Proud to Announce the New Owner of Truck Pizza: Alvaro Medina!

Here we are together on July 9th, contracts in hand. I feel so lucky to have found an amazing caretaker for the truck and the business. Alvaro is a very experienced and talented pizzaiolo from Queens who will operate the business under the same name in Hudson, in the same location, serving the same loyal customers. He’s a remarkable guy serving remarkable pies. If you’re near Hudson please go visit him! Find information about the business at the facebook page.
alvaro and me

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Truck Pizza has officially closed as I prepare to go back to school. I am looking for a new owner. Anyone interested?

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A Look Back at Summer Adventure with Marty Jemison Cycling Tours

Part of the story of building out Edwin into a pizza making machine has to do with bikes. Well, most things in my life can be traced to bikes. But especially in this case. You see, kitchens in trucks are expensive to build. Not to mention wood-fired ovens. The process also grinds away at certain emotional reserves. Both of these facts led me to gladly accept an invitation to temporarily return to duty on some of the most beautiful roads in Europe starting last August. And what a call of duty is was! Working with Marty and Jill Jemison is always full of fun challenges, excitement, and truly spectacular moments in the saddle and at the dinning table. I blocked out 6 weeks on my calendar, stitched up Edwin’s gaping holes in his aluminum side, and hopped the Atlantic.

I had the pleasure of joining up with four different groups traveling in three different regions: Basque Country, Provence, and Normandy. I’ll walk you through bits and pieces of my Basque trip, feeding on some great images that Marty has posted, as he always does with each trip. For a complete collection of images, in addition to more information about upcoming tours visit www.martyjemison.com.

The things most people think of when you mention “Basque” have to do with the separatist politics of the region in relationship to its ‘parent’ nation, Spain. While a fairly small portion of the population is interested in officially breaking away from Spain, it is true that the Basques are proud of their very independent history and distinctive culture. Furthermore, many Basque traditions (culinary, linguistic, architectural) extend beyond political borders.

We Even Found a mini-Wood-Fired Oven Pizza Place!

For example, our journey began in France, in the seaside resort town of Biarritz. Biarritz felt very much like a French sister city to San Sebatian, where our two-wheeled pilgramage would end seven days later. While both cities are historical resort towns, Biarritz boasts a history of high-profile vacationers, namely European Royalty. In 1854, wifey of Napolean the III built a palace on the beach there. We saw no European royalty, but a steady pack of surfers could be spotted in the water when we left for rides in the morning, and they were usually there when we came back. Strange, in some way, to see young Frenchies carrying surf boards, dressed in ROXY and RIP CURL gear, shouting to one another about surf conditions in French. Santa Barbara meets French west coast, I guess.

As you ride inland from the beaches, you’ll find a landscape that is lush to the point of flourescence. It reminds me of the hills in Vermont. Except with corn added into the equation- there is a lot of corn being grown there. Marty often introduced the day’s rides by talking about the surreal quality of the fauna and wildlife in the area, and it was true- you get the sense as you crest steep summits that the birds, cows, flowers-  even the shrubs- emit a robust, healthy glow.

Our next stop was St. Jean Pied du Port, or ‘foot of the pass’, traditionally a point along the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. I played the role of picnic-er and luggage transport for the day, so I scooted ahead of the group in the van to set up a lunch spread in a quaint village perched on a steep hilltop. These towns are so sleepy around lunchtime- not much was open. That didn’t stop us from pushing our noses against the glass of a local bike shop display window after we ate to admire the shop owner’s collection of antique racing bikes. The stuff he had was really amazing- old models that had early versions of derailleurs or braking systems,  wooden handlebars, hand-hammered fenders, all sorts of juicy curiosities.

St. Jean Pied du Port had some nasty climbs in store for us, some of the steepest I would see all season. But they took us up into such surreal cloud-lined pockets of the mountains, so it was worth the little bit of suffering. Some of our guests were skeptical

that they could make it over the pass, but I think everyone surprised themselves, as they always do. It turns out, world-class roads and scenery (with a small dose of peer pressure) can do a whole lot to your engine. Beyond the flourescence of the coastal hills,

these summits were mostly tree-less and very rocky. The fog was so thick that our visibility often fell below 30 or 40 feet up the road. We were almost as likely to encounter a slowly puttering car coming through the moist air as it was we were a herd of enormous mountain cows or goats. These cows were seriously large. Just before descending back into civilization, we explored an open grassy area adjacent to an old goat herder’s mountain hut. As you can see from Marty’s pictures, the site contains an arrangement of stones, presumably left-over artifacts from ancient Basque ritual and mythology. And I would believe it if you said some of our dear guests understood that mythology better that night after our group dinner that included some marvelous wines and an electric green Chartreuse!

The last leg of our journey connected St Jean to San Sebastian, leading us down out of the foggy mountains to one of the most gorgeous beach cities in Spain. The early part of the ride was what Marty and Jill might conservatively refer to as “lumpy.” After another amazing village picnic under the roof of an outdoor handball court, we descended from one of the larger summits. After you’ve crested that one climb, the whole rest of the ride is a seemingly endless serpentine dance with the Basque topography- down, down, down we coasted. Just to keep us from getting too spoiled, there was a bit of vertical left to conquer coming into San Sebastian. In fact, we got to enjoy one small chunk of the race course for the 1997 World Championship Road Race where Marty raced.

