Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wood-Fired Pizzas at Francesca's

Nothing compares to real wood-fired Italian thin crust, simple, real, delicious pizza!!

We were headed to Francesca's house to taste her homemade wood-fired pizzas, but stopped on the way to visit her father, who is one of a long line of butchers in the family (a family tradition for more than two centuries in Amelia!)

Handmade sausages, prosciutto and more hang in the cold storage at the butcher shop.

Preparations were underway for the following day - Thursday is porchetta day in Amelia - the only day that fresh porchetta is available, and you must get there early to buy it before it's all gone! The pork is rubbed with rosemary, garlic, salt & pepper, peperoncini and fennel seed, then slow roasted. Incredible.

We arrived at Francesca's, where she had been feeding her outdoor woodburning oven for several hours, to get it up to the proper temperature.

We borrowed a flashlight and went out into the garden to pick the last of the figs for our fig & prosciutto pizza. Have I mentioned, I love Italy?

I'm in the midst of building an outdoor pizza oven myself, so I got lots of advice from Francesca. I was amazed at how quickly the pizzas cook at this extreme temperature (literally 2 or 3 minutes). A small amount of water is brushed onto the large padella or paddle that transports the pizzas into the oven, so the dough doesn't burn.

Francesca made an astounding 7 varieties of pizza and even more astounding, we ate them all!! She used 5kg of flour! It really is so difficult to describe the true Italian woodfired pizza, such flavour and great texture - there is nothing comparable! The combination of the wood fire, the flour, and the simple, fresh ingredients is out of this world.

To begin, we had fried sage leaves - In Italy the sage leaves (and the plants themselves) grow to about double the size that it grows in Canada (sage is also used as hedges in gardens) - the leaves are dipped in egg then flour and fried in olive oil - deliciously crunchy, savoury and tasty treat to get your taste buds started.

Francesca's Pizza Night

Fried Sage Leaves
Olive Oil & Rosemary
Olive Oil Prosciutto & Rosemary
Zucchini flowers & Mozzarella
Pacchino (cherry tomato), basil & mozzarella di bufalo
Pear & Gorgonzola
Figs & Prosciutto
Nutella dessert pizza

Apple torte

Vino di casa di Faosto (Francesca's husband's wine made from his backyard vines)

A wonderful night, it left me very inspired and anxious for spring, when I'll build my pizza oven at home.

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