Lake Effect Ice Cream Holiday Gift Packs

Every year, my friends at Lake Effect Ice CreamLEIC do a special holiday bundle featuring four extra-special, one-off pints for pick-up in mid-December. If you order before this Friday December 5th, you’ll get a special bonus gift (could be a poster, could be a gift certificate, could be your own bespoke flavor).

Order now at this link: http://mkt.com/lakeeffecticecream

Pickup dates and times are as follows:

-Thursday, December 18th from 4-8pm
-Friday, December 19th from 5-9pm
-Saturday, December 20th from 9-3pm.

This year’s flavors sound incredible:

The Nog
Extra sweet cream, fresh nutmeg and Vietnamese Cinnamon, blended with Bulleit Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey. A hint of spiced rum gives it a little extra “warmth.”

S’mores and Hot Chocolate
Hand toasted marshmallows and chocolate chunks with bits of Platters’ milk chocolate-crusted cinnamon and sugar graham crackers, swirled into Lake Effect’s amazing Frozen Hot Chocolate Ice Cream.

Chevre and Figgy Pudding
The ice cream for the core of this flavor is a unique, ultra-rich, chevre ice cream. The true star of this flavor, however, is Lake Effect’s brown sugar and butter sauce that they blend together with freshly pureed black mission figs.

Candy Cane Parfait
A creamy and delicate peppermint cream ice cream, with folded-in small pieces of candy canes. Lake Effect then created a house-made candy cane syrup to use in between the ice cream layers in each pint. All pints are packed parfait style with their syrup between the layers. Last, each pint is topped with a dusting of crunchy candy cane pieces.

Order today!

Mercado WNY and Neapolitan Pizza

Back in 2010, we were driving home from a Spring break trip to the Destin when we stopped off in Knoxville, TN for the night. Having no idea where to go for dinner, I thought pizza would be good, so I looked on Yelp and Urbanspoon for the best pizza in Knoxville. The answer was “Hard Knox Pizza“.  A quick-serve location, it had a simple menu with a boxing theme, a few beers on tap, and a wood-burning pizza oven. It was one of the first and most successful purveyors of what’s known in pizza circles as “Neo-Neapolitan” – taking the basics of Neapolitan pizza-making and giving it a contemporary twist. I spoke with the owner back then and learned a lot about how he got started and what it took for him to make a successful business.  Here’s a picture of the pie I had in Knoxville in late April 2010: 

Pizza snobs will tell you that proper Neapolitan pizza is done in such a way that it’s even governed by a few ad hoc bodies approving places as being “Verace Pizza Napoletana”, or similar. Under the VPN guidelines, you have to use a specific type of flour, San Marzano tomatoes, “00” flour and a very simple dough recipe, specific types of cheeses, a dollop of olive oil, and a few basil leaves to make the proper Neapolitan “Margherita” pizza.  The only other two official Neapolitan pies are the Marinara and the Margherita “extra”. There are several authentic VPN-certified locations in Toronto that offer up not just great pies, but a fun atmosphere; Queen Margherita Pizza, Pizzeria Libretto, and Pizza e Pazzi, to name a few. 

There are none in Buffalo. There are a few places that do something very close to the real thing – the 99 Brick Oven in Lancaster has a Marra Forno gas-assisted oven and produces a good pie. Rocco’s on Transit in East Amherst has a certification from a competing Neapolitan pizza group, and produces quality pies in wood-burning ovens, but you have to ask them to not spread olive oil over the cornicione for it to be really good. But no one in WNY consistently does anything resembling what’s happening in Toronto and the rest of North America. 

Last February, we traveled to the Southwest US and one of the stops we planned was to visit Pizzicletta in Flagstaff. Caleb Schiff had bicycled throughout Italy and built a wood-fired oven in his backyard, and we followed along on Slice.com as he set up his tiny Neapolitan pizza place, and we had to try it. It was a revelation – again, simple little place with simple ingredients making outstanding pies – with no certification. My favorite was the Amore oi Mari – 

Pizzicletta's Amore Oi Mari

Mascarpone, arugula, pecorino, prosciutto di Parma, and a drizzle of Meyer lemon olive oil – it was a rich, satisfying concoction the likes of which I haven’t had before or since. Well, since – I’ve tried to duplicate it a few times, but the mascarpone gets too gloppy and I haven’t figured out how to spread it more evenly. That’s a picture of the one we had in Flagstaff last February.  If I could, I’d drop everything and fly out to Arizona right now to have one and spend the next day at the Grand Canyon. 

