Monday, December 7, 2015

Pizza Tour and a Milestone

I checked in at a handful of sites for work last week. When I parked the car on Friday, I had driven just over 1000 miles. I don't know how truckers do it constantly. There's something about that kind of road trip that inspires absurdly unhealthy eating patterns. At least in me.

On the first day, I had to be in Corning before lunchtime. I made it, had a meeting and found out my second stop near Olean had been pushed back an hour. Time for lunch. There were two well reviewed pizza places on Yelp. Both were just a few miles away and I thought the pictures from one looked better than the other so off I went for a slice at Aniello's.

Nice place. OK slice. The crust didn't have much flavor. The next morning, there was snow on the ground and I drove around the Southern Tier almost out to Jamestown. I also managed to get lost and that added a few miles to the drive. When the sun set, I was in Buffalo. I've run into OG Woodfire Pizza on Twitter and the pizza forum. When I found out he was going to buy at a small neighborhood holiday event, I knew I was going to have to stop for a visit.

I got up to the truck and ordered a maple-pancetta pizza and started chatting while Jay went to work. Once we started talking he said, "Wait. What's your screen name?" And when I told him he invited onto his truck. We nerded out talking about pizza and ovens for almost 3 hours while Jay made pizzas for customers. It wasn't busy, the weather wasn't really cooperating with a cold wind and sprinkles. When a customer ordered, Jay said, "OK, give me 4 minutes." A little under 2 minutes to make it, a little under 2 minutes to cook it and the extra time was used slicing and boxing the pie.

During my visit he also invited me to make a pizza in the oven. I could hear Howie Rose: "Put it in the books...December 3, 2015: Jon made a pizza in a wood fired oven." And yeah, even though I need to work on my turning peel skills, it was pretty awesome. Still smiling.

There it is. My first wood fired pizza.

After I left the neighborhood party, I checked into a hotel and wrote out notes on how Jay made the maple/pancetta pizza. It's sweet and salty and cheesy and delicious and would need to be tried at home.

Since there is never enough pizza, I had read that Lovejoy Pizza made a classic Buffalo style pizza. I had followed a few threads on people trying to duplicate this style and was curious. So off I went with my friend Kevin to get a Buffalo Style pizza. It seemed like most Buffalo style pizza was cheese or cheese with pepperoni. We went with pepperoni. I ordered it and was told 20 minutes. This struck me as a little odd. I certainly wasn't expecting the 4 minutes of OG Woodfire but I figured closer to 10. Turns out Buffalo style takes a long time to cook.

While we stood there, I looked around. The place is also know for their wings and I think everything in the shop is coated in a layer of grease. There was a fan pointed at the grill station that was just gross. The only thing that wasn't greasy was the large TV showing the Thursday night football game. They should close for a day and have a cleaning party.

Cleanliness aside, it turns out I don't like Buffalo Style pizza. The dough was oily and flavorless. The sauce was really sweet (although almost all red sauce I have had in Buffalo is on the sweet side). The pepperoni is OK but overall, this was that bland, bready pizza you would expect at a kid's birthday party in a bowling alley. If this is classic Buffalo style pizza, I'm out.

I got back to Albany on Friday afternoon. One of my kids wanted to have a friends family over for pizza this weekend. I had wanted to try something new with my current dough recipe so I made a batch of dough Friday night. Friday night I mixed everything (using a lot less yeast) and did a little kneading. Then I covered the dough and left it in the basement instead of the fridge. About 64 degrees instead of 38. On Saturday morning, I portioned the dough, balled it and put it back in the basement. I made 8 of the doughs for dinner Saturday and left 4 in the basement. Sunday afternoon I cooked up the rest of the dough balls.

I had to give that maple/pancetta pie a try. There are a few things I think I could improve on my technique with the pie, but it is delicious. Definitely adding it to the rotation.

I'm only going to eat salad tomorrow.