Monday, September 29, 2008

Pizza! Home-made! Perfect!

A good friend who's also a great cook lovingly made the thinnest pizza crust I've ever laid eyes on from scratch and invited us over for a night of conversation, pizza variations, wine and mojitos, and if that weren't enough, she ended the fantastic repast with a multi-layered mango float.

To start, we had insalata caprese, a slice of red-ripe Australian tomato on top of which rested an oval of buffalo mozzarella, kissed by fresh basil leaves. A few spritzes of extra virgin olive oil and drizzles of balsamic reduction and viola, a beautifully plated appetizer materialized before her (hungry and grateful) guests' eyes.

The 2nd course, a pizza salad or sorts, was simply small versions of the cracker-like crust topped with slivers of mozzarella, with whispers of baby arugula floating about and 2 paper-thin slices of parma ham folded, accordion-like. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil nicely rounded off the dish, and groans of "mmmmm" resounded as the saltiness of the ham mingled with the slight bitterness of the leaves which were offset by the sweetness of the balsamic. Each bite ended with a crunch and pleasurable sounds pervaded.

Three kinds of pizzas followed.
First, Mediterranean-style with pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and artichokes topped with feta and Manchego cheese.

Second, meat lovers with chunks of veal sausage, Andouille sausage, anchovies and garlic on a bed of tomato with roasted capsicum sauce, mozzarella cheese and Manchego.

Third, Hungarian salami with capers, olives, tomato with roasted capsicum sauce and mozzarella cheese.

After the first pizza no one was in the mood to take pictures. We were ravenous and just wanted to savor each slice.

Stuffed as we were that night, no one could resist this sweet ending.

Restaurants in HK are fine and dandy but nothing beats a dinner prepared with passion, served in a beautifully maintained home, with the proper lighting, music and aroma. Next week we veer away from gourmet and hold a proper American and Pinoy barbeque. After that, who knows? We plan to make this a regular thing, with various hosts receiving us into their homes, the food depending on mood, kitchen size and whether a dining table is available or not. Good company, dishes that could rival any restaurant's any day, and stimulating conversation are all the ambiance and inspiration we food lovers need.

* Thanks Acx for the pictures.