Apuglia and us+5

   Since our return back to Vancouver, Katie and I have been meaning to tell more of our story since we left Paris. In short we left the city and headed to Italy for the remaining three months but not until after we saw a bit more of Europe first...we'll talk more about this soon.
   One day while Katie was working at Rose Bakery, I had come home from grocery shopping and decided to look further into a learning experience the two of us can take back, something outside and definitely food. Coincidentally through workaway I stumbled upon a man by the name of Tonio Creanza, who by which lives in Altamura for half the year and owns a good portion of some olive groves. Why a coincidence? Tonio lives in Vancouver when he isn't busy in Italy restoring art and culture http://www.messors.com/

Instantly I thought how perfect this would be for the two of us. It wasn't too long ago Katie looked at some trulli decals on the back of a bus driving down Quai de Montebello in Paris and asked me, "Where is that place?! I want to go there, can we go there Marco?"
I replied, "Oh, Puglia? It's pretty south. Supposed to be beautiful- yeah let's see where our crazy journey takes us!"
Couldn't wait for Katie to come home and tell her what I had found. We both wrote a quick letter to Tonio and crossed our fingers he would choose us to pick olives! 

Baking Pane Alta 
Some weeks passed.

A couple more- mind you we noticed Tonio has been online and read our message but he had not responded. WHY?! Why can't he just let us know something, anything? It's killing us to know! You can tell how anxious we were.

Then Finally we received a response followed by an interview through Skype! How ironic it was that we were being interviewed for a job picking olives in Italy with a man in Vancouver and us in our apartment in Paris! Small enough world

The team :) 
Katie enjoying the magnificent cliffside of Matera 
Come November we are to be two of seven harvesters: Janine, the chef from Canada; Matej, the engineer from "in the Czech Republic"; Andrej, the business man from Serbia, Marloes, the sociologist from the Netherlands, and Laura Kinery, the freelance writer from USA. What an amazingly interesting group of people we turned out to be!

When Tonio had arrived at Bari to pick the two of us up and upon introduction with Tonio Katie looked at me, I looked at Katie. We both smiled.

Clearly the man had a good amount of wine. 

But hey, it's Italy right? 

After some interesting driving through the grid-like city center of Bari to the airport to pick up Andrej, we all safely arrived at our home for the next three weeks.
We all enjoyed a beautiful sausage and squash dinner cooked by Tonio's mother and an introduction to each other, as well as the harvest- which to me looked like a football play only instead of circles and arrows I was looking at half filled wine glasses and napkins. We all went to bed full and ready to hit our first day first thing in the morning!

Pissing Rain harder than you can imagine. 

After we all became so proud about setting up the systematic nets which catch the olives and lugging the compressor through the mud we were quickly sent home by mother nature. It is in the best interest of the olives, as well as it becomes impossible to harvest in the rain, that we do not work in the rain. the mud is like no other; stickier than a jolly rancher you accidentally bit into.
The sun hit us daily and that meant work. I can't even remember how long the stretch was, but it was long enough that getting up to hull so much weight in olives became harder and harder! Katie and I could barely move after the second day...we were so sore. 

Never the less it was very rewarding to see fresh olives being pressed. Your bounty of hard work being turned into liquid gold and the aromas coming out of the press are intoxicating.

The magical lunches on the beautiful orchards, each showing their uniqueness in vista and variety of olives. The never ending family dinners shared by Tonio's beautiful family made you feel close to home again. Tonio's extensive knowledge of the region's geography and archaeology left us educated far beyond what we expected.  

 The conversations all of us had were nothing short of engaging. Sometimes subjects were touchy but we all had good fun in connecting a way very few people have the opportunity to. We come from all walks of life with different values and diverse ideas. Katie and I are very fortunate to have been surrounded by such a family and such hospitality.

Coming home and seeing our pressed olive oil on the market...It just gets us everytime. Smiles.


Three steps forward

Sunset over the waters of Le Havre. A beautiful time spent with friends and newly made family!

Your life is a constant adventure where you continuously move with the tides and the winds of the ocean. You realize along the way you are out of control of many factors and the best option is to stay clear of the dangers but ride your ship like a true captain!

And so we ride!

Since our last adventure in Normandy, and the recent trip back which was even better than the last, many events have taken place between us and for what it's all worth it has been nothing short of a learning experience.

Where to start?

After a wonderful trip in Veneto, to visit my relatives for the weekend and watch a concert, we spent a good chunk of  time over the month of May and June throwing our resumes all over the city of Paris. Thanks to our newly made friends who proof-read them for us we received some calls back.
Short story is I landed myself with a stage and Katie with a job.

My stage was for one day at 134 r.d.t and the owner and head baker completely threw me into the work with him. It was exciting to get my hands in dough again after some months since leaving my job at Beyond Bread.
"I'm in Paris, mixing and shaping loaves! This is great!"
After some hours spent between baking traditional baguettes, mixing and shaping doughs I started to feel what it's like to be a Parisian baker.

