Peter's Blog
Peter's Blog, October 18th
Peter Reinhart

I've been getting a lot of e-mails recently asking when I'll be back on the road doing what is called "travel teaching." It is something I love to do, teaching short classes at small cooking schools, and look forward to the next chance to do more classes on pizza and bread. I get requests to come to Mexico, Brazil, Panama, and even India, Korea, and China, though it's tricky for me to go too far from home for these classes, partly because of the costs, partly because it means extended time away from home, and partly because, well, as I get older it's not as easy to bounce back from crossing too many time zones. But I love traveling and experiencing new places so I would never rule out any possibility.

That said, I've cut way back in the past year for two reasons. One is that Pizza Quest has been an exciting new adventure and it has consumed a lot of time. Just managing the new postings each week has taken enormous time and energy for both me and Brad English, as well Jeff Michael, our more behind-the-scenes partner and co-producer. And, as you saw in our Big Reveal series, we're still filming and have many months of segments to share with you. The second reason is that I have been working on a new book on gluten-free, sugar-free baking, scheduled for release next summer. I'll write more about this later, especially the process of writing a book because I know that many of you may be also thinking of writing one. So, in a future Peter's Blog I'll dedicate some space to what it takes and how to start the process, and even on how to make a pitch to a publisher.

I mention this because I'll be in San Francisco all next week, with my co-author Denene Wallace, shooting the photos for the new book. For anyone in the area who would like to hear about it, we'll be at Omnivore Books in Noe Valley, San Francisco on Wednesday evening at 7 PM. The address is 3885a Cesar Chavez St. For details, call the store at (415) 282-4712. We plan to bring samples from the photo shoot so you can get a sneak peek. (Of course, I'll also be slipping away to go on a few pizza quests but I can't divulge where yet; since I was last in SF there seems to be at least half a dozen new, exciting places to check out).

The new book, after it comes out next year, will be the catalyst for my next round of travel teaching, so keep checking here for details. Anytime I do schedule an appearance somewhere, such as at The Asheville Bread Festival on March 24th, I'll post it here in the Peter's Blog section. But next year I'll be making the rounds and look forward to meeting many of you.

Final note: I want to welcome our newest sponsor, The Fire Within. We've been writing about Joseph Pergolizzi and showing instructional videos featuring his mobile wood fired oven rigs ever since we launched, so we're especially pleased to have him aboard as an official sponsor. There is a banner ad, rotating in with other sponsors, at the top of this page that provides you a click through to The Fire Within website. Even if you have no plans of buying a rig (and Joseph tells me he's working on some new designs and even rigs featuring other products besides wood fired ovens) do check out his website and enjoy the ride. We'll have more new sponsor news soon....

Coming up later this week: on Wednesday we'll be featuring a new sourdough pizza recipe from Teresa Greenway, our sourdough expert; an instructional video on Thursday (next week we get back to the Tony Gemignani webisode series); and Brad tells me he's working on a pizza contest for you and will soon have details.

 
Life After "The Big Reveal"
Peter Reinhart

On Saturday morning I awoke with a deep sense of satisfaction and appreciation. "The Big Reveal" had gone about as perfectly as possible, albeit with a few mini-dramas such as "Will the dough show up in time?" or "Will I be arrested for taking my glass of Birra Basta outside the Beer Garden and onto the sidewalk?" Of course, as I mentioned in my previous posting, everything just fell into place due to the diligent oversight provided by our producer, Brad English, and our terrific film crew, led by David Wilson, our Director of Photography and, of course, the folks at The Bruery and at Pizzeria Basta. As much beer as I'd consumed the night before, it really wasn't all that much, spread out over five hours; no hangovers, or "The Hangover" moments, to worry about (how did I get that tattoo or that signed photo of Mike Tyson--none of that). The pizza, from dough to topping, had been pitch perfect. It was a night to savor. So, what to do for an encore on Saturday?

My hosts, long time friends from my days in San Francisco, Fr. David and Elaine Lowell, who now pastor an Eastern Orthodox church in Denver, suggested we take a drive down to Colorado Springs, and so we did, to walk through The Garden of the Gods, a majestic park full of hiking trails, vertical rock climbs, and spectacular red sandstone boulders, including one of the most famous rocks in the country: "The Balanced Rock," which, true to its name, balances magically on a small base made of what looks like mud. Hey, I just realized that Colorado actually means "red," so I guess it all makes sense now.

