I updated the post on this newish rustic Italian to include twice the yummy pizza, pasta, and old-school Italian delicacies. Click here to see all the details.sharethis_button(); ?>
I updated the post on this newish rustic Italian to include twice the yummy pizza, pasta, and old-school Italian delicacies. Click here to see all the details.sharethis_button(); ?>
With the new year comes more Ultimate Pizza (see here for the whole series). In case you missed it, this is the totally hand crafted gourmet pizzas we cook at home.
Yum, Burgundy from the cellar. Parker gives 93 points. “One of the three batches that will be blended to make up d ‘Angerville’s 2005 Volnay Champans was still in malo, so I base my assessment on the other two. Scented with cherry and cassis, flowers and fungus, smoke and chalk dust, this displays richness and depth, fine tannins and emerging silkiness, and a youthfully firm but long finish loaded with savory subtleties. Just give it 6-8 years before revisiting. (The outstanding d’Angerville 2004s were also very late to finish malo, and the Champans is especially memorable for its vivid sauteed champignons, alluring ginger spice, marrowy richness, and flattering mouth feel, indeed comparable in quality though lacking the developmental potential of this 2005. As a striking example of mercantile bipolar disorder, I purchased this outstanding 2004 for $49.99 from a merchant whose price on the 2005 thus represented a 350% premium!)
The late Jacques d’Angerville’s son Guillaume and long-time wine making collaborator and brother-in-law Renaud de Villette can boast a superb collection of 2005s, but an equally apt tribute to the legacy of the late Marquis are the odds-beating results they bottled from 2004, when to the universal difficulties of that vintage were added the ravages of hail it visited on Volnay. The 2005s fermented with pump-overs but no punch-downs and exhibit formidable underlying structure yet pure fruit and early, flattering textural development.”
This is my son’s pizza. Straight up tomato, mozz, raw tomato pizza sauce, corn, figs.
This one has an ultimate pesto base.
Then my patented (albeit stolen from Wolfgang Puck) bagels and cream cheese pizza. First I brush the dough with white truffle oil and fresh rosemary from the garden, then bake.
Then I add creme fraiche mixed with dill and chives, red onion, and capers. Then lox. Yum yum.
Pizza mistress Mirella cooks up this one. Blue cheese and various other cheeses.
Then morel mushrooms, figs, almonds, and as a sauce: camelized onion compote.
And dressed with balsamic glaze.
This one starts off old school with tomato sauce and mozz.
Then add mozzarella balls, basil, sun dried tomatoes and crushed red pepper.
Now up is my personal favorite, the chickenless tikka masala pizza. With fresh masala sauce as the sauce. Then bucheron goat cheese, parmesan, almonds, corn, fresh ricotta, mozz balls, and red onion. Then as a new touch this time, I added spicy mango chutney.
Baked. The chutney really took this pizza to the next level. It basically tastes like naan with masala and yogurt + chutney.
But we’re not done yet. Add burrata, a little extra virgin olive oil, and some cilantro — this last amused me as it’s traditional to top a curry with fresh cilantro.
This cheesy monster tasted better than it looked!
Parker 94. The ultra rare riserva. “The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, from vines in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, is gorgeous, layered and elegant in its violets, tar, licorice and cherries. The finish is long and impeccable, but this is a somewhat ethereal style, with aromas and flavors that are already a touch forward relative to most 2004 Riservas. Ideally the wine is best enjoyed within the next decade. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2020.”
As a final pizza I made a new variant. This puppy has truffle oil, pesto, dabs of curry, corn, about five types of cheese (mozz, parm, blue, mozz balls, pecorino), figs, chanterelle mushrooms, onions, and even mango chutney.
And dressed with burrata and balsamic glaze. Really good stuff.
Just a bit of the mid pizza carnage.
For dessert out comes the 1988 Rayne-Vigneau. Parker 91. “The 1988 is the best example I have tasted from this property. An intense, honeyed, pear, flower, and apricot fragrance is reminiscent of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. In the mouth, there is exceptional richness, super focus because of fine acidity, a wonderful touch of toasty new oak, and an elegant, very positive, crisp finish. This is a beautifully made, authoritative tasting, and impeccably well-balanced Sauternes. Anticipated maturity: Now-2006. Last tasted, 3/90.”
Then some mini cupcakes from dots in Pasadena.
And a selection of mini desserts from closer at hand.
The eclair din’t even fit in the box, so he’s lurking on his own.
If there had been a wafer thin mint I would have been coating the walls!
