On Friday, I was lucky enough to be invited on a tour of Terra Breads bakery, led by Mary MacKay, Head Baker and Co-Owner of Terra Breads. To learn more about Mary and the passion she brings to baking, check out this video of her speaking at Food Talks.
For those of you who don't live in Vancouver, Terra Breads is an artisan bakery that has grown to provide breads for many of our favourite local stores, in addition to their own bakeries and cafes. What is exciting about Terra is that, in this world where labels like 'artisan' and 'gourmet' and 'chef-inspired' are slapped on industrial slop daily, Terra Breads are still created using human hands.
The food geek in me has a current fascination: living things and their role in creating the food we eat. Specifically, fermentation. I am not the only one...there is kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut on store shelves as far as the eye can see. So I was really excited when Mary started talking about the "mother": the sour culture that they have been using since the day Terra Breads was started. I even got to taste it. It is amazing how flour and water mingle with the resident yeasts and bacteria in the environment all around us take over and turn that mixture into something that will become an amazingly chewy, complex, flavourful loaf of bread. Mary noted that they only ferment at their main bakery because otherwise, the resident critters in each location would lend a totally different flavour to the breads. The Terra Breads flavour lives in East Van!
We started our tour with this "mother" and followed it all the way through the ovens where the breads are baked directly on the stone. The bakery relies on some mechanization but mostly, human hands create the goodies you see on the shelves from good quality ingredients such as organic flour and freshly toasted nuts and seeds.
Bread is not a food I tend to eat a great deal of; however, if I am going to eat it...I am going to eat good bread. So when I given some bread to take home, it was time for an old-fashioned bread and cheese fest. In the best possible expression of that amazing duo.
Not-your-average Grilled Cheese
To perfectly recreate this sandwich, you need to use the right ingredients so I am going to tell you exactly what I used. Wonder bread and Kraft singles this ain't, folks!
2 slices of Terra Breads Fig and Anise Loaf (mine was a mini loaf!)
A few generous slices of organic, raw milk aged cheddar (I used L'Ancetre)
A slice or two of crisp, local apple
Organic butter for spreading (L'Ancetre again!)
Spread the outside of the sandwich slices with room-temperature butter and then layer the ingredients inside. Heat a non-stick pan to medium-high and place the sandwich in. Lower the heat to medium. When browned on one side, flip and cook the other side for about 2-3 minutes. Enjoy.