Webisode: The Taco Temple
Peter Reinhart

Here it is, our first detour off the pizza trail to The Taco Temple in Morro Bay, California, the culinary altar of Chef Adam Pollard and his hard working team of, well, tacaiolos.  We stopped here mainly because Brad English, who is the producer and director of our webisodes (who, along with Jeff Michael dreamed up Pizza Quest in the first place), had been there before on one of his visits to the Central Coast. He couldn't stop thinking about how great those fish tacos were, which means this place fit right in with one of the major thrusts of Pizza Quest: food memories that rock our world. I've written many times that my definition of the difference between good pizza and great pizza can be defined by that one word, memorable. In other words, a place you just have to bring friends to, can't stop thinking about, and that becomes the benchmark example of a food that lands in your memory Hall of Fame. The Taco Temple was that kind of place for Brad and he felt duty bound to share his Hall of Fame experience with us, and we're so glad he did.

As we drove past it on our way to Cayucos and The Cass House Inn (which we'll show you in next week's webisode), Brad shouted, "There it is!!" I was half asleep and didn't know what he meant as I jolted awake, but the Pizza Quest van (we're still working on getting a real "bus," but this was on our maiden voyage and had, instead, a nicely outfitted production van) made a quick, squealing U-Turn and, before I knew it, we were parked in the lot of, as you will see, a funky, coastal taco shack.  "This is the place I've been telling you about," Brad said again. "You've got to try one of these babies!"

I went in first and introduced myself to Adam, told him about Pizza Quest and about Brad's exaltation of his restaurant, and asked him if we could film him. He laughed and said, "Really? You want to film me?  Sure, come on in."  And we did.

So, what you're about to see is a little of what we experienced there; a totally soul satisfying meal, the best sea scallop taco I've ever eaten or could imagine, along with a whole bunch of other house specialties, not all shown on this tape, including a huge wedge of carrot cake made by Adam's wife. He told us about the weekly farmer's market held right there in his parking lot, where he picks up most of his ingredients, and about his commitment to fresh and local foods. His sense of pride, along with his allegiance to the fresh and local vision he'd cultivated at The Temple, left a lasting impression on all of us, and helped us to formulate a deeper sense of what Pizza Quest was all about -- the Quest, not just the Pizza.

You'll see what I mean when you click the button, so kick back and join us at The Taco Temple....

 
The Cass House Mulberry Pizza
Brad English

Pizza Quest is about to take us on a journey up to the Central Coast of California.  We had the good fortune to stumble upon a small coastal town called Cayucos that has some real hidden gems worth the a special trip.  One of the focal points of our visit was to explore what pizza is and could be with the terrific chef and proprietor of The Cass House Inn - Chef Jensen Lorenzen.   We'll let you in on more of the details as we release the coming video segments where we explore Cayucos with Jensen and some of the other local food stars!

I was recently reviewing some of the footage and was compelled to try to make a version of the pizza I watched Jensen and Peter create before our eyes.  Jensen had assembled a host of local ingredients, one of which was fresh local mulberries. 

 
Peter's Blog, June 7th, 2011
Peter Reinhart

Hi Everyone,

I promised to tell you how to get your hands on some of that great flour from Central Milling, as well as the "Super Sprout" sprouted whole wheat flour from Lindley Mills. So first, here's the number for Keith and Nicky Giusto at Central Milling, in Petaluma, California: (707) 778-1073. Ask for Keith or Nicky and tell them you read it right here. Before you do, check out their website at www.centralmilling.com/  They have many types of organic flour but what you should be asking for, if you have a wood-fired oven, is the new Double Zero (-00-) "Normal."  You can also ask them about their Double Zero "Reinforced," which I think is more appropriate for a home oven. If you can talk them into selling some other types as well, go for it!

As for Lindley Mills, call them in Graham, NC at (336) 376-6190 and ask for Joe Lindley. You can tell him you read it here. OR, you can also order the flour via the King Arthur Baking Catalogue, which many of you probably already receive (if not, get on their mailing list--the catalogues are fun to read and they have all sorts of cool things for sale). It won't indicate "Super Sprout" or Lindley Mills but will be sold as Sprouted Wheat Flour. Wherever you get it, you'll have fun working with this flour. Next week I'll post some recipes for making pizza dough with all three of these flours (Normal, Reinforced, and Sprouted Whole Wheat).

