Tomato Taste Test Part II

Exactly eight weeks after our crack team of pizzaphiles and tomato enthusiasts congregated in my back yard to dive into the highly-controversial world of canned fruit studies, an even larger and hungrier gang gathered for round two. The weather was colder and the group of tasters was larger, so our venue was shifted into the Lower East Side’s cozy Pizza a Casa, a pizza (and now pasta) training center and supply store. After analyzing the method used for round 1, we tweaked the process a bit.

Here’s how the test went down. I brought unlabeled cans to Pizza a Casa for Mark and Jenny to distribute into identical serving boats. Prior to delivering the goods, I marked each can with a letter (A-O). Each serving boat was marked with the letter from its corresponding can.

Tasters were each given a unique tasting order, so no sample was relegated to the first or last position. We graded sweetness, acidity, texture, color and overall flavor on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. We tasted 15 samples but one tomato appeared twice to act as a control. Any tasting sheets whose findings for these two identical tomatoes were drastically different were ignored in the final tally. Two sheets were disregarded for this reason; one additional sheet was ignored because it didn’t have data for most of the tomatoes.  This left eleven data sheets to be included in the final tally.

 

I have to admit, our roster of tasters has been really exciting for both taste tests but this round was incredible. Here’s the roll call:

Roberto Caporuscio (Keste)
JoAnne Ling (Scott’s Pizza Tours)
Brooks Jones (Me, Myself & Pie; Paulie Gee’s)
Mark + Jenny (Pizza a Casa)
Adam Kuban (Slice)
Rachel Cohn (author; tomato lover)
Louis Colluccio (Coluccio & Sons)
Megan (tomato lover)
Jason Fierman (I Dream of Pizza)
Michael Glazer (Pullino’s, Paulie Gee’s)
Michael Park (food writer)
Sara Bonisteel (food writer)
Al Santillo (Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza, Elizabeth NJ)

I did not participate in the tasting because I already had too much interaction with the cans. The group was stacked with killer taste buds and pizza palates so I was content to let ‘er rip and wait to tally the results. It was funny to watch because everyone was so intense. These people were so focused it made me uncomfortable. I wanted to toss a whoopie cushion under somebody’s chair but I held back. Good thing too, or someone might have blogged that the tomatoes were giving them gas to save face.

The results of the test were super interesting because the two highest rated samples were both products of Canada. Crazy, I know. But it’s also heartwarming. Most probably expected the Italian tomatoes to come out on top, but that was not the case. Next time you’re in the canned tomato aisle of your local grocery store, keep your eyes peeled for Luigi Vitelli and give them a whirl. They scored highest in all five tasting categories and took home the prize for overall flavor. Way to go, Canada!

For the rest of the results of our taste test, check out the full writeup on Slice. It even has a link to the raw data so you can make your own observations. If you missed the results of Round 1, you can check those out on Slice as well.

Birthday Presents!

That’s right, I was born during National Pizza Month (October). Well, technically I was born in the month that would years later be designated National Pizza Month, but it’s exciting nonetheless. My birthday is really just an excuse for friends and family members to practice their Googling skills as they scour the Internet in search of the most obscure pizza-related gifts. This year’s crop of slice merchandise sets a new standard of excellence.

First the cards:

 

This next card from The Godfather reminds me of a photo I took of his refrigerator when I visited him in San Francisco for a pizza safari last February.

Speaking of The Godfather, he always wins the award for most incredible theme gifts. This year’s batch included the Pizza USB Thumb Drive, Pizza Pouch and the show-stopping School Bus Tire Photo-Stamped Measuring Tape (perfect for taking slice stats). There are no words.

 
 

While The Godfather was searching for amazing pizza gifts, others were creating their own. Just check out these incredible logo-emblazoned SPT mugs from my friend Renee. She apparently photographed her SPT shirt and cleaned up the image before sending it to the mug company. Absolutely amazing, thank you Renee!

There was a bit of a theme this year with SPT promo items (none of which will be available for sale anytime soon) and this next one is a doozey. My pal Rachel (her new book came out yesterday!!!) has taken many a pizza tour and joined me on the San Francisco pizza safari, so she knows how important it is to walk in between slices. I hereby present to you my new Custom SPT Pizza Sneakers. Note the basil-sauce-cheese color scheme. Thanks Rachel!

This was a truly incredible batch and I thank all the companies whose products are now a part of my collection. Be sure to check them out for your pizza-obsessed friend.