Well, we’ve pretty much got our whole pizza thing down to a science, but still, each time you learn something. I’m still working on the mechanics of transfer into the hot over. If a pizza makes it into the oven without spilling anything then it always cooks perfectly. Get it out — provided you lube up the pizza stones with corn meal — is easy. But I made progress. By making sure to put the pizza’s on the end of the peel, to lube well, and using a new pizza sized teflon spatula I was able to keep things pretty much under control.
Make sure to check out how I make all the components and other pizzas here.sharethis_button(); ?>
Restaurant: 2Amys Neapolitan Pizzeria
Location: 3715 Macomb St NW. Washington, DC 20016. (202) 885-5700
Date: November 29, 2011
Cuisine: Neapolitan Pizzeria
Rating: Really authentic Neapolitan Pizza
My brother spent the whole week talking up this Neapolitan style pizza joint just over the border into DC.
They have a classic big wood fired pizza oven.
A delicious but simple arugula salad.
Fried salt cod fritters. Vaguely like crab cakes, but fishier. Still, very good examples of these.
The classic cheese pizza. The dough here was really really good. Neapolitan flour and slow fermentation for sure. This was a pizza dough good enough to munch through all the remaining crust.
“Santa Brigida Tomato, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, arugula.”
“Calabrese Tomato, onions, anchovy, fresh mozzarella, parsley, olives.” A classic anchovy pizza. Strong salty flavors, but still really good.
“Ripieno Extra Ricotta, grana, salami, prosciutto, pancetta, tomato.” Full of cheesy meaty goodness inside.
In the front is the “Puttanesca Tomato sauce, rapini, fresh mozzarella, garlic, anchovy, hot pepper.” An interesting combination of bitter and salty.
Dessert, although we were too stuffed to order any.
For more LA dining reviews click here.
Or to see my own Ultimate Pizzas, click here!
Location: 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, CA 90291. (310) 250-1429
Date: August 6 & 14, 2011
Cuisine: New Californian
Rating: Great food, annoying service!
I hadn’t been to Gjelina (despite it being a favorite) in a few months but I headed back there for two brunches only a week apart, one with my son and the other with my brother and cousin.
The all important Cappuccino. They make a good one as attested by the nice micro-foam. I’m not a fan of those coffee with a pile of foam on top versions.
“Moroccan Baked Eggs with Merguez, Chili, Tomato Sauce, Cilantro & Spiced Yogurt.” This was REALLY tasty. The sausage was awesome, as was the sauce and yogurt combo. It had a pretty genuine Moroccan flavor profile.
My son wanted eggs. He didn’t even touch them though. Toddlers!
“Crispy Sunny Eggs with Prosciutto, Romesco, Arugula & Lemon.” This was also very good, and very similar (except for the ham) to my special Breakfast Eggs.
“Pizza Margherita.” A very nice version of the classic. Rich tomatoey sauce, lots of basil.
My son ate most of this, although he complained about the “green stuff” and made me remove it.
“Duck Sausage, Nameko Mushroom, Garlic & Mozzarella.” The sausage was fantastic, and the overall pizza was very smokey with an interesting chewy mushroom texture. I liked it a lot, but you certainly have to be a shroom person.
“Peach crumble with Crème Fraiche.” I like my crumbles more crumbly.
“Butterscotch Pot de Crème with Salted Caramel w/ Crème Fraiche.” This is just incredible as always. I could eat like 10 of them. Bad me. Bad me.
Overall, the food at Gjelina is fantastic as always, but I need to snark about the service, and I’m not the first. Apparently the owner/managers even like to hire staff with attitude! Boo hiss! The first time, I asked to get some eggs that on the menu had strips of bacon on top with the bacon on the side (or gone). I was told (very rudely) that I could remove the bacon myself. In this day and age of people with dietary restrictions this just isn’t acceptable. I can understand not building totally custom dishes, but trivial omissions? Give me a break.
On the second trip we ordered some vegetables which didn’t come (the waiter read them back to us too). Plus similar with an ice tea even after asking about three times. Eventually, after the waiter went AWOL we found him and brought up both. He didn’t even apologize. 10 minutes after that he brought the ice tea and said he’d take it off the bill. Ooh ah, $4 ice tea for free (it’s all profit anyway). We mentioned something to the manager. He didn’t apologize either, just nodded his head. Then finally, about 5 minutes after that he snuck back and apologized, like it had been eating at him and he felt he needed to. There was no offer of a freebee or anything. My brother asked him point blank about that and he took a dessert off the tab.
