A few weeks ago, on a date night with my husband, I tasted the crust of a pizza which sent my taste-buds wild. It was crunchy and airy and at the same time had a pleasant chewiness – attributes I’ve always enjoyed in pizza. But this one possessed something more than just the textural experience. This one had flavour! Up until that point I had always thought of the base as simply a medium on which the topping is cooked. For the first time I actually sampled the crust independent of any topping and thought, this is delicious!
With my appetite whet and curiosity awakened, I set about looking for an answer as to why the pizza base at Ombra Salumi Bar is so tasty in its own right.
This is where I met Carlo Grossi. “Carlo,” I asked, “why is the pizza at Ombra so delicious?”
“There’s no secret” he responded, “we are simply committed to using the best quality ingredients with utmost respect. We continually perfect our recipe and never cut corners.”
“But why is the crust so delicious? Isn’t it just a mixture of flour, water, yeast and salt?” I persisted.
“Yes, spot on Rosalin, but it’s not just ordinary flour. It comes directly from a family run farm and flour mill who prepare it for us to order. The actual flour is delicious because of the way the wheat is grown and the way we handle it at the restaurant. We’re taking a perfect ingredient and doing it justice, which explains your experience with the taste and texture of the pizza base.”
I was invited to a preview of the preparation of the pizza dough at Ombra with head pizza-maker Alex. Here’s a sneak peak (and some useful tips) on how to create the pizza dough:
But perfecting these techniques I learnt from Alex will not likely yield the delicious taste I experienced that night without the right flour. With this logic, I turned my attention to Eden Valley Biodynamic Farm in Western Australia – the very farm and mill which produces the flour used by Ombra.
What I learnt is that harvesting quality doesn’t just happen by accident, but rather through the relentless pursuit of it.
Paddock rotation and natural soil nutrient replenishment
Eden Valley Biodynamic Farm grow a mix of cereal crops and graze merino sheep for their wool. By rotating crops between years, they ensure natural reintroduction of nitrogen into the soil for future pasture phases.
Weeds will inevitably interfere with the taste and quality of the flour so getting rid of them is important to grain growers. However, unlike conventional chemical farming practices, Eden Valley handpick weeds in the spring to maintain the purity of the crop.
Ideal moisture content
In the hot, dry climate of WA, harvest is possible when the wheat has the ideal moisture content at around 12%. This eliminates the necessity for any further drying of the grains, which can alter the wholesomeness of it.
Now I know for certain that not all wheat is the same!
The conclusion of my investigation is that the flavour of the crust of Ombra’s pizza is as much influenced by the quality of the flour used as it is by the methods of making the dough.
Once again, I am taught that all of the marvellous food on our plates, that gives us all of the sustenance which we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey that leaves a footprint which is so important for us to appreciate and understand.
Psst! … we have a $50 credit for one lucky winner to spend at Ombra Salumi Bar. Simply click here.