I recently took a trip to Norwich, Vermont to visit King Arthur Flour for the grand opening of their Baking Education Center. And what a trip it was. First, I made the mistake of using Google Maps and Directions. Don’t do that. It’s far better to use something made out of paper, if you can find them. Gas stations don’t seem to have them anymore. Things started to go astray, and we then searched the car for the NUVI, as we call her. She was Missing, Not in Action. OK, then to the iPhone. That at least worked. Until we hit seriously rural NY state. After suffering through much construction and a few wrong turns, 7 ½ hours later, we made it to KAF. Mind you, Google said it should be 6. On which road? Not any I know about.
That evening, we went over to view the new facility and start the heady, but wonderful process, of being submerged in everything baking. I had previously arranged to meet up with Allison, who works for KAF. We found each other eventually (pretty good, considering we had no idea what we looked like). She had her adorable daughter in tow, I had the hubby. Wasn’t long before we were into serious baking discussions, the topic being brownies. Cake vs. fudgy? For me, definitely fudgy. Allison goes between the two. Both hubby and daughter started to look bored.
The next morning, I was back. There were two things on my agenda that day: chocolate and pasta. Vt. Fresh Pasta was there, and I got to ask some important pasta questions. Like when I dry my pasta, it becomes so brittle. Answer: So does theirs. Apparently you need a whole special drying process, like the commercial producers use. Hence why they only do fresh pasta. Their ravioli was to die for.
From there, it was on to chocolate, my middle name. I’ve also been known to answer to the word chocolate, mistakenly thinking someone was calling me. The chocolate in question was Barry Callebaut, which I see in Canada as “Callebaut.” Apparently the Callebaut sans “Barry” is made in Belgium, I believe. It is excellent chocolate, the demo being a taste comparison between various of their products. (It was at this important juncture that the diet flew to the wind, as they started passing out samples: giant, 6 inch, ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies. Still warm. One could have swooned.) I sampled all the chocolates of course, loved all of them, but went comparatively nutty over the white chocolate. White chocolate technically isn’t chocolate, but this stuff was delicious. That’s really saying something, because normally I’m not that interested in it. That’s for the hubby. I’m a dark person, myself.
Shopping was high on my agenda: You only get these opportunities very rarely. It had been 4 years since I had last been to KAF. The guys went and sat in the car that time. My prime directive was that as long as I was in New England, KAF was on the radar. This time, I almost didn’t recognize parts of the store. Some was the same, but the rest was quite different. I hot-footed around the store, perusing mixes (these are mixes I don’t feel guilty about using), equipment, supplies, goodies, it was really mind boggling. Other shoppers weren’t holding back: carts filled, some walking out with five and six large shopping bags each. One man rushed past with about a dozen boxes of his favorite mix (he went by so fast, it was impossible tell which one). The excellent staff was making sure all shelves stayed full. I was worried about them running out of my favorite things, but I needn’t have fretted. I walked out with two large bags, but this was only the beginning. I would be back.