The park, which did literally take my breath away (how much of that was the altitude and how much the beauty is hard to say), has an interesting history. Here's something I got off the www.destination360.com website about it:
…Many people automatically assume that the Native Americans named the Garden of the Gods. However, in this case, they are mistaken. In August of 1859, two surveyors started out from Denver City to begin a town site, which would soon be called Colorado City. As they explored the nearby locations, they came upon an intriguing area of sandstone formations. One of the men suggested that it would be a "capital place for a beer garden" when the country grew up. His companion exclaimed, "Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods". The rest, as they say, is history…

Aha--a beer garden! So it all comes full circle. But, really, the second surveyor got it right, it is a place fit for the Gods, and a place where, in my opinion, one can really sense the divine expressing Itself through nature. Beer garden indeed, though the irony was not considering all the adventures of the previous day! Check out the incredibleness by going to Google images and typing in Garden of the God (yes, I neglected to bring my camera- mea culpa!).

So, after a meditative walk, watching some pretty skilled technical climbers hanging on and in the crevices of the tall formations at various heights and angles, we decided to drive into town, Old Colorado Springs, for lunch at one of my favorite places, Pizzeria Rustica, where David Brackett has created a homage to his favorite Italian flavors discovered during his years as an Air Force fighter pilot. As with many of the artisan pizzerias we've covered here on Pizza Quest, Dave's dough formula is a proprietary blend of both soft Italian flour and North American high protein flour. He explained to us, as we enjoyed our salsicca and salumi pizzas (both made with carefully sourced meats), that he believes the altitude in his area necessitates the use of stronger protein flour to achieve the puff he desires. I can't say I totally understand the science behind that, as we did have some nicely puffed pizzas made with 100% Caputo Double Zero flour the day before at Marco's, but, really, for me that's not the point. What is the point, and I've experienced this at all the great places we've visited, so that it has almost become the defining quality of artisan pizzerias, is the joy the owners and pizzaiolos (and 'ola's) take in the choices they make. The sourcing is, for folks like Dave who don't actually make the pizzas (or Nancy Silverton and Craig Stoll, for example, who we've featured here before), where so much of the passion and artistry resides. Yes, it all gets completed by the pizzaiolo, but it all begins well before that dough with toppings ever hits the heat.  When I first met Dave four years ago, shortly after he opened Pizzeria Rustica, he had that same glint in his eye when he talked about the selection process, the producers he is relationship with, the reason why this olive or that cured ham is better than another brand -- it's the same fire in the belly we've been tracking all across the country. Well, don't get me started on all this but I will say that, before we left town, Dave walked us over to his latest restaurant, half a block away, called Tapateria, a Spanish tapas cafe filled to the brim with amazing meats, cheeses, olives, and seafood, all beautifully presented in small plate delights. Tapas restaurants are no longer the new trend, we see them popping up everywhere but, like pizza, there is tapas and there is tapas. As long as that gleeful light keeps glinting in Dave's eyes when he describes his choice of ingredients to those who come by, I'll be confident that his tapas, like his pizza, will be worth the trip. (Check them both out at www.pizzeria rustica.com and www.tapateria.com )