I don't know the price of any of these, so you will have to work that out when you call them, but I have a feeling there are lots of great pizzas ahead for all of us. We'd love to post your photos and pizza ideas if you come up with anything fun and exciting. Just let us know.

One more note: we're starting a new webisode series on Thursday from california's Central Coast. We'll be spending most of the time (there are a number of segments coming up) at The Cass House Inn, but we're going to kick it off with a stop we made as we were headed there, at the wonderful Taco Temple in Morro Bay, CA (you saw a snippet of this on our very first webisode, still posted at the top of the Home Page). Now you'll get to see more of what got us all excited when we made the detour. Be sure to check it out on Thursday. Till then,

May Your Pizzas All Be Perfect!

Peter

 

 
A few thoughts on Family and Pizza
Brad English

Family, Food and Friends

Why is pizza such a popular food all across the world?  One reason may be that it is the perfect food to share. 

As I was recently writing and posting photos for my Mother's Day Pizza pictorial, I had to search back through some old photos from a trip I took with my family to Vancouver, BC. I remembered taking some pictures in the Creperie that I was referring to and thought they would be fun to add to the story.  I had started out writing what I thought was a recipe pictorial recap of my Mother's Day Surprise Pizzas.  My kids were all excited to make mommy breakfast for Mother's Day.  So, I pulled some dough from the freezer and set the alarm to get up early to get the dough out and start the oven.  It turns out the kids were less interested in the "making" of the breakfast than just being there to eat it.

Whenever I think of a breakfast pizza, I think back to this trip we took to Victoria, BC.  It's amazing how strong a smell or a taste memory is.  I have many that will trigger not only a memory, but a feeling.  The feeling can be so strong that it seems as if for a moment I have been literally transported through time and space.  I love this experience.  It is far more intense than a

 
Peter's Blog, May 31st
Peter Reinhart

Hi Again,

As the song goes, June is busting out all over. So many cool things happening everywhere that I wanted to mention a couple of them for those of you who, like me, enjoy discovering things at the front edge of the wave, before the rest of the world catches up.

Two that I'm tracking are the following: If you've followed some of the "Comments' we've received every now and then from Rob DiNapoli, of DiNapoli Tomatoes, he and Chris Bianco have teamed up for a signature line of organic canned tomatoes that will be available only to restaurants (sorry folks, not the general public, at least for now). I recently got to taste them in action

 
Above Tartine, Webisode 2
Peter Reinhart

This week marks the end of our visit to San Francisco's Gastro District, which is really just one block long, between Guerrero and Valencia on 18th St.  In previous segments we spent time at Pizzeria Delfina, Bi-Rite Market, Bi-Rite Creamery, and Tartine Bakery Cafe, and now we head upstairs from the bakery to the apartment of baker Eric Wolfinger, who makes us a wonderful pizza on Tartine's Country French dough in his home oven--yes, great pizza can come from a rinky dink oven as long as the dough is great--and this was definitely great dough! (And make note of his cool trick of adding the basil, tossed in a little olive oil, just for the final minute of baking--can't wait to try that!)

The most significant take-away for me during our two days of filming in The Gastro was how influential a few places, committed to quality, can have on a neighborhood and even on a city; how quality is like a magnet that draws more quality and pretty soon you have a vortex of quality that is so compelling that people of all types just want to be a part of it. This is the kind of energy that creates what I've identified as the difference between good and great, and I define greatness by one word: memorable. Every place we visited in this one block neighborhood was memorable. How do I know it's memorable? Because I can't wait to go back, to tell my friends about it, to bring people there, to see those passionate Gastro folks again; to get those unbelievable pork rinds at Bi-Rite Market, the pizzas but also the one of a kind side dishes at Pizzeria Delfina, the croissants and especially that Country French loaf at Tartine, the salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery -- I can't get that neighborhood out of my head!

