A Thing Of Beauty
A pizza stone may not be worthy of a Keats poem, but it is really tickling my fancy on these winter days.
I started by cracking my old pizza stone in half. I'm not sure how that happened. I put it into the sink to cool, as I always do, but when I came back to wash it, it was two half-moons instead of one full moon. Looking at the broken edge, I could see that it had partially cracked some time ago and just finished the job now.
This was particularly untimely, as I had promised to bring a Tarte Flambée to pal Sari's annual cheese tasting party, and Tarte Flambée works best on a pizza stone.
So, I decided to give myself a birthday present. I recently became eligible for Medicare, so you know which birthday is fast approaching and why I felt justified in giving myself a serious pick-me-up.
Off I went to the local giant emporium of all things culinary to search for a new pizza stone. When I got there, I found that there are several kinds: the low-rent one I had before; a higher-priced model made in China that promised not to crack but that also included some mysterious polymers that would retard cracking (I don't know about you but, these days, cooking gear made in China gives me pause, what with exploding Pyrex, melamine in the dog food and lead in the toys); and this gorgeous thing, pointed out to me by a very helpful salesperson.
Made by Emil Henry in France, this pizza stone is ceramic like my last one, but glazed with a high-fired and beautiful glaze that keeps it from sticking. They come in three colors - black, olive and this wonderful rich Tibetan red that makes me smile each time I see it. I probably paid too much for it - it will have to amortize over many years - but it is not only beautiful and functional, with flared handles that make removal from a hot oven much easier, it also cooks pizza like a dream. Pre-heated in the oven, it turns a dark red-brown as it gets hot. It quickly sears the underside of the pizza, baking it fast so the toppings have no time to make it soggy.
At the party, everyone oohed and aahed over it - my friends appreciate such things and gave me satisfying expressions of envy.
And cleanup is a snap - warm, soapy water is enough to loosen even baked-on cheese. The pizza itself slides right off and the glaze is strong enough that you can cut the pizza right on the stone. Best of all, it keeps the pizza warm for a long time, as it retains heat well.
So, poetic or not, I'm thrilled with my thing of beauty.