Tag Archives: Pizza

The Joy of Cold Pizza

It’s happened to me dozens of times. I go to work where I find that I don’t have time for lunch. When I get home, I open the refrigerator and I find three or four slices of stale pizza wrapped in plastic wrap. And somewhere, deep within the recesses of my soul, I let out a little yelp of joy.

Yes, joy…For a stale piece of pizza.

For a leftover piece of pizza.

Now granted, it’s doesn’t equate to the feeling of joy I have when I enter a top notch Italian restaurant. It’s not even the kind of joy I feel when I initially see the pizza enter the house. But it is joy, and one I have to acknowledge.

But where does this joy come from? It’s not the fact that it’s a leftover. Outside of pizza, leftovers thrill me not at all. Oh, I eat them when it’s prudent to do so. But the reality is that there’s no joy in them.

But pizza? Pizza is different.

Part of it is the tie to the past. Pizza came to the forefront of my life while I was in college. Due to my lack of finances, I had to rely on the student meal plan for sustenance. This was not an environment conducive to finding inner bliss. Pizza was the antidote to this meager existence. For a mere 10 dollars, my friend and I could have a brief respite from the tragic meals that we had to endure. The joy I feel at the sight of cold pizza could be a Pavlovian response reminding me of previous joys.

But I think another aspect is the sheer pleasure of the what delivered pizza brings. It’s a hot meal is ordered when time or effort is lacking. It comes to the house in a box, like a Christmas present. When returning to the leftover pieces on the following day, it’s a return to the brief moment of relaxation that the delivery had afforded me.

Some might think that an introspection of such joy is a tad…well…obsessive. But these are the things I think of while reviewing audit reports in a hotel room in Tucson.

My dinner?

Pizza. And I have plenty that’s leftover.

tags technorati : Pizza,Leftovers,Food Writing


Convenience

The cuisine that best represents America, in my opinion, is any food that’s delivered to my front door. Whether it’s pizza, chinese, burritos, it doesn’t matter. If they can deliver it to my door within an hour of a phone call, they’re then as American as apple pie (which, for you long time readers of AH know, is actually British in its origin).

There are moods I get into at times where I am adamant about not cooking and yet cannot be bothered to head out of my abode to a decent restaurant. I then go against the hunt and gather instincts of my ancestors, and look for someone else to do the hunting and gathering. I recognize these times as ‘opportunities’. Most others would recognize it as simply ‘laziness’.

When I lived in the Suburbs of Washington DC, the delivery world was large and diverse. Not only could I order Pizza and pasta places, but also Indian, Greek and Japanese restaurants. There was even an Afghani restaurant that delivered for a bit. I could choose from several pizza places, basing my phone call on my moods and desires. If I was in the mood for a garlicky pizza, I could call place A. If I was desirous of a more traditional pie, I could call place B. I was in delivery heaven.

When I moved to Seattle, my delivery options changed. Out here, food delivery is nearly an afterthought. Sure there are the pizza joints, but beyond that, the options are quite limited. My household was thrilled when we finally discovered a Chinese restaurant that delivered to our home.

It was this lack of delivery options that made me realized that I had two separate sets of standards for restaurants. The places that I visited I hold to a higher standard than those who deliver their wares to my doorstep. This is by no means a great revelation unless compared against the larger picture. I believe that a large majority of American Food culture doesn’t place ethics or quality as their number one priority when shopping to feed themselves or their family. For many folks, it’s convenience that is one of the top two motivating factors in determining purchases (cost being the other).

The change of American cuisine from pre-World War II to post-World War II had little, if nothing to do with regional traditions. It had everything to do homogeneity, mass-production, and the ability to provide the consumer more time away from the kitchen but with more money in their wallet; i.e. Convenience and cost.

Don’t get me wrong, the ethics behind food production and distribution has made leaps and bounds over the past dozen years or so. Not only are talking about organics, but locality, fair trade and several other ethically-based philosophies have made headway into the American consciousness. This is undoubtedly a good thing.

However, unless a proper means of distribution develops for these ethically-based types of food, they will fall out of our consciousness just as easily as they entered it. And while some may equate convenience with laziness, to ignore either when trying to change the way America eats is a mistake on a large scale.

Updated for spelling errors.


East Coast vs. West Coast Pizza

I’m writing this, not to pass judgement nor to cast any aspersion. Rather this is to simply compare two different food cultures when relating to the same food product.

The following is directly from a menu of a place that sells “California style Pizza”. It is their description of their sausage Pizza:

Chorizo Sausage, porcini mushrooms, black olives, roasted garlic and pepperoncini covered with melted mozzarella cheese and a hot spicy sauce.

This description is fairly typical of “California Style” pizzerias.

This description of a Sausage pizza comes from a local pizzeria here in Seattle with a decidedly east coast bent:

Spicy Italian Sausage

No complaint…I’m just saying.


How to Critique Pizza

I’ve been writing for Seattlest now for over three months, and I like the gig a fair amount. The problem for me however, is that I have difficulties in writing about specific institutions (like local shops or whatnot) as I feel as if I’m doing nothing more than writing an advertisement.

Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just that I get more joy out of writing reviews of food in the area. It should come as no shock to anyone that I get a better kick out of tryign to find the best cheeseburger in Seattle, even if the writing surrounding said entries can be a bit dry and lacking in flowery prose.

But the thing is, even if the writing is a tad droll, people respond to the posts, because it makes people confront their own opinions. And nothing gets people more pissed than when you tell them that their favorite eating establishment sucks the big cheese (How’s that for flowery prose?).

