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Mosaic Artistic Tile Adds Art to Forno Bravo Wood-Fired Oven Arch

Tiled arch of Forno Bravo wood-fired oven utilizing local art tile and simple stones

The flame is being fanned all across the country for Wood-Fired Ovens and the delicious food and entertainment they provide. We’re fanning the fire for exciting tile installations! We recently installed the tiles shown here on the arch of our own oven at our home.  There are so many ways to use tiles on an oven installation but I suggest including something creative into your oven design whatever you do. Break the boredom and drop the minimalist look from time to time!

You can choose tiles that are colorful, whimsical, classic, craftsman,  Latin, glass, stone; the possibilities are endless. Mosaics flow nicely and so believing I could work with the pieces we decided to combine these classic handmade decorative  art tiles with a simple grey stone, both of which are available through our showroom The ARCH. Just give us a call and we can discuss creative ideas with you. I selected a grey grout which still allows for the various stone colors to pop out. Over the years the dark grout color won’t get dirty in appearance and it tones down the brighter tiles to blend with the earthy primitive nature of wood-fire cooking.

Sketch, plan, let it evolve.

Move the pieces around until they work. It changed from this initial plan but was part of the process.

I started with a cardboard template of the arch and some paper cut outs of the tile pieces and stone shapes to see how it would flow.

After sketching and playing with some layouts, I attached the template to an arch on one of our showroom Forno Bravo models. (The oven shown below is the Casa2G80 32″ interior diameter which happens to have the same arch size as our Casa2G90 36″ interior diameter oven).

Once all the selections were made I special ordered the metallic glaze beauties from a local artist whose work we display at The ARCH, and the stone tiles that come on a mesh material.

Continue to experiment with the arch

I hand picked the most workable stones, placed them on the template and played and played with them until they were working with the tiles.

I had to keep in mind that I would apply extra adhesive to the backs of some pieces.

Working with the pieces

Pressing tiles and stones into tile adhesive.

A few modifications from the original layout so I recommend careful measuring of the template.  The process installing the mosaic was more enjoyable than I predicted as I had not completed a mosaic before.

Applying tile adhesive with a putty knife

It was a very sculptural feeling when it came to moving the grout throughout the mosaic.  I used a grout bag to squirt the grout around all the pieces given there was so much variation in sizes and heights.  The highs and lows of tiles and stones all connected as I smoothed the grout between the pieces.

Sponging off excess grout and cleaning.

Finally, the arch was complete!

The counter surface will meet up with the oven floor entry for easy use when cooking.

It was a pleasure to finally relax and see the fire nestled in the oven with the tiled arch surrounding it.

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Caputo 00 Flour + Forno Bravo Wood-Fired Ovens = Exceptional Pizza!

Exceptional Flour for exceptional pizza!

