Tag Archives: pizza

the whole animal

Slow roasted porchetta at Michael's Pizzeria is served on a pizza or as an entree.

Slow roasted porchetta at Michael’s Pizzeria is served on a pizza or as an entree.

This summer Michael’s Restaurant Group in Long Beach is featuring the “whole animal” menu at all three of its restaurants: Michael’s Pizzeria, Michael’s On Naples, and Chianina. The whole animal concept involves utilizing the entire animal in a variety of menu options. I was lucky enough to sample many of these delicious offerings. Here’s what you have to look forward to –

Chef loads a pizza into the wood burning pizza oven at Michael's Pizzeria.

Chef loads a pizza into the wood burning pizza oven at Michael’s Pizzeria.

Housemade fennel sausage with rapine and garlic pizza.

Housemade fennel sausage with rapine and garlic pizza.

Duck prosciutto, goat cheese mousse, mission fig and aged balsamic at Michael's On Naples.

Duck prosciutto, goat cheese mousse, mission fig and aged balsamic at Michael’s On Naples.

Chef David Coleman carves a whole duck at Michael's Of Naples.

Chef David Coleman carves a whole duck at Michael’s Of Naples.

Whole Liberty Farm duck with lavender and local honey.

Whole Liberty Farm duck with lavender and local honey.

Smoked duck neck with homemade cavatelli pasta.

Smoked duck neck with homemade cavatelli pasta.

Corned beef tongue, pickled ramps, rye bread crostini and mustard seed vinaigrette. Truly great!

Corned beef tongue, pickled ramps, rye bread crostini and mustard seed vinaigrette at Chianina. Truly great!

Bacon gelato at Chianina -  this actually works!

Bacon gelato at Chianina – this actually works!

I love the emphasis of the whole animal menu. It forces you to try things you may not have considered gourmet in past. Chef David Coleman’s menu is successful at all three restaurants. Cheers to new food experiences in Long Beach!

pizza party

pizzaparty

Matt and Adam’s wood-burning pizza oven pizza party!

By now, you probably know how Britt and I feel about pizza. So, when our friends Matt and Adam invited us over for a pizza party in their newly renovated backyard, how could we say no? We had the most amazing evening; checking out the fabulous additions, which, transform a simple backyard into an entertainer’s dream. One of the most significant, being, the outdoor wood-burning pizza oven. These have become quite popular/available in recent years and come in kits which are relatively simple to have installed. The total price hovering around$6K – $7K installed.

I’ve said it before but there’s just no way to make a perfect pizza crust without oven temperatures over 600°F. The smoke from the wood also contributes immensely to the flavor of the crust which ultimately is the star of the show. That being said, this is one of the most amazing kitchen tools and is definitely going on my bucket list. These ovens aren’t limited to just pizza either. I’m told they produce the most incredible roasted chicken, fish, meat, poultry, bread… the list goes on and on.

Matt even handed out Sarapes when it got chilly!

Matt even handed out sarapes when it got chilly!

Matt and Adam pre-made 10 pizza crusts and everyone was invited to create there own pizzas by selecting from the variety of toppings, sauces and cheeses. We then cut the pizzas into 8 slices and shared them with the group. It was fun trying different people’s creations. We had a blast! Thank you Matt and Adam for hosting such a brilliant night!

What I drank:

Aglianico pairs great with a wide variety of pizzas!

Aglianico pairs great with a wide variety of pizzas!

Aglianico del Vulture is an Italian red wine made from the Aglianico grape from the Vulture area in Basilicata. Gricos is full bodied with great fruit, structure, tannins and a velvet mouth feel. I highly recommend this wine with pizza! More please!

 

olive wood pizza

As you are probably aware, I do most of my shopping at local farmer’s markets. Until recently, I repeatedly passed by Olive Wood Pizza stand at the Tuesday market on Broadway/Cherry, thinking, “How good can pizza from a booth really be?” The simple fact that they have a custom built, portable wood burning pizza oven that reaches 900ºF eventually lured me in. They actually burn genuine olive wood because it burns hot and even and adds the perfect amount of smoke and sweetness to the pizzas. These pizzas are light and airy and cook in a couple of minutes at that high temperature. I can honestly say these are the best pizzas I’ve had in Long Beach and rival the best in LA so I thought I’d give them a shout out.

