Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Tale Of 2 (Kebab) Pizzas

I'm not well. I never usually am for the few days after a stay in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny; My spiritual home, thanks entirely to the beautiful souls that inhabit the area and have given me and my comrades in Band On An Island and our entourage some of the best memories and hangovers we'll ever be lucky enough to cherish and suffer.

That's my bit done for the local tourist board.

The reason for this trip was Neon Wolf. Great friends of ours from the locality for many years who to my and countless others delight have become one of the best bands this country has produced in a generation.
Knowing the carry on in store with their debut EP "Love Lost In Design" peaking on the download charts at number one last Friday and with a packed home town show lined up there was no keeping me and a few of the other Newbridge messers away.

Epic Bank Holiday Sunday gig done and dusted and many a beverage consumed into the early hours afterwards I made an attempt to get the lunchtime train home on Monday. Ham and cheese roll, newspaper and bottle of water in hand, myself and a very hungover Gary Wickham set off for the train station. Unfortunately Fortunately escaping from this town is never an easy task. No sooner had we walked out the door of the shop when Lee, bass man in Neon Wolf, and ourselves spotted each other from opposite sides of the road. Across the road from where I was standing is The Jerpoint Inn. Enough said. The whirlwind that transpired in the next 30 seconds was typical Thomastown. Before I knew it I was in the pub, sitting at the bar, surrounded by local heroes, Stevie, guitarist with Neon Wolf by my side. The barman, Stevie's cousin John, telling me that I wouldn't stand a chance of digesting that roll without drinking a pint of some description with it. I knew in my heart of hearts that I neither wanted nor could resist the all day session that was promised. Poor Gary, not having the luxury of the day off was sent packing to the train on his lonesome.

Bank Holiday Monday was there on a plate.. And by Jaysus the curse of the town would have been on me if I refused it.

Jump to 9pm.

So you know how'd you'd be with 10 or 15 pints inside of you, not to mention a couple of shots of some Godforsaken tack that more than closely resembled in colour and taste a pound shop grade shower gel; you're going to be a little bit peckish.
"Right boys, I'm going to get us something to eat". Having relocated a few hours earlier to the familiar head quarters of Eddie Murphy's Pub, I was going on the hunt for food. "Get the Taco Pizza in Monti's" I was told unanimously. "Fair enough!" says I.

Around the corner I went but alas whatever ingredient was crucial to the construction of this much revered beauty was lacking from the pizza makers arsenal on this occasion.
Never one to rest on my laurels when in this tender condition I ordered the item located next to the Taco Pizza on the menu : "Kebab Pizza". I paid up, went back around to finish my pint and returned 10 minutes later not having any inclination that the package I was handed would change the standards of what I would consider a taste sensation forever.

Now I'd like to state for the record that Monti's Take Away in Thomastown is a chipper I've visited on average of about once a month for the past few years and have never ever been even slightly disappointed with anything I've got from there. There's not a lot of chippers in Ireland that I can say that about. The best way to judge any chipper is by it's chips. There is no excuse for a bad bag of chips. Ever.
It drives me mad to get a bag of under cooked chips, many places will do this to keep a queue moving and get people away from the counter. Saving a minute or 2 in time might create the illusion of a better service but will ultimately send potential regular customers somewhere else. This practice is even rampant in the multinational fast food chains where their skinny, hardly worth a shite anyway, French fries take about 3 minutes from frozen to cook. The company policy of getting the customer served and away from the counter in seconds puts their employees under great pressure and I constantly see the fries being lifted from the cookers 30 seconds and up to a minute early creating a far inferior product. Have a look at the countdown timers visible from the counter the next time you see a member of awkwardly waiting for the fries to cook. Chip rant over. Just to say that I've never seen the staff in Monti's cut this or any other corner and it shows.

I was first off was very impressed with the artwork on the box. Not unique to here but none the less it's never any harm to put in a bit of effort in this department. An aul happy looking chef holding a delicious pizza standing in front of a view of a lovely sunny day over the sea. You couldn't ask for more than that in my book.

I couldn't resist a little sneaky peak inside on the 20 second walk back to the pub. It was one weird looking pizza but Holy Mother of God did it smell nice.

I'm not going to beat around the bush, I don't have a bulls notion what was on the thing apart from the doner kebab meat. There's clearly 2 different sauces on this lad, maybe there was a little cheese on the base, I can't honestly say. What I can say is that at the time of eating, and I'm fully aware that legally I probably shouldn't have been even let operate the simple mechanism of opening a pizza box but, it was the tastiest pizza I've ever eaten.

Sure look at the delighted satisfied heads on me and Stevie eating the thing. 

On Tuesday morning while making a break for the relative solitude of Co. Kildare, and even in the absolute tatters that I was in, I made sure to pass by Monti's on the tiny chance they might be open early to repeat the previous nights creation, it wasn't to be.

So there I was the very next day searching all the pizza places in Newbridge on the off chance that they might do a similar kebab pizza. I hit on one place offering a "Greek Kebab Pizza: Tasty lamb kebab meat with sliced red onions & Tzatziki sauce." This was from the newly reopened and relocated  Apace Pizza. I've always liked Apace (even allowing for the very annoying and stereotypically questionable "Apace Pizza, Happy Days" radio ad) so I was glad to see them reopening in the town. I threw in an order to them via the website.

Another reason why I was glad to see Apace reopen was they do just about the nicest side order in the business. JalapeƱo Poppers. At €4 for 4 they are a little expensive but I will say that the other times I've had this side order were in 2 or 3 well respected places in New York and none of them could hold a candle to the ones from Apace.

All they are is JalapeƱos stuffed with cream cheese, battered and deep fried. Absolute perfection. I'd eat them by the ton.

Now my first impression of the pizza after I'd seen what the other looked like was "these aren't the droids I'm looking for". And it wasn't. Now that's not to say there is anything wrong with this pizza, it was tasty and I stuffed my face....

And my trusty side kick Pippin's face with it. As as rule she eats a little of everything I get. She's like a canary down the mineshaft, the day she starts getting sick from eating all this crap I'll start to worry about myself.
She was doing laps of the kitchen for the doner meat, she loved it.

But anyway to get to the point. If I had of gotten this pizza from Apache without tasting the one from Monti's I would have been perfectly happy with it. It's definitely worth a try. It seems there's a whole world of Kebab Pizzas out there and I'm more than happy to try them all.

Here's the debut single and video from Neon Wolf. I can't recommend the EP enough, buy it from iTunes or preferably from your local sole trader Irish owned record shop but either way check them out.

Incidentally this isn't the first time Neon Wolf have been featured on this blog. Drummer Joe was featured in The Dog Father Hot Dogs but unfortunately has since sold the operation on. I hope whoever takes over the reigns of this wonderful hot dog making machine gives it as much care and attention as Joe did.

Till next time
B.S x

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