Here’s Caleb hard at work: 

Caleb at work

Simplicity. Simple, fresh ingredients and a pie made in a Stefano Ferrara oven with love. It’s art. 

This past week, we went to one of our favorite local pizza places – La Hacienda in Niagara Falls. The owner is a great guy and he makes one of the best pizzas in the area. His menu contains an entire history of the Margherita pizza, and a funny quote about how they’re still “learning the ropes” and they hope to get it right someday. 

So, Mercado Revolution is introducing a European market concept to WNY. It’s something that’s been done in other cities, and will be modeled after the markets in Spain and the Union Market in D.C. It’ll have tapas, cheeses, chocolate, coffee, nuts, ice cream from Lake Effect and a Lloyd’s Taco test kitchen. The ambitious Kickstarter campaign concludes this Thursday, and it has a way to go to meet its goal, but it’s almost halfway there. It needs your help. 

One of the foods on offer will be wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. Whether it’ll be certified VPN or not, it’s too early to tell.  I can tell you that I intend to be involved in that venture in some capacity. I want to introduce this product that I think is so awesome to WNY – one of the simplest and oldest Mediterranean foods there is. If all goes well, we’ll have a Ferrara oven and it’ll be done right – it will be done to my satisfaction and in a way that will hopefully convert people over to the Neapolitan way. I will be your wood-burning pizza proselytizer-in-chief. 

If you want to see this happen, kick in to the Kickstarter and get Mercado over the hump

(This is not an April Fool’s prank, BTW)

Mercado Revolution

The people behind Mercado Revolution are friends of mine. They’ve done an amazing job collecting wonderful experiences throughout the world, and they want to bring some of what they’ve experienced here to western New York.  But it hasn’t just been as facile as checking out markets and copying what they observe – they’ve done proper research and spoken with the people who run these facilities and operate the stalls. They have a particular vision, and if they pull it off it’ll be magnificent.  

I have no doubt that they’ll pull it off, because Jeremy Horwitz, formerly of Buffalo Chow and currently of iLounge, is especially diligent and has a knack for knowing what will succeed, and making it so. 

I haven’t been to Spain since before I was a teenager, but Mercado is not going to necessarily look like other markets with which you’re familiar – it won’t be like the Broadway Market or St Lawrence or Rochester. It will be…

Western New York’s first culinary bazaar. Built on the solid foundations of Spanish markets such as Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel and Barcelona’s Mercat de La Boqueria, and informed by successful American versions such as Washington, D.C.’s Union Market, Mercado will be a fantastic place to eat, drink, and participate in the global food revolution. 

Imagine a marketplace that would offer some of the best quality food in WNY all under one roof, and on top of that it would have spots for pop-ups and opportunities for chefs and purveyors to collaborate and experiment.  On top of all that, Mercado is bringing Scott Kollig, a talented young chef, home to WNY. Kollig is Chef de Partie at Jose Andres’ exclusive, modernist Washington, DC restaurant Minibar

“Good food changes things. One new dish can define a city. One new restaurant can revitalize a neighborhood. One new drink can turn an obscure bar into a tourist destination for a century. One new destination – if it’s truly wonderful – can get residents excited, attact tourists, and change a city.

We’re going to create something truly wonderful for Western New York.”

One of the myriad inspirations for this idea is a restaurant that Horwitz and his family experienced in Asheville, NC called Curate. It was opened in the mountains of western North Carolina by veterans of Ferran Adria’s El Bulli and Jose Andres’ Washington flagship restaurants, and it’s gained national recognition. Asheville isn’t a big city or, necessarily, a cosmopolitan one, but it’s become something of a foodie paradise. Like Asheville, Buffalo has a wonderfully burgeoning food scene that’s light-years ahead of what existed a dozen years ago. Its metropolitan area has less than half the population of Erie County, and median household income is $32,000; in Buffalo, it’s $49,000. The conditions here are ripe for something like Mercado. 

