Calling all foodies, calling all foodies! I’m Clif Edwards (as featured on HGTV and Better Homes and Gardens), and I invite you to hop aboard the "Culinary Express," because we are about to take a trip around the world to explore some of the finest flavors available for your taste buds. Welcome to another weekly installment of Foodie Favs and Retreats. Join me for this 24-hour record-setting adventure to enjoy all the best pizza the Earth has to offer.
First up we will be departing from the "City of Angels" in sunny southern California, a town with a reputation for breakfast pizza. We meet up with renowned local expert and resident dude of all things ‘za, Daniel Anthony.
He welcomes us into his home with open arms and says, "Chill jabronis, grab some futon." Surely we’re in for a treat!
Suddenly, an aroma of pure freshness next to a cool ocean’s breeze on a hot summer day overwhelms me. Just as I had expected: the Red Baron breakfast pizza.
Fresh from the microwave, this baby is lava hot with a gooey, three-cheese blend, paired with imitation eggs and spicy Italian pork sausage that gives me gas. Anthony’s expertise shines as he tops it with pre-packaged bacon bits and shredded cheese, making this simple dish into an early morning masterpiece.
After a prompt flight we are ready for a little brunch—pizza of course—and meet up with Jenny Jacobson, a minimalist who makes a living on Etsy. We don’t have much time to spend here because this is simply a layover between more famous pizza destinations.
Jenny quickly chauffeurs us to a small catering operation which proves this is indeed the "City of Goodwill." I’m thrilled to find a platter of bagel bites and pizza rolls. This lady knows her stuff! Finding the corners of the pizza rolls cut off for cooling is a special touch only a seasoned pizza pie princess would understand.
Ahhh, St. Louis, "The Gateway to the West," or as I like to call it the "Thin Crust of Land Between the East and West," thanks to their famous cracker crust. STL is one of two Midwest destinations on this voyage. This city’s pizza tour guide is buzzed, "new face on the chef scene" Camden Logan, a recent graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School.
We make a pit stop at his studio loft apartment in shabby chic East St. Louis. I’m expecting a delivery of some sort when he wows us with a delightful creation: a fresh Jack’s Pizza from the oven.
This frozen pizza is just like the cracker crust STL residents live for. I bite into the slightly burnt cardboard textured crust and my mouth is simply salivating. The pepperonis are a savory blend of ground turkey, beef, pork, and chicken meat… truly a concoction to die for. I had to cut myself off before I ate the whole pie.
A quick Amtrak jaunt followed by a light snooze and I’m ready for some dinner. We head downtown for some of the "Windy City’s" finest deep-dish pizza. I place an order at the restaurant for a meat-lover’s pie with extra cheese and sauce. When it comes out piping hot, I can’t hold back. I immediately dig in to the pie, oozing with what seems to be a delicious blend of processed American and cheddar cheese. The meats all taste the same, but are cut in different shapes, leaving me to fantasize about what exactly I was eating at the moment.
Really, the whole thing was a hauntingly familiar taste that I literally had on the tip of my tongue. Had I been to this restaurant before?
Suddenly I snap out of it and I’m on my buddy Tommy Peterson’s couch.
"Hey man, you want annotta slice uh dis Digiorno’s deep-dish or what? Come on!"
That sly dog fooled me. The advertisements are true: I had no idea it was Digorno’s!
We arrive in Brooklyn, famous for some of the best New York-style pizza in the "Big Apple." I meet up with an old grad school buddy of mine, Ricky Gardalugio at his place. I tell him I want the best late-night big slice that NY has to offer when he tells me to look no further, and "grab a slice!" I’m a bit put off until I see him pull out the Ziplock bags. That rascal is letting me feast on New York Slices from the frozen food aisle!
18 slices in one box, can you believe it? We never had to leave the apartment to get real authentic New York-style, quality pizza. After 10 minutes of preheating the oven and 15 minutes of cook time, I dive into the hot slice. Cheese, from the folded slice, shoots out like a cannon onto the roof of my mouth, burning me instantly and leaving a trail of dead skin—a mark of true satisfaction among pizza purists.
Feeling a little jet-lagged, things begin to come full circle for me on this "Culinary Express" journey. I’m having another out-of-body experience sitting in an outdoor French café dining on a delicious baguette topped with pepperoni, five cheeses, and a spice blend here in the "City of Love." A feeling rushes over me like I’m back in my parents’ basement reading romantic novels after school and having a light snack.
Suddenly I come to and realize I’m on the porch, not at a café, of my good friend, Jean Paul.
"Oui, Jean Paul. Oui."
Join me next week as I travel around the globe to discover all the finest breakfast sweets from strudels to waffles and everything in between.
Clif Edwards has 20+ years in the business of wining, dining and straight up mining the best gems in the food world. Want the "Culinary Express" to make a stop at your favorite food destination? Email [email protected] for suggestions.