My girlfriend likes pizza. actually, no… she Loves pizza. Capital L. Pretty sure she could eat it every day for the rest of her life. Her whole face lights up at the very mention of it.
So needless to say, I’ve been eating a lot of pizza. 😉
Did I mention, she’s Italian?
So, recently I got to try real Italian pizza… We had our first pizza in Rome the night we arrived. We found a cute little pizzeria with a patio on the street. Exhausted, and still reeling from the discovery of my wallet being lost, we somehow ended up with an entire bottle of wine instead of just two glasses, and of course, two pizzas. She got a Quattro Stagioni – tomato, mozzarella, olives, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, ham – and I got a Diavola. Apparently I wasn’t feeling adventurous that early in the trip since its basically pepperoni and cheese… only spicy. It was a very good regular pizza, however.
Unfortunately, my appetite does not warrant a whole pizza and I ended up taking most of it home, (much to the chagrin of the waiter). But not before I witnessed the complete demolition of the pizza of the person opposite me. And then she started in on mine! Just to make it an even half, she says 😀
Aside from a margherita pizza on the second night there was a void in our pizza consumption until we reached her family and knowing her love of it, they had some waiting for her (along with some homemade gnocchi ricotta e spinaci – but thats a recipe for another day). After that, we headed up to her cabin in the Alps with a bunch of friends.
I believe it was the day after our second mountain “hike” that we all went down to the pizzeria, Ottocento, in the town of San Bernardo. I’ve never seen a menu, consisting only of pizzas, that was this long. It was like, 6 pages of pizzas. And this is where I got the most unusual pizza I had the whole trip. Pizza Insalatamtissime. It’s pizza, with a salad on top. The pizza had tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, basil and oregano. And then they dropped a green salad on top.
I wasn’t quite in the mood for pizza but I was in the mood for salad. Here was the perfect solution! And it was great. The salad was crisp and fresh and the pizza underneath warm and crispy. Seems an odd pairing, but it was super. I’m going to have to try this at home some day.
So! Guess what we did the next day? Had a giant pizza party! 😀
No, really. We did!
2 batches of dough were whipped up before I was even awake. By early afternoon there was a table full of every topping you could think of. Paper thin potatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, sausage, gooey gorgonzola and cubes of mozzarella… I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much cheese at one time.
I can’t tell you how many pizza’s we made that day, but I’d say 15 is a good guess.
We ate pizza all afternoon! Eventually, people had to rush off to various planes and trains and automobiles… But those of us who were staying got out the Russian vodka! Boy that stuff is tasty.
The next major encounter with pizza came in Montpellier, in the south of France.
I tried to impress upon my companion that French food is at the top of the gastronomic wonders of the world, but these arguments mean little when the person to be impressed is not a fan of things like duck cooked in its own fat… So I lost that discussion!
In our wanders on the first night there we went down a little street full of bars and small restaurants – we walked until we reached the end of the night life on the street and there, as the crowds parted, was a pizza place. Her eyes lit up and she grabbed my arm “Can we?!”
The place was a hole in the wall called Station Pizzas. It was nice and clean and tiny and the pizza was only €6.50!
After the last pizza we gathered our stuff and headed out to catch a streetcar to our bus which took us to another bus which took us to our plane.
I didn’t want to leave at all.
At least I can make good pizza here!
Yeast 8-10g for up to 1.5kg of flour (1 pkt)
Water – 2-3 cups, lukewarm
Extra virgin olive oil – 2 tablespoons
salt – pinch
sugar – pinch
In a large glass or stainless steel bowl place the yeast and add the oil, salt and sugar, then add the lukewarm water. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes. The yeast will start to bloom and you should smell yeast.
Begin adding flour in 1cup increments, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it can form a soft ball – you will have to use your hands after a while! Shouldn’t be too dry – you will add more flour later just before rolling the dough.
Put it in a dry, close place (like your oven) or cover it with a cloth and place it somewhere without a draft. Let it rest for 2 hours or more. It should get quite large! (I have left it overnight and its ok. Although, it did overflow the bowl so put a baking tray underneath unless you want to clean your oven)
Once it has risen it will be quite sticky so add more flour as you punch it down until the dough won’t stick to your hands.
Roll dough out on parchment or a floured surface – as thin as you can get it, about 1/8″. Be liberal with the flour as you roll, it helps it not shrink and stick to the surface or the rolling pin. Thicker works as well, but the thin is nice and crispy.
Add sauce & toppings.
TIPS: for a thin crust that gets a little fluffier while cooking drizzle some olive oil before adding the toppings.
Slice the toppings as thin as possible.