Thursday, 12 November 2015

Pizza of the Week: Domino's, Marrickville

My fast-food pizza of choice used to be Pizza Hut - from birth to age 20 it was the only pizza I'd ever eaten, thanks SED - but in the past year they've dramatically changed in quality, using different cheese, sauce and dough, and what was once a beloved and reliable friend is now an inedible mess. It's the biggest betrayal of my life. I've given them SO much loyalty, not to mention money. Long before Pizza Hut stabbed me in the back, I'd widened my pizza palate to include Domino's, and do I quite like it as well, though its spicier sauce does mess with my tummy a bit, thanks ulcerative colitis. Now, it's all I've got, when it comes to easy, fast, oily, tasty, chain store pizza. And that's what I wanted tonight. Sometimes, it's needed.

I had an online coupon: $33.95 for three pizzas, garlic bread and a Coke, which is a great deal, especially considering that I freeze leftover Domino's and eat it later. I can get four or five meals out of three large pizzas, if I ration out the slices into freezer bags. Leo gets the garlic bread. I don't like it.

I find the quality of Domino's very inconsistent, and so I had my fingers crossed for a good and satisfying order. They delivered. PUN INTENDED. Good effort, Domino's Marrickville. You nailed it tonight.

Look at these crunchy-crusted, comforting delicacies.

I forgot to take a pic of the cheese one before stuffing it into my face. The all-mushroom one was particularly delightful, because mushrooms, in layers, create a sort of savory juice of their own when cooked. A heavily mushroomed pizza is one of the juiciest things a non-meat-eater can eat.

They did bring a Coke instead of a Coke Zero, which is slightly annoying as I'm trying not to drink full-fat soft drink. The best sugar-free drink by FAR is Pepsi Max, another Pizza Hut casualty - in this country, Domino's has a deal with Coke and Pizza Hut has Pepsi products. And I am a lifelong Pepsi girl. Fight me.

So far I've eaten 6 out of a potential 24 slices - I shall stop now and bag the rest up for freezing. The trick to freezing pizza is doing it while the cheese is still warm - before the whole thing dries out. If you let it defrost properly (NOT in the microwave, they change the molecular structure of food and therefore affect the taste, and it makes Domino's pretty tasteless) and then gently re-heat in the oven, it's almost as good as new.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Pizza of the Week: Rosso Antico, Enmore

I'm the polar opposite of a foodie, but is it okay if I use this blog to talk about really important pizza experiences that I've had?

So last night, Leo had to drop off a key for a workmate in Newtown (Leo, for anyone not immersed in my personal life, is my primary-companion-to-the-exclusion-of-all-others) and I decided to go with her because a) it was Halloween night and I wanted to see how that was going down on King St, and b) I was hungrier for more food than we currently had in the house. After meeting the esteemed colleague outside of The Hub - what's going on with that place, by the way? - we went up Enmore Road, expecting get pizza at serviceable staple like Azzuri, San Remo or Manoosh. But before we hit the Enmore Theatre stretch, we discovered Rosso Antico, a pizza bar which opened only recently on the street level of what used to be the empty and neglected Newtown RSL building.

The food looked decent from afar, so we decided to risk trying this new place rather than seeking out the familiar. It had a good atmosphere, very open. It was full of people enjoying themselves, but not full enough to be oppressive or to have a wait for a table, and it was very, like, on trend, with mismatched low-watt bulbs, unfinished brick walls, and that tried-and-tested hipster stable of cream subway tiling with black grout, which does it for me every single time. Also, their front wall is completely glass, and because it was Halloween, we ended up being passed by a disco Thor, the Phantom of the Opera, a dude Leia and lady Stormtrooper, a gorilla on a bicycle, a ton of wounded civilians and I'm-a-mouse-duhs, and a white guy in a P. K. Subban jersey as we ate.

I like many of your traditional pizza tropes: Italian, New York, Chicago, Lebanese, Domino's... I love them all for different reasons, but I like them to be the best possible versions of themselves, and this was by far the best Italian pizza I've had in Sydney. Gigi's was okay, but they were snooty pricks who have recently launched a vegan-only menu, possibly just to fuck with people. Nom Pizza in Marrickville does a very good take-away Italian-style, and Lucio in Darlinghurst, which is often in top ten lists for Sydney, is pretty much worth the hype. Rosso Antico was better than all of those. It's going to get a rep so fast, because it was fucking unbelievable.

Ohhhh myyyy godddd.

I had what I always have when it comes to Italian pizza - a margarita with mushrooms and black olives added. (If it's a fast-food place, or a crunchier base, I also get pineapple.) They did NOT skimp on the toppings. Thick chunks of mushroom - a lot of it, rather than one single mushroom sliced and artfully arranged across six slices, which is what you get sometimes when you add a vegetable request to a margarita - and handfuls of whole black olives, very high quality ones, I'm discerning about olives. The crust was that very chewy, puffed up type that thins out in the middle to disintegrating levels of floppy, a bit salty in a good way. The sauce was a light san marzano puree, not really strongly flavored with other herbs, but a very perfect blend.

