Bad Dog creates good bread
Best Eats Gail Johnson
While he was living in Squamish for a few years and working in pest control, Vadim Mugerman happened to start baking, discovering a passion for making fresh bread. The Moscow native decided he wanted to learn from the masters, so he booked a plane ticket to France, bought a cheap car once he got there, and went knocking on doors.
Sleeping in his vehicle at night, he would offer to work at small bakeries for free so that he could pick up techniques and tips from people who know what it takes to make good bread.
“The first woman I met, in Albertville, was milling her own flour right there,” Mugerman tells the Georgia Straight. “I knew at that moment that not only would I open a bakery but that I would also have to mill my own flour. The flavour just blew me away.”
Nowadays, Mugerman runs Bad Dog Bread. The recently opened organic, artisan bakery in North Vancouver shares a space with Orto Artisan Pasta. (The Italian restaurant is run by Brigitte Rayé—formerly of West Vancouver’s La Régalade and La Cigale in Kitsilano—and her son Steeve. Like Bad Dog Bread, it has quickly become a favourite of the locals.)
The bakery takes its name from Mugerman’s girlfriend’s rescue dog, Tommy, who ate an entire organic loaf Mugerman had purchased at Victoria’s Fol Epi bakery (“gone in a matter of minutes”). The next week, the pup took a full bag of freshly milled flour right out of the baker’s bag and consumed it just as quickly.
Mugerman’s naturally leavened artisan loaves of bread take about 26 hours in total to make. His products vary from day to day but include brioche and fougasse, a flat, leaf-shaped bread that originated in France; he makes different versions of the latter with olives, oregano, hot peppers, and other ingredients. Loaf varieties include fresh rosemary, pecan and fig, whole-wheat coriander-andraisin, rye, sesame, and sourdough.
He also makes sweets such as cinnamon buns, chocolate brioche buns, and sea-saltand-chocolate-chip cookies.
The first step toward making all of those baked goods is milling the flour. Avoiding conventional grocery-store flour that can sit on shelves for years and is a highly processed food, Mugerman appreciates freshly milled flour for its taste, character, texture, aroma, and nutritional value. He also likes being able to know exactly how and where the grains he is using are grown and by whom.
Mugerman sources organic wheat from True Grain on Vancouver Island and mills it in a small stone mill that he purchased in Idaho. He hopes to expand his current space soon and add two more. “My dream is to have my own silo,” he says.
Prices range from $4 for a rustic baguette to $8 for a hearty freshrosemary loaf. In addition to the North Van spot, which serves coffee, tea, sweets, and breakfast toast with toppings, Bad Dog Bread can be found at local farmers markets, including those at Lonsdale Quay, Ambleside, and Burnaby.
QUINTA VALE D. MARIA, PORTUGAL
Family proprietor Cristiano van Zeller recently sold this historic venture, but we needn’t worry about any drop in Vale D. Maria’s quality, as it was his wine-producing cousins from Aveleda in Vinho Verde who took over the reins of the business. Quinta Vale D. Maria Douro 2013 ($55.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) is a field-blend red made from old-vine grapes, generous with Italian plums, currants, dark cherries, and plenty of polish. ÁLVARO PALACIOS, SPAIN Mr. Palacios is a modern legend, had a major hand in putting regions like Priorat and Bierzo on the map. Álvaro Palacios Descendientes de J. Palacios Pétalos 2015 ($36.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) is made from Mencia grown in Bierzo; it’s lively and fresh, with red fruit, anise, and a good crack of mineral character.
LES VINS BONHOMME, SPAIN It’s rare to see Nathalie Bonhomme, the gregarious winemaker and négociant behind the brand, behind her table at the wine fest. She’s way more likely to be in front of it with the people, eager to share lovely wines like her El Petit Bonhomme Rueda Verdejo 2016 ($13.49, B.C. Liquor Stores), a crisp and refreshing white laden with green apple and fresh lime.
GONZÁLES BYASS, SPAIN Do take advantage of all the sherry flowing in the room, like Gonzáles Byass Oloroso Nutty Solera ($16.99, B.C. Liquor Stores), a delectable mouthful of toffee-coated hazelnuts and figs.
PARÉS SPAIN BALTÀ/GRATAVINUM,
These are the folks behind some of my very favourite Spanish sparkling wines. You can’t get much more consistent and dependable than Parés Baltà Cava Brut Organico ($22 to $26, private liquor stores), teeming with citrus, apples, and pears, with a pinch of white pepper.
ALPHA BOX & DICE, AUSTRALIA
The boys are back in town. Expect crowds around the table of charismatic brothers Dylan and Justin Fairweather, with everyone supping on their unique takes on modern Australian wine. Alpha Box & Dice Dead Winemakers Society Dolcetto 2015 ($32.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) carries plenty of cherries and plums and is fresh as a daisy from start to finish.
NARRATIVE, CANADA Those interested in the continuing naturalwine phenomenon will be fascinated by these minimal-intervention wines coming out of Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland. Narrative Cabernet Franc 2016 ($21.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) is more Loire Valley than Napa Valley, zippy and bright with red fruit and herbs.
VIÑA MONTES, CHILE This family producer is known for some of the most elegant, site-specific wines coming out of Chile. Montes Alpha Colchagua Syrah 2015 ($25.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) often has a spot on my table, dizzy with purple fruit, baking spices, and an opulent nature.
LAURENT-PERRIER, FRANCE Because Champagne. Need I say more? Laurent-perrier Cuvée Rosé ($88.99 until March 3, B.C. Liquor Stores) is 100 percent Pinot Noir and 100 percent lovely, effervescent with huckleberries and red currants.
MICHELE CHIARLO, ITALY Michele Chiarlo La Vespa Monferrato Rosso 2013 ($17.99, B.C. Liquor Stores), with its herb-driven red and purple fruit, is a good start to get a feel for the region of Piedmont. Then while you’re in the swing of things, you can step right up and try some of their fancy-pants Barolos, brimming with classic notes of balsam, anise, tar, and roses.