12inchpetetreat

The place where pizza comes to be written about

Why is pizza great? The social network community responds!

Generally, I have what I believe to be a healthy distrust of Twitter. It seems to be generally a rather silly and transitory thing, heavily populated by spammers and freaks and people like this dude and people pretending to be Sam Allardyce when they are actually not. But occasionally, like a frog vomiting up its own stomach to better aid its own digestion, it throws up something startling and worthwhile and amusing, and one such endeavour was produced by the much-more-successful-journalist-than-me and Scritti Politti musician Rhodri Marsden, who in August of this year Tweeted a request for 140-characters-or-less summaries of awful first dates and was inundated with miniature accounts that were as hilarious as they were varied. Indeed, I hear that Rhodri – that’s a portrait of him up there – bagged himself a bad date book deal as a result (see: much more successful than me) and I shall be keeping an eye out for it, being as I am someone who has been on, and indeed the cause of, a great many bad dates.

Anyway, to keep the Christmas pizza blog productivity ball rolling, I decided to utilise the social media outlets of Twitter and Facebook to provoke a similar inundation of content, by simply positing this thought-provoking teaser: “Complete the following phrase: ‘Pizza is the greatest thing in the world because…?’” And what I got in return from the world out there, is about to follow. Generally, these are from Twitter, should you feel the need to seek out those who wrought them and follow them. And why shouldn’t you?

@mullies “You must not ask ‘what is great about pizza?’ You must instead ask, ‘what is NOT great about pizza?’”

Pete’s note: I can’t possibly let Rosie win this competition, but she tries again later anyway and that one is much better so that’s something to which you can look forward.

Mat Dale, Wolverhampton. “…Pete Cashmore says so!”

@comedyfish “Surely that is complete as it is.”

@lordcarla “…They demonstrate not everything can be explained.”

Pete’s note: Not only is this one of my favourite suggestions, but the good Lord then went on to try to goad Russell Grant into submitting an entry. Sadly, Russell decided to decline to take him up on it.

Grant: Simply will not be provoked into giving an opinion on pizza

@bagpuss75 “…Of the calories.”

@sharronf9eom “#ikea gift card”

Pete’s note: I suspect that this one may have come from a Spambot.

@dannyuk “…You’d never accept any other food delivered hot in a cardboard box.”

Erica Grima, Sutton. “…They were invented by the Italians.”

Holly Miller, Ironbridge. “…They’ve not yet invented triple Decker pizzas that dispense cash and give you compliments about how healthy and terrific you look.”

Adam Ralph, London. “…They potentially mean that Pete’s time on this planet will be relatively short-lived compared to someone who doesn’t base their existence on a combination of dough, cheese, tomato and toppings.”

Pete’s note: Adam is someone with whom I used to work, and whose intelligence levels are reflected in two celebrated anecdotes. One is from the time when Adam, a self-proclaimed Manchester United fan, met United’s Denis Irwin at a dinner and asked him where he was the night that United first won the Champions League. He was met with the response, “I was playing at left back.” The second comes from the day that the rapper Lethal Bizzle visited our offices, and Adam bounded up to him and said, “Can I get an autograph, please Dizzee?” Lovely chap, mind.

Lethal Bizzle: Not to be confused with Dizzee Rascal

@helenwrites “…There was an apocalypse and all other food (that isn’t cheese, bread and sauce) ceased to exist.”

@auntselly “…They are a great example of stimulus diffusion and you can make smiley faces on them with vegetables when you are lonely.”

@danbeames “…Of the cheese and the sauce and the bread and the oh great now I want a pizza.”

Robert Wilde, Leeds. “They just are. Okay?”

@MandrewB “…No matter how many times I look at this it’s still funny.”

The funny thing to which MandrewB is referring

@thegarethmclean “…Pizza adverts just tell you what’s on them and that they taste nice.”

Pete’s note: Gareth, in addition to being a superb writer, shares my – and probably your – hearty disdain for seasonally absurd perfume and aftershave adverts. In that since, this is ostensibly  a private joke between he and I. But now you can all share in it, and enjoy a terrible seasonal perfume advert by clicking here.

@EffBeeee “…You can fit every food group on one slice and can insert in mouth without any need for cutlery. Innit?”