I go for the food, but they do need to lose a bit of the ‘tude.
You can check out two other Gjelina reviews HERE and HERE.
For the second half of my mother’s birthday weekend we hosted a small pizza party. I’ve already detailed the entire process involved in the making of my Ultimate Pizza (CLICK HERE for the index page). This party was merely a refinement of the process, but one which succeeded in taking the art to even higher levels.
This whole format makes a really great party. Newcomers don’t know what to make of it because pizzas come off the line slowly at first, in series, and everyone grabs a slice. No one sits down, but instead hovers around the kitchen island participating in the three hour frenzy of pizza making. Very fun and interactive.
First off the presses is this completely basic tomato and mutz pizza for my two-year old. He doesn’t appreciate complexity yet, although I have progressed him from generic orange cheddar to 2-3 year aged special reserve cheddar, which he is now very fond of :-).
Opening with some whites: a nice champagne, and a very nice riesling.
“The 2000 Brut Millesime Cuvee Speciale comes across as excessively heavy and almost sweet in its ripe fruit. Something is not quite right about the balance here. Disgorged: December, 2006. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2011.”
Parker gives this riesling 91 points, “An almost confectionary sense of sweetness and ripeness pervades the Prum 2009 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese, making it something of an exception in a vintage collection generally noteworthy for the restraint of residual sugar. Apple candy, caramel, and vanilla mingle on a creamy palate, with hints of salt, stone, and apple pit happily offering some counterpoint in a long and otherwise soothing finish. This showed more grip as it opened, and perhaps time will lend more cut and complexity to a Spatlese that on the basis of track record is likely to thrive for another quarter century or more. Incidentally, this represents the first of three lots of “regular” Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese, the last of which was still in tank in September.”
And the first red. Parker 93, “Super-ripe aromas of cookie dough, spices, and black cherry syrup can be found in the nose of the medium-bodied 2002 Nuits-St.-Georges Les Pruliers. Its fabulously satiny texture, concentration, and purity are immensely impressive. This medium-bodied wine coats the palate with innumerable black fruits, minerals, and spices. Projected maturity: 2008-2018.”
Here is the evolution of my wife’s favorite pizza. Fresh tomato sauce (HERE for details and recipe), black mission figs, corn, mushrooms, roma tomatoes, and marcona almonds.
This is actually the second pizza of the night, as I had made my creme fraiche salmon pizza, but I forgot to get a photo. Fortunately, details can be FOUND HERE.
Cheese: mozzarella, parmesan, pecorino.
And then out of the oven. This time around I was trying to concentrate on slightly less irregular shapes, with some success. I have not mastered the art of “spinning” the pizza to get it very round, and the soft “00” based dough makes them very fragile.
This pizza employed a base of my special herb oil (detailed HERE at the end of this post). Then pesto (RECIPE HERE), steamed asparagus, almonds, tomato, various cheeses (including Bucheron), mushrooms, basil.
Out of the oven.
Caramelized onions, gorgonzola, figs.
Dressed with balsamic glaze. A very yummy sweet and salty pizza.
Besides all this pizza there was also a very yummy salad my mom made, with micro greens, granny smith apples, and a fresh homemade meyer lemon vinaigrette. I unfortunately forgot to take a photo, must have been running to the oven and back.
Here is a new one. One of my friends brought two new cheeses, a 5 year old aged Gouda and a 7 year old cheddar. Both cheeses were used here, along with breadcrumbs. This made fore a very yummy crunchy pizza, not unlike cheesy garlic toast.
My mother likes her pizzas fairly simple and veggie. This has classic tomato and mutz, plus mushrooms, basil, and julienned zucchini. I got to practice my knife skills with the julienne. She did throw a bit of the aged Gouda on.
It looks pretty different out of the oven, but it sure tasted great. The Gouda turned out to be a great sophisticated pizza cheese and melted here with the parm and mutz into a really great cheesy mess like on a good New Jersey style pie.
Gelsons was out of the Tikka Masala Sauce I used on New Years (HERE FOR DETAILS), but I bought a “coconut curry” sauce by the same company. It’s arrayed here with mutz blocks, corn, chaneterelle mushrooms, basil, red onion and bucheron.
I finished it with cilantro pesto (we had two different kinds of pesto this time around, DETAILS HERE). The purpose of the cilantro pesto was to mirror the finishing of a curry dish with a handfull of coriander (cilantro) leaves. The net affect on this pizza was less in your face than the Tikka Masala, but still very Indian, like Naan bread dipped in curry. Yum!
