Well, the bad news is that the Pizza Quest website is still on hold while we work on new technical problems. So sorry, especially since I've been teasing it for months now. I'll keep providing updates but, as of now, we don't yet have a new launch date. We're raring to go but the technical side is way beyond me so I'm just waiting for the green light, just like all of us are.
Had an amazing pizza tour of NYC last week, visiting some of the hottest "pizzerias of the moment" and met with a number of the key people at each place to discuss coming back to film. Among the places (and I'm just listing the ones I absolutely loved) were: Franny's, Motorino, and Roberta's (all in Brooklyn); and Pulino (for breakfast pizza!), and Co, in Manhattan. Yes, there were a few others that shall go un-named because they didn't pass muster, and some on my list were closed because it was Tuesday (like DiFara's and Lucali). On my last trip I visited Keste, which I loved, so I can now say that there are a number of true Napoletana-style pizzerias in Manhattan and Brooklyn that seem to have cracked the code. And they all, but especially Franny's, go a step further and serve amazing apps and sides. Pulino's is not Napoletana style, more Roman style or maybe, more accurately, flatbread style--but the toppings and the rest of Nate Appleman's menu are more impressive than the crust.
I'm not a die-hard Napoletana fan--in fact, my preferred crust is a Naples inspired style but with American flour and a ciabatta-like cornicione (Franny's, in particular,uses American flour), such as found at Pizzeria Bianco and Pizzeria Mozza, or at Dogtown in Floyd, or at Great Lake and also at Coalfire in Chicago. But I'm equally happy with a neo-Neapolitan/New York-style crust such as found at Apizza Scholls in Portland, or Frank Pepe's, Sally's, and Modern Apizza in New Haven. In other words, I'm an ecumenical, pizza omnivore and can be easily satisfied by any well-executed style of pizza. But, as many of you know, for me it all begins with the crust and if I'm not blown away, or at least satisfied, with the crust it hardly matters how good the toppings are. I thought the Pulino crust was actually appropriate for the clever and tasty breakfast style pizzas they served us (and we tried them all) but that crust wouldn't work for me as a destination savory pizza, whereas all the other places on the list above would, and I feel confident in recommending them all.
The week before going to NYC, I taught three classes at Western Reserve Cooking School (in Hudson, OH), and then three classes at The Loretta Paganini School of Cooking (in Chesterland, OH). The classes were all sold out and some of the attendess came for the full series. A very enthusiastic group at both places and the support staff at each location was excellent. Some folks even came from as far away as Florida and Wisconsin. Kathy Lehr, who is the resident bread maven at the Western Reserve Cooking School, hosted me there and I got to see her large backyard, self-built earth oven--awesome!! She is actually going to lead a workshop right there at her home in a few weeks for anyone who wants to learn how to build their own earth oven. Kathy also took me out to Huron, OH where we had a tour of the Chefs Garden and Culinary Vegetable Institute--an amazing place where thousands of pounds of the finest micro-greens, as well as planted veetables, are grown and shipped overnight to top chefs around the country (only chefs can buy these products--they are the best of the best). Mary Jones, wife of Farmer Lee Jones who presides along with his brother and father at the farm, gave us a personal tour, and then we met the chefs at the vegetable institute, where earth to table events are held every month as well as culinary classes. We're currently discussing the possibility of having me come out in the spring to teach there--it would be an honor. I'll keep you posted.
I'll try to log on at least once more before heading to Australia later this month for the Brisbane Hilton Food and Wine Weekend. I'll be demonstrating two breads from "Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads" (The Poilane-style Country Miche, and the Spent Grain Bread), as well as the Chocolate-Cinnamon Babka from "Artisan Breads Everyday." Should be lots of fun!
Till then, may your bread always rise!