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The place where pizza comes to be written about

Pizza and a box set: The brilliance of The Wire, and my presence in it

Bubbles: has troubles

This one is going out to Luke Mackay, who can probably make a better pizza than I ever will.

Last month, for a variety of reasons, I was more or less forced into doing something drastic, and joining a gymnasium. I’m not happy about it, but them’s the breaks. I am also cycling to work a lot too, and not eating as much pizza, hence the rather scattered nature of recent postings hereon. Anyway, what all this exercise means is that I am usually spark out by about 10pm, and also rather knackered when I get home from work. So knackered am I, on occasion, that I don’t want to cook, as was the case last night. And last night, after a few good weeks of restraint, I folded, and got Dominos on the blower. And then I put on season one of The Wire, a dinner/DVD decision which was taken by many of my peers to be a good one (see below).

Praise for my decision to get a pizza and watch The Wire

I love The Wire. I know it’s a cliché nowadays to say it’s the best TV show in the entire history of ever, but some clichés, of course, become clichés because they stem from a kernel of absolute truth. The Wire really is that good, and in loving it as I do, I am simply exhibiting basic good sense and taste. But there’s another reason why I love it, which is that YOU CAN SEE MY WORK ON SCREEN IN EVERY SERIES OF THE WIRE. Yes, in a roundabout way, something that I wrought with my own fair hands, appears in every series of The Best TV Show That Ever There Was.

Jimmy McNulty: judgment sometimes faulty

Okay, to explain. Regular visitors to this virtual pizzeria will know that my first job was as a sub-editor, and then as a deputy editor, on a porn magazine, specifically Club magazine for the US market. You may even recall that, for a time, I was the ghost writer for Jenna Jameson, and, given the amount of hits that the merest presence of her name generated for this tinpot organisation the last time I mentioned her name, I am happy to reiterate this point once more.

I was there when we did this photoshoot!

Now, in the grand scheme of porn magazine things, Club magazine came a very distant fourth place behind the Big Three of Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler, none of whom actually consider themselves to be porn magazines, bless them. Club was very much the leader in a chasing pack that included the likes of Swank, High Society, Cheri, Genesis, and crikey, I really am trolling for blog hits now.

Carver and Herc: puttin' in work

We may not have sold much, but one thing Club was very good at was getting ourselves product placement in films and TV shows – our team aggressively targeted film studios and TV companies to let them know that, if they needed adult magazines as a prop for a scene, Club would be happy to furnish them with all the copies they needed, something which the Big Three apparently refrained from doing. As a result, you can see copies of Club festooned about the place in the likes of Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin… Indeed, in Little Miss Sunshine, when the camper van is pulled over by a cop and he finds a stash of porn magazines in the trunk, he picks up a copy of The Best Of Club that I compiled, and you can quite clearly make out the cover line ‘Janine Shakes It In Your Face’ – and that’s one of mine! Likewise, when Michael Madsen is killed in Kill Bill 2, he falls over and knocks over a huge pile of Club magazines in his trailer. The top one falls open at the Up Front section, a porn news round-up WRITTEN BY ME – it’s at 1:37 on the clip to which I have linked.

Dead Michael Madsen and some smut that I wrote

Anyway. One of the TV shows who embraced the presence of Club magazine the most enthusiastically was The Wire – it’s up there in every series, and indeed I once asked the show’s creator David Simon about its recurrence and he revealed that it became a bit of a running gag in the show. I hesitate to ever use the phrase “how cool is that?” but HOW COOL IS THAT? Anyway, the long and short of it is that every issue of Club magazine that is featured in The Wire comes from my spell as deputy editor, when one of my duties was the writing of pithy, amusing, often distressingly pun-laded lines for the cover. So when, in season one, Herc is seen reading a copy of the magazine while on a stake-out, that’s my work you can see there being clutched by his meaty mitts. In season two, when dockers’ union boss Frank Sobotka’s flabby sidekick Horseface is seen leering at a copy, he is leering at something WHAT I MADE. Seasons three and four see Jay Landesman reading well-thumbed copies around his office, well-thumbed because MY PUNS WERE SO BLOODY GOOD. And it also features in season five, although I can’t for the life of me remember where, because that’s my least favourite season. Everybody knows that journalists aren’t that noble.