As we continue questing in the coming weeks and months we will keep uncovering more such memorable people and places. Some of them are well known and some aren't (yet). But they all share the traits we witnessed at Pizzeria Mozza and LaBrea Bakery in LA, as well as at all the places in The Gastro: a fire in their bellies to do something extraordinary, to please people, to push the boundaries of flavor, and to support sustainable practices that do, in fact, create the best possible flavors imaginable.

Our next webisode series, which will begin in two weeks, takes us to the Central Coast of California, to the town of Cayucos where Jensen and Grace Lorenzen are doing in a small town, at the Cass House Inn, what Craig Stoll, Nancy Silverton, and the folks at Tartine are doing on larger stages in major cities. Will they have as much impact in their little village that the bigger names have had in San Francisco and Los Angeles? Time will tell, but I believe in the saying that we should think globally yet act locally, wherever we are planted. The rest takes care of itself, as you will see when you watch the upcoming webisodes.

But for now, enjoy with us our final pizza in Gastro, and join us again soon ("get back on the bus," as Russ Parsons put it at Mozza) as we head down the coast for a whole new set of adventures that continue to define, and redefine, the whole notion of memorableness. See you there….

 
Peter's Blog, May 24th, 2011
Peter Reinhart

 

This is a time for commencements, graduations, and the completion of cycles. On Saturday we celebrated the annual graduation of our students at Johnson & Wales University and I loved watching our 1,100 grads confirm their educational experience by marching up to proudly accept their diplomas, going through the formal, ritual ceremony that marks such a significant transition into adulthood. It was indeed a confirmation service, like a bar or bat mitzvah, a wedding, a ceremonial acknowledgment of a major transformation in one's life. I think of these ceremonies as the extrinsic out-playing of the intrinsic initiation already experienced by the recipient; the acknowledgment that a significant soul branding, a rite of passage, has occurred. The more you think about it the more amazing it seems -- these graduates, while still who they always were, are no longer the same people. But it all happens so fast, this recognition of transformation, that you don't fully appreciate it except over time, in reflection, almost as a dream.

I'm thinking about this because I see many such rites of passage around me at the moment and, even in my own life, am approaching one: the completion of a new book. I will write more about

 
Is There Really a Perfect Pizza?
Michael Hanson

Recently I returned from a “pizza quest” to Southern Italy and would like to share my thoughts on where and what I think is the perfect or best pizza. I have been making dough for over forty years and pizzas for over twenty; it was only after a spell working at London’s most famous pizzeria, Franco Manca, that I felt capable of making a real pizza. The owner, Guisseppe Mascoli, wanted to create the best pizza in London and, with the help of “pizza consultant” Marco Parente, he set about this task. I believe they achieved their goal; but now my goal was to see if I could find an even better pizza in Italy.

My obsessive quest took me to only two cities, Rome and Naples, and only a handful of pizzerias. I purposely excluded restaurants, even those serving pasta. I wanted the real deal and thought a pizza-only pizzeria would deliver the best pizzas. My survey was in no way accurate, impartial, rigorous, or independent, and my research consisted solely of reading some great posts on the Forno Bravo Forum.

I read of a pizzeria, near my Rome hotel, called Dar Poeta . At first sight the pizzas looked good. I obtained permission to check out the oven. It was old and very hot; the dough soft and very cold. In my experience, one of the crucial factors is the intense heat on a cold, barely fermented disc of hand formed dough, creating the puffed up chewy, crispy cornicione full of holes. In artisan bread baking the quest, or holy grail is, as was pointed out in the Tartine video on Pizza Quest, a dough with irregular holes (or, as the French would say, beaucoup de trop). This is a combination of many factors, primarily a low final dough temperature, long bulk proof, and a hot hearth. Which is, as we saw in the video, why the Tartine bread dough makes a great pizza dough!

