Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pizza for breakfast

So last night I get home and go to the mailboxes. I look to the side at the trash can and... what's that? Pizza coupons? I frantically open my mailbox and yes! Pizza coupons for Premier Pizza, a local high-end pizzaria!

So I hurriedly snarfed up all the pizza coupon fliers that were scattered around the mail area until I had a card deck of the things, and right there, on my cell phone, without even waiting to get home, called Premier Pizza and ordered a two-topping pepperoni and jalapeno for $10.95.

So after I get changed into more comfortable clothes I head over to Premier and pick up my pie. On the way out I see the cheese and pepper bins by the door. So I open up my pie to add some red pepper and... OMG. There is SOO much jalapeno on this thing! Okay, so no pepper needed. So I open up the cheese bin and... OMG! *real* freshly-grated parmesan cheese, not that powder crap! I hurriedly scatter some on my pie, close it back up, and head home.

Verdict: This is an excellent thick-crust pizza. The crust is light and wonderfully bread-like and obviously rose properly before having the toppings put on it. There is a *gigantic* amount of toppings on this thing to balance out the crust. The only weakness is that to avoid being soupy, it's a little light on the sauce to balance out the crust. Even with that limitation, this is a delicious and wonderful pizza.

And yet... yet... the frozen pizzas have gotten so good, that even this very worthy pizza is not going to get regular chew-downs by me. The Freschetta Brick Oven pizza is just as well balanced and its crust is even yummier, having a pleasantly toasted taste to go with the bready taste. And at the regular price of $21.95 for a large two-topping, vs. an average of $5.50 for the Freschetta, no WAY am I buying this pie at full price. It's good, but it's not that good. Even with the coupon, I think I prefer the Freschetta, though granted part of that is because I prefer thinner-crust pizzas. Still, if you are in the San Jose area and like thicker pizzas, Premier Pizza is definitely a great place to get some really yummy pizza...

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/22/2007 08:59:00 AM  6 comments  

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pizza comparison: Frozen vs. Little Caesar's

As you know, I did a long frozen pizza bake-off. I found that the best frozen pizzas were actually quite tasty, not at all like the stale lardy pizza-like manhole covers of yore. The average price of the frozen pizzas that I tested was approximately $5.50 apiece, so we aren't talking about 50 cent Totino's pizzas, but we're still talking cheaper than the typical $11-$15 pizzaria pizza.

Recently, however, a pizza chain called "Little Caesars" opened up a shop near where my iceberg is currently docked, and advertised a $5 "Hot and Ready" pepperoni pizza. If you go there between 5PM and 8PM, they also advertise a $6 "Hot and Ready" thick-crust pepperoni pizza. So how does this "Hot and Ready" pizza compare to the best frozen pizzas?

Well... badly.

Crust: This is actually the best part of the Little Caesar's $5 pizza. It tastes like fresh bread, exactly like pizza crust is supposed to taste. The crust on the $6 pizza, on the other hand, tastes more like grease. The crust on the $6 pizza is utterly inedible.

Sauce: Too little, and somewhat watery, without the tang of the best sauce (the tangy sauce used on the Schwan's Freschetta and Red Baron brands). The lack of sauce is especially pronounced on the $6 pizza, where the taste of greasy crust is all you can taste.

Cheese: Too little, and little flavor. Nowhere near as good as the rich flavorful cheese flavor on the Kraft pizzas (Digiorno and Tombstone). Maybe as good as on the Red Baron pizzas (Schwan's doesn't do cheese as well as Kraft does, hmm, go figure). But if so, only barely.

Pepperoni: You get maybe two pepperonis per slice. All of the best frozen pizzas had more pepperoni.

All in all, my rating is: $5 hand-tossed: Edible. Barely. And only because of the nice bready crust. $6 thick-crust: Inedible. Utterly inedible.

