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Pizza Obsessives: Adam Lindsley, Pizza Blogger at 'This Is Pizza'

Between alternating weeks of My Pizza Oven and among other newsworthy pizza freaks, we're slowly making our way through the long list of pizza bloggers out there. Today we interview Adam Lindsley of This Is Pizza, who will be joining us as a Seattle-based correspondent. Let's put him in the hot seat! The Mgmt.

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Name: Adam Lindsley
Location: Seattle
URL: thisispizza.blogspot.com

What type of pizza do you prefer?

I'll take it all, but I suppose I most prefer pizzas that are similar to pies made in Naples, but don't stringently follow those strict VPN rules. I'm talking about places like Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Ken's Artisan in Portland, Delancey in Seattle. They do their own thing, and surpass traditional Neapolitan pizza as a result. Nobody makes better pizza than Chris Bianco. But the best pizza I've eaten in New York is DiFara's, and that's not anything like Bianco's.

The Pizza Cognition Theory states that "the first slice of pizza a child sees and tastes ... becomes, for him, pizza." Do you remember your first slice? Where was it from, is the place still around, and if so, does it hold up? On that note, has your taste in pizza evolved over time?

It might be true for a lot of people, but not me. I didn't have good pizza growing up. The few pizzerias in my tiny hometown of Long Beach, Washington, were mediocre to awful, so it was, I kid you not, a real treat to drive across the river to Oregon to get Pizza Hut. So most of the pizza I've tried since I was a kid far surpasses any memory or preconceived notion of what pizza is.

What's your favorite topping or topping combination?

My favorite pizza at any pizzeria almost always ends up being the Margherita, but occasionally I'll be more enamored with additional toppings, and those usually end up being soppressata and basil or fennel sausage and caramelized onions.

Where do you go for pizza in your area?

In Portland, Oregon, you can't beat Ken's Artisan and Apizza Scholls, you really can't. Just below them are Firehouse, Lovely's Fifty-Fifty, and Pizza Depokos (three places that popped up after your visit last October, Adam!). I just had some great vegan pizza at Portobello, whose pizzaiolo is none other than fellow Pizza Obsessive Will Fain.

But I actually just moved to the Seattle area, and here it's all about Delancey in the Ballard neighborhood.

D'oh! Forgive me for not having asked sooner ... your pizza blog, This Is Pizza. How'd that get started?

You are entirely to blame, Adam. Well, you and Ed Levine. I had been reading Slice for a while and loving it, but since I lived on the West Coast, I was too far away to try the majority of the places covered on the site (this was before you had people across the country writing in with their reviews). So I really just wanted to highlight some of my favorite pizzerias in the Pacific Northwest. Everything about This Is Pizza is basically a copy of Slice. So please don't sue me for theft.

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Don't worry about it! I'm just glad there's been great pizza intel to glean from the Northwest. ... Do you make pizza at home? If so, how? What recipes do you use?

I try to make pizza as often as possible, but it's never often enough. I'm constantly experimenting with my dough recipe, the current version of which can be seen in the comments on this page: http://thisispizza.blogspot.com/2010/04/few-shots-of-my-pizzas.html. It's a variation on Jeff Varasano's recipe, with a sourdough starter I made after reading Nancy Silverton's book on bread. That was quite a process. Stick a bunch of grapes wrapped in cheesecloth into a big glass jar with flour and water, add more flour and water to it for two weeks, and scoop some out every morning. Oh, and keep it at 70 degrees on the nose for every second of those fourteen days. The result was pretty great, though. Speaking of sourdough starters, how's yours coming along, Adam?

It's doing well, thanks for asking! It took about three weeks out on the countertop at room temperature before it finally showed some nice activity, and I've since moved it into the fridge. ... But, hey! But this isn't about me. ... Do you have a photo of that pizza cooked?

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Thanks! Crumb shot?

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Very nice. Now, where were we? Oh, yes. ... What one thing should NEVER go on a pizza?

I used to be a stickler on pizza toppings, but I've since seen the silliness of my ways. I say put whatever you want on your pizza. Peaches, granola, caviar, whatever floats your boat. As a matter of personal taste, I don't particularly like mushrooms or anchovies, but I would never say they don't belong on pizza.

Most unusual pizza you've ever eaten?

I'm not into the wacky stuff. I guess the most unusual pizzas I've ever eaten were Will Fain's vegan pies at Portobello in Portland. The cheese was replaced by cashew cream (which is nothing like cheese but tasty in its own right) on one pie and Daiya (a vegan cheese replacement which looks more like cheese but has the texture of already-chewed gum) on the other. There was also a wheat gluten-based "sausage" on that Daiya pie, and it was actually quite scrumptious. It's not a full substitute for real sausage, but it does give you sensation of having meat in your mouth. Okay I'll stop there.

What's the farthest you've traveled for pizza?

I wish I could say, "Across the Atlantic to Naples," but that hasn't happened yet. For now, the distance is the 3,000 miles between Portland, Oregon, and New York for the 2009 Pieman's Craft event at the East Village Motorino. I had been hoping to try some of Anthony Mangieri's pizzas there, but he only ended up manning the oven, so I guess I'll have to wait until I make it down to San Francisco again. I also got to try Di Fara, Artichoke Basille's, and Kesté on that NYC trip. I had a blast. Can't wait to go back.

Anything you'd like to get off your chest?

I've eaten at a lot of pizzerias across the country since I started TIP, and I have to say, some places charge way, way too much for their pizza. I mean, where does Tom Douglas at Serious Pie get off charging $16 dollars for a Margherita in Seattle, when not far away, Brandon Pettit at Delancey charges only $12 for a far superior one? Why does Tony Gemignani at Tony's Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco feel justified charging $19 for a Margherita that isn't any better than the ones served at Delfina ($12.50), Pizzaiolo ($14), or Pizzeria Picco ($11.50)? And for that matter, why does he limit himself to making only 73 a day? What's so special about them? And Anthony Mangieri's charging $20 for his pies in San Francisco. I haven't had his yet, so I can't say for certain whether he's overcharging, but I can't possibly imagine his Margherita is better than Chris Bianco's ($11).

Now: Who would you like to see interviewed next?

Hmm... Pizzablogger comes to mind. Brandon Pettit of Delancey, if you can get him away from that oven. The main guy at PizzaMaking.com. An Adam Kuban Q&A would be very popular. And you know what, I'd like to see Ed Levine run the Q&A gauntlet as well. I realize a lot of this stuff is covered in his book, but I don't think we readers outside the Slice office hear enough from him (I'm still waiting to hear his thoughts on Varasano's in Atlanta). So maybe you could convince him to spill the beans on his more recent thoughts. If you need to get him drunk, by all means, do what you have to do.

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