I have been building this up for months to all my friends, family, colleagues, the gardeners, the repairman and anyone else who would listen.
Ever since I decided I wanted my own Forno Bravo wood fired pizza oven, I have been talking about all the wonderful things I am going to bake in the new oven – breads, meats, and most importantly the pizza everyone was dying to try. I spent hours researching the different dough and sauce recipes. I pored through the forums to make sure I didn’t make any rookie mistakes.
Now, I am not a serious chef. In truth my wife handles all the cooking except manning the barbeque or the occasional baking adventure to satisfy my sweet tooth. But this was going to be my new adventure. As I waited for my oven to ship, I spent my evenings watching the Food Network and dreaming. I envisioned awesome summer get-togethers with the whole family and elegant evenings sipping wine with friends on the trellis-covered patio. A new lifestyle that you can only dream of was going to come true.
Once the oven arrived, the anticipation intensified. I eagerly waited as the lift-gate on the delivery truck lowered the crate to the street. The driver talked up the coolness that is wood-fired pizza ovens as I convinced him to help me push my massively heavy new toy up the incline of my driveway. Once we had it up the driveway I couldn’t wait any longer. A few minutes later we had the crate apart and we were staring at a thing of beauty. This was the golden ticket, the desired passport to the summers I had always dreamed of.
The coming weeks were hard as I waited for weekend days when it was warm enough outside for me to spend the day tending the fire so the oven would cure properly. It is kind of like giving a child a toy and saying they have to wait for batteries. I live in Colorado and in the winter the weather is unpredictable. I can now tell you from experience that maintaining a low temperature fire, like those required to cure the oven, is a challenge when it is 20 degrees outside. I spent days bundled up running in and out of the house as I dreamt of making and tasting that first slice.
Once the oven was cured I was ready to have people over right away. I checked the weather and did a little happy dance since it was going to be 40 degrees outside that weekend and we had no other commitments. My Denver Broncos had already disappointingly been eliminated from playoffs so my Sunday afternoon was free! I invited some family over to help witness the awesomeness that was going to commence, and I spent Saturday afternoon making sure everything was in order: homemade San Marzano tomato sauce, homemade dough, 5 cheeses, 6 meat choices, herbs and drinks. There was nothing I was going to miss.
I woke up the next morning with a big smile on my face. Today was the day. I went outside and triple checked the fire starter stack I had meticulously built. I checked the dough and set out the plates. When the time came I lit the fire, and watched the flame dance across the dome. I felt the warmth of the fire on my face. I knew this was the start of something special.
I’ll save the details and challenges of that first attempt at pizza for another post, but I can tell you this much: it wasn’t perfect and that didn’t really matter. Some day I might be able to make the perfect pizza, but it’s not about perfection, it’s about the joy of the experience. The challenge. The food. The laughter of family. This summer and all subsequent summers and springs and falls will be filled with amazing gatherings of friends that center on our new oven, and I can’t wait.