Tag Archives: Italian

Where To Eat Pizza

Everyone knows that pizza is one of the most popular things to eat, now you can find out where the best pizza slingers can be found virtually anywhere in the world.

How?

Well, publishing group Phaidon have released a new book, aptly named Where To Eat Pizza, by author Daniel Young, the man responsible for the London Pizza Festival. Last year, I was kindly asked to contribute to the book with my recommendations for Leeds; I reckon it must’ve been my constant banging on about the great and good of the city that did the trick.

The book compiles the favourites of a whole host of food lovers from chefs, critics to bloggers like me. The result – a staggering 1700+ entries world-wide are listed, so pizza lovers out there will be hard-pressed to not find a decent slice or two!  For each city included there’s a map pinpointing each entry and a description of why it’s part of the list. 

  

To find out about my recommendations, or for the best places around the globe Where To Eat Pizza is available to buy now, both online and from all good book shops!! 

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Polpo – guest post by Lucy Reynolds

It’s been an exciting wait for Polpo to open in Leeds. The critically acclaimed London restaurant has branched forth into the glorious north and laid their hat in the luxurious surrounding of Harvey Nichols, blending Venetian style with an added touch of rustic charm. This really was the hottest opening in town so my friend and I got dressed up and hot-footed it to the top floor of the fancy shopping centre to see what Russell Norman’s latest bacaro has to offer. Thanks to Harvey Nichols for the free invitation!

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If you like the small plate style of eating, then Polpo is for you, offering up tapas style food with a distinctly Venetian flavour. We sat at our table and were welcomed by a complimentary cone of calamari and courgette which, whilst lacking seasoning, was a lovely way to start snacking whilst perusing the menu for what to indulge in. The surroundings were busy and created a cosy atmosphere with unique lighting which made it feel like you had walked into a family run Italian bistro, a move away from the slick glass and metal modernity of Harvey Nichols.

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The staff were very friendly, advising us to order quite a few dishes to enjoy between us and giving us personal favourites to help us order. In the end, after much deliberation over which type of meatball to order (yes, the struggle is real!), we plumped for a mix of seafood, meat and a couple of the staff favourites. First arrived our cicchetti (meaning very small), which were the stuffed fried olives and ham hock and mustard crostini. Along with this came our cocktails, elderflower martinis which came in daintily small glasses. They were delicious and the size was deceptive – I had three, thinking how something so small wouldn’t have much effect. My head didn’t agree the next day. Note to self: don’t be greedy! Anyway, enough of my lack of self control, more about the food! 

The fried olives, stuffed with anchovies, were worthy of the recommendation from our waitress – crispy, salty and moreish, a perfect partner with a crisp glass of white wine or a cold beer. The ham hock and mustard crostini looked delicious and was piled high with meat, but was slightly less successful than the olives in terms of taste. The pork was succulent but, similar to the calamari, lacked seasoning and a sense of piquancy – in fact, it was pretty difficult to pick up on any mustard on the crostini. Tasty, but slightly bland. Possibly a opening night oversight. 
Our pizzette – a light alternative to its doughy namesake was topped with spinach, parmesan and a soft baked egg. This was a surprising find, with a different texture from what we expected, with the spinach topping forming a soft mousse consistency, cradling the perfectly baked egg. With a generous sprinkling of parmesan, this was a light and satisfying dish which we thought would make a great lunch if you weren’t wanting a filling dish. From trying the spinach offering, I’d definitely go back for the other three pizzettes, with the prosciutto, scamorza and pickled radicchio flavour sounding very tempting.    

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Along with our pizzette came one of the Venetian classic dishes: meatballs and spaghettini. The choice of meatball at Polpo is pretty impressive, with a customer being able to choose the ‘classic’ beef and pork, lamb and mint, spicy pork and fennel or a chickpea, spinach and ricotta offering for the vegetarian diners. You also get the choice of tomato sauce and spaghettini or meatballs ‘alla vedova’, which means the meaty morsel is deep fried in a crispy crumb. We plumped for the classic sauce and pasta option and really enjoyed it, with the mixture of the beef and pork giving the ball a firm texture and a deftly balanced, savoury flavour. We inhaled them greedily, fighting the urge to play out a scene from Lady and the Tramp (I’d have been the tramp, just in case my friend is reading this!).

