The Wood-Fired Blog

The FB Cookbook Get Social. Again.

Community Cookbook

The goal for the Forno Bravo Community Cookbook has always been to create a resource where wood-fired ovens lovers can get together and share recipes, techniques, photos and comments. So we are happy to be announcing the latest version of our FB Cookbook application. We now make it really easy for you to post your own recipes and photos, and we will soon be adding User Blogs, where you can sign up and blog your own cooking experiences and ideas.

Summer is just about here and the kids are out of school (if you have kids and they are still in school), so for many of us its time to fire up your oven and get cooking. Come on. Post a recipe. Give us your comments. Upload a photo. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

NY Times — eCommerce Sites Cut out the Middleman

There is an interesting phenomenon highlighted in the NY Times today — a growing number of eCommerce sites actually make their own products, rather than acting as intermediaries between the manufacturer and the end customer (think Amazon). Their lead example is a start-up, Warby Parker, an eyeglasses web site.

Souce: NY Times

Souce: NY Times

I say this is interesting, because it is a trend that Forno Bravo have been involved in for years. We are both a large eCommerce platform and an equipment manufacturer — all under one roof. We don’t specifically come out and say it, but our customers all enjoy “Factory Direct” pricing (even when they work with a local Forno Bravo dealer). Good stuff.

Stale Bread, Panzanella, Dutch Tomatoes and the EU

I was writing about food waste and bread storage the other day, and mentioned that many traditional recipes call for stale bread — including panzanella. Like many wonderful Italian dishes, it relies on a short list of high quality ingredients. In this case, tomatoes, bread, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt. If each ingredient is great, then the dish is great; it’s only as good as the weakest links, etc.

Tomato

So while I was making panzanella this evening, I found myself thinking about tomatoes. It’s barely spring in the northern hemisphere, so the outdoor tomato crop has not kicked in, and we (on the west coast of the USA) have to rely on what seems to be an improving supply of hot house tomatoes from Mexico, California, and Holland. Yes, Holland. Cold, wet, northern Holland. The land of gouda, windmills and Heineken. I had been wondering for a while why Holland was such a large supplier of tomatoes, and I finally found the answer. Basically, good IT and good business practices. The story behind the Dutch tomato business was covered in the European edition of Time Magazine that I read on an airplane, and while I cannot link to the article itself — here are two Blogs that covered the article.

Believe it nor not, Holland is Europe’s largest tomato exporter. From Greek Reporter:

When comparing the tomato production and export of the Mediterranean countries (Greece, Italy and Spain, which have traditionally been the largest European producers and exporters of the product) it’s Holland which has managed through the use of technology and good organization to become Europe’s largest tomato exporter.

The report prompted the European south to imitate Holland in order to become more competitive. The Dutch producers use high-tech greenhouses, electronic temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide control systems. This is why they have managed to produce 70 pounds of tomatoes per square meter, at the same time when a producer from southern Europe produces at most seven pounds, 10 times less.

http://econfix.wordpress.com/

http://eu.greekreporter.com/

As an interested spectator of international business, the EU, the Euro, Italy, Spain, Greece and Holland, the European north-south divide, and food, panzanella with Dutch tomatoes is the great intersection. Hopefully Spain, Greece and Italy (and perhaps Cyrpus) can get their collective acts together, and we can see even better tomatoes in the US that were grown in the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, you can still buy Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar imported directly from the producer in Italy through the FB Store. Our dinner tonight was wonderful. Great Extra Virgin Olive Oil hides many food-related sins.

Massive, Open, Online Course (MOOC) — on Food, Physics and Engineering

There is a huge change coming to education. Massive, Open, Online Courses have the potential to fundamentally change the way everyone learns new things — from high school and college kids, all the way up to older types. The industry is exploding, with new online institutions and classes emerging every day. Among the more interesting ideas is that massive class sizes and online teaching and testing infrastructures will give educators vast amounts of real-world data to analyze how we learn and what works.

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This is really cool stuff. Never one to miss a new trend, I have jumped in. I am taking Introduction to Computer Science from EDX, a group of leading universities who are collaborating to deliver top courses online, led by MIT, Harvard and Cal Berkeley. My class is called 6.00 (pronounced six hundred) and is basically the first class taught by the computer science/EE department at MIT (6 is the number of the department, and the .00 number for the class); those engineers are nothing if not well organized.