But back to Dar Poeta pizzeria. I always choose the pizza with the least toppings, so I chose a simple olive, anchovie pie. It was very disappointing;

 
Tradition--Really?
John Arena

Lately I’ve been thinking about Roger Bannister. No, Bannister is not the latest hot shot artisan pizza maker. For those of you too young to remember, Roger Bannister was a British track & field athlete who on May 6, 1954 became the first person to run a sub 4 minute mile. Roger, who was later knighted for his efforts, broke what was considered by the general public to be an unbreakable barrier. What is interesting is that, to serious athletes of the day, shattering the 4 minute obstacle was considered not impossible but inevitable. The fact is they were correct, and the current US High School record stands at a full 6 seconds faster than Sir Roger Bannister’s World Record achievement of just 57 years ago!

So what has this got to do with pizza? Well, last week I came across an article in a pizza trade publication about a certain well established pizza chain that proudly stated that their pizza has not

 
Kelly's Fontina Challenge Pizza
Brad English

Fontina, Prosciutto Cotto and Wild Arugula Pizza

While at Pizzeria Basta last fall, Peter challenged Kelly Whitaker to come up with a pizza featuring one of Bel Gioioso's wonderful cheeses.  Peter chose to have Kelly use their Fontina Cheese.  What Kelly came up with was a delicious Fontina with Prosciutto Cotto and Fresh, Wild Arugula Pizza.  As with anything Kelly makes, it turned out amazing.  You can see the video in our Instructional section - called "Fontina, Prosciutto Cotto and Arugula Pizza".

What I am trying to do here in my little part of the Pizza Quest world is to explore the notion in the area of artisanship and home chefsmanship (is that even a word? I like it!) that, "If I can do it, anyone can."  I was talking to Peter recently, and I said that I feel a little ridiculous daring to post my adventures alongside such accomplished people such as Peter, Kelly Whitaker, Nancy Silverton, Tony Geminiani and the many more great chefs and pizzaiolos to come.  But, I guess what I do represent is "the people."  *I can't just say "the people" without thinking of King Louis XVI in "History of the World:  Part I":

Count de Monet: “It is said that the people are revolting.”

King Louis XVI: “You said it. They stink on ice.”

 

I am just someone who enjoys cooking.  I found Peter Reinhart when I reached the point where I wanted to make a better pizza crust.  Now, not long after that, I hope I am sharing the home cook side of this quest, the part that is about bringing a piece of that passion home and sharing it on a smaller scale with friends and family.  What I am doing is not always perfect, but it is about the rewarding process of learning and sharing.  In a way, the journey, the quest, is just as fulfilling as the achievement of so called perfection. 

I may be taking advantage of my slot here on Pizza Quest, telling you all about my great pizzas and sharing a nice photo or two (okay, maybe quite a few more than than 1 or 2 photos).  When in reality these may look better than they taste.  You'll never know!  But, the amazing thing is that every time I try something, I learn something new.  For example, I made a couple of Mother's Day Pizzas this morning for my wife.  We fell in love with breakfast pizza while up in Vancouver, visiting Victoria one weekend, where a French chef made us crepes and an amazing egg-topped breakfast pizza.  This morning I made one with scrambled eggs, and one with a partially pre-fried egg to try to get it to cook enough in my home oven.  In the past, I've put a raw egg on the dough and it didn't quite cook enough.  But, this morning it went a little too far.  So, next time, I'll pre-cook it a little less, or maybe throw it on raw again.  Either way, it is the process of trying to find perfection that I'll most likely remember in the long run. 

Anyway, enough excuses from me and onward to my knock-off of Kelly's Fontina Pizza! 

It came out great!  Just look at my pictures! :)

How can you go wrong with such great ingredients! 

Kelly's Fontina Challenge "Fontina, Prosciutto Cotto and Arugula Pizza"

You saw in my previous post that I had made a fresh bruschetta topping.  Now you know why.  Kelly used the juice from the bruschetta as the sauce for the pizza.  I made this early so that it had time to blend together.  I'll repeat that recipe and follow with the rest of this pizza.

