To Eat

By Nancy Larman, Santa Barbara, CA

Dear Tom, Emily and Riley,

I awoke this morning with hunger pangs coursing through my body.Yoga class only made them worse so I set out on an excursion to explore my potential remedies. This blissful island that the locals affectionately call “Gabe” has a thriving artisanal food community. There is even a group here called Lulu’s Local, that acts as a distribution network connecting the local artisan producers with independent merchants. It seems to be a successful marketing model that helps get small-scale products out on the market. I think the idea would work well at home with our local artisan producers as well. 

Using the product list that Lulu’s Local represents as my guide got me started off on my quest for morning food but I ended up confronted by one of the oddest concoctions that I have ever come across: garlic truffle chocolates. I couldn’t quite bring myself to satisfy my urges with one of these Gabriola delectables so I carried on my quest with another Lulu’s Local product in hand to lend assistance, some Gabriola Coffee Company coffee. It was a mellow blend of organic Mexican beans, roasted on the island, but this turned my hunger into high gear and I took a local’s recommendation and headed to the south end of the island to a very special place, the Slow Rise Bakery.

Nirvana is the best word to use for the state I felt after tasting (or rather gobbling down) a raspberry chocolate scone. Their small bakery uses a wood-fired oven to turn out amazing organic specialty breads and baked goods. Dimitri Tsotzos and Paul MacEwen are the partner/owners and truly inspired bakers. Paul was a chef with his own restaurant in West Vancouver before moving to Gabriola in 2004 with his wife, Michelle. The warmth and smells inside their small baking room made it feel like a true haven, and hunger pangs soon turned into stomach groans from the onslaught of chocolate and raspberries and pieces of warm baguette. You could taste the passion of these bakers in every bite I took.

These talented artisan bakers get up in the middle of the night, several nights a week, to make and bake bread and these incredible scones that they then deliver to the local food store, Village Foods, and also to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.  They even do a delivery run with their products a couple of times a week to Nanaimo, sharing their amazing creations with those lucky enough to be aware of them, and where to buy them. I would love to try and buy one of everything they make and bring them home to you all but I am not sure they would make it. Hunger pangs might hit me again while I am en route, and I cannot promise their safe delivery to you! I am sending this picture instead, to show you where they bake. 

I have to go now but you will all have to come back to Gabriola one day with me and we can go on a bigger artisanal food adventure here. I feel I have only just scratched the surface.  You may even be bold enough to try the garlic truffle chocolates!!!

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