Living Up to Philly’s Nickname ‘City of Brotherly Love’

(pictured above: Rosa’s Pizza owner Mason Wartman standing in front of gifted $1 post-it pizza coupons. photo credit: Mason Wartman via People.com)

Philadelphia has a very special joint called Rosa’s Pizza & Grill where patrons can purchase slices of pizza for homeless people for $1. To date, the restaurant has given away more than 10,000 slices of pizza. And some of the restaurant’s regulars have been able to pull themselves out of poverty to find work and a place to live.

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Take a few minutes and watch the Upworthy video. Inspiring example of good people doing great things. People magazine also did a nice write-up of the owner and the effort, which you can see here.

(Author note: the pizza place may be in Philly, but the owner is from New York and understands how good pizza is made.) 😉

Crazy for Kale: Perfect Kale Chips for Pizza [Language NSFW]

I used to despise kale.

Really and truly. I wanted my salad bare and simple, to the point where romaine lettuce seemed like a brazen life choice.

But that was then, and kale is very much now. And not just for me… kale seems to be popping up everywhere—as a power elixir, snack food, bath salts and yes, even on pizza. We have a popular place in Atlanta’s Inman Park called Kale Me Crazy, serving up all sorts of kale-yumminess, including shots of extract, elaborate salads and the like. As Sarah Rosenberg can attest, we heart that joint a lot.

We put kale chips on our “Fun Tina” pizza last year and it was one of my faves of all time. Have a look at that here. She was pretty to look at, too.

the finished "Fun Tina"

the finished “Fun Tina”

Not everyone is convinced that kale is the Second Food Coming; for all fads, remember, there are contrarians. Just ask the Vulgar Chef what he thinks.

Well then. Amidst the noise I’m trying to keep a level head about kale since I’m always the skeptic when it comes to fads. (Writes the guy who still buys $18 Levi’s at Target.)

Anyhoo, kale—despite it’s sometimes annoying hype—makes an already spiffy pizza all the more grand. Here’s my guide on how you can turn your kale in to luscious, ready-to-nomnom bites of goodness.

(I made up the part about bath salts—but you totally believed me there for a second.)

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Ingredients

head of kale
1/4 cup of EVOO
squeeze of lemon
dried garlic (optional)
kosher salt & pepper

Directions

• preheat the oven to 300˚
• wash the kale well. break away all leafy-green pieces from the stem and place in a stainless steel bowl. dry the kale well and then rip the pieces to the desired size. (remember, the greens reduce in the oven.) compost or discard the stems.

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• in a measuring cup, put the olive oil and lemon together with desired pinches of salt and pepper (optional). mix well.
• pour mixture over the kale, one pour at a time, and use your hands to toss. this may be a bit icky to some, but it’s the best way to get the pieces all covered.

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• since heads of kale vary, keep this in mind: you don’t want to go too heavy on your liquid. so, add just enough to cover whatever amount of kale you have. give the pieces a final lashing of kosher salt and pepper. mix one last time.

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• spread pieces out on a baking sheet or a slotted pan cover (shown). bake 10 minutes and turn the pan once; bake for another 15 minutes, but check back to see if it’s done sooner (ovens vary). be patient… cooking at a lower temperature means they’ll be just right after they cool.

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I dare you not to eat half of the chips before they cool. Enjoy! Please post here if you make this at home.

#QuotableMondays: Conflict Kitchen & Promoting Cultural Understanding

Can an food outlet actually double as an art project? In the case of Conflict Kitchen, yes. And it’s generated some important political conversations along with it.

The restaurant, located in Pittsburgh, serves up cuisine from countries with which the United States is in a state of conflict. That includes places like North Korea, Cuba and Iran, among others.

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all photos courtesy of Conflict Kitchen’s website

 

Here’s a piece I caught on BBC News that first got me thinking:

“Our goal is to create a larger discourse with the countries we’re in conflict with,” says Conflict Kitchen co-director Jon Rubin.

But it’s the post on their website that qualifies as Pizza for Good’s #QuotableMonday entry. A major kerfuffle erupted when CK passed out fliers with a recent Palestinian-food offering; some objected to the content being excessively pro-Palestinian. As a result, Heinz bowed to outside pressure and pulled funding.