The one and only reason to buy one of these pizzas is if you're in a hurry and not willing to wait the 14 to 24 minutes needed to bake a good-quality frozen pizza. Otherwise, if you are wanting a thick-crust pizza buy a DiGiorno Rising Crust Pepperoni (NOT the "garlic bread" crust one though, that one is nasty) or the Freschetta Naturally Rising Crust Pepperoni. If you are wanting a thin-crust pizza, get the Freschetta Brick Oven Pepperoni or the Red Baron Ultimate Pepperoni Thin Crust pizzas. All of those frozen pizzas are far, far, far superior to the Little Caesar's pizzas. Indeed, they are so yummy that just writing about them I'm *almost* hungry for a pizza, despite being somewhat pizza'ed out after eating pizza for 10 days over the course of two weeks. But I shall resist, because 10 days of pizza also equalled 5 pounds of weight gain. Ah well, the sacrifices that a penguin must make for science's sake...

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/29/2007 09:30:00 PM  6 comments  

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Frozen Pizza bake-off: Day 10

Okay, this is the last of the edible frozen pepperoni pizzas available at my local supermarket. It's a rather unusual one in that it appears to be the last-man-standing of stuffed-crust pizzas.

At one time there was a whole hoard of stuffed-crust pizzas. Cheese-stuffed, sauce-stuffed, garlic-stuffed, crap probably even catfood-stuffed. Nowdays, though, there's this one last survivor in the supermarket: Tombstone Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza (Pepperoni made with Pork Chicken and Beef) More 40% Cheese than Tombstone Original Pepperoni Pizza made with 100% Real Cheese.

So what does it taste like? Well, what do you think? It tastes like, duh, cheese. Pretty good cheese, actually. The crust does a good job of complementing the cheese too.

The other toppings are more mediocre. The sauce is plentiful but rather bland. There is a lot of pepperoni on this pizza -- they stole the Schwan notion of putting little baco-bits of pepperoni as well as round disk pepperoni onto the pizza -- but it isn't the best quality pepperoni around.

Still, this pizza has a rather pleasing blend of flavors. It isn't the Digiorno Rising Crust or Freschetta Brick Oven pizza (the two top pizzas in this contest), but it's still quite tasty, especially if you like cheese.

-- Badtux the Pizza-lovin' Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/21/2007 09:42:00 PM  4 comments  

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Frozen Pizza bake-off: Day 9

Sadly, we are coming to the close of this series of food-like product reviews. I have only one more frozen pizza in my freezer, then I have exhausted the supply of edible frozen pizzas available at my local Safeway and Food Saver stores. Sorry, I do *not* intend to do an in-depth review of Totinos or Tony's pizzas, neither of which is edible enough to justify any more review. I also will not review "fancy" pizzas (i.e., those with meats on them other than pepperoni), which rules out the California Pizza Kitchen imprimature (which actually is a Kraft-produced pizza).

Today's pizza is the "Freschetta Naturally Rising Bake To Rise Crust Pepperoni Pizza". This is a good rising crust pizza, but the crust lacks just a tiny bit compared to the Digiorno rising crust, which is still "the" standard by which rising crust pizzas must be compared. Still, it is quite good, and has one advantage over the Digiorno pizza -- it has slightly more pepperoni. Still not enough to match the amount of sauce and cheese on this crust though. The sauce is Schwan's typically peppy sauce, used on all their pizzas, and in good quality to offset the bready taste of the crust. It is a better tasting sauce than that on the Digiorno pizza. The cheese isn't quite as good as on the Digiorno pizza though, probably because Kraft (the maker of Digiorno) is a cheese whiz.

All in all, I have to rank the Digiorno just a hair better than the Freschetta. But it's close. Real close.

My personal favorite is still the Freschetta Brick Oven pizza, which has a wonderful toasty crust. But that is more because I prefer thinner-crust pizzas. If you like thicker-crust pizzas, this is certainly a worthy pizza to honor your oven with.

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/19/2007 09:17:00 PM  1 comments  

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Frozen Pizza bake-off: Day 8

Today's Pizza is the "TombStone Original Pizza Pepperoni Made With Pork Chick And Beef Made With 100% Real Cheese". (Whew!). Unlike the other pizzas tested so far, this did not come in a box. It came in shrink-wrap with a cardboard back and a paper front.

The cheese on this pizza is good. It is abundant and has a pleasant cheesy taste that goes well with the bready taste of the crust. The sauce is abundant but somewhat thin in taste, not the tangy sauce that the Schaum brands use. The pepperoni...

