Just popped in nosh at Rick Easton's farewell tour engagement at Bergn. Rick is a true pizza connoisseur and gentleman! This event was to commemorate his last day. More specifically, it was meant to indulge in the flavors, textures and overall deliciousness the man creates in the kitchen. Especially around pizza.
The day I went was "sandwich day," which meant pizza tastings of a fantastic combination of onion, salsicce, parmigiano shredded on a broken microplane. I'll miss this guy's work, but hope he's got a better venue on tap soon!
Bread and Salt Bakery is a relatively new Brooklyn-based, Roman-style pizzeria. I had met its owner Rick Easton last spring when he was still searching for a place to bake. Then a mutual friend told me he had opened Bread and Salt in the Brooklyn geography known broadly as Crown Heights. Apparently, local hipsters (or aspirational realtors) now call his section of town "Berg'n." Whatever you call it, I hopped the train last weekend to check out his neighborhood and bakery, getting a chance to chat with Rick and chew my way through some fine samples of pizza di pala. Though his Roman-style pizza is not as well known as the typical New York Napoletano-style "slice," Rick is making remarkably tasty pies. Go try.
I have loads of sourdough in my fridge at home. At work I have none. So I decided to reverse engineer Ian Lowe's pizza Napoletano from his spreadsheet. That means I used yeast. Let me tell you, it was my lightest pizza ever, with great crumb and fabulous cornicione. And after eating, I did not get a stomach ache. Here's what I did get; great pizza so good I turned the last piece into pizza bianco. Wish I could share it but for now let these photos do.
In this country we call it Sicilian pizza. In Italy it's known as Sfincione. I always equated it with the Americanized versions of black square pans filled with a relatively fatter and softer dough, tomato sauce and cheese. Last summer while traveling Sicily, I was introduced to their version, round and lead-like with semolina flour. Recently I made a dough, and then brewed up a fabulous sauce with anchovies, onion, tomato, cheese and bread crumbs. Here is the Sfincione I got.
Spring Fling is an annual work party the week before Memorial Day. It is something I chronicle - as well as prepare! It's a big, demanding affair in which we lay out a spread of caviar and canapés, with the final part of the evening including a storm of pizza making, as well as doughnuts. This year we hit a peak number of guests. Here's some of what we made and served.
Giacomo Baldi, CEO of Molino Grassi USA, has opened a New York City pizzeria called Pecore Nere. Using Parma-produced "Bio Flour," his mantra is "choose your dough." Concretely that means he retards the dough for different periods and gives it a slow cold fermentation. The restaurant is in a fabulous location, and it features a rustic interior enhanced with flour sacks, a great pizza oven, and an open kitchen. Here are shots of some of what we had.
Sottocaso is the name of a pizza group that is inviting and delicious. There are three New York City locations; Boreum, Williamsburg and soon in Harlem. My friends Laura Giromini Arrigoni and husband Luca are the team firing up these fine pizza Napoletana in wonderful open space. I visited the one in Williamsburg, joining my buddy Gennaro Pecchia for pizza, drink, and some foozeball (table football, another area where Laura is a champ). Besides delicious pizza, we had some deliciously prepared gnocchi from Chef Ruggero Vittorini, a native of Rome!
Last weekend I joined my pizza-master friend Domenico at Harlem's Serafina, the goal to watch him make true Neopolitan pizza. The restaurant has a great oven, but for whatever reason it's designed less for Neapolitan pizza for their pizzaiolo's, its presence is more for customer display. Regardless, Domenico made some great pies out of it despite the oven issues, mixing dough with a Pivetti Flour especially designed for his specs. What surprised me was that he used a few canned products; namely porcini mushrooms and semi-dried tomatoes from a company called Menu. I'm normally suspicious of canned food, but theirs was really good! All to say, Domenico created pizza magic.