On the weekends, I work an amazing local winery. Along with the fine wines that we produce, sell and serve, we make the most fabulous woodfire pizza in the tri-state area. Clearly I am partial, but my opinion of the woodfire pizza was solidly in place before I started working there.
The pizza starts out with fresh homemade dough. I found it interesting and enlightening to find out the whole process behind making dough from scratch. There is a definitive amount of science involved in perfecting the best recipe, making sure that the measurements are exact to the thousandths of a kilogram for the best possible product. I find it informative to see the differences between a batch that has been properly kneaded and proofed versus a batch that was done haphazardly. I am finding a legitimate interest in the science behind cooking and baking based on this experience in the pizza kitchen.
To ensure the best possible pizza, we use the freshest ingredients possible. That means in the summer there are plenty more options on the build your own pizza menu and also sometimes the added bonus of a free fresh salad from the owner’s garden. The busy season at the winery is the summer, so we go through a much larger quantity of pizzas allowing us to have more of a variety when it comes to meats and cheeses. We are guaranteed to go through the supply before it has gone bad. During the winter, the options are much more limited. The pizza kitchen is only open from Friday to Sunday and we do not go through as much product making it more difficult to keep the supplies fresh, thus limiting the toppings.
I used to be a simple meat and cheese pizza person, preferring a simple pepperoni or plain cheese pizza to almost anything else. Then I was introduced to our pizza and my views changes. We have a white sauce, in place of the marinara, that is composed of extra virgin olive oil, garlic and a mixture of Italian spices. This sauce lends itself perfectly to a variety of vegetables.
I now love trying different options. A few of my favorites include the white sauce with bacon, spinach, a roasted red pepper and onion blend and extra garlic. Pineapple, canadian bacon and bacon with white sauce is also at the top of my list. Goat cheese, roasted red pepper and onion blend and jalepenos is delicious. I will basically try anything and I rarely get regular pizza sauce anymore, unless it is with a basic meat topping.
The actual woodfire oven is part of the pizza success as well. The high temperatures brown the crust and cheese to perfection, causing the delightful cheese bubbles that I love. Watching the pizzas bake, you realize the precision that is needed to make the end result so delectable. Brushing the crust with olive oil and cutting it into pieces on the peel is the last step in sending out the hand-tossed, homemade pie. Nothing about the chain pizza restaurants can compete with it.
Have you ever had woodfire pizza? How does it compare for you?