06 February 2013

Visitin' the country, gonna eat me a lotta pizzas. A day with Heidiapples.

You know those weekends that are just perfect. Lazy days, good food, fun and good company? Well I've just had one. It started off with bands, cooking and dinner with a friend, and ended with a beautiful Sunday in the country. I don't drive much, living in the city. There's no need to with public transport so close and affordable. In fact, last year I drove a total of 4000 km. That's it. So to go on a road trip, over an hour from home, is a real novelty. I feel like I'm going somewhere.

The beautiful Heidi invited me to her parents' place on the Mornington Peninsula. Heidi's husband Ben is away in Sydney working at his awesome tutoring business for two months, and then they're going to America for three months (I KNOW, RIGHT?!), so she's back living with her parents. As I expected, they're so wonderful too - friendly, welcoming, and foodies. Such foodies. If my parents and Heidi's parents got together they'd start a restaurant, I'm sure. That or they would talk about food for a week. They have ham on the bone and a love for different cheeses. Like me, they're wholefood fans, and adventurous. We had a pizza festival last Sunday afternoon. Oh it was wonderful. It featured food cooked from scratch, food cooked with love.

Heidi took me for a drive around the area. In the 10 years I've lived in Melbourne I've only been to Mornington once. We started off by going to a cafe/provodore and then the Shoreham beach - Heidi has lovely memories of the beach and I feel privileged she shared them with me. The sea air smelled amazing and I have returned with enough sand in my shoes to feel like I've had a seaside holiday.

When we returned home, we got started on making pizzas. Heidi's Dad made the dough and got the outdoor pizza oven fired up.

Their garden is lush and rambling - filled with roses, fruit trees, herbs and vegie gardens, plus pretty decorations that make it homely. I'm not a fan of the outdoors, as you know, but on Sunday, I really liked being outside.

While the dough was rising, we got started on preparing the toppings. I am a believer that anything can be a pizza topping, but also less is more, and Heidi and her family follow that pizza belief too. We prepared toppings for four pizzas. My contribution to the menu was a fig, cheese and ham pizza - I picked up some fresh figs from my local grocer on the way.

Heidi and I sat outside in the sunshine, drinking adult cordial that her Dad prepared - it was delicious. It's a cocktail of tart plum syrup (leftover from baked plums), ginger and sugar syrup, ginger liqueur, bourbon, soda water amd raspberries. It was delicious. And rather elegant.

We chatted about writing, boys (my boy confusion, and how she's so in love with Ben - her love for him is so cute!!), music (we are both currently loving The Lumineers), American travel and food. So much talk about food. I love Heid's passion for food - she told me how she adores making pastry, and she's always reading cookbooks and learning about wholefoods and nutrition. And I joked that she was a "walking boom box" when she ensured we had music everywhere we went - courtesy of her iPhone in her pocket. So much innuendo captioning this photo!

Finally the pizza dough was ready to be rolled, just in time for Heidi's Mum's arrival home after a stay in the city. Warning: many pizza photos ahead. You're lucky you're not seeing photos of us taking photos of the pizzas. Because we did do that - and agreed it was a pyschologically normal trait of active social media users to do this.

On the left, there's chorizo, bocconcini, tomato and Parmesan, and on the right is button mushroom, shiitake mushroom and Parmesan.

This one is the fig, blue cheese, mozzarella and ham. Some leftover craisons and garlic oil was added too.

And potato pizza - the potatoes were par-boiled, thinly sliced and then layered with anchovies, rosemary sprigs, garlic and Parmesan.
The pizzas didn't take long to cook in the oven - maybe 10 minutes each. We cooked them two at a time.

And then we ate them. With some kale salad that Heidi massaged with lemon juice to soften (like a ceviche). But not before we took approximately 172 photos of the food - and giggled about it being ok to delay eating for blogging purposes. I apologised to the kale for not photographing it.
The pizzas were served on boards - Jamie Oliver style. If you've been following me on Twitter you'll be aware of my gripe with Jamie Oliver serving his meals on boards. Sure it looks good, but how practical is it? What about taste (and germ) transfer? I wince at the weepy stews seeping into the wood one night, and then soaking up the juices of a fruit salad the next night. We all agreed that pizza is an acceptable food to serve on a board.
The pizzas were so delicious. I may have eaten six slices. The chorizo one was packed with flavour, the mushroom one was simple and mild. I loved the potato pizza - it was like eating cheesy potato bake. And the fig pizza was sweet and salty and creamy. Wonderful.
I was getting into serious pizza coma territory and needed some caffeine to pick me up for the drive home. Heidi's parents have a whizz bang coffee machine. But I don't drink coffee, unless I'm on a plane or it has some chocolate in it. Her Dad made me a strong black with equal parts coffee and Nutella stirred in. So delicious. Pizza coma averted.
Heidi had prepared an apple and fig tart which was cooked in the pizza oven. She adapted the recipe from here. She'd made rye flour pastry (which she calculated as being somewhat healthy, given the rye and the low butter content - and I'm taking her word for it because she's a dietician and knows her stuff. Even though she told us "the apples were cooked in a shitload (an actual measurement) of butter". Healthy!
The base of the tart was spread with fig jam so it kept the pastry crisp and went all caramelised. The apples were just sweet enough. It was beautifully rustic. And a success in the pizza oven. We ate it with home made vanilla icecream. Seriously, it was all amazing!
I am so glad to have made the trip to see Heidi and her parents. It's friends like her that make my world a wonderful place.
Thank you all for a great, memorable Sunday. I can't stop singing the Presidents of the United States of America's Peaches now.


  1. Great post Carly. Loved it...So evocative! Thank you for sharing and Damn you for making me hungry!;)

  2. Great post Carly. Loved it...so evocative! What a great way to spend a summer's day. Thank you for sharing and damn you for making me hungry and wishing I was at the seaside! ;)

  3. Carly this post is so so lovely :) Thank you so much for coming down, you are just the sweetest!! I love everything about this post. Was smiling so much when I read it. Such a perfect day xo

  4. Sounds like a gorgeous weekend! Those pizzas looked absolutely delicious! I've often used any left over roast potatoes thinly sliced on pizza - they're awesome especially if cooked in meat juices (sorry vegetarians). Pumpkin too! Yum, yum, yum!

  5. OMG the two of you and pizza, what an amazing day! And I totally love all the photos, I'm a bad blogger, I only ever think to take photos after the event.

  6. That sounds like a wonderful weekend to me, good company and good food.

  7. Oh. My. GAWD.
    That is AMAZEBALLS.
    Invite me up next time, will you?
    Hope all is good, Carly!
    cilla xx

  8. What a great day. The pizza looks amazing!

  9. Oh those pizzas look fantastic!!
    I've always wanted a pizza oven - problem would be I'd eat far too many pizzas!

  10. I want an oven too! Guess I'll have to visit Heidi a bit more!!


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