@mullies “…Life is like a Papa John’s pizza. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Pete’s note: What Mrs Pete is referring to is the lottery-style approach to processing an order with which Papa John’s of Crouch End seem to operate. Order something seemingly simple like her favourite – chicken strips with a barbecue drizzle – and you will inevitably get something else entirely, and then you have to enter into a process of bargain and counter-bargain with the store itself, which usually takes about 20 minutes and will consist of them offering you fresh dips, free garlic bread, but never the original pizza you actually ordered. Tell them that they have gotten your order wrong yet again and they will flatly deny this has happened, even claiming to have “no record” of messing up an order before as if your own memory is not a reliable enough witness for the prosecution. Eventually exasperation will take hold and you ultimately have one and a half options left: either eating, or looking at, a pizza for which you have paid but which you did not actually order. One last avenue of recourse is to Tweet at Papa John’s nearly-inactive UK Twitter feed, or email them a complaint which will 99% certainly be ignored. This is why we tend to use Dominos nowadays, to be honest.

Matt ‘Bowski’ Sharpe, Lancaster. “…Pete Cashmore said so!”

Pete’s note: Sadly, Bowski is the second person to pursue this line of thinking, so probably won’t win. But he is an excellent battle MC and you can see him taking on another excellent battler, Innuendo, at the Barmageddon battle event in Wolverhampton on January 28th.

Bowsk dog: Has the skills to pay many household bills

Tracy Kiss, Portsmouth. “…They just ‘izza’!”

Adam ‘Mos Prob’ Felman, Brighton. “…They look exactly like Neil Sedaka.”

Pete’s note: This one might actually be in with a good shout.

Sedaka: Pizza-esque?

@katherinealee “…It’s not bloody turkey.”

@gillpea “…It’s whatever food you fancy on a ready-made plate and there’s no washing up.”

Suzy Griffiths, London. “…They are bloody tasty, there are loads of flavours and you can eat them whilst lying down.”

Suzy: Eats pizzas lying down.
Well, that’s all for the moment, although I am hoping that this one will run for a while and I can keep adding to it as more and more people are stirred from their Boxing Day sloth and feel compelled to explain their own, unique reasons for loving pizza. I can’t imagine I’ll get a book deal out of it but it should be a laugh.

Filed under: Uncategorized

The pizza nightmare before Christmas

Merry Christmas pizza lovers!

Yes, I really have done a blog entry on Christmas morning, because it’s two and a half hours until The Bull opens its welcoming doors and, quite frankly, if I don’t find something to do then I’m going to start to get the shakes. I hope you had a nice Christmas Eve and are continuing to have a nice Christmas day. I have had one pizza-related gift today, a KitchenCraft Pizza Stone set, so I am very pleased and ready to get my turkey on.

I got this for Christmas, innit?

HOWEVER. My Christmas Eve was less than perfect, and the reason why is pizza-related. See, already, I’ve drawn you in, haven’t I? My evening started, as is often the case in these festive times, at the pub, specifically The Royal Oak, my second-favourite pub in all of olde Wolverhampton town. I had a few wines there with my good friend James Brodie and then, because he wasn’t feeling too great, we decided to retire to the warmth of his flat and watch a film, in this case the Edward Zwick film Defiance, a typically Zwicky war epic about the Bielski Partisans. To accompany the film and the bottle of fine wine I was enjoying, I decided to order a pizza from Dominos and, feeling as if I should play it safe and not be too left-field in my yuletide selection, I went for what is fast becoming my regular order – a medium stuffed crust with sun-dried tomato sauce, chorizo and chicken strips. And then I waited, safe in the knowledge that I would be heartily pizzafied within the half hour.

Well, no such hearty pizzafication took place. Because what arrived (within the half hour, just like I predicted) was this.

Oh dear. Oh dearie dearie me.

Okay. Deep breath.

It’s readily apparent to anyone who reads this blog – and there are now millions of you – that I love Dominos and that Dominos are good to me, if not good for me. They give good pizza, and have really upped their game since they joined the stuff crust revolution. But… Well, look at this. For one thing, it’s obvious that they have got the order wrong and sent me chicken and pepperoni rather than chicken and chorizo, as if believing me to be entirely sausage-non-cognisant. But worse than that, just look at the greasy deposit on the bottom of this box. It is swimming in fatty run-off! This isn’t a nasty pizza like a Pizza GoGo Alligator, this is just a pizza that is nasty! So nasty that I only ate half of it.