Let me wrap up this week's Blog entry, as well as my trip to Denver, with a final adventure I had on Saturday night with our friend (and Friday dough driver and savior), Joseph Pergolizzi. First, there were some desperate push-ups and sit-ups to try to work off the massive lunch we had Rustica, and some evening vespers prayers at Fr. David's parish, where I prayed for enough energy to get me through one more meal before I had to hop on an early plane the following morning. We met at 8:30, way beyond my usual dinner hour but I was buying time to empty out a bit, at the Vine St. Pub, in an area of Denver called Uptown (very different from Downtown, I would say). This brew pub is owned and operated by the Mountain Sun Brewery, also known as The Southern Sun Brewery -- I haven't figured it all out yet but after a few flights of their unique and creative beers, such as the Belgian Dip Chocolate Stout and their Quinn's Golden Ale and their Raspberry Wheat, I didn't really care what they called themselves as long as they kept doing what they're doing. Joseph and I split a big order of their famous spicy chicken wings and huge nachos plate loaded with chicken and cheese, and we talked for hours about a lot of things, including the growth of his mobile oven business, The Fire Within, and some of his new designs for other types of mobile food businesses. We talked about creating a line of Pizza Quest food products, new book ideas, the unlimited number of ways to use beer malt to create an infinite number of different kinds of pizza doughs, and about how to find balance in ones life between doing good things for the world and staying healthy -- not always an easy tightrope to walk. In other words, as we downed our Mountain Sun Brewery Illusion Dweller IPA, to wash down the last burning vestiges of those wonderful crispy wings, we did beer talk and dreamed big dreams. How much we'll actually do, how much we'll actually remember, who knows. But as one of the Vine St. Pub managers gave us a tour of the new brewery they are almost finished building behind the pub, having outgrown their Boulder location, we saw big dreams manifesting in front of us and were very impressed, and it made us less afraid to dream our own dreams. There is nothing more intoxicating than being in the presence of a big dream about to enter the world of manifestation. (Check them out at www.mountainsunpub.com)

The next day, Sunday, as I flew home, I thought about those dreams and realized how Pizza Quest, and the people we meet because of Pizza Quest like David Brackett and Joseph Pergolizzi, the folks at The Bruery and Mountain Sun Brewery, Kelly and Al at Pizzeria Basta, and even our own production team -- we're all dreaming dreams, big and small, and they're all gradually coming into focus, into manifestation. It was, for me, a new understanding of what a Rocky Mountain high really is.

 
The Big Reveal, Part Four (finale)
Peter Reinhart

Reminder Note: The blog text is by Peter and the photos and captions are Brad's. Enjoy!


Yes, the pizza and the beer were each, individually, everything we had hoped for; unique, delicious, memorable, and even the difficult logistics were falling into place. The mobile wood-fired oven just barely fit into the small space at the curb by the stage door of the Summit Beer Garden, a polka music band was playing in the background on the Beer Garden stage (well, depending on where you were standing, we may have been the background for the band to those who came to see and hear them but, to us, they were our back drop, a nice, atmospheric touch, whose enjoyable sounds you may hear when we show the videos); the dough balls, with their sweet, malty finish, showed up just in the nick of time; the beer was a one of a kinder, not just a variation of something familiar, but way beyond the realm of familiarity. Yet how would it taste with the pizza and how would the pizza taste with the beer? After all, this whole crazy challenge, dreamed up by Brad six months ago, was to see if a beer could be created specifically to match with a special, signature pizza and that meant, could a brewery, even The Bruery, craft a beer that would make the pizza taste even better, and would our pizza heighten the flavors of the beer?

From the first taste of the Birra Basta we all sensed that this was a beer meant for drinking along with food. The wort, brewed weeks ago, contained ingredients purposefully matched to the signature pizza, including flame grilled zucchini inspired by the squash blossoms nestled in the creamy, oozy burrata cheese, fennel seed to match the fennel pollen salt sprinkled on the topping ingredients, lemon peel to pair with Kelly's preserved lemons, and an array of hops and malts to stand up to the silver anchovies (these weren't salty anchovies, like those found in the little flat cans, but sweet, plump, sardine-like white anchovies marinated in a touch of vinegar). But, just because the ingredients matched on paper, mightn't they cancel each other out rather than magnify each other in the synergistic display we all desired? No one could predict until this very moment when, at last, all theory would meet the test of taste bud and olfactory reality.

The moment seemed pretty dramatic to me, but that might have been a result of the multiple flights of Birra Basta I'd already consumed. But here's how I experienced the flavors when I had them all together: they worked! What I mean, and I'll try to describe this without hyperbole or fake gastronomic melodrama, the beer really did change, and so did the pizza, when we had them together. The best way I can describe it is that they both took on a new degree of depth, as if the flavors of one filled in the blanks of the other and a wholly new level of completeness revealed itself. It really was the Big Reveal, though I see that only now, as I write these words.