Caputo 00 flour is now available at The ARCH in Asheville!   If you haven’t tried the “00” Pizzeria Caputo flour you’ll be surprised by it’s soft light crust with, and as the description reads here “extraordinary taste”! We will have the smaller 2.2lb bags of Caputo 00 Farina Flour – also excellent for pizzas  (and great for testing a small batch) as well.  Newer to us, but highly recommended by our friends with Crust Bakehouse in Columbia, SC is a flour they work with and enjoy (and we too enjoy) and that is Spadoni Pizzeria Flour also in a 55lb bag.  Our selection will be growing based on interest and this is for PICK UP ONLY, though we may start shipping out the smaller 2.2LB bags.
Delicious Ciabatta
We’re easing into building up our supply  so it’s best to call ahead at 828 253 5455  to find out what we might have in stock and to pre-order as necessary. We will be ordering twice a month and we require a 25.00 minimum on each order.  Our “kick off special pricing  is good through May of 2012 and is  noted in our recent Spring newsletter.   A good discussion about why all  flours are not equal for pizza, gluten levels in flour, the 00 rating for the grind of the wheat can be found in this blog entry by Saveur magazine.
From the finest wheat grains
They use only the “heart” of the wheat in the Caputo flours which is a family owned and operated mill dating back to 1924.
 Combine this superb flour with a Forno Bravo wood-fired oven and you have a pizza that can’t be duplicated in other ovens. It combines reflected heat, convection and conductive heat to bake the perfect pizza in just 90 seconds!  All three- the crust, cheese and the sauce is cooking at the same time. The live fire arcing over the interior dome browns the top of the pizza with a rich brown color and imparts a deep flavor. The Convection heat combined with the moisture in the oven helps steam and puff up the cornicione (the other rim or crust) of the pizza, and with the intense floor heat direct heat extracts moisture from the dough of the pizza resulting in a unique crisp crust. This is not something you can obtain with a pizza stone alone.  On the other hand,  these flour choices will improve your pizza crust in any oven!
Wood-fired ovens combine all the best conditions!For a more detailed explanation of Forno Bravo’s oven operation and cooking benefits click here.
Yum Yum and Yum
We also will have what I have found to be a simple a delicious tomato sauce for pizza and that is the Pomodorino Italian cherry tomatoes in 14oz cans which we will stock.These are whole unpeeled cherry tomatoes that are sweet and can be slightly squished for your pizza sauce.   We will also have a growing supply of pizza related toppings including more plum and crushed tomatoes, Pesto sauce Ligurian in jars,  dried wild mushrooms, and very soon we’ll have fresh mozzarella 6lb ave loafs and goat cheese crumbles.

The ARCH can now sustain your pantry as well as provide sustainable finishes,

The ARCH is your full service Wood-fired oven location in Asheville!  We offer: OVEN SALES, INSTALLATIONS, AND NOW A GROWING LIST OF FOOD ITEMS FOR YOUR OVEN! Call us for an estimate today!

The ARCH can now sustain your pantry as well as provide sustainable finishes, flooring and more!

Wood-Fired Oven Holiday Cooking With The Cool Night Air-Listen To The Asparagus!

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Crisp green roasted wood-fired asparagus

Christmas day had been a very full day. I wasn’t sure I wanted to cook an evening meal in the wood-fired oven or just hit the sofa.  After a large breakfast, lunch with extended family, the occasional bites of date bars and chocolate throughout the day, did any of us need dinner at all?

As it turned out cooking outside in the cool air was an invigorating and satisfying way to enjoy the evening and, as it turned out, for everyone at the table. It was actually an ideal time to get away from the “lazy warm inside air”.  I had picked up a number of fresh vegetables the day before which included carrots, asparagus, portobellos, red, yellow and orange peppers. I had planned for a lighter evening fare after heavier meals throughout the day. I didn’t get back to the crowded holiday lines to pick up the fish I considered, (and I love fish), but our house includes vegetarians and vegans as well as meat eaters,  so knowing how incredibly delicious wood-fired vegetables  are  I knew we’d be just fine especially if we included some Kalamata olive wood-fired hearth bread from the day before, some fine wine or other drink of choice. It all made for a great finish for the day.

Kalamata Olive hearth bread

We fired up the oven, tending it off and on for a little more than forty-five minutes which is typical for our Forno Bravo Casa2G90. The temperature outside was in the 30’s, the oven coals somewhere over 1000 degrees, the dome creating the perfect convection experience – all ready to sear in the flavors like no other cooking method.  I prepared a couple of platters of vegetables (which took all of ten minutes- rinse vegetables, drizzle with oils, herbs, etc…, arranging and considering the grilling order and placement  in the oven). Grilled carrots carmalizing on left. Asparagus taking the place of the peppers and portobellosThe carrots were set to one side of the oven ahead of the rest of the vegetables allowing for the most generous amount of grilling time. I have read that cast iron may cook too hot in a wood-fired oven- but I believe it is more a case of knowing your oven and what you are cooking.Setting the heavy pan to the side of the fire works great for carrots. Want more heat? Move the pan closer to the fire. Want less? just pull it away, stirring on occasion, but not too often as its the caramelized skins that are delicious. Next, the portobellos were placed on the grill and then the peppers, checking up on them from time to time, giving the  peppers a turn,  evening out the coals beneath until all were roasted and just beginning to ooze their delicious juices.

