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.