Making Pizza for our Guru, by Cary Steiner
Peter Reinhart

Note from Peter: Cary and Lillian Steiner are friends of mine from New York who have their own wonderful pizza blog called Passion-4-Pizza (you can link to their site through our Sites We Like section). In fact, the photo of me used on all my postings was taken by Cary when he and  Lillian brought me to Umberto's in New Hyde Park to experience my first "Grandma's Pizza." It was there that I learned not only of their pizza journey but also of their spiritual journey and of their Teacher, Guru Shri Anandi Ma. The following is a memoir of Cary's experience making pizza for their Teacher. For those who have ever tried to cook for someone important in their life you should be able to relate to how such a simple act can also affect us on so many levels. Thank you Cary:

When Peter and his friends launched Pizza Quest, calling it “a journey of self-discovery through pizza,” the idea resonated very strongly with my wife Lillian and me. We had created www.passion-4-pizza.com as a sort of love story, our love of pizza paralleling our love for each other and our passion for life. The idea of pizza as metaphor was not new to us.  Creating balance on a pizza and finding balance in our way of life are regular and rewarding challenges: the scope and scale may be very different, but both call for creativity, flexibility, and faith. And sometimes the metaphor turns out to be a literal reality!

We’ve been students of Shri Anandi Ma and members of Dhyanyoga Centers since 1996, and being involved in a community of seekers has presented us with many opportunities for growth and

 
The Taco Temple Carrot Cake Wedge
Peter Reinhart

You are about to see a big ol' wedge of moist carroty goodness, the carrot cake from Morro Bay's Taco Temple, made by their pastry queen, Donelle Pollard. This is a short little dessert of a video, a fun, happy transition piece between our visit to California's Central Coast and our upcoming series in San Francisco with Tony Gemignani (which begins on September 1st). As I say on the video, my wife Susan's carrot cake is my personal benchmark and Adam Pollard, who we met in the Taco Temple webisode, feels the same way about his wife's version. What struck me was how different each of these carrot cakes actually are and how easy it is to love them both. Donelle's version is moist and dense, loaded with carrots that are still bright orange and al dente, proudly on display in two big layers surrounded by plenty of the requisite and delicious cream cheese frosting. Susan's version also has lots of frosting; the two versions of frosting are very similar -- let's face it, cream cheese frosting is one of the wonders of the world and is no need of innovation -- but Susan's cake is also is loaded with what I think is the true secret ingredient of carrot cake: raisins.

Regardless of the differences, what you will see on the tape is how hard it is stop eating good carrot cake. At first I had to wrap my mind around the fact that this one was so different from Susan's version but then, the more I tasted, and as the sweet flavor of the carrots began to shine, I fell under its charm. At the end I'm mumbling something in the van, still nursing that wedge and refusing to share it with anyone else. I can't even recall what it was I said because my mouth was so full of carrot cake and cream cheese that I could barely speak. And that, ironically, says it all.

 
"Atsa Creamy-Gorg A-Peezz!"
Brad English

So, I had some Bel Gioioso Creamy Gorgonzola cheese in the fridge.  I wanted to make some pizzas. What came to mind was my friend's grandfather.  I don't know why, but often, when I cook it seems distant memories come flooding back to me.

My friend Brian had introduced me to his Nono (Grandfather) while we were back in college. As I sat there contemplating this Creamy-Gorg pizza, I got lost in the thought that if I had gotten the chance to make Nono this pizza, he would have said, "Atsa Creamy-Gorg a-peezz!"  Nono had a little shop in San Francisco where he repaired furniture for years and years and years after emigrating from Italia.  I had met Brian on my first day of college.  He's Italian and Irish with bright red hair and his nickname, which is known to half the living universe, is "Flame!"  We became fast friends. To be clear, we weren't particular fast -- as in speedy -- unless there was a last beer, or slice of pizza, or something we wanted across the room.  In that case, watch out!  I don't know why this Creamy-Gorg Pizza brought up my memory of Brian's grandfather.  But, it did.

One day, while visiting him in San Francisco, Brian was telling Nono about something we had done, or were intending to do.  He warned us from behind his waiving finger, "Atsa tha dange!"  What he meant was that it was dangerous.  What it's meant to me is countless fond memories of that moment and a constant anchor that will instantly bring me back in time to those visits I made with Brian to his grandparent's home in San Francisco.  He would always come back to school after a break with all kinds of salamis.  It was good to visit the source.  How popular do you think he was in a dorm? 

