Visit to “Safran des Neiges”
On Tuesday, October 25th 2016, at a chilly 3°C at 11:00 AM sharp, Marie-Stéphane Asselin with her beautiful smile and lively demeanor stands in front of her saffron fields greeting the BBTremblant visitors ready to share her wonderful journey.
It’s autumn and every day she anticipates her hard work to bloom, all ten thousand bulbs, cultivated in an area of approximately about 800 m2. For myself, a native of Iran, the country, which is a major saffron producer, it may not be quite comparable to the hectares and hectares of saffron farms spreading to the horizon and not a single recipe without saffron at the tables.
But in Canada where saffron is a relatively new product to most of the population, I understood that she has put considerable deliberation into her project. Not only is she is committed to cultivating saffron, but also to introducing a new culinary culture to her community. Just imagine how much courage, compassion and entrepreneurship it takes to accomplish this challenge.
After an introduction to her story and as she walks us through the farm, where we see the green foliage sprouting from saffron bulbs, she explains: “Saffron, just like most bulbs becomes activated after the winter cold, but unlike most bulbs, it blooms in autumn. In order to achieve a better quality of saffron, the flowers should be picked before they are fully opened and the stigmas, from which this exotic spice is made, are exposed to sunlight.”
And there she was, spicing up our day, picking a newly blossoming flower, opening the light blue petals and showing us the three sunset colored filaments inside, producing the exotic spice of the highest quality by Canadian standards.
After an explicit tour of the farm, she invited us inside her cottage to explain her product in greater detail. Standing beside the fireplace, she showed us her first harvest, her branding and packaging, as well as elaborating on new applications of saffron in pharmacology and beauty sciences. She answered all our questions enthusiastically and guess what - we ended up finding a new friend, a warm multi-dimensional personality, an entrepreneur from whom we have so much to learn.