As such, I’m planning on expanding my quest. I’m also going to look for the best pepperoni pizza in Seattle. This means I need a basic guide that will help me determine the manna from the manure.

To help, I’m going to expand upon Hillel’s basic grading guide, setting a basic definition of what I will be looking for:

  • Crust: I’m judging solely on one criteria. Would I enjoy the crust by itself? Or does one need sauce, cheese and toppings to mask the taste.
  • Sauce: Sweet? Sour? Fresh? Canned? And is there too much or too little?
  • Cheese: Pizza cheese or honest to god mozzerella or provalone? Again, too much or too little?
  • Pepperoni: Fresh? (That’s a serious question here in Seattle where Salumi reigns supreme). Crispy when cooked? Is it too oily when baked? How spicy?
  • Ratios: This one is pretty straight forward…is there too much of one item (crust, sauce, cheese or pepperoni) and not enough of another? Or do they all blend well?
  • Misc.: Here I will judge for what Hillel calls “Foldability”. I will also give points if the place in question delivers, for Seattle seems to have an aversion to restaurants who deliver. However, I will not take away points if they don’t deliver.

Hopefully we’ll be able to quickly deduce which place in Seattle is worth paying $20 for a pie. Check in at Seattlest for the reports from the field.


Via Tribunali – Who told my secret?

Yeah, yeah. Ethics, schmethics. I didn’t want anyone to know about my most recent find in Capital Hill. After bitching about Seattle’s lack of decent pizza, I found a place a mere four blocks from my apartment that has kept me sated over the past two months.

It’s kinda hidden, it has no sign out front and the pizza is exactly what I was looking for. The pizza dough is by far the best I’ve had since moving out here. The sauce is made on the premises, and they get a fair amount of their cured meats from Mario Batali’s dad over at Salumi.

Now I thought about mentioning this place right here on this blog, but I thought to myself “No, not yet. I want to enjoy it’s unblemished environs before it becomes too well known.

Then Sara Dickerman of The Stranger wrote about it, and for a moment or two, I was worried. Then I thought to myself “Bah, no one reads The Stranger for food reviews.”

But now…now the secret is fully out. Penelope Corcoran of the Seattle PI did a write up of the place, and she gave it a glowing review. Yes, it was already starting to get busy. A group of friends celebrated this site’s one year birthday there and we had to wait for a table (Of course there were nine of us, and getting nine people at a table in any restaurant on Capital Hill is problematic, especially on a Saturday night).

So here’s my non-review review of the place. Via Tribunali has great neopolitan pizza. NOT New York style, or Chicago style, or Greek Style Pizza, but neopolitian. This generally means the less toppings on the pizza the better.

The Crust? The crust itself is worth killing a member of your family for a bite or two. After having the crust here, I walked the four blocks to Piecora’s, and gave them a “Ha-Ha!” a la Nelson from The Simpsons.

So go and have fun. Enjoy their pizza. But don’t go to often, as I still wish to get a table somewhat easily.

VIA TRIBUNALI

PHONE: 206-322-9234

ADDRESS: 913 E. Pike St.


An Intervention

Seattle? We need to talk. Now I know you like to think that we’re on the cutting-edge of all things culinary, but I’m here to tell you different. It’s important that you listen to what I have say, so that we can admit our failings, and then improve upon them.

Quite simply…Seattle’s pizza sucks.

It’s okay! Really, it is! We have the Pike Place Market, we have killer seafood, and we even have a Pacific Nortwhest Cuisine which is taking off nationally. So we have lots to be proud of.

But not our pizza.

Oh sure, our pizza is palatable, but it’s nothing memorable. Nothing on the lines of New York or Chicago. And we can do so much better.

You want proof? Let me point you to Capital Hill, a typical neighborhood here in the Emerald City.

Palermo Pizza typifies what is wrong with the pizza shops throughout the city. They use products that are canned or frozen, and then reconstituted under the hot oven. Look at the sausage they use – those small rounded balls of frozen cured pork are an insult to a city that has Uli’s Famous Sausage in Pike Place market. Look at the pepperoni – those greasy slices of cured meat would turn the stomach of those who frequent Salumi. A great pizza has it’s own identity. By using the same ingredients that other pizza shops use, then you become part of the pack of mediorce.

I can hear you say now…”But, but…PAGLIACCI’s!”

This is simply you in denial. I’m here to tell you that Pagliacci’s isn’t as good as you think it is. If I can place a paper towel ontop of their pizza and soak up several tablespoons of grease, then something is wrong. And their crust? Let me ask you this. Would you eat their crust if it didn’t have sauce and cheese on it? I didn’t think so.

Which brings me to Piecora’s. Look, I know you like to think it’s a more authentic pizza. The reality is that “New York Style” pizza is a thin-crust pizza baked between 700-800 degrees Farenheit in a coal-burning oven (although a wood buring oven will do in a pinch). Since Piecora’s bakes their pizza in a conventional oven, in a thick crust, it’s not really a New York pizza. A good New York Pizza would satisfy a Italian.

Which isn’t to say that Piecora’s is a bad pizza. In a pinch, it will do. But it could be and should be so much more than it’s chewy crusts and several layers of toppings.

Look, I know I probably upset you. I’m truly sorry I had to do that. I know you may not believe me. So take a quick poll from any of your friends from the East Coast, and you’ll find that I’m right.

I’m going to give you some time to digest what I just told you. And I hope you take it to heart, because believe it or not, I am looking out for your best interest. And once you understand that I am right, then and only then can we talk about how to make a really great pizza.