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Entries in pizza (36)


Bathroom of the Month โ€“ February 2012 โ€“ Franny's!

John and I have been visiting a lot of pizzerias lately....a LOT. So it only seems fitting that the Bathroom of the Month Award for February should go to one of them. FRANNY'S, in fact!

The restroom scene at Franny's is a calming pale blue oasis, buffered by mini white subway tiles. The exposed brick wall has even been painted white to match. Nice touch!

An oval mirror complements the oval sink, and copious amount of extra TP are within reach.

Nice work, Franny's. John and I appreciated your attention to detail on your pizzas as well, let's not forget that!


Pizzeria Mozza โ€“ Los Angeles

When I lived in Los Angeles, it was pre-pizza craze – both for me and for the nation as a whole it seems.

Mozza entered the LA pizza scene as I was exiting the city, so I never had the opportunity to dine there.

But I felt as though I had tasted their pizza by word of mouth. Saveur magazine had beautifully dedicated their February 2010 cover to Mozza's zucchini flower pie, while heavy hitters Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich were reputable backers. Add to that the fact that since it's opening in 2007, it's still a challenge to land a table – I had to  settle for a 5pm seating that I arranged three weeks in advance.

I was anticipating my first bite in much the same way that I giggled and squealed upon visiting Una Pizza Napoletana in San Fransisco. Another pizza pilgrimmage? Perhaps...

And yet.

Here I should pause. Pause for the alarming difference between anticipation and experience, expectation and reality. Like the whirling excitement of a child on Christmas morning that launches herself toward the tree like a Yorkie after a Snausage, hoping to find a Snoopy SnoCone Maker and instead unwraps...socks.


My pizza parade of accompanying rainbows, unicorns and bunnies was somewhat pooped on by the maitre'd when we arrived 12 minutes late for our reservation – LA traffic on Oscar weekend is as expected as char marks on a Neapolitan crust.

"We usually only hold tables for 15 minutes and you're pushing it. You'll have to be out by 6:30." Take this as a valuable lesson on how to win friends and returning patrons! The happy unicorns had left the pizza party.

We were seated and ordered two appetizers while we determined our final pizza selections. We chose the Marinated Olives and the Fried Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta Cheese.

The olives were wonderfully juicy and warm...complemented by buttery soft roasted garlic. The flowers were also nicely fried with just a touch of soft, sweet ricotta cheese on the inside. My two other dining companions and I actually split the last remaining flower into thirds so we could all have one more bite.

Finally, the Margherita (of course) arrived!

When the pies arrived, my rainbows faded slightly. What was with the crust? It was so....uniform, like the even golden brown toastiness of a French baguette. There were no characteristic char marks or bubbles.

"That can only mean one thing," I lectured. "That oven isn't very hot, and they're cooking these pizzas for a longer amount of time."

Indeed I was correct as some speedy web research proved. The New York Times article from 2007 mentions that Mozza's ovens are set to 700 degrees instead of the usual 900-1200. They also cook their pizzas for about 4 minutes, that's 2-3 minutes more cooking time than a traditional Neapolitan.

No more rainbows and the bunny rabbits were hippity-hopping their retreat.

I did note one traditional saving grace: the Margherita pizza arrived unsliced, served with a knife.

I gingerly chiseled away a slice and plopped it plate-side, regarding it with caution and suspicion. I then picked it up and held it in the air.

"Are you testing its aerodynamic qualities?" asked my fellow diner.

Yes, in fact, I was. A true slice of Neapolitan pizza is one of the least aerodynamic food items, next to bananas foster and cereal. When you pick it up, the slice should fold, tip bending toward the table, almost as if it's recoiling from your mouth. You should have to help it in.

This piece barely bent. I could have launched it like a paper plane or hurled it whole like a discus.

I also noted the tomatoes were a bit...dark. This was a sauce, not just naked San Marzanos spooned lovingly onto uncooked dough.

I took a was...OK. And by "OK" I mean that it was edible, and perhaps tasty in its own way. If you like that kind of thing. Which I don't.

There are rules for Neapolitan pies. John and I have discussed them before. But I like to think of these rules as standards. Standards that maintain (most of the time) not only tradition but also taste. This pie did not meet these standards. It was essentially a French bread pizza topped with "gravy", think California Pizza Kitchen massaged into an elitist dining hall with a cranky staff that doesn't understand the rules of civility, Southland traffic and oven temperatures.

I left distressed, disappointed and worst of all... hungry.

But not without checking into the bathroom - I managed to squeak into the men's room as the ladies was occupied. I got to check out the urinal! 

Overall Pizza Eating Experience: Vanilla Sky


Twelve for 2012!

The year 2012 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon. But here on John and Elana Talk About Food, it's the Year of the Pizza. In order to start this year off right, we are kicking it off with a giveaway! You like free stuff, yes?

Yes! And free stuff is what you shall have.

You also like pizza, yes? No? Then why are you here? Seriously, let's talk about this...

Of course you like pizza! So, it follows that you must like free pizza.

We are not giving away free pizza... I'm sorry. BUT! We are giving away free Top Your Pizza Cookbooks. Twelve of them, in fact, to mark the year 2012.

In our Top Your Pizza Cookbook you will learn to make the following pies:

You will also get our trusty and reliable dough recipe that comes with helpful photographs and tips on getting your dough just right:

We also wax poetical on things like:

The Magnificent Pizza Peel and other fine the unsung hero - TONGS! Oh yes.

Finally, you will also be subject to my food photography which gets you up-close-and-personal with a fried leaf of sage:

Shows off the delicate entanglement of onions and gooey cheese:

And pizza in its purest form:

So what do you have to do to win one of the 12 cookbooks? We want you to like us. Our egos been running on low these days. We need a pat on the back...a thumbs up... So, if you like us, let us know by liking us on Facebook! The first 12 NEW people to like us on Facebook will receive one of these Top Your Pizza Cookbooks.

