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More Great Tomato News!

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This week there is some great news for those of us who love tomatoes and tomato products! Ohio State University just published a three year study that suggests tomato consumption cuts down our risk of skin cancer.

This is really good news for super fair skinned people like me who like to eat pizza outside in a lawn chair. 

It seems that the same compounds that give tomatoes their lovely red color might also protect our skin from damaging (but oh so warm and wonderful) rays from the sun. Previous studies have showed similar results where  Lycopene, an antioxidant that tomatoes are full of, actually prevented some redness from sun burn. Isn’t it interesting that this vegetable (yes, I know it’s a fruit smartypants- I really just like to call it a vegetable) with such a nice red color helps to keep you from getting red?

Full disclosure about the new study- it was done with mice and it seemed to work on the male mice and not the female mice.  That doesn’t bother me though, I am confident that those female mice were probably sneaking in some extra time in the tanning bed.

What we do know is that more and more evidence leads to the belief that the lovely red and juicy tomato is one of the healthiest things you can eat.

And since its the middle of July and my skin is exposed to some serious rays almost every day, I had better eat lots of tomatoes.

Good thing Garlic Jim’s is promoting its Queen Margherita pizza this month!  Olive oil and garlic infused crust, basil, roasted garlic, smooth 100% whole milk mozzarella cheese and of course  those fresh and tasty chopped tomatoes.

Being healthy is so delicious!

Ciao for now

Olive

 

Pizza

Are You Ready For Valentine’s Day?

photo-feb-10-6-49-52-pmEach year it seems that Valentine’s Day becomes more and more stressful than the last.  If you buy into the advertising hype that starts a good month before February 14th, you would believe that  buying your significant other a gift that costs less than 3 months salary makes you an awful person.

This year give the gift that any man, woman or child will truly love-pizza. I have done some informal research on top Valentine’s gifts so that I can present to you my reasons why #pizzaisbetter.

  1. Expensive jewelry: I once lost a pair of diamond earrings in the bathroom sink.  Literally, money down the drain. Pizza is better because A) it doesn’t cost a fortune and B) it usually isn’t eaten in the bathroom, so no danger of losing it.
  2. Flowers: OK, flowers are nice, but Pizza is better because rather than wilting in 3 days, pizza supplies you with the nutrition that your body needs to survive. Unless you are putting your flowers in the compost pile, their life cycle will end in your home.
  3. Box of Chocolates:  Boxes of assorted chocolates are SO annoying! Why would anyone want to guess what is inside your piece of chocolate before you bite into it?? (Apologies to Mrs. Gump.) Pizza is better because you get to see exactly what you are going to eat before you eat it!!

Anyways, you get the point.  Order pizza this Valentine’s Day and everyone will be happy. Here’s a secret that isn’t public knowledge- there are some select Garlic Jim’s stores that will make you a heart shaped pizza on Valentine’s Day, but you have to call them on the phone and ask for it. This makes Valentine’s Day pizza extra special for your special somebody.

Whether it’s heart shaped or round, pizza is just better. And since we are talking about Valentine’s day, a Garlic Jim’s Famous Gourmet pizza seems to be in order. Trust me on this one.

Ciao for now!

Olive

 

 

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A Pizza and Beer Pairing Fit for a Blizzard

Lots of snowfall and empty road at night in suburb area

As I sit here on a drizzly Pacific Northwest Saturday night, I am watching coverage of the historic blizzard that is pounding the East Coast. I have to admit I am a little jealous- although I’m certain that many residents in New York, Washington D.C. and surrounding areas might tell me to be careful what I wish for.

The thought of having to hunker down as snow is blowing sideways and piling up into giant drifts is one that is unique to us Pacific Northwesterners. But even the mental image of shoveling snow for a few hours in frigid temperatures is appealing because nothing tastes better after cold weather exertion than Pizza and Beer.

Of course this is the perfect time for a mid January Pizza and Beer pairing.

And if I have to tell you why Pizza and Beer is gourmet- please re-read some past entries- or go see your psychologist.

A January Pizza and Beer pairing must be fit for a blizzard.  It must have lots of flavor and lots of calories for all of the hours of snow shoveling. (Did you know that shoveling snow burns around 500 calories an hour?) It also must be comforting for hunkering down and watching the snow pile up out the window.

The duo that I have chosen is the Garlic Jim’s Hercules and Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ Ale. As I just mentioned, shoveling snow takes lots of effort- thus The Hercules.  This pizza is an original and beloved creation from Garlic Jim’s. The Hercules doesn’t mess around with veggie toppings or any other topping ingredients that weren’t once…um…living  mammals. (Sincere apologies to my vegetarian readers.) As you can imagine, the Hercules has some serious swagger. Salami. Pepperoni. Canadian Bacon. Beef. Italian Sausage. Bacon. BOOM!

