Peter's Blog
Peter's Blog, Sept. 6th
Peter Reinhart

Hi Everyone,

It was a long, wet, windy Labor Day Weekend down here in Charlotte, so I'm a little behind with my posts (we're still technically under a tornado watch). Didn't even get to post a Coming Attractions box so I'll do that here at the end of this post. I'm going to take a little breather from the recent pizza/beer reflections and just write a short blog this week.

Today was the first day of classes at Johnson & Wales University and we welcomed about 900 new freshman yesterday (Labor Day) in our annual Convocation ceremony -- doing this on Labor Day is one of our traditions. As the faculty processed down the aisle to our seats, I watched the faces of all the newbies and imagined how all of their lives were about to change; that they themselves were about to change, transformed actually (transformation is something we write about here a lot on Pizza Quest). I know about this growth phenomenon from years of observation and, lest I had any doubts, I saw it in action on the night before the ceremony when I watched a new TV special on The Cooking Channel (not the Food Network, but their new sister network) called Cooking School Confidential. If you can get this channel please, don't miss this show (it's channel 353 on my digital dial, so I imagine many of you won't be able to get it or see this show until they rerun it on The Food Network someday) .

Yes, it's a great plug for our campus (BTW, I'm not in it, though there's a quick shot of me during the graduation scene but it's faster than a blink), as the show follows four Johnson & Wales University -- JWU for short -- students as they pursue their dream to become successful chefs. Each student has a very different situation to navigate through: one is a professional cyclist who

 
Peter's Blog, August 30th, 2011
Peter Reinhart

I'll be writing a few words, below, about beer and dough but first, let's return to Brad English's ongoing story about the evolution of the collaboration between Pizzeria Basta, The Bruery, and Pizza Quest. When we left him last week, Brad was telling us all about his tour of The Bruery and what happened when he issued the "challenge."  Let's pick it up from there....

A Pizza Pairing - Part III
So, we're on a Pizza Quest, looking for the best of the best, the true artisans of the craft.  Along the way, we've followed a trail that leads us to a better understanding of what artisanship is.  At this very moment we are currently awaiting the craft brewed response  -- the beer itself -- to a Challenge Pizza that we created for Patrick Rue and his brewers at The Bruery.  After tasting our pizza, Patrick and his brewing staff set to work to create a never before made beer to be paired specifically with the flavor profiles created by Kelly Whitaker, Alan Henkin, and Peter Reinhart on the Challenge Pizza.  I think this project is the perfect example of what hand-crafted, artisan brewing is all about.  The process of bringing food and beverage together to form a more perfect taste experience is not a new one.  But, what has me most excited is all the time and energy that went into creating a custom brewed beer specifically to match up with a pizza -- this may be a first!  There is art going on here, along with a passion for the brewing process, and a deep understanding of both flavor and taste. 

This is what I had picked up from Kelly Whitaker when we talked in detail about The Bruery:  They are not just brewing beer; they are brewing flavors that go with friends, food, a dinner party, a night in a local pub, cheese, salted pork, the Super Bowl, the sunset, and - of course - PIZZA!  Their beers -- and I've tried quite a few now -- all have something else to say beyond the obvious: that this beer tastes good.  The brews are well thought out, a combinations of flavors.  Perhaps the liquid, the beer, can be considered a flavor delivery system in much the same way Peter has always referred to how a good dough, or pizza crust, is.  Yes, a flavor delivery system!

We re-visited The Bruery recently.  This time we brought a mobile wood fired oven along, courtesy of Tim Gonzalez and his TJ's Wood-Fire Pizza rig, and got to "work" (if you could call it that) exploring the brewery, making pizzas, tasting beers, talking theory, and generally having a pretty

 
Peter's Blog, Aug. 23rd, Beer and Pizza, Part Two
Peter Reinhart

Last week we gave you some back ground on the upcoming series we are still filming that pairs pizza and beer in a whole new way. I also wrote a bit about the parallels between beer and pizza, especially in terms of fermentation, so I don't want to repeat all that here (you can read it all in last week's Peter's Blog). So, let's jump back into Brad's story, the back story, that fills in the lead-up to this series. When we left Brad, he had decided to contact The Bruery, which we learned about from Chef Kelly Whitaker during our film session at Pizzeria Basta in Boulder. After Brad heard back from Ben Weiss, the VP of Marketing, things began to move forward. Here's Brad, as we pick up the story:

What goes better with pizza than a cold beer?  I feel like we're in the "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!" territory here.  If there was ever a pairing, this is it.

Jeff Michael (our Pizza Quest co-creator) and I finally found a time when we could make the trip down to visit Ben at The Bruery.  It is a relatively small facility, ramping up to put out about 5,000 barrels of beer a year (after 3 years in business).  Right away, I knew I'd like the people here. Ben greeted us in his office wearing a pair of jeans, a faded graphic t-shirt, and flip flops.  I immediately thought that Ben was fortunate to be able to work at a place like this, and that the owners must also be the kind of guys you'd like to hang out with.  Sometimes you can just sense the soul of a place.  The Bruery has good soul and, as I already knew, put a good amount of that soul into creating some amazing beers.

As Ben gave us a tour of the brewery he told us how much all of the brewers and staff love good food and, definitely, good pizza. In fact, I found most of our conversation was about food.  We discussed pizza, the various gourmet food trucks they schedule on a regular basis, and the local great restaurants.  We eventually made it over to their brewery's bar, where Ben pulled a few

 
Peter's Blog, August 16th, 2011
Peter Reinhart

A few weeks ago I wrote about our visit to The Bruery in Placentia, Southern California. It was the middle stage of a three phase adventure that will culminate at the end of September in Denver at The Great American Beer Festival (aka GABF). Over the next few weeks, as we prepare to head out to Denver to film this final stage, I'm going to share some thoughts about the unique relationship between pizza and beer, and my colleague, Brad English, will join me here to fill you in on the background and lead-up to this series.

