I am known to many of my friends as the “fearless” one because I will have an idea of something I want to do and then I will simply do it. Like the year I decided to become a gypsy and travel to the homes of other artists I know to explore how an artist lives with the notion that life in itself is the greatest form of art. From Hollywood where I watched Timothy Ernst create glorious, voluptuous miniature collages and DJ mixes until dawn punctuated by long talks on his balcony overlooking urbanity to the vast and sprawling hillsides along the Danube with Austrian artist Hans Stone, placing the stones of his social sculpture along the river and through the cities and then back home to an all-nighter in the desert with singer Nicky Vallee as we cooked delicious meals accented by her lush voice and the finger-plucked strings of her guitar.
The word Gypsy has a pejorative history, one of being correlated with thieves and manipulative sirens. But I took the word and turned it into art giving it a new definition that centered on the idea of spontaneously roaming, without agenda, but only the notion that with each visit there would be the spirit of freedom and the impetus to create something together.
Recently, I was visiting the desert and learned that Nicky had just launched her own wine called Gypsy Red for Paul Cullen Wines so I invited her over to celebrate through the collaborative concoction of some homemade pizza. She brought the pizza stone, dough and a bottle of the $13 Merlot-Zinfandel blend, which is described as being spicy with a little juicy fruit.
Homemade pizza is quite unlike restaurant pizza. You go into it knowing that it will be strange and unusual, badly misshapen and that the toppings have the potential to be wild and creative. This is what makes it special, the knowledge that no one but you will ever be able to duplicate that particular pie.
It was late afternoon when she arrived and in honor of our love for 1970s music, I flipped Pandora onto the Ambrosia station. We used Trader Joe’s whole-wheat dough and rolled out two circles. For the first one, we topped it with barbecue sauce and barbecue pulled chicken that I had made tenderly the night before. On top of that went thin slices of red onion and a sprinkling of cilantro. Once pulled from the piping hot oven, we layered it with fresh slices of ripe avocado.
The second pizza was a shot in the dark that turned out deliciously right on target. The sauce was a custom vinaigrette of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and freshly squeezed Satsuma tangerine and tree-picked grapefruit juice spread beneath a flaky layer of pan seared salmon chunks, buffalo mozzarella daubs and a sprinkling of fresh lavender from the Cute Gardener’s garden.
Both pizzas turned out exquisite, good enough that I want to replicate them many times over, and even better as leftovers the next day. The wine went perfectly with the meal and in honor of Stevie Nicks who inspires Nicky musically and life-wise, a line from one of her best-known songs that is most appropriate for the occasion.
“To the gypsy that remains, who faces freedom with a little fear…”