Posted on October 28th, 2019
When I was a kid my favorite restaurant in the world was Gino's Pizza because they had a Pong game hooked up to a TV you could play. I don't remember the pizza at all, but I'm pretty sure I liked it. Eventually Gino's closed. Since I had video games at home thanks to the Atari 2600, I barely noticed.
That being said, my favorite pizza on earth came from Pizza Inn, which is where we ate after Gino's was gone.
The stuff was phenomenal. The crust was crisp like a cracker and had a unique flavor and texture that made it different than every other pizza I had ever had. The sauce was likewise delicious because it had a subtle sweetness and minimized the acid component so the tomato base really hit you. Also? The pepperoni was divine. It curled up like a cup and had these amazing crispy edges that you just didn't find anywhere else.
Whenever my family ate out, Pizza Inn was #1 on my list.
Sadly, they closed up shop. Then a decade ago they came back. Then closed up shop again. Then they came back yet again. Then closed up shop... and have stayed closed ever since. For a while they could only be found in Texas, but now I think they're currently all across The South.
Ever since the last closing in my neck of the woods, I've become obsessed with making Pizza Inn pizza myself. Thanks to the efforts by DKM at PizzaMaking.com, I've been able to play around with his recipe and finally come up with something that works for me.
This past weekend I decided to finally share it with some guests I had staying with me. They seemed to really like it too, so I'm pretty happy about that. Well, mostly.
My pizza stone is fairly small and I was cooking for six people, so I made the mistake of thinking that I'd just make us six individual small pizzas. I could cook two at a time and, since they only take minutes to bake, that would be the easiest way to make sure that everybody got the toppings they wanted. So on Sunday I left work at noon to go home and roll out the crusts. My arms were rubber after two. The remaining four felt like I had bench-pressed 500 pounds a thousand times. The cracker crust is tough. It's mostly flour with very little moisture, which makes it crumbly and hard to roll out. Even worse, I didn't have a little cutter pizza pan to cut the crust to size, so I ended molding around a small plate. It didn't look particularly pretty, but it sure tasted great...
I cannot overstate how tough it is to roll out the crust. It's like taking a rolling pin to a rock. But it bakes up so beautifully that it's all worth the effort. Thin and crispy with no sag. Amazing air bubbles that give you perfect cracker crunch...
The right tomatoes for the sauce are essential. There are few brands I've found that have that hearty tomato flavor without the acidic bite (which I talk about ad-nauseam here).
As I was seeing my guests off, Jake hopped up on the table and decided to lick my last piece, so I guess it was a success for my entire household...
Except I never yell at my cats no matter what they do (I refuse to punish my cats for being cats), so all I could do was wait until his tongue got tired so I could take it away.
I don't think I could do pizzas for a group again unless I buy a $5000 pizza dough sheeter that has the power to roll out very tough doughs (most I've seen under $2000 are not rated for anything less than 1 part liquid to 2 parts flour... this crust is far less than that).
Homemade pizza sauce has no preservatives and will spoil fairly soon (even when refrigerated), so I don't usually make a full 28oz. Can of tomatoes worth. I take 1/4 of it so I can experiment with making homemade ketchup. Because boy do I love homemade ketchup. "Regular" store-bought big-brand ketchup tastes like tomato water by comparison. There are a few "boutique" brands I like... Portland Ketchup Co. is great... but even they seem lacking when stacked up against homemade. Problem is that I still haven't formulated the perfect ketchup after nearly two years of experimenting.
Right now I am leaning towards a recipe with onion, garlic, cayenne, red pepper, brown sugar, white wine vinegar, ginger, allspice, celery seed, black pepper, salt, and nutmeg (in addition to tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and oil). I'm unsure about turmeric, Tabasco, bay leaf, and oregano. I've abandoned mustard seed powder, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, cloves, maple syrup, and seasoning salt.
Maybe one day. In the meanwhile? I'm not going to complain about needing to experiment making ketchup. Even the worst ketchup I've made still tastes great!
Posted on September 19th, 2019
I get it. Most of my readers don't even bother to look at other sites. Blogography gives you everything you need to survive, so it's pointless to go anywhere else. Which is why I feel it's important for me to review stuff that may be an essential piece to your well-being. Like the latest food monstrosity from Pizza Hut... CHEEZ-IT Pizza!
And I have to admit... I was looking forward to this experience. I love pizza. I love CHEEZ-ITs. And Pizza Hut is okay in my book.
So I dropped by to pick up an order of the cheese-stuffed version (they also have pepperoni) just to see if combining some of my favorite stuff was magic... or tragedy.
My first impression was good. The box is a beautiful flaming red. I spent a minute holding it up to the light just so you can get an idea how pretty it is...
