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.


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."