Ah yes, the pepperoni.

I was surprised to find a vague medicinal aftertaste upon my first bite into this pizza. Yet this rather nasty taste went away as I ate towards the outside crust. But then it came back again when I started on the next piece. But then it went away.

After some experimentation, it appears that this taste is the grease from the pepperoni. It runs down to the center of the pizza, which is why my first bite, near the center of the pizza, had this rather odd and obnoxious aftertaste, the taste of rancid chicken grease.

It's a pity, really. Other than that rather nasty taste near the center from the pepperoni grease, this pizza has a lot going for it, especially if you like cheese. It isn't as good as the Frescheta Brick Oven pizza, but then few pizzas are. It is, rather, a solid well-conceived well-balanced pizza... except for that rather nasty and medicinal-tasting pepperoni grease.

I have to, therefore, reluctantly give this pizza a grade of "F". It's a shame that Kraft (the maker of this pizza) cannot put a good-quality pepperoni on their pizzas. Rancid chicken grease is not appropriate for any pizza with even the vagues pretensions of being edible, and as long as the pepperoni has enough chicken fat in it to produce that rancid chicken grease flavor at the center, this pizza is disqualified from the edibility sweepstakes.

-- Badtux the Pizza-lovin' Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/18/2007 10:15:00 PM  3 comments  

Monday, April 16, 2007

Frozen pizza bake-off: Day 7

Yes, ladies and germs, I've re-stocked on frozen pizzas and am back in the saddle again!

Today's pizza is the Freschetta Brick Oven Fire Baked Crust Italian Style Pepperoni. This is thus far the best balanced of all the pizzas. The crust and cheese are especially good, the sauce is not quite as good but is plentiful, and the pepperoni is abundant without being overwhelming. While I still personally prefer the Red Baron Thin Crust Ultimate Pepperoni because I love the kick of all that pepperoni, I must admit that the Ultimate Pepperoni kinds overdoes it with the pepperoni -- the taste of the pepperoni overwhelms everything else. Not so with this pizza. There is plenty of pepperoni, but not too much. Unlike the DiGiorno Rising Crust Pizza, which has a great crust, but not enough pepperoni to balance it out.

One hint though -- cook it on the rack, and if the back says "baking time 12-16 minutes", cook it for the 16 minutes. Getting the crust nice and toasty is the secret to this pizza. Yes, the cheese on the edges will start looking a bit overdone. But that's okay. It's all good. You have to get the crust well toasted in order for it to balance out the flavors of the rest of the pizza, and a slightly toasty taste to the cheese on the edges doesn't hurt the taste of the pizza at all.

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

Want your favorite frozen pizza reviewed? Here's the ground rules: 1. It has to be a PEPPERONI pizza. Not one of them fancy multi-meat kinda pizzas. 2. It has to be available from a regular grocery store in Santa Clara CA. And 3. It cannot be a Totino's pizza! ICK! Anyhow, leave a comment if you see your favorite frozen pizza missing!

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/16/2007 10:29:00 PM  1 comments  

Friday, April 13, 2007

Frozen pizza bake-off: Day 6

Okay, this is the last of the first batch of frozen pizzas. There's going to be a few days delay until I get a chance to re-stock from the local supermarket.

Today's frozen pizza is the Red Baron Gold Edition Naturally Rising Crust Pizzeria Style Pepperoni Pizza (Pepperoni Made With Pork, Chicken, And Beef). Yes, that is what it says on the front of the box.

Kraft actually sued Schwan over this pizza, claiming that it is the result of corporate espionage. Apparently one of the top dudes in their pizza division quit during the development of the DiGiorno Rising Crust Pizza and went to work for Schwan for a ginormous salary (BTW, Schwan has also sued Kraft over their "brick oven" pizza, these two companies do *not* like each other, they have lawyers who do nothing but sue each other!). But Kraft needn't have bothered. Schwan's spy did a lousy job.

The fundamental problem with this pizza is the crust. It just plain doesn't do much rising, at least not when cooked on the rack (there are two ways on the box to cook it -- on a cookie sheet or on the rack -- I chose the rack for a crisper crust). The crust is a dense chewy thing that tastes suspiciously like raw dough near the middle. The taste is sort of a vegetable oil taste too.

