I didn’t choose; the Pakistani Embassy in Prague chose for me. I didn’t get a visa to visit Pakistan in time so I did what any smart man would do. I stayed home and cooked. From Friday night through Sunday night Mrs. NH and I made/ate/froze:
Pizza al Volo is a bit of a Venice institution. Some friends told us about it a few years back when we went to Venice but we didn’t manage to find it on that trip. On this visit, Mrs. NH had it on her itinerary an Little NH and I were happy to be along for the ride. After a twisting, turning walk through the streets of Venice, we arrived at Campo Santa Margherita. The campo (or plaza) is really neat in and of itself. Cafes line the periphery and you get a pretty authentic feel. It’s definitely not as full of white tennis shoed tourists as much of the rest of Venice and that’s a nice change.
Having arrived, we took a look inside of Al Volo. About three different pizzas were on display, all were incomplete. I decided to let Mrs. NH and Little NH go inside and investigate further and I stayed outside to people watch and guard the stroller. “I’ll be happy with whatever,” I told them. (I also completely neglected to take any decent pictures of the place which explains the cropped, crummy picture. Sorry.)
They came back with a couple slices of Margherita pizza and a slice topped with zucchini. Both were very good. Was it the best pizza I’ve ever had? No. I had probably become jaded on Italian pies by that point in the trip. That said, it was tasty. And when Mrs. NH went back inside for another piece, I was glad to see her come out with another one topped with zucchini.
So, would I recommend it? Sure. Is it the best pizza ever? No. Is it better than most? Yep. For Pizza al Volo, two out of three ain’t bad.
I slayed another demon in the kitchen and on the grill last night. My wife and I travel to Croatia every year and love the truffle pizzas they serve in Istria and especially ones they serve in the little Slovenian coastal town of Piran. As a matter of fact, we stop in this town each year to get one of the pizzas before we hit the beach.
Last night, I felt like I was in Piran. We had tried to make this pizza once before and made a decent pizza but it didn’t match the flavor we were trying to achieve. The problem was in the sauce. We never had a good pizza sauce before. We tried combinations of puree’s, tomato paste and all sorts of spices and we never got what we wanted. It was always too acidic, too heavy.
I recently found a recipe online that said to use peeled canned tomatos, chop them up, add salt and pepper and a little olive oil and let them simmer down. It makes a perfect pizza sauce. It adds just the right moisture quotient to the pizza and a little zip of flavor but only to compliment the main ingredient that you want to stand out. If I’m making a margherita pizza, I add some fresh basil right at the end.
Cheese was another hurdle in making this pizza. This time, we used a combination of grated edam and fresh mozzarella. It worked perfectly. As the cheese melted and the mozzarella started to give off water, I just “drained” the pizza on the grill by lifting up one side.
The final touch was to sprinkle a few drops of white truffle oil on the pizza right before serving. Perfection.