|Photo by Ryan Schneider|
One could easily walk by All Natural Pizza and never decide to stop in, and that would be a shame. Totally unassuming on the outside and something of a catch-all for items he's collected over the years, All Natural is Lou DeFusco's pride and joy. I love to meet people who are proud of their food and who love to talk about the craft of it. Lou sat down while we ate and told us all about his pizza -- the dough, the sauce, the cheese. All Natural has been in Ocean City since 1968, and Lou's family first began making dough in Italy in the 19th century. Ever the cagey chef, Lou wouldn't tell me how he makes his dough or sauce, but he did say that he doesn't use sugar in any of it. Now I've always assumed that one uses sugar in dough to activate the yeast, but Lou told me that he doesn't need to use sugar because he doesn't use tap water in his dough. Tap water contains chlorine, which kills the yeast, so no tap water means no sugar. Lou uses a starter dough for each new batch of dough he makes, and he uses the recipe for both his dough and the sauce that his family has been using for generations. The end result? Simply some of the best pizza I've ever tasted, and I'm finicky about pizza. The sauce is perfectly smooth and flavorful, the crust is thin and crispy, and the cheese is just lovely -- not that plasticy-tasting cheese one too often finds on pizza. This cheese is creamy and delicious.
|Lou's pizza. Perfection!|
|A happy customer|
|Me and Lou|
And finally, there's Katie, owner of Sandcastle Cupcakes on Asbury Avenue and the cutest thing on two legs, to be fair. It had always been Katie's dream to own a shop on Asbury, so after completing culinary school, she searched for a shop and found an old garage with a For Lease sign in the window. Sandcastle Cupcakes was born. Katie told me it was her dream to bring quality back to the cupcake business, so she uses all natural ingredients, which means nothing from a box. The result are these beauties...creative, fresh, beautiful works of art, and Katie is the artist. Her menu includes a ridiculous number of flavors -- I honestly don't know how she does it, but she does. There's salted chocolate, dulce de leche, pumpkin, strawberry, fig and brown sugar, carrot cake, and apple cinnamon, just to name a few. I tried the toasted coconut and the cannoli, and they were both perfect; not too sweet and clearly made from quality ingredients. Katie also sells gluten-free and vegan cupcakes, which is even more impressive if you ask me. We visited her shop twice, not only for the cupcakes, but for the lovely feel of the place as well. Katie has a blog where she recounts the adventures of the cupcake business and where you can learn the names of her kitchen equipment (love that). Go, Katie!
|Me and Kaite|
|This requires no explanation!|
Food is such an important part of a getaway. I find myself thinking of vacations in a multifaceted way: what's there to do in this place, what will I learn, how will I relax, and what will I eat? I loved Ocean City for its food most of all, and for all of these people who clearly love their craft. This was my favorite post to write so far for these wonderful and inspiring chefs. What an unexpected bonus! Thanks to Lou, Doris, Jon and Katie for all their stunning food.
My history geek moment: Ocean City once served as a summer fishing camp for local Native Americans.