Even the cheese was flavorful, which was a huge added bonus, because often with Italian pizza (at least in this country) the mozzarella isn't very strong - you get the texture and the oil and the basil and everything coming together to make a good package in your mouth, but if you isolate a chunk of cheese it's almost tasteless, especially if it's fior di latte as opposed to bufala. This was the best, yummiest, most stands-on-its-own-two-feet fior di latte I have ever experienced. Thank you, cows.

It was one of those pizzas where you pick up a slice and everything slides off unless you fold it properly, which I am bad at. I made a mess. I do not care. I picked up all the bits with my fingers. Huge puddles of tomato liquid/oil residue soaked through the middle of the pizza onto the plate and that stuff tasted so good on its own that I actually mopped my plate with spare crust, and I am not a mopper. There were too many olives to stay on the pizza, they literally rolled off, and I squeezed the sauce residue out of them into my mouth. And I couldn't finish it, which goes to show how weighty the toppings and cheese were, because usually Italian pizza is pretty light and I can eat a full one.

Leo had potato croquettes, which are the closest thing you'll find to mozzarella sticks in this country, and a pear/walnut/rocket/parmesan salad. She also had my last slice of pizza, though I ate the saucy, saucy mushrooms and olives. The croquettes were so big that she had to cut them up with a knife and fork, and she kept waving bits of pear in my face, so I guess she approved.

~aesthetic. From the Rosso Antico instagram.
Ohhhh my god, it was so very good and so very unexpected. A Halloween miracle. I am ranking it 9 out of 10 slices, purely because I didn't get to eat the last one.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

*taps mic* is this thing on?

The past twelve months have been the worst, for me, in at least ten years. In December I lost a job that I thought I was doing well at, where I felt creative and productive. In July, my dog died and my aunt died, within a week of each other, while I wasn't in the country. My mother's will finally came to term this year, so I've spent several months both mentally and physically preparing for the sale of my childhood home, which I own, and going through all the stuff of hers that was put into storage in a hurry. The house I rent - and I adore it - was also sold, and I had to deal first of all with financial advice and banks and bridging loans and begging in an attempt to buy it myself, which did not work out timing-wise, so then there were photographers and viewings and pushy agents and house-hunting. That situation didn't end up as bad as it could have - the new owners settled before an auction took place and we get to stay here as tenants (though there's a 40% rent increase) but it was a really bad time, especially as it was happening concurrently with all the death stuff. 

These circumstances caused long stretches of won't-get-out-of-bed, lose-track-of-time, can't-reply-to-emails-until-six-months-later depression, and a full-on shaking-on-the-floor panic attack in the airport when I was trying to fly out of San Diego to get back to Australia for a funeral and the local connecting airline accidentally locked my ticket so that the main airline wasn't able to access it.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of really awesome things happened too (amazing UK trip last October for The Libertines and everything that's happened with them since then, Megan visiting Australia for the first time, doing SDCC with Hypable, getting my learners permit, discovering The Raven Cycle and Hannibal and Hamilton and Kingsman and Deadpool and cronuts) and even the bad stuff served to strengthen a lot of personal bonds that I have with people - I've had important one-on-one conversations with a lot of friends this year and received immense amounts of support from places I never expected. But it's been a time, guys. This was The Year The Bad Things Happened.

During this time, writing was not something that helped me. I've never labeled myself a writer, but I was always a blogger - not, like, a "blogger," just a weblog diarist - from the moment I really got involved with online communities. I got a lot out of it, particularly in the days of LiveJournal. The instant gratification of Twitter did wean me off long-form blogging a bit, and I love my Twitter more than anything in this life, but I always returned to my blog when I really had something that I wanted to tell people about, or to explain the details of a situation and let my friends know what was going on.

That stopped working for me. In the past year, that prospect has seemed daunting. Attempting to explain myself or how I feel has been draining, not cathartic. Opening up a blank entry page was just like a stressful horror story, and I did it as little as possible, including, as I mentioned, replying to emails. This goes for my work as a features writer at Hypable too. I had no ideas or opinions that I could be bothered expressing. I've always toed deadlines because I find that I work best then, but this was more than that, it was active procrastination because I did not want to do it. Producing content each week became an anxiety-ridden obligation, to the point where I had to take an official break from my duties for the first time since I joined the site in 2011.

However, I'm finding in recent weeks that the worst is over. I took a really indulgent holiday by myself in September, after all of the housing/death mess was over. I saw a favorite band's reunion concert, a ton of friends, and five musicals in five days. It was intended to heal and recharge, and it kind of worked... or maybe it was just a matter of time. I'm writing for the site again and as I go, I'm actually getting excited about the prospect of composing my articles, jumping out of the shower to make notes... The thing is, I knew that I wanted to want to write. I just literally couldn't. But for now, I can. And for the first time in a long time, I also feel like writing for myself, in a more personal manner. I came across an old post on here today and thought that I'd dust this account off and have another go. I thought about starting a new blog, but that seems unnecessarily dramatic.

So this is ultimately going to be a personal, but public, blog. I've never actually had one of those before - my writing was always very divided between locked personal accounts, and public pop culture accounts, like this one used to be for a hot second. I hope to post medium sized-entries about anything that occurs to me, from my current mental state to reviews of the pizzas that I eat.

To any newbies who happen to end up here: no, I'm not trying to be, like, a thing. I come from the LiveJournal generation. We all used to do this. LiveJournal was like Twitter, but longer.

To any oldbies: hey.