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Our last duo of dishes were the roast pork belly with braised apple and chilli and garlic prawns, which are always a great partnership in my opinion. The prawns were well seasoned and cooked (I could have eaten two dishes full of them) and the crackling on the pork was devilishly crispy and delicious. The actual pork belly and apple combination, a natural pairing, unfortunately followed suit with the previous dishes due to a lack of seasoning. It should have been a stand out dish but paled into the background with the soft apple adding little taste to the overall plate. 
But never fear, the desserts were here to save the day – and did they ever!
My friend and I would both own up to being massively sweet-toothed, so when we saw tiramisu on the menu, there was no debate – it had to happen! I also decided to try the flourless pistachio and almond cake, because those two flavours are personal favourites of mine. Now did I mention how greedy I was earlier? Yes…well, we saw chocolate salami on the menu and had our curiosity piqued. The waitress offered to bring some over as well and y’know, who were we to refuse? It would have been rude not to.
The tiramisu pot was sumptuously silky and boozy – everything that a tiramisu should be. However, the stand out dish was the pistachio and almond cake, coming with a HUGE dollop of mascarpone drizzled in honey (my pet peeve is when restaurants give you a meagre serving of cream – so thanks Polpo for your dairy generosity!). It was light, moist and one of the finest sponges I’ve eaten in a long time, The pistachio flavour shone through and was delicately accompanied by a wonderful almond essence which lingered in the mouth. It is worth returning just for this cake – a masterpiece!
And the chocolate salami, I hear you cry? Well it was very simply slices of chocolate, nut and fruit – we’d nearly eaten ourselves into a coma by then so didn’t finish them, but it was a lovely side dish and I could imagine children loving this accompaniment, or it going down a treat with a cup of coffee. 
The evening was really enjoyable and the food, on the whole, was tasty and definitely well worth the prices. Leeds is pretty jam packed with restaurants at the moment but I think the placing of Polpo in Harvey Nichols, along with its reputation, will see it thrive.     Hopefully small niggles like seasoning will be ironed out in the first few weeks of opening and if I was to recommend anything, go in for coffee and the flourless pistachio cake, or a pizzette and an elderflower martini (just don’t drink three on a work night – your liver won’t thank you, mark my words).   

Polpo 

Harvey Nichols

107-111 Briggate

Leeds

LS1 6AZ

http://www.harveynichols.com/restaurant/leeds-dining/polpo/

Disclaimer: this review was written following a free invitation to Polpo’s preview launch.

Photographs: courtesy of Harvey Nichols 

Coppa Club, Sonning

I recently wrote a review on newly refurbished and reopened Coppa Club restaurant at The Great House, in a lovely village called Sonning for Olive Magazine.

 
Click here to read the review, including wonderful fritto misto, awesome lamb chops and dreamy flourless chocolate and almond cake! 

Coppa Club 

The Great House

Thames Street

Sonning on Thames

West Berkshire

RG4 6UT

http://www.coppaclub.co.uk

 

Ipsum Vinoteca – A Tour of Italy

With Leeds’ first ‘Indie Food Festival’ coming to a triumphant end last weekend, it was the turn for the Leeds Food and Drink Festival to begin, in fact they overlapped! Nevertheless the festival sponsored by ASDA started on the 22nd May, with over a fortnight events that may suit Leeds folk interested in the city’s food and drink culture. Amongst the well-known chains and corporates, there’s a handful of Leeds independents involved of which I’m interested in, one of these Ipsum Vinoteca I was given the opportunity to visit last week.

Ipsum Vinoteca is an Italian run bar/restaurant specialising in Italian wine, located in the city’s arts quarter, to be more exact the corner of Munro House, which also houses popular haunts for creatives Colours May Vary and Leeds Gallery. Having only peered in at street level before, the amount of wine which is housed in shelves lining many of the walls in the space is impressive to look at – approximately 300 bottles are available and 30 wines by the glass!! I’d be hard pushed to think of anywhere in the local area that’s provides this kind of service certainly heaven for lover of Italian wine.  For the festival they’ve focused on a different Italian region each day, showcasing a particular wine and pairing it with a matching regional dish – all sounds like a great idea!

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The day we arrived it was all about the Friuli region, I’ve been to bits of Italy, but all the dead obvious touristy places like parts of Tuscany, Venice and Rome. As usual the internet came to my hour of need as my geography is pretty shocking – the region is found in the most north-eastern part of the country, bordering Slovenia and Austria, thanks internet!!! I love wine, both red and white and am very partial to Prosecco too, but I’m no good at describing the stuff. The wine they gave us, tasted really good, but I couldn’t tell you what it was as we weren’t told, apart from that it was from the Friuli region. 

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We were brought a simple looking dish of asparagus, topped with San Daniele ham and Parmesan Reggiano. It was a looker of a dish and size-wise enough for a light lunch.

Buttered jumbo asparagus with San Daniele DOP ham and Parmesan Reggiano

The San Daniele is an ingredient produced in the Friuli region and had a wonderful flavour, a beautiful sweetness. The asparagus were vibrant and green, perfectly cooked and had been gloriously bathed in butter on the plate, just on the border between al dente and soft on the bite. The parmesan shavings added a creamy/salty/umaminess, whilst the butter sauce was smooth, glossy and brought the elements of the dish together.

