Tuesday, July 23, 2013

North Shore Book Tour SOLD OT!

Thanks to the efforts of Dana Taylor and Joyce Knauff who we met on the Maine, Bike and the Like Tour last fall, we were invited to speak to the Evanston, IL Bicycle Club’s meeting on July 16th. Our wives Cathy and Jan accompanied us and we had special guests Kyle McNaught and his friends Gio and Gio’s girlfriend Jenn. As we pulled up into the parking lot for the meeting we were greeted by Marion, a club member who ran towards us clutching a copy of our book and saying “I loved your book and have to have your autographs and a picture with you.” We humbly acquiesced. The bike club got into the spirit of things offering samplings of local pizza establishments as their evening pre-meeting snack. Following the club meeting we gave an inspirational and informative talk with power point on the fine art of pedaling for pizza. The talk covered several of the bicycle tours featured in our first book Pedaling for Pizza, Our Odyssey on Bikes along with the Genesis of the pedaling for pizza idea and a taste of tours and pizzas reviewed in our upcoming book Pedaling for Pizza a Second Slice, Saving the World One Pizza at a Time. With all seriousness aside we reviewed the authors service to mankind in offering our world renowned pizza rating system and our efforts to bring reconciliation to the community of Grove City, OH torn apart over which pizza was the true champion in the city’s Pizza Wars.(You can read about this in our soon to be published second volume) The club members were given the opportunity to rate the pizzas offered that evening enhancing not only the pizzas consumed that evening but will enable them to enjoy future pizzas with a well trained palate.

The next morning we were invited to speak to the Wilmette Harbor Rotary Club which met at the Wilmette Yacht Club on beautiful Lake Michigan. Joyce Knauff past president of the Wilmette Harbor Rotary club has become our self proclaimed agent and was the one who secured our spot on the morning program. Her introduction was brief “these guys are over the top!” Where do you go from there? We gave another stirring presentation on the art of pedaling for pizza and our service to humanity. Joining us were Lindsay, Kyle’s “significant other” and Tom the FOSO i.e. Father of Significant Other. Following our presentation a woman told Joyce, “These guys need to be on TV.” Joyce’s response was, “What are you planning to do to make that happen?!” This could be the start of our own reality show. Move over Duck Dynasty, Pizza Dynasty is coming! Following the presentation we sold all of our books! We are SOLD OUT!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Italian Job, or Six Rules to Order Pizza By

Following is an exerpt from our upcoming book "Pedaling for Pizza, a Second Slice
Saving the World One Pizza at a Time

