Backyard Pizza Party!

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I met Gaby a few years ago on a trip through Chile and then later we were travel companions again through Brazil. We bonded over Pisco Soursred lips, and avocados (Gaby is VERY serious about them). I taught her the term “on brand” as a way to get in or out of any situation, and she taught me that slutty brownies are the greatest thing on Earth. Gaby is that west coast girl I fantasize I could be- healthy, fit, tan, on it, bikes everywhere, doesn’t drink eight cups of coffee a day like I do, and makes the most amazing food on the internets.

When she found out we were heading west to LA this week she called up her best friends and creative soul mates: food photographer Matt Armendariz and food & prop stylist Adam Pearson and threw together a backyard pizza party in our honor. Knowing that Ecco Domani pairs well with pizza parties, Kevin and I brought over a mirage of wines by Ecco Domani to pair with the different style pizzas from the red Merlot to the Pinot Grigio and ended the night sipping on the sweet prosecco by the outdoor fire.

Being a New Yorker, anytime I get to go to someone’s freestanding home is thrilling, and this backyard setup was one of the best I’ve ever been to. Matt and Adam have been working together for 10 years as a photography & styling duo for multiple cookbooks and industry giants such as the Food Network and in the new media world for places like Gaby’s site. Aside from curating a beautiful historic 1920’s Long Beach Home, running a successful studio that banks on editorial style and natural light, they were also married seven years ago on the first day same sex marriage became legal in California.

Cooking, eating, and hanging out with three major foodies comes with a bounty of tips and new recipes to update your traditional pizza. Pizza is one of mine and Kevin’s favorite at-home meals which typically occurs on Sunday night paired with a bottle of red wine and Game of Thrones. Of course it would be different taking this pizza party out west with old friends and new. Matt and Adam set up a pizza topping station where you could customize your own pie while we all hung out, caught up on our world travels, enjoying that perfect LA weather with our California sun kissed skin.

It’s nice to be reminded that the best things in life are shared memories with friends over good food and great wine. I hope this inspires you to have your own pizza party with friends or family and try out one of the recipes below and, of course, any pizza can only made better with a bottle of Ecco Domani.

 {PS- I brought one of my old Polaroid cameras some impossible film to take some instant party pics, the kind you can hold on to and rediscover one day in an old shoe box. You’ll see some of the moments developed below!} 

Scroll down for new recipe ideas and pizza cooking tips Adam & Gaby!

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For your pizza party, arrange jars of a variety of ingredients for guests to mix and match their favorite flavors and try to add some surprises such as roasted corn, jalapeño, green onions and soy-rizo (soy version of chorizo!).

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We always make our own dough, it’s so easy and makes the whole pizza process even more fun. Gaby’s recipe for homemade pizza dough

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This was totally new for me and now I’m completely obsessed: What’s Gaby Cooking’s Cilantro Vinaigrette as a pizza base. It was so fresh, summery and amazing with the roasted corn. 

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Cilantro Vinaigrette, jack cheese, mozzarella, cheese, roasted corn, cherry tomatoes, soy-rizo, green onions and jalapeños! 

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Being great hosts, they set up an amazing cheese plate for us to snack on while the pizzas were in the oven. Here is a great guide to entertaining cheese plates. Kevin and I brought three varieties of Ecco Domani to pair with the cheese, pizzas and dessert- full bodied Merlot, light and crisp Pinot Grigio, and the fizzy subtly sweet Prosecco

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One of Adam’s tricks to a crispy pizza crust is layer the dough with sliced mozzarella first before apply the sauce and toppings, including fresh mozzarella, which acts as a barrier of ingredients to the dough making a firmer crust. 

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I love jalapeños. Adam blew my mind when he threw in a few with some of the classics like the above. He pointed out it not only added color and texture (crunch) but that nice rich note with a bit of heat that does more for a pizza than the traditional red pepper flakes. I can’t wait to do this at home!

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Gaby made us her favorite fattoush salad with its Lebanese influence and loads of color. A perfect light and flavorful balance to the richness of pizza. 

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Thank you Gaby, Matt & Adam for this fun memory!