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.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bill's Bread, Vashon, Washington

A friend on Facebook shared a link to video about a wood-fired bakery on Vashon Island in Washington State named Bill's Bread. The video link is here. Apparently Bill doesn't have a web site. I did find some information on a Manta page.

I also found an older blog post that mentioned Bill's Bread.

His story sounds like a real, down-to-earth guy who discovered his life's work making people's food lives a bit richer.

I'll have to see if I can meet him the next time I'm in Washington.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Can anybody tell me why I get so many visits from users in Poland? Sometimes I have had more visitors from Poland than from the US. I don't mind, but I'm very curious to know what content I have that would be of interest to people in Poland.

I might have thought that some links on the main Quest for Ovens link pages were of interest, but I don't know what would draw them to this blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bootleg Batard, Skokie, Illinois

I first discovered Bootleg Batard through their Kickstarter page back in September.

In November I found their Facebook group page.

Eventually I found a link to their own domain, which automatically forwards to their current home page.

Their fundraising on Kickstarter was successful. They flew Pat Manley out to work on the oven core.

They got some good local press here and here (apparently dating from October 18 or so).

Theirs is one of the most ambitious community oven projects I have seen, but it appears they have the experience to carry out their plans. Theirs would be the second community oven in Illinois, and Melina Kelson was involved in building the other one.

Friday, October 26, 2012

D'Amico & Sons, Golden Valley, Minnesota Field Report

While looking for a place to eat dinner after attending an art exhibition at the Perpich Center for Arts Education I did a "search nearby" and found that there was a D'Amico & Sons location at 7804 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley, MN 55437, about a mile away. Looking at the reviews on Trip Advisor for the restaurant, I saw one where it mentioned "wood fired oven" so that restaurant location seemed worth a try.

This time I didn't have my camera with me, so there are no pictures.

There is a menu that you can download from their page. The actual selections available in the restaurant were a bit broader.

The good news: They really do have and use a wood-fired oven to bake their pizza.

The bad news: They run their oven at a comparatively low 500 degrees or so.

As a result, their wood-fired pizza is just OK.

I ordered their Neapolitan (a highly ironic name considering the temperature of true Neapolitan pizza ovens), which had fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil. The pizza was thin crust, not overloaded, and had a bit of char on the bottom. It would have definitely benefited from some attention from a bubble popper. A couple of big bubbles had pushed the sauce and cheese away from substantial portions of my pizza.

Even with those problems, it was a pretty tasty pizza, and one I would order again.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Trinity Lutheran Community Oven, Fort Collins, Colorado

My ever-watchful Google Alert for community ovens found another community oven project underway, this time as part of Trinity Lutheran Church, Fort Collins, Colorado.

It's not clear where exactly they are getting their inspiration to build a community oven, but they have created a page for it on their web site, plus a Facebook Church/Religious Organization page and a Facebook Community page for it (the latter page is probably the better maintained one).

Colorado is already home to one functioning community oven in Carbondale (my links about them, their own site).

Some of their inspiration seems to be coming from the community oven built by the White Bear Lake United Methodist Church in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. (That's a guess, partly based on the fact that Trinity Lutheran used pictures of the WBLUMC oven on their web page.)

I wish TLC great success in their efforts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tracton Community Oven, Cork, Ireland

One advantage of having this blog and my Quest for Oven web pages is that I sometimes get information coming to me instead having to search it all out on my own.

In this case, I received an e-mail from Ireland telling me about a plan to build a community oven there (the first one in Ireland that I am aware of).

As of 10/13/2012 it's a project in progress, but the place where it is being built has a Facebook community organization page. (See the post for October 10.)

I have run across other art centers where a community oven has become part of the activities.

It's good to see the zeal for community ovens catching on in Ireland.

Nov. 17, 2012: I just checked their Facebook page again, and there is now a photo album titled Tracton Community Oven with 16 pictures in it, apparently added Nov. 1, 2012. Looks good. I could not tell much about the style of the oven or its size from what I saw.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Third Street Deli, Pepin, Wisconsin

People in one of my oven-building classes had told me that there was a new wood-fired oven business in Pepin, Wisconsin.