But it got me thinking. Although I have great pizzas from Dominos all the time in London, I have never had a good one from Wolverhampton – in the days when I used to order the Double Decadence base (which I now accept to be the pizza equivalent of smoking crack in a Matalan car park) I would, in Wolverhampton, get a base literally dripping with the cheese sauce filling, rendering entire slices almost inedible simply because they were too liquid-floppy to guide into the mouth. I never had that in London. And now this soggy monstrosity, a far distant cousin to the delightfully fluffy, poised Stuffed Crusts that I order to my palatial Tulse Hill home. Which leads me to the question: are Dominos making their pizzas differently in Wolverhampton? To put it as succinctly as I can, and in the Ali G style to boot: is it because we is fat? Are Dominos pandering to, and contributing to, our natural Black Country obesity? In the future, when I order from the Wolverhampton branch, should I request the pizza “in the London style” so they know to go easy on the nasty?

So, my Christmas Eve pizza was a bit of a wash-out. But I’ll live, although having seen the size of the turkey my mom’s in the process of knocking out, possibly not for much longer. Have a very merry Christmas, and enjoy a little festive cheer by backtracking to my guide to making a Christmas deep dish pizza, stuffed with turkey and pigs in blankets. It’s the right thing to do.

This is what Christmas pizzas should look like.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Movie And A Pizza #5: Parenthood accompanied by a Topps Medium Stuffed Crust with meatballs and chicken

In any modern relationship, there has to be give and take, which is why, rather than waste precious time arguing about what films we should be watching, Rosie and I agreed that we would put a “rotation” system firmly in place, and so for every one of the “bloke” films that I make her endure, she gets to show me a “girl” film that she thinks I might like. This means that in recent weeks, I have been introduced to the delights (actual) of The Princess Bride and the delights (sarcastic) of Pretty Woman, for example. And so it came to pass that, this weekend, we decided to watch Parenthood, which I can only guess from the shoulderpads was a film made very firmly in the 1980s, and which stars Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Keanu Reeves, Leaf Phoenix (who we all now know as being Joaquin) and a bunch of other 1980s types like Martha Plimpton, who I think is dead now. To accompany this film, I went for a medium create-your-own from Topps Pizza with a garlic and herb stuffed crust, chicken and meatballs.

You are not a good film

Let’s do the pizza first. Not going to lie to you here, the pizza was almost an afterthought really, we weren’t even in a pizza frame of mind, it was, to be frank, a pizza to fill a gap rather than one to love and cherish. Ironic, then, that I would end up cherishing mine and, unless I miss my guess, young Miss Rosie liked her own serving (we did “two medium pizzas for £13.99” deal, and you cannot, as they say, be upset with that) of chicken with barbecue dip. It may not look like much, but my little beauty was fluffy and surprisingly light, with a quite subtle garlic and herb stuffed crust, rustic meatballs and chunky chicken bits. Topps’ garlic and herb dip isn’t going to win any awards – that’s assuming that there ARE awards for pizza industry dipping pots, I’m tempted to guess that there aren’t – so I ended up going it alone, but it mattered not. I would describe my Topps experience, which was probably my first for several years, as a welcome walk on the dirty side on a night when, with the wind howling outside and the radiators struggling manfully to expunge the chill in Cashmore Acres, a nice little dirty pizza is just what the soul required.

It didn't come like this - I'd eaten a slice already, you understand

What the soul DOESN’T require, though, is a toss-awful load of grievously dated 1980s navel-gazing bilge without a storyline of which to speak and precisely no sympathetic characters. To make matters worse, at one point Steve Martin wears a pair of pants so tight that you can clearly see his junk. There are no well-rounded people herein, just walking bundles of tics and neuroses – you don’t want them to work through their difficulties and achieve some collective understanding, you just want them all to burn in an unexplained electrical fire for the entire final reel. So you have Tom Hulce as a middle-aged dick with gambling debts. You have Dianne Wiest as a thin-necked she-dick with a face like a tortoise whose kids, like, TOTALLY don’t get her. You have Phoenix playing a pre-pubescent dick who, irritatingly, carries a mysterious paper bag with him wherever he goes to communicate his innter torment – I never got to find out what it was because I fell asleep, maybe it was the actual point of the film written on a stone tablet. You have Rick Moranis, a man who has never knowingly been a prominent part of any half-decent film and who did his best to befoul the sublime Ghostbusters, as a nerdy dick (what a stretch THAT must have been) trying to pipe excess knowledge into his young daughter. Basically, every major character in the film is a dick, apart from Mary Steenburgen, who is just there and cooks a lot, like gastronomic anaglypta. It’s not funny, it’s not smart, there’s no great empathy or insight into The Way We All Are here, it’s just a teeming petri dish overflowing with complainers and those about whom they complain. The only things that interested me at all were a) that the young Phoenix looks uncannily like Kieran Culkin, who plays Phoenix’s nephew in Signs (look, I was really struggling at this point) and b) director Ron Howard’s creepy brother Clint, the dude from Gentle Ben, apparently has a cameo role in all of his bro’s films. Which is nice for him. Awful film. And I’ve just done some additional research and apparently Martha Plimpton now looks like Rebecca Adlington. Here she is, look.