We had made a lot of dough to use during our last Pizza Quest filming, so I pulled out one of Peter's Signature Bruery Challenge Pizza Doughs, which was made with Central Milling Company's Organic Pizza Germania flour.  We'll eventually post the recipe and show a video demo of how this is made.  But, so you know, I'll tell you it has some beer malt in it.  And, it is delicious! 

When I took out the cheese and took a bite, the very first thing I did -- after thinking "Atsa tha peezz!" to myself again -- was to go to the garage refrigerator and grab a beer.  This cheese and

 
Peter's Blog, August 16th, 2011
Peter Reinhart

A few weeks ago I wrote about our visit to The Bruery in Placentia, Southern California. It was the middle stage of a three phase adventure that will culminate at the end of September in Denver at The Great American Beer Festival (aka GABF). Over the next few weeks, as we prepare to head out to Denver to film this final stage, I'm going to share some thoughts about the unique relationship between pizza and beer, and my colleague, Brad English, will join me here to fill you in on the background and lead-up to this series.

So, here's the bottom line: we're going to the GABF to make a special pizza to serve alongside a special beer created by The Bruery -- the world premier of both the pizza and beer, and the beer was created as a challenge to match with a signature Pizza Quest pizza created by Chef Kelly Whitaker (Pizzeria Basta) on a dough created by me. The Bruery folks loved the flavors of the pizza and have been hard at work brewing a unique, one of a kind beer inspired by the pizza flavors. Okay, that's the teaser--everything else you will be reading here is how we got to this place, along with some perspective and opinion. The videos won't be posted until we have the whole series edited (plus, we still have a lot of video webisodes to show you from our California tour) but we'll be giving you updates as we approach the GABF, and even blog from the site itself while we're making the pizzas in Kelly's "Fire Within" mobile oven rig outside the convention center. Brad is headed to The Bruery this week to taste the test batch, so maybe we can prevail upon him for a sneak preview, but for now, let's focus on the pizza/beer connection and then I'll let Brad start giving you the back story.

I've written before about the adage that "Beer is liquid bread," which means, at least to me, that bread must also be solid beer. Both are made by the fermentation of grain, transforming it, along with their other ingredients, into something totally new from where it began. While beer is made by first cooking the grains and then fermenting them in their liquid "wort" to create alcohol and carbon dioxide, bread is made by first fermenting the grains in their dough state and then applying

 
The MacBeth, A Pizza Memoir
Peter Reinhart

*Note from Peter: "The MacBeth" is a delightful pizza memoir sent in by a friend of Pizza Quest named Jeffrey Ippolito.  We loved it and thought it was a fun piece celebrating fond memories, good pizza (almost), and good friends.  We hope you enjoy it as well, and keep the conversation going. If you have pizza memoirs that you'd like to share and see published here please send them to us at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


The Macbeth

“The 2nd Best Pizza That Never Was”

About 20 years ago, when I was living in Columbia, Missouri, seven friends and I went to Shakespeare’s Pizza, a great local hang and pizzeria, after an Oklahoma/Missouri football game. We were starving.  Since most of our party was from out of town and I was the local ambassador, as it were, the group entrusted me to order a couple of large pizzas on behalf of the table.  I knew immediately one would be the tomato and pepper cheese.

That was, then, and remains today, my all time favorite pizza.   To me it’s pizza perfection, from it’s foundation of hand-tossed crust, a generous amount of sauce and bed of fresh cheese, to the whole slices of tangy tomatoes and spicy chunks of melting pepper cheese.  It has taste, texture and a lot of cheesy gooeyness.  The T-P-C was a standard, a must have.

However, I wasn’t sure what toppings to get on the next pizza.  As I approached the counter to order, I scanned the menu painted on pizza boards on the wall behind the counter, looking for

 
Cass House Inn, Finale
Peter Reinhart

So, how did we end up at The Cass House Inn? After all, it's not a pizzeria, it's far from big population centers, and we're ending this series not with a pizza but with a fancy lamb dish and a plush wine. To answer this question let me reiterate what Pizza Quest is beyond the search for the perfect pizza: a celebration of artisans and artisanship (or, as noted in our Vision Statement, over in the right hand column of the website, "…a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms…").