An article in the 7/7/11 Taste section of the StarTribune says in part:
As if Judith Hanks weren't busy enough, what with cooking jumbo breakfasts and lunches at her Third Street Deli along with running an adjacent consignment shop and day spa. No, Hanks recently dove headlong into the outdoor pizza business, and it's a gas.
 They sound interesting. I think I'll be dropping by Third Street Deli the next time I'm in the area when they are open.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Vino in the Valley, near Ellsworth Wisconsin Field Report

I have a previous blog post about Vino In the Valley, near Ellsworth, Wisconsin (their Facebook page).

I had the opportunity to stop at Vino in the Valley during a vacation in western Wisconsin. This was to be our last major outing of our vacation.

What I had heard about Vino in the Valley was that they had an outdoor oven. That turned out to be true. Their oven is outside.

What I had been expecting was that it would be a wood-fired oven. In that, my expectation was not met; it was fired by gas (of some kind). It actually was a two-level oven; it might be that the different decks were maintained at different temperatures.

What I thought might be a kind of vineyard setting (more like Falconer Vineyard’s Vineyard Bistro, Red Wing, Minnesota) turned out to more of an open-air supper club. There was a long building with fabric walls, many tables, a couple of bars, and even a lounge singer (seen below heading for her outdoor stage).

The building has a couple of angles so that the ends bend toward the gazebo that acts as the stage.

You can see the outdoor bar in the background here and many tables with umbrellas for people to wait at. After checking in at the reception desk, we were given one of the squarish electronic devices that vibrates and flashes to let you know when your table is ready. As a couple, we got seated very promptly.

We were actually seated near the front, right next to an indoor bar and close to the oven.

Whoever was running the oven, was very quick. I never had enough time to snap a picture of what was going into or out of the oven with the oven door open.

Unlike some of the other places we ate at on this trip, a small pizza came with a salad and a bread basket. The pizza when we got it was at best OK.

What Vino in the Valley apparently is, is an open-air supper club. They had a big parking lot, and there were a lot of cars in it. What Vino in the Valley is not, is a wood-fired pizza place. There was a mismatch in expectations between what I was hoping to find and what they are. For people who are looking for what they are, they are great. For somebody like me who looks for wood-fired oven pizza, they are not what I was expecting.

For similar places, click on the vineyard and farm labels on the right of the page. There is also a blog post about Wisconsin Pizza Farms.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Third Street Deli, Pepin, Wisconsin Field Report

On the third day of our field trip to Wisconsin, we had dinner at the Third Street Deli in Pepin. I had checked with them about some questions I had, so that when I arrived, I was recognized. We actually stopped by twice, once before they were heating the oven and later after they started serving food out of the oven.

The oven was built last year. It was more massive than they were expecting.  

The oven is part of an outdoor kitchen with some counter seating and an outdoor patio. There is some shelter from the weather while still being out of doors.

It's a pretty big oven. It looks like a relative big barrel-vault oven instead of a hemispherical oven more typical of a pizza-only oven.

They have some of the tools that I would expect for a wood-fired oven, but not all of them. (It's enough for what they do.)

Once the oven is heated up, they keep a fire in the back to keep the temperature up. That takes some practice to regulate and to cook with.

Here are a couple of calzones in the oven.

One got a little charred. This is apparently a rare problem, and they remade the item (for free of course) for the people who ordered it.

This is a "before" picture of my margherita pizza.

This is the "after" picture of my pizza. It pretty much comes out of the oven and then to the table. (It was only about 5 minutes before the pizza going in and me taking the after picture. Part of that was remembering to get my camera out before I ate the pizza.)

I thought it was a very reasonable price for the pizza ($8). Unlike A to Z Produce (the Pizza Farm), the Third Street Deli does not specialize in pizza; they have a lot of other offerings. (My wife really liked the roasted beet salad.)