Bruschetta topping:
Chopped Tomatoes
Chopped Fresh Basil
A little Chopped fresh Garlic (*I slipped that in this one.)
Olive Oil
Salt/Pepper to taste

The Pizza:
I used Peter's Neo-Neopolitan dough for this one (see the Instructional section). 
Fresh Bruschetta topping (the juice, mainly)
Bel Gioioso Fontina Cheese
Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella
Sauteed Mushrooms
Prosciutto
The Oven
Olive Oil for drizzling when it's done
Fresh Wild Arugula


Spread your dough out on your peel, or work surface. 
*Try not to take pictures and have the dough stick to the surface and then have to spend all kinds of time scraping under it to get some dry flour underneath.  Just a little "insiders tip!"  I'm a one man show here - running back and forth.  By the end of my making a pizza and taking my photos, my camera is covered in flour, sauce and olive oil.

Pour some of the bruschetta juice off onto the dough and spread around as a sauce.  That just looks good by itself. 

Add chunks of the Fontina and Mozzarella
Add a few sauteed mushrooms
Add the prociutto cut up, or torn into bite size pieces. 
*You could cut up the prosciutto, but I chose to tear it up, which
just felt right.  It depends on the final look/feel you are going
for.

Into the preheated oven with my Pizza Stones (crank your oven up as high as it will go).  Always preheat the oven for about an hour to get your stone to temperature.

Once done, drizzle a little olive oil over the pizza and top with the fresh wild arugula.

Cut.  Serve.  Enjoy!

This really was delicious....  I swear!  (My pictures don't lie!)

 

Enjoy the "little" Gallery below...

 
Tartine "Best Loaf" Webisode One
Peter Reinhart

 

The Best Loaf of Bread

Tartine Bakery and Cafe is located on the corner of 18th St. at 600 Guerrero St. and is, like every shop in San Francisoc's one block "Gastro District," a total gem. It is the creation of Chad Robertson (baker extraordinaire) and his wife Elizabeth Prueitt (pastry chef supreme). As you will see in this webisode, you just want to eat everything that the eye takes in. If I still lived in San Francisco -- and I once did live just blocks from where Tartine now is but, alas, it didn't exist till much later -- I would probably start everyday there with a pastry and a cappuccino and then return around 3 PM to grab one of the loaves you're about to see. Our tour guide in this segment is Eric Wolfinger, who was one of the bakers at Tartine at the time we shot this video but has since moved on to a number of other interesting projects, including photographer of Chad's new Tartine bread book. At the time, Eric lived upstairs from the bakery, so, in the next segment you will see us climbing the fire escape up to his apartment where he will make us a pizza on the same dough used to make the astounding French country loaves in this episode.

By the way, Chad was present when we shot this, working away in the background on his breads, and you will catch a quick glimpse of him shaping loaves on the work bench (he's the one with the beard). I've been following his career as a bread baker ever since, as a young man, he had a bakery in Marin County, near Point Reyes National Park--one of the first wood-fired bakers I knew of who was able to build up a viable commercial bakery. But when he and Elizabeth made the move to Guerrero St. and opened Tartine, they really took it to another level. Chad found a way to transition from a wood fired oven to a much larger, gas fired French deck oven without losing any quality, and is now able to make a lot more people happy. The Tartine empire is growing, as they have now opened a restaurant and bar around the corner on Valencia St. called Bar Tartine, and the hits just keep on coming.

What's significant about the success of Tartine is how Chad and Elizabeth, like many others of the past twenty five years or so (maybe we should call it the Alice Waters Generation, since she's the iconic personification of what so many others are now emulating), found a way to stay true to their artisan values and bring so much joy to others. We went to "The Gastro" specifically to film at Pizzeria Delfina, yet we were so captivated by what was going on right next door that we spent an extra day just to get some of Tartine on film for you. We'll continue this Tartine series next time, upstairs, baking a killer pizza in a small home oven, using Tartine's perfect bread dough.

 

 
Peter's Blog: May 10, 2011
Peter Reinhart

Hi Everyone,

I'm headed on the road for an exciting new Pizza Quest adventure. I can't say where yet, but I do promise to report on it as soon as I get back. In the meantime, I want to share with you a blog posting from our friend Chef Jensen Lorenzen of The Cass House Inn in Cayucos, California. This was originally posted on his Cass House Inn blog site: http://casshouse.typepad.com/cass_house_inn_restaurant/2010/11/italy-slow-food.html

We'll be featuring some "delicious" webisodes from The Cass House Inn in a few weeks, but I thought the journal entry that Jensen put up on his own blog about the recent trip he and his wife Grace took to Italy for the annual Slow Food Terra Madre Festival, offers us a brilliant summary of all that Pizza Quest is about too, as we seek to celebrate not just pizza but artisans and artisanship of all types. So, with his permission, I'm going to publish this week and next, Jensen's post in 2 parts. Please visit The Cass House blog posting to view more extraordinary photos of his trip and other great blog entries.