Above that, the sauce is Schwan's trademark peppy sauce in good quantity. No problem there. The cheese is in good quantity too, and provides a good base of taste.

There is a lot of pepperoni on the top, but Schwan makes one more mistake there. In order to balance out the thicker crust with more peppy pepperoni taste, they added little pepperoni nuggets in addition to the round disc pepperoni. Unfortunately, these pepperoni nuggets are small enough that they completely dry up and taste like hard little chunks of bacon, rather than pepperoni. While it's not a bad taste (a pepperoni and bacon pizza?), if you are looking for copious amounts of pepperoni flavor having something that tastes suspiciously like a bac-o-bit go crunch in your mouth is somewhat disconcerting.

All in all, it's not a bad pizza, but in the battle of the rising crust pizzas, DiGiorno is still #1. Sorry, Schwan. You overpaid your spy. His rising crust sucks.

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/13/2007 09:00:00 PM  1 comments  

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Frozen Pizza bake-off day 5

Today's pizza is "DiGiorno Rising Crust Pizza" (Pepperoni Pizza). "Made with pork, chicken, and beef".

Kraft Foods (yeppers, the mac'n'cheese people) introduced this pizza back in 1996 with a gigantic $2 *billion* dollar advertising campaign with the tagline, "It's not delivery, it's DiGiorno!". They instantly seized a majority of the premium frozen pizza market from the Schwam brands (Red Baron and Freschetta), which do not have the advertising budget of a gigantic Fortune 50 company behind them.

So, is it any good? The answer is: YES.

The strength of this pizza -- indeed, its basic reason for being -- is the crust. This is a crust with the consistency and taste of a good Italian bread. It doesn't rise as well near the center as it does near the margins -- probably too many toppings pushing down on it there -- but it is, overall, by far the best crust of the pizzas I have surveyed thus far. (But don't go away, there are some more pizzas coming up that will give it a run for the money!).

Now, this is a medium-thickness crust, so it needs a suitably large dollop of toppings to balance it out. And it has them, with one exception that I'll discuss toward the end. The sauce is abundant and suitably tangy and offsets the bready taste of the crust quite well. The cheese is a bit less so, but still sufficient in quantity to provide balance to the sauce and complement the crust.

Indeed, the only disappointment is the pepperoni. The pepperoni is not in sufficient quantity or quality to properly balance the taste of the other toppings. Thanks to the tangy sauce the pizza is still very, very good. But with just a little better pepperoni, it could have been exquisite.

So, thus far, I rank this as the second-best pizza on my list of reviewed pizzas. The current leader is still day 2's entry, which did not have as good a crust but made up for it with toppings that were excellent, especially the suitably greasy and abundant pepperoni.

Still, don't go away. Who knows, tomorrow's pizza might top both of these!

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/12/2007 09:39:00 PM  3 comments  

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pizza bake-off day 4 Part II

As mentioned in Part I, there are health consequences to a diet of pizza. So beware!

Today's pizza is an old friend, the first frozen pizza ever produced that was actually edible. Before this, there was processed "food-like" pizzas that were soggy and limp and tasted ick. But for a time, this was the best of the best. Today it's sold as "Red Baron Premium Quality Classic Crust Pepperoni Pizza" and is at the low end of the Schwan Food Company's line of "premium" pizzas. So how does it fare today, all these years later, against more modern competition?

The first thing I noticed is that this is the first pizza thus far which calls for a cookie sheet. So now a little digression about pizza equipment:

My "cookie sheet" for pizza baking purposes is a heavy-duty non-stick pizza pan. Not a stone, not a sheet, a pan. The other equipment used is a large glass cutting board, a typical disc-type pizza cutter, and a metal pie spatula used to actually serve the pizza. Note that the pizza cutter never comes near the pizza pan, and the pizza pan never goes near the dishwasher -- it is handwashed after it cools down.

