Meeting the bakers and seeing the bread baking process was, without a doubt, the highlight of our stay at Green Gulch. In addition to Green Gulch being a lettuce and greens paradise, it is closely affiliated with Tassajara, the first Zen training monastery outside Japan. Tassajara rest at the end of a sixteen mile long dirt road within the Ventana Wilderness, located just southeast of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The Tassajara Bread Book has inspired renowned and novice bakers and chefs for over thirty years, and in turn helped shape artisanal bread baking in the United States.
During our visit at Green Gulch, Marianne and I sat and ate breakfast around the wooden, family-style table in the dining hall. We wondered about the possibility of photographing the incredible kitchen. Once we cleaned our dishes, we walked valiantly into the kitchen and waited quietly until we were given permission to photo. We watched as the kitchen crew functioned like a well-oiled machine, working among the fresh farm vegetables and multiple jars of grain. An assortment of pots, pans, and utensils dangled from their hooks, also ready to be of service. With all the activity, we tried to stay out of the way and walked into a storage area, that led us into the bread kitchen. There, we were greeted by Mick Sopko, the friendly head baker of Green Gulch. His hands speckled with flour, he invited us in and introduced himself along with his assistant, then kindly let us photograph the masterful art of bread making. It was wonderful! The ease and precision that Mick portrays while kneading and monitoring the bread conveys his years of experience. A true master. Before we left, as we were in no hurry, Mick pulled out one of his bread books, Tartine Bread, and showed us some of his favorite bread illustrations. He asked if we had visited Tartine. We laughed and told him about previous visits and our plan of eating lunch there that day!
Bread baking is another one of the extraordinary things that Green Gulch provides. I will be participating in the 'fundamentals in bread baking' class this June for my birthday! So, if you feel inspired and hungry for bread, please join me at Green Gulch.
A huge thank you to Mick for his hospitality and for allowing us to capture the true art of bread making.