Tag Archives: pizza oven

Pizza Pizza Oven

Pizza oven – why not? For our family, food has always been at the heart of our celebrations. From creating the perfect menu, to shopping for the right ingredients, to cooking the meal everyone joins in, and everyone has inspiration for what we should be preparing. Oddly enough, most of our big ideas and inspirations seem to revolve around fire. Whether we’re roasting a whole lamb over the pit in the backyard, a suckling pig in the magic pig box, or flames shooting out of the grill creating the perfect charr for our steaks, we just can’t seem to get enough of cooking over an open flame.

IMG_1219And pizza is no exception. When we renovated our house twenty years ago, we thought long and hard about what to do about the fireplace in the room that we were converting into our dream kitchen. After many rejected thoughts and ideas, a light hearted suggestion from our architect turned into his nightmare as we all quickly agreed that converting the fireplace into a wood burning pizza oven was the perfect solution.

And thus, a whole new flavor of family activities was born. Without any practice at being a pizzaolo, Bill quickly learned the trade and lead the family to pizza perfection. The perfect blend of feast and fun, pizza night at the Menard house soon became a regular event for friends and family alike. The world is your pizza- with an array of choices in front of you- trays of cured meats, fresh vegetables, caramelized onions,  sundried tomatoes, fresh herbs, and of course olive oil, fresh pesto and tomato sauce as a base – everyone rolls up their sleeves and tosses a pie or two.

Our American tradition of Pizza night has become a fan favorite at la Fattoria del Gelso where fire also reigns supreme. In Umbria – Marco is the pizzaolo.  He has perfected the dough recipe and is a master of the perfect bake- creating light IMG_1212and airy pizzas that cook up nice and crisp on the bottom. The tomato sauce is rich without being overwhelming.  And of course here we have an amazing selection of toppings –prosciutto, guanciale, salami picante, capocollo,  porchetta – and that’s just the meats!

A quick word to the wise- the perfect pizza requires a balance of tastes and textures.  Too much sauce makes it impossible to cook and too many toppings often leads to an accidental calzone.

This past Sunday after a beautiful morning hunting successfully for truffles and wild asparagus – it was a great treat to sit back and enjoy a bite of dozens of Marco’s creations.  Pizza with sea salt and rosemary, with roasteIMG_1221d vegetables, with crispy guanciale, with Cannara onions and sausage,  and of course pizzas with wild asparagus and with fresh truffles. The grand finale?  Nutella pizza.

But why should we have all the fun? Take a pizza our family traditions and start your own! Come enjoy a slice with us at Via Umbria, bring your friends and family for a make your own pizza party, or visit us in Umbria and let Marco take care of you. No matter which way you slice it, you can’t go wrong when you’re eating good food with good friends.

Pizza night at the Menards Read more

Pizza oven - why not? For our family, food has always been at the heart of our celebrations. From creating the perfect ...

Pizza Paradiso

Day 12 012Only in Italy can you sit down to a dinner of a dozen pizzas and describe it as “a light dinner.” Welcome to pizza night at la Fattoria del Gelso.

We have enjoyed pizza all over the peninsula, from Puglia to Piemonte, from Udine to Umbria. Several years ago, joined by our friends Pete and Nancy we devoted a full two and a half days to touring every pizzeria Naples could throw our way, eating and judging our way through nearly a dozen of the world’s most highly regarded pizzerias sampling scores of margheritas, marinaras and pizze bianche.

Day 12 015Pizza is an Italian icon but one with many variations and many personalities. Frequently we hear spirited arguments about the virtues of a soft, fluffy crust versus a crisper, cracker-y crust. We tend to side with the former but respect the latter.

One of the favorite activities on our Food and Wine tours (as well as our weekly rentals) is pizza night with Marco. Being Umbrian, perhaps Marco is not a natural born pizza maker. But over the past couple of years he has thrown himself into the pizza making process with such gusto that today you might mistakenly think he had been born in Naples. Of particular pride is his handmade pizza dough, a recipe introduced to us by our Cannarese neighbor Jennifer McIlvaine but worked and reworked by Marco. In our simple outdoor oven Marco is able to coax a fluffy, doughy crust that has volume, substance and flavor.

Pizza night is a hands on affair, with guests participating as much or as little as they wish. Most help stretch out some of the doughs. Most help top pizzas with tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and assorted other ingredients available in the farmhouse kitchen, including local Cannara onions, fresh sausage from Norcia, truffle sauce, vegetables from the garden and myriad other toppings. Some of the favorites are gorgonzola, pear and nut, sausage and onion and anything with truffle.

As you can see below, pizza time is not just for our adult guests. Earlier this month Marco’s children Carlo Alberto and Viola joined him in the kitchen to make pizzas and then enjoyed them at the table along with their mother Chiara.

Welcome to pizza night at la Fattoria del Gelso. Buon appetito!

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy

The best "light dinner" Read more

Only in Italy can you sit down to a dinner of a dozen pizzas and describe it as “a light dinner.” Welcome ...