November 14, 2010
Since I’ve been blogging now for well over a year, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to blow my cover (a bit) and divulge that I work at the Delta Chelsea Hotel (just didn’t want you to think these blogs are advertisements of any sort – I do try my best to wear my Mr. Toronto hat and do nothing but offer up unbiased travel tips…). Anyway, I am only telling you this because rather than my traditional “Toronto Tips” blog, I would like to share with you some culinary tips. My experience during a recent – and thankfully short-lived – strike we had here at the hotel required me to leave my “normal” job and move down to the pizza counter in our restaurant– hauling crusts (heavy crusts!) and cheese from the fridge, opening up mega-tins of sauce (a miracle that I figured out how to use the can opener without losing a digit), chopping up veggies, meats and seafood, and using the left side of my brain to come up with interesting pizzas-of –the-day.
By my calculation, I created over 300 pizzas during this time period, so I feel somewhat qualified to share with you some observations on the ins and outs of the pizza oven. In no particular order of importance:
- Prepping beforehand is critical…make sure you have all the ingredients on hand before getting started
- Use less sauce than you think you need (or it’ll be too soggy) and more cheese than you think you need (it seems to disappear)
- Certain toppings cook better on top of the cheese (e.g. pepperoni and most meats), while others seem to do better underneath (e.g. mushrooms and other members of the veggie family)
- Get to know the heat of your oven, or you’ll end up with burnt or soggy pies. (In our case, it seemed like the top oven baked much more quickly than the bottom one)
- Speaking of burnt pies, it amazed me how many people liked their slices very well done (especially the pepperoni); I’m an “undercooked man” myself…
- Having said that, always undercook the pizzas a bit; once they’re out of the oven, undercooked pizzas look a lot more appetizing than overcooked ones. Plus, they get better done when you reheat them anyway….
- It’s amazing what you can do with leftovers; if you try hard enough, almost anything can be put on a pizza and taste decent! Don’t be afraid to be creative.
- Having said that, people in Toronto don’t seem to be ready for tuna on their pizzas (note to Torontonians – spend a couple weeks in Italy!!!)
- Feta cheese and olives – no neutrality here -people either love ‘em or hate ‘em…..
- Wait until the pizza cools a bit before cutting, or else you’ll have a cheesy mess on your hands. On the other hand, if you wait too long, you’ll be fighting with the crust.
Just wanted to get these thoughts down while they were “fresh”.
It’s been a slice!