The final flourish of a fantastic week of adventure came on our dinner plates, as we enjoyed the Basque’s version of tapas, better known as “Pintxos.” Both of our nights out in San Sebastian were filled with amazing cuisine and local wines. There is a remarkable white wine produced in that coastal area that has a slight effervescence to it, and is very dry with a strong mineral presence. The pintxos will enchant you in a number of ways. First, the experience of ordering and eating these little creations could not be any more Spanish. The more yelling and close-quartered nudging, the better. Everyone crowds around the bar, trying to catch the server’s eye or ear as best they can. You can smell the woman’s perfume next to you as much as you can the sea urchin paste on the pan tostado sitting on the counter. Second source of enchantment: The Look. It’s often hard to imagine destroying the pintxos because they’re such amazing micro-sculptures. It’s obvious the chefs have put as much thought into the flavor as they have the presentation. Lastly, your mouth’s opinion of these culinary masterpieces will seal the deal: you’ll be back for more. I know I will be…

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Beautiful Photos from Passerby Paul

Paul from New Jersey was strolling around last Sunday morning and snapped a couple of pictures of the TRUCK Pizza mobile. I was so happy to have some documentation of the truck in its mid-development that I encouraged Paul to shoot as much as he wanted. This is one of the photos he’s sent my way so far. For more of his work, visit: zagaphoto.com

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Final Pizza Tests Before Big Opening: WINTER WALK

My opening date is declared. December Third. The walk of doom? Could be. There is a lot still to pull together. For readers who don’t know, winter walk

transforms Hudson’s commercial district into a festive thoroughfare where both the traditional and the quirky mingle to create a celebration unlike any other.  Acknowledged as one of the premier holiday events in the Hudson Valley, Winter Walk attracts visitors from near and far who join the residents of this small, energetic river town to revel in the delights of the evening.

Horse-drawn wagons will provide rides around Seventh Street Park and at Fourth and Warren Streets.  And there will be plenty of action on the street, with Sax-o-Claus, a Tin Soldier on Stilts, the walking Gingerbread Boy, and Victorian Carolers all contributing to the mix.  In the animal realm, live reindeer will once more be on display below 3rd Street, and this year (weather permitting) miniature horses are available for petting and admiring at 5th and Warren.

Photo by Robert Burns Edwin the pizza truck will make his debut. We will be swamped. My A-Team right now includes Sara Kendall and Sam Merritt on ‘fire duty’ and order-taking/boxing/distribution.  And yes, we have discovered, quite happily, that three people can comfortably fit in the kitchen. Much remains to be done but I think it will all come together. Mark Orton, a local business consultant, was kind enough to visit the truck during a donation dinner that I did last night and snapped some pictures for me. I’ve included them below. Everything went pretty smoothly. We had some inconsistencies in the exact firing of the pizzas, but for the most part, they were good. My dough techniques and timing continue to improve. Sara and Sam are getting to know just how the oven behaves and how to keep it at a perfect temperature. Each time I’ve done a donation meal, more people come visit and there’s always some new luxury to enjoy in terms of truck development. Running Water. Music. Fire implement-holder thingies. More pizza peels. Oil dispenser. Onward and upward.

Sara tends to the fire. I am shaping some dough.

A pie is boxed for it's journey from the hearth to empty hands to chewing chamber to the belly

Canadian Steve, the Sicilian, loyal customer, places his order

Dough is streched, dusted with flour, lifted onto conmealed-wooden peels, topped, and shiffled into the oven.

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Trials, Tribulations, and Looky-Looky!

This grumpy man is my friend Elliot.  He has a laugh that would make you laugh, too.  He flew all the way out here from Tucson, Arizona to help out my sorry situation for ten days. What I told Elliot was that he makes me feel like the impossible is possible. I was ready to steer clear of plumbing all together, but the Dumontian casual optimism won over.  It’s amazing what we’re capable of when we let ourselves believe it.  He’s also patient when I’m bossy – (I am the boss) – or obsessive or strange. He’s nerdier than he looks. The first thing he says when he wakes up – (yes, we shared a futon) – is: “Damn, I’m good looking”

We spent Elliot’s first weekend at the MONOME CHAMBER farm (see the above device). Kelli and Brian invited us to take care of Eiffel the dog, Cousteau the cat, two goats, and sixteen chickens while they were gone. I had to give the driveway canopy a haircut to fit Edwin onto the property. What a beautiful place it was:

This is the downside of my unlucky inheritance of Edwin’s past. As was emphasized by our harrowing evening journey through the mountains back to Hudson. The rats nest of wiring in Edwin’s foamy brain is a serious situation. Elliot and I enjoyed a very proud MacGuiver moment when the lights went out completely after an hour of flickering. Using our sheer ingenuity (insert Dumontian optimism), a pocketknife, and a flashlight, we hardwired the left headlight directly to the battery terminals to make it home. Elliot spent the rest of the time in Hudson speaking with the automotive service headquarters back in Tucson (his Dad, Chip).  And we got to play with K.O. and her visiting friend Sarah, a brainiac from Montreal!

Lookie-Lookie! This is the graphic design Cara and I cooked up:

 

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Back from Europe, Edwin Takes a Field Trip to the Catskills

Mike O'Malley Grins with the promise of the first TRUCK Pizza.

Mike O’malley is responsible for getting me started on this whole pizza and oven craze. I told him about the project earlier this summer and he was kind enough to invite me up to the house in Hamden, NY, where he has an amazing shop and a beautiful property that periodically serves as a site for informal residencies. The past two weeks have been filled with extraordinary food, warmer than usual weather, apple cider pressing, stunning fall colors, and an occasional bike ride. All sandwiched between many hours of work, of course. We had our first pizza night in there, too.I havent got around to doing plumbing or electrical work, but just about all of the basic structural fabrication work is done, with the exception of building a rear porch for ordering on the back of the rear bumper. Elliot Dumont arrives tonight, and we plan on working Saturday, doing a big pizza night for Sunday, and heading to Hudson on Monday for more work.

The first gas shocks are installed on the awning. It works like a car hatchback door.

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