Peter's Blog, Nov. 1 2012

Just a few quick notes this week:

--We've had some great response to John Arena's new series on what it takes to open your own pizza restaurant. A very valid question has been raised: how can he tell us to get fast while he (and Brad English, our intrepid pizza quester) also extoll the virtues of super slow pizzaiolo Dom DeMarco of Brooklyn (see Brad's recent journey, further down the page, on his visit to Pizzeria Di Fara). John, I'm sure, will address this but for those of you who have recently joined us, look back in the archives of our Guest Columns and read John's earlier pieces in which he defines three categories of pizza makers, including the "artistes" such as Dom, Anthony Mangieri, Chris Bianco, and others. Some great stuff there...

--I've been asked by many of you, "When are we going to see more video webisodes?'  The answer is NEXT WEEK!!  It's a slow and costly process to edit our hours of footage into coherent, quality short films (remember, we shot this originally for long format, PBS-style shows -- a dream we still hope to fulfill), but Brad, who produces these webisodes for you, just informed me that we have a few almost ready to post. This new story arc refers back to last year's hugely fun pizza/beer challenge that I wrote about in previous Peter's Blogs, culminating in the Big Reveal at last year's Great American Beer Festival in Denver. It all began at Pizzeria Basta, in Boulder, two years ago, so we have a long story to tell. The first installment should post next week, and then we'll bring out the others from time to time, as we get them edited. Anyway, check back soon -- it's really going to happen!

--We have had some response threads to your pizza and dough questions. Time to start another. Does anyone have a pressing question or want to resolve an ongoing pizza controversy? Post to the comment section on this post and I'll choose one for the next round. How about something along the lines of "What makes a pizza memorable?"  Remember, we define great pizza as being memorable, so what makes it so?  I'll riff on it again, as I've done in the past, but what about your riffs? I know there are some strong opinions about this out there, so now's your chance. If you decide to cite a particular place (and not one that you own), then at least give us the reasons why, what makes it memorable? As I tell my Johnson & Wales students, it's okay to have a strong opinion but you have to be prepared to defend it with valid criteria. (OR, you can also suggest a different topic or question that we could also grapple with.)

--I'll be in Chapel Hill in a few weeks, teaching at A Southern Season with my co-author Denene Wallace on Saturday, Nov. 17th on  "The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking." Not sure if they're sold out yet, so contact them directly if you want to come.

--Should have some other good news to share in a week or two about, well, I can't say yet but I think you'll be happy to hear about it (this isn't a false tease, I'm really excited about this, but I  have to wait till it's all confirmed before spilling the cheese). Soon, though, I promise....

 

Comments 

 
#1 David Williams 2012-11-01 14:11
Peter et al,
My current go-to recipe is your Sourdough pizza dough recipe, last go around I was too lazy to go open up a new bag of NYB Pivetti pizza flour and used KAF Bread as per the recipe. The eaters of the pizza thought it was great, soft yet crisp. In your mind how would this be different with "real" Italian flour. (Cooked at 550 on a stone in a older Thermador)

Also, what are your thoughts on the new Modernist Cuisine method using a steel plate instead of a stone?

(Working on rising and resting a loaf of the wild yeast french bread this week!)
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#2 Bas 2012-11-01 23:34
Peter,

One of the most memorable culinary experiences (take note: not just pizza experience) in my life was the famous pizza bianca at Forno Campo de Fiori, a small bakery in Rome, Italy.

It's so good, my heart rate accelerates just thinking about it.

Have you every had it? Here are two websites that have a couple of photos of the pizza on it:

http://www.msadventuresinitaly.com/blog/2009/11/19/pizza-bianca-at-forno-campo-de-fiori-rome-italy/

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2009/04/snapshots-from-italy-chasing-pizza-bianca-in-rome.html

I'd LOVE to be able to make it myself!
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#3 David 2012-11-03 04:33
Hello Peter,
I have been religiously using the craftsy bread making course and it is awesome. I also just bought a primavera 60, curing as we speak. Maybe you could add some classes on wood fired baking and some pizza episodes. It would be great to have tony etc as guests and would broaden the craftsy offering and I am sure you would get a lot of students signed up. I am sure forno bravo would be excited to have a quality courseware to sell with and help sell their ovens.
Just a thought
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#4 David 2012-11-03 04:38
I would also add a link to the craftsy site to the banner of Pizza quest as that would inspire more people to go there. Like I said class is really valuable and I think you can really expand it by adding episodes as add ons. It is worth every penny and then some.
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#5 Peter Reinhart 2012-11-06 05:43
Thank you, all who posted comments here. I will respond to them all in an upcoming Peter's Blog. In the meantime, to all, keep those comments and questions coming in.
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#6 WalterStewart 2012-11-13 11:44
I'm on the bus!!!

I totally fell in love with "American Pie." I decided to try to specialize on the neo-neapolitan Margherita until I understood
that. My first attempt was awfully good. 550F with a convection
oven and a pizza stone, about 7 minutes and the pizza was just great. Now I want to work to see how consistent I can make it!!!

Thank you, Peter!!!!!!!!!!
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#7 Jon in Albany 2012-11-29 15:52
In the last "controversy", the topic of bromate came up. Could you elaborate on what it does? I understand it has been linked to cancer and is banned in several countries, but Scott123 made a convincing case for it as an integral ingredient in the NY Slice. I have never seen potassium bromate listed as an ingredient on a bag of flour. Seen plenty that say "not bromated" and others that don't say anything. Is the omission an indication that the flour is bromated? I'm not 100% clear on what the bromate does (I think it helps gluten formation) but are there other techniques/ingredients to replace it? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

I'm going to run out of space so I'll throw my 2 cents in on memories in the next comment.
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#8 Jon in Albany 2012-11-29 15:54
A slice you grab on the go or a Friday night pizza is good, but you probably will not be dreaming of that pizza 5 years after you eat it. I think the memory requires exceptional pizza and either repetition (you eat it often) or an event (great pizza, great friends, great time) and preferably both. Some of my favorite pizzas came from Pepe’s. My brother used to live on Wooster Street between Sally’s and Pepe’s. I was still in high school and lived with my parents about 30 miles away. My brother would call for a pizza as I left the house. By the time I got there, parked, and visited for a few minutes, the pizza was almost ready so we’d head up the block to get it.
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#9 Jon in Albany 2012-11-29 15:55
We’d get up to the counter, usually have to wait a couple of minutes and then guy behind the counter would ask, “Do you want that sliced?” We did, and he’d cut the pizza in a unique random pattern, close the box and tell us the price. I’m not sure if he made the price up, but it was never the same twice. We’d head back to the apartment, crack a beer and dig in. Great pizza, great brother, and whole bunch of great times. I think I’m starting to drool a little.
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#10 Peter Reinhart 2012-11-30 12:53
Thanks for those great memories Jon. I agree, so much depends on the context of the situation (in "American Pie" I identify two types of perfection, contextual and paradigmatic. In the case of Pepe's I think it hits on both notes for most of its regulars.
As for bromate, it has been removed from all store brands, I believe, but is still used in some commercial brands because the bakers/pizza makers love how it promotes oven spring and resiliency. It has mostly been replaced by ascorbic acid but, as Scott123 points out, not everyone agrees that it works as well. He's also probably right that there's no real proof that it causes harm to humans, but perception is reality and public sentiment has turned against it, for the most part. I personally don't think it's necessary in pizza dough but Scott has much more rigorous performance standards in these matters and I wouldn't want to go against him in a platform debate -- I think he'd be hard to beat and he may be correct. I haven't heard from others with strong opinions on this question so, if any of you have knowledge on this matter, please chime in.
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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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