Brining and Curing Anchovies for Pizza Metro il “Gilda”

I’ve been to Italy 6 times in my life and have never experienced the kind of friendship, comfort and down-home hospitality as in Holiday House Gilda in Positano. Giuseppe, Gilda, Daniella and Rosa are amazing in the way they welcome you and see to your every need as you relax at this cliffside slice of paradise.

I have this small thought that they must be terribly annoyed by us, the spastic small business owner pizza freaks, constantly talking about the pizza that is gonna win the World Pizza Championships and take the world by storm in Salsomaggiore, Italy.

Today, I’ll finish preping for a marinated anchovy pizza with asparagus, mozzarella, Parmesan and fresh cherry tomatoes finished with chopped roasted almonds. I tell Giuseppe and Gilda my goal of destroying all competitors at the pizza competition and after several minutes of giggling, they said they are happy to help.

Eating my way though Positano with fellow American restaurant owners Mike, Bruno and Tom.

Yesterday, I blasted the whole mountainside with the fatty-sweet smell of sauteed guanciale (pork jowl) that I sweated in the kitchen in my room. (You have to cook this stuff or your pizza will be way too greasy.) I heard Gilda talking and instantly thought she was mad at the amount of pork smell this process produced. As she entered my room, and I turned into the 5 year-old I really am inside, she smiled, and asked for a bite. “Beautiful” she said, and walked out. What a class act!

My three great friends who helped me time and time again; Bruno, Rosa and Mike .

Bruno went to Naples and got owners of famous pizza places to let him throw pizzas. Today he went to Trianon, one of the oldest and respected pizzerias in the world. (pictures to follow). I stayed with Giuseppe today foraging for fresh veggies, then descended the steps to the secluded beach for a cold swim.

Last night, Bruno, our travelling companions Mike and Tom, and I made 2 bigas. A biga is a pre-fermented dough we add to another batch of dough to make the final product more digestable, taste better and perform better in any pizza compeitition. Bruno’s looks much better.

Right now, check out how Giuseppe and Gilda showed me the right way to brine and cure fresh anchovy. These are the freshest anchovies I’ve ever encountered and are a totally different taste than the flattened, salted fish-leather we are all used to in the States.

Now, here’s the goon totally screwing it up. (What a know-it-all.)

After the overnight cure of salt, vinegar and lemon juice, Giuseppe rinses the fish twice and pats them dry. He adds them to a marinade of salt, extra virgin olive oil (crushed from the trees outside our window), small thin slices of garlic, and peperoncini (hanging on the wall after being grown from the garden outside).

After a double-flushing of cold water, Giuseppe drains the anchovies for a few minutes before patting dry.

Now is time for Giuseppe’s final flourish of olive oil, salt, garlic and pepper flakes.

Tomorrow we leave for the 8-hour trip to Salsomaggiore. After covering Rome for a day and staying down south here in Positano, it will be nice to “Get to it”. Earlier today, we went to a grocery store in Sorrento. As we walked in, Bruno pointed at me and exclaimed very loudly, John, the compeition starts NOW!” Then he ran to the back of the store. You could have heard a pin drop as I stood there, trying to  find the things I needed through the stares of the locals. Bruno was right. This was gonna be a tough competition.

See you in Salso.

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