Topped in style: Allyson Gofton welcomes the grown-up pizza
Today, in our live-it-fast-in-fashion world, the pizza has to be winning the race for the most stylish, fast food makeover.
Don’t get me wrong; the deep-pan pizzas, swamped with oregano-saturated tomato puree and phoney salami, weighed down with second-rate pizza cheese and, heaven forbid, canned pineapple (the 70s was not a foodie decade) that are still eaten on the couches of the after-match booze-up crowd have their place ... just not in my place.
Today’s cultured cafe bars and bistros have taken the pizza to new heights, with any number of delectable and delicious combinations, as new foods or trendy prepared toppings make their way to market.
At the recent 2018 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards it was notable that fresh cheeses from goat and buffalo milk are now being sought after by the public. Once eaten only by those with money or an intolerance for cow’s milk, buffalo and, in particular, goat’s cheese, have become more mainstream.
It’s a combination of factors. Our taste buds have grown up and enjoy the challenge of new foods; production, and thus supply, has increased and a health movement is moving from traditional cow’s milk cheddar styles to lighter fresh cheeses.
Goat herders and gold-medal winners Amanda and Lindsey Goodman from Wairarapa farm their 175 does on lush herb-laden pastures near Martinborough. Milking and cheesemaking is a daily business. The cheese is made immediately after milking to ensure The Drunken Nanny Fresh Lush Goat Cheese has a clean, sweet, citrus note, with a creamy texture. For anyone who has been put off by more pungent goat cheese, think again — this cheese is a joy to eat. It’s perfect for pizza when it’s partnered with something sweet such as honey, pomegranate, figs or plums or with herbaceous flavours like lavender, sage, dill or thyme. Spicy flavours of the Middle East, where goat’s milk cheese is popular, work well, as do sweeter-style vegetables — tomato, aubergine, peas and pumpkin — which help marry ingredients together.
South of Auckland, in Clevedon’s fertile valley, live local identities, buffalo farmers and this year’s Supreme Winners of the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards, Helen and Richard Dorresteyn. Helen established Clevedon Farmer’s Market and when no cheesemaker could be found to sell cheese, she and Richard set about importing buffalo and preparing fresh mozzarella.
About 150 buffalo now laze out their days on pastures adjoining the Hauraki Gulf. Their A2 milk is turned into a cultured, porcelain-white mozzarella with a sweet clean taste and downy texture. This year’s winning cheese was marinated in a herb-infused oil, simply perfect on a pizza with fennel.
The pizza has grown up. It’s no longer the also-ran of takeaways. It’s simply stylish, anytime, anywhere.
Pumpkin's natural sweetness — boosted by baking and spiced up with Morocco’s fragrant ras-el-hanout blend — has a wonderful affinity with fresh goat’s cheese. Serve it embellished with handfuls of gutsy wild rocket and crunchy, crimson, jewel-like pomegranate seeds for a sensational pizza. Get the recipe.
Buffalo mozzarella soaked in oil with roasted garlic and thyme makes a wonderful pizza when simply accompanied by fennel, bacon or pancetta, olives and lemon. Steer away from strong tomato paste and oregano flavours to enjoy fresh buffalo mozzarella’s delicate flavour and creamy texture. Get the recipe.