Sunday, February 21, 2010

Learning IS Fun! Especially when it involves FOOD too!

Festival of Food

I took the weight from my feet and seated myself into the first chair I could find, and closest to the front of the class.  Within thirty seconds I had already struck up a conversation with the women sitting next to me.  We were talking as quickly as possible, excitedly trying to fit in as much as we could before the speaker would begin his presentation.  Its easy to make a new friend when you start out with something in common.  We were ready to learn, and it was a topic that we both were particularly interested in too:

  BREAD- Specifically- Stone milled, 100% organic, naturally leavened, Whole Grain, Pleasanton Brick Oven Bread.  My grin spread from ear to ear, as I began to drink in every single word that was being spoken from the front of the room.  Our presenter, the owner of this beautiful bakery, Gerard delivered an awesome hour's worth of history, science, experience and inspirational insights into his world as the proprietor of his exclusive bakery concept that actually hails from over 5000 years ago.  After listening to Gerard I was even more convinced that I want a brick oven in my own backyard.  For now I have no problem continuing to visit Pleasanton on a weekly basis, and I have an even better understanding at what a great deal I am really getting when I buy their bread.  

You won't find a $2.50 loaf of bread at Pleasanton, thank goodness.  The quality of each and every ingredient that goes into their bread is worth every cent- with most loaves starting at $4.95 and going up from there.  They buy their heritage grains from an organic grain farm near Lansing and their "mother" is over 18 years old.  The beauty of this bread is the natural leavening process that does not use any type of yeast.  The formula is Flour and water- THATS IT!  There is a lot more to the story, but I would encourage you to go into the store and ask.  Gerard and his staff love to share what they are doing, and there is a real charm about the store that resides in the old State Hospital Fire Station behind building 50.  If you don't live in or near Traverse City, you can look them up online too- they ship all around the US now- and their bread will never mold since there is no yeast.  How cool is that!!!  Oh and it tastes amazing too- my favorite is their Village Rye and Cinnamon Raisin- Mmmmm Yum!
Here is their Link- Check them out!

They also sell Grissini- or "breadsticks" - Cranberry Pecan and Cheddar Herb- Pleasanton's grains are milled through a certain process that helps them to be more easily digested too- Most people who have a gluten intolerance are actually able to eat their breads because of this.

Now this was only the first of 4 classes that i took at the NMC Exteneded Education's Festival of Foods this past Saturday.  I also attended "Naturally Sassy Sauces and Spreads with the owners of "The Redheads" products and Kejara's Bridge in Lake Leelanau.  My third class was "Oils and Vinegars: Not just for dipping" with Nick- a second year student at the Culinary school.  If was fun to attend his class since I hope to be in his same spot very soon- teaching my own specialty classes.  He put Vinegar on Ice Cream!!  It was tastefully phenomenal!   My final class was with Anne from Leelanau Cheese company, "Cheese, Glorious Cheese" where we learned all about cheese making.  Something I am interested in for my own farm someday.  Once again very inspirational. There were 12 other classes that were offered that day which made it very hard to choose.  Since I signed up the day before I did have a tougher time choosing from what was left, but overall I am very happy with the classes I attended.

What I noticed all day long was the classes that were offered (-16 total, 4 per hour-) were all offering people a chance to be exposed to new ideas, exploration of how to update their recipe books, and above all the origins of food products.  I believe that this is such a great way for the community to come together, an opportunity for learning, sharing, and networking too.  I look forward to getting more and more involved in programs like this as I further my experience as a culinary student.  I encourage all of you to look into the extended education programs offered through your local community college, not just culinary, but in whatever medium you are interested in.  I walked away from Saturday's program with all kinds of inspiration.  I am Feeling completely empowered as I continue to take the steps towards reaching my goals as a compassionate contributer to my community and beyond.

**A Stellar View will begin to emerge when you take the time to nurture your heart and mind with opportunities to learn and share with other people.  We can make a significant and healthful difference in our communities and beyond when we work together.  Thank you to our community college- NMC for putting together such a wonderful and educational event!