THIS MIGHT JUST BE THE RED BULL I JUST CONSUMED TALKING BUT HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT A PIZZA CRAWL GOING TO FOUR PIZZA PLACES IN ONE DAY? I THINK IT SOUNDS DELICIOUS.
I wish I received emails laced with screaming insanity like that more often. Alas, it was one part of a unique email conversation I had with Charlie (who you may remember as our favorite Disneyland Paris overlord) during his last weekend of senior paper writing-hell, hence the Red Bull, which I assume is not part of Charlie's regular diet. Look at what college does to people! Just look!!! Aside from turn students into Red Bull users, four years of higher learning also gives them the power to serve as my tour guide for an awesome one-day food tour of New Haven. If they go to Yale, at least. (I heard a college education also has other results...like prolonged debt and a general feeling of unprepared-ness for entering the real world.)
There are few things in this world that would give me the will to voluntarily hurl myself down I-95 at 70mph in a
death pod car, Charlie's pizza tour being one of them. I didn't really have any requests aside from, "FEED ME," and asking him when I should show up.
At around 1 p.m., I safely exited the confines of my butt-rest for the previous two hours, got a quick look at Charlie's dorm room that, with its 0.005% visible floorspace, looked like it had been the site of a vicious ransacking (upon Charlie's request, I restrained myself from capturing the explosion of laundry and books on camera), and then followed Charlie as we headed to Modern Apizza for a late lunch.
The dark, woody interior reminded me of being in someone's basement. But full of booths. And pizza smells. What a fabulous basement that would be.
Charlie ordered a small broccoli pie, half white, half red for us to share. As I'd see for the rest of the day, New Haven pizzas are generally served on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. These non-uniform specimens aren't the most photogenic pizzas you'll come across, but this has nothing to do with how they taste—unless the trick to churning out awesome-tasting pizza is to make them malformed.
Not having heard of "white sauce" on pizza before (either because I'm not paying enough attention to pizzerias around here, or it's a regional thing; one of you must know), my googling directed me to Blake of The Paupered Chef, who says that white sauce is the drool-inducing trinity of olive oil, garlic and melted cheese. Ohhh, how we drooled. White sauce definitely won over red; the combined punch of garlic and gooey cheese just can't suck.
But what's more important than garlic-infused gooey cheese heaven? The crust! The base of all things garlicky and gooey and cruciferous. The thin brick over-fired crust held up to its toppings; none of that soggy crap going on. There was nothing wrong with the slightly crisp, slightly chewy crust and its soft, puffy outer ring. Puffiness was the main thing that stood out to me compared to pizzas in New York, which don't strike me as the puffy sort. I'd describe the quality of "puffiness" as being a pleasant balance of...um, air and gluteny wheat product. No jaw-aching chewiness here. There's more to it than that, but it's easier if you just eat it yourself so I can move onto my next paragraph.
For a restaurant that didn't require an hour wait, Modern Apizza was great. I could see myself going there a lot if I lived within walking distance of it, as opposed to a two hour drive. While I wouldn't say it was as "SWEET JESUS, THIS PIZZA IS ALL THAT IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD!"-inducing as Sally's or Pepe's (which I'll come to later), I'd rank it among the upper echelon of my pizza-eating experiences.
As we walked back to Yale's campus, we passed the boxy off-white "tomb" of Berzelius, just one of Yale's many secret societies. As I had almost no knowledge of Yale's secret societies aside from that they existed, Charlie filled me in on what he knew. Aside from the members (or societies themselves) being frighteningly rich (not very surprising), I was most befuddled by the activity of giving bios, or talking about yourself for, say, 5 hours. Or less. I can't understand how or why anyone would feel compelled to do that. And that's just one of unlimited reasons why I could never be in a secret society.
The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library looked like a whole lotta awesome, but it was closed due to construction. Maybe I'll get my chance to look at an original Gutenberg bible and peer through translucent marble walls another time.
Here are some ornamental doors that led to what may have been a garage of a building whose exact use I can't remember. Some buildings on Yale's campus are genuinely old, while some were designed to look like they crept out of medieval Europe. I think this one fell under the latter category.
Here's the graduate school. Maybe. The top floors of the central tower give the students the opportunity to peer down upon their minions. At least, that's what I'd do.
Upon my request for an ice cream chaser to our pizza, Charlie led me to Ashley's Ice Cream Cafe. Ice cream goes into another stomach unseen in medical diagrams. This is why it doesn't count as part of my daily caloric intake.
I didn't go for the Downside Watson, "7 scoops, 9 toppings, and 2 bananas served on a frisbee," as temping as it sounded.
What do I love about American ice cream shops that their European counterparts could never match? A child's size in the US is still larger than a small in Europe. Usually. Yeah! OUR CHILDREN CAN EAT IT ALL!!!
The method I tend to employ when ordering ice cream (and I usually need to get two flavors to avoid suffering from taste bud fatigue) is to get one fruity flavor and one non-fruit flavor in order to reach some sort of balance between something "light" (the fruit) and something not so light (the non-fruit).
Which is how I ended up with a small cup of strawberry and peanut butter chip. I would've liked more strawberry-ness in my strawberry, but otherwise the ice cream was satisfyingly creamy and smooth, with just the right amount of sweetness. Peanut butter generally tastes awesome in ice cream form.
Charlie's friend Lydia (previously met during our chocolate hunt in South Norwalk) joined us at Ashley's so we could go to Walgreens and pick up some snazzy sunglasses that fit over their regular glasses. The sunglasses teetered on the large side of "huge" and perhaps had the capacity to filter out rays from a nuclear blast.
Although I love water, I prefer bubbly water for that extra bit of oomph that will result in me feeling gassy for the rest of the day. All I could find at Walgreens was Toco Chico mineral water, a Mexican brand I had never seen or heard of before. Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough, or perhaps it's only specially available at Walgreens. It got the job done; it refreshed me and gave me a case of the burps.
After Walgreens, we went to Lydia's apartment to recharge our bellies, accomplished mostly with the help of YouTube—more specifically by watching Winston the cat act like a cat—and then later with select episodes of Arrested Development.
And then we were off to the major pizza-eating part of our day. Stay tuned for PART DEUX!
Ashley's Ice Cream Cafe
280 York St
New Haven, CT 06511