Eating Santa Margherita – Pizzeria Santa Lucia

Restaurant: Pizzeria Santa Lucia

Location: Santa Margherita, Italy

Date: June 29, 2011

Cuisine: Ligurian / Pizza

Rating: Good pizza

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On our last night in Italy (/cry) we wanted an early and quick meal prior to getting up at 4am the next morning. So I asked the hotel staff where they went for pizza and they all voted Santa Lucia as their favorite.


It’s located in the heart of the eastern marina, inside a cluster of many restaurants.


The menu.


The have a pleasant little patio. It was also just across the street from the Carousel, so I took my 2 year-old son while we waited.


On my last night I was a bad boy and ordered pasta and pizza at the same time! Again the waitress looked at me funny. This is lasagna pesto. Very simple, fresh noodles with fresh pesto and cheese. Simple but good.


The last shredded carrot salad you’ll see for awhile.


Santa Lucia takes its pizza seriously enough to have dedicated knives. Italians almost never serve pizza precut.


Pizza funghi (with mushrooms).


Pizza Margherita, apro pos in this town.


Pizza Prosciutto.


And mine, Pizza di mare. The seafood pizza is always a bit of a gamble, but as we were sitting right on the marina I figured I’d give it a go and I wasn’t disapointed. The briny factor was there (as it should be) but light.

Santa Lucia was a nice little pizza place, not quite as good as Pretorio in Tuscany, but in the three or so best we had on the trip (the third being Pizzeria Notte E Di).

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Eating Santa Marghertia – Da Michele

Restaurant: Da Michele

Location: Santa Margherita, Italy

Date: June 28, 2011

Cuisine: Ligurian

Rating: Solid

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Another evening pick in central Santa Margherita, just a block away from the previous night’s Antonios.


Right in the main drag.


The outside seating was right on the square/street in front of the restaurant. I wish they did this more in America.


The menu.


Vermentino is one of the better quality local whites.


Seafood anti-pasta. This wasn’t as good as the raw plate the pervious night. But it was certainly tasty enough. This is more traditional, being marinated shellfish for the most part.


Another example of ravioli di noce (in walnut cream sauce). Also good, but not as good as Antonios’s version.


Trofie Genovese. Local pasta twists with pesto, potato and beans.


Tagliatelle ai gamberi, curry e piselli. Noodles with shrimps, curry, and peas. Something a little different, but very good. In it’s own way a little like a dish from Singapore. Maybe it’s the British influence in Santa Margherita.


Sea-bass Genovese. With potatoes, olives, pine nuts. This is the more traditional form.


Scampi all’agro. Shrimp in sweet and sour sauce.


This was basically a butter Vinaigrette, and it was absolutely delicious with the crawfish-like creatures. Finger licking good in fact.


Chocolate mousse.


Tiramisu.

This was a very solid and enjoyable meal. The food was a tiny bit better than La Paranza, but not as elegant or refined as that of neighboring Antonios.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Eating Cinque Terre – Gianni Franzi

Restaurant: Gianni Franzi

Location: Vernazza, Italy

Date: June 27, 2011

Cuisine: Ligurian

Rating: Solid local lunch

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We took a little train ride down to Cinque Terre, a very pretty region of five small towns clustered by the sea.

The second of these is Vernazza, which is accessible only by train or boat. Picturesque as you can see. In typical Italian fashion transport doesn’t really run during lunch so we were forced to stop and eat. I just chose a likely looking place by feel.

The menu.


The patio looks back on the harbor in the above establishing shot.


A caraffe of local white was totally drinkable.


This place puts the pesto on top, which is unusual. This is spaghetti genovese (known here as pesto).


Trofei Genovese.


Seafood ravioli. These were stuffed with fish and in a tomato based fish sauce. Very tasty actually, but not for the landlubber as it had a bit of a briny flavor.


This is minestrone Genovese. The waitress scolded me for ordering it with a pasta dish as there are technically pasta bits in here — but who cares. In any case, this is a very pesto minestrone, and pretty typical of the dish. Good though, as I LOVE pesto and could eat like 10 pastas in one meal.

Overall, a totally satisfying quick little lunch.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Eating Poggibonsi – Osteria da Camillo

Restaurant: Osteria da Camillo

Location: Poggibonsi, Italy

Date: June 18, 2011

Cuisine: Tuscan

Rating: Very mediocre

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We were in Poggibonsi to drop my brother off at the bus/train station and we spent a few minutes wandering around and then picked a likely random lunch restaurant. This turned out to be our worst pick of the trip compared to expectations. It looked like all the other likely places — and it was even very touristy — but the food just wasn’t very good.


The menu.


This inexpensive Chianti Classico (probably 10-15 euros) was perfectly nice though.


Classic bruschetta with liver. These weren’t bad, one of the places better items. They weren’t however even close to the best bruschetta we’ve seen.


Mixed bruchetta, also fine. Starting from upper left and going clockwise. Fava beans, lard, mushrooms, and tomato.


Spicy pici with walnuts. This pasta tasted like glue. Paste. It was pretty gross. I think they added flour to the sauce, making it like elmers.


Tagliatelle al pesto. Edible, but very mediocre pesto.


Green tortelli with fossa cheese and yellow pumpkin cream. I didn’t try these.


Linguine with cheese and pepper. This was really bad too. Not even close to the amazing pepper and cheese pasta at Trattoria Pepei. I could barely eat a few bites. The pasta was pasty. Those thin slices of pecorino has an unpleasant melted cheese taste, and the sauce — there barely was one — tasted of paste.


Penne pomodoro.


Tagliatelle with tomatoes, olives, capers and hot peppers. Didn’t try this either.


Chicken, green beans, tomatoes, mushrooms. This was fine, not horrible. Not really a dish that does it for me though.

This place was completely unique for this trip in that it actually had bad dishes, several of them. That pretty much makes it the worst meal, even though it wasn’t horrible or anything. But it goes to show, eat out 50 times in Italy and you can find a dud!

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Breakfasts of Champions

During my mom’s birthday weekend we seized on the opportunity of a fridge filled with pizza ingredients to whip up a number of Gavin-style breakfasts. First I made my Spanish eggs (SEE HERE). The next day my brother cooked up one of his signature frittatas.

This is a big fluffy omelet stuffed with cheese and veggies.

Plus some fruit, cheese, and fresh squeezed blood orange juice (the trees had a bumper crop this year).

Then on monday a slightly different, less fried take on the Spanish eggs. A little salad, some lox, and La Brea bakery toast with pesto and romesco, arugala, and peppers.

Here is the romesco on the left, and the pesto on the right (SEE HERE for more on the pesto).

A peek under the salad at the sauces.

Some eggs poached normally. Not as crispy as the olive oil “poaching” of the classic Spanish eggs.

An egg in place.

My brother chose to supplement with ricotta.

I went with burrta. I always go with burrata (MORE on the ultimate fresh cheese HERE).

A final shop, with nice contrasty lighting and some cracked pepper. Cutting into the egg of course provides lots of yolky goodness.

Ultimate Pizza – The Birthday

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.

After cooking.

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.

Finito.

Ultimate Pizza in Review

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)
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:

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Ultimate Pizza – Day 3

The seventh Ultimate Pizza post. Earlier in the series were DoughPesto,SauceToppingsNew 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.

After baking.

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.

Ultimate Pizza – Day 2

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.

Ultimate Pizza – New Years

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.