Alexa from the Fat Duck Inn and myself (Barbara from the Inn at Blackberry Creek) started our road trip to Detour Farms with a scary encounter on the triple roundabout at the edge of town. Poor Alexa was wishing she had driven at this point but we were on our way. The drive to Detour farms winds through miles of pasture land and rural homes until you arrive at this beautiful property. Neal and Steve Johnson have created a dreamlike retreat just outside of town.
When you walk through the gate you are greeted by 3 great pyrenees, and a corgi, as you walk to the farmhouse you can see alpacas, horses and chickens and feel the calm of this ideal setting.
Once inside Neal greeted us with a warm handshake and her infectious smile, and you knew you were truly welcomed into her home.
We got to work, the class for us today was baking “Baguettes”, Neal had already measured and placed in bowls all of the necessary ingredients. Using the french techniques she showed us, we mixed the dough and then began to knead this very interesting bread, the technique is different from standard bread making and was at first a challenge but then we quickly caught on.
Of course there was lots of fun and laughing, and we set our dough aside about 11:30 to enjoy a boxed lunch Neal had provided. In the living room in front of the blazing fire, we each were presented with an antique lunch pail, filled with homemade sandwich, a ginger cookie, chopped fruit and mini bottle of wine. We dined and talked while our bread was rising in the background. (In the summer lunch is served on the veranda.)
After lunch we were back to bread baking. We shaped our dough (with close instruction from Neal) into small boules, large boules, Epi’s, fougasse. Neal’s instructions were great and we were feeling like professional bakers.
I hope those of you out of town will make it a point to try one of Neal’s Classes on your next visit to Walla Walla and will of course stay at one of the 11 beautiful Inns that are the WWBBIA.