Pounding through the wines, had to crack a pair of brunellos.
Parker 91, “The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino is a fresh, vibrant offering bursting with dark cherries, violets, underbrush, minerals and sweet toasted oak on a medium-bodied frame. The wine reveals terrific balance in an energetic, focused style, with firm yet ripe tannins. The finish is long, clean and refreshing. This is a gorgeous effort from Loacker. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2019.”
Parker 93, “The stunning, single vineyard 1997 Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli, exhibits more new oak than its sibling, as well as more power, concentration, alcohol, and extract. A deep garnet color accompanies huge, sweet aromas of roasted herbs, red and black currants, cherries, earth, incense, tobacco, and soy. This is a wine to lay away for 5-6 years. This chewy, full-bodied, spectacular Brunello will be at its finest between 2010-2022.”
This was a great pizza made by a newcomer to our culinary circle. Pesto, red onion, bucheron, herb oil, some various cheeses, and I think a bit of acacia honey.
I sold her on finishing it with Burrata (details on my favorite fresh cheese HERE), and then single vineyard olive oil and balsamic must. It was REALLY good.
This puppy, also by a newcomer, used a sauce base of both the crushed tomato sauce and homemade romesco (I had made it two days before for my special eggs, DETAILS AND RECIPE HERE). We also used both the aged cheeses, and some good aged parm.
Also a very yummy pizza, with the romesco lending an extra bit of tanginess to the sauce.
Another newbie with this novel shaped pizza. Basic stuffs, a lot of basil, lots of cheeses and onion.
Out of the oven.
Scott, one of my most regular partners in pizza crime, tried to make this “mexican pizza.” The sauce is actually salsa, not regular tomato. Then corn of course, various cheeses, tomato, red peppers, and some sliced jalepeno I think.
Finished with burrata and cilantro. We wanted to use avocado too, but our farmer’s market avocados were hard as rocks, they needed another week or two to ripen.
My mother liked her basic veggie so much (as did many others) that she whipped up another one.
This is a highly experimental pizza. It used a port wine cheese and aged gouda, along with chopped farmer’s market dates, and even some splashes of the currently open wine (either a brunello or a very good cote de rhone — below).
Then it was finished with fig jam (not shown). This made it a very interesting sweet pizza, even if the color was a putrescent pink.
I decided to experiment with my own caramelized onion based pizza. I added Bucheron, sharp cheddar, marcona almonds, cherry compote, and a bit of harrisa.
Dressed with burrata and balsamic glaze. This was not my most successful combo, and I think the problem was the cheddar. It added a tangy sharpness that just didn’t work.
This used romesco alone as the sauce, along with all sorts of vegetables, figs and cheeses, including bucheron.
Finished with burrata and balsamic and olive oil. Yum!
More wine. Parker 90, “The 2006 Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone exhibits meaty, herbal, tapenade, pepper, animal fur, and damp earth-like notes. It is soft, round, lush, and best consumed over the next 10+ years.”
For a finale Mirella, another regular and adventurous pizza chef, concocted this baby. The sauce is a mix of Moroccan Harissa and caramelized onions! Aged cheeses, onions, sliced garlic, and gorgonzola dolce.
Cheesy, spicy, sweet, this was a delicious finisher.
But we weren’t done drinking. Parker 97, “The 2004 Reserva, according to Remirez is “a great vintage, a lot of nerve, like 1994, that needed a long aging period”. Opaque purple in color, it offers up a splendid bouquet of sandalwood, incense, Asian spices, balsamic, and black cherry. Layered, opulent, and impeccably balanced, it is a monumental effort.”
My mom’s birthday cake, yes she is one year younger than my toddler.
And after that cheese bomb of a meal, nothing like a little gelato/sorbetto to polish off the palette. We experimented with this gourmet store brand, Talenti. Pistachio, Lemon, Raspberry, Double Chocolate, and Blood Orange. For store bought ice creams these were very good, but it still doesn’t hold a candle to what you get at a good gelateria. Sigh. All were good, personally I thought the blood orange was the best.
Since I have so many Ultimate Pizza posts I wanted to gather their links together into a single page. But I solemnly promise this is the last pizza post for a good while — at least until I prepare another batch of them!
