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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 656
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Portland Artisan Pizza Mini Pub Crawl
Friday 12 May 2017   —   Category: Dining Out
I had my first artisan pizza in March 2015 at Life of Pie Pizza on Williams Avenue in North Portland. The wood-​fired pie featured mushrooms, Pecorino Romano and mozzarella cheeses, and a non-​tomato truffle-​oil-​based sauce.

Unfortunately, that first visit was well before I became passionate about com­bin­ing food and photography, so I don’t have any pictures from that day. (To the right is a photo of that mushroom pizza which I found on Yelp.) Accompanying my pizza was a Lompoc Proletariat Red Ale, which I now enjoy at home on a regular basis.
 
Since then I returned to Life of Pie once with my son in July 2015 (again, no pic­tures), and once on my own in July 2016 when I finally got my act together and took a few photos.

I started off with a pint of Breakside Brewery Pilsner. Ac­cord­ing to the brewer:

“When we opened our brewery, we made a committment to making a year-​round German-​style pilsner. Why? Despite the fact that these beers are time-​consuming and technically chal­leng­ing, we make this beer because we love this beer. We import bagged German Pilsner malt and manually add 3,300 pounds to each batch because we believe that to make a great German pilsner, you need great German pilsner malt. We source all Hallertau Hersbrucker hops, which we prize for their mix of floral and Noble notes. And then we wait. This beer is un­fil­tered, so we rely on natural lagering techniques (i.e. long times and cold temperatures) to get this beer bright as sunshine.” Meas­ure­ments: 5.2% ABV • 35 IBU

My notes from that day read: “This is one of the better pilsners I’ve tasted so far — flavorful, slightly bitter, and not watery.”
 
I was in a mood to eat adventurously and try something new, so I ordered a bacon, goat cheese and roasted leek pizza. Even a couple of years ago I could not have imagined ordering such a thing!
 
It featured a thin crust, heavily laden with moist ingredients. The goat cheese had a nice tang. The bacon seemed to be put on raw before baking ... good thing it was very thin-​sliced.
 
In September, a couple of months later, I finally made it to the mecca of Portland artisan pizza: Ken’s Artisan Pizza, on SE 28th Avenue in the Kerns neighborhood of inner Southeast Portland.

I say ‘finally’ because for the past year I had been trying to make artisan bread and pizza at home following the in­struc­tions in the Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Piz­za cookbook by master bread maker Ken Forkish.

Back in November 2015 I had made my first pilgrimage to Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Port­land’s Alphabet District. Even though I had wanted to visit his pizza restaurant as well, it took me a full ten months to finally get a round tuit.
At this second stop on my Portland ar­ti­san pizza mini pub crawl, I got a pint of Occidental Brewing’s Kölsch. Ac­cord­ing to the brewer:

“This is Occidental’s homage to the de­li­cious ale of Cologne, Germany. Dry and crisp, it is clean and lager-​like, with a pleasant, slightly spicy hop profile sup­plied by German Perle. Very ses­sion­able.” Meas­ure­ments: 4.5% ABV • 25 IBU

My notes from that day read: “This is a pretty good beer, it has a nice taste, but is perhaps a teeny bit watery. There are better Kölsches out there, and there are definitely worse!”
 
Once again I was in a mood to eat ad­ven­tur­ous­ly and try something new, so I ordered a wood-fired prosciutto di San Daniele, mozzarella, fresh basil and to­ma­to sauce pizza. As before, a couple of years ago I could not have imagined or­der­ing such a thing!
 
It is an interesting coincidence that as I am writing this article first thing in the morning, I just had some leftover pizza (not Ken’s) for breakfast. Pizza is one of those rare foods that is just as good for breakfast as it is for dinner.

Ken’s prosciutto pizza was OK, but not worth a spendy $16. I started thinking that this whole artisan pizza trend is more hype than substance.
 
Yesterday I bought a $9 pepperoni pizza from Papa Murphy’s. Before baking it I added generous portions of black olives, mushrooms, sautéed onion, sun dried to­ma­to and fire roasted red peppers. Sorry, no photos.

For less than a single-​serving pizza at Ken’s, we enjoyed a scrumptious, filling pizza at home which served four. For a more pleasurable and satisfying pizza at a quarter of the price, I can live without the wood-​fired taste of artisan pizza.
 
 
To see larger versions of the photos on this page, you can click on the pictures. All seven have been added to the Oregon Pub Crawl 2016 album. For more beers I have enjoyed in Portland and elsewhere, crafted by various breweries, see the conglomerate Non-McMenamins Beer (All Years) album.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 656
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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 656
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