At Christmas time, all good foodies go in search of the perfect food gift, right?
That’s what made us start looking into the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Past experience has been that a monastery often supports its members through a bakery, and the online world has made it more possible to offer products without having to maintain a storefront.
That’s the case here since the monastery itself is more than a little off the beaten path. After miles on a rutted dirt road, we found it, and left loaded down with granola, hermit bars, and what they call “breakfast cookies.”
The community is self-supporting, with the music of John Michael Talbot* a primary source of income. Talbot was a rock & roll musician in the 70s until he became a monk and started what is now the Little Portion Hermitage. He continues to record and sell music, which is also available online.
If you are looking for the baked goods, you might start with one of the Christmas Gift Boxes. It comes with an assortment including Viola’s Granola, St. Anthony’s Hermit Bars and St. Clare Breakfast Cookies. What’s more, you can get any of these products in regular or gluten-free. We’ve sampled them all and, if it’s OK to talk about addiction in relation to a monastery, well, we are somewhat addicted!
The granola has a special holiday ingredient—chocolate—that makes the decision easy, too. The nun who assisted us suggested eating it like cereal, with milk poured over the top—and she’s right; it’s delicious. You can also use it as an ingredient, a snack, or a topping for ice cream or yogurt.
The hermit bars (note the touch of self-deprecating humor) are a chewy snack that is easy to keep in the freezer and pull out as needed. They are made with molasses, raisins, and pecans—a great Christmas treat. As for the cookies, they are huge and homemade, perfect for dipping into a hot drink or just eating on the run.
We were interested to see that Viola’s Granola has been introduced at the Fancy Food Show in the past, and is positioned as a specialty food product.
For more, check out https://littleportion.org/bakery
If you want to know more about John Michael Talbot, click here.