Mercado is happening, and it is running a Kickstarter right now to raise money for equipment and build-out. The $150k ask is ambitious, but this is a huge and exciting project. A Kickstarter doesn’t just raise money, it creates buzz, gets people excited, makes them feel like they’re part of a new revolution.

Above all, though, Mercado would be really fun. A curated group of the best of the best in WNY, all of whom would be encouraged to experiment and collaborate. 

Check it out below, and follow along on Twitter

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2063056242/mercado-revolution-artisanal-market-and-dining-for/widget/video.html

Buffalo Wings with Ranch? Why Not?

Bigshots

Are we really so self-absorbed and insecure that we impose on others our local penchant to refer to a famous local delicacy as “wings” or “chicken wings”? Are we such faux snobs that we insist that people around the world refrain from calling deep-fried chicken appendages drenched in butter and Frank’s Hot Sauce as “Buffalo wings”? 

Do other cities do this? Not Chicago. Not New York. Not Boston.

I watched the CBS Sunday Morning Super Bowl piece about the Buffalo Wing – where it came from, what to call it, how to eat it – and thought it was nice that Buffalo was being recognized by big media in a positive way. We love this sort of thing, am I right? 

But holy crap, do we come off like a bunch of condescending prats. Don’t call them Buffalo wings, don’t eat them with ranch, don’t bake them. You’d think we were talking about a prissy French appellation or Italian D.O.P. As much of a pizza snob as I am, I recognize and acknowledge that pizza is a universally loved food that is prepared differently in different places and to varying tastes. And it’s ok – they can call it pizza

So, Buffalo, here is how we should talk about wings, if we’re really proud of our culinary creation. Call them Buffalo wings. We know they’re not made from flying Buffalos, but it acknowledges Buffalo’s role in their creation, and so long as the “Buffalo” is capitalized, run with it. It’s a way to remind people that it’s our thing, and that Buffalo exists.

Bake them? Make them however you like! Franks and butter? That’s how we eat them! Celery and carrots? Either? Neither? Who cares? Make them however you want! Do you despise bleu cheese dressing with the heat of a thousand suns? Here, try some ranch! We love wings this way, but we hope you love them whatever way you want! We’re happy you love them, too!

It’s a chicken extremity deep-fried in hot sauce. Let’s not pretend we’re talking about L’Escoffier here. 

Lies: An American Bistro (LMGTFY)

Remember Valenti’s? The ill-fated red-sauce joint in the Budwey’s plaza in North Tonawanda became locally famous thanks to a glowing Janice Okun review in the Buffalo News, which contained wild fantasies concocted by owners Terry Valenti and Lori Brocuglio about Terry’s defeat of Bobby Flay in the “battle parsnips” on an episode of Iron Chef America that never existed. I think it’s bad form to stretch the truth on a resume, but to make up a blatant lie that a simple Google search can disprove is ridiculous. 

Let me Google that for you

Last week, an article briefly appeared about a former local chef who had made similar embellishments to his resume. Kevin O’Connell, Jr. (yes, his dad does the weather for Channel 2), was the chef/part owner of what was O’Connell’s Hourglass on Kenmore Avenue before progressively downscaling itself into a “bistro”, replete with nightclub acts and comedy nights before shuttering in late 2012. 

We had dined at O’Connells several times throughout its different incarnations and generally enjoyed it. O’Connells Jr. and Sr. were always gregarious and kind to us. I never had a bad experience; quite the contrary. 

And so it was that when Junior left the restaurant and abruptly moved to California, the writing was on the wall – part of the restaurant’s raison d’etre was that it was a family-owned joint, established at least in part to give O’Connell an opportunity to come home to Buffalo and hone his craft. On a few Facebook postings, I noted that I was not surprised when I learned that the place was closing – not as a commentary on its food or service, but based on the fact that, with Junior’s departure, it had effectively ceased to matter. But the weatherman took great offense to this, and tried to humiliate me to his thousands of Facebook “friends”

He tagged me immediately afterwards. I wasn’t a regular, but my family enjoyed his food, and we celebrated many an event at his restaurant. When Junior unexpectedly up and moved to LA in August 2012, I was surprised, and figured the place wasn’t going to last. There was other scuttlebutt involved, but I never mentioned it. Now this weatherman is insulting me like this as if I was to blame for the place closing, yet I never wrote a negative syllable about it?  I know Junior was pissed because I wrote “not surprised” when someone on the Buffalo foodie group mentioned the sudden appearance of a “for sale” sign. Yeah, not surprised the place is for sale when the chef moves 3k miles away. Here was my comment on weatherboy’s wall: 

Here, by the way, is the only thing I ever wrote – publicly or privately – about O’Connells. What a monster I am.

