Two years ago this week I was on the island of Samos with my lovely little wife Juanita. One of our favourite tavernas there had a small brick pizza oven, with which they produced the only pizzas and calzones that have ever impressed me.
So when we got home, I went out and made an impulsive purchase of a cylindrical steel chiminea which has an integral hinged barbecue rack complete with two, yes two pizza stones. They look like identical twin volcanic full moons which have been wiped clear of all craters and other facial features by a rogue cloud of anti-gravity sweeping through the cosmic void on its way to the kebab shop on the corner.
The chiminea is not, it must be said, a thing of beauty in and of itself, being steel, cylindrical and black with stainless steel trim and handles. But it has the advantage of possessing two pizza stones, and more importantly, it fits neatly into the shed at the top of the garden. Where it has sat, unused, since June 2011. Until last weekend that is, when I had my first day off of work since Easter’s trip away, and the sun was shining. And my lovely little wife Juanita had the weekend off too. She’s been in Valencia since Tuesday or Wednesday this week, but that’s another story which you really don’t want to know.
So on Sunday I made a lovely pizza Margareta and two garlic butter calzones, one with cheese and the other without, which I cooked over glowing coals in the chiminea. We had them with some tomato salad, Jersey Royals and a bottle or two of some lovely rose wine and it was a lovely evening in the sun.
It was all so nice that on Bank Holiday Monday I got the chiminea out again and we had thinly sliced chicken breast marinated in fresh herbs and garlic and olive oil, asparagus wrapped in oak smoked pancetta, all cooked in the chiminea but without using the pizza stone, obviously,and more Jersey Royals. And a small case of pear cider. Again, we sat out in the sun until it sank below the distant horizon. If your imagination can see the chimney of the house down the hill as the distant horizon that is. Life is so perfect and civilised sometimes that I could weep with the joy of it all. I didn’t weep though. I waited until the coals were cold, disposed of the ashes safely and put the chiminea back in the top shed because it looked like rain.