Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pizza a Day Diet Archive [January 2015 Edition]: Home Slice Pizza

Today's ‪#‎PizzaADayDiet‬ occurred at Home Slice Pizza -- Don Tate joined me for the sausage, mushroom, and green pepper pie! This was the thickest thin crust I've had so far, and was sufficient to be not -floppy, yet not doughy, with a good, chewy texture. The cheese was flavorful and the toppings were each present in every bite.


Altogether, a most excellent pizza -- and they put the leftovers in a tinfoil swan (I've never seen that before in real life :-)).

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pizza A Day Diet Archive [January 2015 Edition]: Southside Flying Pizza

Day 8 of ‪#‎PizzaADayDiet‬ is another thin crust, this one from Southside Flying Pizza. They call it “Neapolitan style,” which I guess is a really thin crust. I chose the whole wheat crust and it was pretty good – it stood up to the ingredients but I wouldn't have minded if it had been a tad crisper. The cheese was thoroughly melted and excellent, though, as were the toppings. The sausage had a good flavor and the peppers were nicely al dente. And the side salad was really good, as well.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Pizza a Day Diet: Maggiano's Little Italy

Today's Pizza a Day Diet pizza is technically not a pizza.  It's a flatbread. NB: All pizzas are flatbreads but not all flatbreads are pizzas (A flatbread has an unleavened crust).

I happened to be up north during rush hour so I decided to find the closest Italian place and see what they had that resembled a pizza. :-). This happened to be the Maggiano's in the Domain.  The place has sort of a Disney-fied feel of a downtown Italian restaurant, which is not surprising since the first Maggiano's was founded in Chicago by the Lettuce Entertain You chain whose specialty is theme restaurants. 

Anyway, I took a table in the bar and ordered a Caesar salad and the sausage flatbread.  The sausage was removed from the casing but still distributed in large chunks and had that good Italian-sausage flavor.  The cheese was also abundant and flavorful.  And the crust? Nice and crispy at first and then steamed through. 

Here are a couple pics:





Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pizza a Day Diet: Homemade Chicago-style

Today I went back to the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook for their Chicago-style pizza recipe (No, they're not from Chicago, but their recipe is actually pretty close to others I've used in the past.). 

They've got a technique where you "laminate" the crust with butter to make it crispier.  It worked well with the sides, but I'm not sure that it quite worked with the bottom, but the crust did turn out pretty firm and full-bodied.  And rich.  Next time I might let it cook a little longer to see what happens.

The recipe for the sauce and the cheese were a bit different than what I've done before: using shredded mozzarella and diced tomatoes instead of mozzarella slices (or a fresh ball) and crushed tomatoes, but it turned out pretty well.  Next time, though, I think I'll go back to crushed with slices.

And the Star Trek pizza cutter is actually big enough to use on deep dish...

I had Brian Yansky and Frances Yansky over to share the results, so I didn't end up taking too many pictures, but here are a couple:

Pizza! And the Star Trek pizza cutter!
Frances poses with a slice.

The cat inspects the table.






 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pizza a Day Diet: Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. (The ABGB)

Today's pizza a day diet pizza came from the Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. at 1305 W. Oltorf (right next to the train tracks).

I hit the place in mid-afternoon, so it was pretty empty (Happy hour is from 3 pm to 7 pm, though, so it filled quickly :-)).  You order food and beer at the bar and they bring it to your table.  Inside are long wooden tables with benches, for social/communal beer-gardening in the Bavarian tradition.  Outside are round tables under the live oaks for beer gardening in the Austin tradition. :-).


I ordered a sausage pizza (boring, I know :-), but I like to try new places out on the basics).  It was delivered hot and fresh; the crust was somewhat soft but firmed up after I let it cool a little.  It had a nice chew and stood up to the ingredients.  The sausage had a more subtle flavor than I was expecting, but I really liked it and its freshness.  The cheese and sauce were also quite good.