Soon after Kevin O’Connell Jr. returned to Buffalo, he was sent to federal prison on a conviction of stealing $44,000 from various diners’ credit cards in a scam at a prior restaurant he co-owned in Montana. Prosecutors called it “deliberate fraud”. I defended him then, arguing that he was paying his debt to society, was making restitution, and deserved a second chance. I am clearly a horrible person. 

In any event, last week the excrement hit the fan when Junior’s new restaurant posted a resume out of a creative writing class. An article briefly posted at the Spree’s website has since been taken down. Forget that for a second, and don’t worry about why it’s gone. 

Here is how not to promote yourself – here is the Kevin O’Connell, Jr. resume, as it appeared at this web address just last week (taken January 17, 2014 at 3pm – and here is a PDF of what was posted): 

Professional Background

1998-2001 Babbo Ristorante New York, New York
Sous Chef, Chef de Cuisine

Returning from Europe I was hired as the opening sous chef for the acclaimed Italian eatery by Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich. I was honored and excited to be a part of an incredible team that made this the most authentic and popular Italian eatery in the United States, winning best new restaurant in numerous publications. I was promoted to Chef de Cuisine after 7 months and Chef Batali’s opening of Lupa. I was honored in 2001 to be named a James Beard award winner for Best New Chef Northeast. Shortly after I had the opportunity to open my first establishment and took that opportunity with Chef’s blessing and full support.

I don’t know whether he was the opening sous at Babbo, but the James Beard award claim is pure nonsense. O’Connell has never won—nor been nominated for—a James Beard Award. The award he is claiming to have received in 2001 is a mess of half-truths spliced together, none of which include him. Batali did win several awards in 2001, including one for Esca as Best New Restaurant. But the list of the Best Chefs of the Northeast (and nominees) bear no mention of Junior. Additionally,the James Beard Foundation gives New York City chefs and restaurants their own awards, separate from the rest of the Northeast. (Here are the JBF award listings for 199819992000, and 2001.) Or just search the JBF website for any mention of Kevin O’Connell, Jr. You’ll be disappointed.

2001-2003 Rue Franklin Park Slope, Brooklyn

Owner/Chef

After such a fantastic experience with fine Italian cuisine in Manhattan, I reached out and opened a small French bistro in the up and coming neighborhood of Park Slope. A 45 seat restaurant that had a menu that changed daily and featured the provisions of the area as well as fresh imported French favorites. In early 2002 the New York Times rated our restaurant 2 stars which at the time was the only 2 star establishment outside of the immediate Manhattan dining area. We were nominated for best new restaurant from the James Beard Foundation and won best new restaurant from the New Yorker and the Village Voice. I left the business to open another establishment in Late 2003 but continued ownership until 2006.

The Village Voice’s 2001 list doesn’t show “Rue Franklin Park Slope”. In fact, a search of the entire Village Voice website for “Rue Franklin” comes up empty. Same thing with the New Yorker. I tried looking in New York Magazine, but couldn’t find anything – its online archives are not jam-packed. But I couldn’t find any evidence of this restaurant existing. New York Times 2 stars? I did a search of the New York Times archive for 1/1/01 – 1/1/04 for “Rue Franklin” and nothing came up

2003-2005 Employees Only New York, New York
Partner/Chef

After being approached in early 2003 from 5 of my college fraternity brothers and friends to help open a bar in the Chelsea area of Manhattan, we as a group opened Employees Only, a 20’s style cocktail lounge. Starting in a very small kitchen and serving a very limited menu in March 2004 we acquired the space in the rear of the bar formerly a tailor shop and expanded to a full service restaurant. We were named Best Cocktail Bar in the United States by GQ magazine in 2004 and 2005, we were named Best Cocktail Bar in New York from 2004 to 2007. We published our first cookbook of cocktails in 2010 and made the New York Times Best Seller List. I stepped down as Chef in 2005 to pursue another project in my home town of Buffalo New York. I still maintain my partnership with the restaurant and the company which has opened 5 more establishments 4 in New York and One in Washington DC.