In summary, every couple of months we make homemade pizzas. Like many things at my household, we take this to the extreme in a quest to reach the Ultimate level of quality. Hence Ultimate Pizza. This pizzas are really good (and a lot of work), and to do them justice required quite a number of articles. I broke them down on individual topics.
|Ultimate Pizza – The Dough|
|Ultimate Pizza – The Pesto|
|Ultimate Pizza – The Sauce|
|Ultimate Pizza – The Toppings|
|Ultimate Pizza – New Years (pizza itself)|
|Ultimate Pizza – Day 2 (more pizza)|
|Ultimate Pizza – Day 3 (and even more)|
|Ultimate Pizza – The Birthday (the second coming)|
|Ultimate Pizza – The Comeback (the third coming)|
|Ultimate Pizza 2012|
|Ultimate Pizza – New Years 2012|
|Ultimate Pizza – New Years 2014|
|Between Ultimate Pizza there is Burrata|
If you still want to see more food after this, check out the FOOD INDEX which links to all my food related posts.
Also I throw in here a survey of random pizza photos from past pizza nights:
The seventh Ultimate Pizza post. Earlier in the series were Dough, Pesto,Sauce, Toppings, New Years Pizza, and Day 2. Woah!
We had family over on Sunday to polish off the seven remaining pizza balls and work our way through some more of the toppings. I made a number of repeat pizzas that I didn’t photo, like another Tuna and another Lox pizza. So there were about four pizzas made but not pictured.
This puppy has black truffle sauce, then a generous spread of caramelized onion marmelade, gorgonzolla, parmesaen, morel mushrooms, marcona almonds, cherry compote, and drizzled honey.
Then I added some fresh basil, burrata, and drizzled balsamic glaze and olive oil. It was really good. The sweetness of the onions mixed nicely with the salty blue cheese and nuts giving it that sweet and salty factor that I’m very fond of.
A repeat of my Tikka Masala pizza. Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, onions, corn.
Dressed with basil and olive oil.
A tomato sauce, fresh tomato, mozzerella, archichoke, sun dried tomato pizza.
Dressed with a little basil and olive oil.
We ran out of balls, and my niece wanted a pizza of her own creation so we used a tortilla. This one has pesto, tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, and sliced tomatos.
Then dressed with bail. The tortilla actually worked incredibly well. It came out like a water cracker, incredibly thin and crunchy. The overall feel of the pizza was very light and crispy. I was surprised. Different than our chewy tasty pizza dough, but good.
With that I conclude the endless saga of Ultimate Pizzas. It will be at least a few weeks before I have the energy to do them again.sharethis_button(); ?>
Here we are at the sixth Ultimate Pizza post. My neck is all knotted up from this much obsession. Earlier in the series were Dough, Pesto, Sauce, Toppings, and New Years Pizza.
Since we had a lot of dough balls, and tons of ingredients, why not get a couple meals out of it.
I wanted to do a “Jewish Pizza.” I’ve done it before, and I’ve refined the technique. First I mixed up the “sauce.” Pictured is dill, chives, and creme fraiche.
Creme cheese isn’t fresh enough, so creme fraiche! Mixed up here. I set this aside.
Then I rolled my pizza and glazed it in olive oil (single vineyard) and a little fresh rosemary from the yard. As my wife calls it: “Osiris pee rosemary.” (The dog does, after all, use the yard).
This bakes really quickly, just 4-5 minutes. With this pizza you bake it first. I tried putting the creme fraiche on before baking in a previous session. This worked MUCH better.
Add the creme.
Red onions and capers. As you would on a bagel.
Wild scottish smoked salmon! And more capers and onions. This was really really yummy.
My wife recreated her crowd pleasing margarita + corn, almonds, mushrooms, and figs.
Baked up nicely.
My Tikka Masala pizza worked so well on New Years that I tried it again. This time I took care to get it neater, and I left off the basil until the end. Tikka Masala sauce, ricotta, red onion, corn, little mozzarella balls.
In the oven.
Neater than last night.
Added the basil and a touch of olive oil. Just as good the second time.
PLEASE CONTINUE if you want to learn more about Burrata. Or, CLICK HERE for the final pizza post.sharethis_button(); ?>
Finally, five posts later, we come to the main event, the Ultimate Pizza. This post is pretty epic, but just to recap. We set the stage with articles on the Dough, the Pesto, the Sauce, and the Topping Preparation.
Now everything is set to go. Most of the toppings and the workspace.
The pizza stones (actually, there’re ceramic) are in the grill, and it’s been heated to 800-900 degrees.
The dough balls (read about their preparation HERE) have been taken out of the fridge two hours before and are rapidly rising on the counter. In fact, they will soon escape their plastic prisions on their own.
The peels, spatulas and pizza cutters are on the counter.
