Breaking Bread

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The inspiration was a full circle trip, trying to make brioche.  Huh?? you say…

Well lets take the main ingredients and go find them on a field trip.

Flour – K2 Milling, Beeton Ontario.  Where we source some of our specialty milled grains at Cluny Boulangerie.

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Eggs – Eisses Farm Fresh Eggs.20150825-IMG_4664-Edit

Milk / Butter – Miller’s Dairy, Creemore, Ontario (unfortunately they don’t manufacture butter comercially)

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The New Farm – Nothing remotely to do with the whole brioche idea but it’s close by and AMAZING organic produce so why not…20150825-R0040142

Chef JLo’s awesome idea was to mix all the ingredients we gathered together and leave in a bowl on top of the rental cars engine block.  Should be ready by the time we get home…..

I called executive decision not to move forward with this one……..

This is the trip thanks to Google Maps.  No thanks to Siri who was clearly sick of listening to Howard Stern and lead us to a different flipping town.The Distillery District, Toronto, ON to The Distillery District, Toronto, ON - Google Maps (dragged)

Going to leave the field trip report to Cynthia Latella from Pure Spirits, thanks for a great write up Cindy!

We arrived at the Distillery just as the sun was coming up, grabbed coffees and we were on our way. A few hours and a nap later we pull up to
farm #1: Miller’s dairy. We are greeted by clusters of adorable kittens and John Miller. He tells us a bit about his life and families history. He explains that jersey cows are smaller and yield less milk but their milk has a higher percentage of protein and fat and therefore tastes better. 20150825-DSCF4946

As he is giving us a tour of the equipment used to seperate fat from skim, pasteurize and bottle the milk, I look up at the pipes and there isn’t a single crumb of dust. Anywhere. It is clear this man cares about what he is doing. Out to the barn we go! I can smell the cows and the little kid in me is getting excited. Mr. Miller goes on to explain how they use well water to cool the milk down before its refrigerated so they use less electricity. Very efficient.  On to the cows! Not yet, first we see where they get milked. Their activity levels are also monitored to see which ones are in heat. And now out to the cows! Rows of extremely calm cows just hanging out feeding, licking our hands leaning their huge heads on us. They really are pretty animals. Okay now back to the car.

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After a bit of a detour, no thanks to Siri, we pull up to
stop#2: the New Farm, a small family farm run by Brent Preston and his wife Gillian Flies.20150825-R0040150

We missed the tour so Brent gives us the abridged tour. He starts by showing us his mustatd greens which he keeps under a tarp because of a type of beetle that likes to eat them. Then he explained that the have a system of fertilizing the soil that doesnt involve manure or pesticides.  They plant a summer assortment of plants catered to give the soil back the nutrients it needs. Then they plants a winter mix that contains rye and other grains to deter weeds the following season. Very ineresting stuff. Gill, his wife, joined us in the vegetable garden where Brent was plucking fresh beets from the soil for us to taste. Chef jv pulled out his pocket knife and shaved off bits for everyone.20150825-R0040152 Possibly the sweetest beets I’ve ever tasted. Gill said it took them ten years to get the soil to what it is now. I guess patience and hard work is the motto here. They spoke about how they did not want to expand yet because it might compromise the quality of their produce. And how they would rather have their hands in the soil than on a keyboard. we ate our lunch on their porch where they brought out some baby salad greens that were picked that day and possibly the best cucumber i have ever tasted. We packed our full bellies back into the car and were on our way again.20150825-R0040157

Another nap later we arrive at stop#3 the egg farm. This could not be more different than the first two stops. Huge aluminum sided barn, no windows, no people completely surrounded by tall corn fields. It was actually a bit eerie. The feeding system was completely automated as well. This was a stricly profit operation. No labour costs, just timers and chickens. After being slighty creeped out by the silent egg farm, we hopped back into the car.

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Stop #4 K2Milling. Before we even walk in this place looks interesting.  Pieces of old barn wood leaning everywhere, large parts of mill equipment on the driveway,  and an old red porsche carrera right out front.  20150825-DSCF4976Inside, a random collection of old mill cogs, antique fans and an assortment of jars with grains decorate what i think is the storefront. In the next room a man is making custom furniture out of old barn wood. Mark Hayhoe tells about how he is changing the way people think about flour and milling. While they do lots of wheat, corn and oats, they also do really weird stuff like blueberry flour, tobacco flour (aka smoke-stick) ed. and chardonnay grape flour. While we were there he had cranberries that had been pressed for juice, then their pulp was dried and he was milling it up. Such a bright red color and super tart tasting, I can’t wait to use it. He took us out to the mill and explained that between milling different product they clean the mill. The biproduct of cleaning the mill goes to local farmers for their feed. In fact, a local pig farmer came by while Mark was talking to us to collect the corn they had cleaned out that morning.
We also learned that way back when The Distillery was still in the distilling buisness, they used to purchase they grain from his grandfather.20150825-DSCF4992-Edit-Edit-2

Our long day had come to an end, I really enjoyed the whole comunnity feeling, you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours. And the bottom line was always quality not quantity. These people work really hard but they’re doing something they love and believe in.

And so after meeting some really great people, and being overstimulated with new ideas it was back to the big city for us.

Cynthia Latella – Senior Line Cook @ Pure Spirits Oyster House

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