So, here is Part One--enjoy!

Our Culinary Adventures in Italy, and Our Return Home

Before we went to Italy we decided it should be our goal to return with authentic recipes that we could recreate in our "Italian Dinner Series" at the restaurant.  During the first night of service I realized something interesting.  Between myself, our sous chef, garde manger, and chef di partie, we have behind us more than 25 years of experience with Italian food cookery. This was an amusing thought as we struggled to twist tajarin just right for one of our pasta offerings that night.  For what ever reason, we had all

 
"Upside Down" Margherita Pizza
Brad English

When I make pizza, it's always an event.  Baking in a home oven, I can't make an extra large pizza for the family, or friends and call it a day.  I'm limited by not having one of those large pizza ovens!  Frankly, I don't think I'd like to do that anyway.  Half of the fun in making pizza is trying a few different recipes, or letting the kids or guests build their own.


I usually make enough dough and toppings to have enough to ensure there will be left-overs.  I think this may be one of the main things I learned in college - cold, next-day pizza is an important part of life.  It's not as good as when you first have it fresh out of the oven, but it somehow isn't far behind. 

Another ritual that I have developed during my pizza making sessions is to come up with a few recipes and buy the ingredients for those, but leave a pizza or two to chance, or try something new and spontaneous.  I usually leave these pizzas till the end, to use up the ingredients, and to try different combinations.  This is how I came to play with Peter's Herbed Olive Oil and Cheese combination, creating a variety of great cheese breads, and "white" pizzas (no sauce). 

For this recent pizza session, I wanted to try to recreate one of Kelly Whitaker's pizzas that he created for us using Bel Gioioso's Fontina Cheese. 

 
Peter's Blog, May 3, 2011
Peter Reinhart

I have to go to a meeting in a few minutes but before I do I wanted to get this info to you regarding how to order sprouted wheat flour directly from Lindley Mills. I spoke with Joe Lindley yesterday and he said, "Just have them call us here at (336) 376-6190 and we'll work out a way to send it to them."

The mill is located in Graham, NC, near Chapel Hill, so shipping will probably be costly for cross country orders but at least you can get it while waiting for supplies to grow enough so you can buy it off the shelf (I think that may take a while -- only a few people even know about it at this point, and they are mainly the folks who read this blog). Joe said the cost of the flour will vary from week to week depending on how wheat prices fluctuate. They can send out 2 pound bags and maybe even larger ones when you talk to them. For more details on the sprouted wheat flour, read my report on the Asheville Brea Festival a few weeks back (scroll down the home page or simply go to the Peter's Blog page).

I'll be back later today with my report on the Charlotte Gluten Free Expo....

Hey, I'm back with Part Two:

 

On Saturday, April 30th, I attended the Second Annual Charlotte Gluten-Free Expo. In addition to presenting a cooking demonstration featuring a recipe from the upcoming gluten-free book I'm working on, I also had a chance to sit in on some fascinating educational sessions and, best of all, to taste lots and lots of new products. Last year about 400 people came to the festival (another 100 were turned away due to a lack of space), which was held on our campus at Johnson & Wales University. This year, the organizers moved the event to a local conference hotel and, sure enough, about 1,200 people showed up. Folks, we're talking about a serious growth industry here.

 
Mozzarella in The Gastro, Webisode #4
Peter Reinhart

This week we conclude our visit to Pizzeria Delfina with a fresh mozzarella lesson from head pizzaiolo Anthony Strong. If you look closely, you'll see Chef Craig Stoll in the background talking with our producers, Brad English and Jeff Michael (Jeff's the tall one with hair, Brad you'll recognize from his photo on our home page). We had so much fun with Craig and Anthony during our visit with them, culminating in this wonderful, warm bath of milky water pulling and creating silky fresh mozzarella balls out of raw cheese curds. I really wanted to just dive into the bowl and bathe in it--you know, a milk bath like in Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But take a look at those pizza shots too--everything comes together to create one seriously beautiful and delicious pizza!