Some background: We were headed to San Francisco on our first road trip, having filmed a great series of webisodes with Nancy Silverton at Pizzeria Mozza in LA, when Brad suggested we veer off the highway and visit a place in Cayucos, on the coast, that he had recently discovered. As we've mentioned before, there's a certain kind of magic and "go with the flow" energy that takes over when you are on a road trip, and sometimes you feel like surrendering and just trusting the "road." So we did and, as a result, ended up with great footage at a number of places that you've already seen, including The Taco Temple (I can still taste that killer Sea Scallop Taco), the Brown Butter Cookie Company, Ruddell's Smoke House, and especially The Cass House Inn. If Pizza Quest is, as we say, more about the quest than about the pizza, these various webisodes make the point better than any words -- and the pizza was pretty amazing too, even if the Cass House Inn is not a pizzeria; I'd put our smoked albacore pizza and Jensen's Merguez Lamb Sausage pizza up against any pizza we've had anywhere.

So, on Pizza Quest we just follow the bread crumb trail, wherever it leads, and let the magic of the Quest do the rest. One of the takeaways for us during our maiden road trip, of which we still have upcoming footage to show you, is how important it is to put yourself on a quest, whether it be for pizza or anything of value, and how the simple declaratory act of questing creates a vacuum that gets filled in with all sorts of unanticipated adventures. It's the side trips, the detours, the following of the signs that provide the bonus features, not only on film but in life.

In this final installment from the Cass House Inn, Chef Jensen takes us into his kitchen as he prepares a lamb tenderloin, wrapped in caul fat, along with accompaniments such as ratatouille and raitta (yogurt sauce), that earlier had appeared on his Merguez pizza. In other words, a white tablecloth versus checkered tablecloth expression of similar flavors and influences. What I like about all this is that it captures one important aspect of the artisan at work, the ability to think outside the box, utilize local, seasonal ingredients, and connect the dots on the flavor trail (another variation of what I, a baker, call the bread crumb trail) to create new, exciting gastronomic experiences. This webisode segment, then, is like a mini-seminar in creativity, including the choice of wine that Grace Lorenzen shows us at the end.

But, my favorite moment in this segment is, and it happens quickly so don't miss it, when Jensen drizzles his reduction lamb demi glace jus over the plated lamb. It was a wow for me then, and watching the video brought me back to that moment and how intense and visceral it was, tapping into an emotional place within me in that unique way that truly great sauces can. I've often said that if I could start over as a chef I would probably become a saucier, as I believe that making sauces is the most alchemical of all cooking, it's like cooking on an altar, transmutational and, at its highest expression, a signifier of transcendence. Since you didn't actually get to taste the sauce in the video as I did seeing it now may not transport you as it did me, but keep an eye out for that moment, near the end, and let me know if you can catch even a glimpse of what I'm talking about.

For me, these are the defining Quest moments, and I want to thank Jensen and Grace Lorenzen one final time for letting us into their world nestled in a small sliver of Central California's Coastal region. Let us know if you ever get to The Cass House Inn and, if you do, say hi to Grace and Jensen for all of us here at Pizza Quest. And get some of that reduction sauce!

 
Peter's Blog, August 9th,
Peter Reinhart

Slowly I Turned...

There are some things that make even a Pizza Quest, that is, the search for the perfect pizza, shrink into nothingness and I experienced such a thing this past week when I was in Buffalo, NY. I'm not referring to having, for the first time, Buffalo Wings in Buffalo (that was pretty cool), and also my first official Beef on Weck sandwich (that was actually amazing and memorable, especially with horseradish. Actually, I've had Beef on Weck before but never in Buffalo, which claims bragging rights, and never this good, the beef so tender it was like butter).  For those who don't know what Beef on Weck is, the Weck refers to a Kimmelweck roll, kind of like a Kaiser roll but with kosher salt and caraway seeds on top -- kummel means caraway, and the proper spelling should actually be kummelweck, with an umelot over the "u".  Weck, of course, means roll. The beef is sliced paper thin, cooked slowly, and carved off the bone before piling it on the weck, which also gets a dip into beefy jus Beef on Weck is to Buffalo what a cheese steak is to Philly and, when done properly -- which not all places can do -- is equally memorable. But all of these "only in Buffalo" culinary moments are obliterated by my first ever visit to Niagara Falls.

I know, it's such a cliche and sometimes I think maybe I'm the only American who hasn't already been there. I tried not to expect too much; I didn't really expect much. I've seen waterfalls before, big, tall powerful waterfalls, but I was totally gobsmacked by the impact of Niagara Falls when I finally got to the edge. I saw the famous vapor plumes before I saw the falls, and heard the sounds of fury as I approached, but when I got to the rail and put it all together with my first sighting of the actual falls I was speechless. And I say this having seen it only from the American

 
The Brown Butter Cookie Company, Cayucos, CA
Peter Reinhart

Traci Nixon and Christa Hozie had an idea and they went for it. Somehow, they have managed to make a style of cookies so tasty that, even hidden away in the small town of Cayucos, people from all over the country have found them. They told me that a lot of their business is by mail order, so feel free to check out their website and give them a shout.