“Promoting understanding is at the core of Conflict Kitchen’s mission. We have demonstrated this in the past by presenting the food, culture, and viewpoints of Iranians, Afghans, Cubans, North Koreans, and Venezuelans. We believe that presenting the viewpoints of Palestinians promotes understanding of Palestinians.

Protecting freedom of expression from the influence of biased media and powerful political and lobbying groups is essential for the cultural and political health of a democratic society. We are extremely upset that one of Pittsburgh’s most important arts and culture funders would disavow their grant to us when seemingly pressured by strong outside forces.”

No matter what your viewpoint is on this, it’s always important for all sides to keep talking. And that’s exactly what Conflict Kitchen is engendering. Bravo.

all photos courtesy of Conflict Kitchen's website

all photos courtesy of Conflict Kitchen’s website

Executive Chef David Bradley Leaving Lure Atlanta

Chef Bradley in the kitchen at Lure (photo credit: Will Pollock for Stone Four Media)

Chef Bradley in the kitchen at Lure (photo credit: Will Pollock for Stone Four Media)

The very talented executive chef of Lure—part of Fifth Group restaurants—is leaving the restaurant to join Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School as chef and nutrition director. Bradley was quoted within the pages of Pizza for Good, making common-sense suggestions on how to eat fresh and plan ahead when cooking at home. Here’s the passage from the book:

For your Pizza for Good party, try to think of it this way: choose local where it counts, and fill in with readymade items that can make your life a lot easier. There are ways to create an authentic experience pizza experience without killing yourself over the minutiae (see also Chapter XX).

David Bradley, executive chef of Lure in Midtown Atlanta—part of Fifth Group restaurants—urges Pizza for Good readers to build relationships with local purveyors, whether at a green market or another local establishment, to buy local, then fill in where you have to with easy-to-buy stuff.

“Not every single thing on a plate or in a dish has to be 100 percent local for me,” he says. “I’d much rather use a canned tomato than a fresh one, probably nine months out of the year. If I’m going to make sauce I’ll make it with canned tomatoes and then try to buy locally made mozzarella. Or buy some really nice milk and make my own ricotta or something like that.

“You can still have that element and a handmade feel to it, but again it goes back to quality,” he adds. “The ambitious and proper thing would be to make it at home. But that’s probably not most people’s reality.”

And it might not be yours—you can decide that as you go. The main thing to remember is that this is an ambitious project that will suck quite a bit of your time. A labor of love, to be sure, but you can save some energy here and there and still endeavor to search or locally sourced ingredients.

Remember, PFG is way more than a blueprint for building community and fundraising. The book gives you lots of tips on how to cook fresh at home, and make some creative pizzas in the process. Good luck to Chef Bradley!

Decatur’s No. 246: Authentic Italian Farm-to-table Cuisine

No. 246 interior and bar

No. 246 interior and bar

Had a terrific visit today at Decatur, Ga.’s own No. 246, which is part of the Rocket Farm Restaurant Group. We discussed ideas around my upcoming appearance at Decatur Book Festival—but the star of the show was by far the pizza we had.

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as tasty as it was beautiful

I’ll try to do it justice: heirloom mushrooms, roasted Sun Gold tomatoes grown in No. 246’s backyard; dressed arugula with olive oil, lemon and cracked pepper; finished with peaches from Pearson Farm out of Fort Valley, Ga.

The pizza itself had that pitch-perfect finish from the wood-fired oven. A unique flavor unlike anything we could ever do at home, that’s for sure.

No. 246 & Rocket Farm restaurants as a whole have a distinct commitment to farm-to-table eats, which was definitely evident here. I saw fresh basil, parsley and tomatoes growing in abundance in back.

I’ll update as events warrant about any appearance with Chef Andrew during DBF. But today’s experience was memorable in and of itself. Great thanks to Ryan and Valerie for hosting me and allowing me to tell the story of No. 246—an establishment with a real-world practice of fresh and locally derived food.

 

basil plants in the backyard

basil plants in the backyard

 

 

 

 

 

in-house syrups for cocktails

in-house syrups for cocktails