Like most food professionals, I'm always in search for a "greater than the sum of its parts" experience when tasting foods paired with beverages or even with other foods. The blending and transforming of ingredients is at the heart of all cooking, which means that if you're going to combine ingredients the only reason to do so is to create something that surpasses what each ingredient individually brings to the dish -- otherwise, we might as well just eat each ingredient in its most ripe and perfect form by itself, the way that Alice Waters sometimes ends a meal at Chez Panisse with a simple peach or nectarine, picked at its peak of ripeness, knowing that it's already perfect and needs no further transforming. But, once we introduce the notion of cooking or baking, it's always about creating something that works in concert and goes beyond the ingredients, or at least showcases them in a way in which they could never be experienced as soloists. This is why, in my opinion, pizza really is the most perfect of all foods, because it signifies this very act of transformational art on an edible canvas.

So, as I quaffed and chewed I noticed that while the flavor palettes of both the beer and the pizza were similar and evoked each other, when taken together they kind of rounded out and took on another level of dimensionality. Neither product, the pizza nor the beer, was simple and one or even two dimensional -- each was totally satisfying in its own right and fully three dimensional. But taken together they seemed to unfold another layer (not a fourth dimension, which would take us into the realm of time or timelessness) but rather an umami, a richness, that neither completely possessed on its own. I'm writing this in recall, you must understand, trying to find words to describe a fleeting ephemeralness that existed within an evening flush with many pints of beer, in an oompah driven music hall, during the largest beer festival in the USA, surrounded by many lit up, happy people reaching in for a slice of a very special pizza and a tulip glass of a one of a kind farmhouse ale. All these flavor descriptors are working their way to the surface of my brain only after a week of reflection and remembrance, which means there may be a wee bit of impressionistic soft focus and romance involved. But I think not totally, because I remember having these very impressions in the actual moment of the tasting, but had no idea how I would express them when the time came to attach words to the impressions. So this is my best shot, and I hope I did the night justice. We set out to create and document a creative collaboration, a super session so to speak. Sometimes such sessions don't live up to the hype and sometimes something extraordinary happens. Was this the greatest pizza or the greatest beer ever created? That's not a question that could ever be answered and really shouldn't even be asked, as it wasn't our goal. But, did the effort to push ourselves into a new frontier, to challenge ourselves and our fellow artisans to go beyond our previous limits, bear any fruit? Time will tell, but the fact that I can actually ask the question, or that each of us present at The Big Reveal were driven deeper into our own self reflection, well, maybe that's what this was really about, maybe that's what, in the end, was revealed, and maybe it was, in fact, big.

Perhaps it will be easier to tell when we look at the videos in a few months with the benefit of time, space, and distance -- ah, the fourth dimension....

 
The Big Reveal, Part Three
Peter Reinhart

Note: Blog text by Peter Reinhart; Photos and captions by Brad English

Okay, so we were already full of great Denver pizza from both Marco's Coal-Fired Pizzeria, and also Brava Pizzeria della Strada. Now it was our turn to make pizza, out on the sidewalk of 19th St., by the stage door of The Summit Beer Garden, a music hall that was hosting number of bands and events in the shadows of The Great American Beer Festival. As Brad English and our Director of Photography, David Wilson were running around figuring out how to shoot the event at this dark, noisy music hall, Kelly and Erika Whitaker, along with Alan Henkin and Kelly's young pizza protege named Ben, pulled up with their mobile wood-fired oven hooked to the back of their car (yes, another beauty from The Fire Within). Within minutes, the wood went in and the oven began its 90 minute fire-up. Joseph Pergolizzi, the owner of The Fire Within, offered to pick up and bring us the Challenge pizza dough, mixed and balled for us the previous day at The Whole Foods Bake House in Aurora (near the Denver airport). We wanted to bake the first couple of pizzas, the test pies, at around 5 PM, as the official party and "Big Reveal" was to begin at 6. But as 5 PM approached, I got a call from Joseph, who had gotten caught in a major construction jam near the bake house. By this time the day had already been so magical and full of unexpected delights that we all felt kind of protected and unworried (well, maybe not Brad since he is the producer of Pizza Quest which makes him the designated worrier, so I just told him the doughs were on their way).

