La Valse Des Pains - Sutton's Bakery
by Manfried H. Starhemberg
It is 3:30 in the morning and Pascal Picarda, owner of "Le Valse des Pains" bakery in Sutton chats with one of the snow plow operators of Gagne & Fils. There is always a small gift of a couple of croissants or chocolatines for the "boys", the same for the people who pick up the garbage on Monday morning. As a hard working baker, he values the services others provide to him in this small side street across from the post office in downtown Sutton.
Picarda, (45) is a Breton, born and raised in Lorient where he took his diploma as a baker at 18 years of age. His late father was a farmer and his mother still lives in the old home. Pascal visits her twice a year to the consternation of local restaurants and the group of "Rumeur Affamee" stores which carry his bread under exclusive contract. But he supplies them with fresh frozen bread before he spends his week in France and thus far, nobody had to go without.
In business now for more than four years, the little bakery in Sutton has attracted an incredible amount of loyal local clients. Le Cafetier buy his croissants, as do numerous restaurants on the ski mountain, baguettes are packaged for bistros and restaurants, skiers line up at the door at 6 am to get the first shot at the fruit filled viennoisery, the fresh croissants or the scrumptious hot baguettes.
An average night sees Pascal arrive at 8 or nine pm and he will stay until three or four in the afternoon. Often, people enter the bakery at 11 am and Pascal will be dozing on the small stainless steel shelf in front of his expensive oven. He is entiteled, he spends an average of 19 to 20 hours in the bakery every single day. He goes home in the late afternoon and after a shower allows himself possibly three hours of sleep before it's back to the bakery where he begins the mixing of the myriad doughs he uses for the great variety of breads he bakes. There might only be fifteen loafs of one particular variety of Kamut bread or the daily six or seven Focaccias and the 36 "Le Randonneur", a loaf stuffed with Emmentaler, olives and sun dried tomatoes. Then there are Miches, breads with cheese inside, breads with apple and cranberry, nut bread, raisin bread, date orange and chololate loafs and the great array of seeded breads from flax seed to multi grain "Paisans"or "Flocons".
I, his faithful assistant, show up at various hours from midnight to 2am depending on the daily orders and we spend an hour rolling bread after which I devote my time in preparing the fruit filled "Tantations" or the maple butter croissants which are drenched in sliced almonds. Then it's the mushroom or artichoke heart pizzas and the focaccias, breads slathered with sun dried tomatoes and oregano.
Meanwhile, Pascal is processing the baguettes in the rolling machine and every loaf is wrapped in cloth and set to rise naturally, no proofer is needed if the temperature is corret and time is allowed for the bread to rise. Then it is time to put the risen loafs of dough into individual wicker baskets over a bed of finely ground corn to commence their maturing. At about 5 am the mayhem starts, the oven is at the right temperature to receive the mature loafsand Pascal works his "pelle", the bread shovel,like a magician, moving bread around in three etages of the oven to avoid them to be burnt.
Then the bread comes out. A luscious smell envelops the bakery as Pascal deftly shovels out the golden loafs unto wire racks to cool. I meanwhile start to dispatch the croissants and other items already cool onto baskets for delivery. On an average day I carry between 14 to 20 baskets to the "Rumeur Affamee" next door, but on Fridays and Sundays my wife Nancy helps out with this task as it is just a bit too much for me sometimes, after a night of strenuous work which will have me knead an average of a few hundred heavy breads by hand.
Lastly, the bread gets delivered by me to Dunham, a pleasant chore as I am afforded the choice of three buculic country roads to see my beloved scenerey which changes every day.
Everything Pascal Picards uses is "bio" and his breads are a spectacular site when displayed on the racks of Rumeur Affamee after 9 am. The bakery has become a welcome addition to the fast growing business community in Sutton and Picarda is determined to stay here and keep growing his business.