The idea that Junior ever worked at Employees Only in any capacity is dubious. Why take credit for a book published five years after you’ve left a place – a book about cocktails? A phone call to the bar reveals the truth pretty quickly. Just call and ask them.  

Also, anyone notice the glaring omission of Indigo, the place in Montana where he got busted for bad checks and credit card fraud? Well, it wasn’t always Indigo. It started out as “Blue Smoke”. He changed it to “Indigo: An American Bistro”.  Just like in Buffalo, when he changed “O’Connell’s Hourglass” to “O’Connell’s American Bistro”.  Just like in Los Angeles, when his new venture, 9 Olives folded after less than a year, he tried to change it to “Punk’s”, (Twitter here) but got a new gig at a place called Carson House. It’s got a new concept. Care to guess? “Carson House: An American Bistro“. 

Great Falls’ Indigo closed in June 2005 – around the time Junior claims to have left Employees Only. 

Incidentally, this Great Falls, MT story about O’Connell’s change to Indigo is dated February 2003 – around the time that Junior claims to have joined Employees Only. And here’s what he told the local paper in Montana in 2004

O’Connell was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and raised in Los Angeles. He got his bachelor’s degree from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont and received his master’s in hotel and restaurant management from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

In 2000, he moved to Fort Benton after landing an executive chef position at the exquisite Union Grille Restaurant in the Grand Union Hotel.

“I had gotten engaged, and I needed a place to settle down and raise a family,” he said. “It was an abrupt culture shock. I went from a 3-million-person metro to a town with 1,000 people where everybody knows everybody’s name and birth date.”

A year and a half later, O’Connell ventured back to city life, opening the Blue Smoke barbecue restaurant in the Lobby Bar in Great Falls.

No Babbo. No Rue Franklin Park Slope. Fort Benton, MT

2005-2010 O’Connells American Bistro Buffalo, New York
Owner/Chef

I had the opportunity to purchase a famed Buffalo landmark restaurant in my fathers former neighborhood where he grew up. O’Connells American Bistro was to be an ode to all that I had experienced in both Europe and my time in Manhattan. It opened to rave reviews and earned 4 stars from the Buffalo News and Critic Janice Okun (1 of 4 restaurants at the time to receive 4 stars)
I was honored to be invited 4 times to the James Beard House to cook with my crew, we received a Best New Restaurant nomination from the Beard Foundation in 2006, and we were named Best Restaurant by Buffalo Spree, the Buffalo News, and Spot Magazine 2005, 2007, 2009. With the blessing of my family I shuttered the Bistro in Early 2010 to explore a restaurant opportunity in Los Angeles.

No, the James Beard Foundation did not nominate Junior nor his restaurant for anything in 2006. What the hell is “Spot Magazine”? The Buffalo News doesn’t give out “best restaurant” annual awards. Buffalo Spree didn’t give him best restaurant ever;  not in 2007, not in 2009. Spree didn’t do “best of” in 2005. 

Janice Okun gave O’Connell’s Hourglass 3.5 stars in 2005, and 4 stars in 2009. She gave O’Connell’s American Bistro 3.5 stars in 2011. Nevertheless, he did not shutter the Bistro in 2010, but in late 2012, soon after his move to LA. 

2010-2013 9 Olives Los Angeles, California
Owner/Chef

I had the great opportunity to open a restaurant in a building that was formerly Charlie Chaplins Home on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles. The restaurant was a labor of love, as I grew up in Los Angeles and had many fond memories and friends still in this community. 9 Olives was opened up as a ode to old Hollywood and specialized in fresh farm to table food and excellent service. Couple with a cocktail program that was to mirror that of employees only in NY and a wine list with fine California and European Vintages. Upon opening we received wonderful critical acclaim via LA Weekly, Sunset Magazine, and Bon Appetit magazine that named us on of the Hot 5 new restaurants in Los Angeles. Though a critical success, the size and vibe of the area did not warrant a fine dining upscale restaurant. In early 2013 we changed to a lounge tapas style establishment. This was a successful change and though hitting its stride in October of 2013 I sold my interest in 9 Olives to pursue other ventures.