In the constant pursuit of the perfect pizza, my travels took me to Italy. The usual modus operendi is to ride bikes to various pizza spots hence "pedaling for pizza" however sometimes one must make changes in pursuit of the ultimate goal. My wife, Cathy and I set off on an 8 day trip to Italy, one we had been planning for our 11th anniversary. It took us 23 years to actually take the trip. 3 girls, colleges, mortgages etc got in the way.
Our stated purpose was to see the great sites of Florence, Rome, Venice and a few Tuscan hill towns. But as the ever vigilant pursuer of pizza perfection I had a secondary purpose. Aww, Italy the birthplace of pizza what could be better.
Our first full day found us in Florence the birthplace of the Renaissance. We visited the Uffizi museum of art and the Academia with Michelangelo’s famous statue of David. It was time for lunch. Winding our way through the backstreets of Florence we came upon a little restaurant with a covered porch open to the street. Asking in our perfect Italia, “a seat for dui.” Our waiter sat us at the front table with a view of the street. Contemplating the menu we came up with a decision. Cathy ordered the margherita pizza and I the fungi pizza. At last a real Italian pizza. (However I was a bit concerned about "fungi" pizza, I had a spray can at home to clear up that kind of stuff.) A glass of red wine to accompany the meal, our waiter brought out the freshly baked pies. The crust was thin and crunchy with a sort of crisp bubbly edge. The blend of cheeses, sauce and "fungi" i.e. mushrooms (fresh not canned which would have merited an immediate 1 spoke deduction) were wonderful to the taste of a weary tourist. As we shared slices we had made of the pies, I noted that Cathy's margherita pizza was flavorful but had tomato sauce instead of sliced tomatoes which we usually find on most traditional margherita pizzas. Margherita  pizzas are one of the signature pizza's in Italy for they go back to ancient times and display the colors of the tri colored Italian flag: red for tomatoes, white for cheese and green for basil. All in all we gave it a 4 spoke rating. Off to a great start, or so we thought.
Believe it or not with train rides, car rides, missed turns, poor directions, and general busyness to see the historical sites our meal times were skewed. Often set aside to see another museum or church.
Siena is beautiful midsize medieval Tuscan hill town in central Italy about an hour south of Florence. It is beautiful and so unique. The streets are up and down and a bit confusing which made them good for defense and just what happens when you build a town on a hill. With a full morning and part of the afternoon gone, we were weary and our "dogs were barking". We looked for a place to have a lunch time pizza. Sitting on a slight angle on a side hilly street were two rows of tables under green umbrellas outside a friendly looking restaurant. The restaurant displayed their entrees with laminated pictures outside of the entrance. Looks ok let’s give it a try. Shortly after ordering our second pizza of the trip, the waiter brought out a pitiful round pie that one could barely get a knife through. The crust was tough and the pie tasteless. What a disappointment. I mean you only have so many chances during a vacation to sit down to a pizza and you hate to waste an opportunity. This received a 2 spoke rating with perhaps a half or full additional spoke for ambiance.
However this provided a good lesson when looking for the perfect pizza. Rule # 1: Never eat at a restaurant with laminated pictures of their entrees and/or pizzas. Avoid them like the plague.
All of a sudden we were 4 days into our trip and we had only tasted two pizzas.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Search of Lobster Pizza This year's adventure takes us to the great state of Maine with Suzie and Roger Knable and their company Bike and the Like as our hosts. When one thinks of Maine and food, the first thing that comes to mind is Lobster. Maine is famous for lobster. Or as the locals call it "Lahbstah" Suddenly we were struck with an epiphany, two of our favorite foods combined, lobster and pizza, lobster pizza. We were on a mission to find a culinary delicacy of lobster pizza. Would there be such a thing? Could their be such a thing? Yes of course there could be such a thing but would there be? Arriving in Portland we headed down to old Portland which has a plentiful array of restaurants. Walking the old brick streets we came upon Bill's Pizza on the harbour. The sign read "Pizza by the slice", which we usually avoid but being in need of an appetizer for our seafood dinner with the group we decided to give it a try.. "Do you have lobster pizza? A quick and short New England answer, "No". Maybe they recognized that we were Colts fans behind enemy lines. "Do you know where we could find a lobster pizza? "No". We ordered a slice anyway and hoped for better fortune along the road on another day. Summer time in Indiana brings roadside stands of fresh sweet corn, Decker melons, and tomatoes. Here in Maine one sees seafood stands for oysters, mussels, and of course lobsters. But would these sea loving New Englanders make lobster pizza. There are lobster rolls, steamed lobster, lobster stew, even lobster ice cream. For lobster pizza we searched in vain. In Boothbay, a beautiful quintessential New England harbor town we spotted a pizza shop. Anxiously we entered the establishment and asked a crabby young women taking orders, "do you have lobster pizza?" "No" she gruffly commented. "No lobster pizza!" This time we passed up a pizza slice not wanting to support a pizza establishment with rude workers. We rode for days with hardly a sign of pizza, our hopes were fading. Fresh seafood helped relieve the hunger within but not the desire for the elusive Lobster pizza. Arriving at our destination, Bar Harbour just outside Acadia National Park we renewed our search for the holy grail of lobster pizza. As is so often the case as one pursues their dreams, it is when you have nearly given up hope that perseverance pays off. Getting off the bus at the city square we inquired of the ranger working at the National Park desk, "are there any good pizza places in town?" Several were mentioned, and Pat's Pizza was only a block away. Entering the pizzeria Jay quickly spotted the white board with "Today's Special" in red ink "Lobster Pizza"! At last our search had come to an end. A friendly waitress asked for our order. " A 14" Lobster Pizza" we cried out in unison. Anticipation was building as we waited. Finally it arrived. The pizza crust was made of a white dough, looking a tasting a bit like a big soft oyster cracker. The pizza sauce was an Alfredo sauce of cream and butter, just like a lobster stew we had at Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park. And topping it all off was warm lobster in all its glory. Whats not to love about that combination. We quickly made our assessment, 4 spokes. A very good and unique pie. Mission accomplished.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