Brown Shugga’ Ale from the Lagunitas brewing company is a hefty and simply scrumptious complement to the Hercules. As you may have guessed, Brown Shugga’ Ale is made by fermenting Brown Sugar. The sweet and malty taste goes oh-so-perfectly with an all meat pizza.  I am told that Brown Shugga is a seasonal beer that Lagunitas rolls out during the holidays which is why it makes sense that it pairs well with smoky meats like bacon and the ham-like Canadian bacon. Also, this beer really brings out all of the great qualities of salami which is a cured sausage that contains fermented meat. Sugar and meat are just such a wonderful combination- don’t you think?

Even if you weren’t shoveling snow, just looking at snow sends signals to your brain that you really need some carbs and protein. It just seems right! Biting into a slice of hot and savory Hercules pizza is instant fulfillment. Washing it down with the sweet, strong yet mellow tones of Brown Shugga’ will make you feel warm and fuzzy- guaranteed. Now, for those of us who are not in the middle of a snowstorm, here is a list of ideas to make a Hercules and Brown Shugga’  meal deserving:

Cleaning gutters. Cleaning the garage. Taking down Christmas Lights. Washing your car (OK maybe 2 cars). Trimming  trees. Gathering firewood. OK- I have helped you out enough- you get the point.

A note of warning for this bold and extremely enjoyable combination of calories and alcohol. You may need a nap after your comfort food bonanza. (Brown Shugga’ packs quite a punch so one serving will probably do it for you! No snowplow driving- seriously.)

But a nice nap is the perfect ending for a cold, hard working, snow shoveling (or garage cleaning), hearty, sweet and savory beer and pizza kind of day.

Ciao for now

Olive

 

 

 

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Genius of the Pizza

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In case you haven’t noticed, I really like pizza- and I’m not alone. Pizza is so popular that even our government keeps tabs on it. Last year the USDA presented its “Dietary Data Brief No. 11” to highlight America’s pizza consumption habits. Who says the government wastes time and money on silly projects?  (I’m only halfway joking here- Pizza is very important to our economy!)

One of the findings was that 1 in 8 Americans consumed pizza on any given day.  If you think that is a lot, how about the fact that 1 in 4 males ages 6-19 consume pizza on a given day.   A young man who is near and dear to my heart  helped bring that average up by eating pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner some days during his upbringing. He has recently left the 6-19 age group but is still attending college so I’m confident that his pizza eating days are far from over- and why should they be? It really is the smartest food ever invented.

Why do college students love pizza so much-apart from the fact that it goes so good with beer?  They love it because it is practical. I like to talk about the 3 Cs when it comes to pizza. Convenience, Complexity and Common Sense. Those three attributes are part of the genius of a pizza.

Can a product that is consumed in huge amounts in fraternity houses across the country be considered genius?  You better belive it! Just think about it.  It’s a PLATE made out of dough! OK- you might say, “Well Olive- there are lots of things made out of edible plates.  How about pies? What about pancakes?” Those items are nice and fine, but syrup and cherry filling do not exactly add up to a meal. The pizza plate has everything that you need on it. Veggies, dairy, and meat (or if you prefer- something resembling meat that didn’t die a senseless death for the sake of a pizza… whatever…)

Before pizza was invented, those poor fraternity brothers had to actually work for a balanced meal. It was very time consuming! Find a loaf of bread, cut the mold off of the cheese and search through the refrigerator for a meat product. And vegetables?  Are you kidding?  It just wasn’t going to happen. Now, all mothers who send their young men (and women) off to college can be certain that they will be getting their vegetables. This is because the first layer on that plate made out of dough is most likely TOMATO sauce!  What’s even more genius about a pizza is that the veggie part of it is hidden.  An edible plate that conceals a vegetable with meat and cheese on top. Definietly genius.

To all of you smarty-pants readers out there that are murmuring to themselves, “A tomato is a fruit not a vegetable.” I have news for you- the USDA  lumps together fruits AND veggies in its “Dietary Guidelines” and furthermore, if you examine the USDA food pyramid- what do you see in the vegetable group?  That’s right. A TOMATO. Look closely.

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Speaking of the food pyramid- please take note that the structure of the food pyramid is pretty darn close to that of a pizza. Bread at the bottom, veggies next and then your cheese and meat.  Coincidence?  You decide.

That’s the common sense part of the pizza equation. The entire food pyramid in one place- on one plate!  Which brings me back to the convenience part of the pizza equation. That plate made out of dough is so handy- and not just for college kids.  What about when you have just moved and can’t find your dishes? Pizza. Maybe your power is out and you can’t wash utensils? Pizza. How about any occasion that you can think of where you want easy eating, easy preparation and easy clean up. Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. Check.

