Tuesday, 8 May 2012


At Gourmet Lovers we don't like pizza.... oh no... we love it! 

We regularly conduct frenzied pizza making sessions where we bust out old classics and also invent new flavours and combinations. Most recently we've been working on a cracking miso roasted aubergine and courgette pizza I'll be posting at some point. (Editors note: For the record Nick will never ever get around to posting this - Bex). 

Which is why we were super stoked to be invited to a pizza making session with TV chef and food writer Valentine Warner who was unveiling his two new flavours for Pizza Express last week.

First up was a salami and shaved fennel pizza - which we all made along with Valentine. Taking our helpfully pre-prepared pizza bases, we first laid down a base of fennel seed Trealy Farm Salami, garlic and lemon infused oil with some trusty cubes of mozerella cheese. Baked those bad boys for a few minutes in the pizza oven.

When they came back, we dressed a salad of razor thin shaved fennel and rocket leaves with a lemon dressing and tossed nonchalantly over the pizza with some grated parmesan. Its important to cut and devour the pizza as soon as possible. Really really good.

With all of the fresh fennel I was expecting a prominent aniseed flavour but the way the salad was cut and dressed with lemon oil it was transformed it into a surprisingly light and well balanced pizza. Top marks for this one! The shaved fennel and salami is without doubt the best pizza on the Pizza Express menu. I gourmet loved the hell out of it and had (too) many pieces.

Second up was a puttanesca pizza. Valentine explained how this was a tribute to the classic Italian sauce and I was impressed that they have been bold enough to exclude all cheese on this new pizza flavour. This is rather authentic and isn't something you see much outside of Italy.

Using a more hearty olive mix from The Real Olive Company, and supported with capers, chilli, anchovies, lemon and garlic this pizza certainly packs a punch. A real 'adults pizza' as Valentine described it.

We punched that bad boy in for the prescribed number of minutes in the pizza oven and when it return sprinkled some fresh oregano leaves in a random fashion. 

I expected I would love this pizza - as olives and anchovies are a favourite combination of mine - but was a bit disappointed with the first slice I had back. It came through as far too lemony and lacking the fishy punch was expecting from the anchovies.

Then I discovered that a slice from another version next to me was far better with more balanced flavours. One of the attendees obviously went to town with the lemon oil (we had no way of tracking whose pizza was whos). Hell it may have been me? Who knows...

I vowed to come back and sample this recipe from one of the proper pizza chefs in a normal service. Bex really enjoyed hers however and was raving about it afterwards. For me the winner on the day was the fennel pizza - but both were impressive.

It was great chatting to Valentine - he's a funny dude. Turns out he used to work for Pizza express in his early career and has some great stories from those days. 

We were given the left over pizza to take home and eat. The Puttanesca was great cold. I actually think I preferred it that way!

Overall two very exciting new pizzas. Valentine's Fennel and Salami is the star of the show.

Another successful blogging event where we got to stuff our faces - with pizza no less.

Thanks to the fine folks at Pizza Express for inviting us.


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