Senape's Pitza, Hazleton (PA) style, with pics

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2005/02/07 21:32:18 (permalink)

Senape's Pitza, Hazleton (PA) style, with pics

OK, I've written about this a few times. I'll try to be a little more in depth with this post.

First, and foremost, this is true ROADFOOD. You do not order this pitza and wait for it to bake and then sit down and eat it. You get it cold (room temperature) at the cash register of a gas station or convenience store, take it out to your car, start driving again, and eat it while you drive. It is not a hot, sloppy, cheesy melting pizza; it is cold, moist, soft pitza.

Here is where you can get it:

Crossing Pennsyvania on I-80 or I-81, or the NE extension of the PA Turnpike, I-476. Get off near Hazleton at any exit with a mini mart, and you will find this stuff (either Senapes or Longo's) selling as individual squares, cold, wrapped with plastic wrap. That would be, on I-80, either the White Haven (Rt 437), Mountain Top (Rt 309), or Conyngham (Rt 93) exits; on I-81 any of the 3 Hazleton exits; or on I-476, the White Haven exit (which is also the interchange with I-80).

Here is what you will see:

Here is what's inside:

What you see here are 3 edge slices and a pitza boat. On the slices, notice how the cheese is baked onto the edge of the crust too help harden it. The crust under the sauce is soft. That cheese is not a soft, mild mozzarella; it's a sharp cheese, like an aged provolone. It's a bit oily, but not greasy at all. The sauce is a little sweet but also has a salty tomato flavor. The pitza boat is almost like a pitza danish; here is what it looks like when cut:

Sometimes the upper layer of dough overlaps the sauce, on this one there's just a nice flavorful rope of sauce running down the middle. The crust on a pitza boat is soft all the way.

So, you eat these cold. It's roadfood on the run. For some reason, they don't get stale; rather they ripen and change, actually getting better (to a point) as the day goes on. These were purchased at 8AM this morning; they sat out all day, and I took the pictures (and then ate the slices) at 9PM. If you refrigerate them, they dry out in about half a day. But as they sit during the day, the oils come out of the cheese, the sauce cures a bit, the crust "stales up" a little, and the whole thing gets this wonderful aged flavor that I've never tasted anywhere else. To test and make sure that it hasn't been out too long, pick up a slice and bend it a little (parallel to the edge, the edge won't bend). If the crust is hard under the sauce, then the slice is past its prime. If it's still soft, then happy eatin'!

As I sit here typing, I can still smell the ripe cheese and sauce on my fingers. There's nothing like a slice of Senapes!


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