Fortunately, the pressurized keg of Birra Basta was waiting in the VIP Lounge of The Summit Beer Garden. The Bruery folks had not yet arrived, but Brad "produced" us into tapping the keg and got the cameras rolling. Besides, we decided we couldn't wait for Patrick and just had to try it, so someone turned the key, released the pressure, and a few seconds later we each had a creamy mug of rich golden ale, cloudy with foam (normal for the first pull, soon to clarify as we watched it settle-out in the glass). I took a swig and, really, it was the most unusual beer I've ever tasted, but I wasn't sure if it was just me, a relatively unsophisticated drinker, or whether the others were equally stunned. Alan, who knows his stuff (he's the sommelier and beverage director at Pizzeria Basta), finally broke the ice and said, "This is amazing -- I love it!"

I said, "It tastes thick, almost like soup, like pea soup with a ham bone in it, but yet it's refreshing--my mind is sort of boggled by the complexity."  Usually, when I think of complexity in a beer I ascribe it to the hops and, to a lesser degree, to the malts, but this time there was only an undertone of hoppiness, very subtle, and the five malts (refer to my previous post last week about their names) were totally smooth and in support of some other flavor I've never experienced in a beer before. It was the fire roasted zucchini, I'm sure, with just a hint of lemon peel and fennel seed, and maybe a mist of cedar chips breathing through it. No, it was definitely the zucchini, for sure, a flavor I've never associated with beer (this was, of course, a biere de garde, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale, so why not some roasted zukes?), that, for me, evoked the split pea/ham bone image. No one else used that analogy so maybe it was just my own associations, but it made me feel quenched and fed at the same time -- this beer was a meal unto itself. The more I drank, the more I wanted. I couldn't wait to try it with our pizza.

Just then, Patrick Rue showed up and joined us, and we all tapped glasses in a toast and, pretty soon, the cameras were rolling again and we caught a lot of the ensuing conversation on tape, which you will eventually see. I think all of us (though maybe not Patrick, since he's tasted more types of beer than most people who ever lived) were still trying to find the right words, the language, to place this flavor within the context of our taste memories, but we all agreed that we loved it. So we went outside to the oven and, as if on cue, Joseph pulled up with the boxes of dough balls, having sweated bullets and dodged traffic to get it to us. Yes, the day was still magic.

The dough was made for us, to the specs of the same recipe that we used at The Bruery when we issued the original challenge three and a half months earlier, by Safa Hamze and his baking team at Whole Foods under the direction of head baker Andy Clark (a founding member of "Boulder's Secret Pizza Society" and an experienced appreciator of serious beer who was, regrettably, out of town at a Bread Baker's Guild of America Board meeting -- I know he would have totally flipped out at what was about to happen and, naturally, I'll never let him forget that he missed this night). The dough had a pleasant light caramel tone, maybe cafe au lais-ish, because it was infused with barley malt crystal (4% ratio to the flour; the recipe is in an earlier posting). The Germania flour from Central Milling, with its touch of pumpernickel, was the perfect choice, an American flour blend that performed like a cross between the Italian Double Zero flour we'd had earlier that day at Marco's, and the Colorado grown high-protein flour we'd had in the pizzas that morning at Brava Pizzeria della Strada. We were ready to roll.

Kelly started assembling the first pizza, the "hero" as it's called in photo sessions, the one for the camera, and for our first combined taste with the Birra Basta. The dough was then baked in the now 800 degree owood-fired oven, with freshly made, super creamy burrata cheese from the legendary Gioia Cheese Company in Los Angeles, and also with beautiful yellow squash blossoms, sliced chiffonnade style into slivers. Ninety seconds later, when it emerged from the oven, Kelly finished it off with a topping of baby arugula, sweet and tangy silver anchovies, lemon preserves (slow cooked in Kelly's sous vide water bath cooker), and a dusting of fennel pollen salt.  We brought the pizza to a table just inside the stage door of the Beer Garden because we were told the Denver police would arrest us if we drank our beers out on the sidewalk (probably a necessary law in beer-crazed Denver). There, Patrick, Alan, Kelly, me, and eventually our whole crew and growing entourage, with cameras rolling, put the birra and the pizza together for the first time.

I hate to do this to you, but I'll pick up the story tomorrow and do my best to describe how the flavors took on a whole new direction when they all came together....

