Report from Asheville, Part One
Peter Reinhart

On Saturday, April 2nd, I attended the seventh annual Asheville Bread Festival. I've been attending since the very beginning, haven't missed a one, and each year it gets better and better and more people show up from all over the country. The format has been that the first few hours are held at Green Life Grocery (now owned by Whole Foods), where local bakers display and sell their breads to the public (by local, I mean from as far away as Chapel Hill to the east and Knoxville, Tennessee to the west--about a 150 mile radius). Mark Witt, who many of you know as the host of the website internetcookingschool.com and also the webmaster for the recipe testing site for my upcoming book, even came from Cleveland and set up a booth selling baking tools such as linen couches, instructional videos, and plastic dough scrapers. At 12 noon, the focus shifted to various off-site demos and presentations all around Asheville, including the new flour mill project that I blogged about here a few weeks ago, and a number of classes by world famous bakers Didier Rosada and Lionel Vatinet and others, as well as a demo by me and Joe Lindley, owner of Lindley Mills. The classes went on till about 4 PM and were all filled to the max; we had about 150 attendees at ours, which was a new record against any of my previous classes at the festival. I'll be posting a photo gallery later this week, as soon as I have a chance to upload them from my camera (I'm very inept at those kind of simple tech things) and will have more commentary next week in this space, but I'd like to focus this week on the topic of my presentation because we introduced a new kind of flour that has me very excited about the future of whole grain baking: sprouted wheat flour.

I made two doughs in advance of the festival, on Thursday actually, and brought them with me on Saturday to Asheville, which is two hours northwest of Charlotte. Just prior to the demo we baked

 
The Stretch and Fold Method
Peter Reinhart

In some of the recipes that we've posted I refer to stretching and folding the dough, so I want to more fully explain it here, as I will continue to provide recipes that utilize this technique. The stretch and fold method (S&F from here on), is a remarkable way to maximize gluten development in a dough with minimum mixing time. It is sometimes referred to as "intermittent kneading" and also by the term "folding." All of these refer to a similar method, though the time intervals may vary from recipe to recipe. In short, it means to intermittently fold the dough over onto itself during the fermentation stage. What this accomplishes is to

 
The Gastro: Pizzeria Delfina, Webisode #1
Peter Reinhart

So here we are, at Pizzeria Delfina, with Executive Chef and owner, Craig Stoll, and his head pizzaiolo, Anthony Strong. In future segments we'll explore the Gastro District with Anthony and we'll sit down with both Craig and Anthony to discuss their culinary vision and pizza philosophy, which I found to be extremely thoughtful. You'll get a first taste of it in this opening segment as we hear all about their flour (Caputo), the cheese (locally farmed fresh mozzarella curds made into smooth pulled mozzarella balls right in the Delfina kitchen -- we have a whole segment coming on that!), and the vibrant tomato sauce, as well as the  baking choices that distinguish the Delfina pizzas from, say, Naples-style pizzerias.

One of my favorite things about Pizzeria Delfina has always been the side dishes -- you'll see some of them in the windows and shelves above the pizza station.   I especially love the marinaded cauliflower and also the grilled asparagus with guanciale and lardo buttered breadcrumbs. The pizza definitely is the star but I feel like the supporting cast are all worthy of Oscar nominations too (or maybe James Beard nominations -- Craig has already won a Beard Award for his work at Delfina, which has long been regarded as the top Italian restaurant in San Francisco). In many ways, Delfina and Pizzeria Delfina are to SF what Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza are to LA -- a world class osteria next door to a world class pizzeria -- something for everyone!  I think you'll love these segments -- I certainly loved filming them and visiting with these two deeply passionate chefs. Here we go….

 
Creativity and Modern Times
Joseph Pergolizzi

A couple days ago, I was doing some work on my laptop at a little cafe in Boulder.  Taking a sip from my Cafe Americano, I looked up to realize I was surrounded by people who seemed completely hypnotized by the light of their computers.  Then a group of high school students came through the line, texting and talking away.  With a quick swipe of a credit card the baristas had them out the door and on their way.  I couldn't help thinking, "My, how things have changed!"

