Webisodes
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/

 
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!

 
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!

 

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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.

Peter's Books

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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