You may have heard the rumor that the pizza in Italy is underwhelming, considering that it was born in Napoli. I can confirm that the allegation is correct. So when we drove to Le Marche Italy after having eaten mediocre pizza on and off in Tuscany, we decided to take a new approach- learn to make our own! Through our research we stumbled upon La Tavola Marche’s website located only 30 minutes from where we were staying in Smirra, Italy. It was meant to be!
La Tavola Marche is a B & B and cooking school run by a young American couple, Ashley and Jason Bartner, who moved to rural Italy 6 years ago to immerse themselves in new experiences and do what they love- cook. Chris and I found their pizza class informative and entertaining. Jason is knowledgeable about what he does and has a knack for explaining the details. Ashley showed us how to make Tiramisu and added a nice social element to the event. The pizzas and tiramisu we made were delicious and I’m sure my friends at home will be very pleased with my new skills.
Why seek out a pizza class:
The few times I’ve attempted recipes that involve yeast I quickly realized that recipes really only give you the measurements, they don’t tell you what to look for to ensure your dough is doing what it should. Often times your dough will need more or less of an ingredient depending on how it reacts. Spending the time and money is worth a class considering the time and disappointment involved with rising the dough only to discover you failed somewhere along the way. Plus it’s way more fun to do a class where you can ask questions and meet others who enjoy food and, in this case, travel. And once you have the basic skills to make pizza dough the confidence to take on other bread related recipes will ensue.
Some tips that might help your pizza stand out from the rest:
- Traditional pizza tomato sauces are not cooked. We put a couple kilos of tomatoes through a food mill and seasoned it to our taste. EVOO is a must and don’t overdo the garlic.
- We used fresh tomatoes because they are in season but most of the time canned tomatoes will have to suffice. Canned tomatoes are not created equal- make sure to read the back of the can to ensure they have no preservatives (they’ll be the most expensive)
- You can play around with different flavors of beer to enhance the taste of the crust.
- The best pizza dough will come as you gain confidence through practice
- Simple is better according to the Italians- If you load your pizza up with too many toppings you will take away from the flavor profile