These modern developments have, no doubt, allowed us to be more efficient in many ways.  Still, I have to wonder, what have these times done to the quality of our creative output? How will these

 
Pizzeria Delfina Gallery - "The Gastro"
Brad English

We are beginning our tour of a little neighborhood, actually a little block in the Castro District of San Francisco that has become known to locals as "The Gastro" because of the great food options there.  The reason for our visit was to visit with Craig Stoll and his Pizzaiolo Anthony Strong of Pizzeria Delfina.  On our way, actually the day before we were to meet with them at Delfina - we were arriving from our trip up the California Coast.  We came into town and decided to take a swing by and look at things before coming back the next day to film.  Peter went over to visit with baker Eric Wolfinger and owner Chad Robertson at Tartine, where he had just written, in his book Artisan Breads Everyday, about their French Country Loaf as one of the best loaves of bread he'd ever had. 

After a while, we wandered over and realized quickly that the "quest" was already happening and we weren't rolling our cameras.  Peter asked Chad if Eric could show us around and if he minded if we filmed.  Another great couple of Webisode segments were about to happen.  Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures here so, let me just say that if you are in the area look up Tartine and go.  It's an amazingly warm and welcoming bakery cafe with all sorts of treats to keep you coming back and make it worth the trip.  The loaf of Tartine bread that Peter wrote about is truly memorable.  They take orders and sell out within minutes of it leaving the oven.  I am literally craving it now as I write about it -- it is that memorable.

The next day we filmed over at Delfina Pizzeria and were treated to a walk around the neighborhood where we ended up stopping at Bi-Rite Grocery and Bi-Rite Creamery for some chicharones and amazing gourmet ice creams (yes bacon and ice cream!).

Here are some photos of our adventure. Enjoy the Gallery and the coming weeks of webisode segments that we filmed while we ventured into the delicacies of Pizzeria Delfina, Tartine, and Bi-Rite in "The Gastro"!

 
NY Style Pizza Dough
Peter Reinhart

As we add to our continuing collection of fundamental pizza pantry recipes, I thought it would be important to include one for a New York style pizza dough similar to the ones you get at the many Ray's pizzerias (none of which seem to be related to each other--Famous Ray's, Original Ray's, Ray Ray's, Not Ray's--they just keep rolling out), as well as at so many college and family pizzerias across the country.  This dough makes a thicker crust than the Neo-Neapolitan dough -- such as found at Lombardi's, Totonno's, or Frank Pepe's and Sally's -- and is stronger and less sticky, so it can be stretched and tossed quite easily. If you can get high-gluten flour, such as King Arthur's Sir Lancelot, that's the ideal choice. If not, then use unbleached bread flour. Weights are always more

 
Mom's Pickled Jalapenos
Brad English

I was making some cheese pizzas for the site to showcase Peter's Herb Oil Recipe a few weeks ago.  When I was finished a light bulb went off. I had a special condiment that would go great with those herby-cheesey pizzas!  Mom's Soy Pickled Jalapenos.

 
Webisode #9: Pizzeria Mozza, Finale
Peter Reinhart

 

We have now arrived at the final segment of the Pizzeria Mozza webisode series, gathered around a table filled with beautiful pizzas, with Nancy Silverton, and food writers Russ Parsons and Kristine Kidd. I love this segment because we were able to talk about food memories that rocked our world, as well as changing Russ's mind about the efficacy of Hawaiian pizza --or at least Nancy's Hawaiian pizza--as you will see. And of course, we have the wonderful closing

 
Webisode # 8: Osteria Mozza
Peter Reinhart

This week we feature the first of our two part conclusion to the Pizzeria Mozza webisodes. In this segment, I'm sitting in the beautiful dining room of Osteria Mozza with Nancy Silverton and food writer Kristine Kidd. Osteria Mozza is located next door to Pizzeria Mozza, literally through the door around the corner of the same building, and never serves pizza. But, since the Osteria is open only for dinner, we had the room all to ourselves during the day and Nancy arranged to have some of her favorite pizzas brought to us through the shared kitchen, including one made with Stracchino cheese, which is the featured cheese in the the focaccia col formaggio di Recco in our Instructional section. We spent the afternoon discussing Nancy's culinary vision and why we all love pizza (pretty much a no-brainer when the pizzas are as beautiful and delicious as these). Eventually, as you will see, we got around to her take on the infamous Hawaiian pizza. Next time, in the concluding segment, you'll see what happens when LA Times food columnist Russ Parsons joins us and disses Hawaiian pizzas before trying Nancy's version. Needless to say, he had to eat his words and was happy to do so.

