I stared into the oven, watching the cheese begin to bubble and brown. Andrew walked into the kitchen with the cat, unable to resist from the aromas of the pizzas locked inside.
“You know, I think every fantastic pizza we’ve ever had has been at home,” I said, still staring at the cheese.
“The ones you used to make in Melbourne were incredible.”
“Yup. I’ll never be able to get my hands on those gluten free bases again,” I sighed.
In my head, the South Melbourne Markets opened up around me. I could see, right in front of my eyes, the organic foods shop in the top back corner of the market, right at the end of the fresh food strip. They always stocked these most incredible flatbreads that were gluten free, but held together and crisped up beautifully as a pizza base. They were the perfect height for a thin, crunchy base below a mountain of grilled vegetables and artisanal cheese.
We’d wander along, picking the best of the best from the fruit and veg stores, stopping in for nuts, dried fruit and spices along the way. We’d never leave without a coffee from the shop at the entryway, and I’d always wander off for a few minutes to pick up four cheeses for $10 from the deli along with a bagful of something yummy and sweet. I never bought meat from the butchery. We didn’t eat much meat and what we did eat, I could pick up from the grocer as I walked along our main street each afternoon, after a walk along the bay. I think we also avoided it because we knew we had to carry it all back home. I had a car, but it was the kind of place where you didn’t need to use it.
Walkways. Trams. Markets. A bayside apartment.
A coffee shop with a barista you know personally.
Today, I miss my home in Melbourne. The one I created. Melbourne was my home by choice, as I was never taken there as a child, whisked away in a family’s decision to move. I picked that city. I wanted to be there, and I still do when I think about days like that. Rose tinted glasses I know, but I think it’s ok to reflect on what a lovely city it is to live in.
The pizzas began to darken at the edges in the oven in front of me. I pulled them out and stared at their perfection. You can take a girl out of her city, but she can still make pizza. Most of my creations are pretty similar; a herby tomato base, more tomatoes in some form, lots of vegies, sometimes a smattering of protein, and some kind of cool cheese. Apparently my body doesn’t agree with any cow’s cheese that’s not parmesan or similarly hard, so I’ve been even more experimental in that field. I don’t mind so much though – cheddar is overrated. Here’s what’s on the pizza I made tonight…
2 medium wholewheat Lebanese breads
3 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp dried oregano
3 large button mushrooms, sliced
100g sun dried tomatos, finely sliced
4 tbs sliced green olives
1/3 cup baby spinach, finely sliced
90g prosciutto, cut down into ribbons
1/3 cup finely grated sheep’s milk kashkaval
Other usual toppings include: red onion, black olives, garlic, sliced turkey breast, capsicum and anything else that’s left in the fridge that will survive 10 minutes under the grill.
I don’t think I put anything particularly unusual on my pizzas, but I’m yet to find any restaurant where I’ve lived or on my travels that tops one of my pizzas. The rich tomato really sets off the flavour, especially against the salty olives. I’m generally light on the cheese so you don’t feel awful and regretful after eating a whole one. It’s a delicious experience. They’re the kind of things you dream about at night. Trust me. Go make.