Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Rockridge Food Tour: A16, VPN Certified Member #484


First stop on our Rockridge Food TourA16. Named for Autostrada 16 - the motorway connecting Naples to Puglia through southern Campania - the chef explained that they had recently achieved VPN certification. Intrigued! I take pizza - real Italian pizza - very seriously. And, to be honest, there are very few pizzas in America that I think are worthwhile to eat.

VPN is the acronym for Verace Pizza Napoletana, meaning "true Neapolitan pizza."

What does the VPN certification mean?
There is actually a lengthy list of requirements that you can read at the VPN Americas website, but the highlights are...

Must use a wood burning oven. R used their infrared temperature gun to read the temperature of the oven which was about 700 degrees F. A16 uses almond wood. I asked.


Must use 'proper' ingredients. Here's where the specificity seems almost laughable - to me. I would prefer the requirement of fresh oregano than that it has to be Origanum vulgare, from the Labiatae family. But, proper ingredients are only fresh, all-natural, non-processed ingredients, including wheat, tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, basil, cheese, salt, and yeast.
  
Must use 'proper' technique. The dough must be hand-worked and hand-shaped only. And the dough must not be cooked for longer than 90 seconds.

And about the final product..."Pizza Napoletana must be not larger than 11 inches with a raised edge crust of about 1 inch and a thin center. The pizza should be soft and elastic, and easily foldable." Yep. See!


One thing that I have never heard of is cutting the pizza with scissors. The reasoning seemed sound - something about not tearing the air pockets in the dough. Okay. But I'll be honest: in the entire time I lived in Italy (well over a year), and when I've traveled back, I've never ever seen anyone cut pizza with scissors. And I've eaten a lot of pizza in a lot of different cities. But, maybe, I just never paid attention to it. The funny thing: I didn't notice A16 cutting the pizza with scissors either. Maybe they did. 


This was a great way to start the Rockridge Food Tour. I look forward to heading back there for a more leisurely meal.

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