Food & Drink Adventures

The myth about the holy grail of pizza.

The quest to find the best pizza on earth will continue into perpetuity.

List abound, critics await, and preferences are aplenty. There may never be a clear winner on the road to awarding the best pizza in the world. The path to and what qualifies as the best will always skew to the limited experience of the person judging the pizza. Pizza has a long history that many point to starting in Italy. It is commonly referenced as the birthplace of pizza. I tell you however that based on my research this may not exactly line up. First, let’s talk logically about whoever invented bread. Is it possible that they ever decided to top the bread with different foods. It could be concluded that pizza may be traced back to a kosher dish called Pizzarelle a cookie used at Passover that is matzah topped with cheese and olive oil. Various cultures have been recorded topping flatbread with ingredients. The most famous pizza rendering was the Margherita Pizza that was put together by an Italian pizza maker Raffaele Esposito for an Italian queen. He used ingredients that matched the color of Italy’s flag. Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Basil make up the traditional pie that is celebrated as the pie that changed it all.

Neopolitan pizza is considered the pizza all are measured against.
  • Neapolitan – cooked in a wood oven 800 – 1000 deg for 70 to 90 seconds.
  • Chicago style – deep dish. Thick raised edge
  • New York Style – Large and foldable, tap water in New York have minerals that may limit replication.
  • Sicilian style- Square cut
  • Greek-style- thick and chewy crust with almost deep-fried bottom due to the olive oil used on the bottom of the pan.
  • California style – utilized unusual ingredients to top the pizzas
  • Detroit style – Square deep dish
  • St. Louis style – cracker like crust

These 8 styles seem to be identified as the most common varieties of pizza people identity with. In all honesty, there are possibly a thousand variations of the style listed above. Which pizza you identify with probably has something to do with the regional connection you identify with. This leads back to the subject of the best pizza. As I sifted through the many best pizza list out there there was no identical list that I could find. Bigger cities got the most credit as having a location you could call the best pizza. It’s also fair to say that the most experienced pizza aficionado probably has not even consumed .5% of all the pizza in the world. So how with any accuracy could we claim the best pizza.

Crafting the perfect pie is serious business.

Pizza is a 144.68 billion dollar industry and a large quantity of that pie goes to the pizza express brands like Dominos and the like. I was recently watching the Netflix show Ugly Delicious with chef David Chang and he commented that he probably orders Domino’s Pizza a few times a month. There are people out there who rate this as an injustice to pizza. Chef Chang made a comment that he hates when people tell him what he has to like. I think I’m pretty close to that philosophy. If something is good to you does it matter how it’s revered in the culinary world? The variance of taste among cultures is as wide as an ocean. The truth is there are pizzas out there of every variety that may be the best but not to everyone. So if someone decides that the best is a pizza express brand don’t shun them away. I love pizza and wood-fired pizza seems to hit the mark for me. I love the combination of taste and texture you only truly get from that wood-fired crust.

AVPN was set up in 1984 to hold pizza makers to strict guidelines

AVPN has strict rules to govern pizzas that claim to be authentic Margherita or Marinara pizza. They have an 11 page 6 article Constitution.

  • Wood Oven constructed to specific dimensions
  • Wheat flour type 00
  • Sea Salt
  • Water with a pH of 6.7
  • Compressed yeast
  • Specific tomatoes
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Fresh Basil
  • Dough rises using Mattarelle (wood case)

As you dig through the thousands of insightful comments out there by professional and casual critics you will find that that data used to determine the best pizza will not be a consensus. My opinion is that the holy grail of pizza may be out there but the location of that pie will be different for everyone. I still haven’t found my pizza holy grail but I intend to keep looking because it’s a delicious quest.

Chef responds to recent article 27 health and nutrition tips that are evidence based.

Not actually the chef that responded.
photo by pexels

An anonymous chef responded to a recent article with his own real life take on the tips. These tips from the chef are not actually evidence based but based on the school of hard knocks.

