That which is Pizza, Part 3: The proof is in the pie.

Well, not everything works out. The travertine tiles all but disintegrated in the first attempt to get the oven above 500. Fortunately the stone that came with the oven fared much better, so for now it is our main cooking surface. We have located a local source for medium duty fire brick which according to the Forno Bravo website, is the correct brick for a pizza oven. Here in part, is their justification: Continue reading “That which is Pizza, Part 3: The proof is in the pie.”

That which is Pizza, Part 2: Yes sir, yes sir. Three (and a skosh more) bags full.

The ceramic wool arrived and now its time to stuff the walls. The stuff that I wound up buying was the loose wool and it cost me $64.00 for four bags. That’s not a bad cost given the upgrade that it gives the oven. Continue reading “That which is Pizza, Part 2: Yes sir, yes sir. Three (and a skosh more) bags full.”

That which is Pizza, Part 1: Can a $199 Pizza Oven Perform Like a $6,945 One?

pizza-oven
The real deal: A Napoli pizza oven in all its glory.

The Tuscan Outdoor Oven. The name says it all; Italian flag waving, huge brick ovens with delicious pies being whisked directly from under the flickering flames, still steaming and bubbling directly to the plate in front of you. But why not The Napoli Outdoor Oven?  After all, the pizza was invented in Naples-or at least its most famous one, the mozzarella, basil and tomato pie named after Queen Margherita. And the people of Napoli are nothing, if not deadly serious about their pizzas. Where else would you find a Comission, the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, which defines pizza for all the world, down to each ingredient and where they are grown, each preparation technique-what’s allowed and not allowed-its exact dimensions, etc.?  Our little oven is not so lucky to be in that league so I am sure that calling it The Napoli Outdoor Oven would have sparked an international conflict of opus proportions. Moving a bit north but staying within the Italian border we can still have some association, so The Tuscan Outdoor Oven, our $199 wonder it is-even if Tuscany is more famous for other things. Continue reading “That which is Pizza, Part 1: Can a $199 Pizza Oven Perform Like a $6,945 One?”

Pool Time!

Late last summer our pool developed a terminal problem which it signaled when its water level started to drop rather quickly.Water level dropping.... Sensing a real problem we did all sorts of diagnostics with dyes, etc. At first we suspected a possible tear or seam failure but not finding anything obvious, we suspected the plumbing. We replaced the pool light (it needed it anyhow) and checked the underground wiring conduit for a leak. But no luck, the water level continued to drop. After a while (since we were constantly filling it with cold well water) the water became just too cold to get in to to hunt for leaks, so we let it go and stopped adding water. When the level finally stabilized, it had dropped below all of the inlet/outlet fixtures except for the main drain, and the shallow end was completely dry. With no holes visible either the drain was leaking (our worst fear and most expensive fix) or the liner had simply failed with thousands of tiny leaks which we would never find. Given that the liner was replaced in 1998, with its 14 year life span this vinyl liner was just about due for replacement anyway and owed us nothing. We hoped that replacement would do the trick so we let it go and threw the cover on for the winter. This spring we contacted our pool company (Budd’s Pools in Deptford, NJ) and picked out a new liner. Continue reading “Pool Time!”

Summer am a ‘comin in… pool time!

It’s the middle of April, the trees are in bloom and the grass is growing again. Spring at Villa Mantua is on the rise. This summer I hope to get a few, long overdue projects done. Last year the pool developed a leak and that means it time for a new liner. I never really cared for one that we put in in ’98. It looked fine in the small sample but not as convincing in the ground. But given the 15 year lifespan that a vinyl liner has, it hardly seemed worth changing it before now. This time we gave it a lot more thought. We poured over the sample pictures and had pretty much settled on one until we went down to the pool store. Once there we took the full samples outside and tried to imagine them. But they didn’t seem to live up to the expectations. In the end we kept coming back to one of their display pools and after a lot of consideration decided that we really liked one that they had installed with a rock waterfall. Continue reading “Summer am a ‘comin in… pool time!”