Franco Manca is a gift of a pizzeria that keeps on giving. Despite the fact that this pizza chain aspires to achieve UK domination, with almost 40 sites planned, I’m pleased to report that standards are still very high and prices very low!
We started with some delicious antipasti; burrata pugliese and garlic bread were particular highlights. Cream-infused mozzarella is always going to be a winner for me, with a little drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of crunchy salt. Simplicity at its finest. The garlic bread was generously smothered, unapologetically, with roasted garlic – and just the way it should be too!
Pizza, pizza, pizza! I chose the daily special of mozzarella, San Marzano tomato base, Gloucester Old Spot ham, Kalamata olives and watercress. Now Franco Manca is famous for its sourdough bases and there’s good reason for it -it’s simply bloody great. The pizzas go into a 500c wood-fired oven for only 55 seconds to cook, crisp-up and get that ever-so-delicious slight smoky char. The flavours didn’t disappoint; cracking tomato sauce with juicy ham, deep flavoured salty olives and peppery, crisp watercress. They are even offering to make your pizza on a heart base as a special Valentine treat! Pizza as good as this is love after all.
One of the best things about Franco Manca is the price; from £5 up to £7.50 for a proper good pizza. This is a real one in the eye for the takeaway rip-off merchants who tout their decidedly average wares for £15+. It’s truly refreshing to see a quality restaurant offering a simple but excellent menu at really reasonable prices. Bravo Franco Manca, bravo.
Exciting news! I am running a pop up Supper Club with the guys at Brother Marcus, Balham.
Brother Marcus has quickly established itself as a firm favourite on the south London food scene since opening in early 2016. Opened by three talented pals with backgrounds in coffee, catering and street food, these guys have gone from strength to strength with an all day, relaxed cafe vibe. Check out my full review of their big stuffed sandwiches from an earlier visit here.
They’re now hosting a series of Supper Clubs and from 6th-8th April I will be popping up with a ‘Greatest Hits’ menu based on the most loved recipes from my 7 books. Everything will be served to share family style on communal tables and finished off with a glorious pot of Yorkshire Tea.
Tickets from £32pp are available to purchase here. Get them fast!
Greatest Hits Menu
Yorkshire Pudding Slider – Home Cured Salmon with Horseradish Crème Fraîche & Watercress
Crisp Polenta with Caponata Salad
Slow Roasted Studded Lamb w/ Dauphinoise + Greens
Divine Triple Chocolate Tart with Grapefruit Sorbet and a Pot of Yorkshire Tea
Photo from: Sam Stern’s Cookery Course: for students in the kitchen. (Quadrille £18.99) Photography: Chris Terry
This combines two of my favourite things, apple crumble and ALL cake! The apple roses are an impressive touch and deceptively simple thing to make.
Find the recipe here
When I went to Edinburgh Uni I fell in love with the great chieftain o’ the pudding race. On hearing that Mac and Wild have opened a new restaurant near Liverpool Street I had to go check it out, the chieftain commanded it. As you may have guessed, Mac and Wild specialise in Scottish fare and if you are into whisky, this new offering has a specialist whisky bar too. I’m not there on the whisky just yet, a bit too burny for my taste but I’m all about the Scottish food, and no, it’s not just deep-fried Mars bars.
Of course the first thing we ordered were the haggis pops, little deep fried balls of lightly spiced haggis served with a rich whiskey sauce – probably the most stereotypical Scottish food imaginable and an absolutely cracking start to the meal. The venison terrine was next up, soft sumptuous meat scattered with crunchy pistachios, perfect for spreading over bread and smothering with chutney.
Mac and Wild boast that all of their venison is wild, and as a great believer in well sourced ingredients taking food to the next level, the offering of a venison chateaubriand was pretty irresistible. The waiter came over and informed us that the meat needed 10 minutes of resting which only gave me even greater expectations for the dish, being well sourced and well treated. My god it was tender, like butter. No steak knives needed here! A real treat to share for those of us who are proper carnivores. With the venison came some of the best mash I have ever eaten. Technically, I’m not sure it could be called mash because of the amount of delicious, delicious butter it was combined with..mmm! Haggis mac n’ cheese was also a winner, of course it was. Cheesy mac, lightly spiced haggis with a crispy breadcrumb topping. The winter slaw provided crunchy light relief and balance between mouthfuls.
If that wasn’t enough to get you itching to go, this will. The Burger of the Year 2016 award goes to Mac and Wild for the veni-moo burger. Beef patty, venison patty, cheese, béarnaise & caramelised onions with candied bacon. Bloody hell it was fantastic! Please go and try it, it’s only a tenner and will make your life better.
Overall, you have to go and check this place out. Starters average about £6 and mains range from £10 for the burger to £12/100g for the chateaubriand, so it caters to all budgets. Go eat that burger!!!!!
It’s that time of year again and I have the perfect recipe for a quick and tasty treat to get you feeling festive. As an added bonus your kitchen will be filled with the delicious sweet buttery smell of baking along with freshly zested orange – and nothing quite says Christmas like chocolate orange. These little shortbread biscuits will keep for 3 or 4 days in an airtight container, if they last that long!
Find the recipe here.