Perhaps he fudged the closing date of the Bistro to make 9 Olives seem more successful than it was? Either way, I don’t see anything about 9 Olives at Bon Appetit, Sunset, or LA Weekly. What I did find was Yelp reviews, and the last handful cited Living Social and Groupon online coupons they had bought. Time Out LA never reviewed it. It has one stellar Tripadvisor review, nothing at Gayot. Not much of anything, really. 

Associations

Member of Alex’s Lemonade Stand ( pediatric cancer)
Member in Good Standing ACF
Sitting Board Member Share our Strength (Chef’s against Hunger)
Board of Directors Thomas J. Mackey Scholarship
Board of Directors Alumni Scholarship Dartmouth College

I can’t tell if he’s a member of Alex’s or the American Culinary Federation. Google has no hits for a “Thomas J. Mackey Scholarship”. I don’t see his name on the Dartmouth College website. No, he isn’t a board member – sitting or otherwise – for Share our Strength

Now, all of the materials shown above are gleaned easily online. You will note that I have not made a judgment call here about O’Connell’s food, or how he sources it. I frankly don’t care. The restaurant is closed, he’s 3,000 miles away, and like I said, I never had a meal there that I regretted. But that resume – there’s a reason it’s not online anymore.   

In December 2013, the owners of the Carson House contacted me to inquire about the credit card fraud case, because I had written about it at the time. They were about to hire O’Connell, and wanted to get more information. Of course, the credit card matter was in Montana, and not in New York, so whatever information I had about it was from the media. I’m also a lawyer and acutely aware of defamation jurisprudence. This is what I wrote back: 

I don’t have any information to contradict what Kevin has told you. From my experience, Kevin wasn’t involved in any unethical or larcenous behavior during his run at O’Connell’s in Buffalo.

Soon after arriving to town, he had to answer charges in federal court and was sentenced to a year in prison. He has always been candid and repentant about the fraud issue, as far as I know, but I would recommend perhaps speaking with the prosecutor who tried the case, or a reporter in Montana who covered the case to determine if he is being candid and accurate in his portrayal of the facts viz. his involvement. I would Google “O’Connell and Indigo Lounge and Great Falls”.

Kevin is a talented chef and good at promoting himself and his endeavors. We miss him here.

Now? He’s making up a new background for himself, and partying it up in L.A. while the mothers of his two children are waiting on child support; while his kids wonder where their dad went; while Senior apparently treats the mothers of his grandkids like garbage; while Junior traipses around the country like some manbaby, making up a new story at every stop.  

If you’re going to make stuff up, make it minimally credible. 

Stuffing Waffles

Next week is Thanksgiving, during which we give thanks for our good tidings in a reasonably non-theistic way. Over the years, I’ve come to the realization that roasted turkey sort of sucks. It’s not whether it comes out dry or moist – it’s just that it’s a somewhat flavorless bird whose preparation we often overcomplicate. Remember a few years ago when everyone was buying the massive Ziploc bags and brine kits from Williams Sonoma? All it did was make the bird exquisitely salty. 

My wife agrees with me about turkey, so we’ve been known to substitute out a lobster dinner or a beef Wellington or something because you don’t need a turkey to give thanks, and even Tevye was pragmatic enough to eschew tradition. 

I do, however, enjoy the accouterments – the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, gravy and whatnot that goes with the turkey. But to top it all off, I came across a recipe in Serious Eats (from which I got the whole Kettlepizza/Baking Steel idea) that we are absolutely trying next week, and I pass it along to you, so it might become “viral” as the kids say. 

Stuffing waffles. Not stuffing made from waffles – waffles made from stuffing. Here is what they look like, served with some gravy and maple syrup (because maple syrup goes wonderfully with many savory foods): 

Via Serious Eats

Writer Kenji Lopez-Alt’s favorite Thanksgiving thing is stuffing, and his favorite part of the stuffing are the crispy edges. So, if you take a sausage stuffing recipe and use it in a waffle iron – presto, you get the best thing the best way. The article that describes the process is here.  Here is the recipe for the process itself. Here is the recipe for the underlying sausage stuffing recipe. Here is the recipe for his simple turkey gravy

Enjoy and let me know if you try it and how it comes out.

