All through last winter and spring we rarely ventured out of the house. The one food we missed the most was Neapolitan-style pizza fresh from a smoking hot oven with a crisp and blistered crust while the center remains soft. So when our friend Ernie suggested we come to his home for pizza made in a Roccbox pizza oven, we were happy to oblige.
The Roccbox oven is very small and portable and bakes one pizza at a time. It uses propane gas and reaches a temperature of 900 degrees, so hot that the pizzas can cook in just a minute or two. Ernie’s son Jason and his wife Deborah were the pizzaioli that day and their pies were excellent.
Last Sunday, Jason invited us to his house for an afternoon of pizza and wine. With fond memories of the summer’s pizza party in mind, we accepted. He uses the same type of pizza oven.
We started with Roses de Jeanne Champagne–100% Pinot Noir from the 1.5-hectare lieu-dit of Val Vilaine. The production is very limited. Cedric Bouchard. This is a single-vineyard, single varietal, and single-vintage, zero dosage Champagne, organic farming, low yields and harvesting at the right moment. Only free run juice is used and fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. There is no filtering, fining or cold stabilization. The wines are bottled with no dosage under less pressure. This is full-bodied Champagne with hints of fruit, spice, lively acidity a touch of pear, a note of dried flowers and a long and lingering finish.
Deborah made the pizza dough according to her special recipe
Bramaterra 1979 made from 70% Nebbiolo, 20% Croatina and 10% Vespolina. Tenuta Agricola Sella. The production area is in Northern Piedmont. The vines are 48 years old, the exposure is Southwest, the vineyard is at 300 to 350 meters the training system is guyot and the soil is volcanic in origin and reddish brown in color. Harvest takes place between September 22 and October 12. After the grapes are crushed, fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and delestage. There is 30 days maceration for the Nebbiolo and 16 for the Croatina. The wine is aged in 10 hl Slavonian oak casks for 28 months. There were hints of faded roses, leather, blackberries and a hint of spice.
Foccacia — We started with a white pizza sprinkled with sliced garlic and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. It was delicious plain, and possibly even better with thin slices of mortadella or prosciutto on top.
Pizza Margarita — The classic pie and just perfect
Pizza with Pistacchios — After a couple of traditional pizzas, we moved on to some innovative ones, including this one topped with chopped pistachios, shallots and herbs.
Pizza with pastrami, sauteed shallots and cheese. It reminded me of an Alsatian Tarte Flambe’. Some guests added a dab of mustard, but I liked it without.
Chateaneuf-du-Pape 1995 Domaine Du Pegau made from 80% Grenache, 6% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre and 10% other varieties. The soil is mostly covered with pebbles, clay and limestone mixture tends to iron and sand. There is a manual harvest with no destemming. Natural yeast causes spontaneous fermentation which takes place in concrete tanks. maceration is for 12 days in 50hl old oak casks for 2 years. This is a big complex wine with black ripe fruit, hints of cherries and plums, black pepper, leather and a touch of meat. It was the wine of the afternoon and will last for many more years.
Pizza with salmon. Lightly smoked salmon topped this pie, one of our favorites of the day.
Pizza with sausage and mozzarella — always a crowd pleaser.
Pizza Margarita with bufala mozzarella. Instead of cow’s milk mozzarella, this Margarita was made with bufala cheese.
Barolo Riserva 1964 Giacomo Borgogno and Figli 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from three different cru vineyards: Cannubi, Liste and Fossati. The winery is located in the center of the town of Barolo. The wine is aged at least five years in large oak barrels. This is a wine produced with traditional and natural wine making methods. Long fermentation and pumping over by hand takes place. Today the Farinetti family that also owns Eataly owns the winery. I have always had very good luck with older vintages of Borgogno. This is a classic traditional Barolo with hints of red fruit, tar, tobacco, violets, cedar and a touch of balsam.
Banana Cream Pie by Deborah. For dessert, we moved on to another type of pie altogether, an all-American Banana Cream Pie with a graham cracker crust and fresh whipped cream topping.
The pie did not cooperate when cut, so we ate it from bowls with a spoon. Is deconstructed Banana Cream Pie going to be the next big thing? I highly recommend it!