I always drive to Davie with the same anticipation building like dry heat from newly lit charcoal. The calculated pressure used to grip my steering wheel as we veered right on to 595 would soon be used to shape a sticky lump of dough into my dinner. After entering the kitchen, we grabbed ziplock bags full of dough, a pot full of deep red homemade marinara sauce, a large bag of shredded cheese, and an assortment of toppings and headed outside to the oven. It was pizza time.
Our pizza dough, uncooperative by instinct, submitted to countless punches, pounds, and pulls. It took great effort to overcome the gluten elasticity which stubbornly recoiled and defiantly ignored our prodding fists and fingers. Only after learning over-the-head twirls and flips can one truly control pizza dough. We did our best. With a heavy-handed coat of all-purpose flour we were able to keep troublesome holes, rips, and tears in their place. Our personal pies took the shape of acceptable but asymmetrical circles.
A barrage of toppings lay splayed out on the cool marble countertop in front of us. We adorned pizzas with chewy pepperoni, basil leaves, grilled eggplant, balled mozzarella, creamy goat cheese, fresh spinach leaves, mushrooms, salty anchovies, chicken breast, jars of roasted red peppers and spicy chilies, sliced onions, crisp green peppers, and sweet pineapple chunks. Domino’s had nothing on us.
With a skillful jerk, each pizza slid easily off a wooden paddle and into a dome-shaped outdoor pizza oven. (Note to future husband: I want one of these.) It took less than ten minutes before I was basically inhaling my first slice of veggie-loaded homemade pizza. The crust was crispy but beneath the oven-exposed surface the bread was soft, airy, and chewy – just the way I like it. I ate as much as I could of the pie but didn’t manage to finish it. I could have taken it home but there was no point – pizza like this would never taste as good out of context.
The rest of the night was spent around a bonfire in a collective food coma. Someone thought it would be a good idea to place a fully intact wooden chair into the dwindling pit. It wasn’t. The flames inched their way up the chair back, enveloping the armrests, and devouring the seat. The heat became so intense that we retreated backwards. Not even three minutes later the chair exploded with an echoing pop and sent wooden splinters into a fiery meteor shower. No one was hurt, but the moment was instantaneously shocking, terrifying, and beautiful. I left Davie with a satisfied stomach and small sense of accomplishment for not having my face blown off by an unrestrained inferno. People were just getting in the hot tub. Winter in South Florida doesn’t get much better than this.