I realized how over the top my yeast obsession is after I had a sobering conversation with a friend while heading home from work this Thursday. The conversation went like this:
Erik: “So, I’m making pizza for dinner”
Friend: “Oh – I love pizza, did you make your own crust”
“Yeah, but I’m a little worried It won’t turn out”
Puzzled look implying the question – what kind of idiot doesn’t know how to make pizza?
“I used an unknown yeast strain to make the dough – I am a little obsessed with yeast. I have been harvesting my own yeast since December; I have four different strains on the go at the moment”
Concerned look “umm…”
Awkward Pause – following by a nervous laugh – “Did that come across as strange?”
“Yeah… a little”
I then went on to better explain what I meant by “harvesting my own yeast” and that yeast is in the air surround us all the time and that some of the best breads and ales are fermented with wild yeast. The tension was removed and the conversation carried on as usual – apparently harvesting wild yeast is uncommon.
I am fascinated by yeast – it is such an underrated and misunderstood little organism. Nothing captures the magic of this sugar loving, social lubricating creature better than proper pizza and real beer. I made pizza last night with brewers yeast – it turned out good, but not over the top fists pumping in the air great. The particular yeast I used, Wyeast 1968 ESB, imparts strong fruity esters during the brewing process and I was hoping that by fermenting and proofing the pizza dough for a solid 24 hours that the pizza would soak up some of these interesting flavour notes – but it didn’t. Nonetheless, the pizza tasted great alongside its long lost friend and former partner, IPA.
I got out of bed this morning feeling unsatisfied and restless, which is a strange feeling to have on a long weekend Friday. It only took me a minute of soul searching to find the source of this dissatisfaction – I was hungry and craving more pizza. Upon this realization, I quickly shot out of bed and Googled “best pizza in Vancouver”. I ended up heading to Marcello’s Pizzeria on Commercial drive- I was sold after reading about their wood fired oven.
Marcello’s is a great place for proper pizza – The authenticity that a wood fired oven creates cannot be matched. I am now convinced more than ever that the only way to achieve perfection as a pizza master is with a hot wood fired oven. A standard household electric oven is just not capable of pumping out enough heat to quickly cook a pizza leaving a crispy crust with an almost-but-not-quite burnt edge.
Marcello’s Pizzeria clearly knows how to make great pizza, but they have their own shortcomings and seem all too unaware about the magic that happens when a great pizza meets a great beer. I was hopping to find a well hopped pale ale on the menu, but had to settle for Granville Island English Bay Pale Ale. The beer was stale and almost offensive tasting and did nothing to complement the pizza. What could have been the highlight of my week was turned into just a good lunch. It saddens me to see a restaurant with such great potential fall short on such an important matter such as beer.
My search for the perfect pizza and beer combination carries on. I think building a brick wood fired oven in my backyard may the next logical step.