Paired with the wine, which was a lovely drop and complemented the food well. It was a shame that staff didn’t given any tasting notes or give any explanation about the wine or the specific ingredients, considering they’re trying to celebrate different regions of country. It seemed obvious they know their stuff, but I feel didn’t show it outwardly enough with us as customers. Overall, in theory it’s a great idea, but could be much improved with more customer interaction. 

The festival runs till 7th May.

Ipsum Vinoteca

Munro House

Duke Street

Leeds

LS9 8AG

http://www.ipsumvinoteca.com/ipsum-vinoteca.html

http://www.leedsfoodmonth.com/LeedsFoodandDrinkFestival.aspx

Yammo!, Bath

If you’ve read my most recent post on Soya, you’ll know that apart from eating, a bit of the weekend was spent running as some friends and I had entered the Bath half marathon. Our accommodation for the weekend was a house we’d booked through AirBnB, about 10 -15 minutes walk north of the city. After the usual settling in period at the house, we walked into the centre and took in our surroundings, out of our party of five, three of us had never visited the city so it was nice to explore a little. Four of us were running and we’d all eaten an early breakfast, so by midday we were pretty ravenous, and as always carbs were the first thought on our minds. 

Everyone had assumed I had a list of places already researched to go, but on a rare occasion I didn’t, it was actually refreshing not to have done any work for it!! We weren’t after a posh restaurant or anything like that, but somewhere informal just to fill our stomachs and rest our legs before the big day. So after a quick internet search the place Yammo! popped up, an Italian diner which advertised itself as a Neapolitan street food kitchen and pizzeria – we thought it ticked all the boxes.

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Located on Walcot St very close to Pulteney Bridge, the place looked quite small and with all the tables occupied it seemed we’d be out of luck, but it was our lucky day as there were a couple of free tables upstairs. Initially unbeknownst to us the place had won awards the last couple of years; including best newcomer 2013, (Bath Good Food Awards), UK Best pizza chef 2014 for its Margherita pizza, (PAPA Industry Awards) and just a few days ago were named Best Restaurant at Bath Life Awards 2015.

Apart from pizza the menu has lots going for it, using as many local ingredients as possible they offer a choice of dishes including small plates, antipasti and burgers. So it was no surprise that we  ordered a broad selection of items, including a couple of pizzas (Margherita and a Diavola), one burger with extra salami, whilst myself and a friend wanted to share four small plates.

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Here are the pizzas (£9.95 and £10.95); I can’t comment on the pizzas myself, but as far as my friends there was praise aplenty for both. They weren’t the uber thinnest of bases, but it didn’t matter as the base was a tasty one with a bit of chew,  their toppings were kept simple and to good effect too.  

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The Margherita
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The Diavola with spicy salami

A side of crispy polenta (£3.75) were very moreish, again treated simply with some grated parmesan and a few salad leaves they were delicious. 

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Polenta fries

The burger (£13.95) belonged to the other half and he was pretty quiet on the other side of the table, meaning that he was happy and it was spot on I reckon!

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Italian Job burger with spicy salami

The four remaining dishes all came out at the same time, yes there was a lot of fried stuff, but most involved lots of carbs and it was exactly what we were after! All of them were excellent, the bolognese arancini (£5.75) were massive, perfectly golden, with a tasty ragu and risotto rice that was unctuously sticky and a stretchy mozzarella cheese centre. They were so so good!! Next up the potato croquettes (£4.95), again size here wasn’t an issue, there was lots of parsley, parmesan cheese, and when cutting into them soft, stretchy mozzarella cheese was on show. Third up the polpette a sugo (£7.25), on the menu it said they were based on ‘Nonna’s secret Neapolitan recipe, so surely they had to be good! Made with a mix of beef and pork these were perfect, soft in texture without falling apart, covered in a wonderful tomato sauce using San Marzano tomatoes. Last but by no means least the macaroni cheese frittatine (£4.95), now I’d never had it like this before, basically cubes of macaroni cheese with honey roasted ham running through it were deep-fried, so they had a golden cheese crust. Out of all of the these may have been my favourites out of four very good plates!!

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Arancini filled with bolognese
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Macaroni cheese frittatine
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Polpette a sugo
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Croquettes

If you’re in Bath at any point, you may be a local or just visiting like I was, then Yammo! is definitely worth a try! You’ll get some cracking food, decent service in informal surroundings at a reasonable price. 

Do you have any recommendations for Bath? I’d love to know which eateries are your favourites!

Yammo! 

66 Walcot Street,

Bath,

BA1 5BD

01225 938328

http://www.yammo.co.uk