Monday, January 28, 2008

I’ve been trying to perfect pizza at home. Mark and I are pizza snobs having been spoiled with numerous trips to New York City where the pizza is thin and crispy. The closest we can come to that is Gio’s (Gio's Fabulous Pizza and Martini Bar, 4805 Cortez Road W, Bradenton(941) 792-3388).

A bit about Gio’s. The restaurant is small so the tables are a little cozy but the place is great and you forget that you’re in a strip mall restaurant when you sit down. As do a lot of the restaurants, they start you off with bread and olive oil and seasonings. The chunks of bread are fresh, their EVOO was very good with excellent seasonings. The pizza is delicious and if you are a fan of thin crust than you'll absolutely love it. For an extra kick, you can ask them to use the puttanesca sauce on your pie instead of the regular marinara (which is good too).

So, I’ve been trying to recreate at home. I’ve been inspired by The Home Cook . You just can’t do it without a pizza stone. That’s it. Period. End of sentence. I got a stone for Christmas this year and then went out and bought a second one that was bigger. I’ll go through my process the next time I make it. But this weekend I decided to try a calzone. Now, I’m not sure I’ve ever ordered and eaten a calzone. They always look good, but, I’m usually a purist when it comes to pizza places.

I used the usual amount of dough and divided it. Rolled it out as best I could on a sprinkling of cornmeal. I mixed ricotta with cut up pepperoni, mozzerella, garlic powder, and some italian seasonings. I made a sauce of some crushed tomatoes with a pinch of sugar, a bay leaf, crushed red pepper flakes and some italian seasonings. I cooked that down until it was nice and thick. I spread just a tad on half of the rolled out dough pieces and then spread out the ricotta mixture. Topped with more mozzerella and brushed the top with an egg wash. It went into the oven on the stone for about 10 minutes. We dipped each bite in the leftover tomato sauce. It was good – we each had half leftover which was good for Sunday lunch – but I’m not sure if I would do it again. And if I do, I would definitetly do things differently. More flavor inside. Cook longer. More meat. Make it prettier.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wal-Mart. I could go on forever. I banned them once and honestly did not step foot in the store for years. I became an avid Target shopper. And still am generally. And although I may be a bit hypocritical, I hate the conglomeration that Wal-Mart represents. I hate that they smear out small towns because 'main-street' businesses can't compete with the giant mega-store. But yet -- sometimes, you just have to go there or else spend all day store hopping. Today, for instance, Mark needed work gloves and I needed paper supplies, cat and dog food and hair color. We compromised and went to Wal-Mart. Ugh. Selfishness for our own time wins out. I suck.

And what really sucks is that they do have the cheapest prices. But what happens when you go there? I bet the same thing that happens when we go in with a LIST!! You end up with the extras -- the bold and zesty pickles, the fold up duffel bag, and the rubber spatulas. So actually we end up spending more probably that if we had gone somewhere else.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Today, I planned no breakfast. I planned no breakfast because no one but me eats it. Today, I planned no breakfast and Mark asks 'what's for breakfast.' I just stare at him.

So at 11:3o in the morning, I broach the subject of going out to lunch which he promptly agrees with. I suggest trying the Starfish Company that is in Cortez right by the fishing docks. Now...Mark is a fan of the chains. Don't get me wrong, I love them too. Consistent meals have been had a Carrabba's, Beef O' Brady's and Outback (although we did boycott Outback for over a year due to bad service), but, I like a little change once in a while. He was visibly skeptical of my suggestion but really doesn't dare to question it.

At 12 noon I'm ready to roll. Mark goes into the office and starts shuffling papers. I decide to fold towels while waiting for him. He starts paying bills; so I start straightening the linen closet. I hear him shredding documents so I clean out my closet shelves. It's now 1:30 -- he comes out and asks if I'm ready to go yet. Oy.

Fast forward -- we drive to the Starfish Company. It's just an outside patio with maybe ten picnic tables. You order at the bar and someone brings you your food in a box. Like KFC, only, not. The food looked great. A few very unfortunate things happened though. First, all tables were crammed full. Second, the line to order your food was about 20 people deep (where we're they going to sit??). Third, Mark saw a sign that said 'cash only.' We took a menu with us and said we would go back better prepared next weekend. That shrimp po' boy sure did look good!!!

We ended up at Anna Maria Oyster Bar on Cortez Road. Mark got the grouper sandwich with Caribbean spice on it; I got the fried shrimp. It was all good. The coleslaw would have been really good had it been colder. I would have told the manager that if he'd stopped at our table. Another weird thing, the server charged me for the dinner portion AND it turns out that I got the dinner portion. I didn't really pay attention when I got it, but, it stands to reason if you go someplace for lunch (albeit late) and they're still serving lunch, they give you the lunch would get the lunch. The hostess did give us a dinner menu too, but, I didn't pay any attention to it. So I'm not sure if it was an honest mistake or a scammin' thing on the servers part but she changed the cost to the lunch portion. I think she did it on purpose. And I think she was nervous that she got caught; she was kind of acting weird afterwards. Bad sales tactic, chicky.