So, here's the bottom line: we're going to the GABF to make a special pizza to serve alongside a special beer created by The Bruery -- the world premier of both the pizza and beer, and the beer was created as a challenge to match with a signature Pizza Quest pizza created by Chef Kelly Whitaker (Pizzeria Basta) on a dough created by me. The Bruery folks loved the flavors of the pizza and have been hard at work brewing a unique, one of a kind beer inspired by the pizza flavors. Okay, that's the teaser--everything else you will be reading here is how we got to this place, along with some perspective and opinion. The videos won't be posted until we have the whole series edited (plus, we still have a lot of video webisodes to show you from our California tour) but we'll be giving you updates as we approach the GABF, and even blog from the site itself while we're making the pizzas in Kelly's "Fire Within" mobile oven rig outside the convention center. Brad is headed to The Bruery this week to taste the test batch, so maybe we can prevail upon him for a sneak preview, but for now, let's focus on the pizza/beer connection and then I'll let Brad start giving you the back story.

I've written before about the adage that "Beer is liquid bread," which means, at least to me, that bread must also be solid beer. Both are made by the fermentation of grain, transforming it, along with their other ingredients, into something totally new from where it began. While beer is made by first cooking the grains and then fermenting them in their liquid "wort" to create alcohol and carbon dioxide, bread is made by first fermenting the grains in their dough state and then applying

 
Peter's Blog, August 9th,
Peter Reinhart

Slowly I Turned...

There are some things that make even a Pizza Quest, that is, the search for the perfect pizza, shrink into nothingness and I experienced such a thing this past week when I was in Buffalo, NY. I'm not referring to having, for the first time, Buffalo Wings in Buffalo (that was pretty cool), and also my first official Beef on Weck sandwich (that was actually amazing and memorable, especially with horseradish. Actually, I've had Beef on Weck before but never in Buffalo, which claims bragging rights, and never this good, the beef so tender it was like butter).  For those who don't know what Beef on Weck is, the Weck refers to a Kimmelweck roll, kind of like a Kaiser roll but with kosher salt and caraway seeds on top -- kummel means caraway, and the proper spelling should actually be kummelweck, with an umelot over the "u".  Weck, of course, means roll. The beef is sliced paper thin, cooked slowly, and carved off the bone before piling it on the weck, which also gets a dip into beefy jus Beef on Weck is to Buffalo what a cheese steak is to Philly and, when done properly -- which not all places can do -- is equally memorable. But all of these "only in Buffalo" culinary moments are obliterated by my first ever visit to Niagara Falls.

I know, it's such a cliche and sometimes I think maybe I'm the only American who hasn't already been there. I tried not to expect too much; I didn't really expect much. I've seen waterfalls before, big, tall powerful waterfalls, but I was totally gobsmacked by the impact of Niagara Falls when I finally got to the edge. I saw the famous vapor plumes before I saw the falls, and heard the sounds of fury as I approached, but when I got to the rail and put it all together with my first sighting of the actual falls I was speechless. And I say this having seen it only from the American

 
Peter's Blog, August 2nd, 2011
Peter Reinhart

Susan and I spent the weekend in Philadelphia for a Reinhart family reunion and to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday, and I had chance to revisit some of my childhood haunts and spend time with old friends prior to the big event. I had planned to stop at Mama's to pick up a cheese steak (the best!) on our way in from the airport, but our flight got delayed and there wasn't time, so Mama's will have to wait till the next trip -- drat!! But the chocolate croissants at George Perrier's new The Art of Bread, in the now trendy town of Narberth, about a mile from my childhood home, filled the void the following morning. This was not the Narberth of my youth, though Ricklin's Hardware Store and Mape's Five & Dime are still there, serving as the requisite retro icons necessary in a renewed and transformed village, sitting astride some impressive fromageries and patisseries.

While we were in Philly, I got an e-mail from Brad English, who was up the road in NYC, filming a television commercial (that's what he does when he isn't shooting Pizza Quest webisodes or cooking on his grill), telling me that he had just discovered Tony Gemignani's new restaurant, 900 Degrees. The name refers to the oven heat that he uses to make his world championship Margherita pizza, which you will see on an upcoming webisode when we visit with him at his San Francisco location, Tony's Pizza Napoletana. But, that name and temperature barely describes the enormous vision behind Tony's restaurants (he also now has a place in Sacramento and more are on their way), the main feature being that you can get almost any style of pizza and, for each style, he has the appropriate oven. Again, you'll see all this when we show the webisodes later this month, but if you want to get a sneak preview go to his website, www.900degrees.com   and also read Adam Kuban's fine review on SliceNY at: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2011/06/900-degrees-almost-as-many-pizza-options.html.

Here's a few photos that Brad took when he had lunch there -- the pizzas were made by Tony's protegee, Audrey Pagnotta Sherman, who you will also see in our SF webisodes -- we met her there while she was studying with Tony. She must have passed the tests because she is now the lead pizzaiola at 900 Degrees! More on all this later, when we have some footage to show you, but we're excited to share this news and it was good timing for Brad to be there while I was in Philly, about to have my own pizza adventure at the now famous Osteria, quite arguably (according to my mother, who knows such things) Philadelphia's best restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osteria is part of the James Beard Award winning Marc Vetri's growing restaurant empire. Marc is one of the finest chefs of Italian food in the world, and his first restaurant, Vetri, has earned every award possible and put him into Michelin territory. But, it's small and uber-expensive, so a few years ago he opened Osteria, along with culinary partner and Executive Chef Jeffrey Michaud, and

 

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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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