Posts Tagged ‘joel fair’

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.

Junior Chefs School and “Pasta-goon”

Just a few weeks ago, my uber-chef (and General Manager of Avalanche Pizza) Joel Fair and I enjoyed a hot afternoon at Junior Chefs School run by the fabulous Sarah Conley-Warbler and Kip Parker, manager of the Athens Farmers Market. This is a monthly school set up for local kids to learn from different chefs in the area (and even from pizza guys.)  Our target on this day was pasta, or as I like to call it “Eggy pizza dough that takes a dip in a Turkish bath.” (That tagline hasn’t quite caught on yet.)

First we made a well of of ONE CUP OF FLOUR AND CRACKED TWO EGGS IN IT.

We had made some examples of pasta including Taglioline, gargonelli, fettucini, squid ink and saffron carmelli, Rigatoni etc.

These kids were great learners and wonderful to work with. They caught on beautifully and, with the direction of Sarah, mastered the art of pasta.


 Then we passed the pasta dough through an Italian Pasta Machine to make it thin.

Cutting the pasta into Linguine and Fettuchini was done with the pasta machine and a Ciatarra, an italian metal-stringed intrument especially designed for making pasta.

That’s the ciatarra at the bottom of the above picture.

 Some junior chefs made some very long fettuchini that stretched almost three feet long.

 We were ready with food to add to our fresh pasta like (Clockwise from left) Integration Acres goat feta, local pattypan squash, local Bordeaux spinach from Rich Organic Gardens, imported Parmigiano Reggiano and at the bottom some Bottarga di Muggine, or salted and flattened grey mullet roe from Sardinia which tastes just like Beluga Caviar and is heaven atop pasta.

 Local tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil was the favorite with extra virgin olive oil and salt.


 Thanks to Kip Parker and his pasta rig,  we were able to cook a tremendous amount of pasta “ala minute.”

 The kids ate so much, Joel and I had to scramble to make more for the vendors at the market.

 It was so rewarding to see the abundant smiles of the self-made pasta makers as they slurped away. Thank you Sarah Conley, Kip Parker and all the Junior Chefs.

This kids pasta recipe is simple,  straightfoward, easy to remember and it works!

1 cup flour  (with a little more reserved on the side)

Two eggs

Pinch salt

Make a well in the middle of the pile of flour on a strong, smooth countertop. Add salt. Break the eggs into the well and using the fingertips of your best hand (hand #1), break the yolks and mix with the whites and circle the fingers slowly in a small circle. Using the other hand like a “Karate Chop” (hand #2) or a dough scraper push little amounts of the flour into the middle of the well and keep mixing around and around with fingers of hand #1.


Keep going around in a small circle in the middle of the well and incorporating the flour with the help of the Karate hand. Use the Karate (#2) to keep all the flour in a small an area as possible.

Take your time as the flour and dough will seem to not combine. Keep going pushing the flour and dough together, as the chunk gets harder use hand #1 to grip the mass like a baseball and squeeze, then push against the table picking up all the loose flour.  Take both  hands and rub together slowly to drop all the loose pasta and push into the ball.

The pasta should be formed in a hocky puck so keep folding the dough over and over. If it is too dry add a very small amount of water, if too wet add small amount of flour.

Once hocky puck is formed put it in saran wrap for at least 30 minutes to let the gluten strands rest.

After it has rested, it is time to roll the dough with a pasta roller of with a rolling pin.