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A Smokin Idea for The Factory: Wood-Fired Oven Installation in a 97 Foot Chimney That Is!

97 Feet UP!

Interior 97′ Smokestack

This ought to be tall enough for a wood-fired oven chimney don’t you think? It’s not necessary of course, but….some ideas are BIG ideas and this one is BIG as well as TALL! Project Manager, Maxime Theberge of The Factory in High Point, NC  wanted a bold and innovative idea to come together for this restored old mill dating back to the early 20th century, formally the Adams-Millis Hosiery Mill.

The Factory

Now it is the home of a furniture showroom and is  soon to be a destination for the High Point Market. This oven installation will be part of an entertainment venue, that  not only has character but will be serving up some delicious fare to those attending  events.  Fire and wood-fired ovens are always a great draw and a crowd-pleaser and we’re thankful to have been a part of this project!  Jim Erskine with The ARCH, was contacted Spring of 2012 as he is known for his competent masonry skills and Forno Bravo oven installation work. Well, this isn’t a typical installation for wood-fired ovens, but Jim was definitely stoked, jazzed, excited, you name it!, and  between all the professionals looking at the engineering of this project it was given a green light!

Though I see a rather blue white moon light…oh wait, that’s not the moon at the top of that smoke stack, that’s daylight and that’s where climbers Michael Grosser and Leo Dupuis clipped their way up the interior rungs of the smoke stack  and then helped guide sections of the selected Forno Bravo Modena 120 commercial wood-fired oven down the stack! 

Four of the sections fit through the hole at the base, but the plan was to maintain a smaller opening and lower two of the six sections with the use of a crane,  guided by Michael Grosser at the TOP.  Several days prior  to “the drop”, Jim had to get through this massive wall. Not what you call a highlight but he made it through this thick wall and then built an oven floor after gravel was poured into the base, cement, re bar reinforcement, the works….

Building the floor

Jim accomplished the hole in the wall and oven floor days before the crane was scheduled to provide their expertise…. and expertise was the case. Hats off to crane operators!

Not a bump going down the stack, and with the assistance from Michael at the top (to start the guided lowering of the sections), they were received  by more brave souls at the base. (They waited until the piece was nearly at the bottom, stepped in and guided the final landing of the sections).

Going UP

With a lot of patience and teamwork the six section oven kit was in place. (There is also a side access hole about fifteen feet up the right side of the smoke stack.  Perhaps future climbing expeditions?)

Setting the Cap

Finally, a customized “smoke stack chimney cap” was lowered onto the top… another success!  This cap was beautifully constructed and a necessary component. This time Leo Dupuis braved the climb up the smoke stack  and guided the landing of the cap at the top.
The weather was drizzling most of the day but thankfully the wind wasn’t up. The next day more insulation and finish work was completed to the dome. Jim thanks all of those that helped with this project.

Jim Erskine and Tom Silver


Ready to start curing!

Next step…… to enjoy some phenomenal food and watch the smoke rise from 97 feet up!

 
 
 
For  more information give us a call at The ARCH 171 Weaverville Hwy Suite 103 Asheville NC 28804  828 253 5455 www.thearchnc.com
For more images visit Jim’s Wood Fired Ovens Facebook page album
For Forno Bravo oven and outdoor fireplace sales and installation information call Jim Erskine 828 768 4438 or email jim@thearchnc.com

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.

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.

Asheville Artisan Bread Festival- New Conversations for The ARCH

April 6, 2011 1 comment

Meeting With Peter Reinhart

We had the pleasure of having a table at The Asheville Artisan Bread Festival  to represent Forno Bravo wood-fired ovens last Saturday, April 2nd.  Surrounded by a host of talented bakers,  it was a welcome opportunity to “talk ovens”, learn more about baking, learn more about the  North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project (NCOBFP),  as well as sample delicious breads from the local bakers- a few further north as far as Pennsylvania.

Bakery Vendors

We were quite caught up in “one big wood-fired community conversation”. We talked with people from all over about all kinds of wood-fired cooking experiences, those that have built their own, those that own Forno Bravo ovens, and we shared our own experiences with those interested in purchasing their own ovens, the technical end of it, and just how to go about it in practical terms.

