Phew, we had a really busy weekend. No sooner had we washed the camping grass out of our hair, clothes, car, my handbag, and the cat (who didn’t even go camping) than we were off to make pizzas.
Now I don’t particularly like pizza, and I had assumed this outing would be one of many selfless acts of Mummy kindness I would be performing over the holidays for my lovely, but probably ungrateful, offspring. They could both cheerfully eat pizza three times a day, whereas I have an inside-out knowledge of Pizza Express’s salads and pasta menu and haven’t voluntarily touched an actual pizza in years. Still, heroically, I took them to the opening of Fire & Stone’s new restaurant in Spitalfields Market, where we were going to be taught how to make their ‘special’ pizzas.
‘Special’ pizzas, I laughed to myself beforehand. As if such a thing exists. What on earth can you do with a lump of dough and a dollop of tomato sauce that hasn’t been done a zillion times before?
Well, as it turns out, quite a lot. The first clue was when the chef mentioned potato pizza. The last time I had a pizza with potato on it was in Venice, when we were being thoroughly ripped off by a nasty little restaurant that we had stopped at simply because we were exhausted and had two starving children in tow. The pizza Margharita we ordered came festooned with bits of old broccoli, carrot and, yes, big thick slices of cold boiled potato. It was basically the proprietor’s supper left-overs from the night before stuck on a pizza. Yuck.
So any mention of potato pizza had me anxiously checking where the exits were. But soon totally delicious smells were wafting through the air. Several beautifully-cooked pizzas appeared from the traditional wood-fired pizza oven and were cut into tempting slices. And, though it was still only 11am, as soon as we were invited to taste a bit, I fell on the pizza just like everyone else.
And it was totally delicious!
A revelation, in what seems to be turning out to be a summer full of revelations. Camping is fun, pizza tastes good – or can do, when the crust is as thin as a delicious salty cracker, and the toppings are as random and curiously compelling as they are at Fire & Stone.
Among the pizzas we sampled were the Koi Samui, which is basically a lovely Thai take-away on a pizza, complete with baby sweetcorn and coconut curry sauce. We later got a chance to make our own pizzas according to Fire & Stone’s recipes, and I made the Casablanca (love that film!) which turned out to contain quite a lot of the ingredients you’d normally find in a Waldorf salad, including walnuts and blue cheese, and yet it all tasted perfectly at home and quite delectable on a pizza. The New York pizza features the tiny garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, cut into little dice, which are scrumptious, and thows those together with smoked bacon, onion jam and sour cream. Yes, I know it sounds mad – but it really tastes completely yummy. I wasn’t brave enough to go for the London, which has slices of black pudding (which incidentally I’m not sure anyone in London eats anyway, I thought it was more of a northern thing?) but the Canberra was great, with marinated mushrooms, those potato bits again, roast chicken breasts and sour cream. Yes, really. And, along the way, we met lovely bloggers like Sue from London Living and Fabienne from Lost in London. Thanks to Fire & Stone for a fun morning and a complete taste revelation. You can even watch a video of the whole experience here.
Then on Sunday it was off to the gala premiere of Cats and Dogs 2, the Revenge of Kitty Galore. Cats and Dogs 1 is one of our very favourite films, featuring the fabulous uber-villan Mr Tinkles, so we were thrilled to be invited to this one. A gala premiere, apparently, is a premiere without the actual stars of the film. In any case we were very happy to sashay up a satisfyingly long red carpet, though admittedly the paparazzi seemed to be shunning us in favour of taking pics of Gail Porter (huh!) and various dogs, as pets had been invited. The film was shown at the Holland Park open air theatre, which I blush to admit I’d never been to before, but very fine it is too. There were loads of gorgeous doggies milling around, and the girls got goody bags featuring packets of very loud crisps. What with the crisps, the dogs, a lot of children and the open-air nature of the screening, it was sometimes a little difficult to hear the film, but that doesn’t matter as we’ll definitely be getting it on DVD as soon as it comes out. There were some fantastic moments and great visual jokes, and I’d say it’s an excellent film to take the kids to during the holidays. In fact, you’d be barking mad not to see it. Arf arf!