Are You Going to Eat That?

“Sometimes all you have to do is ask, and it can lead to all your dreams coming true” -Randy Pausch

Who in their right mind abandons a pizza?  Who has the heart to desert a perfectly fine pizza on the ledge of a pizza-truck pick-up window?

Door County Brewing Co. 

I witnessed the culprits recklessly strolling away with a red blinking restaurant pager in tow—one too many craft beers to notice.

It was a bustling Friday night at Door County Brewing Co.’s outdoor beer garden in Bailey’s Harbor WI.

Echoes of live music from the indoor taproom bled into the air and a bonfire flickered a mellow glow over rows of packed picnic tables.  Amidst the patrons, I spotted the highlight for which I’d come to explore.

Beyond the brews of Door County Brewing Co. they provide some delicious eats; epic meat and cheese boards, corn dogs and push-pops; but I was after the pizza-truck parked out back called Harbor Pizza.  With a “mobile stone oven” local restaurant Chives had expanded their operation and set up shop to serve pizzas to brewery customers.  It appears they feature about three different 12-inch varieties on any given night.

No, pizza is going to waste on my watch.

As I walked by to glance at the menu and observe their outdoor operation, I admired the steady stream of pizzas lining up as customers would approach and trade in their restaurant pagers for their pies.

As the night progressed, each time I’d pass by I couldn’t help but notice one little pizza at the end of the counter that was never picked up.  Every so often I’d crane my neck from where we were sitting and notice all the other pizzas joining their owners and that one pizza continually going unclaimed.

With closing time approaching, I couldn’t help but meander over to the disregarded pie and inquire about its future.  A kind dread-locked pizza-truck employee wielding a pizza peel gently turned around from tending the oven and noticed me gesturing towards the pizza.  “Did someone forget their pizza?” I asked.

“No one ever came back for it, man”

I had to ask whether it’s next home would be the overflowing bar trash can or if someone was going to claim it and to my utmost excitement my newfound hero replied: “you want it?”.

The good samaritan then spun his charred pizza paddle, swooped in to pick up the pie and slung it back in the oven with a smile on his face. A true gentleman indeed (he even gave us a box!).

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The orphan on round two.  

A few minutes later and the pizza was piping hot and back in business with a giddy new family. I chuckled all the way home, pizza box open in hand, reliving the silliness of the moment; the forgotten pizza resurrected and gifted by the kind-hearted pizzaiolo.

What pizza taught me:

It never hurts to ask the pizza-lovers proverbial question “is someone going to eat that?”.  Never leave a pizza behind (or a loved one for that matter).

What I’m eating: Abandoned pizza at Harbor Pizza pizza-truck at Door County Brewing Co. in Bailey’s Harbor, WI.

What I’m reading:  Own the Day, Own Your Life: Optimized Practices for Waking, Working, Learning, Eating, Training, Playing, Sleeping, and Sex -Aubrey Marcus

 

Summer into Fall

“Nothing is worth more than this day” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

September in Wisconsin is something to behold. As Summer reunites with Fall, the two grasp each other like old friends, reliving their glory days, hocking it up over the time they made it 70º and sunny in the Midwest.

We luck out with gorgeous weather from both seasons; a vibrant sun and bright green grass—a crisp cool breeze circulating through open windows and of course, football on TV.  When the temperature drops to “just right” time moves a little slower; the magnificence of this world becomes clear and undeniable and our pizza tastes a little sweeter.

As rare as these moments may be, I recently explored Wisconsin’s primary tourist temptation—Door County—I got the weather and the pizza and despite my habit of overthinking everything I managed to savor every moment.

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The Luther’s take Door County.

On the annual Luther family vacation pizza is a must—as you can probably imagine we take our pizza excursions quite seriously—so, we head to Door County’s primary pizzeria Wild Tomato Wood-Fired Pizza.

Picking up pizza’s at Wild Tomato has become a Luther family tradition; a legacy I’m proud to pass down to 5-month old Ellis.  Ellis even showed his support by wearing his “Born to be Wild” Wild Tomato onesie (I can’t believe it’s been a year since Tess and I bought it in anticipation of his arrival).

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As we approached a swarming Sister Bay—one of the main attractions of the Door County Penisula—we became enamored by the realization of soon scoring some wood-fired slices.  In true Luther fashion and overexcitement, I begin to overanalyze: How many pizzas? What toppings? and What time should we call the order in?  With this amount of traffic, how can we assure proper logistics to get this pizza hot and fresh back to the rental?

I often have to remind myself to chill the F’ out.

The busyness of a restaurant is a tell-tale sign of its greatness and Wild Tomato can handle some high-volume. They have indoor and outdoor seating, an outdoor bar, and a designated pick up entrance complete with two operational registers that have a constant flow of customers.  They churn out very high-quality pizzas in a high traffic area and do it with the utmost finesse.