Jim talking ovens

 

Couldn't Resist

Some of the interests included creating a community oven for a local church,  restaurant inquiries, catering interests, community center interests, considerations for interior versus exterior installations, the use of accessories, and of course food, food, food.  The whole experience made us very hungry and we left with several loafs of bread.  We appreciated the opportunity to meet Peter Reinhart, author and baking instructor at Johnson and Wales University,and later attended a demo that he and Joe Lindley, owner of Lindley Mills in Graham, NC,  held at  AB Tech titled Baking with Sprouted Whole Grain Wheat Flour. We’re excited to watch the development of this amazing flour made by Lindley Mills, Inc. We felt quite privy to this introduction and  we were thrilled to leave with two bags of this new flour. We made some of our own bread the following day in our own wood-fired oven and are looking forward to more recipes and uses for this amazing new flour.  The raisin and cranberry focaccia that Peter had made and we all tasted  was superb.  Pretty amazing product, and as Peter remarked- it is likely to be “flying off the shelves”. Peter writes details in his blog about this Asheville event. If you  missed this year’s Asheville Artisan Bread Festival, perhaps you’ll make it to next year’s.  Next year we will likely have an oven model displayed, if not one fired up! Meanwhile, visit our showroom and see first hand our newest Casa2G80 modular oven kit.

The Arch Works With Community of Wood-Fired Oven Enthusiasts

Rapid River Arts & Culture magazine newest April 2011 issue  includes an article from The ARCH about wood-fired ovens. Click on the April 2011 issue, then page 23 for article titled The Arch Works With Community of Wood-Fired Oven Enthusiasts.
The ARCH will have a table at the Asheville Artisan Bread Festival at GreenLife Grocery April 2nd 10-2PM.

The ARCH now has a Casa2G80 Forno Bravo modular kit in the showroom.

Hearth Bread

Excitement Builds As Artigiano Hilton Head Installation Grows- Part II

March 25, 2011 1 comment

Excitement building? This is quite the understatement. Then too, you’d have to understand the passion owners Kathi and Jim of Hilton Head have for fine food and entertaining.  Just to set the stage,  we’ve had the pleasure of  joining Kathi and Jim  for several dinners  enjoying some fabulous flavors.  Most recently we enjoyed a fine meal prepared by Kathi who is a chef and lifelong student of the culinary world. “Food is my life”, Kathi has said several times.

Kathi Plomin and Jim Paolello mid-way through project. March 2011

As guests in their home we enjoyed many savory flavors. To name a few- on a wonderful antipasti platter Kathi and Jim shared an incredible  Auribella cheese they’ve been chipping away at for over two decades.  Down to the last few wedges we knew this was not dipped into often. We also enjoyed some fabulous Georgia shrimp in a saffron butter with melting sweet onions and Fennel  served over a creamy polenta. The conversation centered around not only our delicious meal, but  a spirited anticipation was busting at the seams regarding the outdoor oven project progress in the yard!   Several months ago we had the pleasure of getting to know Kathi and Jim over a fine dinner at Cucina 24 in Asheville. This was our earliest indicator that wood-fired Italian cooking was seriously  appreciated by Kathi and Jim.  We also enjoyed another fine meal at Pour Richards– which opened just a couple of months ago in the Bluffton area on Hilton Head.  Kathi worked for years with owner Richard Canestrari, Ally Rogers, and  several others now dedicated to the restaurant. The atmosphere was immediately welcoming.  The wood-fired oven (our common inspiration) was in view of our table and with high praises we will certainly be back when in the area again.

All this leads to the images of what’s being built in their own yard brick by brick, arches hand crafted,  and details carefully considered.

Interior dome of the Artigiano 120

Tom tending to grout

Arched dome over the dome

Details behind the counter wall.

They’ve put   more than “a little piece of them selves” into this project, they’re putting their heart and soul into a dream they’ve had for a very long time.

kathi and Jim placing the time capsule. This is their story!

A moment in time- capsule.

Not seen in the layout is what’s behind the bricks temporarily blocking the entrance of the oven-a space heater placed inside to achieve a head start in the curing process. They’ll soon begin burning wood fires increasing them in size to complete the curing process.

In good company

More finishes to go but a stopping point for the weekend.

It has been such a pleasure to meet Kathi and Jim  and to share their excitement throughout this project.  Kathi  said Jim may never come inside, but I have a feeling neither of them will.

Stay tuned for phase 3!