for me].
I associate Blue Stove with writing, for sure. Muscle memory kicks in when I come in here. I know that I’m going to be sitting down to write here.