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Friday Bread Basket 9/8/23
Helps promote regularity
Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain.
The first thing I wanted to do this week is alert you to some work I’ve had published elsewhere while we were away. I’ve done a couple of bread-related equipment reviews for Serious Eats (with a bunch more in the works), including my take on the Brod & Taylor Sourdough Home mini retarder-proofer:
(I am currently working on a follow-up review of the similar but slightly-less-versatile Sourhouse Goldie starter proofer.)
The TLDR on these is that I like and use them both!
August seemed to be pizza month, for some reason, given all the links I have to share with you this week. First there was Helen Rosner’s New Yorker review of Scarr’s pizza, one of the few old-school slice joints in NYC that mills its own flour, which leads with this banger:
The infinite variety of pizza beliefs is so universal that it slips into something almost Jungian, a window into the self and the shadow. The pizza of your childhood, the pizza of the place you consider home, the pizza that awakened you to the fact that pizza could actually be gastronomically magnificent—each is the best pizza in the history of the world, because it’s the history of your world. Tell me what you think is a perfect pizza and I’ll tell you who you are.
And then there’s Hannah Seliger’s ode to New England beach pizza, a hyper-local style of pizza from a short stretch of shoreline straddling the Merrimack River in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, which reads like a companion piece to Helen’s:
There’s a case to be made for local foods that are not “good” by most standards, transportive foods that end up more than the sum of their ingredients. A slice from Tripoli or Cristy’s doesn’t move the needle in pizza debates that ponder the merits of 00 flour and wood versus coal and buffalo mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes. But along this tiny, forgotten-to-the-rest stretch of the Atlantic, Tripoli and Cristy’s recipe for mediocrity — a flick of wan cheese, a smear of saccharine sauce, a puck of dough two card decks wide — is magic.
(Hannah & beach pizza also make an appearance in the Wapo’s round-up of “Quirky American Pizzas.)
And finally there was the story of Somerville, MA’s Dragon Pizza, one of my local slice joints, getting into a nasty dustup with garbage person Dave Portnoy, of Barstool Sports (and noted serial abuser of women):
He didn’t have to wait long. On Friday, Portnoy posted a video on his channel calling Dragon Pizza “the worst pizza place in America,” calling it “trash,” criticizing it for being “floppy” and for having too much parmesan, giving it a measly 6.4 rating. (Redd concedes he may have a “heavy hand with the parmigiano reggiano,” which may not cater to every palate, but disputes the floppiness of the slice: “We cook a pizza to the standard we set. I know my staff is well-trained. We cooked it to the specs we always cook them to.”)
The affair led to Dragon Pizza and its owner getting death threats and nasty fake reviews on Yelp, which had to shut down the restaurant’s page. The good news is that locals don’t give a stool about Portnoy and his flying monkeys, and have been buying up Dragon’s slices like mad.
Finally, I wanted to mention the sourdough starter stirrers that I’ve started selling recently. I advertised these to paid subscribers initially because I only had a few on hand. Given how quickly they’ve sold out each time I announced a re-stock, I’m sure I won’t be able to keep up with demand, but I am going to have more soon. (I’m also having a hard time finding enough nice antique handles, so I’m now going to offer two versions, one made using new handles for $23 and one with vintage ones, for $30. Both work identically well—the price difference is only to cover the additional costs on my end to find and rehab the vintage handles.)
If you think you want one, please add your name to my long-dormant Wordloaf Announcements newsletter if it is not on there already, where I will send out notices each time I have another batch ready to ship:
And if you have one already, and like it, spread the word! I don’t really need more customers for them (since I’ll never be able to make enough of them myself for all who might want one), but I’d like to see the idea of it as a tool take off, since there’s a manufacturer I’d like to convince to mass-market them.
That’s it for this week’s bread basket. Have a nice weekend, see you all on Monday.