One of either Martha Plimpton or Rebecca Adlington, I'm not saying which

THE VERDICT

THE PIZZA: If this is what Topps can be bringing to me to accompany my Saturday night movie adventures, then they may just find they get to do it more often. Here, Topps, have an 8/10.

THE MOVIE: I don’t want to trash any movie that my beloved recommends too heavily but Parenthood is just AWFUL. She tells me that I have to watch Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Café next – they have laws against this kind of thing, right? 2/10 for Parenthood and I’m being generous.

Filed under: Movie And A Pizza

A Christmas pizza and an ambition fulfilled!

I’ve done it.

You see before you a very happy and proud man, or at least some words being typed by a very happy and proud man. You see, in addition to hoping that I could one day produce a pizza blog that was fiendishly brilliant in its execution and monolithic in terms of the hits it attracts (both aims which I have achieved with ruthless efficiency), I have always wanted to make my own pizza, from start to finish, with no help from anybody. And then eat it. And, although this may not sound difficult at all, we need to remember that a) my other half is much better at making pizzas than I am, and b) I am a man.

But I did it last night. And, more to the point, I did it in style, and did so with a seasonally-appropriate mode of presentation too. Last night, I made a – if I dare say so myself – completely magnificent Christmas Chicago-style deep dish pizza, stuffed hilariously yet deliciously with turkey and pigs in blankets. And it was a triumph, ladies and gentlemen, a ravishing festive triumph. I ate 70% of it, by way of proof, and the serving size is RIDICULOUS.

If you are in this photo, then please be aware that you are a topping and act accordingly

And here’s how I did it. First, I knocked out the dough according to the method laid down by Jamie Oliver, which is just how we do dough. Stick a base in the Cashmore 9” springform pan with a little overhang. A layer of mozzerella on the bottom (to be honest, I made a bit of a booboo here and used sliced buffalo mozzerella and didn’t squeeze out all of the liquid first, so there was a tiny bit of milky leakage when I made the first cut, but this is justified by the fact that I got to use the term “milky leakage”) and then in piles the meat. As I mentioned, this was turkey, in the form of some Bernard Matthews slices – I KNOW this is not ideal, but they did the job nonetheless – and some pigs in blankets, which were in this case party chipolatas wrapped in half-rashers of pancetta.

Pigs in blankets looking all snug in their pastry futon

On goes the lid, lots of knife holes to let out the escaping fumes, a layer of tomato, basil and chilli, and then another shredded ball of buffalo mozzerella and some grated parmesan and we’re ready to spend 40 minutes in the oven at 190 degrees.

Look at you, all warm and toasty

After twenty minutes, I covered the top of the pan with foil to present the cheese from over-browning, and dead on forty minutes I popped open that springform motherfucker (inappropriate swearing alert) and out came THIS.

Hi there everybody! I am Pete's Christmas pizza and I am the most delicious thing ever!

And when I took a slice out of it, I was met by THIS sight.

Plump sausages! Juicy melted cheese! Ay papi!

And THIS is what a slice of it looked like. And I can tell you that it tasted like sausagey, hammy, turkeyesque Heaven, and with the tree at Cashmore Acres twinkling prettily and a glass of Syrah in my hand, it finally kickstarted the Christmas spirit inside my weatherbeaten, cynical old heart. Once again, pizza is proven to be a force for good.

Four of these = happy Pete

And it keeps well too. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: tomorrow’s breakfast, today.

Son, you're headin' for a reheatin'...

Merry Christmas! Don’t worry, I’ll be posting more stuff, it just seemed appropriate to say that now. To end, here is a rare picture of me looking proud and happy, to communicate the concept that my Christmas deep dish pizza made me proud and happy.

Seasonal joy and goodwill to ALL!

Filed under: How to..., My favourite pizzas

In praise of the Pizza GoGo Alligator

You know you want me, don't you? Well, COME AND GET ME!