L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele

I don’t understand 95% – 99% of what’s being said in this video, but who cares? This is L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, regarded as the best pizza in the world. Here’s how it’s made. 

 

More Pizza

Recently, my pizza hobby was the subject of a Buffalo News write-up. Well, yesterday I got to try out a new device born out of a brilliant collaboration between the people behind the KettlePizza and the company behind the Baking Steel. They are, coincidentally, both Massachusetts-based companies that did not collaborate until now. Their products are proudly made in the USA.

Before, I used the Kenji Lopez-Alt hack, where a Baking Steel was positioned on the top grate, on top of the KettlePizza, and then covered with tin foil. The unique properties of the steel help radiate heat downward to get the tops of the pizza done – always a tricky thing when most of the heat is coming up from below. Now, thanks to the KettlePizza and Baking Steel people getting to know each other, I have this:

That’s the new Baking Steel that will soon be available as an add-on. (UPDATE: It’s available now). The folks at KettlePizza sent me one gratis to get my thoughts on it. I used one chimney of briquettes, a bit of hardwood charcoal, and two pieces of wood – one with the coals, shoved as far back as possible, and one sawed in half that was placed in the back basket. I tried to keep as little heat directly under the stone as possible, and the results with the new setup were fantastic.

For instance, here’s a “before” (onions, cheese, fried eggplant, sauce):

Here’s the “after”:

The tops got done better and faster than before, and it was infinitely easier to do set-up and to add fuel as the heat began to go down.

Food Truck Rodeo: Wednesday at the Historical Society.

This Wednesday August 21, the Buffalo Historical Society will be the site of a Food Truck Rodeo, featuring two new Buffalo trucks and three from Rochester.  In all, fifteen trucks will be serving the hungry masses at the corner of Elmwood and Nottingham from 5pm – 9pm to benefit the Historical Society. Music will be provided by DJ Cutler.

What makes this truck rodeo a bit different is the addition of a beer permit, courtesy of Fat Bob’s Smokehouse. Beers will include offerings from Community Beer Works, Flying Bison and McKenzie’s Cider.

“The event has been really successful because of community support—the community enjoys a chance to visit a variety of trucks in a single place,” said Pete Cimino, co-owner of Lloyd Taco Trucks. “We’re especially excited to welcome two new trucks in our area, as well as three popular trucks from Rochester this week.”

J & L Boulevard BBQ (www.buffalosbestbbq.com) and Greek on the Street (twitter.com/greekonstreet) are the latest to join the Buffalo food truck scene, with J & L boasting food “cooked low and slow, served fast and friendly” and Greek on the Street being the area’s first Greek food truck.

From Rochester, Le Petit Poutine (twitter.com/lepetitpoutine) is known for its “handcut French fries and squeakin’ fresh cheese curds smothered in fresh gravy.” Brick N Motor (www.bricknmotortruck.com) touts an ever-changing menu designed to complement the season and please a variety of tastes. Marty’s Meats (www.martysmeats.com) calls itself a “protein-centric, gourmet food truck.”

Organized by Cimino, the event is the first of its kind in Buffalo. In addition to Lloyd Taco Trucks, the event will include Knight Slider, Black Market Food Truck, Frank’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, Thai Me Up, Hot Off the Press, House of Munch, R&R BBQ, The Sweet Hearth and Roaming Buffalo.

Cimino says The Buffalo Historical Society was selected as a venue because of its mission and ease of access. With ample parking and being centrally located in the city, it became a natural partner.

Backyard Pizza in the Buffalo News

I’ve been sort of obsessed with pizza for many years, and Neapolitan is my thing. I love it, I seek it out, and I’ve finally gotten around to try and do my best impression of it in my backyard. It’s not quite there yet, because the dough and the fire always tend to vary in consistency and quality. But part of the fun is trying stuff out and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Andrew Galarneau, food editor for the Buffalo News, and photographer Bob Kirkham came over to try some of my pies and he did a great piece on my efforts to make great pizza in my backyard. You can check it out here.

I use a 22.5″ Weber kettle grill, with the KettlePizza attachment (with the optional tombstone pizza stone), and the Kenji Alt-Lopez Baking Steel hack, found here. One chimney of charcoal and a quarter of a log to get the fire nice and hot, and you’ll be ready to bake in about an hour.

Here are some of my winners:

 

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