It's a sunny day in Portland, not a (dark) cloud in sight. With all this sunny summer weather we're going to begin the grilling season. Cy's selected an odd dish for the grill though. He'll be making pizza.
Pizza is, as suggested by the ample tomato sauce and cheeses, is an originally Italian dish. It was invented by a Italian bread seller who's topping-less pies (hence the term pizza-pie) were so popular that one day Queen Margherita put in an order for one of his savory pies. Mr. Pizza (that was his name) wanted to make her something special, she was the queen after all. So he went and bought a white cheese, tomato sauce, and basil, from some fellow vendors. He then put these toppings on the queens pizza in the pattern of the Italian flag, red, white and green. He presented to Queen Margherita the first ever Margherita Pizza.
Now, pizza is a food recognized world wide. Everybody has a local pizza joint a few minutes away and a fast food chain devoted to pizza still closer. Pizza is the quick, easy, and ever-likeable sleepover food, yet it's also something else, pizza is coming into the vision of influential chefs-the sort of people you see on the Food Network-big names with big kitchens. One of my favorite examples of this is Ken's Artisan Pizza here in Portland. They have a great big wood fired oven, easily visible from the dining room, that creates some darn good pizza, Sunset magazine recently named Ken's some of the best pizza in the west. I must agree.
But before we even think about getting outside to the grill Cy needs to prepare the dough and tomato sauce. And make a pineapple upside down cake for our grandmother's birthday. Happy Birthday Mimi!
Cy really wanted to take out the grill for tonights meal and his pizza will probably be better for it, but it also introduces a new risk, the possibility that his pizza will slip through the grate into the flames, his pizza going down in a blaze of (not so glorious) glory. But thats to worry about later, now we need to worry about Dad cutting his finger in half while mincing garlic. "Use a cutting board Dad! Not your hand!" Sheesh. The pineapple upside down cake is in the oven, one sauce is done, and the spicy, cayenne pepper sauce is cooking. I'm gonna' take a break. Even great chef's have to go to school and I have homework.
Now there's something to write about, Cy's pineapple upside down cakes have come out of the oven and flipped (semi)successfully and are now cooling in our kitchen. The coals on our grill our burning hot yet you can barely see the flames let alone the smoke, Bob Marley is playing on Pandora and the buzz of our neighbors @#!#* buzz saw is coming through our open door. Okay, maybe things aren't as good as I thought. But the smell of my mom's signature pizza dough is still wafting towards me as Cyrus spreads it out, the smell of olive oil at it's best.
All these sights, smells, and sounds are overwhelming. Auuuuuggggghhhhh! Sensory overload! Food really does make us who we are.
The pizza should be on the grill soon and looking out the window you couldn't tell our backyard from the Eyjafjallajokull area in Iceland. (How do you pronounce that? I pity the poor news anchors these days, don't you?)The pizza is on the grill with toppings now and some of the smoke from our local Eyjafjallajokull has died down but only half the flights out of PDX are expected to be operational by Monday. Ha ha ha. Tonight is not only the start of grilling season but also the first outdoor dinner of 2010.
The pizza was perfect. The crust had an amazing set of ridges that were alternately carbon covered and clean of any by-product of the grill fire. The pizza was indescribable, I just can't find the right words to describe it. Smoky, yet, something unique, all it's own. I think it had something to do with the tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese. It was truly wonderful pizza and we haven't even had dessert yet! It is hard to describe that pizza. "Now, Mom, Dad, lets find out what that pineapple upside down cake tastes like, the Blazers game tips-off in 30 minutes!" Maybe this cake we can describe.
I haven't tasted any pineapple upside down cakes before but this one tasted pretty good, the cake slightly dry and crumbly, the pineapple soft and moist and, well, pineapple-y, next to two scoops of vanilla ice cream (not homemade but we should look into that) cold, melting, and sweet.