There are times in a man’s life when he craves a warm glass of Chateau Neuf Du Pape in a 5 star Sicily hotel, and others when only a cold pint of Strongbow in a rough-as-boots Wolverhampton pub will suffice. Likewise, there are times when a man craves the company of a witty, intelligent woman, but also times when he just wants to get off with a random in a minidress behind a bottle bank. And so it is with pizza – sometimes you may crave a wood-fired oven effort bestrewn with fancy toppings like rocket and rucola, but there are also times when you want to get nasty.

Well, on Wednesday, I decided I wanted to get nasty.

Before you start thinking that 12 Inch Pete Treat is about to go all “erotic confessional” on you all, I am still, sadly, referring to pizzas when I speak of nastiness. And when I want to get pizza-nasty, I ring up Pizza GoGo in Streatham and order their Alligator. Ah, Pizza GoGo Alligator, how I love thee! Basically, an Alligator is Pizza GoGo’s version of the all-the-meats pizza – crispy bacon, pepperoni, salami, beef and garlic sausage. It is not a pizza with a great deal of finesse, and indeed on occasion it can leave a greasy residue on the bottom of the box, as befits its nasty nature. It varies wildly in quality from branch to branch – good news for anyone who is serviced by the Sydenham branch of GoGo, because their Alligator absolutely rules the Earth – but the Streatham branch provides a very good (by which I mean, downright filthy) Alligator. Just look at it up there! That’s Wednesday night’s one, by the way. Look at all that meat!

Add a garlic and herb stuffed crust to the mix (GoGo’s stuffed edges are surprisingly un-nasty and bring a little refinement to proceedings, like finding out that the tattoo on the back of that random in a minidress is actually a quote from Sartre) and you really do have yourself a winning nasty pizza. I recommend you order a couple of GoGo’s agreeably fiery chilli dips too. The good thing about the GoGo sizing system is that the large is never quite enough – it’s not particularly, well, LARGE – so you have to go XL, which means 15 glorious inches of nastiness to enjoy. You won’t eat it all, but the Alligator lends itself particularly well to breakfast reheating.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Pizza GoGo Aligator. Baby, you are NASTY.

Filed under: My favourite pizzas

A declaration of transparency

The noble blogger, seen here kissing a cherubic infant

The many, many thousands of viewers who flock to 12 Inch Pete Treat on an hourly basis do so to take delight in my fanciful dissections of the world of the pizza and the wild, dizzying esoterica that it attracts. However, there are, in among those satisfied hordes, a tiny, dissenting few who object to my innocent love of all things doughy. “Come off it, Cashmore!” they trumpet. “This isn’t really a labour of love for you, any more than your humble south-west London one-bed is the Palace Of sodding Versailles! You’re just in it for the short con, the quick takedown, the fast buck! Are we making ourselves clear here? We think you’re only doing it to get free pizzas, Pete! And we’d have a lot more respect for you if you’d just admit it!”

Well, to these people I say this: firstly, I do not need your respect, as I am not a hip-hop musician from the early 1990s looking for a lucrative dotage farting out lacklustre appearances on posse cuts. I’d like to be one of those, but I’m not. That’s by the by, however – my main source* of pique is at the notion that I am only doing this blog on pizzas in order to gain further free pizzas to blog about. The very idea horrifies me, and has indeed made me burst into unreasonable tears in several major supermarkets (and the only reason I am usually at supermarkets is to PAY FOR PIZZAS WITH MY OWN HARD-EARNED MONEY, to add irony to injury). Even so, my constant assurances that I am in it to write about dough, rather than scrimp on it, are not enough to satisfy some cynics, whose views are as unshakeable as a cocktail shaker that for some reason has been constructed in a manner that makes it unfit for purpose due to a basic inability to be shaken despite its being a cocktail shaker. If anybody has a better simile for unshakeability than that, frankly, I’m all ears.

A cocktail shaker, of the type used in Pete's poor-quality simile (see above)

So, in order to silence my detractors (and you know who you are, Paul Snett of Derby and Gareth Chkäk of South Wales) once and for all, I have decided to issue a full, honest and entirely transparent declaration of everything that I have gained in my time as Wolverhampton’s foremost pizza blogger, like when that journalist bloke revealed all his income and it was a fuck of a sight more than what I earn. If I publish and be damned by all, then so be it, but I will go to my grave with a clear conscience. And with my diet in its current state, that could be a lot sooner than you think.

A DECLARATION OF ALL RECEIVINGS BY PETE CASHMORE OF THE 12 INCH PETE TREAT PIZZA BLOG

1. One Dominos pizza key-ring, presented as a gift to girlfriend, and four Dominos pens, which I now use to do notes.

A keyring that I gave to the missus

2. Six vouchers of a value up to and including £2.99 for Goodfellas pizza, to be used to sample their new range of stuff, as yet unredeemed (I start this weekend).