And more importantly the wine station is set up. The bottles in the back are “best ofs” from previous nights.
Being New Years, it’s time for the big guns.
For the white lovers: “The 2009 Kabinetts were absolute knockouts, and the one from Dönnhoff’s famed Oberhäuser Leistenberg vineyard is a likely candidate for Kabinett of the vintage! A complex core fragrance of golden apple, vanilla, orange peel, and Indian spices are subtly interwoven with notes of clove and incense. In the mouth, the wine shows impeccable purity, concentrated tangerine and tropical fruits, livel y acidity and pretty mineral notes that become pronounced on the back palate. Complex and beautiful, it is the essence of why the wines of Dönnhoff are referred to as ‘the most perfect Riesling can ever be.”
And for the red lovers. A perfect wine. Parker gives it 100+. “This is a Le Pavilion of mythical proportions. Produced from extremely old vines, some dating from the mid-nineteenth century, with yields averaging under 15 hectoliters per hectare, this is the richest, most concentrated and profound wine made in Hermitage. The 1991 Ermitage Le Pavilion follows the pattern of the 1989 and 1990-it is another perfect wine. The saturated black/purple color is followed by a compelling bouquet of spices, roasted meats, and black and red fruits. Enormously concentrated yet with brilliant focus and delineation to its awesomely endowed personality, this extraordinary wine should age effortlessly for three plus decades. Very powerful and full, yet displaying silky tannin, this is a seamless beauty! Anticipated maturity: 2001-2035.”
The ’91 Le Pavilion was the first truly great wine I ever tasted, back in 1996, and I bring out a bottle of it every once and a while to remember the glory days.
For my first pizza I thought I’d give something new a try. The Tikka Masala Pizza. While shopping I had found this stuff, and it looked good.
This is basically a tomato butter spice sauce, perfect as a substitute for regular tomato sauce.
Then I had to imagine what would go well with it. Mild cheese I thought, so I went with ricotta. Some corn, fresh chanterelle mushrooms, and a bit of basil.
It tasted WAY better than it looked, which is generally the case with these homemade pizzas. Notice the cornmeal by the way. This is a very important part of the process, allowing pizzas to be slid around easily. Even after doing this about a dozen times (perhaps 100 pizzas) I still mess it up a lot. You need to make sure you can move the pizza without making a mess if you want a pretty result. I wasn’t totally successful this time and some of the sauce slopped to the edges. Next time I’d also put the basil on after cooking, or late on the grill.
It still tasted FANTASTIC! Like naan dipped in Tikka Masala sauce.
One of my friends concocted this one. Herb oil as the base (the one I made in the sauce article), and then the pesto I also described.
Sun dried tomatos, and goat cheese.
After baking, drizzled with balsamic glaze. This was real good too. Goat cheese and sun dried tomatos go really well together, and the herby/basil thing complimented nicely.
A mini. Sweet onion marmelade, gorgonzola, figs.
Also drizzled with balsamic glaze. This was really really good, sweet. Unfortunately half of it was accidentally knocked on the floor and enjoyed by Osiris (the dog).
My wife likes a fairly straight up pizza. The fresh tomato sauce I made earlier in the day, roma tomatos, figs, mushrooms, mozzarella, parm, pecorino. She did add some marcona almonds. Everyone enjoyed it immensely, as it’s a very bright and perfect version of the classic margarita pizza, but with a bit texture and sweetness.
This is another one of my cooky creations. Herb oil, the crushed tomato sauce, red onion, capers, and most of a jar of really really good Italian chunk tuna packed in olive oil.
I tossed on a couple morels too and baked it.
Then to dress it. My favorite fresh cheese in the world. Burrata. I’m going to write a whole post about this stuff in a couple days.
I put a virtual salad on top using my pre-prepared arugala tossed in meyer lemon juice and black pepper (discussed here in the toppings). Then I drizzled single vineyard olive oil and balsamic must on top. I’ll write about those with my burrata article. The net result is AWESOME. The tomato, onion, caper mix below provides a delicious tang that pairs with the tuna, and then the bright citrusy flavor of the salad, and the mild creamy cheese. Yum Yum.
For my next trick. I used as a sauce the pre-bought “black truffle sauce,” then added mozzarella, parmesan, gorgonzola, bucheron, marcona almonds, figs, corn, white asparagus, and morels. Then I drizzled blobs of pesto, tikka marsala sauce, cherry compote, and fig jam on top, and a thin swirling of acacia honey! This is a sweet and salty pizza, a variant of one of my masterpieces that I call Formaggio Maximus (that one has more cheese, and less funny sauces).
