Eugene, OR – Cozmic Pizza

I tend to think vegetarians look a little peaked. Ashen. Sickly. My idea of a “healthy look” for people is a natural tan, but of course, we know that’s not healthy, either.

I was thinking about this when I opened the box from Cozmic Pizza, a mini chain in Western Oregon. The pizza looked ashen. Like it was unhealthy. Not for me, all by its lonesome.

This was my first venture into an “all-organic” pizza. It wasn’t my first choice for the night, but the preferred stop “Pete’s Italian Cafe and Pizza” neglected to tell my Tom Tom it had gone out of business before my arrival, and all that greeted me was a “For Lease – Restaurant Space” sign. So it was on to Cozmic.

Cozmic Pizza Eugene ReviewI had narrowed my choices by polling Ducks on the streets of Eugene (or are they Beavers?), ok, well, they were Beavers even if they were Ducks, I only asked women “what’s the best pizza in town?”

I had glanced at the Cozmic menu ahead of time, but not thoroughly enough, all I really noted was that they offered green olives as a topping, so I was OK with that (I thought).

The outlet I went to was inside a building called “The Strand”, which also houses a coffee bar, Internet area, and live performances of one kind or another. I’m not sure if these places are co-owned or just co-located, doesn’t matter, seems like a pretty good concept.

I went to the corner to place my order to go (this journey was all about my privacy for some reason, I didn’t eat in public at all), and I tendered my order, which was greeted by a series of questions about my choices, which made me want to rethink my stopping there.

“White, wheat, or gluten-free crust,” the server asked? (She cautioned me that gluten-free takes an hour to prepare).

Then it was “vegan cheese or real cheese”. My eyeballs rolled so hard my wife would have been able to hear them.

So it made me think, I better ask about the composition of the pepperoni and the “special gourmet sausage,” and the reply was as I feared, these were fowl-based meats.

The server lady assured me they tasted just like the “real thing”. I said I’d take it, but could make no promises I wouldn’t be hurling the sausage pieces against the wall later in my motel room.

I committed to the event on every level ($23), and walked around the block a couple of times while I was waiting. Eugene is a curious town, with its college-based economy. For one thing, it took me stopping at five motels before I found one that took cash. I’m not sure if that’s a condition of the level of customers, or employees, that they have. I like the anonymity of cash at motels. Hearkens back to a time when it was requisite behavior due to the purpose of one’s visit.

You can judge for yourself whether you think the pizza looks “sickly.” It wasn’t so terribly bad, the toppings were might skimpy, and the sausage was served “New York City” style, that is, a link sausage has been cooked and sliced thin on the bias to be used as a topping. I much prefer bulk spicy Italian as a topping, and not the pre-cooked food service nugget kind. The pizza had a “non-pizza” herb or spice on it which I couldn’t place. Cinnamon? Allspice? Something in that family.

How did I come to end up in Eugene? Well, I started out to revisit some places in Seattle, and while in Vancouver, WA, exited to hit a Wal Mart, and just kept going East. I had a great day tho, sitting in a warm springs pool at a spa (its like taking a bath in warm Evian), had a bang-up club sandwich, in Madras, Oregon, and visited the Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood (used for exteriors in “The Shining.” Beautiful mountain drives involved here. The past few weeks I have been hitting some of Oregon’s “must see” destinations, so I don’t end up like the native New Yorker who has never visited the Statue of Liberty. Instead, now, if someone asks me “you live(d) in Portland, did you ever get to….?” I can say, yeah, that place was cool!

Would I go back to Coszmic? Well, maybe to conduct a more probing survey among the Duck Beavers, but not for the pizza.

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Home Pizza Dough Quest

My quest continues to make GREAT home made pizza. This week I triedkingarthur mix PNG King Arthur Brand Crust Mix, a pack makes two 12″ thin crusts, or larger single thick crust.

The mix is complete, includes a yeast package, the ingredients ( semolina flour (durum wheat), King Arthur Unbleached Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour), dough improver (extra grade sweet cream dairy whey, highly refined soy flour, sweet cream buttermilk, hi-heat non-fat dry milk), natural flavorS, salt, leavening (monocalcium phosphate, baking soda, cornstarch), diastatic malt powder (malted barley flour, wheat flour, dextrose), inactive yeast, sour cream powder (sour cream, cultured nonfat milk, citric acid). YEAST: yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid) are quite complex, would be difficult to duplicate on one’s own.

The first thing I liked about this was I was able to do it completely in the mixer with a dough hook, no hand kneading was required (although you may enjoy kneading, some people do). The dough was very workable and had the right amount of stretch, and it was absolutely no problem to roll it or stretch it to the size and shapes I wanted.

