Step 1: Spontaneously ride bikes to Brighton Beach on a gorgeous, summer-into-fall afternoon. Drink imported, ice-cold beer and eat shrimps, pickled cucumbers and herring plus mystery meat dumplings on Brooklyn’s Russian Riviera. Nap on the bay beach. Ride The Cyclone and cycle on home.
Step 2: Pick up a portion of pizza dough from the local pizzeria. Investigate contents of refrigerator and select a range of vegetables and meats and cheeses. Thank your lucky stars you have pizza toppings on hand.
Step 3: Preheat oven to as stinking hot as it’ll get – place pizza oven on top rack so the top and the bottom cook and crisp within the same space-time continuum. Let it get good and hot – 45 minutes if you can wait that long.
Step 4: Generously flour (I say this in a Monday morning quarterback kind of way) a wooden pizza oven paddle thingy.
Step 5: Introduce a little physical comedy. Toss that lightly oiled dough high in the air just like the professionals do. No problem!
Step 6: Place your stretched free-form pizza dough on the (heavily) floured wooden paddle thingy and add toppings. We went halfsies… blanched and sauteed broccoli raab on one side with garlic and caramelized onions. Julienned zucchini on the other (salted and squeezed of excess water). Olive oil and mozzarella cheese for everyone. Pepperoncini! Beautiful.
Step 7: Slide the pizza – doh! – slide the pizza dough – oh shit! – wait, just pull it. Here, this way. No! Fuck! Shit! Oh man. OK… slop the pizza dough on the surface-of-the-sun-stone while another person in the kitchen holds the rack with well worn pot holders and a third hungry soul pokes at it with a spatula while you silently cry hungrily in the face of the escaping 500F heat.
Step 8: Shove the mess in the oven and try not to make eye contact with anyone in the room. Take a long, slow, sad sip of your beer. Uncomfortable silence. Laughter. We’re up, we’re down, we’re up again!
Step 9: Open the oven door 10 minutes later to find a piping hot mess vaguely resembling pizza sizzling away on the stone. It ain’t pretty but the doughy blob where everything got smashed together tastes like a giant garlic knot with zucchini and broccoli raab and melty cheese. Randomly find some salami in a bite and gasp with joy, “I forgot we put salami on this thing! This is great!”
Step 10: Polish off entire pizza and a cold bottle of vino bianco and marvel at how something gone so very wrong could taste so very right.