Omar Little: indeed

So there you have it. The Wire, and my tenuous but not completely unremarkable presence in it. All that remains is to report that I accompanied the first two episodes of season one with a medium stuffed crust with chicken and spicy beef from Dominos and it was ace – the base was as thin as I think as I’ve ever had on a stuffed crust, while the crust itself was extravagantly plump and oozing piping herby cheese. Simple pleasures, dear pizza lovers, simple pleasures.

To finish, lest we forget what this blog is all about, here's the pizza I had last night

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Filed under: Movie And A Pizza, Uncategorized, Weird stuff from the pizza world

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

Move And A Pizza #4: The Other Guys, accompanied by a heavily pimped Co-Op Chargrilled Chicken

Okay, so we weren’t away that long.

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, and so am I, on account of this blog. So for this week’s Movie And A Pizza, I decided to opt for a “slimline” pizza and go for a Co-Op chargrilled chicken (700 calories, which makes it the stick of celery of the pizza world), which I augmented with some buffalo mozzerella, chilli flakes and honey roast ham, and some Pizza Hut garlic and herb dip (thereby negating the slimline nature of the pizza in the first place), to accompany The Other Guys, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.

First up, the film. Now, at first glance, The Other Guys seems like it might be a bit, well, cretinous. Absurd, pointlessly pyrotechnic opening scene, Samuel L. Jackson shouting in that way that he tends to use to compensate for the paucity of the material (Deep Blue Sea, anyone?), and an early crap joke involving a hot dog vendor. So far, so not-very-good. Almost all of the chief characters seem thoroughly unlikable, Will Ferrell is doing that Will Ferrell stiff-backed-nerd-in-a-world-of-jocks act that he often does. It feels for all the world like a Hollywood high-concept action comedy stuffed full of stars (Jackson! Ferrell! Wahlberg! Keaton! Coogan! The Rock! Ray Stevenson from Rome! Eva Mendes! Erm, Anne Heche…?) instead of any good jokes.

Well, stick with it. Really. Because as it develops, it soon blossoms into a series of extremely funny scenes which, although held together by the flimsiest of plots, are consistently what we in the movie reviewing game call “a hoot” in the hope that we’ll bag a poster quote out of it. Because that’s why us journalists get into the game in the first place, to be quoted on posters. There’s a very funny scene where the excellently twitchy, thwarted Wahlberg goes for dinner with his partner Ferrell for the first time, and finds with increasing disbelief that he is not only married to Eva Mendes’ stunning arse doctor (she’s an arse doctor who is stunning, not a doctor who only works on stunning arses) but he also a) doesn’t appear to find her very attractive and b) seemingly has an entire life history of similarly stunning girlfriends. There’s an even funnier scene when Wahlberg and Ferrell attempt to do a nice-and-nasty routine on Steve Coogan’s crooked banker, but Ferrell thinks that they are both meant to be playing the bad guy and beats the crap out of Coogan, something I’d assume we’d all enjoy doing. There’s a superb running gag about the fact that Wahlberg’s character became an expert ballet dancer and classical musician in his youth specifically so that he could mock “cissy kids” with his proficiency at their activities, and a truly masterful “love scene” in which Mendes, holed out at her ageing mother’s staked-out house, communicates her desire to a hiding Ferrell (and vice versa) by sending the old dear tottering out on a Zimmer frame to relay increasingly lurid sexual fantasies between husband and wife. All in all, greatly enjoyable, and a charming final gag involving a peacock too.

