The place where pizza comes to be written about

12 Inch Pete Treat Lunch Club: Number 1 in a series of I don’t know how many

Despite this blog often receiving as many as two hundred hits IN A SINGLE DAY, which must be some kind of world record, it is essentially a thankless and rewardless task. I get no money for it. The book deal that I assumed would be a formality, has yet to materialise – the army of publishers inevitably chasing me down probably don’t know that I have moved flat. I’ve gotten some free pizzas out of it, but I expected that – indeed, I would never have started it in the first place if I thought I wouldn’t.

But occasionally, it justifies the long, hard hours I spend sweating over its creation and upkeep, and today was one of those occasions, as I spent a lovely lunch in the company of Claire McGill, talking about pizzas. We talked about crusts (mainly about how Pizza Hut appear to be going bonkers and coming up with crust concepts like Alan Partridge desperately pitching TV show ideas at a disinterested BBC commissioner), customer service (mainly about how Papa John’s effectively don’t have any) and above all about how the pizzas placed in front of us, from the estimable Blackfriars Wine Bar (who, brilliantly, are now displaying the address of this blog on their main pizza sign, which means I can now die a happy man), were so bloody lovely.

To explain, Claire McGill, or CMG as I don’t call her, is the PR for Dominos, and an entirely lovely lady to boot. I’m not saying that because she just bought me lunch, but because she makes the PR lark so very, very simple. No faffing, no painful negotiations, no doublespeak. Need pizzas for a picture? Here are some pizzas. Doing a charity rap battle event and want some pizza vouchers to give away as prizes? Here are some vouchers. Simples, as those irritating meerkats would say. And she’s also passionate about good pizza and preserving the essential aceness of Dominos too.

Claire is waving at you. Wave back!

Anyway, she was in town and I wanted to introduce her to the hidden treasure that is the Blackfriars Wine Bar and so she came, she ate, they conquered, and they even gave her a quick tour of the kitchen and the opportunity to fondle their fancy live yeast (because that is what makes their pizzas so fluffy and vibrant, fact fans) into the bargain. In the style of the Observer Food Monthly I can reveal that:

Claire ate: Chicken, chorizo and peppers pizza, two orange juice and lemonades

Pete ate: Double chicken, chorizo and jalapenos pizza, two large Fitous, diet Coke to deal with the pre-dinner thirst

What I ate. Sorry, I started without you.

And they were as good as they always are. So big up Claire, big up Terry and all the gang at the Blackfriars Wine Bar (mention my name and they won’t give you 10% off your pizza purchase but they may knock a few quid off mine, which is even better) and big up yourself because it’s the weekend. Yes, I just said “big up” three times. I’m having a mid-life crisis, deal with it.


Filed under: Pizzeria reviews, Uncategorized

The new Pizza Hut Hot Dog Stuffed Crust dealt with accordingly

Pizza Hut have got to be taking the piss. Indeed, many people suspect that they are, the consensus among many being that their new base, the Hot Dog Stuffed Crust (and I don’t believe I have to explain the USP of this particular venture) was actually a hoax. Well, I knew that it wasn’t, because I knew about their last unique crust, the Crown, which consisted of tearable cheese-stuffed chunks interspersed with meatballs – when you can dream that up, why would you baulk at a crust stuffed with frankfurter meat?

I tried to eat it, I really did. But I am only human

I’m not going to dwell on the HDSC too much – too much has already been written about it elsewhere by minds more restricted in their thinking than my own when it comes to matters pizza. Suffice to say that it is disgusting – the sausage is plasticky and juiceless and has the texture of a dog chew, and its reflux-inducing rankness seeps into the dough such that even tearing off the crust (which really SHOULD have been just a hoax) doesn’t work. Normally, when I don’t finish a pizza, I pop it into the fridge to reheat for breakfast the next morning – well, I left my Hot Dog Stuffed Crust from Pizza Hut (topped with double cajun chicken and crispy bacon, both, for the record, also substandard) out on the front porch like a shamed cat. It was, and I am a man who very, very rarely uses this term in conjunction with a pizza, disgusting. And it cost me £18. This is the price of being London’s foremost pizza blogger, with apologies to the many who are better than me.

Why progress is wrong: Exhibit A

So. What WOULD make a good alternative stuffed crust? Here’s a few suggestions!
1) OVEN CHIPS. We live in miraculous times, where you can engage in jovial banter with your mobile phone and where Danny Baker is STILL allowed to ruin my Saturday morning radio listening with his breakneck-paced drivel-gush. So SURELY some boffin somewhere can come up with a way of making a crust that contains chips that emerge correctly cooked just as the pizza is ready? As an aside, I myself claim inventorship of the potizza – pizza sauce and toppings on a potato cake base. But people keep telling me it has been done.

2) CHIP SHOP STYLE CURRY SAUCE. I don’t believe I have to explain this one. Okay, it might not work with, for example, a seafood special, not that any fucker does any decent ones of that type anyway. But there are plenty of outlets who are trying their hand at tandoori and balti flavours nowadays. Mmmm, curry sauce crust!

3) DADDIES SAUCE. Quite simply, a match-up in Heaven waiting to happen, and if any of the major pizza outlets happen to be reading this blog – and I know they all are – then they need to get on this. Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae tackle is all very well, but Daddies is a British institution. If this happens, and it will, I want royalties or a finder’s fee.

4) FOUR CHEESES. You’ve done it in a pizza topping, you can do it in a crust. But I don’t mean a blend – I mean an even dispersal. So you do it in an eight-slice serving, and you have two crusts with mozzerella, two with Cheddar, two with something mad like Stilton, and then two with that aggregational herby stuff they already put in the crusts. Again, finder’s fee.

5) SCRAMBLED EGG WITH CHORIZO. I am, I know, just dreaming now. Can you imagine how nasty that would be? Oh pizza, you dirty, DIRTY birdy!

6) CHILLI CON CARNE. Of all the options that I raised at the pub last night – and some of the rejected options included ‘onion gravy’, ‘spaghetti hoops’ and ‘batter’ – this one was the one that met with the most enthusiasm. Just imagine: “Hello, I’d like to order a large chilli con carne stuffed crust with spicy beef and jalapenos, please. Oh, and some onion rings.” Yumbags!

7) STUFFING. Thinking outside the box here. But what could be a better stuffing than actual stuffing? In a meaty pizza, it actually makes sense. So much so, in fact, that I’m not even going to finish with a joke. 12 Inch Pete Treat is not that kind of blog. When we’ve actually come up with a good idea, we just put it out there.

My considered overall verdict on the new Hot Dog Stuffed Crust from Pizza Hut

Filed under: Pizzeria reviews, Weird stuff from the pizza world

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