Inside you get four massive squares that look somewhat like inflated CHEEZ-ITs. You also get a tub of Pizza Hut marinara sauce...
Now... here's where things start going terribly wrong. I was anticipating that these would be crunchy like a CHEEZ-IT cracker. They most definitely are not. They are more like a pastry than a cracker. Kinda flakey... but not necessarily in a good way because the texture becomes a bit gummy when you chew it. Like flour paste...
A few thoughts...
Overall I found Pizza Hut CHEEZ-IT Pizza to be a bit gross. I'd certainly never buy them again.
If I'm being honest, this was a bit shocking to me. After the amazing Cinnabon product launch they had, I was expecting something at least passably good. But this was a complete misfire on all fronts, and it has me questioning why Pizza Hut would risk serving up something like this. I was expecting another Doritos Locos Taco mashup that Taco Bell gave us... instead I got something that shouldn't have ever been sold in the first place.
Dave2 rating for CHEEZ-IT Pizza — (7 bombs out of 5 stars)
If you want my advice, just go buy a brick of decent-quality sharp cheddar and a box of giant CHEEZ-IT crackers. It'll cost you less while giving you a much better eating experience.
Posted on January 23rd, 2018
I spent an hour last night cleaning the cats' bedroom... vacuuming and mopping... picking up all their toys... washing their beds... cleaning out the vents... upgrading their Litter-Robot... so can you guess where they have decided to unleash a tornado of destruction this morning? Go on... guess.
With all that's going wrong in my life right now, I could use some good news. I found it when I discovered Fridays has become This Close and has been developed by Sundance as a series for their streaming service. This is so great, and I can't wait to see it! Congrats to Shoshannah Stern!
I have been feeling a little beat down in life lately, so cooking is not on my radar. The past week I've been eating a lot of frozen pizza because it requires so little effort. Tonight's meal was a big ol' mess thanks to a paradox I'm calling Schrödinger's Pizza...
17 Minutes: Pizza undercooked.
18 Minutes: Pizza nearly incinerated.
I don't know what's happening in my over at the seventeen-minute-thirty-second mark, but it's apparently pretty serious.
And, on that note, I leave you to consume something burnt that used to be sauce and cheese on crust.
Posted on July 30th, 2013
Yesterday was not a great day.
Today wasn't much better.
Partly because once things start to go wrong, they always seem to continue to go wrong... but mostly because I had an exhausting 3-1/2 hour drive awaiting me at the end of my work day. As I have written many times before, the journey to Spokane is long, boring, and filled with mostly nothing. Which is not to say that I have anything against Spokane itself... it's actually a pleasant and interesting city... it's just not so frickin' mind-blowing that I want to spend 3-1/2 hours driving here.
But... work... and all that.
About 2/3 of the way to Spokane is an exit for the city of Washtucna, Washington. I have never been there. But every time I drive by the exit sign, I find myself saying "Washtucna" out loud over and over again in an attempt to find the proper pronunciation, all the while wondering what the city might be like. Today was no different...
When all of a sudden...
RATTLE! RATTLE! RATTLE! RATTLE!
Apparently my muffler and/or exhaust pipe has now come loose from the frame of my car.
As I said, once things start to go wrong, they always seem to continue to go wrong, because I had already been having problems with my piece-of-shit automobile. And now I have new ones.
So... as you can see by this map, I was not exaggerating about the vast expanse of nothing going on in the Central Washington Columbia Basin...
There was nowhere I could pull off I-90 and travel to where I could be assured of there being an auto repair shop... certainly not one that would be open at 6:00pm. All I could really do was keep going and hope my car didn't fall apart before I got to Spokane. And all the while I was having to listen to...
RATTLE! RATTLE! RATTLE! RATTLE!
Luckily for me, my car held together.
Like the Millenium Falcon, but not really.
And so I did what any normal person would do after driving 3-1/2 hours with a car that's falling apart. PIZZA!!!
Car repairs can wait until tomorrow.
Posted on March 8th, 2013
Just one day in Chicago.
A really pretty day in Chicago.
Posted on January 16th, 2013
Picking up from yesterday's unexpected journey...
The 3-1/2 hour drive to Spokane is not one of those awe-filled journeys that you look forward to. It's pretty much 30 minutes of civilized nothing followed by three more hours of nothing nothing. The Columbia Basin is vast, flat, and uneventful, with only a few farms and a lot of road to distract you from the tedium. Not to say that there can't be some pretty moments in the summer when the crops are out... I've seen some amazing sunsets, for example... but mostly? Not a lot to look at.
And now it's the middle of winter, which means there's even less to look at than usual...
The truth is that I never minded the drive that much, because there was always the best pizza on earth waiting for me when I arrived in Spokane at David's Pizza. But then this happened...