The next time I'm in the neighborhood of Pepin on a day when A to Z is closed and Third Street Deli is open (Thursday through Sunday), I would happily go there again for pizza or for something else on the menu.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rabbit's Bakery, Lake City, Minnesota Field Report

One the second day of a vacation at Stockholm, Wisconsin, we crossed the border back into Minnesota to visit Rabbit's Bakery in Lake City. We got there just before noon, so that baking for the day was over, but the wood-fired oven was being heated up for the next day's baking.

There were lots of tasting things in case waiting to be chosen. We saw lots of people coming in to buy things or to have lunch at the bakery cafe.

There was some breads of the day on the rack waiting to be taken, a menu for drinks on the wall. You can also see a sign for pizza (lower right), which they currently make once a month.

They have their distinctive sign hanging outside their door.

Here you can see the chimney stack and cinder block addition for their wood-fired oven. It looks like they also added some additional venting.

Just in case you can't find it going by the address, they also have a distinctive sign on the exterior wall of their bakery building.

Everything we bought was good. I'll certainly stop by again if I'm in the area.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A to Z Produce, Stockholm, Wisconsin Field Report

For my wife and me, if the weather is good, and the day is Tuesday, the usual question is, "Can we go to Stockholm, Wisconsin for pizza?" A to Z Produce is, as far as I know the original pizza farm.(I have collected many links about them here.)

When my wife and I visited on August 21, we got there early so we could avoid the wait, but there was already a great throng of cars. Still, I think we were still only pizza 38. We found a place to park pretty close to the ovens.

We were amused by the signage they had posted. The rules are few, but important. I told my wife that "Fences zap" is a warning most places would never post and most people would never see. It's a useful warning though because the location is a working farm with cattle, and the cattle fences have to work as intended, meaning live electric fences. (We arrived about 4:45.)

Since A to Z remodeled a few years ago, there is now more shelter over the ovens and for people waiting for their pizza. It is not so important on a pleasant summer evening, but when it's raining or cold, the shelter is very welcome.

The way to order is simple. They list the pizzas they are making, and you pick the kind you want. They will make you a pizza that half one kind and half another, but you need to accept what you get. It seems like every time we have gone there recently, the person taking order simply takes your order and says, "That will be 10 minutes."

Robbi operates the ovens herself. (People were not obeying the "NO FLASH PLEASE" writing over the ovens.) There are two ovens; there is basically a three-stage pipeline. About once a minute, Robbi moves a pizza from the second oven to a pizza box where the cashier will slice it. She then moves and rotates the pizza from the first oven into the second oven. Ted will carry a new pizza from the kitchen and put it into the first oven. When they are operating at full speed, they produce a new pizza in less than one minute.

So, when the person taking the orders says to everybody, "That will be 10 minutes," it is pretty much the truth. (If you come later, you may have to wait longer. The key is not how fast pizzas are made, but how fast people arrive. If a big crowd appears, the back up happens, but it's mainly handling the orders, not making the pizzas. One time when we got there later at 6:25 in the evening they were serving pizza 135 or so. Still faster than one per minute.)

This is the original oven, now used for the second minute of cooking.

They keep a lot of pizza boxes ready, but having them ready to go prevents a delay in boxing up the pizza. If you bring your box back, they knock a dollar off the price of your pizza.

This is Robbi turning a pizza before transferring it.

After we got our pizza home, I forgot to grab the camera to take a picture of it before getting slices out of the box. According to the time stamp on the picture, I took this picture at 5:16, which means we ordered the pizza, received the pizza, drove to where we staying, and then served the pizza all in 31 minutes.

This is the place that got me hooked on wood-fired oven pizza and the benchmark against which I compare all other wood-fired pizza places.

When we left, I checked the vehicles parked on the road around the farm. There were licenses representing five states, mostly Minnesota and Wisconsin, but also Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio. This is a place that doesn't care if you find them or not; they already have enough business. (This was highlighted in a recent blog post by Mark Leslie that he called "Old MacDonald had a ... Pizza Farm??")