I botched the transfer again because it was so heavy and wet. So it’s ugly, but it still tasted great.
Then I dressed it with the burrata. This is a very tasty pizza, with all sorts of sweet and salty flavor surprises in every bite.
Another big bertha of a wine. Parker gives it 98! “The Philadelphia tasting was the finest showing yet for this wine, which has been forbiddingly tannic, backward, and broodingly difficult to assess for much of its life. In the blind tasting, I thought it was Lafleur, and came close to giving it a perfect rating. Although still youthful, it has turned the corner and is emerging from its closed state.
A murky, dense, opaque garnet color is followed by spectacular aromatics of roasted herbs, smoked meats, cedar, prunes, black cherries, and black currants. Rich, powerful, and full-bodied, with a thick, unctuous texture, considerable fat and glycerin, and dazzling concentration, Certan de May has not produced a wine of such intensity, thickness, and aging potential since their 1949, 1948, 1947, and 1945. It is accessible, but do not mistake that for maturity. This 1982 demands another 5-6 years of cellaring; it should age easily for 30+ years. It is a modern day classic, and unquestionably the finest Certan de May I have ever tasted.”
One of my friends whipped up this peanut sauce by combining skippy, sugar, soy sauce, and a bit of water for consistency.
Then he put down the herb oil and white asparagus.
Corn and a few almonds.
Then the peanut sauce and a little bit of mozzarella.
The result. Again it looks a little ugly, but tasted amazing. As a kid I used to melt peanut butter on pita bread in the toaster oven. This was like the 100x better version of that. Sweat and spicy. The thing with custom pizzas is that anything that goes well with toasted bread (and that’s a lot) will work on a pizza.
This all took a long time, but we still had to wait for the ball to drop. So expresso. I have a little Italian commercial machine because I’m ridiculously obsessive about doing everything at the maximum level of quality — work or play.
New Years approaches. And so time for the crystal and Cristal. Parker gives this 96. “The estate’s 1996 Cristal, from a legendary vintage, does not disappoint. Like the 1979, there are elements of austerity that will require some time to sort themselves out, yet the 1996 is an insanely beautiful Cristal loaded with floral, perfumed fruit and vibrant minerality. The wine turns delicate in the glass, yet this is a sublime, fresh Cristal that is in need of further cellaring. In 1996 Cristal is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. According to Lecaillon 1996 is a vintage that did not respond well to oak aging, so only 3% of the wine was aged in wood, while 10% of the wine saw malolactic fermentation. This bottle was disgorged in 2007 and dosage was 8 grams. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2026.”
I use Riedel Sommelier crystal because it’s well… excessive. Austrian leaded old school hand blown crystal. Nothing else will do. Just touch touch it, and washing is a total nightmare. It takes about 5 minutes a glass, and can only be done by hand.
Desert. From Bottega Louie. We had a passionfruit poof thingy (upper left) that was amazing. A coconut sponge cake (lower left) which was pretty good. A chocolate thing (upper right) which was fair.
A coffee creme brulee (left center) which was awesome. A hazelnut choc cake (lower left) which was pretty good. A real dense bitter chocolate “cake” (upper right) and an amazing creme puff (lower right).
After all that, Osiris has the right idea. Happy New Year!!
We have so many toppings that two more days of pizza are possible, so I’ll be back soon with more reporting.
Please CONTINUE HERE when we make even more pizza for New Years Day.sharethis_button(); ?>
This is part 3 of my comprehensive coverage of our New Years pizza making, following the article on Dough and the one on the Pesto. Upcoming will be toppings and the pizzas themselves.
Here are the ingredients. Two types of marzano tomatos from Italy. Crushed and pulped. Garlic, lemons, salt, pepper, oregano, and fresh basil.
We use this recipe from the excellent pizza making book American Pie as a basis, but wing the proportions.
Dump a bunch of stuff in, and blend. This is super easy and makes a much much fresher and better tomato sauce than any canned sauce. One could use fresh Marzanos, but they can be a bit of trouble to find.
As a tease, here is the “pizza oven” in preparation. I have two ceramic pizza stones and I shove them in a Viking outdoor gas range. If one pre-heats an hour in advance it will get up to 800-900 degrees F — hot is good for pizzas.
Southern California, December 31, 2010. 62 Degrees and gorgeous.
At the last minute I decided to try and make some of this herb oil.
I through all sorts of herbs together, including fresh rosemary from the garden, and some garlic.