Note dip. VERY important

And so to the pizza, once again purchased in my local Co-Op and given a little pimping (actually, that reminds me of ANOTHER funny scene in The Other Guys, in which Ferrell explains how he inadvertently became a pimp while at college, but I digress) with some buffalo mozzerella, which I now have on constant call in the 12 Inch Pete Treat refrigerator, and honey roast ham. I overdid the chilli flakes AGAIN, because that’s what I do, but that was counteracted by some delightful Pizza Hut garlic and herb dip – Dominos, you need to be very careful about this, it could mount a serious challenge to your G&H superiority – and on a cold night in South London, and a Tuesday night at that, and a Tuesday night when I was deliberately not drinking, and on a Tuesday night when I was worrying about the cost of Christmas, and on a Tuesday night when racked with seasonal self-loathing, and on a… Okay, you get the picture. What I’m saying is, the pizza more than did the job for the occasion, for an outlay of £2 (pizza) plus 57p (mozzerella) plus 87p (ham) = £3.42. Truly, a pizza for a double-dip recession.

THE VERDICT

THE FILM: The Other Guys gets a very positive 8.5 out of 10. A rip-roaring barn-storming side-splitter of an action-comedy. There, stick that on your poster.

THE PIZZA: I’m always biased when I have tried a little pizza-pimping myself, so I’m going to give the pizza 8 out of 10, although, by Christ, a couple of glasses of Rioja would have gone down a storm with it.

Filed under: Movie And A Pizza

Movie And A Pizza #3.1: Martin Daubney on Mr Mom and a Pizza Pan Milano

Pete says: This week’s M&AP is a guest drop from Mr Martin Daubney, former Loaded editor and a man who arguably knowns more about mid-1980s high-concept comedy than anyone in the civilised world…

“Mmm, pizza make anything in the entire world better” is the kind of throwaway comment that disciples of the crust might casually grenade into an anodyne social gathering, as their fangs sink into yet another magmatic Pepperoni Passion.

But is there any truth in it?

Well, I, for one, think so. Several years ago I found that the funeral of a particularly fond Auntie was definitely uplifted by the welcome presence of a tepid, soggy, previously frozen (and decidedly 1970s) McCain’s French bread pizza nestling amongst the otherwise tawdry post-crematorium buffet. But what about the ultimate challenge: can pizza give much-needed open heart surgery to an item of light entertainment starring Michael Keaton?

I obliquely refer to Mr Mom, a family movie that has offended every atom of man’s being since it was spawned in 1983. Bulimic, vanilla, toe-curlingly predictable and up there with enforced gang rape as a way of whiling away a winter’s eve – or so you’d think. You know the deal – high-flyer loses his job and becomes a stay-at-home dad, missus goes back to work, all kinds of domesticated/scatological high-jinx ensues, yada yada yada. I fully expected to abjectly hate it – but, with the addition of piping hot pizza and a good glass of claret, didn’t. In fact, as a fully-bearded, bungling Keaton became addicted to daytime soap operas and threw a wives-only poker school, all the time popping those yummy old cans of Bud with the proper ring pulls, smoking heavily and chewing endless, blatantly product-placed Dominos – for this is a great pizza movie in every sense – I found myself seeing a little of me in him. More, I genuinely liked the guy.

When Keaton was attacked by a runaway vacuum cleaner to the Jaws theme, then played out a slo-mo pastiche of Chariots Of Fire at the wife’s boss’s sports day, me and the missus were thoroughly hooked. And when his errant washing machine “attacked” the cable guy, we concurred that we enjoyed Mr Mom ten times more than the previous night’s flick, the Oscar-nominated yet frankly cancerous The Tree Of Life starring pompous arse trumpet Brad Pitt.

So, to the pizza. Inspired by Pete and Rosie’s “keep it local” sentiment [editor’s note – Rosie and myself don’t actually have one of these at all, we would much rather order from Papa John’s or Dominos and have done with it, as we are essentially simple folk, albeit two very attractive ones], I worriedly eschewed my usual no-brainer Dominos Chicken Combo Meal and ventured 100 worrisome yards to Pizza Pan in East Dulwich. Ordinarily, PP’s chances of luring passing custom is mortally wounded from being nestled betwixt a fragrantly odorous curry house called Gandhi’s – the name itself is usually enough to tempt the comedy drunk in out of the cold, unforgiving SE22 night – and the Yee Wah, a great, cheap, deliciously dirty Chinese.

