For a few years after I left university, I lived in the Inner West of Sydney. Not a lot of public transport, very high insurance premiums because of the rate of car thefts, and really excellent pizza. The Inner West - Balmain, Leichhardt, Annandale, Haberfield, Five Dock - is the area that traditionally had a high level of Italian immigration, which means you can get amazing gelato, fantastic espresso, pre-soaked baccala and have the trauma of someone calling you Signora instead of Signorina for the first time.
Our favourite pizza places were both in Haberfield. La Disfida and Napoli in Bocca. Both produced wafer thin, flavoursome pizza crusts, with the merest suggestion of a topping, dripping-fresh mozzarella blistered by the heat, anointed with a drizzle of olive oil just before it came to the table. Napoli in Bocca won for me, because it was a lot bigger, so you were more likely to get a table.
Since we left Sydney, I have pined for pizza. We do actually have 3 pizza places that deliver to us, but one of those is Dominos, and it isn't the worst, so I think that is all you need to know on that score.
Then, for Easter, Paul bought me a Weber pizza stone for the barbecue and the ball, as it were, was in my court.
I started with youtube. I came across this tutorial on how to toss pizzas. I figured that if the man had the skills to show ambidextrous pizza tossing, he was the go-to guy for pizza crust recipes. And so he is. I mixed and kneaded by hand, but otherwise followed the recipe. It's a lovely dough to work with! Really silky and elastic. We didn't want big pizzas, so I divided the dough into 4 balls.
I happen to think that the true test of a pizza is a margarita. Plain, simple, tomato, basil and mozzarella. If you get those right you can see the true beauty of a pizza, and maybe progress to a slice of mushroom or a bit of sausage. Or better yet - Quattro Formaggi! On no account should pineapple EVER feature. Same goes for sweetcorn. Blergh. So I made a really simple sauce - a couple of cloves of garlic, finely sliced, sauteed in olive oil until beginning to brown, then a can of chopped tomatoes and a slosh of balsamic vinegar, and I just simmered it slowly, crushing it to a smooth sauce with a fork, until it was thick and rich. Seasoned with salt and pepper and it was done.
Unfortunately, on this first attempt, it was too windy out to light the Weber. And then we discovered that the Weber pizza stone is too big for our oven. So we had to revert to my old aluminium pizza trays. Good thing I never throw anything away.
A smear of sauce, some torn buffalo mozzarella and some basil leaves soaked in oil. The oven preheated to 240C. In 10 minutes, the crust puffed up hugely, the base remained thin and crisp, the cheese ran and the sauce bubbled. It was the best pizza I have had in this country.
Stay tuned for further pizza adventures, as we actually get to use the pizza stone!