I didn't like it.

Because of how the city is built and how expensive it is, almost all bakers work six feet under. It's hot. I mean HOT. It's an odd feeling to be alone underground yet the comfort comes with the smells of fermenting doughs and loaves baking in the oven.
Dough moulders.
This city goes through so many baguettes that my idea of hand shaping went out the door.
In the end he was very happy with my work but the language barrier is there for his employees. I had to be honest with him though, it wasn't for me.
We sat down and chatted for a bit about the industry here in Paris and back home in Vancouver. It was enlightening.

So after letting go of frustration and talking with Katie I thought of a new plan. Maybe how similar bread baking is here in Paris to back home it would be best not to work in the industry but do something new. Or maybe Just asking around the city to spend a day in the back of house is more than enough to learn a thing or two. Granted I learned a few things in the time I spent at 134 r.d.t.

So I applied at an italian owned gelateria. They didn't need anyone at the moment but they would contact me when they did. I didn't get a call until it was too late because the job was for a month making gelato but it would run into our time spent out of the city in August.
Things work in ways you just can't control.

Katie and I talked again about our time here in Paris and in Europe. What do we want? What will work? Are we enjoying life here?

Katie's job was landed at Rose bakery. They had her in prep for June until sometime in August where a pastry shift or two would be included before full-time in September.
After about three weeks into her job she worked two shifts with Rose herself and she was very happy with Katie's work ethic and skill-set.
I know, we kinda are pretty awesome at what we do! LOL
She sat down with Rose and explained that the two of us have been talking and we realized Paris isn't for us. We've tried to make it our city but the shoe just doesn't fit.
So Katie has but recently left her job but we have been aquatinted with some really great people and we both have learned so much!

So what now? Well we have planned to shorten our stay in Europe by a few months but are not going to settle for anything less than the experience we have had so far. We are going to do our research and have fun doing it because this experience for us both is literally once in a lifetime. Whether it is just looking, tasting, observing production or all at once we are here to bring something to our future bakery and cafe as well as create some of the best memories together.

Trains are booked.


Normandie and us

Bonjour nos Amis,

Never would we have thought how beautiful the people and land of Normandie would be. Yes time over we have been told, "go north!" but the experience we had over the weekend has really changed our perception of this country. Our Airbnb hosts are the sweetest married couple and have been amazing hosts in their home as well as their parents, who by the way are also tres mignon!

The town of Rolleville! The last morning of our stay in Le Havre we decided to make some pancakes for our lovely hosts; a little bit of Canada for them. While we were was flipping cakes and whisking in frustration because of the different protein content in the flour, the mother of our host glanced over a post in the paper for Pain du Fete 2014.  She NEVER reads the paper.  So after our breakfast we made haste to this tiny festival.

In short, everyone knows everyone and it just so happens that the head baker of this festival is a professor and the town mayor! Amongst the small but delicious spread of items, there was the Canadien. A loaf studded with white chocolate and coconut paste that just so happens to be created by a local frenchmen who travelled and worked in Montreal.  Funny thing about this festival is that we were the first 2 Canadians to attend...EVER! Rolleville's journalist took our photo with all the local bakers and we are looking forward to it being published in Le Havre's paper this week :)


Making home, home...


The two of us have settled in and are becoming more and more comfortable every day here in Paris. We found a nice cozy place in the 2nd district where a constant bustle of people going about their day is found six floors below us...yes six floors without an elevator. Imagine carrying a years worth of luggage up that!
We have already found our go-to boulangerie for our daily baguette and an amazing eclair shop, L'eclair de Genie. "Juste regarde" has become one of our mottos as we feast with our eyes over every croissant, mielle fueille, easter chocolate and opera cake. Note to our fellow bakers, double single folds for croissant dough. 
There is no shortage of sweets, and to no surprise the same goes for local produce. Ahhh, the produce.

We're really loving this!!!

It makes cooking effortless as every gram of every ingredient is bursting with perfection. A carrot tastes like a CARROT. Comte is a new favourite cheese. Stinky, stinky. YUM.  

Vacationing during a vacation? We trekked our luggage across Paris to land in Versailles to eat cake with the one and only Marie-Antoinette.  We are staying with a lovely airbnb couple just 15 minutes shy of the Chateau and have been sweating out butter along the palace trails. Gotta make sure we stay in shape while we indulge ;) Bakeries here have been classic, yet delicious. And they sell brioche by the gram.  THE GRAM! Not to mention the plasticity of the butter here at any temperature. 

Apart from city life, we have cozied up in the kitchen cooking/baking up a storm:  Gnocchi, morrocan chickpea stew, lentils, fluffy eggs, heirloom tomato salad all with a freshly baked baguette.  For dessert: Strawberry olive oil cake, grandma's apple pie and tart lemon cake with candied french lemons.  
A Bientot!