As our quest evolved while we were filming with Chef Jensen and his wife Grace, we took a little break while Jensen did some prep and wandered over to this little shop, just a few yards from the Cass House Inn, and met the delightful Traci and Christa. We had seen the sign when we pulled up to the Cass House Inn earlier in the day and Brad had told us all about these cookies from when he had first met Jensen a few weeks earlier.  So, it was only a matter of time, when even a slight window of opportunity opened up, that we found ourselves "wandering" over to check it out.  Actually, Brad was with one of the cameramen shooting some B-Roll shots of Jensen in the kitchen and we snuck away with the rest of the crew to explore - no...well to "investigate" this cookie company.   We did get a little footage before we had to return and thought it would be a nice "palate cleanser" from the pizza footage to give you a glimpse of their shop. What I especially admire about this place is how they took a simple but powerful culinary concept, browning butter to bring out maximum flavor, and then built a whole product line on it. That's "Grass Roots Marketing 101," and so I found it very inspirational and hope you do as well.

Note:  When we filmed here they had 2 main brown butter cookies with sprinkled sea salt on top:  The Original and The Cocoa.  If you happen to swing by now, or go online you will see they have added quite a few new flavors!

Here is their website:  http://www.brownbuttercookies.com/

 
Summer Heirloom Caprese Salad
Brad English

This is one of my favorite salads to make in one variation or another.  If I don't have fresh mozzarella on hand, I'll just make this as a tomato and basil salad with a little oil, balsamic and salt and pepper.  I am always happy with a tomato salad.   If you can't get an heirloom tomato any quality tomato will work.  It's a very flexible platform for pure goodness!

This salad can be a great lunch all by itself.  It's refreshing and fulfilling.  It can also be a great dinner salad.  Or, as you will see in my next post, it can be a terrific topping for a pizza, or a sandwich for that matter.  I also like to add a roasted red pepper (I try to keep a jar of them around for such an occasion).

This is a fresh and easy salad that I did not invent, nor am I taking any credit for it.  I am simply pulling the best ingredients together that I have access to and tweaking them to make this great Italian concept my own.  It will change slightly every time you make it because this salad is all about the ingredients.  Each one of them, the tomato, the cheese, the basil, the seasoning, all stand out, but also blend together so well, in much the same way that the simple ingredients we often see on a great pizza work together.  In my mind, the caprese salad is to salads what the Margherita pizza is to pizzas.  They are pure representations of what they are (salad and pizza) and celebrate the individual ingredients as well as the gathering of them into a meal.

The Summer Heirloom Caprese Salad:

Heirloom Tomatoes
Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt
Pepper

--Slice an Heirloom Tomato into slices or wedges.
--Place a ball of buffalo mozzarella (or fresh cow's milk mozzarella) over the tomato and break it open.
--Tear or snip with a scissors the basil leaves into strips, or cut them and lay over the top.
--Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the salad, to taste.
--Sprinkle a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper to finish.

Enjoy!

 
Peter's Blog, August 2nd, 2011
Peter Reinhart

Susan and I spent the weekend in Philadelphia for a Reinhart family reunion and to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday, and I had chance to revisit some of my childhood haunts and spend time with old friends prior to the big event. I had planned to stop at Mama's to pick up a cheese steak (the best!) on our way in from the airport, but our flight got delayed and there wasn't time, so Mama's will have to wait till the next trip -- drat!! But the chocolate croissants at George Perrier's new The Art of Bread, in the now trendy town of Narberth, about a mile from my childhood home, filled the void the following morning. This was not the Narberth of my youth, though Ricklin's Hardware Store and Mape's Five & Dime are still there, serving as the requisite retro icons necessary in a renewed and transformed village, sitting astride some impressive fromageries and patisseries.

While we were in Philly, I got an e-mail from Brad English, who was up the road in NYC, filming a television commercial (that's what he does when he isn't shooting Pizza Quest webisodes or cooking on his grill), telling me that he had just discovered Tony Gemignani's new restaurant, 900 Degrees. The name refers to the oven heat that he uses to make his world championship Margherita pizza, which you will see on an upcoming webisode when we visit with him at his San Francisco location, Tony's Pizza Napoletana. But, that name and temperature barely describes the enormous vision behind Tony's restaurants (he also now has a place in Sacramento and more are on their way), the main feature being that you can get almost any style of pizza and, for each style, he has the appropriate oven. Again, you'll see all this when we show the webisodes later this month, but if you want to get a sneak preview go to his website, www.900degrees.com   and also read Adam Kuban's fine review on SliceNY at: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2011/06/900-degrees-almost-as-many-pizza-options.html.

