Peter's Blog
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.....

 
Asheville Bread Festival, Part Two
Peter Reinhart

In my last post I wrote about the sprouted wheat flour brought to the festival by Joe Lindley. Pictured here is the breakfast focaccia I made with that flour, along with a whole lot of golden raisins and dried cranberries, glazed with a citrus fondant flavored with orange essence (I put on the glaze after this photo was shot). It was, in a word, delicious!  I'll post the recipe next week, after I contact Joe Lindley to find out how you can get some of this amazing flour.  I can't promise he'll be able to mail it to you (he hinted at the festival that it might be possible) but I'll find out and let you know.

However, the festival featured a lot more than the unveiling of this flour.

 
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

 
Peter's Blog, March 29th
Peter Reinhart

This week, after spending the past three months showing you the segments we filmed at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles (alternating them with the many Instructional videos shot in Boulder, Colorado), we are back on the road again. This week we launch a series of episodes -- of course we call them webisodes -- filmed in San Francisco's Gastro District, which is a one block neighborhood on 18th St. between Guerrero and Dolores Streets in the larger neighborhood known as The Mission District. We have a number of webisodes segments from this one block to share over the next few weeks and will, again, also be posting more of the instructional videos from Boulder in alternate weeks. We will then take you back down the California coast to visit some other great places we discovered. As with the Mozza segments, I'll post a short narrative each time to set some context, so I won't say too much more about them here.

However, what I do want to mention is how magical it was to be back on the road. Anyone who has ever gone on a road trip, and I'm sure this includes most of you, knows how it can change one's perspective on life. We went out without a script--just a camera and sound crew-- and filmed

 
Peter's Blog, March 22nd
Peter Reinhart

It's hard to believe that we just launched PizzaQuest.com a few days before Christmas and now we are more than two months into our journey. The site has progressed nicely, with a lot of great content, including the Pizzeria Mozza webisode segments (nine in all) and a number of terrific video instructionals filmed in Boulder, a growing number of photo galleries and recipe photo essays hosted by Pizza Quest producer Brad English, numerous thoughtful Guest Columns, and over a dozen Peter's Blog postings. I'm amazed at how much ground we've covered and also how many videos we still have to share with you. Our filming covers only a small area of the pizza universe -- Southern and Northern California with a side trip to Boulder, Colorado -- so we're looking forward to getting back on the road to continue this amazing road trip.

When we filmed at Pizzeria Mozza we were extremely grateful to both owners, Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali, for giving us their special permission to bring our cameras into the restaurant, and for Nancy's generous sharing of her vision. The pizzas exceeded all our expectations and, though I write and teach about bread baking, even I learned some new tricks when we visited La Brea Bakery to see how the Pizzeria Mozza dough is made. This unending learning is one of the important things that this site is about, and the best part of learning is that the journey is full of so many unexpected surprises and opportunities.

For instance, as you saw briefly in the opening webisode segment, Pizza and Obsession, we stumbled upon the Taco Temple on our way to Cuyucos on the Central Coast of California. It wasn't a scheduled stop--we just happened to pass by and Brad recalled once having a great fish taco there. That's all we needed to hear as our van did a quick, screeching "ubie" and we pulled off the road for lunch.

 
Peter's Blog, News You Can Use!
Peter Reinhart

Hi Everyone,

There are a number of interesting events coming up during the next few months that I'd like to get on your radar. In June, our friend Molly O'Neill will be organizing  the First Annual (we hope) Minneapolis Bread Festival. If all comes together as we hope it will (these things never go totally smoothly, especially during the inaugural launch) I'll be out there along with Joseph Pergolizzi and his Fire Within oven rigs, and lots of serious wood-fired oven owners, bread bakers, and artisans of all types. We (PizzaQuest) hope to put a camera crew together as well, though it's too soon to tell. But mark your calendar for June 16 and 17 and we'll keep you updated when the event is confirmed and when we have a web link to it.

Closer to home and to now, we're just weeks away from the Seventh Annual Asheville Bread Festival on Saturday, April 2nd. I'll be doing a demo class on sprouted wheat flour--my favorite new product, one that I believe will totally revolutionize whole grain breads (for a taste of this flour in action, check out your local Whole Foods Market, where they have been recently using it to make delicious 100% whole grain breads unlike any other). In addition, two of the greatest bakers in America, Didier Rosada and Lionel Vatinet (yes, they're both French, but they live HERE now!) will be conducting workshops on traditional techniques for European-style hearth breads. Also, there will lots and lots of local bakers, from about a 150 mile radius, many of them small wood-fired artisans, who will be displaying and selling their products at Green Life Grocery during the morning hours, before we adjourn to the afternoon education sessions at A-B Tech, where they run a superb culinary and baking program. The Festival website is at: http://www.ashevillebreadfestival.com/

Most important, this year we will be featuring a tour of an exciting and important new project. Here's an excerpt from the project website, which you can access here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1139809766/carolina-ground-farmer-miller-baker-nc-grown-bread (if this doesn't get you there, go to a search engine and look under: Carolina Ground L3C -- there's a video on the site that explains it a lot better than I have done here).

Carolina Ground, L3C is a group of bakeries working to close the distance between the farmer, miller, and baker in the Carolinas through reviving the community mill. We will be producing fresh, stone ground whole grain and sifted flour-- a flour whose vibrance and quality will be recognizably local. For lovers of good bread, this means even better bread!! And for the farmer and baker, it means a tangible level of security and sustainability. Carolina Ground will enable long-term relationships to be established between farmers and bakers, giving us the means to build our knowledge base of local grains both in the field and in the bakery and in the process, improving our daily bread.
We need your help! We have received a grant for half the cost of our equipment, but it's a matching grant. We need to raise the other half or we lose the dough.
So please, help us make this happen!

What this extract doesn't say is that the mill was originally owned by master oven builder, Alan Scott, who bequeathed it to this project prior to his death. The mill has been brought, piece by piece over a number of years, from Australia, and is nearly ready to start grinding flour.  This is a landmark project and one that I hope will serve as a model for similar restoration mills across the country. Please check out the website for more details, and consider becoming a benefactor, which also makes you a partner in the future profits it generates.

One final note: Travel & Leisure Magazine just posted a story on its website about the top 25 pizza cities in America. If you follow this link, you'll see that they contacted us here at PizzaQuest.com before writing it for our insights, and quoted me a couple of times. Let us know what you think of their rankings -- it is sure to be a controversial topic!
http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-best-cities-for-pizza

Okay, that's the news for now. Hope to see you in Asheville, Minneapolis, or one of those top 25 pizza cities. Things are buzzing and the Quest continues!!

Peter

PS If you read Tom Carrig's recent Guest Column on healthy pizza in our Guest Column section, you'll see that he struck a nerve with one of our favorite chefs, Jamie Oliver. Check it out.

 

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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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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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