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.