Portable wood burning pizza oven

The classic Margherita

Owner, chef Ian Vincent, a graduate of New York’s CIA, knows his craft and brings consistently perfect pies to local farmers markets and special events and he is also available for catering. Check Olive Wood Pizza out at these locations!

 

peach and ricotta pizza

peach_pizza

The other day, after visiting the farmer’s market, I ended up with a bag full of peaches and no clear idea of what to do with them. Last year, we grilled and ate them with burrata, so we knew they were delicious with soft mild cheese. Brittany suggested that we put them on a pizza, so, we did. I decided to use ricotta, thyme and olive oil to keep it simple and let the peaches shine. Turns out it was a great call and a really nice, light, summer recipe.

I didn’t bother making my own dough this time but usually prefer to. You can often purchase dough from your favorite local pizzeria. This time we used the pre-made Fresh n Easy brand and I have to say – its not bad.

The biggest factor in making pizza at home is heat. Conventional ovens just aren’t hot enough to do the trick. To compensate, I use a piece of seasoned metal called a “pizza steel.” This is heated at 500º F for 1 hour. You can, of course, use a pizza stone. While this is happening, I leave the dough out on a lightly flowered surface and cover it with a damp paper towel. A pizza peel is also helpful for getting the pizza in and out of the oven. Sprinkle the pizza peel with semolina flour and and place hand stretched dough on it. Brush the rim of the pizza with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Next, using your fingers, spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese on the surface of the pizza. Then, lay thinly sliced peach on top of the ricotta and bake in oven for 6 to 10 minutes. The outer crust should begin bubbling and browning. If not, turn up the heat to broil for another minute to brown up the edges but be careful not to burn it. Finally, remove the pizza from the oven, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle it with fresh thyme and sea salt. I’m sure the addition of a balsamic reduction or honey drizzle would be excellent too but I loved letting the peaches do the talking. What a perfect way to use up the last of the season s peaches!

quivira

What I drank…
I chose a bottle of Quivira grenache, which, we purchased on our recent trip to Sonoma, CA. Probably not the best choice as it overpowered the delicate nature of this particular pizza. I think a pinot grigio would have paired much better, but hey, sometimes you have to deal with what’s on hand!

diavola pizzeria

kimchee and sirloin pizza

kimchee and sirloin pizza

Last week, while in Sonoma, I had the opportunity to visit and taste at a number of great wineries as well as to explore several new restaurants in the area. After tasting many noteworthy wines with Ron Washam of Quivira in Healdsburg, Ron recommended my friends and I cruise over to Diavola Pizzeria in Geyserville for dinner. Thank you, Ron! This turned out to be one of the most memorable highlights of the trip and I am still thinking about the kimchee with sirloin pizza… amazing!

diavola

buffalo_pizza

summer vegetables with fresh mozzarella pizza

We also enjoyed a vegetarian pizza which had local summer veggies and fresh mozzarella. This was also excellent but it didn’t impart the the same food-lust imprint on my brain as the kimchee version.

untitled-67

What we drank…
We started with a bottle of 2012 Sauvignon Blanc we had just purchased at Quivira. It went great on a hot day with appetizers. Then we shared a bottle of 2007 Guido Porro Borolo from their wine list to go with our pizzas. They waive the corkage on the first bottle if you purchase a wine from their list. Nice.

oven

Diavola’s pizza oven adorned with an angry ceramic boar.

The secret to any great pizza begins with a super hot wood-burning oven. It’s impossible to get a bubbling crackly crispy rim without an oven that can reach temperatures higher than 600° F.  In addition to awesome pizza, Diavola cures their own meats which I’m told are excellent. Next time I’m in Sonoma, I will come here at least once and give the charcuterie a try as well.