The Big Dig

by groove on January 17, 2014

For weeks, the anticipation has been building. “A pop-up record store”, they said. “Over 40,000 records in one tiny room”, is what I heard. I stopped by the pawn shop on Ellis in Kelowna a couple of weeks before Grey Cup Sunday in November to find out more about this massive haul of vinyl they recently acquired. It was going to go something like this: on Grey Cup Sunday, the doors to the room were going to open to a limited bunch of record freaks. The cost would be something like $20 to get in the door, no more than 50 total tickets sold. We’d have the late afternoon and evening to browse and stockpile whatever we could find. Each record was going to $5, no questions asked. There is no order to the piles, totally random stacks of wax. Johnny Cash was mixed in with Led Zeppelin, The Beatles squished in with Hank Mobley, Hendrix cozying up to Sinatra. Merle Haggard might be hanging with Anne Murray in the corner. Oh, there is no shortage of Charley Pride, he promised.

The pile of records are rumored to have come from a closed-out record store in Alberta. Who knows the real story? Who cares. All I know is…I want in there and I want to be one of the first. I will be going in with a few hundred bucks and no particular list in hand.

You see, the real draw this kind of dig is the mystery of what is in the piles. The unknown is what draws me to the boxes and stacks. The chance at finding a true gem among the commons. I have had some good fortune in some of my digging expeditions, unearthing an album from The Keys  at a bookstore, Teenage Head at a pawnshop, vintage Johnny Cash at the Salvation Army, Lazarus at a second hand store, KISS Originals at a garage sale, a bunch of Blue Note jazz albums at a yard sale and on and on and on. The moments of crouching down and flipping through each album, picking one out of the pile, wiping the dust off the cover, holding it up to the light to see the wear on the edges and the ring made by the album. A perfect album cover is nice, but a worn cover holds some kind of magic for me. Kind of like a favourite pair of jeans. Then, there is the moment of pulling the record from the sleeve and seeing the condition….is it scratched? Is it scuffed? Is it perfect???

Some of the records I buy are purely based on the artwork alone. Depending on price, I will take home 50% of the records from a dig not knowing who the bands are and what the music is like. It’s all part of the journey.

So, Grey Cup Sunday comes and goes and there is no official “opening” of the pop-up store. Seems the pawn shop owner was being hassled a bit by the City, so he had to have a soft opening. So soft, I missed it and subsequently missed the chance at first grabs. Oh well, I have been to the “vinyl room” twice now (and once in the pawn shop where there are some 2,000 records) and have managed to walk away with 170 records. I have posted many of the records in the past several weeks on Instagram and our Facebook page and there will be many more posts to come. I would love to have been there on day 1, rather than day 10. Oh well, I have been like a kid in a candy store each time I have been there and I will be going back at least once or twice more. There was 40,000 records. Apparently, there are around 25,000 left. I can’t tell exactly, but the pictures show approx 60% of the room’s volume. My best estimate is the room contains around 15,000 or so. Right now, each album is $2. At some point down the road, they will likely drop to $1 per album. Can’t wait!

Roasted Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash

Well, it’s been almost a full two weeks since I started in the culinary program at Okanagan College in Kelowna. To be honest the time as gone by in a blur and this past week hasn’t been easy dealing with a wicked cold virus. Everyday starts out with a lecture in the classroom and ends with at least three hours in the lab kitchen. So far we have learned about braising and created braised celery, we roasted beets and butternut squash. We’ve concassed tomatoes, roasted garlic, made a ratatouille, deep fried onion rings as well as corn fritters. I almost forgot the broiled tomato slices topped with breadcrumbs which tasted delicious.

Onion Rings

Onion Rings

The past few days we learned about the five mother sauces; Béchamel, Velouté, Brown Stock (Espagnole), tomato sauce and Hollandaise. Today was soup day, we created a veg barley soup, cream of broccoli and pureed carrot soup. During our time in the kitchen we are either in groups of two or three people and given usually around five recipes to complete. Together we are to bring these recipes to the plate so we can all experience the process and understand the techniques that we’ve been taught. Unfortunately, I find that this doesn’t happen – not well anyway. My group tries hard to do this by cutting up are mis en place together but it’s a challenge. I find that I don’t really know each recipe as well as I should except for the one I’m in charge of writing out. Also, with so many people running around the kitchen grabbing their ingredients and tools and then everyone cramming in front of the few stoves available, it’s really difficult to really focus in. Having said all this, so far our chef instructor has been pleased with the dishes we have presented him and our team seems to work well together. Perhaps once we’re done in the lab kitchen at the end of January and then all disperse into separate smaller areas things will make a bit more sense. I’ve posted a few pictures here, I wish I had more but I keep forgetting to take them. And as you can see, we’re not being graded on presentation yet 😉

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Cream of Broccoli Soup

We haven’t been told which area we go into after January but it could be bakery, cold kitchen, hot kitchen or the evening dining room. Once we’ve spent six weeks in each area it’ll be June and classes will be done until September. I’m seeing know how quickly the next few months will go. In the meantime, I just hope I remember everything :).

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