So many things change just a little bit when the calendar flips back to January. We all decide on some goal we’ve been meaning to achieve and pursue it more fervently than we have before (or perhaps just since last January). I’m not aware of any resolutions the good folks at Argilla have set up for themselves, but so long as they keep making excellent beer and delicious pizza, they’ll be fine by me.
This month, by chance, Pietros’ pizza of the month is a callback to a trip I wrote about in February of last year, when I spent three weeks in Thailand. “Midnight in Thailand” is a pizza made with a Thai chili base that’s then topped with mozzarella, chicken tenders, chopped garlic, jalapeños, caramelized onion, and cilantro. It’s certainly a pretty pizza, with a lovely white and green palette and little bits of pinkish red peeking out from under the cheese. Anyone who read my articles from Thailand will remember how deeply I fell in love with the Thai Chili. It’s far spicier than the jalapeño, in the lower range of habañeros, but it has a characteristic fruity sweetness that just drives me mad. It’s the kind of flavorful spice that’s instantly addictive: your eyes water, your nose runs, and you drool like crazy, but nothing can stop you from diving deeper into whatever vessel bears the flavors to you. Expecting this kind of fire, I ordered a beer that sounded like something that might help me cope, as I actually have a rather low tolerance to spice.
The Nutty Porter is classified as a spiced porter, sitting proudly at 6.9% ABV. Brewed with peanut butter, brown sugar, and Columbian coffee for a light roastiness and semi-sweet finish, it certainly delivers the sort of experience it advertises. It more has the quality of peanut butter than the actual flavor, and tastes mostly like a mild porter with notes of coffee and brown sugar peeking through the good, classic beer flavors.
When the pizza arrived, I was struck by the strong Thai chili aroma and the concentration of jalapeños around the pie. Steeling myself, I bit in, and found that neither the sauce nor the peppers were spicy at all. The sauce I understand; the only spicy Thai Chili I’ve found in the States so far has been at a Vietnamese noodle shop where they had a side container of the oil and pepper flakes handy. Everything else labelled “Thai Chili” that I’ve seen has been mostly sweet. The jalapeños were fresh, so that too makes sense to me. Fresh jalapeños can be far spicier than their pickled bretheren, but I’ve also found the opposite to be true. Despite this shocking lack of capsaicin, the pizza was delicious. They built the flavor around the ingredients they had to work with, and the finished product is far from boring. Once I’d amended my expectations, I truly enjoyed this meal, and the leftovers as well.