But duty beckoned, and PP does benefit from being opposite The Clock House, an inoffensive Young’s boozer that keeps good keg ale. You give the PP boys your mobile number, then swig a pint of Ordinary while you clasp your blower and feverishly await their “Mr Martin, pizza, it is ready” call. Surely, this is technology at its finest. Being a Monday, the PP boys threw in some free spicy chicken wings…

Free wings! FREE WINGS!

…Microwaved to the point of nearly setting fire, anaemic and worthy of weird Latin nomenclature, they were greasy, translucent and unremittingly awful. More rattus rattus then peri peri, they looked strangely mummified, and might have appealed if your name was Baldrick, or you were on death row. They were angrily slam-dunked into the trash afore the opening credits of Mr Mom had even rolled. Tragically, PP’s wings were worse than Paul McCartney’s – and about as welcome as finding a human stool in your bread bin the day after you’ve been burgled.

But what pizza to go with this flick? Erroneously but amusingly figuring Michael Keaton is probably of Italian descent, I opted for the Milano (that’s actually the very pizza in the above picture), which was basically a work experience meat feast, lathered in those strange, frozen veggies that obviously come from a cavernous sack from Iceland. The “Italian crust” was halfway between a thin and medium crust, and was chewy to the point of needing a good tug of the head to bite a slice in half.

It was genuinely an insult to the pizza kingdom, and, at £18 for uno Milano and a margherita for the missus, it was the best advert in Christendom for having Dominos on your speed-dial. Like unfulfilling sex with a semi-drunk ex, it lacked substance, left me feeling strangely empty, and, the next morning as the sad, greasy box haunted me of my foul error, I caught sight of myself in the fridge door and made a hopeful, silent promise to never, ever stray again.

THE VERDICT

THE FILM: Amazingly, I’m giving it a 7.5 out of ten. Say what you like about Keaton, he’s a pro, and the big-bucks Aaron Spelling production values polished this turd to a mirror finish.

THE PIZZA: Maximum 4/10, and the sides were inedible. Lousy pizza, decent family flick. Life, huh? Ain’t it full of surprises?

Martin perpetually has a lovely bunch of coconuts

Filed under: Guest drops, Movie And A Pizza

Movie And A Pizza #3: Deadheads, and a Dominos Stuffed Crust with chicken and meatballs

I have a confession to make: I am cheating with this week’s Movie And A Pizza. The two things did not happen on the same evening, I consumed the pizza under review during the England matchon Tuesday,  after my first solo attempt at a Chicago style deep dish pizza ended in disaster (the chilli flakes bag burst just as I was sprinkling them onto the chicken and rendered the otherwise-faultless pizza inedible) and last night I just had a sandwich to accompany the film. That said, the sandwich had mozzerella in it so I don’t feel like I was completely betraying you. And it was toasted as well so it was basically a pizza in all but name.

So, to business. The film I opted to watch last night was Deadheads. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love a zombie film – indeed, even as I type, I am wearing a Doctor Butcher MD T-shirt, and horror fans everywhere will know that goes by the alternative title Zombie Holocaust. And T-shirts don’t lie. Anyway, Deadheads is a zombie comedy, which means I should hate it (Shaun Of The Dead – great idea, not especially funny) because the living dead are no laughing matter. But I have to admit that I loved Deadheads. Basically, it asks the question, “What if a small portion of the living dead actually carried on behaving like normal human beings? What then? Eh?” The answer being, “well, in the case of Mike, the main character in Deadheads, what would happen is that he would set out on a road trip with another coherent zombie called Brent and attempt to find his girlfriend, all the while attempting to avoid being killed by humans who think that they are going to eat their faces.” The resultant hokum is extremely entertaining, as our two heroes attempt to hitch their way across America while concealing from the humans upon whom they happen, that they are visibly decomposing. There’s an extremely funny scene where they find themselves barricaded inside a building with a group of humans fighting off the undead and a precocious child realises that they are actually zombies too, and the two leads – Mike the anguished romantic, Brent the gobby hipster – make for a likeable pairing. And, perhaps recognising that the best bit in Shaun Of The Dead is the bit when Dylan Moran has his guts ripped out, it doesn’t stint on the gore either. Oddly, there are only two quotes on the film’s iMDB page and one of them is, “can you pass me a map?” which doesn’t strike me as a particularly memorable line. Even so, I give whatever my equivalent of “two thumbs up” happens to be.