Needless to say, my trips to Spokane are not quite what they used to be. The owner of what was once David's Pizza is co-owner of a bar/restaurant called Famous Ed's where they claim to serve the same pizza... but not so much. The crust at David's was crispy with a nice snap to it when you took a bite. The Famous Ed's crust is tough like shoe leather and has to be torn off the slice. There's also something different about the sauce, but I can't put my finger on it. David's just had a better flavor profile somehow (though I'm sure it's the same recipe). The biggest problem is that Famous Ed's is always changing the toppings for "The Da Vinci"... last time they added clove garlic and salt... this time they added green peppers (which totally overpowered the feta and pesto notes that make this pizza so amazing). Oh well. They were running a special where you could get a large for the price of a small, so at least I'll have something for breakfast tomorrow...
For those who have never been here, Spokane is an interesting place. It's more like a humongous town than a big city. It stretches for absolute miles, but it never seems densely populated because it's so spread out. Even the downtown area, which is fairly cosmopolitan, never really seems like you're in a modern metropolis. The end result is actually kinda nice... you have most of the stores and services of a big city, but without the massive crowds and craziness.
Meaning "Children of the Sun" in the Native American Salishan language, Spokane (the second-largest city in Washington State), has a few claims to fame that I know of. It was the site of the 1974 World's Fair Expo. It was the setting for the Johnny Depp movie Benny & Joon and the Madonna-soundtrack-fueled film Vision Quest. It's the city where future Ted Mosby (from How I Met Your Mother) designs his first skyscraper (though, honestly, the idea of a skyscraper in Spokane is ludicrous, as I had previously talked about). Spokane is also home to the Lilac Festival in mid-May, which is kind of a notable event. At least it is here in the Pacific Northwest. And then there's the Bloomsday Run, which claims to be the largest timed race in the USA. And, of course, Bing Crosby grew up here and this is the city where Father's Day was invented.
Most important of all, Spokane is home of Gonzaga University Basketball, which is all kinds of famous. Oddly enough, some out-of-staters have asked me where the "City of Gonzaga" is, not realizing that the college is named for a Jesuit saint and not a city (the university itself having been founded by the Roman Catholic "Society of Jesus").
The geography of Spokane is also worth mentioning, because that massive blob on a map of Eastern Washington is not really all Spokane. It's divided into two parts... Spokane and Spokane Valley...
The city of Spokane Valley picks up at the eastern edge of Spokane proper and extends almost to Idaho. If you ever question which city you're in, all you have to do is look at north-south streets. In Spokane, they're labeled as "streets" but in Spokane Valley they're labeled as "roads." The distinction between the two cities is kind of important, and some Spokane Valley locals will be offended if you say they're from "Spokane" (just as a Spokane resident might be offended if you were to say they live in the "Spokane Valley," which has a specific meaning in this part of the state). It's not quite so contentious now, but decades ago it was kind of a "West Side Story Jets and Sharks" situation where Spokane kids and Valley kids did not mix. Even today, both cities have separate ecosystems for living, shopping, and eating... they're just not so isolated as they once were.
And that, as they say, is that.
Probably more about Spokane than you wanted to know, but that's what you're paying me for.
Posted on January 8th, 2013
Look, I fully realize that food manufacturers have to exaggerate how great their stuff looks on their packaging. I realize this because I make a living creating perfect photos for food manufacturers to use for just that purpose. The idea is that the photo is representing the absolute best-case scenario for the product. Everybody knows to lower their expectations, so no harm no foul, right?
The problem is that sometimes the packaging photo so grossly over-exaggerates the look of the product as to be complete fiction. I wrote about this before when I posted my IN-DEPTH SPECIAL REPORT for Hello Kitty Pop Tarts...
Not only is the pink frosting on the box not even remotely the same color as the putrid magenta glop that's been smeared on the Pop Tart, but they grossly exaggerated the number of kitty sprinkles you'll get. In cases like this, it's not a "best case, idealized scenario"... it's an outright lie.
But it's a fucking Pop Tart, so what can you do?
When shopping at the grocery store, I saw that Kashi had added a new Four-Cheese variety to their pizza line-up. I kind of like their Mediterranean flavor, so I thought I'd give the new pizzas a shot and bought three of them. The picture on the box just looked so darn appealing!
Unfortunately, reality had to come along and fuck everything up...
So... you tell me... Four Cheese Pizza... or BARELY Cheese Pizza?
Other than the three badly-distributed slices of Provolone, the other cheeses are nowhere to be found. Just a tiny sprinkling of assorted shreds scattered around the crust. The pizza was mostly sauce, not cheese at all. So I'm chalking this one up as a BLATANT LIE. And, unlike a Pop Tart, it's not like you can so easily write off.