We are already fans, but we enjoy reading about how other people react when they discover "the Pizza Farm."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Peterborough Community Oven

Sometimes there are coincidences. I discovered that I had overlooked some details in a couple of my sources about information about community ovens for Peterborough.

Someone else reviewing my links pointed out that I had confused Peterborough, Ontario, Canada (which has a Facebook community organization page). with Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Oddly enough, while I have been able to find a couple of mentions of the oven at Peterborough, NH, there is a bit more available on Peterborough, Ontario.

For Peterborough, NH, I found these two references:

  • "Kin Schilling ... organized school kids to build a community bread oven in Peterborough" (link)
  • "[O]ur community kitchen, grill, fire pit and outdoor Cobb/wood-fired C/Pizza oven offer great opportunities for cooking, often in community." (link)
For Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, I found these links:
  • Their Facebook community organization page
  • Mention of a survey asking for input about the oven
  • A more recent online article that mentions the outdoor brick oven
It's kind of interesting to contrast these two efforts. The NH oven is a cob oven built in 2009. The Ontario oven is planned to be brick, but isn't built yet.

There is something to be said for having a good oven now instead of a great oven sometime in the future. (These are not mutually exclusive alternatives.)

Regardless of those issues, I wish good luck to both community ovens, and I'm sorry I got them confused.

Point Douglas Community Oven, Point Douglas, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

A community oven project that I had filed under "Aspirational Community Ovens" (which is to say community ovens that might be built someday) moved forward to actual construction.

This was the North Point Douglas Women's Centre Community Oven Project (link). Their page shows some pictures of the construction and past updates for the project.

Some of the history of the project is recorded in the original blog post that I found that informed me about the project. That post mentioned some of the arts component of the project, which is made more clear by this invitation in a blog post to come and work on the mosaic that decorates the oven.

Interestingly, there is an community oven in Cringila, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia with a mosaic (link).

North Adams Community Oven, North Adams, Massachusetts

Another recent addition to my list of US community ovens is the North Adams Community Oven, North Adams, Massachusetts (they have a Facebook community organization page).

There is a picture of the oven being built as part of this page about a related effort to create a local sourdough culture.

This oven will be near a community garden.

This oven is one of a few built as part of a larger arts project.

There are some other community oven projects in Massachusetts, but this one is close to New York, which also has a lot of community ovens.

Park Avenue Community Oven, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

I received a lot of notifications about community ovens recently, both from Google Alerts and from e-mail.

One oven that I found out about is the Park Avenue Community Oven, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. This makes it the first community oven I have found in Nova Scotia.

They also have a Facebook community organization page.

As with many community ovens in Canada, this one is located in a park (the Leighton Dillman Park on the Dartmouth Commons) and near a community garden.

They have gotten some local television coverage, which is quite rare for these kinds of projects. Also rare, is that they got substantial local funding ($20,000) to build the oven and its environs, so the whole project ought to be very well established. (I like how the TV segment mentioned that some other organizations are now interested in having community ovens of their own.)

There was also some related press coverage (echoed here).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Oven Building Classes

This blog gets searched for subjects like "bread oven building class" or "pizza oven building class" or even "brick oven building class" (according to my blog's search statistics).

While I have a few posts here about specific classes, I do maintain a more general list of class information on a page as part of my main Quest for Ovens links pages. The class information is organized by state (for the US) or country.

The information might not be current; I record classes as I find them mentioned without tidying up past links. Partly that's because a place that once held a class is more likely to do so in the future.

This provides the best info available at the time.

If you are going to be hosting an oven-building class, I would be happy to mention it here and link to it if a link is available. Just leave a comment on the blog or use the mailto link on the web site.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Portable Brick Oven Features

I put together an initial web page describing the features of the portable brick ovens that I teach people how to build in my classes. It seems only fair to discuss what's good and bad about my oven designs.

Update 11/24/2012: Just to save you some mouse clicks, note that my oven designs are for ovens that are portable in sense that they are built of unmortared bricks cleverly stacked together. The ovens can be moved by moving the bricks from the starting location to the ending location and rebuilding the oven (which takes less time than you might think, about an hour, less with help). It you are looking for some other kind of portability (what I might describe as a mobile oven), you will need to look elsewhere.

