December 20, 2007

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Lots of dough
Lucia’s owner says she bakes what she loves
By Linda A. Odum food@hippopress.com

It takes some exploration to find Lucia’s Portuguese Bakery in Nashua.

But it is worth the trip down Temple Street to the narrow, one-way Scripture Street for the authentic Portuguese rolls, sweet bread and other delights, especially for anyone who has only tasted what is found at the larger grocery store chains. This is the real thing.

The bakery has been in this location for around 35 years. The previous owners, Judite and Carlos Ferreira, named it as a thank-you to the attorney who helped them find the building. Current owner Judite Correia took over seven years ago, and says this is the oldest building being used as a bakery in town: “I heard the brick oven is over 100 years old,” she said.

Correia grew up in Portugal until she was seven years old. Then her family moved to Mozambique, Africa, where her father taught farm skills. Twenty-five years ago, the family came to the United States.

Even though Correia grew up watching her mother bake at home, she never saw herself in this business. In hindsight, she now understands how the help she gave her mother was the education for what she sees as her life’s calling.

“This is not just a business, but something I was thirsting for,” she said.

Correia worked as a trainer at Teledyne, and spent her off hours at the bakery, unpaid, to learn the trade. After a year, she took over. Now it is a family business. Her mother pitches in when things get busy to make the bakery’s signature bear claws and help with the rolls. Her daughter, Patricia, loves to make the cookies, and her husband, Joao, comes in early to clean and help with the breads.

Some of the menu items are available each day, while others depend on what Correia is in the mood to bake. For example, when customers point out the absence of chocolate items in the display case, she tells them, “I’m not crazy about chocolate. I bake what I love.”

Every day customers will find a bin full of fresh Portuguese rolls and a display case of Vienna and French bread, as well as linguica rolls (a Portuguese sausage wrapped in bread dough). A popular item is the sweet bread. Correia says a lot of customers use it for French toast, but in Portugal it is dessert bread served at parties with a sharp cheese and coffee, tea or port wine. She bakes many items, such as the bear claws, rice cups (lemon-flavored cakes made with rice flour), and macaroons, because they were what the bakery made when she bought the business.

Correia makes her rye and seven-grain breads on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For Christmas, she offers King’s bread, which is shaped in a large ring and full of nuts and candied citrus, pumpkin and figs.

“It’s meant for a king, and that’s Jesus,” she said. (The candied pumpkin is a Portuguese item that is hard to find in this country.)

It is hard work for Correia. On cold days she might arrive as early as 1 a.m. to give that day’s bread dough time enough to rise.

“Baking takes time,” she said. “Good baking takes good time. There is no money in dough.”

To Correia, the bakery is “more than just money. This is a place that I call home. It is a business with a heart.”

Owner Judite Correia with her signature rice cakes. Linda A. Odum photo.

Lucia’s Portuguese Bakery
Where: 12 Scripture St., Nashua
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
More info: To order a King’s bread or any other baked goods for the holidays, call 882-3099.



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6/28/2007 Peanutty dinner delight
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6/14/2007 Holy Barbecue
6/07/2007 A wine for Red Sox
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5/24/2007 Josh Logan eats (not before shows)
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5/10/2007 Cremeland celebrates 60 years of burgers and shakes
5/3/2007 New eats in bloom
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4/19/2007 Cakes, cow-free
4/12/2007 Serving up the first square
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3/29/2007 New 'nuches
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3/1/2007 Feeding Mama Kicks
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12/21/2006 Organic on the ice
12/14/2006 French but not fussy
12/07/2006 Southeast U.S. culture, in sandwich form
11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
11/23/2006 Cityside adds class to conveniece
11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
10/26/2006 Whip up a quiche
10/19/2006 A new way to crepe
10/12/2006 Comfort food for blokes and birds
10/05/2006 Smaller crop but still red and delicious
09/28/2006 The crunchier, lighter, healthier wrap
09/21/2006 City bagels in suburbia
09/14/2006 Cracking the custard code
09/07/2006 Eat your way down the block
08/31/2006 New flavors for an old summer dish
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08/17/2006 Frappe vs. milkshake
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08/03/2006 Death of Toro
07/27/2006 Vacation on a plate
07/20/2006 Hitting barbecue big time
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06/29/2006 Fish, upscale
06/22/2006 Sweet rosey taste of summer
06/15/2006 When to pull out the EVOO
06/08/2006 What can you grill?
06/01/2006 Taste of downtown Nashua
05/25/2006 Deulge at farms
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03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
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2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
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01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
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A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Empanadas
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch