So much has happened since the last time I have written. The last time I wrote I was about to go for demonstration at a local B and B. 3 chefs from Johnston and Wales from the Denver campus were coming up to show off some of their skills. I showed up for dinner the night before to meet the chefs. It was a long night with good food and wine of course. I got to talk with the chefs and learn a little more about them.
The next day I woke up early and went to Leroux Creek Inn, where this demonstration was going to take place. We were thrown into it. We started prep work and cooking. Around 10am people began to show up and the demonstration began. One of the chefs, the vegetable chef, did not show up. We had no idea where he was or what had happened to him. The other chefs asked me to step in and take his place. I said ok. However, instead of cooking and telling about the ratatouille, I talked about what I was doing in the North Fork Valley. I told them about my back round and what I had learned while working on the farm. It was a lot of fun. The day ended in success. Everyone loved the food, a lot of wine was sold and the chefs were happy.
The next couple of weeks, life on the farm continued as usual. Waking up and doing work on the farm. The vineyard was finally done. We had tied and cut and now the vineyard looks terrific! The peaches and apples were coming along. Life was really good.
At the end of August our family welcomed a new addition, my new niece, Stella Virginia Samford. She was born on the 22nd of august in the afternoon. Before I left to go home to see my niece, I had the privilege to help celebrate a 21st birthday, Emily’s. It was so much fun. Emily, Wink, Max and I took the afternoon off. We all got off the farm to run errands, pick up yummy chocolates and try a lot of alcohol.
We began with lunch at a brewery in Palisades. We had beer. First we tried the four different beers and then settled on one with our meal. It was nice not having to cook and enjoying the afternoon with a cold beer. After lunch we walked a few hundred feet to a distillery, Peach Distillery. Here, if you can’t figure it out with the name, is an alcohol place. We tried some vodka, bourbon and other stuff. I only tried the bourbon – very good.
After purchasing a few bottles, we all piled into the car and headed for another stop. This time it would be a winery, Debeque Canyon. We tried some wines and talked to the owner, they are close friends to Wink and Max.
After being all alcoholed up, we piled into the car again and drove a little farther to get a few items we need. We then left by 5pm to go back to Paonia for a private tasting at a nanobrewery. It was fantastic. Another friend staying on the farm meet us there, with his cat, Bobby. It was near 7 when we left and went to get food at the local pizzeria. The day was just perfect! I hope Emily had a wonderful 21st birthday.
A few days later she left to go home for college at Colorado State. A few days after she left I left to go home to see my niece, Stella Virginia. I would like to take the time to tell you all that she is wonderful! She is beautiful and she already has everyone doing everything for her. The first grandchild for the parents and the first niece/nephew for the siblings!
I was back on the farm for 3 more weeks. This time we began to pick peaches. That means, we were picking by sunrise and then packing them during the day. Picking peaches has to be done by touch, but without bruising them. It is a way of feel when you hold the fresh peach in the palm of your hand. At the end of the day, I think I understood it. We picked and picked and picked some more. Peaches in the morning are hard because of the cold night’s Colorado air. This is why you pick early in the morning. You have to stop picking when the peaches give just a slightest bit. We would be picking by 6:15 and stopping by about 10isham.
A week or so after we started picking peaches we were allowed to pick apples!!! Apples can be harvest any time, all day long. During this time I am also harvesting the green beans, tomatoes and the other things on the farm. This is a wonderful time to be on the farm!
My last really big deal on the farm was actually not on the farm. A local culinary school in Boulder came up for a 10 days to learn about Farm to Table. I was able to tag along and see some of the things they saw – farms and such. To celebrate their last day in the North Fork and what they had learned in the Farm to Table program, they had a big dinner. The day before the event, we were able to see a lamb being slaughtered. It was very interesting and educational. I won’t go into detail, because it might gross people out, but the slaughter was very interesting. It gives you an appreciation for food. We then went to begin prep for the dinner. I went to help out – 10am to 6pm. It was fun being with students.
These students had only been in session for a couple of months. Some knew about cooking before hand, others were just a tad slower. I had fun getting to know the students and what they wanted to do. I would be with them all day tomorrow as well.
The following day began with prep in the kitchen for a few hours. We then packed up and went to the farm, Zephros Farm. We set-up our work space in the middle of the farm. My plan was to help when needed. I didn’t want to jump in. This was their dinner. I hung out and talked with Yvon, who was cooking the lamb, drinking wine and doing what was needed when I saw something. The bread we were serving for dinner did not work out so well in transport, so we had to do some damage control – I worked on that.
The night was good. It flew by. The students did a wonderful job – a real camaraderie with them. I stayed and helped clean-up. After all clean-up is part of the job. All the food was gone, we got nothing. So after loading up the cars with the students and with our equipment, I went back with the students to eat and hang-out with them. This is how I spend my last night in the North Fork.
The next morning I spend packing fruit, cleaning my house, packing and packing my car. I said good-bye and was gone from the North Fork Valley by about 4pm. I was on my way home, with a quick stop in Colorado Springs to see my friend Amanda and a stop in Denver to see friends Cory McEwen and her boy and pick up my step-sister Amy.
My adventure out west was amazing, a wonderful time spent digging in the dirt and learning about growing. My short amount of time in the North Fork was well spent, learning as much as I could and taking part in everything I could. I hope everyone digs in the dirt and get their nails dirty – it’s a good feeling. Thank you to all those in the North Fork, it was a pleasure in getting to know you and hopefully our paths will cross again.
Since I have been home a ton has happened. I have gotten to know my niece, Stella, just a bit more. She is still beautiful and she still has everyone doing everything she needs. She has grown and is developing rapidly. I love her.
At the end of September my sister, Suzanne, got married at The Ford Plantation in Richmond Hill Georgia. It was a beautiful wedding. Tons of friends, tons of family, lots of drink, lots of food and a wonderful celebration of life, through the joining of two people and two families. The fun filled weekend was very busy with lots of activities. I made the groom’s cake for the wedding – a reese’s cake, peanut butter cake, peanut butter mousse and chocolate icing. It was good, I was told. I didn’t get a piece. The night of the wedding I spent on the dance floor, dancing my heart out! It was so much fun.
It was then time to go home to recharge and regroup. My next adventure was off to Europe for the two week intensive program.
I arrived in Paris on a Sunday afternoon. I took a long walk through the Paris streets and looked. I went to find Le Cordon Bleu and it was still the same as before. I then decided to walk back to where I used to live when I went to school. My neighborhood was not far away. I remembered the way, like the back of my hand. I found some of my old bakeries open!!! SCORE. I was able to get some food. I hadn’t eaten yet, so I was really happy.
After a few hours, I finally got back to my hotel and relaxed. There was a welcoming dinner at 7:30 in the hotel. It was like any other large group meeting for the first time, a little awkward. I walked in and there were a lot of other men and women. WOW. I thought I hope I am not the youngest (later I would find out I am the youngest). People were soon quite and we all introduced ourselves to one another. We toasted with champagne.
We were led across the way and had dinner. It was hotel food, not so great. But we got to meet a few people and had a good time with all that. I called it an early night – I had not slept for about 36 hours. So I excused myself and went to bed.
The next morning we had breakfast and I led a group of people to Le Cordon Bleu. The program had officially begun. We had our classes at Le Cordon Bleu on the first floor demonstration room, oh the memories. We had many lecturers and some of the lectures were interesting, while others were not.
One of the lecturers was Herve This. This is the guy who is the king of molecular gastronomy. It was amazing to hear him speak. He didn’t have long, but we all soaked it up, whatever he had to say. Another night we would have dinner with him and his wife, a dinner on molecular gastronomy.
The week continued with meals all over the city. We had a medieval dinner at Gregoire-Ferrandi school. They pulled out all the stops for us. It was a great meal and the service was impeccable.
One day we had class at the Sorbonne. That was neat to be there. We then had a lunch with terroir products – food from specific regions, known for that particular food or wine.
Another day, well I should day at one in the morning, we went to Rungis Market, the largest market in Europe. It was amazing! We got to see everything. We took a bus to get to the market. You have to sign in, not just anyone is allowed to come in here. We took a walk through the seafood pavilion. It was huge! There was fish everywhere, any type of fish you could imagine. There were lobsters, crab, swordfish, tile fish, flat fish, round fish, mussels, and so much more. It was incredible to see this in progress. We then went to the meat sector. There were huge halves of beef hanging, quarters of beef hanging, pig…it was incredible to see the amount of animal in the pavilion. We saw the packaged meat products, mostly game birds, since it is the season. Everything was all neat and pretty. There were a few animals that were still fully dressed (they had their heads, fur and so on still in tact). That was a sight to see. We went to visit the offal section. This is the heart, lungs, liver…the insides that people use to make the delicacies. It was pretty cool. We got to see how they take apart a cow’s head, to get to the brain, the check meat and how they use the skin. It was all very impressive. Our next stop was the cheese/dairy section, then the vegetable section. The vegetables had everything you could imagine! Mushrooms of all kinds, fruits, vegetables some of which I had never seen…they had I think 8 of these pavilions for vegetables. There is a picture of Frank Stitt in his cookbook with just bags of haricot verts, well what I saw in just one warehouse would put that to shame…I know they work on different levels, but it was just jaw dropping to see the quantity they house. Our tour ended around 9, this included breakfast at some point. The early morning hours were well spent. The rest of the day I and a few others spent sleeping!
The last week of the program we left for Reims. We had an amazing dinner at the hotel restaurant, a two star called L’Assiette Champenoise. It was spectacular. This might have been for two reasons, first we hadn’t had a real decent meal since we got there and second, the service and atmosphere was impeccable. It was a real treat.
The next week was spent having lecturers at the local university, lunch at one place (with the same plating and decorations for the plate, with ok food) and dinners at different places! The dinners were just amazing – the food ok, the champagne and wine amazing and the ambiance incredible! Our first dinner was at the champagne house of Veuve Clicquot. To make you jealous I’ll just tell you what we drank: 1998 Veuve Clicquot le Grande Dame, Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rose 2002, Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage 1998 and for dessert Veuve Clicquot Demi-sec carafe.
The next dinner was a the champagne house of G. H. Mumm. We began with a G.H. Mumm Cuvee R. Lalou 1998, Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1995, Krug 1995 and finally a G. H. Mumm Rose.
The next dinner was the Les Crayeres, another two star restaurant in Reims. This restaurant the restaurant we had our first meal, L’Assiette Champenoise, are fighting to be the best. We began with a vin Jaune 1999 Chateau d’Arlay, Beaune du Chateau ler Cru 2005 Bouchard Pere and Fils, Chateau Cheval Blanc 1998, and finally a Chateau d’Yquem 1998.
Our last meal to write about was with Mr. Krug himself. We dined at his house, after a private tour of the caves. We had a Krug Grande Cuvee, Krug 1996, Krug 1989 and with dessert a Krug Rose.
The last week was really something to write home about. It was all amazing. The whole course has been wonderful. I learned a few things I didn’t know and met a lot of really nice people. There was a blend of nationalities which made the program that much better. Everyone brought something different to the table. We were all from different back rounds: chefs, doctors, photographers, and many more. It was great to meet such a diversity of people. Hopefully I will see them again next year, when we get our diplomas!
Right now I am in Germany with cousin Andi, one of mom’s cousins. It has been great to just hang out. My plans are not in stone quite yet, but they are coming around. I’ll be back state side in a couple of weeks, definitely in time for the holidays…until then, I’ll try to make another update….take care everyone