One of their "by the slice" choices had also caught my eye, so I ordered it as well.  This was venison, spinach, pesto, white bean, roasted tomato, roasted garlic, and ricotta.  This one was amazing (not that the sausage was bad).  The crust had just the right amount of crispness and chew, but the combination of toppings really made it.  It had a richness from the venison without being gamy or overwhelming, and the remaining ingredients provided a terrifically contrasting texture in every bite.


Oh, and the beer was darn good, too. :-).





Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pizza a Day Diet Archive [January 2015 Edition]: Hoboken Pie

This is a post I originally put only on Facebook in January 2015.  Click here for background.

And the first pizza of the January 2015 #PizzaADayDiet comes from Hoboken Pie! A thin crust sausage, mushroom, and green pepper -- all the ingredients were fresh and in abundance. The sausage and sauce were slightly spicy and the crust was really thin. It could have had a tad more body, but I liked the fact that it didn't feel like I was filling up on bread. Delivery was prompt and the pizza was warm out of the box. I will definitely order from them again.

Pizza a Day Diet: Star Trek Pizza

A few years back, when Cynthia Leitich Smith was off to Vermont for the VCFA residency, I undertook an exploration of Austin pizza joints and pizza blogging: the rules were these: aside from a dinner salad prior to the pizza, my meals were pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  For ten days.  For the record, the first time I did it, I lost five pounds; the second time, two and a half.

Here's the inaugural post from 2009:  A Pizza a Day and Other Weird Activities.

I tried this again January 2015, but posted only to my Facebook account (I'll be reproducing the posts here along with this edition, with the term "archive" in the header).  I also did it in July 2015.

To view the entire line-ups, just click the "pizza a day" label.

This time, I decided to do something a little different, since I'm on the verge of exhausting Austin's specialty pizza places:  I'm going to see how many pizzas I can make using various techniques.  I'll also take a look at some of the places I've missed or have recently opened.

And, for Christmas, I received this nifty little item:

Yes, it is a starship Enterprise pizza cutter.  So of course I had to make a couple Star Trek-inspired pizzas:
(You can see the Enterprise if you squint real hard).  The saucer section was Canadian bacon with an olive for the bridge.  The nacelles were scallions and the engineering section Belgian endive.  The pizza didn't turn out so great but the cutter worked fantastically.

I also made a pizza in honor of our Klingon allies:

This one sort of drifted apart due to migration of the mozzarella, but it is a Klingon D7 class battlecruiser.  The main hull was a green pepper, while the nacelle supports were red onion.  The nacelles themselves, and the neck section, were scallions, and the bridge was a mushroom slice.

Q'apla!

Monday, November 16, 2015

BORROWED TIME release and launch photo report!

As of November 10, 2015, BORROWED TIME (the sequel to CHRONAL ENGINE) is now available in bookstores everywhere as well as online (in hardcover and ebook)!  Signed copies are available from BookPeople.

In an article titled, 'Borrowed Time' mixes paleontology and fantasy, Saturday's Austin American-Statesman had a great review of BORROWED TIME, stating it's "a slam-dunk for dinosaur aficionados and will appeal as well to those who are fans of literary time travel and outdoorsy adventure."

Sunday was the launch party at BookPeople! I had great fun doing a presentation discussing the connections between the book, Charles Umlauf, dinosaurs, Johnny Weissmuller, and me (really).

The dinosaur standees for the photo booth were a hit, as were the refreshments including water, soft drinks, wine and cheese, and crackers. (The wine, from the Languedoc region of France, is made from grapes grown in Cretaceous clays where dinosaur fossils have have been found).

But the real eye-opener was the mosasaur cake by author/cakelustrator Akiko White. About two feet high, it featured a mosasaur sculpted from modeler's chocolate on a chocolate cake base with buttercream frosting! She'll be doing a youtube video on the making of it soon (and I'll link when it's available).  Suffice to say that still pictures don't do it justice -- it was mounted on a motorized turntable and illuminated with a blue strobe that made it look like it was underwater!