Now, back to the pizza: How does it fare? Well, fairly well. This is clearly now the budget entry in the Schwan Food pizza line, and the quantities of the toppings bear that out, but it holds up quite well compared to ringer #1 (the Little Caesar's $5 Pepperoni) and is still quite edible, compared to, say, the icky Totinos that I covered earlier.

Crust: The crust recipe shows its age but still does the job. It is not outstanding in any way, but it does not overwhelm the toppings and it adds a reasonable crunch and taste to the preceedings.

Sauce: The sauce is somewhat on the weak side, but the quantity is good. I would call the sauce "adequate".

Cheese: The cheese on this pizza performs its job of providing a base flavor underneath the pepperoni and sauce flavors quite well. The quantity is sufficient to provide a well balanced mix of flavors.

Pepperoni: This is where Schwan skimps a little bit to hit their price point. The quality of the pepperoni is nowhere as good as what's on the "Ultimate Pepperoni" mentioned earlier. However, the pepperoni is satisfyingly greasy and provides sufficient tang to balance out the cheese and crust flavors reasonably well.

All in all, this is a well balanced mid-range pizza. If you have $3.50 in your pocket and need pizza, you will not regret this choice. However, I do definitely prefer the "Ultimate Pepperoni" thin crust version, which provides a richer taste palate and has better-quality pepperoni on it.

And BTW, I tasted one of the pieces of yesterday's pizza just in case my taste buds were having an off day yesterday. Nope. Still tastes like library paste with vegetable oil, completely overwhelming the taste of the toppings.

So, tune in tommorrow for the *next* exciting pizza in the Badtux Frozen Pizza Bake-off!

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/11/2007 08:31:00 PM  2 comments  

Pizza bake-off day 4

Before we get to today's pizza, first, a slight health message from the Penguin:

One of the downsides of the all-pizza diet is roughage, or lack thereof. If you're curious about why that is a downside, eat pizza for three days straight then you will know exactly what I mean. Your, uhm, eliminatory functionality, shuts down entirely, clogged solid.

What this says is that you need to add roughage to your diet if you wish to retain normal elimination. It may seem strange to see a penguin wolfing down a salad (a very low calorie food) at the same time he is wolfing down pizza. But believe me, the alternative is far, far more painful. Thus as a true bachelor, I buy pre-mixed salad greens from the grocer and add a fine vinaigrette and, if available, a few shakes of Parmesan cheese. The result is normal lower intestinal tract functioning. The other alternative, which I employ whenever I'm not doing pizza taste testing, is to simply pile jalapeno chilis on top of the pizza. While that produces a fire at the other end the next day, lower intestinal tract functioning is NOT an issue at that point.

With that health message interlude finished, we now resume our frozen pizza testing. Check back this evening for the *next* pizza in our bake-off! What kind of pizza will it be? Well, you'll just have to wait and see, hmm?

-- Badtux the Gourmet Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/11/2007 08:35:00 AM  2 comments  

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Frozen pizza bake-off: Day 3

Today's pizza is the DiGiorno Garlic Bread Pizza - Pepperoni.

I must admit that I am largely not a fan of thick-crust pizzas. It is very difficult to get them right. The toppings must be provided in extravagant quantities in order to balance the weight of the dough, and the dough and crust must provide a fine bready/yeasty taste, not heavy and dense and lardy. This pizza fails on all accounts.

The "thud" as this slid out onto my kitchen counter was the first warning that this was not going to be a lightweight experience. This pizza is nearly two pounds of, well, mostly dough. The toppings are scarce and there are wide margins on all four sides of the pizza.

Eating the pizza, you basically cannot taste the pepperoni, or the cheese, or the sauce. None of those are in sufficient quantity to even begin assessing their quality. What you have is the crust, which purports to be "garlic bread". The crust is infused with grease (supposed to be butter, I suppose, but it tastes like plain old vegetable oil to me), and there's garlic somewhere because I can taste it on my breath, but it isn't enough to overcome the heavy density of the doughy taste of the crust.

