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Friday Pizza Box - 3/12/21
Pi(e) day edition
Sunday is 3/14, aka Pi Day, so naturally this week’s bread basket is dedicated to everyone’s favorite circular flatbread, pi(zza).
A few weeks ago, I got an Instagram DM from James Rubio, a photographer from Hilo, Hawaii (on the Big Island, one of my favorite places on earth), who apparently found a story I wrote for Edible Boston about 10 years ago on my wood-fired barrel oven and was inspired by it to build his own:
A barrel oven is a relatively modern, low-tech style of wood-fired oven that is made from a repurposed 55-gallon oil drum, set on its side and buried inside a masonry or clay shell. The fire sits underneath the barrel, and the heat it generates wraps around the drum. The advantage of such a design is that the metal barrel heats up very quickly, especially in comparison to a standard masonry WFO, which needs time to saturate with heat before it can be used for baking. One disadvantage to a barrel oven compared to a classic WFO is that there is no “live-fire” cooking, something that is ideal for pizza and other flatbreads that benefit from the intense, bright heat of a fire. That said, barrel ovens can still heat up to 800+ degrees easily, so it’s hardly a deal-breaker.
If you are interested in learning more about barrel ovens, there’s an excellent book on how to build one, written by Max and Eva Edleson of Firespeaking, a masonry heater company that also makes and sells kits.
James is still working to finish his oven, but he’s made pizza a few times in it already. I’m looking forward to following along with his journey (and stopping by for some pies next time we get to the Big Island).
-> James Rubio
I mentioned the other day that I’m teaching a Zoom workshop on April 17 on one of my all-time favorite styles of pizza, pizza al taglio. (At the moment, there’s still plenty of room if you want in on it.) I fell in love with pizza al taglio at Pizzeria Angelo e Simonetta, an unassuming pizzeria on the outskirts of Rome. I first learned about Angelo e Simonetta from my friend Michael Berman, a NYC photographer and pizza fiend who wrote a blog post about this place. Here’s what he wrote that convinced me I had to get there on my first visit to Rome:
So this place ― it's called Angelo e Simonetta ― blew me away, and I've been going there ever since. They put a lot of effort also into their dough with a rise that involves near 0℃ hibernation for almost five days. The result is a springy crust filled with air pockets that, according to owner Gabriele Jezzi, aids in digestion.
I’m very happy with my own al taglio recipe, which uses a 24-hour cold fermented dough. But I still dream of the slice—potato, sopresatta, and mozzarella—that blew me away when I was there, and I still hope to recreate it in full some day. It truly is the single best slice of pizza I’ve ever eaten:
Check out Michael’s post, and be sure to watch the video he shot with Gabriele Jezzi, one of the world’d true pizza greats.
Happy Pi Day Weekend, everyone. I hope you have a peaceful/pizza-full one. See you all next week.