Here's a few photos that Brad took when he had lunch there -- the pizzas were made by Tony's protegee, Audrey Pagnotta Sherman, who you will also see in our SF webisodes -- we met her there while she was studying with Tony. She must have passed the tests because she is now the lead pizzaiola at 900 Degrees! More on all this later, when we have some footage to show you, but we're excited to share this news and it was good timing for Brad to be there while I was in Philly, about to have my own pizza adventure at the now famous Osteria, quite arguably (according to my mother, who knows such things) Philadelphia's best restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osteria is part of the James Beard Award winning Marc Vetri's growing restaurant empire. Marc is one of the finest chefs of Italian food in the world, and his first restaurant, Vetri, has earned every award possible and put him into Michelin territory. But, it's small and uber-expensive, so a few years ago he opened Osteria, along with culinary partner and Executive Chef Jeffrey Michaud, and

 
Jensen's Lamb Merguez Pizza
Peter Reinhart

One of the great joys in being on the quest for perfect pizza is that it truly is a discovery process. As Chef Jensen Lorenzen and I played in his outdoor kitchen at the Cass House Inn I think we both felt that we were stepping into exciting, new territory. He knows food and ingredients and how flavors come together; I know dough; he had a brand new wood-fired oven that he was just learning to "drive," and some great ingredients; I had a camera crew and a Pizza Quest team in search of new flavor frontiers -- it was a spontaneous adventure for all of us to see what we could create with the cameras running. In this webisode you'll see some of Jensen's creative process, how a chef thinks about ingredients and how, by using certain flavors in concert with others, he can create a taste burst that suddenly becomes memorable because it connects with previous reference points and then takes things down a slightly different path, reinforcing the old reference point but also establishing a new one, a new taste memory. What a great job I have -- it never gets boring!!

So, enjoy Chef Jensen's delicious Merguez Lamb Sausage Pizza with Goat Cheese and Raitta!

 
Holy Smoke n' Ribs Pizza!
Brad English

One of our Guest Columns by Tom Carrig was called "BBQ Pizza--Not".  It got me thinking about, what else, barbecue pizza.  My first introduction to this type of pizza was back in the 90's when the BBQ Chicken Pizza became all the rage at California Pizza Kitchen, and also at Louise's Trattoria here in Los Angeles, CA.  We could talk a lot about this explosion of "new" pizza ingredients that really brought so many new pizza concepts to public attention, and I'm sure much has already been written about it.  I also understand Tom's perspective about this abuse of the term "barbecue" and have learned over the years, as I've become more and more of a lover of "process" in my food quests, that barbecue, as a word, is butchered more than the butchers at national market chains carve up cuts of meat.  Wow, that was a mouthful of words even to type --hey Mom, I'm writing in metaphors and analogies now! 

But, Tom really got me thinking about barbecue and pizza.  I'd love to try an official BARBECUED PIZZA (as he defined it), where all the ingredients are indeed touched by the fire, the smoke, and all that low and slow temperature and time.  It sounds like an adventure but would also require

 
Peter's Blog, July 26th, St. Martin
Peter Reinhart

A week away from pizza--it was hard. Every time I passed a pizza place on the island of St. Martin I had to fight the desire to check it out as an act of PQ duty. But it was our vacation, Susan and I, and that included a vacation from anything that would draw us back into the things we were vacating. Let's face it, sometimes you just have to empty out and, frankly, the food in St. Martin (more so on the French side, not the Dutch side of the island) is considered some of the best in the Caribbean.

 

 

We designed a great routine: a short visit to a small, humble boulangerie in the morning for a chocolate croissant and a cappuchino or a cup of tea; some serious ocean time; lots of reading (for me, a great novel by Anne Patchett called "State of Wonder" -- remember that you heard about it here when the book awards are announced in the fall) as well as a book on the history of Google called, "I'm Feeling Lucky," (great title--a fun read), along with trying to catch up, futilely, with the bottomless pile of articles from The New Yorker that have been collecting on my I-Pad and in the growing stacks in my bathroom, office, suitcase -- they multiply like rabbits and there's no way to keep up, yet I'm totally addicted… well, you get the picture. Reading, swimming,  enjoying time together uninterrupted by deadlines and teaching schedules, and, at the end of each day, eating

 
Sourdough Pizza
Teresa Greenway

Note From Peter:

Teresa Greenway is a serious home baker and sourdough expert who has been corresponding with me for the past few years. She has written her own beautiful book on all things sourdough, loaded with photos, and is making it available as a free download for anyone who wants to get it from her website (see the link at the end of this article, or go to her Guest Contributor profile). We welcome Teresa on board as our resident sourdough expert and look forward to future columns from here.  Please feel free to send your comments and let us know about your own sourdough exploits. The method she describes below makes a fabulous dough!

