Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Cupcakes, Carciofi Fritti and Capitalism

As has been established in the previous post, my way of dealing with any lingering New Year malaise is not the gym and Dry January, but more carb-loading and pub crawls. In a concession to the fact we had been slowly vegetating in Elephant and Castle, with just a box set of Getting On, take away noodles and modular origami for company, Stealth and the Ewing acceded to my demands to leave the flat and even allowed me to choose wherever I wanted to go for lunch.

What I wanted was pizza, and while the local Italian gaff in Walworth was closed - thwarting me for the second time and dashing my hopes for an Americana topped with homemade chips and sausage – Pizza Pilgrims (fairly) new second branch stepped in to satiate my need (with the potential for cupcakes from the recently opened Crumbs and Doilies next door proving somewhat of an added bonus).

After a sightseeing adventure on the number 12 bus - over Westminster Bridge, past the Houses of Parliament and around Trafalgar Square – followed by a dice with death on Regent Street we eventually reached our final destination of Carnaby’s new Kingly court complex, ’ a three story al-fresco food and dining destination in the heart of London's West End’.

This branch of PP is also a Friggitoria alongside a pizzeria, an exotic (and faintly erotic) sounding way of saying that they deep fry things, too. These things include carciofi fritti (fried artichokes) which were hot and crisp but a little underpowered in the seasoning department and some nice little arancini rosso, the breadcrumb covered tomatoey rice cradling a molten smoked mozzarella core.

Greedy as we are, we sadly had to miss out on trying the pizza fritta, which, as the name suggests are ‘pizza fritters’ featuring a deep fried calzone, stuffed with a variety of filling – and the deep fried Italian mac’n’cheese with Parmesan, beef ragu & buffalo mozzarella (you didn't tell me that was on the menu, I would have had it - TE). A mini tragedy, but there’s always next time and I would like to try and see in 2016 without dangerously high cholesterol levels.

The main draw, of course, is the pizzas, made in the Neapolitan style. These tend towards the ‘soupy’ side in the middle (which the Ewing doesn’t rate) with beautifully chewy, puffy and charred crusts (which Stealth does). I think they make pretty great pie, although the floppy base (fired the traditional way for 30-60 seconds at fearsome temperatures) means they are a proper knife and fork job.

Stealth, who can be seen above modelling her dinner, chose a pizza topped with N'duja, the fiery Calabrian salami. While I used the advantage of eating pie with the Ewing to create a red/white hybrid Frankenpizza. This time we shared a Smoked Neapolitan; a Margarita with smoked anchovies, capers, black olives & oregano, and the day's special pie, La Mimosa; a porchetta, fior di latte, sweetcorn, Parmesan, double cream and basil pizza bianca. Both were good, but the La Mimosa just shaded it, sweetcorn haters be damned.

As always, I was too full to contemplate the Nutella and ricotta stuffed pizza ring (one day...) but the meal was nicely rounded off with shots of Sohocello; a Pizza Pilgrim and Chase Distillery collaboration that sees potato spirit distilled by the latter being infused with Amalfi lemons. I wouldn't like to say if it was as good as my beloved Ewing's clemencello (made at Christmas with clementines), but it is rather nice. 

Pizza Pilgrims on Urbanspoon

As promised, we called into the Crumbs and Doilies new Soho store after lunch to stock up on some cupcakey goodness. Alongside regular cupcakes they also have mini cakes in all the regular flavours alongside a large cake of the day, available by the slice (see below), and a regularly changing flapjack/brownie/cookie type offering. All goodies are baked upstairs on the premises and there's also coffee from Grind, teas by Suki Tea and sodas from All Good. Don't listen to anyone who tells you cupcakes are over without trying one of these first.

There then followed crisps and stout, eaten in the English fashion with the bags split and laid in the middle for sharing – followed by more beer and discussions over the difference between lightly salted and ready salted (and how many disgruntled customers it had taken for the barman to think it necessary to state multiple times they were LIGHTLY SALTED - TE) and the evil/genius of capitalism – a topic that it is wiser left after several pints of Brewdog’s, very tasty, Red A.M Ale (surely a socialist drink, judging by the colour).

I also still had the delights of my Crumbs and Doilies haul – featuring another red offering, perfect for the Marx in me - for when I got home. Alongside the doorstep of Red Velvet cake – enormous in both size and sugar content sweet and not for sharing (sorry, the Ewing) and there were also a salted caramel pretzel number, a banoffee and, my favourite, a cookies and cream cupcake studded with Oreos.

When the (terribly middle-class) Borough sourdough had all been eaten, as was famously (not) said by Marie-Antoinette: Qu'ils mangent de la brioche.

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