Friday, June 20, 2008

I Went to the Magical Pizza Farm! Nyah Nyah!

This past Tuesday, a friend let me in on a little secret. There's this farm in Wisconsin that serves pizza featuring their own home-grown ingredients. It's not exactly a real secret (clues can be found online), but the operation is basically word-of-mouth, with no advertising.

After more than an hour's drive through hilly country, with the final stretch consisting of graveled rural roads, we came to the farm itself. The below-the-radar policy was understandable; cars belonging to hardcore fans filled both sides of the road for some distance. Depending on the time of year, the farm serves pizzas to about 200 people, once a week, in the course of just a few hours.

After consulting the menu board, we placed our orders. Not all of the options were 100% local (my pizza had olives, which unless I'm mistaken are rarely found in this part of the Midwest), but certainly enough of them came straight from the farm to make this a local meal. The proprietors make their own meats, including a pretty good sausage & a very tasty pepperoni, & it looked like the fresh mozzarella was made on site as well. Many vegetable toppings were canned from the previous season. The homemade pies are baked in two wood-fired ovens, as they should be.

After a roughly 20 minute wait, we got our pizzas & dug in. Please note the fully decorated table, complete with freshly dry-cleaned tablecloth & candelabra, in the background. Some people take this place very seriously.

Many people we spoke to had been coming here for years, passing the tradition to trusted friends one at a time. Along with families of all ages, there were not one, but two separate groups of "Red Hat Ladies" (& if you are unfamiliar with this subculture, I really can't explain it in the context of this post). Sadly, no rumble ensued between the factions. Perhaps the pizza acted as a pacifying influence.

Ah, yes, the pizza. Not bad at all, although, if removed from it's setting, I might have found it about average. I think part of the enjoyment of the pizza stems from the difficulty of obtaining the pizza in the first place, as well as the knowledge of the year-round hard work spent in creating it. Sort of like how the meal at the end of the first day of a hiking trip is the best damn meal in the world, despite (& perhaps because of) the sand & bark mixed in. No grit in the pizzas, mind you, but there were quite a few farm-cats who really, really wanted to be our friends.

All told, a truly awesome, magical & unique local eating experience. Even better, there was enough leftover pizza to snack on for days (still working on it). The farm also sells actual local bread featuring the following ingredients; "Stockholm wheat flour, fresh ground corn, sea salt". That's it, other than (one assumes) starter, & everything but the salt grown on the farm. Sweet!

-nano out.


Liz said...

This sounds awesome! What a fabulous local eating adventure!
I love eating establishments that have cats wandering around. It's so European.

nano said...

Yeah, I was somewhat amazed at how completely unperturbed the little critters were by all the people there. Your average urban house-cat would have been thoroughly freaked out.

I found the whole thing fascinating, & an excellent example of how small-scale, community-building local food systems can work. I'm guessing we'll be seeing more of these sorts of ventures in the coming years, providing various regulatory agencies don't act like total jerks.