I have a passion for baking with sourdough. I enjoy sharing the fun by helping others learn to bake using it too. If you want to join in the fun but don’t have a sourdough starter, you can learn to make your own here: http://www.northwestsourdough.com/.

Lately I have been thinking about making pizza dough using sourdough starter. In this recipe a sourdough starter is used to make a piece of dough called a “preferment” which is then used to make the final dough.

I decided to use a sourdough pre-ferment so as to have a large quantity of wild yeast and bacteria

 
TJ's Asparagus Pizza
Brad English

I have been corresponding through our email with a Pizza Quester named TJ about making the Buonchristiani Lamb Sausage with Fennel Pizza.  TJ asked a few questions and then went off and had great success making the pizza  (that really is one that you have to try -- I love that pizza!).  In one of TJ's emails he told me about one of his own favorite pizzas.  It's a thinly shaved asparagus pizza.  Right there, that sounded really interesting, so, I thought I would give it a try. (in other words, he had me at "shaved asparagus")

I asked TJ where he got the recipe and he said that the original recipe is from the blog Smitten Kitchen.  I looked that up and here is the link so that they get the credit.  It's another great pizza!  We love pizza, don't we?!  You can find the original recipe here: http://smittenkitchen.com.

I am going to use TJ's own words to tell you how to make this pizza.  I think it demonstrates a couple of things.  The first, and most important thing, is simply this: passion.  This pizza is a perfect example of how important these simple passions are to our daily lives.  We keep ourselves younger by engaging our minds with tasks that push us to learn, or grow in some way.  TJ and I have never met, and may never meet, but we connected and engaged in this shared passion.  I hope that experience is enriching for both of us, I know it was for me.  And, the second interesting thing is this: that any recipe can be taken and should be interpreted, adapted, and adjusted for each individual. 

Following is TJ's email about his version of the Smitten Kitchen's Version of an Asparagus Pizza.

 
Following the Chalkboards
Brad English

A long time ago, I took a trip with my high school buddy, Milan.  We went to Europe one winter to ski and roam around a little.  The two of us didn't have any real plans, beyond hitting some key ski spots like Chamonix, Zermat, Davos, St Anton, and Kitzbuhel among many others.  We had a stop planned in a small farm town in Slovakia to visit his relatives but, other than that, our planning consisted of getting tickets and reserving a rental car. 

We hit the ground driving.  Leaving Frankfurt, we eventually made a stop in the Black Forest for some German beer on Lake Titisee.  It was a cold day, and a blanket of snow covered most things.  There weren't many tourists there that time of year, but we found our beer and it was as beautiful a place for a cold beer as I had ever been.  I would find many such places on this trip.

 
A Pizza Farm
Jeffrey Michael

On my last couple of visits to Minnesota, I had been hearing about a unique and must see‚ pizza place in Stockholm, Wisconsin, about 90 minutes from the Twin Cities.

So this year, during our annual summer visit to see my wife's family, we decided it was time to make the trip out there.  On our 14th wedding anniversary, my wife, Julie, and I packed up the car with our friends, and fellow adventurers, Chris and Kristen Johnson.  As a side note, the Johnsons had recently opened up a fantastic Texas style barbecue joint in Bayport, Minnesota (www.bayportbbq.com) and this may have been one of the only nights in months when neither of them was working at the restaurant.  So with a leap of faith, and the car loaded with blankets, utensils and beverages, we turned south on the highway and began our quest.

That's right, you bring your own utensils, beverages and any other thing you may want to sit/lay/sleep on.  No this, wasn't your usual checkered tablecloths pizza and beer joint.

When we arrived in Stockholm, there was not much open in this quaint town except for the Stockholm Pie Company (www.stockholmpiecompany.com). 

 
An Amazing Smoked Albacore Pizza
Peter Reinhart

Okay, so we picked up our smoked albacore at Ruddell's Smoke House and now what?  Time to make a pizza, of course. Chef Jensen is an inventive cook and has a great eye for presentation as well as a firm grasp on how to use fresh, locally sourced ingredients.  And I'm big on the use of acidity -- this time in the form of both hot an cold heirloom tomatoes as well as Ruddell's "secret sauce" -- to make things pop so, between the two of us, I think we came up with an amazing pizza (but it was really mostly Jensen -- I just got to go along for the ride and throw in a few comments).