The last part of the pizza equation that I would like to address today is complexity. Pizza does not ever have to be boring. If you take all of the different combinations of sauce, cheese and other toppings, the results are endless. Ever tried a pizza topped with chipotle pesto sauce with all sorts spicy meats and cashews to top it off? If you haven’t you should because it is an amazing experience! Pizza is a vehicle for all things gourmet and complex. Pizza is complex because it is many different parts woven together to make a wonderful union of scrumptious. It is complex because  is there are so many combinations that are available; and finally it is complex because it links all of the other attributes I have mentioned such as convenience and common sense.

Why do some people never tire of pizza; even after eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner for decades?  For one simple reason: It’s the only food product that can truly be called GENIUS.

Ciao for now

Olive

Garlic Jim's Pizza · gourmet pizza · Pizza · Uncategorized

Beloved Baseball

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This week, one of the most well known and interesting characters in the game of baseball passed away at age 90. Yogi Berra may have been best known for his  quirky quotes that made us laugh and scratch our heads at the same time. It was just a little coincidental that Berra’s passing coincided with the week that I have been uttering the words “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Over and Over. This is in reference to our beloved Seattle Mariners who, unless a miracle happens, will not be playing in the post season this year. Those who have lived in Seattle for a while and are fans of the sport, know that the Seattle Mariners are LONG past due for a trip to the World Series. Each year, we have high hopes and add some amazing talent, and each year (at least in the last 14) we fall short.  So, the question is, why do so many of us keep coming back to the ballpark with huge smiles? The answer is simple: A trip to the baseball park = A Gourmet Day!

To me, it seems pretty obvious why a baseball day is a Gourmet Day, but let me help you out just in case you may question my statement. First and foremost: The Food. Any food consumed at a baseball park tastes many times better than that same food eaten just about anywhere else. chilidogFor example, I have included a picture of a VEGAN chili dog. I can almost guarantee you that if I was in my kitchen munching on this very “Seattle-like” creation that I…well, I would NOT be! No offense to vegans or their food choice, but it’s just not my thing. However, eating a vegan chili dog at the ballpark while watching King Felix Hernandez strike out unfortunate batters, just makes it taste pretty darn good! And don’t get me started on the garlic fries at Safeco Field. They are pretty legendary and it’s a good thing, because you will smell like garlic for about 2 days after the game. Of course I LOVE garlic as it is actually in the name of my favorite pizza place! (Speaking of which, I am still mourning the loss of Garlic Jim’s as the pizza vendor at Safeco Field. Pizza will never quite be the same.)

 Another aspect of a Gourmet Day at the ballpark is the view. Most of the time I purchase “view” seats which is translation for “cheap” seats, but for me it is the best way to go.  Watching the sunlight fading from your high perch on the third deck as the lights of Seattle’s tallest buildings start to shimmer is pure bliss. Simultaneously, the stadium lights shine brighter on the field, the air becomes cooler and crisper and the game of baseball starts to appear simply majestic (especially when the King is pitching).thirddecksafecocrop Taking a walk outside on the food promenade, you are able to actually watch the sunset over the stunning Puget Sound while listening to the crowd roar inside the stadium. Before going back to your seats, you can purchase a nice warm hot chocolate that, even though it was probably made from a powdered mix, will taste delightfully gourmet back at your seat.

Having a winning baseball season and looking forward to playoff games is exhilarating and wondrous, but taking in the game for all of its gourmet beauty can be wondrous on its own. I am still looking forward to next season (or a miracle), but win or lose, I am looking forward to at least one more evening at the ballpark. The wise Mr. Berra said that “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” And THAT is neither quirky or head scratching to me. It makes perfect sense.

Ciao for now!

Olive

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A Tale of the Tomato

 Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes. 

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A good part of my Gourmet year and therefore my Gourmet life consists of the cultivation, care and consumption of many different varieties of tomatoes.  Early February, when the world outside is still cold and barren, I start little bitty tomato seeds in little plastic pots set in all of my south facing windows.  By March, they have transformed into tiny little seedlings that seem like it would be a miracle to produce the bounty in this picture. If it is warm enough at the end of May, the process starts to gradually transition the “teenage” plants outside for growing in the big outdoors. If our summer in Seattle is a hot one like it was this year, I will be rewarded with red, yellow and orange tomatoes by the beginning of August. And then the fun begins. This year in particular was a banner year as I was able to collect at least a colander full of beautiful heirloom tomatoes almost each day in August. Those pictured  starting from the big red tomato in the center and moving left; “Mortgage Lifter” which legend claims a farmer was able to pay off his mortgage with, “Sweet Million”, a cherry tomato with incredible fresh taste and finally “Hillbilly” the incredibly tasty orange heirloom that my favorite gourmet buddy has renamed “Hippy Dippy” and it shall forever be so.

