I may be the luckiest wife in the world. Not only is my husband cute, smart, and funny, but he bakes homemade bread. That’s right…homemade! He makes it in all kinds of ways; boule, baguette, sourdough, with nuts, without nuts, with seeds, without seeds, you name it, he can do it. It’s like his baby. He will spend the morning prepping the dough, kneading it just so, and wait for it to proof. He “visits” the proofing dough in the kitchen from time to time to stare at it, cooing it, as if encouraging it to proof. He does this for a second proof as well. When it is ready to put in the oven, he will often watch it from time to time in the oven, as if his eyes were to stop watching the dough, it would be ruined. After the delicious aroma has been going through the apartment for what seems like eternity, he takes it out and presents it to the kingdom on a platter for all to see. However beautiful it may look, no one is to touch it until it has cooled. He even watches it cool, wafting in the delicious scent. Finally, it is ready to cut and eat.

The hubby has a similar technique for pizza dough, only instead of presenting the cooked bread to the kingdom, he has the kingdom watch his throwing of the dough , which is actually getting pretty good! The other night, he made two different pizzas; a pepperoni, and what is called “White Owl Pizza”. White Owl pizza is a pizza that he found from one of his pizza recipe books, The Elements of Pizza by Ken Forkish. It has celery root, turnips, and cheese. When we can’t find all of these ingredients (which we couldn’t on this particular occasion), we substitute fennel for the celery root, and parsnips for the turnips. Both combinations are excellent. It is one of his favorite pizzas to make because it is unique, delicious, and named after a bird (he is an avid “birder”). The hubby’s pizzas, no matter the kind, are always delicious. He doesn’t make them too doughy, and doesn’t overload on toppings. Since he watches them like a hawk (bread is his baby…remember?), they come out at the perfect time.

For both of these pizzas, I paired them with Martin Ray’s Merlot from Napa. Merlot tends to have smooth and black cherry/plum characteristics. It is medium bodied with medium tannins, so it is a great food pairing wine. I bought Martin Ray’s Merlot a while back because I enjoyed the mocha flavor that I got from the palate, as well as the black cherry and plum notes. It also had some black and blueberry notes, which made the taste brighter than others merlots from the Napa Valley. The finish has some cedar tastes, and I thought it would do well with the acidity of the tomato sauce, the zing of the pepperoni, as well as bring out some of the sweeter flavors from the White Owl Pizza.

Overall, I gave the Merlot with the Pepperoni pizza 3 grapes.The spice/cedar of the wine, contrary to what I thought, didn’t particularly go well with a spicy pepperoni…it kind of just made the taste of the two of them more spicy and less flavorful and less blended.

The wine with the White Owl Pizza was far better, and I gave it 4 grapes. The fruity flavors of the wine brought out some of the anise flavors of the fennel. The sweetness of the parsnips were brought out from the cedar of the merlot, as did the creaminess of the cheese that was used. The flavors of the pizza are very earthy, so any kind of wine with fruity notes (i.e. a Zinfandel, Merlot, some Syrahs, perhaps even a Pinot Noir) would do well with this pizza.

Recipe: “White Owl Pizza” from The Elements of Pizza by Ken Forkish

Wine: Martin Ray Merlot 2013 ($22) Dominion Wine & Beer

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