Archive for the ‘Northern Italian Pizza Recipes’ Category

My Pizza Story in Best Food Writing of 2012

Last Friday, while sitting in a crowded outdoor Parisian cafe’ before the Mondial de la Pizza, I recieved word that my story, “Truffle in Paradise,” was selected to appear in Holly Hughes’ “Best Food Writing 2012.”

“Truffle,” is a story about me and my three friends trying to find those wonderfully pungent dirt-mushrooms in Italy. Not the noble whites or the rough blacks, just the early spring truffle called “Bianchetti.” This truffle is grey, earthy and what some call “ugly” and “trash,” quite possibly a metaphor for the standing of the lonely pizza guy in the culinary universe, huh?

I had planned to shave this much-sought-after wonder on my pizza for the World Pizza Championships of 2008 but was not prepared for what happened next…well, lets just say, you gotta read this one!

                              

The story first appeared in the spring edition of Gastronomica, the journal of food and culture published by Darra Goldstein and the University of California Press.

As you can tell, I am very glad that Darra and Holly took a chance to highlight a story about competitive pizza making in very tough environment that seperates the strong from the weak and strenghtens bonds between friends. Thanks also to my good friends Bruno di Fabio, Tony Gemignani and Justin Wadstein who appear in the book and my fabulous writing coach, Dianne Jacob. But most of all, the love of my life, Debra for putting up with all my insane pizza crapola.

 

September 15th Baking. Many Thanks to my Customers!

It’s the crackle that makes autumn my favorite season. The air, the crunchy leafs, the crust on a nice baguette and even the snap, crackle and pop of my old bones as I load up my bread booty makes me feel happy this time of year. Even though it’s a tough nut to bake for 12 hours straight with no break, it can be very rewarding to take traditional baking methods and practices and twist them like a patient in a staight jacket. My “take” on the traditional Pissaladiere starts with a Jackson Pollack melange of Asiago, provolone, anchovy and garlic roasted onions, Kalamata olives, capers and some wonderful cows-teat heirloom tomatoes. After cutting, I put some garlic-champagne vinegar and anchovy macerated Raddichio di Treviso (yes, I always say “Del Traviso”-my bad) and some more Peruvian anchovies marinated in herbs and Spanish olive oil.

Man, I love baking. Thanks to my customers, I feel I have the best job in the world!

 

This is our large 45-ounce “Flintstone Wheels” that fulfills any bread need for at least a week and the delicious mushroom pizza with fresh spinach, Parmiggiano Reggiano, Fontina, porcini, button, portobello, shiitake mushrooms all baked with thyme and roasted garlic and finished with black truffle oil…. Kinda makes you say “Amen” with every bite.

 

This time of year really brings out the wonderful yellow from the fruits of the land like this roasted butternut squash, Japanese eggplant, kale and carrot topped Pizza al Metro that Chef Patty Nally made with gruyere cheese, or my variation of Escalavada Catalana on an 80-hour pre-fermented ciabatta dough topped with manchego cheese, red, green and yellow sweet peppers, red onion, eggplant and Spanish Sherry vinegar.

 

More yellows arrive from everywhere to add sweetness to pizzas and schiacciata making the term “Agrodolce” ring especially true when Chef Nally skins and slices some mango to go on a great schiacciata with Gorgonzola and peaches. Our baking is quite a production and sometimes feels like the Ford assembly line.

 

Joel Fair, Avalanche General Manager, is also a great help in the far-off hours of the morning. He handles those dicey calls and deliveries after the bars close and forms numerous breads like the Afghani snowshoe na’an with horseradish, parmesan, dill, lemon zest and black sesame and the Asiago and Sea salt Fougasse.

By the time the nine a.m. hour arrives, I’m spazzed, spaced, horrified at the speed of time and excited at the possibility of  finishing on time. The final large Sicilian pizza al metro’s have proofed all night and are “crowning” out of the oven. The prominent smell of deep wheat in the crust reflects the three day retardation under refrigeration even though they are topped with Grande provolone, Stanislaus Valoroso tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella.

 

My biggest concern now is remembering what is in the finished products. Luckily Chef Nally has the common sense to write things down so I don’t  have to hear, “Let me get this straight, you DON’T KNOW WHAT IS IN YOUR BREAD?” Despite all the hardships, burns, stress and lack of sleep, the most rewarding thing any small business owner can have is dedicated customers. I thank all of you for keeping me baking.

Here is another somewhat spacey video taken with almost everything we baked this last weekend for the Athens Farmers Market, one of the best farmers markets in the country.