It’s about the heat. With temperatures between 750° and 800°F a wood-fired pizza oven delivers an exceptional pizza that simply cannot be matched by a regular oven. High heat creates flavors and textures that cannot be duplicated when pizza is cooked more slowly. A pizza cooks in under three minutes right on the oven floor. The crust is crisp on the bottom, the cheese is exquisitely melted and slightly browned, and the toppings are cooked to perfection. A thing of beauty, pure pizza bliss.
Our dear dear longtime friends, Chip & Pat, invited us all over for a pizza party. My nephews were thrilled to go swimming in their pool and hang out with the world’s most adorable dogs, Sophia & Luca. We brought along some pink wines to taste as well as ingredients for some pizzas. Chip had already prepared the dough and the pizza oven was heating up. We were looking forward to Pat’s caramelized onion and feta pizza, a perennial favorite…
~ THE WINES ~
It’s about the heat. Summertime is the time for pink wine. Summer and rosé are an unbeatable combination. Refresh the palate. Quench that thirst. Dry pink wine pairs wonderfully with our pizzas.
Domaine de la Fouquette Cuvee “Rosee d’Aurore” Cotes de Provence 2010 – Salmon hue, tropical fruit aromas of pineapple and grapefruit, flavors of strawberries, watermelon and citrus. Balanced acidity, a good quality rosé from Provence. Made of the classic cépages Grenache and Cinsault, but accented with Rolle (called Vermentio in Italy and other Southern France appellations), which adds citrus aromatics, crisp acidity and a touch of minerality. $17
Domaine Le Galantin Bandol Rosé 2010 – A complex rosé, aromas hint of watermelon and rose petal. Medium-bodied, lively with crisp acidity. A classic Provencal rose with delightful fresh berry fruit flavors. It is composed of 50% Cinsault, 25% Mourvedre and 25% Grenache. 10% of the wine is saignée (bled from the must), the rest come from grapes treated as for making white wine. Médaille de Bronze Paris 2011 $20 (Lori Lynn’s #1 pick).
Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Rosé 2009 – The Pascal Jolivet Rosé is a blend of direct press and saignée production method rosé wine made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. This Sancerre rosé had forward aromas of red fruits, it’s full of elegance and subtlety. $25 (Pat & Kristy’s #1 pick).
Domaine de Jarras Gris de Gris Languedoc 2010 – The Gris de Gris is created from a blend of Grenache (80%), Cinsault (15%) and Carignan (5%) varietals coming from the vineyards raised on the Lion Gulf Sands. The Lion Gulf Soil, comprised of sandy sediments transported by the sea and winds along the Mediterranean Coast, is very unique. Light fresh flavors, especially strawberry jam. $10
~ THE PIZZAS ~
~ THE POOL ~
It’s about the heat. We’re goin’ swimmin’ first.
~ THE OVEN ~
It’s about the heat. Chip begins the process of firing the oven about four hours before the party.
He lights almond wood in the center of the oven and progressively adds more wood as the hours go by.
Chip’s giant toothbrush, called a spazzola, is a fireproof brush used to
sweep ashes away from the cooking area.
When the temperature is 850°F, Chip moves all the wood and embers
to a corner of the oven with an aluminum ash stick.
He uses the spazzola to sweep the ashes from the cooking area.
A long handled wooden pizza peel, buccia di legno pizza, is used to transfer the pizza into the oven.
At this point the oven has cooled slightly to 800°F.
Pizza is placed on the buccia di legno pizza.
Chip, our master pizzaiolo, positions it in the cleaned area of the oven.
With a short forward jerk, he slides the pizza onto the hot oven floor.
A quick pull of the paddle backward completes the maneuver.
Our pizzaiolo watches the pizza, moving it around and turning it with the palo di infornare,
which is made of aluminum, to help it cook evenly. In three minutes, it’s cooked to perfection!
~ PIZZA RECIPES ~
Lightly brush pizza dough with olive oil. Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce.
Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and cooked bacon pieces. Top with sliced roma tomatoes.
Cook for about 3 minutes, turning as necessary.
Toss chopped romaine lettuce with buttermilk ranch dressing. Top pizza with lettuce.
Enjoy a slice of BLT Pizza by the pool!
PAT’S CARAMELIZED ONION & FETA PIZZA
Put about 2 T. olive oil in a skillet with a teaspoon of sugar and two large Vidalia or Maui onions, sliced, over medium low heat for – really about 30 minutes. Move them around as they begin to soften – do not let brown quickly – cook very slowly for best results. If you cook them fast they will brown or burn as you well know and loose their plumpness and shape. Make 2 batches for one large pizza.
HALF MUSHROOM & BURRATA, HALF SMOKED SALMON & CREMA
Sauté mushrooms in a bit a olive oil, add fresh thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Brush pizza dough with a small amount of olive oil. Spread rough chopped burrata on one side and Mexican crema on the other. Top burrata with mushrooms and fresh thyme sprigs. Top crema with slices of roma tomato then smoked salmon, caperberries, and brined green peppercorns.
White-hot: inside the wood-fired oven.
Don’s #1 pick – smoked salmon & crema pizza.
KIDS’ CHEESE & JUST A FEW PEPPERONI PIZZA
Brush pizza dough with a small amount of olive oil. Spread pizza sauce over the dough.
Taking the job of pizzaiolo seriously.
Kids’ cheese pizza, gets a few pepperoni, but “not too many.”
Don & Jett learning the pizzaiolo skills.
Big hit: Kids’ Pizza.
What’s better than made-from-scratch wood-fired pizza after a swim on a hot summer day?
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.
When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore.
5 STAR MAKEOVER COOKING GROUP
Natasha, the 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! host the 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group, an outstanding monthly event for “sharing ideas and creating gourmet makeovers of selected classic dishes or flavor combinations.”
August’s theme is pizza and as a result there are some of the most creative pizzas in the blogosphere being posted this month. Thanks to our dear friends Chip & Pat, my contribution to this month’s Cooking Group Event is the WOOD-FIRED PIZZA. Natasha and Lazaro will be posting a round-up on Friday – pizza aficionados must stop by!
UPDATE: The Cooking Group’s Pizza Event is now posted here.
That’s amore! Grazie Chip & Pat!