 
The Big Reveal, Part Two
Peter Reinhart

In my last post I wrote of our visits to Brava Pizzeria Della Strada, and also to Marco's Coal-Fired Pizzeria, both very near to where The Big Reveal took place. Even without the Big Reveal, though, the trip would have been successful because of these other two places. We were able to capture some great footage at both and will, eventually, be able to post it here as webisodes but, for now, I'll give a thumbnail sketch of how it went:

Dave Bravdica is another one of those guys -- we all seem to know such people now -- who left a successful professional career to pursue his true passion, feeding people. He became a caterer for a few years and then, having fallen under the magic spell of fire, became a pizzaiolo and also a wood-fired oven maestro. Somehow, he nailed down a primo spot on Denver's hip 16th St. Mall, parking his mobile oven on a terrace just above an underground cabaret. His pizzas are Napoletana inspired but tweaked with his own touches: Colorado grown and milled flour, locally sourced mushrooms, chili peppers, greens, and herbs. His meats are all cured or prepared within a few miles of the oven, exemplifying all the green values we've been learning to honor and love.

His own passion and ethic was fired in Italy, in much the same way Kelly Whitaker and, as we've all read, Mario Batali, found their culinary voices. The pizzas, he told us as we filmed away while tasting his Sonny Pizza (with Mondo Vecchia Sausage), his Fun Guy (yes, pun intended, laden with local shiitake mushrooms), and his Queen (of course, a Margherita), were just the beginning of his long range plans for the oven. For example, we got to taste his very popular porchetta sandwich on folded pizza dough, made with long, slow roasted tender as butter pork shoulder served with a couple of fun sauces. I'd like to go into more detail but we'll revisit all of this in a few months when we run the webisodes. Needless to say, by 11 AM, when Dave opened to the public, to whom he typically sells about 100 pizzas for lunch and then many more throughout the day, he had fed our whole crew and, so sated, we headed off to our next stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After an eight block walk, which included a stop at the Summit Beer Garden to see if we could get an early start setting up for the Big Reveal (the place was locked up tight and someone said to come back around 3 PM), we soon found ourselves at Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza at 21st and Larimer St. I'd heard about this place recently but wasn't prepared for how good it was, and how dedicated they were to authentic, VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) pizza. They actually have two ovens, one fired with coal and used to bake their wonderful lemoncello chicken wings as well as a quite decent gluten-free pizza (!!). The other oven is fired with local hard wood, and dedicated to the VPN pizzas, their pizzaiolos trained by the brilliant Roberto Caporuscio of New York City's Keste Pizzeria. I guess the locals have discovered Marco's because Marco Dym, the owner, has recently opened a second location in Englewood, Colorado, leaving the Larimer location in the capable hands of his daughter Samantha Monterosso, who served as our host when we pulled out the cameras and hung out with the pizza team. Again, we'll go deeper into this when we put up the videos, but I have to say, Marco's is the real deal and, along with some of the other Denver places that we didn't get to that are on my list, such as The Buenos Aires Pizzeria, which has an equally fanatical following, it looks like Denver is starting to make its case for becoming a great pizza city.

But this was all fun and delicious bonus material, a prelude to our real purpose for being in Denver. So, stuffed to the gills, we returned to The Summit Beer Garden, whose doors were now opened, bands starting to set up, and prepared to bake our own, original Challenge Pizzas and experience, for the first time, the Birra Basta created for us by The Bruery. How did that go? I'll focus on this in tomorrow's post….

 
The Big Reveal, Part One
Peter Reinhart

 

We'd been building up to this moment for so long it seemed surreal when it actually all came together. It all started when a flash went off in Brad's head a year ago while we were filming a segment with Kelly Whitaker in Boulder, at his Pizzeria Basta, and Alan Henkin, Kelly's business partner and the beverage director at Basta, turned us on to some amazing beer from a place called The Bruery. I thought it was ironic that they'd be serving beer from Southern California since Boulder, and the Denver area, is one of the true beer centers of the world, but that's how impressed they were with it. Brad, who lives only about thirty minutes from The Bruery, decided to follow-up when he got home and developed his own relationship with the brewery/Bruery. Then, we heard that Basta was going to do a beer and food pairing in May built totally around The Bruery's brews and it coincided with a Denver trip I was already planning and, voila, Brad got the Pizza Quest team assembled and back "on the bus" and there we were, at Pizzeria Basta, sitting at a table with Patrick Rue, the owner of The Bruery, issuing a challenge. We reversed the typical beer/food pairing, where the chef has to create a menu to match the beer (or more typically, wine), and instead asked Patrick if he could create a beer to match a pizza that Kelly, Alan, and I would create. He accepted the throw-down and we were off and running. For those who have been following this from the beginning, I won't recap it all and, for all newcomers to this saga I refer you back to my various Peter's Blogs as well as Brad's gallery to catch up.

