Reviewed – Izza Pizza In Selfridges Birmingham

 

The best pizza I ever had was in Sardinia. A small, unassuming looking pizzeria created pizzas to order, which were then eaten in the square in the Old Town in Alghero, overlooking the harbour with the sun shining. The locals all flocked there (always a good sign) and the square was filled with extended families all enjoying the early evening sunshine and the delicious sourdough pizzas, stone baked in traditional ovens. I remembered those delicious pizzas well on Sunday, when I went along to Izza Pizza, the newest food outlet in Selfridges in Birmingham, and part of the Lasan Group who are dedicated to creating good food in many different types of cuisine. Izza Pizza creates delicious Italian style street food with fast and efficient service.

We were greeted in a friendly manner and allowed to chose our table. We started by ordering soft drinks and I was recommended a new addition to the menu, a fresh and traditional style lemonade which is not yet on the menu. It was delicious – traditional lemonades can be too sharp and zesty but this had mint and was just sweet enough to avoid those ‘faces’ (you know exactly what I mean.). Hubby enjoyed a selection of olives whilst we perused the menu, I’m not a fan but he assured me they were delicious.

Izza Pizza has a great children’s offering of a six inch Margherita Pizza and Ice Cream for just £5.50. If your little one is brave you can add additional toppings, but the Margherita itself is lovely, with lots of stringy cheese and tomato. From the adults menu I opted for one of the Izza 12 inch remixes, the Tease and Onion(£8.95), whilst Pete, ever a classicist, went for Quattro Stagioni (£10.50). We also ordered sides, two portions of seasoned wedges (£3.50) and a garlic flatbread (also £3.50). We opted for all the food to come out together rather than as a starter and mains.

You can see the pizzas being prepared, and the eye catching golden oven ensures lovely scents are adding to the general temptation of Pizza. The food was very quick to arrive, which was impressive, but if I’m to be honest, it could’ve done with being a tad warmer. That said, the portions were good and hearty, and the flavours rich and tasty. My pizza was very flavoursome, due in no small part to the addition of goats cheese, whilst the Quattro Stagioni was just filled with topping. The sourdough base was excellent, and made it perfect for eating the Italian way – that is ripped and then rolled so you lose non of the toppiings.

The sides, in particular the wedges were excellent. I’m not generally a fan of wedges, often finding them greasy, but these were crisp and tasty, with fluffy potato in the middle, and the creamy chive mayo dip was the perfect accompaniment. The flatbread was frankly amazing, dripping with garlic butter and of a generous portion size too.

I really enjoyed the pizza and frankly couldn’t finish it, it was so generous with the topping that I was full well before finishing. In hindsight, you could share a pizza and sides and that would make a great lunch option. With the friendly and efficient service that is offered, and the added delight of being able to people watch in Selfridges, I would definitely recommend giving Izza Pizza a try very soon.

Izza Pizza

Selfridges Food Hall, Birmingham

Click here for menu and more information.

 

Feasting at the Chef’s Table at Grill LaTour

An invitation to dine at the Chef’s table at one of my favourite Birmingham Hotels was the exciting proposition that dropped into my inbox a couple of weeks ago. Hotel LaTour has always offered fabulous fine dining in its Aalto restaurant, but the rebranding of the restaurant as Grill LaTour, with an emphasis on my very favourite food, succulent steak, was something for foodies(and me!) to get very excited about.

A really good steak restaurant has to be one of my favourite places to eat, and when the restaurant is also offering fresh produce, including locally grown fruit and vegetables, I think you have a destination that will be hard to beat. Hotel LaTour has teamed up with innovative project Edible Eastside in order to offer food grown in urban Birmingham, in the Eastside allotment space,  as part of the menu. From September, the hotel will also be growing its own produce in its very special roof garden – all very exciting stuff!

DSCN8834With all these developments in mind, the opportunity to sample key dishes on the menu was a very welcome one, so I joined a team of real foodies for the most delightful night of fine dining. We were greeted with a glass of Prosecco that was crisp and refreshing, before making our way to the chef’s table in the main restaurant. The chef’s table offer a full dining experience for 6-8 people, but for tonight we were able to choose a traditional 3 course meal, with specially selected drinks to compliment.  All the dishes on offer were from the new Grill menu. Before choosing our dishes, we were introduced to a truly magnificent piece of steak (almost a cow in my humble opinion), the Tomahawk, which was meant for sharing and certainly tempted a few of our party.

