I've long since coveted a pizza oven since Cassius was first born, but alas, my balcony in New Cross would not accomodate it. This was the perfect opportunity to try it out, cooking pizzas at 375 degrees centigrade and to have a little taste of their new menu. Cider-braised pork ribs, falling off the bone and charred around the edges, had us fighting over them while the dough was being rolled out. There was a twist to the tale though; in keeping with the new pub's British ingredients ethic, we were to bring a mystery one of our own.
Potato slices par-cooked with garlic went on the first base and were topped with grated Cashel Blue and Stilton. The dough was just thin enough to convey the starchy slices, a double-carb heaven. I imagine this pizza is best for sharing, as it was rich and gutsy.
Thinly sliced pieces of beetroot, our first mystery guest ingredient worked surprisingly well, mingling nicely with melting pieces of goats cheese.
When it was my turn, I produced samphire; its crunchy, salty quality would match well with a soft, delicate ricotta along with globs of brown crab, rounds of chilli and, when cooked, topped with white meat.
Drizzled with garlic oil, it worked well had it been a home effort. The crab worked deliciously with the samphire, redolent of the sea but the crucial juiciness was missing and it's not one likely to make the menu.
Better was the professionally made chorizo pizza, made with Brindisa chorizo. Far more balanced in flavour, and far better suited to please the masses.
The best of the mystery ingredients was thinly sliced pieces of pear, paired with some sort of ham. We all agreed that the sweet, succulent slices balanced with the salty meat and gooey cheese worked brilliantly.
There were other successes, mainly pork based, and one proper wrong one - a haggis and potato slice topped pizza. Still, you've got to try, right? A revelation of the night involved a sweet dessert pizza; a Starburst bar wrapped into a calzone. Molten chocolate dribbled into my hands with a hint of peanut. A perfect sweet end.
The Actress doesn't open until Monday, but with what is so far a simple, pared down menu featuring good British ingredients, they already look like they're onto a winner. Don't worry, I don't think they'll be forcing a haggis pizza on you any time soon.
The Actress (website to follow)
90 Crystal Palace Road,
London, SE22 9EY