From the Mid-Atlantic with Love

Remember I blabbed earlier this year about trying to ramp up things here on Slice? Pizzablogger is here to help, and I couldn't be more excited about it. Take it away, PB! The Mgmt.

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Me hanging with a couple of fellow pizza peeps. [Image created by Pizzablogger. Peeps Box, chron.com; Peep, SAU BEEBrary Blog. Paulie Gee, Slice; Adam Kuban, Cooking Issues]

Hey pizza peeps, pizzablogger here. Not the most original name, I know, but whaddya gonna do? I'm a pizza-loving, rambling man living in Baltimore, which is "Bawlmer" to you. Got it? Good.

I'm somewhat of a latecomer to Slice, having first discovered this site in 2008 and then getting my first mention here when I interviewed Baltimore coal-firer Joe Edwardsen last summer. You may have seen my video about being one of the lucky dogs to have been invited to a backyard pizza tasting at Paulie Gee's house or heard the Slicemeister himself mentioning that he wants to nosh on some of my pizza. More than likely you've noticed me blabbering incessantly in the comments section here on Slice. So, when Adam posted about Contributing to Slice, I thought the Mid-Atlantic pizza scene could use some more exposure and decided to toss my hat into the ring.

Some of you may be thinking...Baltimore...Maryland...Pizza...Really? I've been asked this more than once. 'Tis true, pizza in Maryland can be a mighty frustrating endeavor, but there are some diamonds in the rough and newer places are popping up with increasing frequency. It also doesn't hurt to have DC and Northern Virginia just down the road. And the Illadelph is just a 90-minute shot due north of me, so I'm surrounded by cities which are relatively easy to get to.

But hey, (insert Stephen's voice from Braveheart here) "just answer the effing question already"....if pizza in Maryland is generally not that good, then what does some dude from Maryland know about pizza? A little bit is the correct answer. Sorry, but if you're looking for a pizza expert, you won't find one here. What you can be sure of is that I'll be happy to pass on whatever I learn as the mile markers on the pizza highway go passing by. And I have a voracious appetite for learning.

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Clockwise from top left: Margherita at RedRocks in DC; test batches of homemade limoncello, thin-crust sourdough Margherita at Joe Squared in Baltimore; chArggh on pizza at Ellicott City's Coal Fire Pizza; blurry crumb shot from a batch of my pan pizza. [Photographs: pizzablogger]

Aside from eating pizza and opening my pie hole about our favorite topic, I've also been known to get my hands dusted with flour and make a pie from time to time, as well as crank out some mighty fine limoncello.

While I don't have nearly as much time as I would like to make pizza at home, I enjoy making both round pies and square, pan-formed pizzas when the pizza demons that live in my oven beckon me to feed them with a sacrificial offering. I'm a sourdough man, partially influenced from working at DC's Uptown Bakers in the early '90s, but my first taste of the naturally leavened wonder of the crust at Una Pizza Napoletana was the tipping point that caused me to make sure my fridge was always stocked with a few jars of sourdough waiting to get busy.

I'm definitely no pizza-making wiz, but the passion is there, rest assured. With no one "watching," sometimes literally, I put a lotta love, attention to detail, willingness to learn and commitment to quality into my pizzas, even if the result misses the mark. Sometimes I get frustrated that this passion is far too seldomly echoed from establishments charging coin for pizza, but such is the way of things.

As far as favorite pizza styles, Neapolitan, New York–Neapolitan and Neapolitan-influenced pizzas are what I ultimately favor, but I really enjoy any pizza that is well made, regardless of style. While I love more traditionally styled pizzas, I'm not overly concerned with guidelines or "rules" set forth by various organizations and am always ready to see someone try something new. I mean, c'mon, it's all pizza, and if it's good, count me in!

So, I've got the pizza passion, a hungry stomach, and don't mind putting some rubber to the road to get pizza good enough to calm the pizza tremens, which occur on a regular basis. I'll comb the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, DC, some parts of Virginia and Philadelphia and letcha know what I dig up so you can have a better idea of where you might wanna consider dropping in on if you also live in the Mid-Atlantic area or are planning a visit here. I might also lend an occasional voice on some home pizza-making ideas (at least on what not to do) as well as interview some pizza-makers for Slice from time to time.

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Me at the Pieman's Craft 2010 [Photograph: Adam Kuban].

I'm very much looking forward to adding another voice to the Slice family and to share some pie with you if you ever find yourself in the Baltimore–DC area. Look for me here dishing on pizza in the Mid-Atlantic region about once a month. I'll be reporting back on a pizzeria in our Nation's Capital come early February .

Until then, happy eating and cheers!

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