- Date: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 -- 9pm
- Location: Bloomington, IN
- Kitchen: My Apartment
- Fellow Chef: Matty
- Recipe Rating: B-
Occasionally there are moments in this project when I think, "Why am I doing this?" Often those moments center around hard-to-find ingredients. I had one such moment last Christmas. As part of my Christmas present, my special gentleman gave me a pizza stone. He gave me this gift when we were celebrating with my family in Wisconsin, and so it was in the car when we went to celebrate with his family in Ohio. He was eager to try it out so we decided to have a Pizza Night with his family one evening. Matty and I picked out three pizza recipes from The Book (including this one) and set off to the grocery store. I knew Robiola cheese wouldn't be found at just any grocery store, so we started at Whole Foods. We were told that they sometimes carry it, but weren't carrying it at the moment, and they referred us elsewhere. The short summary of a very LONG grocery trip is that we ended up driving all around Columbus, Ohio, to visit many, many stores, most of which claimed to carry the cheese until we arrived to find that indeed they had "run out," or were confused about what we were looking for. After HOURS of this, we returned to his parents house, cheeseless, hungry, and crabby. That was almost a year ago now, and since then I have been in several places where doubtless it would be no problem to find Robiola. In Boston, for instance, I know several places to buy it. But the issue is that since its one Christmas trip, my pizza stone has been living with me in Bloomington, Indiana. As it is both heavy and fragile, I don't travel with it. So the problem was not only that I needed Robiola, but that I needed Robiola in Bloomington. This seemed nearly insurmountable, so I mentally filed it with, "Problems I will deal with later," and moved on to other recipes.
So there I was 4 weeks ago, in Chicago with Brad and Deniz at Whole Foods, when Deniz and I decided we would look for some Manchego to go with dinner. There I was, scanning the cheeses when it jumped out at me: Robiola! I was irrationally excited because I knew I could buy it there, pack it in ice, and drive it back to Bloomington with me. And indeed that is what I did. Then I patiently waited for my special gentleman to come back to Indiana after several weeks away so we could make this pizza together!
So, after all that, how was it? Disappointing. After having cooked my way through more than half of this book, I can honestly say that I am impressed by how few typos it has in it. But this recipe has a typo. In the ingredients list it calls for 1 and 1/4 pounds of portobello mushroom caps, gills scraped out and discarded, caps cut into 1/4 inch dice. That is exactly what it says. Then right after that, in parentheses, it says (1 cup). Now, I don't know what kind of leaden mushrooms they weighed, but there is NO WAY that 1 cup of mushroom caps weighs 1 and 1/4 pounds. I would bet that 5 cups of mushroom caps don't weigh 1 and 1/4 pounds. My guess is that the 1 and 1/4 was supposed to read just 1/4, and that the 1 cup was the right amount to use. But the recipe said 1 and 1/4 pounds, so that is what I did. It wasn't even possible to fit that many diced mushrooms on my pizza, so I didn't quite put them all on. But even looking at the pizza uncooked I knew exactly what was going to happen. The mushrooms, as they cooked, released their liquid. Since it was a lot of mushrooms, it was a lot of liquid. Much too much liquid. It made the pizza soggy and sad. it was a shame too because the flavors were awesome together. The Robiola was great, and its strong flavor complement the mild mushrooms and zucchini nicely. But the texture was a disaster. It is possible that without the typo this recipe could be great, but as written it it not-so-good.
The recipe in The Book is clearly based on this recipe, but the amounts are a bit different (namely, the online recipe has a much more sensible quantity of mushrooms!).