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For my starter I opted for Chicken Liver Parfait. This was a delicious pate that was served with Pear Chutney and Sour dough crisps. I was unsure about the Pear Chutney when I read it on the menu as I’m not a fan of pears in general (pear cider doesn’t count does it?) but it was really unusual, quite sharp and vinegary, which totally complimented the savoury chicken liver. The sour dough crisp was also good, although I do think a crusty bread would  be a good accompaniment to such a generous amount of parfait.

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For my main it was always going to be a steak, and as I am a bit Jack Spratt in that department (avoiding fat like the plague), a fillet steak was definitely calling to me.  I chose to have mine with Bearnaise sauce, and I honestly couldn’t have asked for any more from this dish. The steak was perfectly done to my taste – medium and pink, but not blood running. It sliced so easily, it was just so soft and tender. I was interested to learn something new about cutting steak – my knife was sharp, but not serrated, as I always thought a steak knife needed to be, but chef explains that a jagged edge just rips and tears the meat. My steak was accompanied by a grilled tomato and crispy shallots, as well as hand cut chips which had been seasoned to perfection. The whole dish was perfectly balanced, traditional, but with lovely twists, like the crunchy shallots, a nice change from the huge onion rings that often spoil this sort of dish. A hearty Malbec was also pretty much the perfect wine to bring out the flavours of the dish.

DSCN8849I was very interested to see what the other diners were trying out. The huge LaTour Tomahawk attracted lots of attention and, I have to say, looked like the ultimate in sharing dishes, with 900g grams of steak, confit potatoes, handcut chips and seasonal vegetables making a real feast of food. The lovely Dave from Brum Hour thoroughly enjoyed the Steak and Brummie Ale Pie which looked enormous and needed a spoon, as well as a knife and fork. I also really liked the look of Hanger Steak Skewer which came with shoestring fries and garlic butter.

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DSCN8846Unfortunately, at this point, I had to leave the proceedings. But before leaving I got a very welcome opportunity to enjoy one of my all time favourite cocktails one more time. The 1889 cocktail, so named for the year Birmingham gained city status, is a frothy confection of gin, apple elderflower, ginger and lime….and a touch of CO2. It needs to be drank straight away for the full effect, and is, quite frankly, heaven in a glass.

photograph c/o Ed James group

photograph c/o Ed James group

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Fabulous!

I enjoyed a wonderful night of dining at Hotel LaTour, and was truly impressed with the quality of the dishes on offer. If you are looking for a great dining experience in Birmingham, Grill LaTour should definitely be on agenda.

*With thanks to Jane Riley and Natalie Murison of Hotel LaTour, and the Ed James Group for the kind invitation.



 

Valentine’s Day Ideas from Hotel Chocolat

If the way to a woman’s heart is via the stomach, you can pretty much guess that every signpost on route will be labelled ‘chocolate’. And so, with Valentine’s day now within walking distance, it seems like a box of choccies is a sensible, if safe option as a gift for you Valentine.

But if this is the option you are taking, make sure you do it in style. And by that, I mean with one of the sumptuous collections from leading British chocolatiers, Hotel Chocolat. Hotel Chocolat takes chocolate to the next level, with a range of unusual ingredients and flavours that are a gourmet’s delight.

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The Sleekster Valentine Selection £24 click to visit Hotel Chocolat

DSCN5921The lovely Beau-Jane from Hotel Chocolat was kind enough to send me a box of the ‘Sleekster Valentine selection’ for me to review, and I have to say this was one of the most pleasurable reviewing experiences I have ever had. (ahem!) The selection is made up of 28 chocolates, all filled with a range of delicious fillings. The flavours, in full, are Passion Fruit Truffle, Strawberry & Rose Truffle, Triple-Layer Praline, Salted Caramel Cheesecake, Balsamic Caramel, Pink Champagne Truffle, Lemon Berry Tart, Caramel Praline, Soft Caramel, Champagne Bellini, Chilli, Ginger & Almond Praline and Creamy Raspberry Truffle.

DSCN5932These are chocolate treats that look amazing, and taste just as good. There is truly something for every taste. I love caramel and strawberry flavours, and so was really taken with the balsamic caramels, a sort of mini whip shaped treat, and also the pink Champagne truffles (delicious – you could really taste the Champers.) For hubby, who enjoys nutty chocolates, the praline selections were a real hit. The flavours of all the chocolates were deep, this wasn’t a hint of Champagne Bellini, but a real hit of it, making the Sleekster collection a decadent treat. I can’t help but think the recipes for these chocolates were planned with Champagne flutes and a bubble bath in mind…

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Loving the wonderful colours.

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My favourite balsamic caramels in the foreground.

Everything about this selection of chocs screams luxury, and with the beautiful box covered in über romantic images, this is truly a wonderful Valentine’s gift that is good for giving, and for sharing.