Really, this crust tastes like someone mixed up school paste with vegetable oil. I've tasted fine garlic breads, and this crust doesn't taste anything like them. There is no fluffiness to it, no yeasty flavor. Just flour paste and vegetable oil. Sadly, I must give this pizza an utterly failing grade. The fact that I could only eat three pieces before I quit eating in disgust is no surprise. Eating this pizza is like being back in the 1st grade again and sticking stupid stuff in your mouth. It's not as utterly disgusting as the Totino's Party Pizza that I tasted a few month's back (which was downright barf-inducing), but definitely this pizza gets two flippers down. Don't buy it!

-- Badtux the Paste-eating Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/10/2007 08:26:00 PM  1 comments  

Monday, April 09, 2007

Frozen pizza bake-off day 2

Today's pizza: Red Baron Gold Edition Italian Style Thin Crust Ultimate Pepperoni Pizza. (Yes, that unweildy name is its true actual name as printed on the box).

This is a round medium-sized pizza. The directions instructed me to preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then remove the pizza from the freezer and place it directly upon the center rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. I did so.

First, let us start with its reason for existing: Pepperoni. This pizza has a lot of pepperoni, both round disks and diced chunks. According to the label, this is beef and pork pepperoni. The result is suitably tangy and greasy, requiring very little crushed red pepper to make it palatable to Cajun penguin tastes. The quality seems slightly less than that of the preceding day's Digiorno pizza, but it makes up in quantity what it might lack in quality.

Next, the weakest part: the cheese. Folks, there just isn't enough cheese on this pizza. It is completely overpowered by the tangy pepperoni and sauce. Unfortunately, I suspect that an amount of cheese sufficient to cope with this much pepperoni would be altogether too much for the light crust to cope with.

The sauce is suitably tangy and in sufficient quantity to nicely complement the tangy pepperoni.

The crust is rather puzzling. It is crisp and has a somewhat toasty taste. Still, I will rate it one star above the preceding day's DiGiorno, in that its taste manages to complement the rest of the pizza nicely.

All in all, a good pizza, with no rancid or stale taste and good ingredients. I will give the DiGiorno a slightly higher rating because of the DiGiorno's excellent balancing of the sauce, cheese, and pepperoni equation, but for $3.65 (on sale at Safeway), this pizza certainly presents a fine meal or two for the discerning bachelor. The only disappointment is the poor showing of the cheese. You might consider a bit of shredded mild chedder in addition to the mozzarella that comes with this pizza to give the cheese just a touch more presence to deal with all that sauce and pepperoni.

-- Badtux the Rotund Test Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/09/2007 06:08:00 PM  2 comments  

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Pizza bake-off day 1

Today's pizza: DiGiorno Thin Crispy Crust Pepperoni Pizza

The directions give you two ways to prepare this pizza -- on the rack, or on a pizza pan. I chose the rack, in order to give the crust the best chance for carmelization and thus the best chance to contribute to the taste of the pizza. As directed on the label, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, then removed the pizza from the freezer and placed on the rack using an oven mitt. I baked for 17 minutes as directed then removed and let stand for 5 minutes. Then ate. Here is what it was like:

Pepperoni: While the cover mentions that chicken is used in the pepperoni, the pepperoni is still the strength of this pizza. It is suitably tangy and greasy and there is a relatively large amount of it.

Cheese: There is enough of it and it doesn't overpower anything. Not much more to say there.

Sauce: Suitably tangy but not overpowering. Quantity is a bit low though.

Crust: Meh. The crust on a thin crust pizza has a hard row to hoe. There is not much of it, so it must step forth and contribute its taste boldly. This crust, on the other hand, simply lies there. In greater quantity it would provide a good bready base to the pizza, but apparently DiGiorno simply rolled their dough thinner rather than reformulate it for this new application. What works quite well for their thicker pizzas simply isn't adequate for the task of supporting this thinner pizza. On the other hand, it is not greasy or rancid or stale or soggy or otherwise nasty. It just lies there not contributing much.

Cold pizza: Unfortunately, none of the pizza survived to be eaten for lunch the next day. Perhaps I need to re-think that review criteria, especially for thin-crust pizzas which are more likely to be gobbled down in one sitting.

General conclusion: This is a workmanlike thin crust pizza. Given a choice between this and ringer #1 (Little Caesars Hot'n'Ready $5 Pizza), I would definitely choose this one even though it is generally more expensive (I paid $5.50 for this pizza). On the other hand, the lack of contribution from the crust and the somewhat scarce sauce mean that it has some ways to go before meeting my criteria for an "ideal" pizza. We shall see what other pizzas bring to the table in this regard...