Friday, June 8, 2012

AOA Bar & Grill, New York, New York

My Google alert pulls through again, this time finding a mention of the AOA Bar & Grill in New York City.

This looks like a real beer and pizza place ("25 craft beers and over 50 bottled").

In addition, they have a regularly scheduled pizza-making class. (Now I know why people were thinking the price for my all-day oven-building class was not out of line with New York prices.)

I did find a limited-time offer for the class at a significant discount (but check out the fine print).

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

GardenFork.TV, a blog that mentioned wood-fired ovens

Sometimes I see the blogs of other people with interests that overlap mine.

One case of this is a blog that has its own simple charm: GardenFork.TV.

I added a collection of links to pages of theirs that I found interesting or useful.

They do both their own stuff and republish other people's contributions that are related to what they have done.

They did a brick oven pizza video that got some responses from other people who had done something very similar, somewhat less similar, or not so similar.

Their brick oven pizza video even got picked up and repackages for a Make posting.

Their approach certainly seems to work, even if it's not the way I do it, but good for them.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Portable Oven Class, Gale Woods Farm Park, Minnetrista, Minnesota, Sept. 8, 2012

I have an agreement with the farm supervisor at Gale Woods Farm Park to hold my portable oven-building class on Sept. 8, 2012, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Tim Reese, who organized cob oven-building classes at Gale Woods, has been kind enough to let me return to Gale Woods. While I have not had my oven-building class there, members of the Saint Paul Bread Club did build portable brick ovens there in 2009, as recorded in an Extras segment by KARE-11.

We are aiming to leave the oven up to help Gale Woods celebrate their harvest festival Oct. 6 and 7.

Update August 3: Registration is now available on-line.
Update September 4: Class is now full, with a waiting list.
Update Februray 15: Next class is scheduled for April 20, 2013.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bottaro Wood-Fired Pizza, San Diego, California

An article in the Encinitas Patch profiled a firefighter who started a mobile oven business as a sideline to prepare for retirement.

The article says in part:

After almost 30 years with the Encinitas Fire Department, firefighter John Gonzales began contemplating his upcoming retirement in 2015.
He thought it was time to shake things up in his life, and make a move, and this past July, he started Bottaro Wood Fired Pizza. Bottaro is the maiden name of his mother, an Italian-American.
In launching a business, Gonzales decided on a product that he loved himself and knew something about.

The business is Bottaro Wood-Fired Pizza, San Diego, California. The home page says in part:

Bottaro Wood Fired Pizza is an oven on wheels and as we like to call it "Pizza A-Go-Go". We also have salads and appetizers and cook all our food on site. You can find us at Street Fairs and Farmers Markets and also cater Private Parties and Events.
We use the freshest, local produce available, make our own sausage and use organic flour from Utah. Your pizza will bake in about 90 seconds in temperatures of 700 to 900 degrees. All your Family and Friends will appreciate the uniqueness of a Wood Burning Oven as we prepare and cook their food using "Old World" techniques right in your backyard or favorite setting.

This sounds like an interesting variation on the mobile oven business.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Community Oven, Los Angeles, California

The people who make up the Los Angeles Bread Bakers (a bread club) decided to build their own community oven. As part of the effort to document what was done, Alexandra Woodruff, one of their members, created a segment for the Good Food program on radio KCRW (the segment starts about 49 minutes into the show). Some pictures of the community oven were added to a post in the KCRW blog.

LABB has its own Facebook group page.

Alexandra Woodruff had interviewed me over the phone for the segment; I'm definitely in there. I am grateful for the opportunity to tell people about community ovens.

During my few words in the interview I mentioned a few community ovens that I know about. These included:

These are all on my global list of community oven links (along with a map of community ovens in the US).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Portable Oven Class, Prescott, WI, June 16, 2012

I will be returning once again to Prescott, Wisconsin, to teach my portable oven class.

The contents of the class are fully described here.

