Pizza returned to Pleasant House Bakery last Saturday, though owner Art Jackson asked us not to mention it until he had another weekend's experience under his belt. This week he feels fine about it, so come by Pleasant House either starting at 5 on Saturday or 3 on Sunday and you can see what interesting, foraged and housegrown things Art is putting on pizzas. Last week's star, the Michigan corn, blueberry and pickled onion pizza shown above, won't be among them this week, but Art promises mushroom and kale, aubergine, and one using the housemade bangers. But pizza is only one way Pleasant House is expanding— including into your fridge.
Pleasant House's pot pies are now on the delivery menu for Artizone, the grocery delivery service which handles a number of artisanal producers. Like a Homemade Pizza Co. pizza, except better in every imaginable way, all you have to do is pop it in your own oven and you'll have the flaky, homegrown taste of 31st street in Bridgeport.
And because demand continues to grow for those little wonders of 31st street, Pleasant House is at work on a facility for making the pies within The Plant, the "closed loop" project in a stockyards-area building that tries to be a wholly contained ecosystem. For Pleasant House, that means they'll be growing greens within the building, making pies using the greens, and their waste will go into the "digester" which produces methane for the building to burn for power. Considering that Pleasant House already grows many of its own greens, Jackson is excited about "taking the closed loop to a higher level, where we can see what we're growing right from where we're making the pies." Since one of the main things people associate with The Plant is indoor tilapia farming, we asked him if he was planning on a fish pie. "Maybe," he said, his tone of voice acknowledging that tilapia, by itself, is not as flavorful as the kinds of fish (like eel) typically used in European fish pies. "Maybe if it was a spicy fish pie with tilapia. We're playing around with the idea."
Meanwhile, he says that he hopes to get the Pleasant House food truck moving on a regular route and schedule, though they've had enough events or gatherings to cater that it's been hard to maintain a schedule— he hopes that The Plant production line will make it easier to do that.
Finally, he points out that Pleasant House is featured in a new book about farm to table cooking by a Chicago writer and photographer, Anna Blessing, called Locally Grown: Portraits of Artisanal Farms from America's Heartland. Their Morgan street farm is one of three restaurant-connected urban farms included in the book, along with Rick Bayless's and Uncommon Ground's rootop gardens.