As tomato season is winding to an end, I start thinking about how to get my fresh tomato fix. One of my favorite tomato vessels is of course, PIZZA. Consequently, one of the reasons that I am so in love with Garlic Jim’s pizza is the tomato sauce that is the base of so many wonderful toppings. I had a chance to ask Dwayne Northrop (being a number one fan has its perks), the founder and CEO of Garlic Jim’s, why Garlic Jim’s sauce is soooo much better than the competitors. Here is his reply:

“Well Olive, Garlic Jim’s uses what is called Fresh Packed Sauce which means it was not made from paste. You see, every Fall in Northern California, all of the tomatoes are harvested in a short period of time and the farmers need to get them from the vine to be processed in only a few hours. So…. 95% of the tomatoes are dehydrated down to paste. That means they evaporate out a lot of the water.  Then when someone like Domino’s needs sauce, they get out the paste, add a bunch of water and some spices and put the sauce in a can. Most grocery spaghetti sauce is made from paste.”

“But Garlic Jim’s sauce, on the other hand, was canned within HOURS of the tomatoes being picked. Our sauce was never evaporated down to the level of paste and water was NEVER added. All of the liquid in our sauce is from the fresh tomatoes itself!”

Garlic Jim’s sauce looked red like a tomato and smelled fresh like it was just picked.

Then Mr. Northrop challenged me to purchase can of pizza sauce from a big warehouse store (which is the same sauce that most pizza restaurants use) and meet him at my local Garlic Jim’s for a test. We opened the two sauces and sure enough the Garlic Jim’s sauce looked red like a tomato and smelled fresh like a just picked tomato (and believe me, I know that smell). The other sauce….. well let’s just say it didn’t.

Since I was already standing in a Garlic Jim’s pizza store, I asked if I could possibly make myself a little pizza (you know, for further tomato research…)  Mr. Northrop, being the super nice CEO that he is, even let me make the pizza myself so that I could really see for myself the awesomeness of this sauce.

Garlic Jim's Famous This is what I call fresh tomato on a crust.  I’m not even sure if I need cheese!

When I think of the long dark months to come with nothing but withering vines in my yard, my thoughts turn to joy and happiness at the thought of my next Garlic Jim’s Famous Gourmet pizza with its fresh packed goodness.

Ciao for now!

Olive

Garlic Jim's Pizza · gourmet pizza · Pizza · Uncategorized

Oh Boy! It’s that time of year!

Shaker-Sign-Big-Jimmy-32x24Ahhh, September! So many things to love about this month! So many opportunities for a Gourmet Day. Beautiful scenery, cool crisp weather, and of course bountiful food as this is, of course, harvest time.  Today I will just focus on one September activity that some people may not associate with the word Gourmet- but you better believe that Olive sure does! Football. In particular Seahawks football. Of course, those who know me well know that my first September sports choice would be baseball and the Seattle Mariners heading towards the playoffs, but alas, it looks like it was not meant to be this year- so GO HAWKS!  Fair weather fan?  Maybe….

OK- back to food.  Most people associate football with cheap beer and hot wings and not with the word Gourmet.  I would like to argue that if you are truly savoring that cheap beer, than it IS indeed Gourmet! I will be reviewing some great microbrews in future posts, but today I will be discussing the granddaddy of all football food.  PIZZA!

My favorite pizza place, Garlic Jim’s has just introduced what might be the perfect football pizza that is both hefty and sophisticated at the same time. It’s called the Big Jimmy and it is out for a limited time, although I hope they will keep it on the menu for good! What makes this pizza nearly indescribably delicious is the Roasted Garlic Tomato sauce that all of the yummy toppings sit atop. Some genius over at Garlic Jim’s decided to mix the perfect blend of their super fresh tomato sauce with smooth and flavorful garlic basil sauce.  The combination is refined and absolutely perfect for this pizza. Another genius move (and gutsy, I might add) is to combine this sophisticated sauce with big bold toppings such as salami, bacon, spicy Italian sausage and of course Garlic Jim’s famous pepperoni. Red onions and green peppers round this pizza out to make it truly a hearty meal for even the most hungry football fans.  Oh, and did I mention extra mozzarella cheese?  Well now I did.

Tomorrow around half time I will be hopefully enjoying a big Seahawks lead, but if not, I will be enjoying a slice or two (or three) of the Garlic Jim’s new Big Jimmy pizza. Good food and football.  September I love you!

Ciao for now!

Olive