Wood-fired vegetables ready for serving.

Vegetables don’t take that long,so they want your undivided attention at this point. No problem. I was glad to be outside tending the beautiful red coals and watching the fire. The last vegetable  I placed in the oven was the asparagus which had been placed on a foil covered roasting tray and placed on the Toscana grill. Drizzled with olive oil, herbs, garlic, fresh lime juice,  combined with the perfect heat of the dome and coals beneath they provided the ultimate chorus and just listening to them sizzle was, well here…listen for yourself.

And they were absolutely delicious!  They were so good that I grilled a second batch after dinner to eat the next day.

For more information on grilling in your wood-fired ovens, give us a call at The ARCH at 828 253 5455

Forno Bravo Wood-Fired Oven Demo Reveals Versatility

August 17, 2011 1 comment

  The ARCH hosted a Forno Bravo wood-fired oven demo late in July which was informative as well as energizing. The hands-on experience helped those attending get a much broader picture of what it is like to actually own an oven, and to cook in it.

We started the session at sundown and lit the fire in the oven so that everyone could see that, indeed, the Forno Bravo ovens do heat up to over 700 degrees in less than an hour. We had a mistaken piece of pine in the oven to start with, so we all noted that you do not burn pine as the black smoke will quickly make it’s presence known. After a few minutes, we had a clean fire and we continued burning clean assorted hardwoods- mostly oak, but some apple and cherry as well.  As the fire was occasionally stoked, we proceeded to the kitchen to involve everyone with hands-on experience creating pies with the dough made from scratch the previous day.  Handling the dough takes a little getting used to and is a lesson in itself, but we all created some pretty nice pies with assorted toppings.

It came naturally to Jeff

Jeff and Kim brought a few toppings of their own including a fine Italian sausage as well as Mozzarella di Bufala. We prepared several pies  maintaining a good sense of humor as several “lessons” were noted.  Seen here is Jeff Grimm who was immediately proficient handling the dough.  Jeff has many years of culinary experience including some time spent working with Peter Reinhart making pizzas so we were thrilled to watch him handle the dough with such familiarity.  With a little semolina flour on each peel, we didn’t have a single “accidental Calzone”- all the pies slid into the oven with success!

Jeff had this to say: “The Forno Bravo ovens are easy to use, I had it figured out by my second pizza. I am looking forward to roasting meats and vegetables, in addition to great Neopolitan pizzas”!

Jeff and Kim

The fire continue to burn strong and all the pizzas were delicious. My first attempt at the thin sliced lemon dessert pizza also came through with success.

Thin sliced lemon dessert pizza

I have since tried another but this time I  zested the outer rind just a bit before slicing the lemons. Copious amounts of powdered sugar must be sprinkled on unless you like your lemons sour! 

Zest the lemon but leave some of the rind, then slice thin

Another guest – Nancy has an interest in a community oven for a very innovative cabin development she is developing. Nancy has a terrific idea and excellent placement in mind for an oven between the cabins and the community center for guests to look forward to experiencing. This idea could blossom into a huge guest list over time. From cabin guests to guest chefs,  she has something that is sure to be a big draw. Nancy and her friend Joan were struck by the variety of flavors- and this was just an evening of pizza!

Giving that pie a spin. shown here in a Forno Bravo Casa 2G90 36" floor diameter

Grilling and baking may be included in future demonstrations, but for now seeing the oven in operation and getting involved is a great starting point and experience.

Kim shared the following:  “I didn’t realize how versatile a wood burning oven could be. I originally thought it was just for pizzas!”

The evening was a blast and we look forward to scheduling another oven demo this Fall.  If you have an interest please give us a call at The ARCH 828 253 5455.  Interests are reserved primarily for those interested in considering an oven purchase.

Here are a few more images of another round of pizzas enjoyed more recently – this time with my visiting niece and nephew and brother:

Alex and Tom topping a pie with fresh pesto

Waiting in line

Caramelized onion, mozzarella and Asiago, pine nuts

Lauren created this one

Detail of Mushroom Gorgonzola and walnut pizza

Alex removed another great pie

A great lineup

The cat sat here for the next three days pretty much.

