Our First Quest

As Brad told you, these photos are from our very first quest, during the summer of 2009. We traveled from LA to San Francisco, with many stops in-between, and met quite number of interesting people, many of them not shown here in these photos (for instance, we had some great slices at the legendary Cheese Board in Berkeley, on their wonderful sourdough crust--we’ll have that for you in a subsequent webisode).

We began the tour at La Brea Bakery, where, in addition to baking some of the best bread in America, they make the pizza dough for Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza. By my estimate, it looked like about 700 dough balls a day--that’s a lot when you think about making that many pizzas every day--I mean, that’s a lot of pizza!. From the bakery we went to Pizzeria Mozza and met up with Nancy and her head pizzaiolo, Matt Molina. We have some great footage of Matt creating a few of his signature pizzas in an upcoming webisode segment. We spent most of the day with Nancy and some of her friends, food writers Russ Parsons (LA Times) and Kristine Kidd (Bon Appetite Magazine and, now, a major food blogger). In an upcoming segment you hear a little of our table talk as we devoured a number of the fabulous Mozza pizzas. Russ, who had been making fun of the notion of Hawaiian pizza, with ham and pineapple, became an instant convert when he tasted Nancy’s version.

We traveled north and spent some time in the sweet town of Cayucos, California, in the Central Coast with Chef Jensen Lorenzen and his wife Grace, who run the Cass House Inn, and create great menu items in their new wood burning oven located in the center of their vegetable and herb garden. We bought some freshly smoked fish at Ruddell’s Smokehouse, just a few yards from the Inn (and also some fantastic cookies at the Brown Butter Cookie Store, also just a few yards away--the whole town is only a few yards long, it seemed), and then proceeded to turn the fish and garden veggies into some killer pizzas. All of this will be coming your way on an upcoming webisode.

Of course, as you saw on the opening webisode, we also discovered the Taco Temple, in Morro Bay, and almost changed the name of project to Taco Quest. Owner Adam Pollard made me a sea scallop taco that I’d fly back tonight for, if I could. That’s what’s so great about the “quest;” it draws us into all sorts of unexpected side adventures.

For example, when we visited Craig Stoll and Anthony Strong in San Francisco at their Pizzeria Delfina, we unexpectedly stumbled upon one of the best food streets in America, what they call, The Gastro (well, we were only blocks from the famed Castro District). The Bi-Rite Creamery is setting all sorts of new benchmarks for the next generation of ice cream flavors (and their gourmet market across the street isn’t too shabby either), and the bread and pastries at Tartine Cafe are nationally acclaimed. Craig Stoll has already won a James Beard Award for his Restaurant Delfina, and now his pizzeria Delfina is slammed night and day. All of these places are within a thirty second walk from each other. You’ll see lots of footage from here in the coming weeks.

Tony Gemignani was, at one time, the practically unbeatable world champion acrobatic dough tosser who many of you have seen on the Tonight Show and David Letterman. But now he’s upped his game even further and is the world champion Margherita Pizzaiolo, having won the title in Naples against, dare I say it, the pizzaiolos of Naples. He and his brother have operated a successful pizzeria for many years outside of San Francisco (Pyzano’s, in Castro Valley), but now he has opened a new pizza fantasyland in the heart of San Francisco’s North Beach, called Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. He has four different types of ovens, depending on the style of pizza you want (New York, American, Sicilian, or Napoletana), and he just opened a by-the-slice operation next door. If you order his championship Margherita, it will be made by Tony personally, but get there early as he only makes a certain number each day. In addition to getting some great footage at Tony’s new pizzeria, he also took us out to the Central Valley to visit the folks at Stanislaus Tomatoes, where the harvest was just about to begin. We learned that two weeks before those beautiful Italian plum tomatoes were to be harvested they cut off the water to them, which causes the leaves to fall off and the sugar to ripen and the tomatoes to turn red and fall of the vine with just a gentle shaking. We got there just as the first ones were ripening and I got to shake some off the vine--and we captured it all on film.

There’s a lot more to share, so keep checking the gallery for more photos. We’ll keep them coming till we run out. And don’t forget, send us some of yours too!

 

Comments 

 
#1 Michael Renaud 2010-12-20 07:22
Peter,
One day I came accross the Forno Bravo Website and that was it for me. I made plans, found resources and material and I built my own brick oven pizza oven. I'm obsessed to say the least. I bought your book, Artisan Breads Everday and have been baking bread every chance I get. You might have guessed, I'm obsessed with bread now too. It took me a few times using my oven before I came up with a great pizza due to the learning curve that goes with a new style of baking. I have had great success since I started cooking at lower temps (650 degrees) and experimenting with different pizza doughs. I am including a picture of one of my pies. It is a 12" sourdough crust with pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, black olives, & fresh mozzerela cheese. I look forward to more of your articles.

Michael Renaud
Elk Grove Ca.
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#2 Bradley 2010-12-20 10:16
Hello Peter, Next time you are in the Bay Area let me know and I will bring you to some wonderful Pizzerias in the East Bay. Boot and Shoe Service and Pizzaiolo.
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#3 Stephen Pepe 2010-12-21 13:57
Next time in SF try A16 and Water and Flour. We just came back from our Pizzamania, same as your Quest but reflecting what our friends think of us- we have wood burning ovens at home. In Pheonix, Pizza Bianco and Pomo are great. Grimauldi's lost something when it crossed the Mississippi.Sit at the counter at Pomo and watch how they prepare the round-unique. We have done LA and SF, next stop NY or Chicago
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#4 Ron Arguello 2010-12-21 19:09
Hello Peter, sorry I did not get a chance to meet you at "The Fire Within" conference. I was out this past Feb and bought a portable wood fired oven... When Joseph told me to think about it, that everyone loves pizza, that is what sold me on this business. I do this for fun, the entertainment, the attention and most of all the great pizza you can put out and make some very good money in 4-5 hours work. I am also doing this to keep me busy when ever I retire!!! I know it will keep me young! I look forward to reading your book on pizza and bread making. Thanks for the site, I look forward to learning more.

Ron Arguello
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#5 gry strategiczne 2014-07-26 10:01
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I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest
but your sites really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and
bookmark your website to come back down the road. Many thanks

Meridith
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Peter's Books

American Pie Artisan Breads Every Day Bread Baker's Apprentice Brother Juniper's Bread Book Crust and Crumb Whole Grain Breads

… and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on Amazon.com

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