BREW Tour, Bike Ride Exploring Wisconsin

While riding through the rolling hills of rural farmland in southwest Wisconsin with its clear blue sky and one’s mind turns to the thoughts of pizza, there are two words that set the framework for southwestern Wisconsin pizza-“Beer” and “Cheese”. Yes this is the land of beer and cheese. Dairy farms dot the country side with the distinctive red barns and contrasting black and white spotted cows, the Holsteins. This is America’s dairy land. And one of its tastiest products is cheese. You see the cheese shops everywhere. The other thing that typifies this part of the country is beer. Every little town has several bars to service the local population and there are also many micro and craft breweries with history going back over 150 years. Cheese and Beer. So naturally one would expect the local pizzas to lead with cheese. Heaping mounds of cheese cover the top of sauce and ingredients. It is baked to a golden brown and very delicious. The pizzas in this part of the country scream, “this is dairy land”. The “cheese” part of “Cheese and Beer” is pretty obvious as a main ingredient for pizza in all parts of the country but beer? You might say, “That’s obvious as well, everyone likes a cold beer with pizza”. And while that might be true, the connection between beer and pizza in southwest Wisconsin goes beyond a compliment to a good slice. In Wisconsin one seeks out a cold beer in the local bars and taverns and that is where virtually all pizza is found as well. Don’t know that we saw a stand alone pizza restaurant in any town we passed through. But when asking for a recommendation as to where to find the areas best pizza, a local tavern was always what was mentioned. We sampled two tavern pizzas. The first in Mineral Point, was at the Midway Bar. I never did find out what two points that it was midway between, but I did discover what made this pizza special. A letter sized sign taped to the wall proudly announced that Midway pizza was made with fresh Wisconsin provolone cheese. It was a delightful change from the standard mozzarella. It received a 3 ½ spoke rating with deductions for prefab crust and canned mushrooms. The second was the Sportsman’s Bar and Grill in New Glarus which proudly listed on its moniker outside the establishment, “Homemade Pizza”. As typical of the area it was smothered on top with cheese baked to a golden brown of the traditional mozzarella variety. It earned a handsome 3 ¾ spoke rating due to its delightful crispy crust and fresh mushrooms with a healthy but not over the top portions of remaining ingredients on the deluxe.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Winner of Tour de Pizza announced

Following three grueling stages of Tour de Pizza the results are in. Greek's Pizzaria is the overall winner with a 4 spoke rating. And Mark Smith is the yellow jersey winner.
Even though the 2010 Tour de Pizza is over be assured that the author's will continue their research during the nonriding season. We will continue to look high and low for the 5 spoke pizza.
Join us next year for Tour de Pizza II

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Love at first bite.

The AMBA ride is in the books. Another state is added and another pizza rated. The AMBA ride was a terrific ride hosted by the "Wolf Pack", ride leaders Peter and Terri Wolf along with Peter's folks, Peter and Terri's children and grandchildren. It was like being part of a great family reunion. We loved the fact that we stayed in one location, Chewacla State Park, and rode out in a different direction each day with no packing and unpacking of tents. As usual we met lots of interesting and fun people with many stories. In many ways this was a unique ride. It was a first for us in that we discovered Brick Oven Pizza with a 4 1/2 spoke pizza the first evening in town. Most of the other pizza places in Auburn were chain stores. So we chose to return on three occasions to Brick Oven selecting the Brick Oven Classic, the Five Cheeser, and the BBQ Chicken pizza, all excellent choices. We are adding Brick Oven Pizza to our list of preferred pizza parlors. It was truly love at first bite.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sweet Home Alabama

On the night before the AMBA ride, Alabama's Magnificent Bicycle Adventure we came upon Brick Oven Pizza Company just north of the Auburn University campus. A wood fired brick oven produed a true 4 1/2 spoke pizza, the Brick Oven classic. Fresh ingredients a crispy but chewey crust. Amazing. We have an new Alabama home base, Sweet Home Alabama has new meaning to us.