We won't be leaving The Gastro completely, as we still have our visit to share with you at the wonderful Tartine Bakery, next door to Pizzeria Delfina, in the coming weeks. But I want to thank both Craig and Anthony for their generosity and fabulous food during our visit with them. The Gastro is a foodie destination site because of them and the energy they've brought to their small block in San Francisco's Mission District.  I heard a rumor that Anthony is now heading up the kitchen in yet another new restaurant in the Craig Stoll empire, around the corner from the pizzeria. As soon as I get more details I'll share them with you. Till then, enjoy this video and try to get Pizzeria Delfina the first chance you get.

 

 
Peter's Blog, April 26--Top 50 Pizza Blogs
Peter Reinhart

I knew pizza was a hot subject but we recently received a note from the folks at the California Culinary Schools website telling us about their top 50 pizza blogs. We're happy to have made that list, considering we've only been up and running for three months and probably were just getting started when they started working on it. But I want to congratulate all the blogs and websites who got listed. As I looked it over I discovered quite a few that I never knew existed, so this list can now serve as a supplement to our own "Sites We Like" section. Many of the blogs on the list focus on the personal pizza quest of the various hosts, which confirms our hunch here at PQ.com that the notion of quest is a powerful drive in so many of us, and we're glad to know there so many of "us" out there.

A special congrats to Albert Grande at one of my favorite sites, PizzaTherapy.com, who was one of the first to translate his pizza passion into a website and blog that is now beloved by so many. So here's a shout out to you, Albert, as well as to all the others who made the top 50 list (you'll find us down in the "P" section), and to how many ways you each express your love for pizza and for the quest. One thing this list made me wonder is, if there is a top 50, just how many more pizza blogs and websites are there out there? Is this top 50 just the tip of the pizza freak iceberg?

You can find the full list at:  http://www.californiaculinaryschools.org/pizza-blogs and I hope you'll visit as many as you can. I have a feeling we're going to need a bigger bus.....

 
Ice Cream in the Gastro, Webisode #3
Peter Reinhart

 

In this segment, Pizzeria Delfina's head pizzaiolo, Anthony Strong, takes me on a short walking tour of the one block section of San Francisco's Mission District known as The Gastro. We explore the Bi-Rite Market where we eat gourmet chocolate and devour the lightest, flakiest pork rinds (chicharones) I've ever had And then we go across the street to visit with owner Ann Walker at the Bi-Rite Creamery for some truly amazing ice cream, including their famous salted caramel. This flavor is now becoming somewhat standard in fancy ice cream parlors and on restaurant menus, but it all started here, in The Gastro. My two favorite shots in this websiode are of Anthony and me walking up 18th St. (The Gastro is on 18th St., between Guerrero and Valencia Streets), munching on pork rinds with me saying, "If I lived here I'd be eating these everyday and I'd be dead"; and the other is of me, in our Pizza Quest van (we're still working on getting the "Bus") finishing off a pint of salted caramel ice cream moaning that "...it's not fair," by which I meant that it's not fair that I can't eat it everyday for the same reason as the pork rinds--I'd be dead. Yeah, this is the kind of stuff you could die for.

We still have another section of the Gastro to share with you from the Guerrero St. end of the block--one of my all time favorite bakery cafes, Tartine, where we will see one of the greatest loaves of bread in the world (IMHO), and then have a pizza made on that same dough in a home oven. In our next Delfina segment we will be visiting with Anthony Strong again, along with Delfina owner and Executive Chef Craig Stoll, for a lesson in hand pulling mozzarella cheese. But all that is still to come. For now, enjoy The Gastro....

 
A Wood-Fired Gas Grill
Brad English

This is Part II of my recipe pictorial of Jay Buonchristiani's Lamb with Fennel Sausage and Mushroom Pizza recipe. 