I got given six of these, OKAY?

3. An invitation from Dominos Pizza to spend a day in the new year sometime working as a pizzaiola in one of their restaurants, an invitation which quite frankly is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life.

4. A meeting with a corporate promotional character called Danny Domino.

Danny Domino, apparently being mugged

So you see. Given that points three and four have no fiduciary value whatsoever (with all due respect to the good people of Dominos, it’s not like I can sell my place to someone else who wants to spend a day working as a pizza chef, it’s hardly a seat on the first commercial space flight) my total declared “income” for sweating blood over 12 Inch Pete Treat is just over £20. To put it another way, I am not corrupt, and cannot be corrupted, not with free pizzas, nor complimentary sides, nor all the dips my shelves may hold.

Gratuitous kitten shot

That said, if you happen to work for Papa John’s, Pizza GoGo, Tops, Firezza or Strada, you could at least have a crack at it, yeah?

* Clever  reference to 1990s hip-hop

Filed under: Uncategorized

Let’s get more dough: More battle rappers and their favourite pizzas

None of these rappers appear in the actual feature. Sorry to be misleading.

Never say that Pete of 12 Inch Pete Treat fame does not notice what is going on in his hit count, identify reasons as to why it might be happening, and act accordingly. A couple of weeks back, we all enjoyed hearing about the favourite pizzas of some of the finest MCs from the Don’t Flop rap battle league, the likes of Sprungy, Bowski, Sigourney Phizzle and Cruger merrily informing us what they like when the time comes to be dropping some topping. And my hit count went through the roof, because Eurgh, the Don’t Flop head honcho, is a popular man and pimped it for me. Well, it’s time once again to enjoy the Midas touch of the man, because I’m going back to Don’t Flop for more. Besides, I hardly scratched the surface, and Enlish (see below) objected that I hadn’t included him. In the words of Eurgh himself, “90 seconds, let’s GO!”

Innuendo. “Doner meat, ham, tandoori chicken, pepperoni, chorizo, spicy meatballs, red onions, mushrooms, sweetcorn, green peppers and jalapenos… However, when it’s 5am and I can’t stand up I usually just say ‘throw a little bit of everything on that kidder.’ I think KFC would make good pizzas, imagine a bargain bucket on a pizza base with Zinger sauce! Wow!”

Innuendo: mates with goths

Suus. “Four cheese stuffed crust, every day. From Spain.” [Editor’s note – Suus then vanished, and neglected to explain if he got all of his pizzas from Spain, despite living, I believe, in Newcastle]

Suus: cupcakes make him angry

Unanymous. “Whichever pizza is most likely to bring on a cardiac arrest, the only stipulation being it has to have at least three meats on it and be a deep pan. WHUT!”

Unanymous: I almost printed a pic of him from a wedding but decided to play nice

Mr Cosmo. “Quatro Formaggio with extra chillis, jalapenos and fresh spinach from Basilico. I used to work there.”

Mr Cosmo: pictured here with his sister

Verb T. “The prosciutto from Strada. It’s just the most delicious foodstuff ever invented, pretty much. Its thin crust is not overly doughy, not too cheesy, but at the same time it’s not a barren tomato wasteland, and the ham is light and not greasy. Strada are dope!”

Verb T: no silly photos available at this time

Mixy. “Papa John’s is the one I reckon, bruv. Good to see you expressing your love for the pizza. I’m all about chicken, beef, pepperoni and peppers… maybe doner meat… and bacon… and maybe a bit of sweetcorn.” [Pete’s note: clearly Papa John’s don’t actually do doner meat as a topping, but THEY SHOULD]

Mixy: eyes of Satan

Ketz. “Pizza GoGo, the two medium pizzas for £8.95 offer, both of them BBQ Chicken Feast.”

Ketz: he wishes

JollyJay. “Dominos provides a decent munchy munch I guess but it’s still crap to me. The thinner the better, nothing like a good original Italian pizza which covers the entire plate because it’s too wide. Sorry it’s not exactly hilarious but it’s how I feel. Any Yank who claims Americans invented pizza must be having a laugh!”