Prevent Your Deck From Screaming: Help! I’m Thirsty!

Everything Looks so much better with a maintained, nicely finished deck

It’s funny how  every time you have a new product or personal interest, you start noticing that very product seemingly everywhere. You know the feeling; if you’re shopping for cars, you’ll start seeing the same model everywhere and certainly the blue ones. Whether you’re shopping for a new roof, in the market for a bike, or you’re looking at what color to re-finish something, you selectively notice just these objects, colors, and styles everywhere you look.

Deck Cleaning Services available at The ARCH

Well, it has been this way with decks and other outdoor wood surfaces for The ARCH.  It’s seems that we want to breathe new life into old, cracking, (deteriorating in many cases)  wood surfaces. They seem to be everywhere!

What a difference just cleaning it makes. Next comes the finish

So much wood out there is  thirsty for both attention and a new finish! Give the wood a drink I say!

Before cleaning! Dirty and slippery with mildew

One of my daughters  was visiting Asheville this weekend looking at houses to rent and several places we looked at seem to keep up the interiors, but many of the exteriors and decks needed a great deal of attention.

Investing in maintenance and finishes is important. The deck and all that surrounds the house definitely influences the person looking for a new place.

Finish helps protect feet as well as the wood

In need of Vermont Natural Poly Whey exterior finish

If the wood is maintained the renter or seller may actually make the sale, children may not need shoes every time they walk across a sorry-looking deck, years could be added to the life of a house  exterior, and, if someone would only notice,the garden bench might actually make it another decade.

Autumn Red Exterior Finish

Vermont Natural Coatings not only provides protection, durability, and beauty, but it’s healthy, non-toxic and so easy to apply.

Healthy finish required for Health Food bins

I read that a health food store coated vegetable boxes with a Vermont Natural Coatings finish and they’re loving the product because it is non-toxic as well as durable. Shown here are a few projects showing some happy decks and happier homeowners.

Hopefully, I’ll start noticing the details of islands and the varying shades of blue in the ocean!

For more information about Vermont Natural Coatings exterior, flooring and furniture finishes click here.

New Exterior color

New color just in! Exterior Finish Barn Red

All Vermont Natural Coatings products are available at The ARCH.  We also offer deck cleaning service.Free estimates in the Asheville area.

It’s Not Too Hot for Wood-Fired Cooking!

It is 90 degrees  in a mid-summer heat wave and you’re thinking about firing up an oven? Absolutely! We enjoy a Forno Bravo Casa2G 90 wood-fired oven which is built next to our deck far from any air conditioning. Basically, the heat is kept outdoors and will not heat up your home that you invest in keeping cool. This is an energy saver in itself.   It’s perfect for summer evening cooking as well as the harshest winter months. The actual time spent cooking in a Forno Bravo wood-fired oven is very intentional and generally fast compared to cooking with a gas grill.  You develop the art of timing when cooking  with wood and it takes a little finesse but it’s sooooo well worth it!

Perfecting Timing with wood-fired cooking

Fresh Fresh Fresh

Summer is all about eating outside when it’s cooling down, enjoying your yard, and eating  FRESH! Fresh everything. The tomatoes are actually red and juicy, the squash, eggplants, herbs, corn, are either fresh from our own garden or from local tailgate markets.

Support Local Farmers

Supporting local farmers feels great as we know it feeds the local economy.  When you own an oven you can cook light fare or cook up a feast, but the best part of all is when the sun has set you’re on your own deck or patio with friends savoring some of the finest flavors that could otherwise cost you a pretty penny.  Around 6pm fire up the oven and occasionally feed it a few pieces of dry hardwood  to increase the heat.

Not much longer and the coals will be perfect

The exterior of the oven doesn’t put off high heat. It’s better than a thermos. The exterior may be warmed naturally from the sun, but the oven is so well insulated it is never too warm to touch. If the oven hasn’t been used for a good week or more, the interior behaves much like a cellar as it maintains what seems to be the same air temperature as outside if not a below ground cooler temperature.

