Well, here we are two months later and I'm finally getting around to jotting some thoughts down about this amazing event.
There's many different facets to pizza obsession, but I think that one of the traits that I respect the most is the compulsion to travel to the ends of the earth to eat pizza. I could probably get in my car, right now, and drive for the next year and still log no where near the mileage that John and Larry have logged.
There's an unmistakable connection between making astounding pizza and having an insatiable quest to try as many pizzas as possible. While I think it's very possible to make great pizza in a vacuum, without the traveling/sampling aspect of this equation, I think the pavement beater is more likely to achieve the goal, simply because they've eaten enough pizza to know exactly what they want. I don't think it's any coincidence that the three people who I know that have traveled the most- John, Larry and Paulie, are also some of the best pizza makers in this area.
So, when I get a chance to hang out with John and Larry, it's a big deal, because these are the people that have traveled further than anyone that I know- and I look up to that.
Historically speaking, the best pizzas were generally made by guys that kept it pretty simple and didn't overthink things. It's only in recent years that the geeks have begun to make their mark. Bianco will tell you he isn't a geek (and, to an extent, rail against us), but his test kitchen proves otherwise
John, has, in the past, spoken about being less caught up with theory and more with doing, and I've always respected his classical approach and the pizzas he's been able to make with it, but, in recent months, I've noticed some pretty geeky behavior in John- and a corresponding stratospheric quality to his pizza.
So, John, I don't know if being called a nerd makes you happy or not, but, I'm telling you, you are one
The drop in bake time, the blending of flours, the increased sophistication in toppings, the homemade cheese- you're applying a massive amount of gray matter to your pizza- and it's showing.
Here's where I feel that John is at. Let's pretend that John open's a brick and mortar right next to Keste. Which door am I taking? John's. I might swing over to Keste for a lardo pie after John's, but I'm going to John's first. What he's putting out, right now, is in that echelon.
Besides having my world rocked with John's pizza, the company was equally as paradigm bending. John's family was, as always, incredibly gracious and charming. Larry (and John and Arti) turned my somewhat negative impression of the expo on it's ear with all the great info they were able to take from the event. I'm not big on glitz and glam, and I don't think authentic NY style gets a fair shake in Vegas, but... I will concede that whenever you can get a group of pizza obsessives in one room, there's a vast opportunity for sharing knowledge- and that's a good thing.
I sincerely hope that, at some point, Arti joins this forum. If you think I have strong opinions- you gotta meet Arti. Next to Arti, I'm demure
So, in summation, this was quite bit more than having a great time, with good company and good pizza- this was the usual life altering event that I experience whenever I sit down with obsessives and geeks- of which John is one