Registration information for the class is on this page of the Borner Farm Project.

In short, I show people how to build an oven from stacked bricks, how to make the doughs for naan, pita, pizza, and bread, and then bake them all in an oven we build as part of class. We then get to eat all of that. In past classes we have baked up to 15 pieces of naan, 8 pita bread, 5 pizzas, and a loaf of bread in an hour and a half.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Companion Bakery, Oatsland, Tasmania

Sometimes you stumble onto the most interesting things.

In my case, a Facebook group had a link to a webcam inside a bakery. Part of what was interesting, was that  this bakery used a wood-fired oven. Another interesting thing was that it was in Tasmania.

So, the Companion Bakery seems to be mentioned in a couple of different web sites, including their own. They are also mentioned in a website about sourdough baking.

I doubt I will get to see them in person, but it's been interesting looking over the shoulders of the baker toiling away to make good bread.

Monday, April 23, 2012

May 2012 Saveur Magazine, Issue 147

A magazine I never thought to pick up before, Saveur, has an issue, May, 2012, issue 147, with the cover headline, "Make this bread."

The executive editor, Dana Bowen, had some nice things to say about bread bakers on page 8.

The article itself starts with a two-page picture on pages 42 and 43, with a headline, "Special feature: American bread." There's discussion on the inside about the artisan bread movement. There's an interesting timeline about bread and baking.

One significant quotation from the timeline:
1983: The American artisan bread movement blossoms when Steve Sullivan opens Acme Bread Company in Berkeley, California, and Daniel Leader opens Bread Alone in Boiceville, New York. Both use natural leaveners and wood-fired ovens.
I do have sites marked for the Acme Bread Company and for Bread Alone Bakery.

I did find in interesting that my passion for wood-fired ovens seems to be a reflection of a trend that started almost 30 years ago. (What can I say? I'm snail; I'm naturally slow.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Alan Scott-style Oven Class, near Twin Cities, Minnesota, July 13-15, 2012

Rae Ann Vandeputte has cancelled  her brick oven building course at her home in Victoria, MN.

The remaining part of this message just preserves the original details. It no longer applies.

The class will learn how to build an Alan Scott oven from oven-builder and rustic bread baker Derek Luchese. Derek teaches the oven-building course at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN and is owner of Both Hands Bread, South Gillies, ON.

The course is offered at a significantly lower cost and near the Twin Cities so that

  • more folks can learn how to build ovens
  • Rae Ann Vandeputte can get some help building her oven

During the course you will actually build an oven to near-completion, gaining experience with pouring the concrete hearth slab, setting the firebricks for the hearth, and building an arched oven vault. All materials will be provided; you just bring some gloves and dirty clothes.

More details about the class can be found at the web site she built for the class.

If you or anyone you would know might like to take this fun course, have them look at the class registration page.
You can also contact Rae Ann Vandeputte at 612-381-7908 or raeann.vandeputte@gmail.com

Dates: July 13-15, 2012 (all day for each day)
Cost: $250.00 (meals provided)
Location: 8400 Allegheny Grove Blvd, Victoria, MN 55386

Original source

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Line, March 7, 2012

The on-line magazine, The Line, has an on-line article about an event at the St. Agnes Baking Company, which mentions the Saint Paul Bread Club, and this blog.

The article says in part:
Today the club is a lively entity, claiming 342 members in 110 cities, including Crested Butte and Santa Barbara--so it wears its Saint Paul identity somewhat lightly. There are regular meetings, bakeoffs, and classes. And there's a particular, if logical, obsession with ovens, driven mainly by club member David S. Cargo. He offers oven-building classes (in April and May this year), maintains the Quest for Ovens blog, and tirelessly promotes the idea of community ovens--a sensible next step after community gardens, I think.
It's nice that this blog has gotten some mention.

This is the page that lists my oven-building classes.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Community Oven Radio Interview

I am going to be interviewed on March 3 by a freelance radio journalist preparing a story for Los Angeles station KCRW's Good Food program. The subject will be community ovens. (I don't know the date and time the story will air.)