  • Don’t drink sugar calories – “I’d love to follow this advice but that sugar boost I get from the energy drink sure helps me wake up for my dinner rush.”
  • Eat nuts. ” Nuts are actually the only thing I have time to eat on my 5-minute break before we have to inventory the freezer for the third time.’
  • Avoid processed junk food- ” what else is open at 2 am after closing up the restaurant. Do you really think I have time to make my own food after work.”
  • Don’t fear coffee- ” I don’t fear coffee, I just fear having to take a bathroom break while I have a full wheel of tickets.”
  • Eat fatty fish.- ” I think I’m over my quota for salmon this shift.”
  • Get enough sleep – ” I’ll sleep on my day off……….You called me in on my day off.”
  • Take care of your gut health with fiber and probiotics – “Thats why I drink beer”
  • Drink some water especially before meals.- ” that’s an actual thing? Isn’t there water in beer?
  • Don’t overcook or burn your meat.- I have been saying this for year’s but I was told the customer was always right.”
  • Avoid bright lights before sleep.- “I need to know what happened in the world in the 15 hours since I last touch-based with the world
  • Take vitamin D3 if you don’t get much sun exposure – ” Is there D3 in a heat lamp? I am exposed all night long in the window?”
  • Eat vegetables and fruits.- “That just made my case for a Hawaiian Pizza.”
  • Make sure to eat enough protein.-” Yet another vote for pizza.”
  • Do some cardio- “You try balancing 8 saute pans at once.”
  • Don’t smoke, do drugs, and only drink in moderation. – I agree with you here but what’s moderation mean?”
  • Minimize your sugar intake. “How much sugar in 3 energy drinks?”
  • Don’t eat a lot of refined carbs.- ” How you going to tell me pizza is a great food choice one minute and come back at me with this.”
  • Don’t fear saturated fat- “I know that’s called flavor.”
  • Lift heavy things- “check I have been lifting 40# cases of soda for years.”
  • Avoid artificial trans fat.- ” I’ll swap out fries for onion rings.”
  • Use plenty of herbs and spices. ” no gripe here, herbs and spices are essential.”
  • Take care of your relationships.- “I try but I’m always working.”
  • Track your food intake now and then.” – I don’t have time for this, I’m lucky if I’ll have time to track the food from my plate to my mouth.”
  • If you have excess fat get rid of it.- “What is excess fat.”
  • Don’t go on a diet. – “No plans to diet”
  • Eat eggs yolks and all.- ” of course, I’m not wasting the yolks.”
Photo by tenor

These Donuts Are Bananas

Fluffy and filled with banana flavored goodness.

Got a banana laying on your counter that might be getting a bit squishy? If you have that banana hanging around you might be in for a treat. Utilizing ingredients most of us have hanging around our kitchen right now. These donuts are super moist and fluffy with a crispy outside. I decided to top mine with some powdered sugar and ate it up a few minutes out of the frying pan. It was an incredible bite.

These donuts are incredibly easy and incredibly amazing.

Chef Brent
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 banana
  • Powdered Sugar to sprinkle on donut
  • Combine banana, egg, sugar, milk, and vanilla until combined.
  • In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder.
  • Add the dry to the wet and mix until combined avoid over mixing.
  • Heat Vegetable oil in frying pan or skillet until you hit 325 to 350, 350 is ideal. Make sure you have enough oil in the pan that will allow your donuts to float and be easily flipped.
  • The donuts are ready when they float and have a nice golden brown color.
  • Finish with powdered sugar, or a nice glaze.
  • Enjoy

These donuts were really good and didn’t take long to make. If you want you could probably make them happen like right now!

It’s every thing you imagined and more
It’s like love in a donut

Lamb Taco with Homemade Tortilla’s

The flavor of smoked lamb is fantastic on it’s own but when you add it to the magnificence that is the taco your going to elevate the taco to new heights.

Smoked Lamb Sauteed With Onions And Apples.

The lamb pares well with the sweetness and slightly tart apples throw in some onions and sautee. Since the lamb was already pre smoked it didn’t take long. Just look for some caramelized color on the onions and apples.

I made my own creama by combing Greek yogurt and ricotta cheese with a splash of lemon juice, black pepper and green onions.
Fresh tortillas are a recommended addition to any taco.

1 part masa,1 part very warm tap water, and a few pinches of salt. That is it. The hardest part of the tortilla preparation is to not overwork the masa. Also, add the water slowly as you may not need all of it. When your tortilla dough is formed into a nice dough ball that is nether too wet or too dry form into little balls. Press the balls into tortillas between plastic sheets like a gallon Ziploc bag cut in half. Use a tortilla press or the bottom of a nice flat pan and your cutting board. Cook the tortillas on a nice hot griddle.

Finished of with persimmons and salsa roja

These tacos have a nice balance and they hit so many different notes. I finished the tacos with some persimmons we had hanging around the house. The persimmons certainly were a complementary addition to the tacos. They worked because the texture mimicked a tomato but added a touch more sweetness.

Enjoy your happy taco dance.

Perfect Polenta With Roasted Tomato And Balsamic Reduction

Polenta is an ingredient you want to get to know because it is both easy to prepare and versatile. Basic polenta has a ratio of 4 cups water to 1 cup polenta several pinches of salt and a few tablespoons of butter. The steps are quite simple as well. Boil the water, add salt, and slowly whisk in your polenta. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add butter at the end and mix in. Pour your polenta on a cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with parchment and spread so the polenta is evenly distributed. Allow the polenta to cool until it has solidified.

When the polenta becomes a solid sheet cut into desired portions

While you’re waiting on your polenta set up your accouterments. On my plate I did a nice roasted tomato, balsamic, and pomegranate reduction with a bit of honey. I also brushed the polenta with a little melted butter and fresh ground black pepper. In the oven get it popping on nice cast iron and topped with shaved or grated parmesan cheese. About 15 minutes or so pull it out of the oven and top with the awesome roasted tomatoes or whatever you decide.

The polenta is a nice base that allows your ingredients to be a star.

Like the way, a frame elevates the painting. When you allow your ingredients, to shine and not over entangled in the sheer number of items placed on a dish. I’ve seen more than enough food shows and competitions where the chef gets in the way of their dish. There is a command in the knowledge of the simplicity of the masterpiece.

However you finish this dish you will surely be pleased