JollyJay: throws his hands up

Tyni. “If I’m at home in the pit of Boozetown the it’s the La Cuchina Special – chorizo, Italian bacon, caramelised red onions, garlic, sweetcorn, red chillies, gorgonzola, peppers… But NEVER with the sweetcorn, failing that a Bolognese pizza fom Oregano’s or if it’s Tuesday Dominos get hit up for two Meatylicious pizzas with Double Decadence bases. That’s right, three pizzas because that’s how the Big Man gets down!”

Tyni: Much too large for me to openly mock in an open forum

Blizzard. “It’s got to be a traditional Meat Feast and it’s got to be from Dominos.”

Blizzard: punching way above his weight

TC Johnston. “Half Veggie Supreme, Half Meat Feast with loads of garlic and herb dips from Dominos, because I like meat (pause) and the Veggie Supreme kinda makes you feel like you’re being healthy at the same time because it’s got so many vegetables on it.”

TC: will definitely retweet this piece as @ceezlin, just watch, he'll do it in the next 10 minutes

Pedro. “I like Meat Feast with cheese filled crust from Pedro’s Pizza. It’s an actual pizza shop, it does exist, I’m not just making it up. It’s in Ruislip!”

Pedro: glows in the dark

Wizard. “I don’t eat pizzas. I eat KFC.” [Pete’s note: this is by far and away the best response by anybody. Better recognise]

Big Wiz: when he clap at your legs, you'll be walking like one of them special people

AND THE GRAND FINALE… IT’S BIG DAVE LO!

Enlish. Before I tell you what my favourite kind of pizza is, I would like to point out that a number of my battle rapping spars prefer a meat / sausage-based pizza, which given the events many of them attend on a regular basis, comes as little surprise to me. It also shocks me to find that many prefer Dominos, which in my humble opinion is more akin to the Fray Bentos of Italian bread-based meals, as this short video will illustrate.

Enlish: actually had the decency to provide me with a pizza-related image

Anyway, having travelled the world far and wide on pizza fact-finding missions, my personal favourite would be a vegetable pizza with a solid base of mushroom, onion and sweetcorn. Seafood comes a close second but can be hit and miss so, depending on establishment, I choose carefully. I can take or leave the meat, unlike a lot (but not all) of my compadres, who clearly like to bring the sausage party home with them or, indeed, have the hot sausage delivered to their doors.
SO NOW YOU KNOW. Thanks, as ever, to Team Don’t Flop. Next event is, I believe,in Leeds on February 5th. Be there. There will be bread.

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Codsall: pizza capital of THE WORLD

Pleasant leafy Codsall in all her glory

Warning: this blog post may contain wistfulness.

I come from, and am currently staying contentedly in, a village near Wolverhampton called Codsall. Not much happens in Codsall – the wrestler William Regal is from here, a few years back a train with a crane on its back knocked our station’s footbridge over, that’s about it. Codsall is so sleepy that for a while I was listed on its Wikipedia page as a “notable Codsall resident.” Desperate times. Actually, I still am. Lordy.

And yet we have three pizzerias!!!

Yes, incredibly, the village in which I grew up has not one, not two, but three active pizzerias, including the most incongruously positioned branch of Papa John’s in all of Christendom. It’s Pizza Central all up in this bitch! So let me take you by the hand and show you through the streets of Codsall. I’ll show you something that will, if not change your mind (thanks, Ralph McTell) then certainly make it think, “That’s quite a high concentration of pizzerias, isn’t it?”

A local pizzeria for local people

FRESCA. The nearest to my family home as the crow flies, or indeed walks for that matter, Fresca is a fancy little joint with laudable delusions of fanciness. Quite honestly, I couldn’t quite believe it when it opened up, and practically set up camp in anticipation of its opening. I had their 12″ festa di carne and it was… pretty meh, actually. It was like a superior supermarket pizza, and if I want one of those, I’ll go to a superior supermarket. It was ages ago and I don’t have a photo of it, so here’s one of me making my feelings known about the next contestant.

Father! FATHER!

This way, there be toppings

PAPA JOHN’S. This truly is baffling. Even now, I cannot reason it out. Why would Papa John open one of his stores in sleepy little Codsall, other than to pay me back for my years of support? There’s just no other explanation for it. Anyway, I haven’t eaten from the Codsall branch of Papa John’s yet, but it’s nice to know that it’s there. You never know when you might have an emergency to which Papa John’s is the only solution. These things happen. And finally…

Hello, I am a menu

LUCIANO’S. I believe I am right in saying that Luciano’s is the longest-serving pizzeria in Codsall. But I haven’t eaten a pizza from there and so they can’t say they have arrived yet. Sorry. It’s in Bilbrook and I’m fucked if I’m hauling my carcass all the way over there.