Roasting carrots

After forty-five minutes to an hour, you have a fabulous bed of coals to push the heavy cast iron grill over.  I put a cast iron fry pan nearer the entry but in front of the fire to caramelize  summer carrots as we wait for perfect coals for the salmon filets.

I can do this

As we were entertaining for a birthday party (and the crowd  magically grew), we put ten salmon filets on a single heavy duty cast iron grill which took between 4-7 minutes tops to cook with the intense convection of the oven. Combine this with delicious cooler summer salads, corn,  a fresh peach pie and homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert and  you have some very happy campers.Dessert time As the oven will still have retained at least 300-400 degrees overnight, we’re cooking a light fare meal tonight of eggplant with freshly made pesto, fresh tomatoes, fine bread with garden herbs.  Forno Bravo wood-fired ovens are designed for year-round use and the enjoyment of wood-fired cooking unlike any other kind of cooking.

A Facebook comment we received from David Horn just today (during this heat wave):

“Great selection of your many products and services. Thanks again for the great job by Jim and Tom on our Forno Bravo oven in Lenoir. We have had lots of pizza and lots of guests over- more tonight!”   This says it all.

Some links of interest:

ASAP Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project  Facebook

ASAP Local Food Guide and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) web

Buy Local NC Facebook

Slow Food Asheville Facebook

Slow Food Asheville web

Asheville Grown blog

North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project blog

Carolina Farm Stewardship Associations web

Jim’s Wood Fired Ovens  Facebook/ gallery of oven installations (please “like” Jim!)

Jim Erskine Masonry and Applications web/ masonry services at The ARCH

Customers Share Forno Bravo Wood Fired Oven Progress as Well as Healthy Cooking Passion!

Lenoir, NC Premio 2G 110 Forno Bravo oven

It’s exciting for us to see the progress of  the Forno Bravo oven projects that Jim and Tom have worked on as well as customers. It’s the owners of the ovens that have the final vision to complete!  Some of the finish work and details that may be among the  finish “to-do” list include counter surfaces, lighting, surrounding landscaping, furnishings, cabinetry or metal work for oven tools and other oven accessories.  What can’t be shared here on a computer are the phenomenal smells and flavors. You just have to experience it! Wood-fired ovens are becoming increasingly  popular and one day we hope it to be true that many more ovens will find their place in homes and yards across the country.  It’s not a new idea as depicted in this old painting below. Yet, modern materials such as high temperature refractory cement and tested design forms have made Forno Bravo ovens an excellent choice as they are very efficient ovens which also translates into less wood use.

Many generations ago

The first photo above of the brick oven was built by Jim Erskine and Tom Silver in Lenoir, NC earlier this spring.  It is a solid and stately beauty and there will be some serious cooking, good humor and great fun shared by home owners  David and Mary Ruth Horn.  We hope to provide more details about their cooking adventures in the near future. In fact,  David has been involved in a cooking show called Two Men and a Stove , Fun in the Kitchen with Dave and Ram, who refer to themselves as “chef wannabes” with a focus on healthy eating and movement for overall health. They’ve worked with the Lenoir Fire Department cooking up recipes such as firehouse grilled chicken and firehouse salsa, and much more, all benefiting their community and beyond. We’re hoping to see a wood-fired oven segment!

 

This next photo is an outdoor kitchen in Columbus, NC, by Glen and Marilyn Lefeber.Their oven was shipped directly to them and they were responsible for the project from the ground up.

All the components coming together. Let’s get cooking!

They researched and planned their outdoor wood-fired oven area for quite some time before purchasing their Forno Bravo Casa2G oven and now the finishes are all coming together. With all this wonderful counter space they have ample serving and preparation area.

Glen with some of his first bread loaves from their wood-fired oven.

Glen has been a baker for decades and these are his first bread loaves from their oven.

We plan to share the progress of others if they can put their pizza peels down long enough to take some photos from time to time! We hope to share more images in future entries. Carry on!

For more images of these two oven projects click here.