Monday, February 15, 2010

Al forno

Here's how Wikipedia defines "Al forno".....

"In cooking, al forno is an Italian phrase describing food that is "at/from the oven". Baked pizza, breads and pasta dishes are often part of this genre.

Al forno is a term that described cuisine in Northern Italy which has the tradition of using wood-burning ovens and open-flame grills. Wood-fired pizza ovens have often been constructed by Italian restaurants that offer "al forno" or "furnace" to continue this tradition. This style has spread all over the Mediterranean in terms of becoming a bread, pasta, dough cooking technique. The brick oven has become a kind of symbol for "al forno" with its arched oven door and a wooden board upon which the food was put in and taken out, the wood acting as a kind of insulator."

I'm not sure when I first became enamored with al forno cooking, or pizza ovens, as they're commonly called. We've all seen them over the years in restaurants/pizza shops but I think I first started paying attention while sitting at the chef's counter at my favorite restaurant in Birmingham, the Hot and Hot Fish Club. Over the last several years of sitting there and watching them use their oven, I've become fascinated at all they use it for.

It ain't just for pizzas, baby! They used it for steaks, mini-casseroles, breads, etc. I don't think they even have a pizza on their menu!

But I really became hooked after our trip to Exclusive Resorts Tuscany properties in November of 2007.

In this beautiful Italian home was an authentic wood fired oven. I was so excited that we asked the chefs to dedicate a special night to teaching all of us how to make pizza's in that oven. They taught us how to light it, how to manage the coals, and most importantly how to make pizzas. I was sure I had taken a picture of the oven, but when I went back through my photos, I couldn't find one. The closest one I had is the one below.....the oven is directly to the left of the table.

I owe these two for convincing me that if I ever built an outdoor kitchen, I was absolutely installing a pizza oven.

And it arrived last week. All 1,300 lbs of it!!!

Of course, the contractor building the pool house had picked up the fork lift the day before, so we had to get creative getting it from the delivery truck up the driveway! Let's just say it took a village!

But we managed and were able to get it unpacked.

How freaking handsome is that??

Looks like a miniature igloo.

Can't you just smell the pizzas, breads, steaks.........

I'll keep you posted on it's progress!


  1. love your bio, I think you'd love Simon Majumdar's Eat My Globe....can't wait to read what you bake in it! oriana of al forno è buono tutto!

  2. This is awesome! I saw your post on Facebook and for some reason I pictured inside the house, but I never imagined the outside.....even better! BTW, Azland loves Can't wait to see some pictures of food coming out of it.