You saw the making of the the first pizza in the original pictorial.  I continued on, making 2 more pizzas since you can never just make one pizza anyway, right?!  But, the reason I split this pictorial up was because I sort of stumbled on something interesting.  I have had great results with the Forno Bravo pizza stone in my convection oven (which I posted about previously).  I also use a second stone on the top shelf, which helps retain the heat from above and can even be used to cook a second pizza as you alternate between stones, because the pizzas actually suck the heat out of them as you place a cold one in.  I usually tend to cook my pizzas between 8-10 minutes in the oven.  I'm very happy with this set up and have gotten great results that continue to get better.  Even still, it is nothing like the pizzas coming out of a super hot wood fired oven, as we all know. 

I was thinking about the earthiness of this pizza recipe - covered in lamb sausage with added garlic and fresh fennel and sauteed mushrooms, or Mushies, as Jay calls them.  I also thought I would try this on Peter's Country Dough, which I thought would really go well with the cheesey/earthiness of this recipe.

 
Five Cheese Pizza
Peter Reinhart

Scott Thorsen was my wing man at the Fire Within Conference in Boulder last October. Together, we mixed and shaped enough dough to crank out over 200 pizzas during the weekend, and we managed to save a few Country Doughs for this video demo. Scott, who has his own wood-fired rig in Sacramento, California, and a pizza and catering business that he runs out of the rig called Bella Familia, ably backed up all the presenters at the conference by doing much of the prep work and a lot of the heavy lifting. So, I wanted to give him a chance to get in front of the camera before he headed home and show us his pizzaiolo prowess. In this video

 
The Buonchristiani Lamb Fennel-Sausage and Mushroom Pizza
Brad English

Lamb Fennel-Sausage and Mushroom Pizza paired with a wonderful BUONCHRISTIANI 2006 Artistico Syrah!

Not long after we started the website for Pizza Quest, we received an email from a pizza enthusiast named Jay Buonchristiani who happens to be one of 4 brothers who own a Napa Winery of the same name (http://www.buonwine.com/).  He grew up in Napa and has fond memories of cooking large meals and making wine in the garage with his father.  He continued to build on his love of food while working as a waiter in many of Napa's premiere restaurants as he got older.  You can all guess the rest of "the dream" that he now lives!  After college he returned to Napa to embark on a successful wine career.  But, to make matters worse - at least for the rest of us not living "the dream" -- Jay also has a wood burning oven on his property.  I should stop here.  We don't like Jay very much do we? 

Of course I am kidding!  Without his love of food and wine, I wouldn't be sharing this amazing

 
Let the Buyer Beware!
John Arena

Lately I’ve been thinking about "counterfeiters."  More specifically, I’ve been thinking about a Latin saying that dates back to the early 1500’s, Caveat Emptor, or, "Let the buyer beware." In this era, more than any other, it has become crucial that we understand what is truly behind the labels on the products that we buy. Unfortunately this is especially true of Italian products.  With global awareness creating unprecedented demand for Italian food items the door has swung open for all sorts of deception and outright fraud.


Here is something to think about: The country of Italy is roughly the size of Arizona. Italy has a food based culture. Plain and simple, the Italians can consume much of the highest quality

 
Pizzeria Delfina: A Cappucino and Obsession Webisode #2
Peter Reinhart

Craig Stoll (he's the one with the beard) doesn't look like an obsessed mad man, while his head pizzaiolo, Anthony Strong, well, yeah, he does. But they both are obsessed and mad, each in his own way, which is kind of cool because we get to see two sides of the "fire in your belly" drive that can and should take over one's life, giving it a sense of daily purpose. They make a great team and, in this segment, we get a glimpse of their vision and the love they each feel for feeding people and giving them joy and, simply, bringing them to the table around great food in an unpretentious atmosphere. I love Craig's line, "There's beauty in functionality" as he describes the layout of the restaurant. Lot's of thoughtful lines like these, if you listen closely.

We'll continue this exploration with Craig and Anthony in subsequent segments (and see some of their great pizzas and other goodies!), but for now, enjoy our discussion around some energizing cups of cappucino in the relaxed dining room of Pizzeria Delfina.

 

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Vision Statement

Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.

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