The sauce at Wild Tomato reigns supreme; it’s fresh, earthy and has the perfect balance of herbs.  Actually, all of their ingredients are premium; from the crumbled sausage to the pesto to the dollops of goat cheese.  They don’t skimp on the mozzarella either as everything is covered under a nice snug cream-colored blanket.

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A perfect opportunity to savor the moment.

In Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity he shares advice passed down from his parents that led him through unnerving odds  “Live for the present and the future will look after itself”.  This motto is one I need a constant reminder of.

When I stop fretting about when I’m going to get my pizza, how long it’s going to take and where I’m going to get it, I can enjoy the details that actually make pizza fun.

I can savor the subtle notes of basil in the sauce, the salty, buttery depth of the mozzarella and the crispy crunch of a well-done pepperoni.  These nuances can invoke the same hyper-aware elation that the brief period of perfect Wisconsin weather can.

What pizza taught me:

I can romanticize summer, fall, and pizza all day long, but the truth is life’s magic is everywhere if we slow down and appreciate it.  Those beautiful days that hang in limbo between summer and fall will always be my favorite, just as Wild Tomato pizza is, but there no point in ruminating over when and where I’m going to get them.

What I’m eating: Wild Tomato Wood-fired Pizza

What I’m reading: Losing My Virginity Richard Branson (it’s a long-ass book!)

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What’s Better Than Pizza on a Friday?

“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who just had one” -Elbert Hubbard

Pizza on a Friday that kicks off a vacation.  There’s nothing like the swirling butterflies that accompany an approaching vacation—the same fluttering eagerness that’s often invoked by a slice.  A vacation on the horizon can give us the deep pleasure of anticipation—a joy that permeates our thoughts, can dull our day-to-day worries and make to-do lists more tolerable.

I love vacation almost as much as I love pizza.

The best part of my vacations is that they tend to be filled with pizza and vacation-pizza is no ordinary pizza. Vacation-pizza is guilt free and graces us multiple days in a row, maybe even multiple meals in a row, all in exciting new locales. There are no rules and regulations—unorthodox pizza practices are encouraged.

Vacation-pizza can be found in many varieties: Wood-fired Neapolitan in tourist traps, pizza-by-the-slice on bustling city streets, Dominos in hotel rooms and even take-n-bake around campfires on cabin retreats. Of course, all of it again cold and leftover in the morning—a quick slice for the road.

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The Baileys Harbor Cornerstone Pub.

As I write this on vacation in Door County, WI. I even found some surprisingly satisfying pizza at a family restaurant/bar called the Cornerstone Pub in Bailey’s Harbor which usually specializes in broasted chicken, prime rib sandwiches, and other bar staples (my brother said the prime rib sandwich was outstanding).

The pizza was reminiscent of the bowling alley pizza of my youth, and I do mean that in a positive way.  It was loaded with cheese, had quality sausage and a decent sauce—it was definitely an unexpected treat among a classic bar menu and it goes to show you never know what pizza you’ll stumble across on vacation.

Vacations are like extended cheat-days.

Whether it’s a 3-day holiday weekend or a whole week off often the best part of a vacation is it’s approaching awesomeness.

I’ve found it’s critical for me to always have some sort of vacation in queue.  The giddiness I get for an upcoming trip keeps me motivated and gives me something to look forward to, it can get me through a slump—pushing me one step further when I’m exhausted and want to quit. It’s where hard work gets rewarded.

Most run-of-the-mill two-day weekends I try to achieve this pending-vacation excitement by creating little mini-vacations. I try to indulge in some unique activity that evokes the feelings of vacation-mode; it could be as simple as exploring a new pizza spot the next town over or taking a trip down the Pizza Hut lunch buffet.  Anything that can give me a little tinge of that special “vactiony” feel.

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The best part of vacation besides the pizza? 

According to a CBSNEWS article “New York Times contributing science columnist John Tierney has been researching how to make the most of vacation time. He says people who take more vacations see real health benefits, like fewer heart attacks or bouts of depression.”

Tierney also says ”One of the big advantages of vacations is that it’s the anticipation beforehand makes you happy, for one or two months beforehand. So the more you can do that, the better.”

What pizza taught me: 

While the escape of a vacation is rejuvenating, the allure of its arrival is equally as rewarding.  The time leading up to our vacations is something to be cherished as it gives us something to day-dream about, make plans for, something to prep and pack for—something to look forward to with our families.   Now, back to my vacation, I’ve got leftover Cornerstone Pub to attend to.

What I’m eating:  Half pepperoni, half sausage at The Bailey’s Harbor Cornerstone Pub,  Bailey’s Harbor in Door County Wi.

What I’m Reading: Richard Branson Losing my Virginity