This is not the man who delivered my pizza

Aaaaaand so we turn to the pizza, which accompanied the sight of England grunting to a dishwater-dull 1-0 win over Sweden. I opted for the classic medium Stuffed Crust from Dominos, this time with chicken strips (they really are running the chicken topping game right now) and meatballs. Big mistake. Say what you like about meatballs on a pizza (like, for example, “I like meatballs on a pizza” or “no meatballs for me, thank you”) but they don’t half add heft to a serving, and not in a good way. They have a tapas-like habit of filling you up when you’re not actually full, and so it proved with my pizza, half of which went uneaten, and remained so, meatballs being a less-than-ideal topping for breakfast reheating. The stuffed crust seemed a little on the ungenerous side too. Maybe I just wasn’t in the pizza frame of mind. It happens. I didn’t even get to take a photo of it because I had left my phone at work.

THE VERDICT

THE FILM: I’m giving Deadheads a gore-drenched 9/10 (starting to sound like Jonathan Ross now) and a ringing 12 Inch Pete Treat endorsement. You can follow one of the directors here

THE PIZZA: I can only give it 5/10, but I blame the presence of John Terry on my TV screen for this. And those pesky meatballs. I think I am going to give up meatballs, unless they are home-made. You heard it here first, pizza blog fans throughout the world!

Filed under: Movie And A Pizza

Movie And A Pizza #2: Funny People, accompanied by a Co-Op margherita with king prawns and garlic

It's those fat people watching the telly again

Normally, the events described herein would take place on a Thursday night, but I was bored and I’m going to be busy on Thursday. And so this week’s Pizza And A Movie features Funny People, and a concoction of my sort-of own creation.

Look at their faces. Look at their naked contempt for YOU.

Funny People. Funny. People. If ever there was a misleading movie title, this was it, because the people in this film are neither funny, nor belonging to the same species as you or I, dear blog reader. Seriously, what a bunch of motherless fucks. And what a freshly-coiled, piping hot turd of utter self-indulgence and cringing self-pity, a film by comedians, about comedians and how brilliant and deep and soulful they are, for comedians, stuffed full of punchable cameos by comedians, and above all, bad stand-up, which proves that stand-up comedy, like football, does not translate into the cinematic medium without suffering.

Adam Sandler plays a former stand-up who has become an enormous film star making terrible movies – quite a leap for him, as has, I’m sure, been noted a squillion times before – who discovers he is dying. Seth Rogan plays a struggling stand-up that Sandler adopts as his gopher / life coach / co-writer, and spends most of the film either being unamusing on stage or wearing the stunned impression of a stoned lemur as he tries to take in the enormity of the emotional maelstrom (or rather, “massed intertwining neuroses of a bunch of twats”) in which he is the centre. Jason Schwartzman plays a whiny self-obsessed cock. Jonah Hill plays everybody Jonah Hill has ever played. Leslie Mann (aka “The Living Embodiment Of Director’s Wife Syndrome”) plays everybody Leslie Mann has ever played, which means that she is instantly dislikeable, since she seems to be the go-to girl whenever prissy, pinch-faced entitlement needs to be essayed on film. Somebody called Aubrey Plaza – that’s her on the far right of the poster, communicating her depth and complexity by not looking at the camera – plays a stand-up comedienne so bad that she actually seems to possess the ability to force laughter back down people’s throats to be broken down by the body’s digestive acids, providing a strange kind of nourishment with her palpable, solid boluses of non-humour. Eric Bana, the only half-decent character on show, plays the guy we’re apparently supposed to root against. And the likes of Andy Dick, Paul Reiser, Norm MacDonald and Sarah Silverman show up to take an irritating – indeed, in Silverman’s case, more irritating than all of the pubic lice in the entire world descending on one’s genitals at once for some kind of pubic lice convention weekend – bow. At one point, Eminem shouts abuse at Ray Romano across a crowded restaurant – why not go the whole hog, director Judd Apatow, and release a film in which you simply read out the names and numbers that you have on your mobile phone? Truly, Funny People is an astounding folly, a monolithically misguided vanity project, and above all, most unforgivably, the jokes are all shit, plus I’m pretty sure that, in terminal disease movies, the viewer is not supposed to hope against hope that the sick dude dies, but not before infecting everybody else with whatever it is that’s killing him. A film by twats, about twats, for twats.