By the way, if you ever have the joy of dining at Osteria Mozza you are likely to find Nancy working at the Cheese Bar, where every night she handcrafts small plates of specialty cheese delights, like a sushi master only with cheese instead of fish. The rest of the Osteria menu highlights the creativity of co-owner Mario Batali, so you know that a memorable night is ahead. If you can't get in to Osteria Mozza you can take solace that, if you are lucky and willing to wait a bit, you can walk a few yards through the other door where you might be able to grab a table at Pizzeria Mozza where simpler, yet no less exciting food awaits.

 
Is Gluten-Free Here to Stay?
Peter Reinhart

I just returned from a project working on creating new gluten-free breads and I must say, gluten-free is the big buzz these days. A few years ago, when I tried to convince a large product company to produce gluten-free products they told me the market wasn't big enough. Then, a few years later, they called me back and said "Guess what--the market is there and we're ready to produce those gluten-free products." And they did!

My book publisher also told me that their gluten-free category is growing faster than any other

 
Top 25 New Pizzerias
Peter Reinhart

Hi Again,
If you are a regular here then it's probable that you all have your own list of favorite pizzerias. So here's a little fuel for the forno, a link to a recent Huffington Post posting of Food and Wine.com's Top 25 pizzerias. Bear in mind, this list represents what they call "New Guard" pizzerias, not the venerable oldie but goodies like Frank Pepe's or DiFara's. After you read about them, I hope you will then comment below on whether you agree or disagree with their choices.

Personally, I haven't been to them all, but I have been to many of them. A notable pattern in the list is the recognition of the use of local ingredients from sustainable farms, even by restaurants making classic or traditional pizzas. But really, isn't this the real hallmark of authentic Italian food? This is the the good news uber trend--we're getting back to how it's supposed to be done, not imitative (well sure, to some extent everything is imitative) but, as our guest columnists often point out, by doing it the right way not the copycat way. Looks like we've tipped over folks--the "pizza renaissance" is in full flower and it's nice to be along for the ride. Enjoy reading about these places and let us know who should have been on the list if you disagree. I'm sure there many more than these 25 who ought to be listed and I now have a few new ones to hunt down in this unrelenting, yet joyful journey we call our pizza quest.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/food-wine/food-and-wine-best-pizza-in-us_b_827096.html#s240077&title=New_York_City

 

 
Webisode # 7: Nancy and Mozza
Peter Reinhart

 

 

During the webisode segments that we've posted during the past weeks we've spent a lot of time at Pizzeria Mozza and LaBrea Bakery, but have heard only a little from Nancy Silverton, the creator of these amazing pizzas. We still have a few more segments to share with you from Pizzeria Mozza before we move on to other exciting places but this week, at last, we'll hear from Nancy herself.

One of the things we marveled at during our visit was not only the long lines of people, happy people, served everyday, but the sheer artistry of the food. As you will see in this segment, a great deal of thought went into the creation of the menu offerings and Mozza really does take the very concept of what's possible with pizza to another level, one that has had a major impact on many restaurants that have opened since. We've all heard the expression, stretching the envelope, but it's especially exciting to actually experience it when it happens.

But let's hear about all this from Nancy herself, and I'll continue to add commentary when we post the final two Pizzeria Mozza episodes, still to come. Enjoy!

 

 
Welcome to Pizza Quest!
Peter Reinhart

I want to welcome you to the launch of our new site, Pizza Quest. You'll see that at the top of the page it says Pizza Quest with Peter Reinhart and, yes, while I will serve as narrator and primary host, there is a whole team of serious pizza freaks involved in this site. We have been avidly shooting video footage of some our favorite pizzerias -- seems like new ones are opening on a regular basis, so this promises to be a long quest --  and have been editing it for a television series that will be on the air one of these days (we'll be giving you updates on that as they develop).

Until then, every week we'll be posting a short extract from the series, we call them webisode segments, to give you a taste of our search for the perfect pizza and to introduce you to some of the interesting people we've met along the way. You'll notice that not all of the webisodes will be about pizza, as we met many artisans who are only indirectly related to pizza, and some who have nothing at all to do with pizza but who share that same obsessive

 

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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.

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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