Dumped in some olive oil and stirred vigorously (picture is before the stirring). We’ll see how it tastes in a couple hours.
This is part 2 of my series on Ultimate Homemade Pizza. For Part 1 (on Dough) CLICK HERE. We prepare a lot of different toppings, including homemade pesto, which makes an excellent substitute or compliment to tomato sauce. Most toppings will have to wait for the day of, but pesto can be made a day or two in advance.
The ingredients. Fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil (fine single vineyard), and parmesan.
One can do this by hand or with the Food Processor. Today was rainy, and we felt lazy. It’s also hard work to get a really fine texture with the mortar and pestel.
All ingredients in.
Bass-o-matic! A little pepper tossed in too.
The final result. Intensely basil — and green!
This is a photo of another time when I did it the hard way. Takes some serious elbow grease.
Restaurant: Osteria Latini [1, 2, 3]
Location: 11712 San Vicente Blvd.Brentwood, CA 90049 310.826.9222
Date: Dec 03, 2010
LA is full of good Italian places, and, well, it was date night and my wife loves Italian. So off we went to Osteria Latini which is one of the ten or so in Brentwood, most on San Vicente. About half of the places are actually very good and we often rotate around between them. The menu can be found HERE.
“BELLA SALAD, Arrugola, pears, dry cherris, goat cheese and shaved parmesan.”
“BEEF CARPACCIO, Thin sliced filet mignon with capers, parmesan and arrugola.” This was a very good version of this classic. The beef was excellent, there was a nice tang to the dressing, and the cheese was very good. I love good cheese.
“BOMBOLOTTI, Small rigatoni with tomatoes filet and basil.” Very straight up pasta.
“RISOTTO ALL’ARAGOSTA, With lobster in a light tomato sauce.” I’m a huge risotto fan, all sorts of risotto. This was an excellent seafood variant. You can’t see it, but there was a lot of lobster in there. And the light tomato sauce was indeed — light — complementing the fleshy lobster well. It was not particularly rich — but was very good. Given that I was coming off the gluttony of the ThanksGavin, light was a good thing.
Latini always gives you this little glass of lemon sorbetto mixed with prosecco at the end, regardless of whether you order desert or not. Given my penchant for lemon and my sweet tooth, I like it a lot.
This place is well above the median line for the already high bar of LA Italian (although it certainly has A LOT of company). They’re friendly, tasty, reasonably priced, and the chef has a very good touch.
For other Osteria Latini reviews, click HERE or HERE.
Location: 924 West Broad St.Falls Church, VA 22046703-536-4566
Date: Dec 01, 2010
Washington has a good size population of Afghans as a legacy of our involvement after the Russian invasion. We started coming to this restaurant when it opened in the mid 80s. This is a family run place and they are extremely hospitable, as well as serving up a very yummy glimpse at this infrequently found palette of flavors.
We ordered this very reasonable Beaujolais.
There is a consistant palette of tomato, yogourt, garlic, and onion typified by this bowl of “Aush” soup. A bit of mint seasons up the exotic concoction. It might not be your typical American soup, but it is delicious.
They happily made up a vegetarian variant of these “Aushak” scallion filled dumplings. The pasta has a wonderful soft texture, not unlike a good Hungarian or Polish dumpling.
Which is best with this very spicy “green death” sauce. I love the stuff.
A nice salad comes with every entree. The dressing seems to be youghurt based, with some lemon and pepper. It’s really zingy.
What central Asian place wouldn’t have lamb kabob!
This is “Seib Chalow,” or apples baked with tomato sauce, seeded Afghan prunes, walnuts, split peas, and spices. Really, really tasty. I don’t know how to describe it, but when eaten with the rice it forms a wonderful sweet and savory stew — with amazing texture too.
“Kadu Chalow,” sauteed pumpkin topped with seasoned yogurt and tomato sauce. Also a bit sweet (in a good way), but wonderful.
My personal favorite, the “Muntoo,” dumplings stuffed with ground beef and the omnipresent yogurt and meat sauce. The pasta is perfect and the whole thing very savory.
But, to properly appreciate, I apply a very liberal dose of the green death. Yum!
“Firnee,” This has the flavor palette of Indian Rice Pudding, but the texture of Italian Panna Cotta. It’s very light and pleasant. I love the cardamon and pistachio thing.
You have to love the bar.
And the even cooler antique muskets. These were probably still in use when the Russians invaded — and the Afghans won! Even Alexander the Great learned not to get into a land war in Asia. We should just leave them to their business and the cooking.sharethis_button(); ?>