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Chris Hennes

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    Norman, Oklahoma

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  1. Last stop on the tour: Lovely's Fifty Fifty... again with excellent outdoor seating on this beautiful summer evening. This is a quintessential "artisan"-style pizza with a whole wheat naturally-leavened dough with lots of interesting toppings. The crust was superb: soft, but with a good amount of chew, and an excellent, strong whole wheat levain flavor. I wouldn't use it for a Margherita or Marinara pizza, but for the topping-heavy creations here it was perfect. First up, goosefoot greens with fermented tomatoes, capers, castelvetrano olives, fermented chilies & reggiano: And second, Summer chanterelles with sweet corn, roasted onions, Shishito peppers & Fiore sardo: Both pizzas were superb, but I think for me the edge went to the goosefoot greens topping, with just the right balance of funk, freshness, and salt. Is Portland, OR the "best pizza city"? In the spirit of all scientific papers ever: "more research is required." But I did not have a bad pizza this weekend, so if you are in Portland, seeking out some pizza would not be a bad idea!
  2. Handsome Pizza has the benefit of starting pizza service at 1pm on Saturdays, so they got the nod for lunch today. They have a very nice covered outdoor patio space with generous seating, which we definitely availed ourselves of this afternoon: Stylistically this reminded me more of a "New York" (in the Modernist Pizza taxonomy) than anything else, though the crust is at least partially whole-grain: softer in texture than Ken's, but maybe a touch firmer than Scottie's, with the added flavor you get out of whole grains. The pizzas are large, 18" variety, but they are happy to do half-and-half pies, which we did. On one half we had "The Steve Lieber": tomato sauce, fresh mozz, cream, garlic, mushroom, shallot, rosemary On the other half "The Gillian Richardson": tomato sauce, parm, mama lil’s hot peppers, garlic, black olive, shallot, kale Both sides were excellent, though I found the Gillian Richardson just a bit on the salty side for my tastes. I'm a sucker for mushrooms and rosemary, so the Steve Lieber won this round for me. My mushroom-averse spouse disagrees, of course!
  3. While I enjoyed Tzuco, I think Frontera was better (and yes, a bit cheaper too). I don't really have a sense for how hard it is to get reservations there, I am normally planning these things several months out, so it hasn't been an issue. But it's easy to find out, they use Resy.
  4. Ken's Artisan Pizza was very popular this evening, but the weather is spectacular so the 55 minute wait was pleasant: They are using a large wood-fired oven: There's an actual menu with a wine list and everything, so this is a bit more "formal" than Scottie's was. The dough is also very different: it's a significantly denser dough, with a bit more char on the underside than Scottie's had. Finally, Ken's is maybe a little more "adventurous" with their topping combinations. Tonight we had the "Handmade" (fresh hand-pulled mozzarella, tomato sauce, garlic, fennel seed, and chile flakes) and the "Ken's Cherry Bomb" (marinated cherry tomatoes, shallot, KAP Lan-Roc Bacon, mozzarella, fiore sardo) Both pizzas were excellent, and I had a hard time deciding which of the two was my favorite. In the end the added heat from the chile flakes on the Handmade won the day for me.
  5. I'm off on another "research expedition" -- much to the chagrin of a few other cities we could mention, Modernist Pizza asserts that Portland, OR is the "best pizza city". Really the only way to evaluate such a claim is to take a field trip. Perhaps even several field trips. After all, you basically have to visit all the other contenders as well, right? At any rate, I find myself in Portland for the weekend, with an itinerary that looks like this: Scottie's Pizza Parlor Ken's Artisan Pizza Handsome Pizza Lovely's Fifty Fifty That seems like a reasonable start to this project, anyway. So I started with Scotties late this afternoon (they have the excellent virtue of opening at 3pm on Friday and Saturday, almost all the other places listed in MP open at five, and there are a limited number of meals I can eat in a day after 5pm!). That is the "Number 1": TOMATO SAUCE, FRESH AND AGED MOZZ, PECORINO ROMANO, FRESH BASIL, SHAVED PARM & GOOD OLIVE OIL. They did not mess around with the basil, there's a whole salad on there! The crust is naturally leavened, and looked to be baked in a deck oven. The pies are 18", so they the slices seemed enormous (since I normally make 12" or 14" at home). The crust was not quite stiff enough to hold its shape all the way to the tip of a slice, but after a few bites it was more controllable. Very classic flavor profile here, and a great start to the weekend.
  6. Roast Beef Pizza (KM p. 300) One of the fun things about Al Taglio-style pizza is that you can basically make individual pizzas out of each "slice": so for dinner tonight I used the same crust as lunch, but with different toppings. That's: Al Taglio crust (the Modernist variant) Pizza cheese Roasted king trumpet mushrooms Those ingredients are baked for a few minutes to melt the cheese and reheat the mushrooms, then topped with: Ribeye "roast" (seasoned with black pepper, rosemary, thyme, and garlic, and cooked sous vide then seared and chilled) Stilton Hazelnuts Balsamic glaze It was fantastic.
