Tuesday, January 15, 2013

You Say Pizza, I Say Focaccia

Monday night = date night at our house. But we've busted the budget recently and so decided to stay in and have dinner and a movie. I left Ann to puzzle over what to eat for dinner while I was at work in the morning. Late morning, she decided she was in the mood for pizza.

What do you do in a town where there is zero pizza worth eating and you want pizza at the last minute with no time to make dough and let it ferment for the requisite 24 hours that it takes to develop great flavor?

You make do. Following the shopping list that Ann sent me, I picked up some olive and oregano flatbreads from Costco, along with some prosciutto, and a tub of mozzarella di bufala. She said that we had some grape tomatoes at home on the counter that were in dire need of roasting.

I also grabbed a bottle of Brunello while I was there just to splurge a bit. What to drink with pizza? Sangiovese in my book. And what better Sangiovese is there in this world than Brunello? You might argue that pizza is best known from Napoli/Campania and that maybe a wine from Campania might be a more natural choice, but how are you going to find Greco di Tufo or Piedirosso on short notice, especially in Funchester, Middle of Nowhere? Besides, I'd rather drink Brunello!

What to Drink for Pizza and a Movie Night? Brunello!
In the photo above, you see the prosciutto torn into pieces and the mozzarella di bufala sliced and ready to go. If you have never had buffalo milk mozzarella, you owe it to yourself to try it. Buffalo milk mozzarella is to cow's milk mozzarella as a Ferrari is to a Fiat, but unless you get behind the wheel of the Ferrari, you will never truly understand. Even this silly analogy does not convey how truly amazing your first bite of mozzarella di bufala is. It doesn't convey the idea that until that very moment, you had no idea how good cheese could be.

Oven-Dried Tomatoes, Awesome!
Ann had the fabulous idea of oven-roasting the tomatoes, but I don't think that she expected me to turn the somewhat raisined tomatoes on the counter into caramelized bites of oven-dried awesomeness. I put the oven on 450F with the fan on, which is as hot as it will go with the fan on, and put the halved tomatoes tossed with extra virgin olive oil and salt in. I opened the door every three or four minutes to let the steam escape and after about 20-25 minutes, we had the deliciously caramelized dried tomatoes that you see above. You must vent the steam frequently to dry the tomatoes. Trust me, it is so worth the effort. And really, how much effort is it to get up from the kitchen counter and vent the steam between sips of wine?

Prosciutto, Oven-Dried Tomatoes, Mozzarella di Bufala: Divine!
Oh my gosh, did I gorge myself! I was silly stuffed after this meal. But who wouldn't have gorged on this? I didn't do anything to the focaccia that I bought at Costco. It came prebrushed with oil and sprinkled lavishly with green olives, oregano, salt, and a wonderful bit of crushed red pepper.

Pizza? I'm not sure that this qualifies for that moniker, but I do know that it was better than any pizza I have had in years and it came from stuff that I hauled home from not-some-exotic store, but rather, Costco. Go figure!

Great meal, great company, great wine, great movie, and a great date night with my sweetie that I won't forget anytime soon!

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