Catching an Orland buzz

Search for local honey ends at a charming locally focused store and cafe off I-5

The past few weeks have been filled with sniffles, coughs, sore throats and stuffy noses. Several of my co-workers came down with the dreaded winter cold first. Then some of my friends caught it. I thought I’d gotten through it unscathed, but then my boyfriend, Chuck, got sick and it was only a matter of time before nurse would become patient.

Soup and tea always seems to soothe the soul during times of sickness, so when Chuck first fell ill, I made sure he had plenty of both. But by the end of day two, he’d exhausted what was left in the little bear filled with Bordin Bees’ orange blossom honey, which paired perfectly with tea. Suddenly, I had a new mission.

I decided to take the opportunity to discover something new. I’d been meaning to take a drive out to Orland to visit The Coffee House & Eatery, which I’d heard specializes in locally made foods, including honey. So I took advantage of a sunny winter afternoon and headed out Highway 32 for a little solo adventure.

The Coffee House & Eatery (730 Sixth St., Orland), part of Salvagno’s, is charming. The building, which is divided among the cafe, a gift shop, a party rental company, a banquet room and a florist, is welcoming and homey. A subsequent phone conversation with owner Terrie Salvagno revealed that not only did her family build most of the structure, but also that her four siblings work with her, as does her mother. Her father built the business, she said, but he passed away a year ago—around the same time the coffee shop opened. “He was the one who pushed us, told us there was nothing we can’t do,” she said.

Upon first walking in, I sidled up to the counter to order an iced Chico Chai, and began to peruse the other cafe offerings. Coffee from Cal Java. Sandwiches on bread from Tin Roof Bakery. Veggies and cheeses from local farmers. Note to self: Next time, come for lunch.

Next, I perused the gift shop, which carries everything from Lundberg Family Farms pasta and rice to Skylake Ranch pomegranate sauces to Brannen Gourmet jams. “Part of the mission of the store is to help some of the local growers and people who are involved in growing, creating and marketing local products,” Terrie explained.

In a little room off the back is where I struck gold. This part of the shop is the flagship store—and tasting room—for Chico Honey Co., owned by Terrie’s niece and nephews, whose parents run Olivarez Honey Bees. Three varieties are currently on offer: from California, Montana and Hawaii, all places where Olivarez bees reside. Surprisingly enough, each has a distinct flavor—and all of them are delicious. I’ll tell you this much: The California Wildflower Honey I brought home is absolutely divine in a hot cup of tea, a perfect remedy for that winter cold.