I will update this post when I know the date and time the story will air. KCRW does stream their programming over the web, so you can listen even if you are not in Los Angeles.

March 3, 2012: I was visited by a recordist who sat by me holding a microphone while I answered questions phoned in by the interviewer. We talked for over half an hour. Date and time of the broadcast are still not known, by me anyway, so no update for that yet. It was an honor to be of use, and maybe it will make my efforts promoting community ovens more visibility.

May 20, 2012: I was interviewed as part of the community oven segment in this program for KCRW; it starts at about 49 minutes into the show. (I speak a few times before they play me saying who I am.): Good Food

Monday, February 20, 2012

Portable Oven Classes, Staten Island, April 14 & 15, 2012

I have a person who really wants to take my portable oven-building class, but lives on Staten Island (part of New York City).

Update 3/29/2012: Not enough people registered for this trip to work out on these dates. We are going to see if we can find another set of dates that work further into the future. If you are interested, drop me a note.

If we can get all the materials and enough people registered, we would hold two classes, one on Saturday, April 14, and one on Sunday, April 15.

The costs to the students would have to be high enough to cover my normal class fees plus travel expenses.

If you are interested in learning how to build a brick oven in a day, or going from bare ground in the morning to wood-fired oven pizza for lunch, you can use the information in the announcement linked to below to sign up for the class.

This class is especially for people who love wood-fired pizza, but thought that building their own oven would be too hard and too expensive. These ovens are easier and cheaper than you might think.

The details of the class have now been set, and there is an announcement on Craig's List.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Alan Scott-style Oven Class, near Twin Cities, Minnesota, May 4-6, 2012

Carrie Jennings will be holding a brick oven building course at her home in southern Dakota County.

The class will learn how to build an Alan Scott oven from oven-builder and rustic bread baker Derek Luchese. Derek teaches the oven-building course at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN and is owner of Both Hands Bread, South Gillies, ON.

The course is offered at a significantly lower cost and near the Twin Cities so that
  • more folks can learn how to build ovens
  • Carrie Jennings can get some help building his oven
  • part of the course cost will go toward a donation to the Cannon River Watershed Partnership
During the course you will actually build an oven to near-completion, gaining experience with pouring the concrete hearth slab, setting the firebricks for the hearth, and building an arched oven vault. All materials will be provided; you just bring some gloves and dirty clothes.

If you or anyone you would know might like to take this fun course, have them contact Carrie Jennings at:

Dates: May 4-6, 2012 (all day for each day)
Cost: $250.00 (meals provided)
Location: map

Free camping or sleeping in the barn is a possibility.

Original source

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Portable Oven Classes, 2012, Minnesota

I am now scheduled to teach my oven-building classes at four Minnesota locations in 2012 (updated 9/4/2012). So far, there has been only one class at each location.

The class at Silverwood Park on Saturday, April 28, 2012 was full, and we managed even though it was raining..

Silverwood Park has told me they won't be hosting my class again (they don't see it as being in line with their mission).

The class at Tunnel Mill on Saturday, May 5, 2012 was full, and we managed even though we had thunderstorms and rain.

The next class in Minnesota is Sept. 8, at Gale Woods Farm Park. (Registration is full.)
After that, the next class in Minnesota is Oct 13, at the White Bear Center for the Arts. (Registration is open.)

You can find out more about my class schedule here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bare-bones history of web links

I put together a bare-bones history of all of my web links related in some way to wood-fired ovens. (3/7/2012: There are over 3000 links on the pages.)

There is an index page at the top level that links to pages for each month that added any links to my bookmarks.

Looking back I can see that I started much earlier than I realized (2006).

I seem to have collected the most links in 2010.

The main purpose of the collection is so that can ensure that I don't lose any links in case of browser disasters, but they may be of use to somebody.

(At some point I may make them prettier, but I was most interested in getting them written.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Oven and Shaker, Portland, Oregon

A Willamette Week restaurant review covered two wood-fired pizza places in Portland, Oregon at once.

The second restaurant reviewed was Oven and Shaker, Portland, Oregon.

