Dear Slice: Texas Pizza Summit II
This summer, Slice'r extraordinaire Craig Lindburg, aka TXCraig1, held his Second Annual Texas Pizza Summit at his Acunto-equipped Neapolitan garage. He was kind enough to send us the details, along with a bunch of mouthwatering photos. Next time, Craig, we'll take some plane tickets, instead...Seriously, this little get together sounds so good, it may be bringing some tears to my eyes. Shhh!
Sunday afternoon wrapped up the second annual Texas Pizza Summit (the inaugural summit was reported here). The attendance grew 400% over last year. With pizza all-stars from California to New York, the guest list came out at six! Slice Pizza Obsessives Peter (Pete-zaa), Norma (Norma427), Chau Tran, Diana (dhorst), Tom (Tscarborough), and myself (TXCraig1). Though you wouldn't have to be there long to figure out that all the guests are obsessed with pizza. We got to see some old friends and make some new ones. It's always great to have a chance to meet the folks you typically only talk to in forums like Slice and Pizzamaking.com.
I was trying to be funny when I billed the event as "Eatin' and Drinkin' Too Much and Being Too Damn Hot,' but Mother Nature was paying attention and made it clear that she has the ultimate say on humor when it comes to the weather, turning the thermostat up to 106º F on Saturday. It was the hottest June day ever in Houston and the second hottest day recorded here of all time. And if you think 106º F is hot, try it standing in front of a 950º F WFO! Notwithstanding, it was a great event—you just had to drink a little more wine or beer, bourbon, tequila, whatever...we even had some water.
It's a two day pizza party—Saturday and Sunday. Last year one guy showed up a day early by accident; this year, guests were intentionally coming two days early to help prep and make dough. "Please don't make dough until I get there" one guest implored. By Friday, we had five folks here drinking wine, eating some grilled fresh gulf shrimp, and talking pizza (other than a fine selection of cheese and charcuterie Diana was so gracious to provide, those shrimp were the only non-pizza item served all weekend).
There was no buffalo mozzarella to be found in the City of Houston on Friday, but I was able to find some curd, and Chau was kind enough to put on a cheese-making seminar Saturday afternoon. It really added a lot to the event, and the cheese was excellent. I only wish I'd bought more curd. Good grief, we went through some cheese. Diana also brought beautiful garlic scapes and a pound of the Aleppo pepper she made famous to share with everyone who had not tried it yet. Personally, I think she deserves the Nobel Prize for Pizza for bringing Aleppo mainstream. Zane and Brandon from VIA 313 brought Detroit pizza makings and blew us away with their pies again (the whole while, Norma and Peter watched intently and picked their brains for Detroit secrets). General Mills was kind enough to send a bag of their new Neapolitan pizza flour to try out, and we were all very impressed. It handled and baked beautifully. This is only the second flour that I've ever tried that I would use for my WFO pies.
Last year, I did almost all of the baking, but this time most of the pies were baked by the guests. I got the ball rolling with a few and then handed over the peel. People had a blast making pies and working the Acunto. This is how it will be from now on. I saw a lot of skills improve over the course of the evening. There were so many different pies made—no two were the same, and each looked incredible—you didn't want to skip any. Then for dessert, Gene prepared his awesome Crusher sherbet. Needless to say, nobody went back to their hotel hungry, and there may have been a few food comas. We wrapped up Saturday night with homemade limoncello, made with Meyer lemons sent to me by a friend from Pizzamaking.com in California.
Gene kicked off breakfast Sunday morning with a bunch of his world famous Bloody Caesars, and Tom followed with his anarchy pizzas, baked perfectly in the WFO (which had cooled to about 750º F overnight). The mascarpone, lemon, and drunk cherry pie was to die for. A megafire after breakfast quickly brought the oven up to 1100º F, and another batch of Neapolitan pies baked in as short as 36.7 seconds made for an early lunch. Altogether, I think we made 43 pizzas, up from 29 last year.
For those interested in the guest's take on the Summit, many more pictures and comments can be found here, on Pizzamaking.com.
Plans are already in the works for TPS3 which will involve a second wood fired oven...