  7. Mushroom Pizza (KM p. 303) An unassuming name for this gorgeous slice: It's an Al Taglio crust, mascarpone cheese as the "sauce", then pizza cheese and roasted mushrooms. For the mushrooms I used oyster, shiitake, hen of the woods, and baby bella -- they are roasted ahead with olive oil, garlic, and thyme, so the kitchen smells incredible. When you take the pizza out of the oven you apply dollops of ricotta and shaved truffles. Of course truffles aren't in season right now, so I used the jarred summer truffles that are fairly readily available. Not the same, but still delicious. This pizza was spectacular: I'd add it to the regular rotation, if only my wife liked mushrooms! But she's traveling right now, so I'm putting mushrooms on everything.
  8. I'm not sure -- obviously I had pre-sliced them so they were ready to go, and I wanted to work quickly so the pizza was still hot. But I bet it still took five minutes to lay them out. I actually popped the pizza back onto the hot steel for 30 seconds or so before I sliced it. Not enough to cook the mushrooms, but enough that the pizza was still hot.
  9. Mushroom Shingle Pizza (KM p. 307) This is unlike any other mushroom pizza I've made (or had): First, as you can see, the mushrooms are raw. Second, the sauce is pressure-caramelized butternut squash. Third, the cheese is a truffle cheddar. And finally, it's drizzled with pumpkin seed oil. The recipe calls for a thin crust pizza: of course I used the Brazilian dough. To be honest, I did not actually expect to like this. I much prefer my mushrooms cooked: I usually precook them all the way to done before putting them on pizza. Second, the last time I used a pressure-caramelized puree as pizza sauce it overwhelmed the rest of the pizza. And last, they give no guidance of what sort of "truffle cheese" to use, so I just randomly bought one that sounded good. Things were definitely sketchy going in. So all that said, imagine my surprise when not only was it edible, it was really quite good! I mean, not the best pizza I ever had, but I would absolutely make it again. I really liked the texture and flavor of the raw mushrooms, the truffle cheese added another nice layer of flavor, and the butternut squash stayed pleasantly in the background. Finally, the pumpkin seed oil added a nice scent to each bite without diminishing the mushroom flavor. All told, this was a surprise winner for me.
  10. I've been doing some experimentation recently with trying to create something like what they are serving at Marta (see above). Since it is the closest dough they've got to the style at Marta, I based these experiments on the Modernist Brazilian Thin Crust (KM p. 32) -- in its normal incarnation that dough winds up perfectly cracker crisp, but lacks the air pockets that were in evidence at Marta. I assumed this was due to the Brazilian crust being docked. I also wanted to see what happened if I baked it in the Ooni, at what I assume is a more Marta-like temperature. Here's the first attempt: undocked, at normal Ooni temperature: While it looked pretty close, it wasn't as crisp when baked like this as this crust normally is (though the pizza at Marta was not quite that crisp either). SO it was fine, but not an improvement. Next I tried to lower the temperature on the Ooni to its lowest standard setting: Yeah, might have left that unrotated a bit too long! It baked longer than the previous pizza, but that didn't really help matters, the texture was roughly the same. So finally I tried going back to docking it, just to see what this dough does when baked normally, but at a higher temperature: This was closer to the original, but lacked the puffing action I was looking for (of course), and again wasn't quite as crisp as when baked on a steel in a 550°F convection oven. So this dough, at any rate, doesn't do that well in the Ooni.
  11. I am normally able to do it pretty smoothly with the wooden peel, but as luck would have it I put the camera in basically exactly the spot I normally rotate the peel to when I do it. I didn't want to smack the brand new gadget, so I did the full unload action you see in the video. That wooden peel is on its last legs though, and I think it's getting replaced by one of those rotating peels.
  12. Got a new video camera, so of course the first thing I did was record making a pizza...
  13. It cooled back down today, enough that I figured I could use the indoor oven one last time before summer really sets in, so tonight I made a Brazilian thin crust: Docking the crust meant it doesn't get the air pockets that the pizza at Marta had, and is overall a little bit thicker, and holds a plank better. It's probably also slightly crispier, though that may be more a function of timing (it's getting from the oven to my face in under a minute).
  14. It's Neapolitan season once again (that is to say, too hot to turn the indoor oven on!)... I'm out of practice, but looking forward to remedying that situation. Pie #1 That's a by-the-book basic Neapolitan-style crust, Caputo Pizzeria flour, no dough relaxer. I need to decrease the yeast quantity a little bit, room temp right now is 76°F, so 20hrs of bulk fermentation was probably a little over the target.
  15. At @weinoo‘s recommendation I made a “research expedition” to Marta in Manhattan last night. They are using wood fired ovens: The pizza is a cracker-like crust that reminds me of the Argentinian style from the book, though it is undocked, and seems to cook at a higher temp (lower than Neapolitan I think, but hotter than the 550F I baked mine at). The margherita was pretty good, but the asparagus was excellent.
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