THE FOREST FLOOR

The aroma of mushroom-laden pizzas in my kitchen brought to mind the fanciful art of describing smell. There was a brief period in my early twenties when I was inclined to wear fragrance. I’d fallen hard for a bottle of Sel Marin, profiled by its maker as having top notes of lemon, Italian bergamont and beech leaf; middle notes of sea salt, moss and algae; and base notes of cedar, musk and leather. “Sun, warm sand and a gentle breeze of fresh sea air,” it promised, “A refreshing and striking note of lemon fades to reveal an aquatic green algae note, while vetiver and drift woods of cedar and birch dry slowly in the sand and salty sea air.” Now if I had to sell these pizzas at a perfume counter, I’d seduce you this way: “After a late April thunderstorm, warm rays of light break through the canopy, lifting steam from the forest floor with notes of fresh herbs and broken pine needles giving way to a musky waft of wet soil, decaying wood, and charcoal from a long extinguished fire.” Anyone hungry?

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PIZZA with BLACK TRUMPET MUSHROOMS & TALEGGIO  

1 12-inch round of homemade pizza dough
1 heaping handful of fresh black trumpet mushrooms
6-7 slices of Taleggio cheese
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
1 farm egg
chopped chives for garnish

Make the pizza dough ahead of time. Heat a pizza stone for one hour in the center rack of your oven, set at its highest setting. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch pie. Place the cheese slices on the pizza, followed by the mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper all over. Transfer to pizza stone in the oven and bake until the crust is reaching golden brown. Crack an egg into the center of the pizza and bake for 2 minutes longer. Turn on the broiler if necessary to achieve a charred crust. Remove from oven, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with chives.

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PIZZA with HEN OF THE WOODS MUSHROOMS & RICOTTA  

Follow the same instructions as above except spoon clumps of ricotta onto the pizza along with a broken-up clump of Hen of the Woods (Maitake) mushrooms. This pizza has a more intense mushroom flavor than the black trumpets, which have a smoky, somewhat fruity but still fairly mellow flavor.

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