The review says in part,
Oven and Shaker’s wood-burning oven came ... from Italy, but Whims’ devotion to Northwestern bounty is reflected in her thoroughly untraditional pizza toppings, which include bosc pear, roasted squash and Oregon anchovy. Best of all is the chanterelle, radicchio, fontina, leeks and fried capers pizza ($15), which tastes like a crisp December morning. (If you’d rather not experiment, you can get a standard Margherita or salami pie.)
The web site for Oven and Shaker says in part:
Oven and Shaker is a new urban saloon, bringing delectable wood-burning oven pizza, Italian street food, and ingredient-driven, classic cocktails to Portland’s Pearl District. Oven and Shaker is the collective vision of three Portland hospitality veterans: three-time James Beard nominated chef Cathy Whims (Nostrana), veteran Northwest bartender Ryan Magarian, and ChefStable visionary Kurt Huffman.
This sounds like an Oregon locavore's dream

Via Tribunali, Portland, Oregon

A Willamette Week restaurant review covered two wood-fired pizza places in Portland, Oregon at once.

The first restaurant that it covered was Via Tribunali, Portland, Oregon. (This location is part of a chain of Via Tribunali restaurants.)

The review says in part:
There seems to be no disorder in the kitchen, though. Via Tribunali’s oven runs so hot—1,200 degrees Fahrenheit—that pizzas arrive within 10 minutes of ordering even on a busy night. They are impeccable: thin, very chewy, 12-inch pies, their bottoms charred, their sauces fragrant. The house special ($17) is a rolled-edge thing, topped with tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella, cherry tomato, ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, grana padano and basil, that’s about halfway to a calzone. It’s good, but too doughy for my taste. I prefer the basic Margherita ($13, though it’s worth paying another $3 to upgrade to springy, tangy buffalo mozzarella) or, better, the quattro formaggi. The latter is among the best things I’ve eaten this year, covered in a thick-but-not-too-thick stratum of mozzarella, smoked provola and grana padano studded with little land mines of Gorgonzola that detonate on the palate. There are things other than pizza on the menu—a very good mixed salumi board and pleasant, unremarkable salads—and the bar makes a very fine Negroni, but everything is overshadowed by the pizza.
It sounds like an interesting outpost for the Seattle-based chain.

Olio Pizza e Piu, New York, New York

A New York Times article reviewing a different restaurant mentioned Olio Pizza e Piu, New York, New York.

Their home page says in part:
Olio Pizza e Piu brings the West Village something it hasn’t had in a long time, an authentic Neapolitan restaurant. Unique amongst Italian restaurants, Olio is at the intersection of two cities of great cultural and culinary wealth, Naples and New York. Synonymous with pizza for many, Neapolitan food has reached the four corners of the world like few other cuisines. However, the farther it has reached, the food has strayed from the cuisine that originated in Italy, which brought it fame and admiration For this reason, Olio preserves the true richness and character of pizzas, antipasti and pasta, conjuring the smells and tastes that fill the streets of southern Italy. Our love for true Neapolitan food inspires us to make gourmet pizzas and genuine Neapolitan dishes in a wood-burning brick oven as they have for generations in Italy. The only way to truly match our generous menu and exquisite service is to buy a plane ticket for Europe's gorgeous boot.
They also have a Facebook page.

Forcella, New York, New York

A New York Times on-line article reviewed Forcella, New York, New York (and Brooklyn, NY).

The review says in part:

Rather, Mr. Adriani has a fryer. If you follow the pizzarazzi, you might know about his montanara ($10), a margherita made with a crust shaped and flash-fried before being topped and finished in the wood-burning oven. Yes, pizza that’s fried and fired. As the kids put it: double rainbow.
The montanara pulls it off. The fryer lends a crisp airiness to the crust, not to mention a thin coat of oil that has the naughty pleasure of street food; the oven gives it color and adds a little smoke.

The review is not entirely positive.

The business also has a Facebook Restaurant/Cafe page.

It looks like an interesting departure from normal wood-fired pizza.