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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brian & Deya met in Vancouver Canada. After a few years together we were married and made choices. One was not to have children the other was not to take life for granted. The rest is yet to come.

June 02, 2011

Tom’s Pan German Bakery

We headed out towards La Fortuna, a tourist destination for people wanting hot springs, horse tours, zip lines, rafting and resort style stuff.  We were going to look for some hot springs, food and the bakery.  We got into La Fortuna early and looked around a bit before deciding to go West to search out the German Bakery we had seen on our initial route in.  One of the things Deya and I would regularly do at home is ride hundreds of kilometres, even over a thousand, in a day just to try a piece of pie or something from a notable shop.
The German Bakery had called and we were en route, besides it was only about 100 kilometres of backtracking.

The road from the farm to La Fortuna is sketchy with sharp, blind corners and heavy trucks going full speed around corners taking up both lanes.  Other than that it’s pretty nice.  From La Fortuna to Nuevo Arenal, the sight of the bakery, is fantastic and easy riding.

We arrived to the bakery just after noon and ordered a large sandwich to share.  It was simply fantastic.  While we sat there the owner came by, Tom, approached the tables and greeted all the patrons, he stopped back to talk to us for a bit.  He mentioned a free camping sight nearby and that he used to ride bike.  Tom was certainly an interesting guy and a delight to have met that first day.  We told him we’d come back tomorrow as we had some stuff to do in La Fortuna.  We headed back intending to try some pastries the next day and camp.
Tom and I
Mustard on every table!
La Fortuna is pretty much a tourist trap, it’s nice but typically out of our budget.  We had done well the last couple of weeks so decide to put on the tourist hat for the day we were there.  We stayed at a reasonable place that was very nice and right in town.  Deya and I got a couple of stickers for the bikes and bought a couple of tickets to a resort to check out there 25 pools of hot springs and buffet dinner.  The day was good but honestly I was an old grump and Deya wasn’t having any of it.  The hot springs and food solved all that, the night spent in a comfortable bed and later several hours in a hammock totally turned things around.  We went from hot, tired and grumpy to energetic and positive.  Totally worth the price.  We checked out early but hung out until the afternoon waiting to head back to Tom’s place for some bread and pastries.
New 8 lb tent/bed set from REI..?
When we got back to the bakery we ordered some meats and cheeses, a pastry and coffee.  Costa Rican food is just not this good and this was really good food, some of the best since we left Mexico and unique since most ingredients were imported from Germany.   Tom came by again and we talked, he sat and ate with us and said that if we didn’t want to camp he had just cleared up a room in the back and we were welcome to spend the night.  It was a genuine and excellent offer only extended to fellow bikers, helped our budget and also let us hang out at this cool place another day.  As we talked another rider showed up, Rossi, from Australia.  He was heading North and looking for a place.  There was no room in the back so he went down to the lake for the free camping spots.  Good luck Rossi; don’t hesitate to stop by our place in Mexico on your way through if you take that route!
F*%king idiot!
Deya made those! I got to put the sesame
seeds on.
We spent the night at the Bakery, Deya asked Tom if there was anything we could help him with and he said yes.  Six A.M. came early and we were up showered and ready to bake.  There was a large order on the book, Tom would direct us in the preparation.  It was a blast to work in his kitchen, loud rock‘n’roll blaring, the heat of the ovens firing, and the preparation of the breads and pastries in full motion.  Tom is a master and moves like lightning, directing us like the captain of a ship but faster and harder.  It was hard work, especially when it’s totally new and there is not only a craftsmanship involved but also science.  I’m sure, though I don’t speak German, I got called a Fu@#ing idiot more than once due to my own mistakes, it made me laugh, I loved the pace and intensity of Tom’s kitchen.

We ploughed for several hours before Tom called a well planned break.  The level of organization and planning is intense, the gas in the oven is burning and scheduling the various different products into and out of the oven was done without waste.  The recipes and timings for mixes are done off the top of his head and clearly years of experience allowed things to flow.  As we took a break and had some good food I was sure Tom was going to dismiss us, well at least me.  I asked if we were slowing him down or not and he said seriously that it was a huge help, that we didn’t have to work very hard and we were already half done.  I just about fell off the chair since I thought we were busting ass and at the final stage.  More hours of work and we finally completed the order.
Deya and I went to clean up, we were going to stay another night at Tom’s because it was just awesome and we love to lend a hand, it makes for a really rewarding experience.  After a shower we went out for dinner at a local pizza joint, Moya’s Place, that served up some of the best pizza I have ever had at reasonable prices.  Some beer, wine and good food finished the day.  Hanging out with Tom was great because Tom is a very interesting guy.  Change is always good but sadly, Tom has decided to sell the Bakery after 15 years to do something else, maybe he would take a partner in the business.  Either way, if you’re going to Costa Rica take the route North of Lake Arenal and stop at the bakery before Tom is gone or you will miss something we think is special about the area.

Moya's Place
Thanks Tom, I hope we get to visit your kitchen again, where ever it is, in the future!

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