Volunteers, hungry after a long day of good work, tucking into Yale Farm pizza. The dough is handmade by interns on-site, topped with Farm-fresh ingredients and cooked up quick in our blazing hot wood-fired oven. We aren’t serving this week, as Yale is on fall break, but check back in next Friday, 11/2, for pizza, cider and live music at 3pm as part of our annual Harvest Festival!
Tasting the Weeding
Adam Goff ‘15, one of our Farm interns, on how to build an appetite:
Our menu on the trail was sparse. The eight of us on the summer trail-crew were building mountain bike trails in Vermont and had set up camp down the stream and up the logging road from the work site. Our kitchen was the compressed ground beneath a strung-up blue tarp. In it we kept a propane stove, four coolers, and fifteen buckets. The coolers and buckets held the food and utensils and doubled as counter space.
Breakfast was oatmeal, brown sugar and raisins. Lunch was peanut butter and jelly and an apple. We took two trail mix work breaks each day to eat a half-a-cup worth of raisins, peanuts, almonds and chocolate chips. Our dinner was varying combinations of rice, beans, cheese, pasta, onions, and canned tomatoes. I learned to use hot sauce. And I ate one of my tastiest meals: ‘trail pizza’, pan-fried flour tortillas with tomato sauce and cheese in the middle.
I also found that the pairing of two peanuts and two raisins was fantastic, the crunchy and squishy melded beautifully. So was two almonds and three chocolate chips. The key ingredient was an hour of sledge-hammering rock into gravel and an afternoon of shoveling. Working does more than make me want food more and hunger for more food. Mud and sweat and calluses create tastier food. I guess that boring dining hall dinner is partly my fault. Reading and writing does not bring out the taste in peanut butter or pizza or pasta.
At the Yale Farm, we eat pizza every Friday, better pizza than I get from blue-tarp kitchens or dining halls. There’s a brick oven to cook the ricotta and sage and eggplant; each slice has lots of taste. And for me part of that incredible flavor comes from the workday that comes before the pizza. Weeding the beets tastes delicious.
This year for Harvest Festival we decided to forgo our usual homegrown folk-rock in favor of some world music. The Harris Brothers played traditional Balkan tunes, and then Kouffin Kanecke, an Ethiopian drum group, laid down beats and taught us all a few moves. Good thing there was pizza to keep everyone energetic all afternoon!
Last Friday’s Harvest Festival looked like it was going to be a bummer— it had been raining for days, and a grey, soggy afternoon doesn’t tempt many out for Farm work, even when combined with the promise of pizza, cider and live music! Luckily our hearty volunteers and dedicated student staff didn’t let a little drizzle rain out the day— they came out in force to complete the harvest for Saturday’s farmers’ market, and the sun came out that afternoon as we ate, drank, danced and celebrated together.
Classes started yesterday, which means that tomorrow the YSFP will welcome the new school year with our first pizza workday of the season. Come by between 1:00 and 5:00 pm to get your hands dirty helping us out with the harvest, and stick around for pizza at 5:00— we make the dough ourselves, top it with the fruits of your labor in the garden and cook it to crusty perfection in our wood-fired oven. It’s definitely in contention for the best slice in the city (in fact, some would say there’s no competing with ours), so if you consider yourself a pizza completeist— or even if you’re just curious— stop by and check it out!
YSFP Clam Pizza
Forget New York’s splintery, cracker-thin crusts and Chicago’s doughy deep dish; New Haven’s signature apizza splits the difference between the two, producing slender, crusty slices that give way to a sweet, springy interior. There’s plenty of lore around the city’s oldest pizzerias (Frank Sinatra and Ronald Reagan are famed fans), but that’s never stopped us at the YSFP from trying our hand at the city’s most iconic dish— and there are many who would argue that ours best the classics.
The trick of a New Haven-style apizza is to form a thin crust and cook it quickly at a high temperature, allowing for crisp char on the outside and a little lightness within. Pepe’s and Sally’s use coal, but the Farm burns hardwood logs in our oven; we harvest them from the Yale Meyers Forest, an hour outside of New Haven. We also make our own dough, adding in a little whole wheat flour for wholesomeness and plenty of white to keep it from getting too heavy.
We usually keep our toppings vegetarian and stick to what we can grow ourselves, but this week we had fresh clams from the state’s first Community Supported Fishery program and it seemed only fitting to try the most iconic pie of them all: Frank Pepe’s brainchild, the white clam pizza. Above are some photographs of the process, which, from lighting the oven and starting dough until we had pizza ready to eat, took just about three hours.
The photographs are lovely, but they don’t do the pizza justice— it was insanely delicious, a simple crust with preserved lemon pesto and oven-roasted clams, intensely salty and just sweet enough. We also had pies topped with mozarella and arugula, ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms, and a dessert version that involved apricot jam and currants.
If you’re in town, we’ll be making pizza again this Friday (though sadly sans seafood) to serve as lunch to volunteers during our open work hours— so come by to get your hands dirty, and stick around to sample a slice!