Purpose of this blog

This blog will really be a true web log. I will post here about different wood-fired ovens as I find them.

If you know of any wood-fired ovens I should know about, you can send an e-mail to me. (If you build wood-fired ovens, I would like to hear from you too.)

There will lots of posts and lots of labels, since I plan to create one post for every appropriate web site that I find, and however many labels it takes to describe each one (usually at least the type of page and the location of the oven).

The accumulated information will still be found at the real Quest for Ovens web site links pages, but that is not updated as frequently as this blog will be.

If you are from outside the US and Canada, let me know what you find interesting about it. I see that I get visitors from India and Iran, and other faraway places. I'd like to know what draws you to this blog.

I received e-mail from the organizers of the BBC Two television show asking if the Saint Paul Bread Club could post a notice about their show Great British Bake-Off for amateur bakers. The information they gave me is now accessible through a link. (The organizers don't have a web page for the show itself yet.)

Please share this with any amateur bakers in Great Britain you may know, or post the link where they might see it.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, State Fair Grounds, Minnesota

An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune mentioned in passing, "Food-loving fairgoers know to visit the five-year-old Blue Moon Dine-In Theater for fabulous wood-fired pizzas...."

The Blue Moon Dine In Theater is mentioned on the state fair's food finder. If you click to open the information about the Blue Moon Dine In Theater, it says, in part, "...wood-fired pizza (pepperoni, sausage, onion, mushroom, tomato bruschetta, salami sausage, margarita)...."

The Minnesota State Fair is only open 12 days of the year.

So if you happen to be in Minnesota and you happen to be attending the state fair (for which there is an admission charge), you might consider having some wood-fired pizza there.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Portable Oven Classes, Silverwood Park, Minnesota

My one-day oven building class at Silverwood Park in the Twin Cities is now available for registration through this link.

My classes at Silverwood have always filled, so if you want to take a class this year so you can build an oven this year, this is your remaining opportunity.

8/22/11: Apparently the class is full. We are planning to do a little deliberate overbooking, so you might still be able to sneak in.

Community Oven Map, United States

I realized that there is no reason not to include my US community oven map in my blog as well, since my other maps appear here as well.

So here it is:

Roma Restaurant, Bar and Market, Willernie, Minnesota Field Report

I made a lunchtime visit to the Roma Restaurant, Bar and Market, Willernie, Minnesota. They are located at 460 Stillwater Road, Willernie, MN 55090. (Note that they also have a Restaurant page on Facebook.) They are on my map of wood-fired oven businesses in Minnesota.

The outside of the building is directly in front of its narrow parking lot. From what I could see of the interior, it looks like they added the oven and expanded next door to their original location in 2008.

The oven is tucked into the front corner of the original space, back behind the counter and by the kitchen. You can barely see it from their dining room.

One can really see that this is a wood-fired oven. (A small image of one appears on their home page.) They don't really explain where the oven comes from (or why they wanted one), but it certainly does its job.

The menus for Roma Restaurant are available for downloading. I took my wife there for lunch, and we ordered the Balsamico (without the proscuitto, since we are vegetarians). Service seemed attentive and fast. My wife and I both thought it was delicious.

We found the crust to be very tender, not the hard, chewy crusts we often find with any pizzas, but especially with WFO pizzas.

There were several other pizzas on the menu we wanted to try, plus there are lots of other tasty-looking items that are not wood-fired oven pizzas.

There is a sign in their window that says they can par bake their pizzas so you can finish baking them at home. That would be an interesting option to try.

It's certainly not in our neighborhood, but if we happen to find ourselves in that corner of the Twin Cities Metro again, we will stop in for another visit.

Maps and Wood-Fired Businesses

I have now done three maps of wood-fired businesses (mostly wood-fired ovens): Wisconsin, Washington, and Minnesota. I might do one for the VPN-certified pizza places in the US and Canada. (There is also a map of community ovens that I know about.)

I have no plans to do any other maps unless there are some requests to do so.

So, if there are any maps you really want to see, comment to me, and I will add requests to my "to do" list.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Minnesota WFO Businesses

I have now assembled a map of wood-fired oven businesses in Minnesota. I am trying some new options with map construction. I am trying to color code information about the different businesses so that people with particular tastes in mind can better see where they can find the food they like.

The color key that I have applied to places on the map attempts to use the following
  • green - VPN certified
  • white - Neapolitan-style, but not certified
  • red - hearth, but gas or electric, not wood
  • yellow - farm
  • blue - restaurant, possibly without pizza (e.g. wood-fired grill)
  • brown - bakery
  • gray - don't know
So of you want to find wood-fired oven pizza, look for the green or white markers.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Washington Wood-Fired Businesses

I have put together a map of all the Washington State wood-fired businesses that I have found.

Many of these are restaurants or pizzerias with wood-fired ovens, but not all.