The use of the finishing "secret sauce," provided by Jim Ruddell himself, is the final key to tying all these great ingredients together. It was, as far as we could tell, a sort of lemon aioli, like an olive oil mayonnaise with extra lemon if you don't want to go to all the trouble of making aioli from scratch; we're not sure how Jim made his but it was good! The sauce, whether this one or any number of other "secret sauces" that all fish taco shacks have in their arsenal (as does any great hoagie shop), causes every ingredient to seemingly explode and give up its full potential of flavor. I mean, when you fold a slice of pizza around these ingredients there really is very little difference between a pizza - a sandwich - or a taco, which is exactly the point I've been making for years: pizza is just dough with something on it and it exists in every culture, in many variations, and under a variety of names. Dough with something on it, when the dough is killer and the something on it explodes with flavor, it works every time no matter what you call it.

So, our goal was to create a sort of fish taco pizza and, in one of my favorite moments in this video, you can tell how well we did by looking closely at Jensen's wife, Grace, and the subtle look on her face when she takes her first bite -- priceless!!

The Cass House Signature Central Coast Pizza with locally smoked Albacore!

 
A Fish Tacone Quest
Brad English

It's officially Fish Taco season here at Pizza Quest.  Why not?  It's summer and there isn't a better time to enjoy the fresh summery flavors than in a great fish taco!  As you've seen in recent webisodes, we stumbled onto two incredible fish taco places while visiting The Cass House Inn in Cayucos, CA.  Both the Taco Temple and Ruddell's Smokehouse create some of the most delicious fish tacos I have ever had.  You will see later this week, in an upcoming webisode, how our passion for great fish tacos translates into a truly unique Central Coast Signature Pizza designed by Chef Jensen Lorenzen and Peter, using some of Jim Ruddell's fresh smoked Albacore.  So, sit tight, as we keep exploring the world for memorable foods.


While we're on this subject, I want to share my own fish taco recipe, one that I have worked on for

 
Peter's Blog, July 12, 2011
Peter Reinhart

Today (Monday) we made pizza dough during the first day of our week long Kid's Baking Camp at Johnson & Wales. I'm jazzed, because tomorrow we're going to actually make the pizzas with my 14 campers, all between 13 and 15 years of age. These are great kids and today, on Day One, we made killer chocolate chip cookies, wonderful soft dinner rolls, and flaky blitz biscuits. Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will be making apple pie (if pizza isn't "American Pie" then apple pie truly is), French bread with pre-fermented dough, and, of course, individual pizzas. Later this week we'll make pate choux filled with pastry cream, bagels, soft pretzels, focaccia, and banana cream pie and quiche, and who knows what else. In the class room next to mine there is a group of 9 to 11 year old kids baking up a storm -- I saw lots of great looking cup cakes today. Upstairs there is a group of 11-13 year old kids. There is also a hot foods class for another group of kids of various ages -- the school is filled with kids hungry to cook and hungry to feed each other their food.

What I love about this camp is how easily these kids pick up the techniques and how well

 
Ruddell's Smokehouse, Cayucos, CA
Peter Reinhart

I love smoked fish of all types. As a child, nearly every Sunday morning in our family we had some kind of smoked fish platter for brunch, usually lox and bagels but often sturgeon, kippers (hot-smoked salmon as opposed to the cold-smoked Nova Scotia and belly lox), white fish, or whatever else my folks were able to find at the local deli. That's probably where my fascination with smoked foods in general began, as we didn't have classic barbecue joints in my part of Philly, but we did know about pastrami (smoked brisket). Later, when I discovered the whole wide world of "low and slow" regional barbecue all the lights went on!

So, our visit to Jim Ruddell's Smokehouse in Cayucos was like a pilgrimage , of sorts -- a recovery of some very fond family taste memories. Jim couldn't have been nicer and more down to earth -- he clearly does this hard, daily work because he loves it. It's a one man show, and another sparkling example of food artisanship, with his attention to the the right wood and temperature choices, and the joy of a daily harvest of whatever he happens to be smoking that day.

In this week's webisode you'll meet Jim, as Jensen and Grace Lorenzen accompany me to his Smokehouse to gather ingredients for the pizzas you'll see in later episodes. As you're about to see, he made us a smoked fish taco that was as memorable as the one we had at The Taco Temple, yet totally different and distinct (could it be that we'll need to do a whole season on Taco Quests? Who knows....?). Like I said, I love smoked fish and we had more than our fair share of this beautiful product during our outing.