Here are the pics:

Me and cake

Carmen Oliver and T.rex
Akiko assembles! (photo courtesy Akiko White)
Presenting (photo courtesy Akiko White)
Cake!
Refreshments
Signing
Frances Hill and Lindsey Lane (photo courtesy of Shelley Ann Jackson)
Shelley Ann Jackson and Lindsey Lane (photo courtesy Shelley Ann Jackson)
 Many thanks to BookPeople for hosting the event, to everyone who came for the event, and to everyone who helped out: Akiko, for making the awesome cake; Cynthia Leitich Smith; Carmen Oliver; Lindsey Lane; Shelley Ann Jackson; and Cory Putnam Oakes!

Cake topper in its natural habitat



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mississippi Book Festival

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being a panelist at the first annual Mississippi Book Festival at the State Capitol in Jackson, Mississippi!


For me, the weekend started with the plane flight out on Friday and a lovely reception that evening at the Eudora Welty House. Representatives of the Eudora Welty Foundation were on hand to provide tours and answer any and all questions about Jackson's favorite daughter.  It was a great chance to talk to the organizers and volunteers, as well as other authors.

The next morning was breakfast at the Winter Archives Building, where the staff gave us a tour and showed us the forthcoming Museum of Civil Rights and Mississippi History Museum.

Then we were off to opening ceremonies, where the Jackson State University Marching Band performed on the Capitol steps, and then the panels!  The Harper Lee Reconsidered panel, held in the old Supreme Court chamber, was lively and fascinating (and also covered by C-SPAN).  I wasn't able to make it to the picture books panel due to the long line, but hear it went well, and I'd had the chance to talk with the presenters the night before :-).

My panel was the Young Readers panel, and featured moderator Margaret McMullan, and panelists Kimberly Willis Holt, Taylor Kitchings, Deborah Wiles, Carolyn Brown, and Cassie Beasley.  Margaret did a great job as moderator and kept the conversation going and on track. :-).

Many thanks to all the organizers, volunteers, sponsors, and attendees for making the event such a success!

Altogether, it was a fantastic event, with standing-room-only crowds and a terrific venue!  Here's a report on the festival from the Clarion-Ledger: Book Festival Attendance Outpaces Projections.

And here are some pics from out and about festival weekend:

My duffel bag leaves the jetway in Houston
Art deco Greyhound Station, downtown Jackson
Kerry Madden, Susan Eaddy, Hester Bass, Chris Barton in the Eudora Welty House Garden

Deborah Wiles, Kerry Madden on the Eudora Welty House lawn
In front of the Eudora Welty House
MS State Capitol
Kerry Madden, Kimberly Willis Holt
W. Ralph Eubanks, Margaret McMullan
Jackson State University Marching Band

View from the Capitol steps
Capitol interior and dome
Dome in House of Representative Chamber
Dome of Senate Chamber
Mayflower Cafe
Kimberly, Taylor, Deborah, Margaret, Me, Cassie, Carolyn

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: The Backspace

The Backspace, located at Fifth and San Jacinto, was recommended to me by author Margo Rabb:
It's a relatively small space, with correspondingly limited seating.  All seats have a good view of the bar and the brick oven, though (They're bigger than they look).
I ordered the asparagus appetizer and a fennel sausage pizza and really liked both.

The appetizer came in a cast iron skillet with a fried egg, basil pesto, and prosciutto, and had a nice, earthy quality.  In the future, I fully intend to try some of their other appetizers...

The pizza's crust was somewhat soft, but it had a good chewiness and rich flavor from the slight char/caramelization.  The sauce was chunky and the fennel sausage was really amazing.  I also liked the "blobs" of mozzarella that worked better on this pizza than an entire layer would've (I suspect the effect would've been to steam the crust a bit too much).

Although their web site doesn't specify, they also do carry out, which could be dangerous...





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