So there you have it. The village that raised me is also a village that raises a very large amount of pizza dough, which is exactly as it should be. If you should ever happen to visit Codsall, be sure to visit The Bentlands pub, where, in the height of late summer, Rosie and I played an epic game of Scrabble. I think there may even be a plaque there to commemorate it. They serve draft wine there, and there’s not enough of that in this modern world of ours. Sigh…

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At last, an actual pizzeria review! Jamie Oliver’s Union Jack’s, London

This is not Union Jack's, this is actually The Union Jack, my work local. Try it, it's a good boozer

Well, it had to happen eventually.

Union Jack’s, as you are informed almost as soon as you sit down, is a collaborative pizzeria established by Jamie Oliver (who I was desperate to illustrate with an image from Shooting Stars of Matt Lucas as The Naked Chef, but I couldn’t find one) and Chris Bianco, who is a pizzeria owner from Phoenix, Arizona, albeit a pizzeria where people queue for hours just to get a table. Note to self: move to Arizona.

Given that Rosie had been once already THE PREVIOUS NIGHT and readily agreed to attend again, my hopes were ratcheted pretty high, buoyed by tales of toppings like oxtail and brisket, neither of which I believe I have eaten AT ALL, let alone on top of my favourite gastronomic medium. Remarkably, given the buzz about Union Jack’s, there were free tables a-plenty and we were straight in and sat down, and so my hopes ratcheted themselves back down again. The vibe is self-consciously upscale-diner in decor but resolutely Britpop in unobtrusive soundtrack (I’m aware I am starting to sound like a wanker already, my apologies) and almost immediately a waiter swoops in and gives you the spiel about the restaurant philosophy with all the emotional commitment of a Mandarin-Chinese-speaking robot reading pidgin English from a faulty autocue, something I could well do without and yet which I imagine I will get again if I should ever return to darken its doors again*. And then they hand you the menu, and you open it up and have a look.

My GOD, it’s cheap. It’s so cheap. We had starter, pizza, ice cream, all accompanied by a pint each of delightful beer from the Brit-centric drinks menu (Dandelion And Burdock in this muhfugga, yo!) and it came to THIRTY SIX QUID. I mean, COME ON! That’s crazy VFM! But cheap, as anyone who has ever been out on a date with me will attest, does not always mean cheerful. Was the food any good?

Chicken livers on London bloomer: geezer!

THE STARTER. Well, I can tell you that this frickin’ was. I had chicken livers on London bloomer bread and it was absolutely bastard fantastic, creamy and rich and full of soft onion and generous in portion size. That may well be, though, but it’s not a pizza so let’s get on to the main event. What is this, an in-flight magazine?

I think this picture is upside down, but you get the idea. Sardines in the area!

THE PIZZA. I went for the basic Margaret pizza (see what they did there? It’s an Anglocentric version of the marguerita so it’s the Margaret!) with Cornish sardines. I chanced my arm. I went out on a limb. I risked it. What I was hoping for was that the sardines would not be mimsy little filleted affairs. I wanted skin. I wanted bone. I wanted, in the words of Quint from Jaws, “the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.” Well, I didn’t get the heads (which is actually a bonus, now I think of it) but I did get five not-so-little fishes spread across a hefty, crispy-but-not-crumbly thin crust pizza about 11 inches in diameter, the crispiness serving as a contrast to the juiciness of the ample layer of tomato sauce, and the fish (RIP) themselves. I will not labour the point of whether or not I liked this pizza (and indeed the bit of Rosie’s, another Margaret with oxtail and brisket, that she could bring herself to share with me) – I will merely leave you with this image of my plate when I decided I was through eating, and it will provide its own review.

My actual empty plate, last night

After all that (and some ice cream that is ONE POUND FIFTY for a more-than-ample scoop), you even get a little souvenir Union Jack’s badge to tell the world that you have been there.

I now have one of these. The green tartan one

Criticisms? The opening spiel is unnecessary, as were the constant enquiries from hovering waiting staff about whether or not we were enjoying the food. They practically need a cable car to get you down to the toilets and back up again, and the sprawling, airy food mall in which Union Jack’s is situated is a bit of a romance killer. But you just can’t argue with the prices, the food quality, the beer quality and above all, a free badge! A FREE, GOSH-DARNED FLIPPING BADGE!

* I will

Ah, go on then: here are the two chefs

Filed under: Pizzeria reviews