So now, to bring it to the present, I must first address one question that keeps getting asked of me: when will we show the videos of this months long Quest? The answer is, I don't know, but it will take a while, which is why I'm writing about it now, while it's still fresh in my mind and the flavors are still tingling my palate.  It takes months of careful editing to get any of our webisodes ready to show because, as many of you know, we are preparing them to eventually be part of a television series; the webisodes are shorter versions of thirty minute television episodes.  So it isn't easy, especially on our budget, to get all the editing and post-filming work done quickly (much of which is done by our wonderful editor, Annette Aryanpour).  So, yes, eventually you will get to see the whole thing on screen, but we have other things to show first and there is a lot of footage that has to be sorted, culled, and cut into a cohesive series of webisodes.  But it will happen.  In the meantime, I'll spend the next few days writing about it here on the Peter's Blog section of Pizza Quest, and Brad will add some of the photos he took.

The culmination of the pizza/beer challenge occurred on Friday, September 30th, a few blocks from the annual Great American Beer Festival in Denver. We started out calling it the Challenge but, as we neared the finish line, I've taken to calling it The Big Reveal, since none of us had any idea how the new Challenge beer would taste and how it would pair with the Challenge pizza. One thing we did know is that, in anticipation of the beer being fabulous, and already knowing how tasty the pizza was, The Bruery folks created a very cool label for the beer and gave it a great name, Birra Basta.  Kelly's wife, Erika, had terrific tee-shirts made and I proudly wore mine when we filmed.

But now I have to back up yet again and tell you about a couple of special Quests we squeezed in earlier that day, prior to the Big Reveal. Denver has become, like many cities, quite the foodie mecca. Personally, I think in Denver's case it all starts with the local micro breweries, of which there are so many, all of mind blowing quality, as well as having access to great locally grown and produced foods, and, of course, a "green" ethic that is inspiring and, in some respects, leads the national sustainability stampede. Every time I go there I become more of a fan and consider it almost my second home now (by Denver, I mean the whole area including Boulder, Colorado Springs, and all the other surrounding towns, red rock formations, mountains, crisp clean air, tasty water -- the whole Rocky Mountain high ethic).

So, our good friend Joseph Pergolizzi (creator of The Fire Within, whose mobile oven rigs are featured here in many of our Instructional videos) told us about a friend of his, David Bravdica, who has a very popular street pizza business in the bustling 16th Street Pedestrian Mall, and, being the ardent pizza questers that we are, we decided to start the day there, at Brava Pizzeria Della Strada. The weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky, temperature in the high '70's, and a beautiful mobile oven (yes, one of Joseph's, naturally) parked under the iconic D & F Clock Tower on the corner of 16th Street and Arapahoe. I'll write more details about this tomorrow, as well as of our second stop, lunch at Marco's Coal-Fired Pizzeria on Larimer St.  All of this was prior to our main event, the Big Reveal, held at the Summit Beer Garden on 19th St. at Blake -- all of these places are within a few block's walk of each other which, when you think of it, makes this part of Denver (near the Rockies baseball park, Coors Stadium, and dozens of brew pubs and also the wonderful Cook Street Culinary School) a kind of Gastro area not unlike the one we showed in San Francisco in the Pizzeria Delfina webisode series.  Maybe one of the new definitions of what makes a city a great city is that it must have a Gastro.

More about all of this as well as my post-Big Reveal adventures at The Vine Street Pub and also at one of my favorite places, Pizzeria Rustica in Colorado Springs, as The Big Reveal continues tomorrow and throughout the week.

 

 

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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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