Many of them are in the Seattle area, but there is at least one on the Olympic Peninsula.

A couple (Alder Wood Bistro and Queen Margherita) I have actually eaten at. (Look for
the fieldreport tag.)

If you want to find the VPN-certified Neapolitan pizza places, you can find them listed on a VPN page.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tutta Bella, Seattle, Washington

While visiting Seattle and eating at one wood-fired oven pizza place, my friends and local guides showed me a place they knew that I had not heard of, Tutta Bella.According to a small sign in the restaurant, Tutta Bella is the oldest VPN-certified pizza place in Washington. That seems to correspond to the certificate numbers on the VPN web page that I found.

They certainly use genuine Caputo flour.

It certainly is a wood-fired oven.

It looked like a nice place, and according to their web site and the VPN site, there are actually several Tutta Bella locations around the Seattle area.

They all seem to have their own Facebook pages, but this page was the one I visited.

David Cargo Brick Bread Oven / Pizza Oven

I sometimes see where somebody is searching for information about bread and pizza ovens using my name as part of the search.

I do not yet have a set of complete set of detailed plans or a book or DVD on my oven plans and oven construction techniques. (I have been working on a manuscript, which will include plans and diagrams. If you know of a suitable or interested publisher, please let me know or have them contact me.)

I do post information on-line about my class schedule.

You can also e-mail me with questions about my classes.

Currently I regard my oven designs as my intellectual property (IP). I know people who have built their own ovens using information collected in my brick oven links page, but not using my specific designs. I make what I find on the net available through that links collection, but I feel that my own designs have their own advantages.

I won't give away my intellectual property for free by posting it on the internet. I will share the information with people who take my classes, and I'll even keep them updated when I update my designs.

You can save yourself some work by taking my class and using my designs, but suit yourself.

So, what do you get if you take my class and build one of my ovens? You get an oven that is quick to build (about an hour for the smallest), that gets hot enough to cook pizzas (easily 20 and as many as 40 in 2 1/2 hours if you have a good production line) at high temperatures (starting at 800-1000 degrees), and while not cheap is still a lot cheaper than any other brick oven you are likely to see. (The small oven would cost about $400, not counting taxes and shipping charges.)

8/25/11: Here is a look back at how I got started building ovens.

Three classes are now scheduled for 2012.
Silverwood Park (Twin Cities) on April 28, 2012 (no more classes with them unless they change their minds)
Tunnel Mill (south of Rochester) on May 5, 2012 (no more classes with them in 2012)
Borner Farm Project (Prescott, WI) on June 16, 2012.

Follow the schedule link above for more details.

VPN Americas: US Member Listing by State

While trying to find the name of a VPN-certified restaurant in Seattle (which turned out to be Ristorante Picolinos), I found a page that claims to list the VPN member restaurants in the US. (Plus one in Toronto tucked at the bottom.)

I haven't cross-checked my current links to see if I have all of these linked, but it was interested to discover an index page for several wood-fired oven pizza places.

10/03/11: Thanks to the maintainers of the VPN site, I now have a spreadsheet listing US and Canadian restaurants with certifications. I am massaging the data into a form that I can import into the mapmaking site, and then I will have a map of US VPN-certified restaurants. So, progress is being made, but I don't have an estimated completion date.

11/13/11: Here is the map, current to 11/12/11, I believe.

Queen Margherita, Seattle, Washington Field Report

I had previously posted about a news item that led me to the home page for Queen Margherita in Seattle.

I actually had a chance to visit and try the place out.

Two old friends of mine took me to the wilds of the Magnolia neighborhood in Seattle. We found a cozy storefront with a garage-style door and a nice sit-down space inside.

I chatted with one of the owners while we were waiting (just a short while) for our pizza. If I remember correctly, the oven was imported from Naples.

While they are not a VPN-certified pizza place, they do make pizzas in a similar style.

We ordered a couple of pizzas off of their pizza menu. I wasn't thinking about writing this report at the time, so I didn't happen to take pictures of the pizzas. I think we got the Queen Margherita and a pizza with white sauce instead of tomato sauce. Both were excellent.

I discovered they do have a Facebook community page.

This is a place I can highly recommend.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Alder Wood Bistro, Sequim, Washington Field Report

I had the opportunity to actually visit and try the Alder Wood Bistro in Sequim, WA.

They are actually located on Alder Street in Sequim. That puts it a few blocks north of the main street through town, so you probably would not find it by accident if you were just driving through Sequim.

Their restaurant opened about 5 years ago. Based on my limited experience, you would be well advised to make reservations.

I believe I read that the oven was built by one of Alan Scott's apprentices.

The inside of the oven is 4 feet by 6 feet. It seems to be a typical Scott barrel vault design.

We got their roasted vegetable pizza.

Their menu contains a lot more than wood-fired oven pizza.

In this case, I can recommend a visit.