Another Day in Paradise with Dave & Lisa
De-mystifying the Foodie Universe since 2010.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012
A pie like no other – Klausie’s Pizza
Mike Stenke pays a tremendous amount of attention to detail. The Michigan born former technical writer is the proprietor of
, a truck-borne enterprise that serves
in The Triangle. It is this extra effort that’s earned quite a following. One recent Friday, we were talking in his truck about cheese.
“I have to use
,” he said. “Can’t get it locally.”
“You imported it?” I asked.
“From Wisconsin. Nobody can do it locally.”
I asked him if it made that much of a difference and he shook his head.
“Nothing else works,” he continued. “It’s got to have a really high butterfat content.” I asked if that mattered. In retrospect, it really was a silly question.
“Yea. Most of the cheese you can get locally will either brown or melt. It won’t do both.”
“And brick cheese does?”
‘Yea and it’s the only one that does.”
Mike has been in and out of food service for more than 20 years, starting as a biscuit maker when he was a mere lad of 14. When one of his previous writing gigs wound down, he had to come up with something else. With a bit of support from
, another Michigan native and owner of
Cloos’ Coney Island
, Mike perfected the oh-so-important crust that makes a Detroit-style pie unique. The crusts are brushed with butter and baked twice in rolled steel pans that look like parts bins out of a car factory. The process allows a Klausie’s to hit a seemingly impossible trifecta: the crust is crisp and chewy and sweet. If it sounds like a contradiction, it is. And it works astonishing well.
But the crust is only the beginning. Once the crust is baked, it has to be cheesed, and this is where the brick cheese comes into play. Mike covers the crust with cheese and bakes until it turns from translucent to white and the edges start to brown. He then pulls the cheesed crust out of his oven and lets it rest. Only then is it sauced and returned to the oven for two minutes with toppings.
I recently picked up a take and bake pie, which came complete with toppings, sauce and instructions. It came fully baked and cheesed so that all I had to do was sauce and top the pie. While it was relatively small – 9 by 16 inches – and by pizza carryout standard a bit pricey for a fill loaded pie – $25 – there were leftovers after Das Kinder, her BFF, Her Imperial Majesty and I had at it. Honestly, eating two pieces made me feel like Jabba the Hutt afterwards. It was an amazing value.
I did ask if there was a brick and mortar location looming off and his future and he said yes. The exact location is yet to be determined. I, for one, look forward to it. That rainy Friday I spoke to him, he was parked behind a catering hall that he leases space from. Normally, he drives all over The Triangle. It would be nice in my book, to know where will be every day. Chasing the truck down can be a lot of extra effort for a slice of pizza. But its worth the extra effort. Just like the cheese he imports from Wisconsin.
Owner, operator, head chef, mechanic, driver, plumber
Various. Follow Mike's travels at
A food truck and everybody knows how I feel about that
Listen to the sidewalk
Are you crazy?
Cash and credit cards.
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