It cooked up very well @ 500 for 15 minutes on a stone, tho I am still having a little problem sliding them onto the stone without some misshaping  occurring. The stones have corn meal on them (which burns @ 500), and so does the paddle, as well as being dusted with flour, but there is some trick to an easy slide which I haven’t mastered. I have better luck with using the silicone/plastic cutting mats than I do the metal pizza paddle.

I made two pies from this batch, a salami/pepperoni, green olive, mozzarella one, and an all vegetable one with peppers, onions, basils from the garden, and mushrooms.

The outer crust was perfectly crisp, the center was slightly crispy and chewy. I could have probably rolled them thinner, but then sliding them onto the stone would be a greater problem. I need a dough roller!

I also purchased a 3# bag of King Arthur Perfect Pizza Blend ($7.50 – would appear to be a better value than the mix), which I will give a shot in the near future.

Would appreciate any suggestions for the “stone slide” problem I am having!

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Home pizza dough

Duluth, MN – Lees Pizza Duluth

Once upon a time, there was a local small pizza chain in Duluth, called “Mr. Franks”. Some years ago, Mr. Franks “West”, at 21st Avenue West and Superior Street, was taken over by Lee, and dubbed “Lee’s Pizza.”

Lee maintained the Mr. Frank’s recipe, which is a good, if not great, substitute,if one has just had enough of Sammy’s.

Lee retired a couple of years ago, but the place was recently named to the top in a reader poll at the Duluth News Tribune.

Although I will always love Sammy’s, I’m partial to Lee’s, because for six months, I lived in a little apartment above the place, and Lee and I became good friends.  Lee occasionally let me and my then true love (who worked next door) make and bake our own.

It’s good to have a friend in the pizza business.

Minnesota burger reporter Kawikamedia recently stopped in to Lee’s for a sausage, pepp, green olive combination, and reported it is still MOST excellent.

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Lees Pizza Duluth
Lee's Pizza Menu Duluth

Wolfgang Puck’s Thin Crust Frozen Pizza

The description on the website (and the package) says: “A thin, honey-infused crust with a classic tomato, basil and garlic sauce, and mozzarella, parmesan and fontina cheeses, and uncured pepperoni, sopressatta salami and Italian sausage.”

About 24 ounces, a little north of $6, I was eager to try this new entry to the frozen market. Dollar per ounce, the value is average. Instructions were 425 degree oven for 11-13 minutes, middle rack. I use a pre-heated pizza stone, and so it was ready for consumption right on time.

I wouldn’t call it “thin crust,” at least not by my definition. More like “normal/average crust” and tho I couldn’t personally detect the honey infusion in the crust, the bread part of the pie did have a good flavor. The outer crust was slightly crispy, and the inner chewy, which is to my preference.

The ingredients panel shows a darth of preservatives, which I guess is good. (So people tell me). The uncured meats have a good flavor, but Wolfy, why so chintzy on them? Three pieces of salami and five pieces of pepperoni? (Tho the pic on the box shows more than that). The sausage was indistinguishable. More cheese, please.

I give this pie a solid “B”, but it still trails Home Run Inn and CPK in my personal satisfaction category. The pizza is pictured below just coming out of the heating chamber.



Portland – Jo Bar

The food was superb, but we were sorry to be there on the day which, apparently, every single staff member lost a dear relative…or their cat…or…..really, this was the gloomiest set of service personnel I have experienced in years, and generally the mood of a food establishment starts at the top, and filters down…so something was amiss.

But the food? Divine.

Our (gloomy) server delivered water, bread, herb butter and a few mixed olives to the table and asked for our drink order, which was taken and delivered.

We started with the smoke gouda and emmenthaler, warmed in the wood-fired oven, and accompanied by apple slices, poached asparagus spears, and crusty bread. Served in a ramikin with a warmer, at first glance, I was disappointed in the small serving, but it proved to be more than ample.

My dining companion order the Thai Pad ravioli, a melange of vegetables in a spicy broth with vegetable stuffed ravioli.

I ordered one of the wood-fired pizzas, whichwas great, crispy bubbled crust, ample serving of hard “artisan” salami, a red seasoned red gravy sauce, and fresh mozzarella. As you know, I am a big pizza eater, and the serving was on the smallish size, at least in my first thought, but the fondue had made a big dent in my peckishness, so I was not able to finish the pizza. Ok, i ate the toppings and left the crust. Would I return? Sure, but I would be better prepared next time to have a FOOD experience, and not a DINING experience.

Jo Ext

Jp salume

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