Sit back and enjoy our shopping trip to Ruddell's Smokehouse, on the Pacific Coast of Central California.

 
Peter's Blog, July 5th
Peter Reinhart

A Primer on Flour
Hi Everybody,
I've been getting a lot e-mails asking about flour and how all the different types work for pizza. Here's a quick, and by no means comprehensive look at some of your options. There is so much good flour available that you can't go wrong, but with all the interest in Italian style flour as well as the various types of American flour, it might be helpful to know the following:


-- Italian "Tipo" Double Zero (--00--) Flour is favored by people who have been to Naples or to one of the new American VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) pizzerias and love the soft texture and natural sweetness. The term "double zero" refers to both the purity of the flour -- culled from the endosperm (white part) of the wheat berry and very finely milled, usually of moderate protein levels (about 9.5% - 10.5%) comparable to American All Purpose flour. It has wonderful extensibility (as opposed to elasticity) which makes it easy to stretch for pizza. It also does not absorb as much water as American flour, and doesn't require as long a fermentation period to release it's wonderful flavor. It does not usually come with malted barley flour, as American flour does to promote browning, because it is designed to be baked at very high temperatures for a very short time (less than two minutes, usually closer to one minute) so the malt enzymes could cause it to burn. The most well known brand, now available to the American marketplace at some specialty stores and via the Forno Bravo e-store (and from Orlando Foods via their distributors, if you have a pizzeria), is Caputo. Another brand, of similar quality, is San Felice, but it is harder to track down if you don't have a pizzeria. By the way, "Italian" flour is not made with only Italian grown wheat but rather a blend of wheat, some of it from the USA, that meets the specifications (specs) of the mills. Also, there are a few -00- types, some used for pasta, some for bread, and some for pizza, so be sure to get the right one for your situation.

--American Double Zero (--00-) Flour is a new option, now available via Central Milling and possibly other mills. But the American version tends to  contain higher protein flour (close to 11.5% - 12%) than the Italian brands, but yet retains the Italian extensibility qualities due to the specific wheat selections. It feels very soft because it is finely milled, and absorbs far more water than the Italian brands. Llke the Italian, it is unbleached and retains a beautiful, golden hue. Central Milling now makes a few types, some with malt and salt added, for pizzerias or for home cooks not planning to bake at super hot temperatures. The Central Milling flour is certified organic and has a soft, sweet flavor very similar to the Italian brands. Ordering info listed in a previous Peter's Blog.

--Unbleached Bread Flour is available at all supermarkets, produced by a number of major mills such as General Mills, King Arthur, Pillsbury (now owned by General Mills), Con Agra, and many regional mills (used primarily by restaurants and bakeries). The protein level is somewhere around 12.5% and the flour makes excellent bread, pizza, and focaccia, especially when made at higher hydration levels than the Italian flour. Because the protein level is higher, it has a chewier texture, a kind of al dente quality, that many of us find appealing. It is usually sold with a very small amount of diastatic malted flour added, which helps promote browning due to the enzyme activity of the malt.

--High Gluten Flour is often favored by American pizzerias because it is so strong that it can be stretched or spun out into larger pizzas, up to 18" in diameter and in some places, even wider. The hardness of the protein (gluten) is offset by the addition of oil or shortening, up to 6% and in some instances 8% of the flour weight, and usually some sugar or sweetener is also added. While the artisan pizzerias tend to steer away from this flour, the general public loves pizzas made with it because of the large slices and ability to hold a slice straight out without "droopage." I think of it as street pizza or college pizza -- loaded with cheese and other toppings. This flour is hard to find at supermarkets but restaurants and pizzerias can order it from their distributors and, if you want to use it (it is especially favored for bagels, multi-grain and rye breads, as well as for this style of pizza) you might be able to buy some from your local bakery or pizzeria.

Final note: While everybody has their own favorite types I always fall back on this truism: There are only two kinds of pizza -- good and very good; it's hard to make bad pizza unless you burn it. So stick with what you like and play around with the other types as you expand your repertoire. American (and Canadian) flour is the best in the world and usually finds its way into Italian and French brands, so remember that it's really about finding the type (tipo) of flour suited to your preference and then learning how to use it. And, of course, there's only one way to learn how, and that's by making lots and lots of pizza.

 

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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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American Pie Artisan Breads Every Day Bread Baker's Apprentice Brother Juniper's Bread Book Crust and Crumb Whole Grain Breads

… and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on Amazon.com

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