Foodie Friday - Chaa Creek Pizza 101!
Pizzas in San Ignacio that will really knock your socks off!
The Lodge at Chaa Creek has great food, really good stuff out here, everything is fresh and organic, but every now and again you just want pizza. Pizza is probably one of the best things to come out of Italy and to find one of the best things in Belize that can be just as good is even better.
There is an excellent security-turned-maintenance personnel by the name of Elvis, who besides being great at making sure everything is working fine, is an expert pizza maker (quite an interesting repertoire). Low and behold, Elvis being the modest man he is, didn't really advertise his pizza mastery to us until recently. He confessed to have been thought by an Italian master pizza maker at a famed Placencia resort where he learned everything about the trade (including pizza tossing!).
We asked Elvis if he could show us some of his techniques, and show the other members of the kitchen staff the ways of the force... I mean pizza toss. Elvis agreed to share his skills, so the kitchen staff eager to up their game gathered around notebooks in hand ready to jot down pointers. Elvis took it from the top and made the dough with its base ingredients, he used his own recipe which included olive oil, yeast, salt, and of course flour, and he added water at intervals along the kneading process. After this process was complete, he rolled the dough up and placed it for about an hour to get the dough to rise and get it ready to throw.
Luckily Elvis made another batch of dough ready to go for us to see him toss, he floured up his work station and began to flatten the dough into that familiar heavenly pizza shape. He then began to flip and beat the dough against his hand, this technique is to flatten the pizza dough while maintaining the body. This would prevent the dough from tearing and ensure that it could be properly tossed. Tossing the dough in the air also helps retain the proper moisture in the pizza, as well as keeping a uniform crust. Tossing pizza dough as Elvis or any other pizza maker would tell you, is not just for show.
Elvis explained that he learned most of the skills in a week of intense training under an Italian pizza master, and he kept practicing and refining his technique to improve the quality of his pizzas. I had a slice and I must say it was absolutely delicious, with perfect crust and superb toppings. He advised that the best pizzas have fresh ingredients, no frills back to basics pizzas are overall the highest quality you can get, he added. His tip on sauce is to make your own, fresh tomatoes, add a bit of basil, some salt, and you are golden.
Elvis further elaborated upon the types of pizzas available, he explained that the Italian style pizzas emphasises on fresh ingredients and a lot of veggies. Pizzas look way different in Italy than they do on a Pizza Hut commercial. However, he did admit that his favourite pizza was the famous pepperoni and cheese pizza. Elvis made about four pizzas that morning and all of them were gone in seconds, they stood no chance against us and were promptly devoured. Elvis and his skills now have center stage in Chaa Creek's Mariposa Restaurant and he has taught some of our cooks a few tricks. We look forward to him tossing a few pizzas for us again!