Transformations: deep fryers sold!

As I slowly transform the trailer into an actual crêperie, the long unused deep fryers that came with it have now sold. Good luck to the new food truck in town who will be using them!   This gives me more room, and money of course, to do other things. Next step, replace the range hood with a narrower but deeper version so that I get some space back on that side. That is just a first small step.

In other news, both leaks I had before are back, with a vengeance, and the main exhaust fan has now officially broken. The 2016 battle continues, and we’re still closed for a while.


Correction: Opening 23 November 2016 (Wednesday)

On Sunday, when I looked at the weather for today, I only saw the usual “rain”. Not a problem, I thought. We can handle that, I thought. Good test, yeah!

I hadn’t noticed the wind and weather warnings, assuming they had been issued for Tuesday yet. Some things I’ve learned not to challenge, and one of those is local wind warnings. with winds up to 80 kph! When it rains I need to use the awning, and I’m not sure my awning would survive that, especially since the Maffeo Sutton site is fairly exposed. With the way 2016 has gone so far, I’m pretty sure my awning would end up somewhere in Cedar.

So… Wednesday. Still supposed to be “windy”, but no weather warnings issued. Yet.

Trial opening: 22 Nov 2016

So we’re going to try to open on TUESDAY, 22 November. If possible we’ll also be opening Wednesday.

We’ll be at Maffeo Sutton Park ( see map ) in the food truck area, which is kitty corner from White Sails Brewing.

The weather possibly won’t be the best, but we’ll be there with hot galettes, crepes, and coffee.

[edit] opening time of 11:00 ish. We hope.

Laboratory update – part 3

Max humidity: 62%
Min temperature: 7°C

Well, the seasoning seems to be stable with those parameters. So I’ve decided to open again on TUESDAY, 22 November, at Maffeo Sutton park. I’d open Monday, but since I didn’t book ahead I’ll need to do that, and I also need to arrange to get keys and other information for the park since I’ve not used that one before.  So Tuesday (and Wednesday, and possibly Thursday) it shall be, barring any further problems.

Probably from just before noon to around dinner time. Not expecting huge crowds, it’s more a “does this stuff work” set of days rather than a “let’s make money” kind of day. Not that I’d mind doing the latter, of course! Follow the Gwenn-ha-du!

Breton flag, the Gwenn-ha-du.
The Gwenn-ha-du of Bistro Breizh.

Laboratory update – part 2

The first night doesn’t seem to have hurt the seasoning, as far as I can see. We’ll see what happens tonight. Today I hope to finish the 3rd billig and I’ll leave that in the trailer as well.

The hypothesis that I’ve formed is that it’s a combination of condensation along with temperature fluctuations that causes the flaking off of the seasoning. Therefore, if I can keep the temperature inside the trailer above the dew point, I should be OK. This means keeping the relative humidity down while keeping the temperature up.

Thanks to the heater, min temp overnight was 6°C. Max humidity overnight in the trailer was about 75%. Dew point was therefore about 2°C.

Another point is that in order to prevent mechanical damage and corrosion to the equipment, I should be keeping the humidity below 55% or so. Yes, I need a better dehumidifier. Or perhaps a 2nd one. Or perhaps I need to move the one I have to a more “central” location for better air circulation? Will be testing more options over time.

Laboratory update

I was unable to maintain proper seasoning temperature when doing the billig outside the trailer. Might be due to not enough gas flow using my “outside” rig with more than one billig. So I had to design and build something to stop the smoke from the seasoning from completely choking me out of the trailer, in order to do the seasoning using the trailer gas system which is designed for much higher volume.

I managed to bodge something together after a few days, so two of the billig are now seasoned. I’ve put a heater into the trailer to reduce temperature fluctuations, and I’ve put the dehumidifier on full. Now we wait to see if the billig stay coated or if it flakes off again. If the seasoning doesn’t die after a couple of day/night cycles I’ll be re-opening. In the meantime I’ll be fixing up the third billig, which I will keep in the house as a faster (hopefully) replacement if one of the other ones suddenly stops working. I’m also strongly considering getting a 4th billig “just in case”, especially if I can find a more local supplier to whom I can then turn for repairs to my older two whose temperature control isn’t working.

When I open again I intend to experiment with Maffeo Sutton park as a week-day location (opposite White Sails Brewing) probably from just before noon to about 17h00 (5pm) depending on traffic.  I’ll also try to keep dates at Living Forest Campground and Arbutus Distillery if they want me back. But all that depends on me being able to keep my billig operating. I have a lot of catching up to do!

I’ll hopefully know in a day or two.

Tradition to the rescue

There are two ways to look at a problem. From a purely analytical perspective, or from the point of view of “tradition”.

Analytically, the “seasoning” of the billig (crepe griddle) is simply the careful polymerization – or turning into a form of plastic – of certain fats onto the cast iron surface of the billig. This thin plastic coating is highly resistant if it’s done right, including the correct types of fat and careful temperature control.

It looks like the seasoning coats I’d created might have delaminated from the cast iron subsurface due to high humidity. Having analysed this and past failures, each time I’ve had this type of failure on the billig, it’s been at a time of very high humidity and fairly broad temperature fluctuations. I have a dehumidifier in the trailer, but there was a large water leak recently which increased the humidity beyond acceptable limits.

Of course, looked at from the perspective of tradition, it’s obviously because I didn’t follow the wisdom of my ancestors and didn’t season the thing correctly in the first place. I was not careful enough in my first creation of a magic substance called “lardigel”, a mixture of pure lard and egg yolk that has been used on billig for as long as there are records of these things. Instead, my first attempts failed, so I moved away from lardigel to other substances. I should not have discarded tradition.

The problem with making lardigel in Canada is that “pure lard” is almost impossible to find. Whereas it’s available in most supermarkets in France, in Canada what is called “pure lard” most certainly isn’t. It’s been adulterated with additives and other chemicals that change it in ways that are detrimental to a good billig coating. Even the local butcher who claimed to sell “pure lard” had salted the stuff! Not so pure after all! I had tried what I thought was lardigel previously and failed. It seems that this might have been because the lard I was using was not, in fact, “pure”.  Lack of proper labelling in this country is a real detriment to doing things correctly.

So I have gone right back to basics and located a source of pure, unadulterated pig fat (leaf lard) straight from the pig. I will be rendering it into the pure lard myself. Once I have the pure lard, I’ll mix it into the substance known as “lardigel” using traditional techniques. Knowledge which I was actually taught in my training, but have neglected to my detriment.  If I do this carefully enough, it should create a well bonded polymer coating that should resist humidity somewhat better. This process is known as the “culottage” in French.

Of course, I could be wrong, in which case expect another “arrrggghhh” post in the near future. We’ll see what happens. It also won’t fix the technical issues I’m having with the automatic temperature controls of the billig. That’s going to be another challenge, to say the least, especially since proper culottage of the billig requires fairly careful temperature control as well as the correct ingredients for lardigel.


I finished yesterday with 2 working billig (crêpes griddles). When I arrived this morning one had the seasoning peeling off, so I started re-seasoning it, a 4 hour process. The very first client of the day and the billig that I had JUST re-seasoned last week peeled off right into the galette I was making. So it’s 11 am and I have no working billig any more.

I have no idea if I’ll be able to make it to Arbutus Distillery but I’m going to try!