I’m a little less than half way in, and holding on. My only computer class was in college (over 33 years ago), so I’m a little rusty. But I am enjoying the process, and having a lot of fun seeing MOOC from the inside. My class has hundreds of thousands of students from all over the world.

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All of which brings me to a new class that is going to be taught in the fall. Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science. It’s a Harvard class; here’s the description:

Science & Cooking brings together top chefs and preeminent Harvard researchers to explore how everyday cooking and haute cuisine can illuminate basic principles in physics and engineering, and vice versa.

During each week of the course, you will watch as chefs reveal the secrets behind some of their most famous culinary creations — often right in their own restaurants. Inspired by such cooking mastery, the Harvard team will then explain, in simple and sophisticated ways, the science behind the recipe.

Topics will include: soft matter materials, such as emulsions, illustrated by aioli; elasticity, exemplified by the done-ness of a steak; and diffusion, revealed by the phenomenon of spherification, the culinary technique pioneered by Ferran Adrià.

To help you make the link between cooking and science, an “equation of the week” will capture the core scientific concept being explored. You will also have the opportunity to be an experimental scientist in your very own laboratory — your kitchen. By following along with the engaging recipe of the week, taking measurements, and making observations, you will learn to think both like a cook and a scientist. The lab is also one of the most unique components of this course — after all, in what other science course do you get to eat your lab?

The science sounds scary — but the class sounds really interesting. We’ll see. It starts in October. If I don’t pass 6.00, I might take it again to get my certification. Whose says you can’t teach an old dog a new trick.

 

The New Fornobravo.com Navigation Comes to the FB Store and FB Forum

Quick update on www.fornobravo.com.

We have rolled out the new navigation, header and footer to the FB Store and the FB Forum. I really like the way it looks and it makes it much easier to find interesting stuff on fornobravo.com.

If you find anything that doesn’t work for you, be sure to let us know.

More application updates are on their way.

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Work, work, work.

To quote the Governor in Mel Brooks’s classic “Blazing Saddles”, it been nothing but work, work, work. haha. Which is just a joke so that I can say that I’m sorry that we have not been diligent at blogging for the past couple of weeks. There are lots of really good things to share, and I will go into more details a little later. But again — sorry that I haven’t been caught up with company news, or my blogging.

Our move to 251 W. Market is done, but with a project like this, there are always lots of details to look after. The showroom area is being painted and we will have nice, new ovens on display very soon, and we will start working on the test kitchen after that.

Also, you might have noticed that there have been some big changes to www.fornobravo.com. We have completely changed our web site and how our users (you) navigate our site. Using modern web technologies, we have made it a lot easier for you to find what you are looking for on www.fornobravo.com — to where I’ll bet you are finding pages and content you didn’t even know existed before. Plus, the site uses gradients, drop shows, big buttons, and fun rollover effects, so that I think it looks really nice. :-) I really like the rotating photos (called a slider) on the homepage.

We are still rolling out the new layout across all of our web applications, such as the FB Forum, Dealer Locator, FB Fastquote, the Community Cookbook, and yes, this Blog, so there is more good stuff to look forward to. Here are a couple of screenshots that show just how much information the new www.fornobravo.com shows with just a mouse rollover. You can find just about anything you need on FB.com with a single click.

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Meanwhile, stay tuned. There is a lot more to come in 2013.

December Wood-Fired Newsletter

The December 2012 Wood-Fired Newsletter was distributed last week. If you did not received your own copy, you can Read It Online Here.

We started the Forno Bravo Newsletter in May 2008, and we have been distributing it each month for mid 2009 — over 3 1/2 years. I want to send a big thank you to the team that is responsible for writing, producing and distributing this wonderful publication. Thanks guys.

Want to have our free newsletter delivery each month to your computer? You can sign up here:

Forno Bravo Expo 2012

We had an outstanding time at FB Expo on Saturday. The weather, the food and the crowd were all just about perfect. I want to extend a person thank you to everyone who traveled to comes and visit us, and to the Forno Bravo team that did a great job of setting everything up and making everyone feel welcome. We cooked, we ate, we talked and we laughed — and everyone had lots of hands-on time with our ovens.

Also, I want to give a special shoutout to Joseph from The Fire Within who arranged all of the food and directed the cooking and the teaching. You did great work. Thanks Joseph!

We’ll be sharing more photos a little later.

See you all next year — we promise to give everyone earlier notice next autumn.