Esse Fire Stone with pizza

Who doesn’t love a perfect pizza, freshly cooked, crispy base with cheese oozing from the sides and a tasty topping? At Peaks and Pods headquarters, it was something that we decided we wanted to offer from very early on.

It was my cousin John, a writer for Cycling Plus Magazine, who really got me thinking about pizzas. When I asked him what cyclists really want after a hard day’s ride, the thing at the top of his list was FOOD. Of course barbecuing is always a popular way to cook in the great outdoors, guests may not always want to go to the trouble of lighting a barbecue, waiting for it to reach the right temperature, or flipping burgers under an umbrella. What better, we pondered, than a wood-fired oven that guests can use to cook pizzas in just minutes?

We’d already planned to provide a sheltered space for bike storage and maintenance, somewhere guests could stretch their legs and admire the view away from their pods. This could be the perfect place for an outdoor oven. Now we just had to choose one.

A trawl of the internet gave us the usual dilemma of which one to pick. There are many different designs for all budgets. We wanted our wood-fired oven to be easy to use, top quality and contemporary. We finally chose Esse’s Fire Stone oven, made at a foundry only ten miles from Peaks and Pods. The oven gave us exactly what we were after, and we were pleased to support a local manufacturing company.

Our Fire Stone came on its own pedestal and can be rotated to face away from high winds and wet weather – perfect for our unpredictable Yorkshire weather. One feature that really sold it to us was its glazed door, just like our wood-burning stove at home and perfect for keeping your eye on the food inside.

Of course, we needed to practise using it before being ready for our Peaks and Pods guests. How do we light it properly? How many logs does it need? How long does it take to reach optimum temperature? Cue the carb-fuelled weekends of early spring, scoffing pizza until we could take no more (well, at least not until the last one had settled!) We’ve had soggy bottoms, charred bottoms and frankly superb bottoms in our quest for the perfect pizza. We’ve toasted halloumi, cooked a whole chicken (note to self – always cover a roast!), and mastered delicious garlic bread. Sometimes our pizzas have been homemade from scratch, and sometimes we have bought fresh pizzas ready to cook at short notice.

Soon our oven will be relocated to its new home at ‘The Hub’ at Peaks and Pods, and the guests in our luxury camping pods will be able to try their hand at cooking their own perfect pizzas every Friday and Saturday night. Just don’t forget to bring something nice to drink to wash it down with!