So, head on over to The John and Elana Facebook page and click "Like."

If you do, you will have pizza recipes and our eternal gratitude. And John may tell you how his hair does that funny flippy-thing. Maybe...

This offer will run until those first 12 people click "like"!




John and Elana Benefit Dinner at Co. Restaurant for Just Food

If you've been paying attention, you probably know that we published our first cookbook. It's a pizza cookbook with 8 topping recipes, a dough recipe and additional tips and tools. It's fun stuff, if you like that whole pizza thing.

I wanted to donate the proceeds of this book to a deserving food charity, which I found in Just Food, a non-profit organization that connects communities and local farms with the resources and support they need to make fresh, locally grown food accessible to all New Yorkers.

A while back, Just Food announced their Harvest Dinners, an opportunity to bring friends and family together, raise awareness (and funds) for Just Food and eat some good grub.

I approached my favorite NYC pizzeria, Co. Restaurant with the idea of hosting a Harvest Dinner there on December 12th, and they obligingly agreed. I worked with the managers Anna-Lisa and Darren to put together a family style menu with wine pairings. This was our final menu:

Seventeen people signed on and took their place at the table as we began our feast with sparkling white wine and Pizza Bianca's.

One of my favorite things about a Co. pizza is the crust. With the Pizza Bianca, you really get to experience that crust in it's finest, fluffy-crispy form. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with just a touch of sea salt, it's the perfect starter for a meal.

We then moved on to the soup - a seasonal Squash Soup that was perfectly creamy with a hint of tanginess from pickled shiitake mushrooms and crunch from some walnuts.

At this point, the diners had moved on to the Roter Veltliner (2008  Leth  Wagram, Austria). With just a touch of sweetness, the Roter paired well with both following salads, the Endive and Radicchio....not to mention everyone's favorite – The MEATBALLS:

These little veal masterpieces are like candy, just small enough to pop in your mouth like a chocolate truffle, but soft and savory and swimming in a tomato sauce that you can (and should) eat with a spoon.

Next up: PIZZA! We enjoyed four with a Bardolino (2009  Le Fraghe  Veneto, Italy).

Pictured above is the shaved Brussel Sprout pizza accented with lardons, pecorino and gruyere cheeses, and a little kick from crushed black pepper. This pizza was a huge hit with the crowd.

We also enjoyed the Stracciatella. I've spoken about this pie before - the magic of this pie is in the cheese. Stracciatella is the ooey-gooey center of Burrata mozzarella. So creamy and smooth and salty, it's an event in itself, but paired with tomato, arugula and Co.'s fine crust, you have the KING of PIES. Really.

But no dinner at Co. would be complete without experiencing their classic Margherita:

Or the Popeye, with it's softly charred spinach atop softly melted gruyere cheese...

But we're not done yet! Co. really out-did themselves with their desserts. They offered us two: the Chocolate Tart, and the Toffee Pudding (which was brought out of retirement for the evening). The toffee bread pudding had a dollop of toffee-caramel glaze. Moist and sweet and topped with a tangy apricot and crunchy pistachios, it was the perfect sponge to soak up the Lambrusco that we finished the meal with.

We all had a fabulous dinner, and a wonderful time stealing meatballs from each other's plates and arguing for the last piece of Stracciatella.

I would first and foremost like to thank Co. Restaurant, Anna-Lisa and Darren (and Jim Lahey!) for allowing us to host this dinner at Co. and for going above and beyond in terms of hospitality and generosity. You truly made my night.

I would also like to thank everyone that came out for the event...some of you travelled across the country (not specifically for this, but still). Members of my Full Throttle triathlon team mingled with family members, old friends, new ones, and my boss Alysha, who has been incredibly supportive of my extra curricular activities.

So thanks to ALL!

And let's not forget that Co. was one of our Bathroom of the Month winners....



Squishy, Crunchy! Roast Some Fennel

I've been roasting all kinds of things lately. I happen to believe it makes most foods taste better. Especially vegetables.

One vegetable I'm particularly fond of right now is Fennel. Actually, I'm not sure fennel is a vegetable. It is a plant that you can eat. But whether or not that throws it into the "veggie" category is up for debate. Wikipedia is terrifyingly silent on the subject.

I never used to like fennel. It has an anise or licorice flavor that can be intense if you're not into that kind of thing. Are you into that kind of thing? Because I've recently changed my mind, and I'm totally and completely into it.

Especially when it's roasted. With lemon. Oh yes, Lemon Roasted Fennel. Let's get to it;

What You Need:

1 bulb of fenel, cut up however you want. Throw away the leafy parts.
3 tablespoons of olive oil (your favorite kind)
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
Sea salt - a sprinkle
Freshly ground pepper - a couple of grinds
OPTIONAL: Feel free to throw in some fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary!

What You Do:

1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place your chopped fennel in a large bowl.

3. Add in the olive oil, salt, lemon juice, pepper and optional spices.

4. Mix it all up with your hands to make sure all the fennel is evenly coated with the good stuff.

5. Spread the seasoned fennel onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. The edges of the fennel will start wilt and the edges will begin to brown.

NOW WHAT? You've roasted your fennel and now what do you do with it? I would suggest you eat it.

You can eat it plain, as a veggie side dish, accompanied by a nice roasted chicken or fish.

You could put it with some roasted fingerling potatoes, mixing everything together in a medley of roasted wonderfulness.

OR....wait for it....You could TOP A PIZZA with it.

It's so good as a pizza topping. But you will have to wait for that. I'll post about it next week.

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