Next up: Red Baron "Italian Style" Thin Crust "Ultimate Pepperoni" pizza...

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/08/2007 08:50:00 PM  4 comments  

The pizza-orgie is on!

Okay, here is the test plan for the frozen pizza bake-off:

  1. All pizzas shall be purchased at the local supermarket, in order to insure that this penguin has not been subverted by the frozen pizza conspiracy
  2. Each pizza shall be a pepperoni pizza, with the exception of the California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizza (they do not offer a pepperoni). Pizzas shall be enhanced slightly with some crushed red peppers but not to the extent that it interferes with ability to taste the ingredients.
  3. For comparison purposes, two ringers shall be brought in: A Little Caesars $5 pizza, and a Premier Pizza gourmet pizza.
  4. For comparison purposes, a "home-made" pizza will be created based upon a pizza "kit" provided by a notorious "Italian" chef
  5. All pizzas shall be prepared according to the directions upon the carton. If the directions give a choice between baking it on the rack and baking it on a cookie sheet or pizza pan, the pizza shall be baked directly upon the rack.
  6. Pizza shall be tested in two modes: 1) Hot out of the oven, and 2) cold for lunch the next day.
The following criteria will be used to judge each pizza:
  1. Crust: Thick-crust pizzas should have a crust that tastes like a fine loaf of Italian bread. It should be relatively light and firm, not soggy or heavy, i.e. throwing flour at the problem is not allowed to make up for lack of adequate rising time. Medium-crust pizzas are allowed to have a denser crust but it still must taste like a flatbread, not like the crust of an apple pie. Thin-crust pizzas should have a crust that is firm, not soggy, and somewhat crisp and are allowed to have a sharper taste to compensate for the lack of volume. In no case shall a pizza with a crust redolent of lard or vegetable oils receive a passing grade. This is pizza, not peach cobbler.
  2. Sauce: The amount of sauce must be appropriate for the amount of crust and other toppings. The sauce should have a firm distinct taste with spices rather than taste like watered-down tomato sauce, but should not be so sharp as to overpower the flavors of the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Cheese: The cheese should be a mild mozzarella that provides a stable base of flavor beneath the flavors of the other ingredients, rather than stepping out in front and overpowering everything. The amount of cheese provided should provide ample coverage for the entire pizza, but not to the extent that it is allowed to overpower any other ingredient.
  4. Pepperoni: Pepperoni is of course the main reason for a pepperoni pizza. There should be ample sliced pepperoni to cover a significant percentage of the surface of the pizza. Diced pepperoni is allowed only to fill in between the sliced pepperoni, not in place of sliced pepperoni. Pepperoni must be geniuine pepperoni i.e. an Italian sausage, not a "pepperoni-like food product" that is "enhanced" with fillers. It should be nicely spicy and a bit greasy.

The first pizza is in the oven. Let the bake-off begin!

- Badtux the Soon-to-be-more-rotund Penguin

Note: click on the 'pizza' link below for the latest results!

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/08/2007 06:55:00 PM  1 comments  

Monday, April 02, 2007

Frozen pizza reviews

In the interests of science, is there any interest in a comparison review of the various frozen pizza brands? Note that this project, if there is any interest, will require me to buy, prepare, and eat one of each of the pizzas that I review (with the exception of the 'Totinos Party Pizza' bleh!). Oh the sacrifices we make for science...

- Badtux the Rotund Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/02/2007 01:52:00 PM  12 comments  
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Name: BadTux
Location: Some iceberg, South Pacific, Antarctica

I am a black and white and yellow multicolored penguin making his way as best he can in a world of monochromic monkeys.

April 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 /

Bill Richardson: Because what America needs is a competent fat man with bad hair as President (haven't we had enough incompetent pretty faces?)

Cost of the War in Iraq
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Terror Alert Level
Honor Roll
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Liberated Iraqis

"Keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce." -- Molly Ivins, 1944-2007 "The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

-- Plato

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