The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What I did on my spring vacation

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mcs's picture
mcs

What I did on my spring vacation

Last week my wife and I took a short vacation to a small farm on the outskirts of Victoria, BC.  We stayed with Diane (aka intern#2 last year) and her husband Ed - both gracious hosts, tour guides, and entertainers for our (almost) week long stay.  On one of the days I taught a couple of classes at The French Mint, a culinary school in Victoria run by chef Denise Marchessault.  In the morning I taught a class on croissants, in the evening a class about sourdoughs.  Both went great.

Other than that, I mostly sat around or marginally earned my keep by taking their Yugoslav Shepherd for a walk.  Sharon (my wife) was happily busy cleaning fresh eggs, milking the goats, feeding the newborn goats, and pulling weeds in the greenhouse.  Diane force-fed us fresh bread, brioche, eggs, and everything else under the rainbow, which of course led to more of me sitting around.



Zeva taking me for a walk



Butchart Gardens



Diane baked this much bread everyday



Sharon and an 8 hour old nubian



Ed and some calves


We had a great stay, and to top it off I got to try some Roger's flour (from BC) and came home with some Alberta flour also.  I used the Roger's flour for both of my cooking classes and was very pleased with their unbleached white and rye flour.  Nice texture, flavor, and color. 


Thanks a lot Diane and Ed. 


-Mark


http://TheBackHomeBakery.com


PS If you'd like to see more pix of the trip I'll be posting them on my Facebook page

Comments

calliekoch's picture
calliekoch

I'm glad you (and Sharon) were able to take a bread from the bakery for some vacation time, Mark. Even if the vacation involved baking courses. How did you get set up with teaching at The French Mint? Your name must really be making its way through the baking community.


I think Victoria is now my next vacation destination. I can't believe how beautiful those gardens are in Canada this time of year. And the picture of the bakery in BC on your Facebook page pretty much sold me as well.


Thanks for sharing your adventure!


 


Callie

mcs's picture
mcs

Hey Callie,
Diane (who was interning two weeks before you) lives about 10 minutes from The French Mint and is friends with Denise.  They set up the whole thing and I just showed up and did my thing.  It was a little challenging figuring out the timing (croissants in 3 hours?), but it ended up working really well.  People enjoyed the courses and I don't think it's because of my magnetic personality.
It was a good time of the year to head out there since we're still dealing with snow flurries everyday and nothing's starting to grow yet. 
See ya.


-Mark

proth5's picture
proth5

Once a teacher...


Anyway, I was hoping to see all the great live dough and "dead dough" decorative pieces you did during the slow season.


Joking...


Sort of.


Glad to see you could take a break!


Take Care!


Pat

mcs's picture
mcs

...the decorative pieces are still on the 'to do' list.  However, it seems 'home improvement' somehow leapfrogged over them to gain the top position.  I've still got time for The Coupe-at least a few more years of practice.


-Mark

wally's picture
wally

Wow!  Obviously she wasn't on vacation.  That's a lot of home baking on a daily basis.  You, on the other hand, sound like you got a much needed rest from a 24x7 lifestyle which as much as it must be rewarding I suspect can be wearying too!  I'm aware that my 5-day work week as a baker is a 'charmed life' in the trade.


Larry

mcs's picture
mcs

SOME people bake on their vacations.  Diane was very busy keeping everyone fed-to-the-hilt, but judging by the speed she moves around I think it's her modus operandi.
Five days a week as a baker is plenty hard work too, it's just a little easier to turn it off when it's sleeping time.  I don't recall reading where you work as a baker, Larry?


-Mark

wally's picture
wally

A restaurant in Washington DC.  It's interesting in that there are only 2 of us baking, and for the most part the full lifecycle of bread occurs from 4:45 am when I open till 1:30 - 2 pm in the afternoon when our baking is finished.  (We do a same day brioche that actually produces nice hamburger and hot dog rolls). 


For me the best part is that I get to see the doughs I've mixed early morning come to full fruition as finished loaves.  For a lot of bakers, this never occurs as I'm sure you know.  They either do the mixing and shaping, or the actual baking. 


Of course, you do it all - plus the distribution!  My hat is off to you!


Larry


 

mcs's picture
mcs

Larry,
It's great you get to work with the dough from start to finish.  Although some dough was mixed on my shift at the place I used to work at, most of the dough was ready to be scaled and shaped when I arrived.  Lots and lots of bins of it.  Getting to do the full process is less repetitious and better for understanding all of the parts.


-Mark

Rhona McAdam's picture
Rhona McAdam

Actually I think Diane had taken the week off work and also chose to spend it baking-- she clearly learned a lot from Mark on her internship :)


Very glad to have been one of the grateful crowd at the French Mint who watched as Mark baked, and got to reap the benefits, Hope you'll be back. We have a lot of cooking schools in the area and I think that kind of cross border infusion has to be a good thing for all. I vote for a bakers' exchange!


Rhona

mcs's picture
mcs

Thanks for taking the class and I'm glad you enjoyed it.
It was nice to sit back and watch Diane doing all of the baking at her home.  I think the only time she sat down while she was visiting here was when we were delivering bread or eating dinner. 


That was a fun class and it was interesting to hear all of the different questions with topics from ingredients to proof timing.  Kind of in line with your 'bakers exchange', I thought it would be cool to travel around like Bernard Clayton did to visit (and work in) different bakeries around the world. 


-Mark

M Matthews's picture
M Matthews

I was curious to hear your experience there.  I'm trying to plan a trip to Canada and have been looking at this website for places :  http://www.brewster.ca/winter-olympics-canada.aspx


I did a search for Butchart Gardens and came up with your site and was interested to hear your thoughts.


 


Thanks

dstroy's picture
dstroy

It's pretty, and popular. If you're going to go to Victoria, it's worth a stop there.


Floyd and I actually ended up in Vancouver, skipping the island this time around, when we went a couple of weeks ago, and we found a smaller garden there called the VanDusen Botanical Garden which reminded us of the Butchart Gardens only not as crowded.



The kids were particularly fond of the hedge maze.

M Matthews's picture
M Matthews

I'm glad to hear that it's worth the stop.  I do plan to make my way to Victoria for sure. 

Rhona McAdam's picture
Rhona McAdam

I'm sure you 've found this, but if not, here's the website for Butcharts.


It is an amazing place: the gardens always have something to see (even in winter - the Christmas lighting is gorgeous). If you're coming in the summer, there are truly stunning choreographed fireworks on Saturday nights. The Dining Room restaurant is top notch for a special meal, and they feature local ingredients (and wine!).


And I say all that as someone who's been going to the gardens off and on for the past 35 years. In fact my very first job was in the coffee bar and I have friends who've worked there for decades, so I should be a bit cynical and tired of it by now, but it continues to impress me.


If it's gardens you're after, and you're going to be in Victoria anyway, there are a few other lovely ones: Abkhazi Gardens, Hatley Park and the grounds of Government House, though Butchart's is more of a complete "destination" with the food and entertainment etc.


Enjoy your trip!