I don't know if this is a design-issue or an implementation-issue, but I'd appreciate it if Kashi would actually put a half-way decent amount of fucking cheese on their Four Cheese Pizza. I shouldn't have to have to deal with this kind of disappointment when it comes to pizza-related life choices.
Posted on August 19th, 2011
Today I had to make the long drive back home from Spokane.
WITH NO DAVID'S PIZZA FOR THE ROAD!
Oh how I used to love road pizza. Remember road pizza? I remember road pizza. Nothing makes a long drive fly by like road pizza. Except perhaps Jägermeister and cocaine. But Oprah says you shouldn't drive while drunk and high, so I guess that wouldn't work.
Except Oprah doesn't drive at all. She has a chauffeur drive her ass around! So who the hell is Oprah to tell me that Jägermeister and cocaine is a bad substitute for road pizza? She's probably drunk and high in the back of her stretch limo all the time! If I had Oprah-money, I know I would be.
I really miss road pizza...
Mmmmmm... yummy road pizza!
Don't miss Oprah though.
Last night I went to Famous Ed's, which is a sports bar run by the same people that run David's Pizza. They had my beloved "Da Vinci" pizza, so I ordered up a pie...
It looked kind of like David's. It had a taste that was reminiscent of David's, but... not so much.
For one thing, they added clove garlic to it, so the subtle flavors in the pesto were destroyed. For another thing, the feta cheese had too many crumbs, so it was also too salty. Something was off with the crust too. Not that it was a bad pizza per se, but it just wasn't David's.
Oh well. Better than nothing, I guess.
Hopefully they'll re-open at their new location soon and the universe will go back to normal.
And I can go back to having my road pizza.
Posted on August 17th, 2011
The drive to Spokane is not a particularly pleasant one.
It's long, it's boring, and it's filled with more nothing than a person really wants to deal with. So whenever I have work there, a wave of dread washes over me. Don't get me wrong... Spokane's a terrific city... I just hate the drive.
But there is a reward at the end of this tedious journey. Because Spokane is where the Best Pizza in the Universe can be found. The mind-numbing hours of driving through vast open spaces isn't so bad knowing that a couple slices of my favorite pizza ever will be waiting for me. It's pretty much all I can think about the entire trip...
David's Pizza's Masterpiece... The DaVinci!
But there would be no pizza waiting for me today.
After nearly three hours of mind-numbing boredom, there would be no reward for the drive.
As usual, I don't pass GO, I don't collect $200... I don't even check into my hotel room... I head straight for David's Pizza only to find...
It's just gone.
And as I sat there in my car staring at the mounds of dirt and rubble that used to be one of my favorite places on earth to eat... I just didn't know what to do with myself. Life had suddenly become meaningless and impossible.
Apparently they will be opening up at a new location "soon," but that doesn't do me much good now.
Now that I am abandoned and pizza-less.
Now that all I have to console me are memories.
Posted on July 1st, 2011
After getting off work at 1:30am this morning, I drove back to my hotel half-dead. Not from the hour, but from having to work in-between work while working on work. It wears on you after a while.
So I get to my room, flop on the bed, then take out my disposable contact lenses and drop them on the nightstand so I can toss them in the garbage in the morning.
Then, after an unknown length of time, I suddenly remember that I don't have any replacement lenses or eyeglasses with me. Shiiiiiiiiiit! Adrenaline pumping I lunge out of bed and scramble to find the lamp. I somehow manage to retrieve my shriveling lenses and run to the bathroom where I oh-so-carefully attempt to rehydrate them with the saline I had bought earlier. Are they going to be wearable in the morning? Who knows. All I can do is let them soak overnight and hope.
I then headed back to bed so I could...
... STAY AWAKE ALL NIGHT ON AN ADRENALINE HIGH WORRIED THAT MY CONTACTS ARE RUINED AND I WON'T BE ABLE TO SEE TO DRIVE HOME.
And how was your night?
Eventually I give up on sleep and roll out of bed at 5:30am.
Heart pounding, I make my way to the bathroom and put my contact lenses in.
The are not at all comfortable, but they work.
So I get caught up on still more work for the next six hours with my scratchy eyes, then call in an order for a giant-size Da Vinci pizza from David's for my drive home. Yes, I've been eating pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner... but it's the best pizza in the universe, so what can you do?
Half with tomatoes to eat now. Half without for later so they don't get slimy.
The 3-1/2 hour drive home was agonizing*, but delicious...
Mmmmmm... yummy road pizza!
And so here I am. In eyeglasses at last. Blogging about my day.
Because I just can't help myself.
* Seriously, agonizing. I'm trying to recall a worse road trip I've ever taken, but I can't think of one. 3-1/2 hours driving through the middle of NOWHERE with burning eyeballs on NO sleep while physically and mentally exhausted? All the pizza in the world isn't going to fix that, no matter how amazing it is.