Look at me! Look at how delicious I am!

Still, my pizza was chuffing ace (I’ve decided to stop swearing now) – there it is, up there, shortly before my complete devouring of it. I decided to forego the local delivery firms (there’s a branch of Papa John’s so near to my home that, factoring in the clever positioning of a couple of mirrors, I could actually spy on it if I wanted) and so picked up a Truly Irrestistible margherita pizza from Co-Op, added some king prawns (they were on special offer) and then brushed it with some leftover garlic dip for the aforementioned Papa John. And the end result was spectacular! Fat, juicy prawns (and yet they didn’t start bubbling and letting off liquid that made the pizza go floppy like they normally do), a little bit of nibble from the green pesto that Co-Op put on their fancy margheritas, THAT unmistakeable Papa John’s garlic dip taste and above all, it kept its shape rather than flopping and sending prawns and liquid cheese everywhere. I gave it 11 minutes rather than the suggested 8-10 and that made all the difference, I feel. And all washed down with a bottle of Petit Verdot, which also helped me forget the awful film I was watching.

THE VERDICT

THE FILM: I didn’t like it. You may have picked up on that. 0/10

THE PIZZA: An unexpected delight, tempered only by the fact that Rosie wouldn’t like it. 8/10

Filed under: Movie And A Pizza

Movie And A Pizza #1: The Dead, accompanied by a Dominos stuffed crust with chicken strips and chorizo

So, I’ve decided that every Thursday evening is “pizza and a movie” night, not least because it will provide me with extra content once I’ve run out of ideas. Plus I am now duty-bound to have a pizza every week. So, to get the ball rolling, here is my review of The Dead, accompanied by a medium Dominos stuffed crust with sundried tomato and garlic sauce, chicken strips and chorizo.

The Dead is a zombie film, which means I like it as a matter of course, but it claims to be a zombie film with a difference, and in an age when most zombie films are a) not different at all and b) generally awful, I am willing to acknowledge that this claim is not misleading. It is set in a non-specific war-torn African state, and follows an American lieutenant and an African soldier in search of his son, as they try to make their way across parched grassland to a supposedly safe military base. The unforgiving conditions are as much the enemy as the shuffling, blank-eyed living dead, although substantially less likely to eat your face. The acting is a touch ropey, but there’s some quite spectacular gore to be enjoyed – I particularly liked the bit when our hero runs over one of his former, now-zombified colleagues and the latter’s head bursts – and a general air of creeping, encroaching unease created by the bland uniformity of the desert setting. Plus there are machetes in it.

Hello pizza. You were my dinner last night.

And now to the pizza. Ah, Dominos. Truly, as Kelly Rowland might say, when it comes to stuffed crusts, you are putting it down right now. Seriously, I defy anyone to nominate a better stuffed edge than the one they are proffering to the pizza community – and it is a community – right now. I had a pop at the sundried tomato and garlic sauce rather than regular pizza sauce last night too, and I can confirm that it is rather delightful, if not especially garlicky. But then that’s a good thing. The chicken strips are thick and generous, the chorizo pretty inoffensive and nondescript – but then you don’t want to be getting heartburn any way – and the two slices I left last night, made for a delightful heated-through breakfast this morning. Which reminds me, nobody kiss me today.

THE VERDICT

THE FILM: I think I will give The Dead 7.5 out of 10, rising to 8.5 whenever someone gets eaten.

THE PIZZA: I will give the pizza 8.5 out of 10, rising to 9 out of 10 whenever the crust came into play.

Filed under: Movie And A Pizza