A taste of honey, a taste of the street life, and searing heat!
This past Sunday was an incredible day for Fist of Flour Pizza Company. I was given a chance to try out the mobile operation for a really cool group of people who came together to celebrate the Institute of Mosaic Art’s 5th Anniversary and change of ownership. It was a big day for everyone, and the crowd was excited! What? You didn’t hear I was taking the oven out for the first time? You should Click here and join the mailing list now!
We arrived way early, and got the oven into position and got the booth all prepped. IMA has a really good size backyard patio area you can drive right into, which made my set up a lot easier. It’s amazing how much space one can occupy in just a few minutes. Out comes all the stuff from the truck and the trailer: three tables, cooler(s), wood, trays, pans, buckets, knives, toppings, gloves, aprons, towels, signage, for pete’s sake the list goes on and on. 20 minutes later and voila! Outdoor kitchen.
The first mobile setup
The dough, let’s talk about flour and water. I brought about 25+ lbs of dough, which sounds like a lot, but is only about 40-44 Pizzas, depending on how I cut em. I was going for 7-8 oz. balls, and definitely went thru about 32-34 of them. Still had a good 5+ lbs that had re-doubled again, so saved that for later.
From about 2 pm till 6, we had a steady and for a couple of moments, hectic pace going on. I was a little nervous, the oven had only been fired two times, so I was asking a lot of my new concrete bohemoth. But it had also been over a month now, in a pretty much rainless summer, sitting on the driveway. I figured it should be dry by now. Day three and the fire ran from about 12:45 till 5:15 or so, by the day’s end the residual heat in the chamber was enough to cook pizzas and more bread like things. It was like 750°F give or take, and baking real nice. More on that in a minute. Let’s talk about pizza some more shall we?
The Very First pizza was ordered while we were still in pre-heat mode, the scent of rapidly burning almond lured noses from across the set-up crew for the party. A Cheezini was ordered, everyone cheered Cheezini! and I was off to make the First Pizza. The tag hit the trailer rail, right where it was supposed to, I grabbed the first ball, and ah, hem, tossed it, rolled it, flopped it rolled it some more, almost on the floor, dressed just before hitting the doorway, the peel – given a gentle toss, more like a shake back and forth, check for slidability, and down it goes, into the 800°F firedome. I start counting in my head to about 30, then, gotta check it. Lolita also helping on the oven action, says turn every once and a while, I’m like, Oh shit, yeah, duh. Good, she saves it from burning throughout the first few pies. I can’t really get sidetracked for too long setting up the next pie or else the damn thing is blackened. I stop counting in my head again and then, “turn” and right on time, out comes the Cheezini!
The First Pie of the Day, darn near perfect!
I don’t have a photo yet of the first Meat pie to come out, but I assure you the Pepperoni with Crimini Mushroom and fresh basil sold nearly as many throughout the day as did the Cheezini. Some went for straight Pepperoni, nothin else. I can respect that. Very simple. I wanted to say no substitutions, and I think I did to someone early on in the day, but quickly changed my mind and was like, ok whatever, don’t be an asshole, just make some food for these nice people. You should remember that I haven’t really done anything like this on this scale before. It would not have been possible to do this alone, and for my first day out I had the best crew. Diana and Lolita kept the laughs and the orders comin all afternoon, and made it possible for me to cook. I can’t thank them enough. Lo wore gloves to slice the pies! Such Maaannniiiiaaaa! (thanks mom for the Venitian Pizza Chef hat, a huge hit with the Ladies!)
Fist of Flour Maaaannniiiiaaaa
So, the first true Firing of the oven and the first few hours went really well. Everything seemed to be working grreat. I noticed some movement in the platform top around the edges, but no big deal, I accounted for that with bolts, its not going anywhere. It cools down and resettles. But Concrete that breathes, well doesn’t really breathe. Its concrete, cement, solid, no longer fluid. I don’t think most of the cracking was caused by rolling, but by the heat. The Chimney has a couple good, small cracks down one side, they go down into the outer shell a bit. If it froze here with rain I’d be worried, but that won’t happen for months, so I can wait and see how much more it may crack before I start a patch kit. I planned or that and have plenty of material left over to make a whole new outer shell that’s thicker and stronger, and heavier, and wait, no. just patch up the seams, and repaint it white…POP! goes something, and I was pretty sure it was outside the chamber, on the surface of the oven, something cracked a bit I think at a certain moment when it was really hot. I now recall it was right around the time i announced I broke 1046°F on the ceiling of the dome. Now it was ON! holy crap. So yeah I think I may have tested it a little too hard. No smoke came out, it cooled down and appears to be solid again. The cracks look really small now. Just keep an eye on them and fix before winter rains come.
6 pm, and its over! I counted 32 pies cooked, which nearly doubled my first pizza party here at the testing grounds on Jan. 11th. I think I did 18 different baked items that night, so I’d say that the day at IMA was a huge success for me. I got to play with all my stuff, in a safe environment, among friends, you know the way the first time should be. Most excellent. I ran out of stuff, not everything, but cheese went quicker than maybe normal. Maybe I was a little heavy handed with the mushrooms, I’m not really sure, its all kind of a blur. Everything happened so fast. The afternoon did slow down and I took a lay down break. I’m a wuss, 3 hours into it, well it was more like 5 hours into the day by then, just 3 hours on site. the hips were holding. The pies weren’t folding, and most were not badly scalded. I didn’t lose a single pie this time. One got a little tangled, and I had to recover it quickly, almost tossed it out, but I think Lolita or Diana caught the peel as I reached for more pepperoni. good save. Now its time to pack it all up, and make it go home.
Once we got the trailer home and unloaded, I took out a huge ball of dough, probably about 4-5 little pizzas now morphed into a giant puffy ball. I tried not to punch it down too hard, got some olive oil, Parmesan, black pepper, garlic and some herbs, thyme maybe, and tossed it into the now cooling oven, and about 8 minutes later, maybe 10, out came a little gem of puffy cheezy crunchy goodness. Ready to carve and serve by the time I brought it back to the neighbor’s backyard hangout lounge for us to munch on after a long day. I was hungry. I always forget to eat when I work. I made a Staff pie at some point, but when I got around to eating it it was cold, tasty, but cold. I suppose I coulda warmed it back up somewhere…Next time. There’s always next time. Bookmark us now and stay tuned for that next time.
The biggest question for the day was, “So where are you going to be next?” I handed out cards and said to check here for updates. I can tell you that right now I have one gig booked for September 24th in East Oakland again, at a nearby warehouse party, and maybe I can get to do another daytime lunch special or two down at the IMA, since there’s not too many options for Jingletown when it comes to feedin time. I’m working really hard to get all of my stuff in order so I can bring this to you on a more regular basis from kind of a regular location, much like a taco truck would do. There is a plan in the works. My certificate from the Food Safety test Arrived today! Sweet! One down. Over the next month, things are going to start happening, and by Mid September, Its on for Weekends and the occasional mid day lunch rush, in a neighborhood, somewhere near you. Right now, the oven and I are available for private In house (in driveway) demonstrations and small parties. 25 pizza minimum, customizable menus etc. etc. all meat, all veg? what you got in mind? Shoot me an email! and lets work it out.