In my head, the potato and goat’s cheese gratin was perfect.
On my plate, unfortunately, it was less so.
I ate it anyway, pondering how it could have been better. I also pictured my childhood self, who would probably have sat there, refusing to eat, whilst on the receiving end of my mother’s well-worn lecture about the starving babies in Africa who would have been happy to eat whatever-it-was. It was always tempting to suggest that perhaps my mother might wrap up the uneaten dinner and send it to those less fortunate than ourselves, but I generally thought better of doing that.
The also-ran gratin
My goat’s cheesy efforts had, in fact, been inspired by news of Milano’s Christmas campaign to support Oxfam’s efforts to buy goats for needy third world families. You get fed, by way of Milano restaurant vouchers which can be claimed when you shop in Oxfam, and, through the gift of goats bought with the money raised, so do those families. An approach which is, of course, far more practical than sending those unloved leftovers through the post.
Dinner these days is a challenge.
Being in a new kitchen, I mean. With not everything in its right place. Yet.
So when Milano’s invited me to take part in their create your pizza challenge, I recall thinking that might just be a challenge too far under present circumstances.
Fortunately, they did send me the pizza dough, which, one would have to admit, helps a lot.
A kind of blue pizza
I think that my name is on a list somewhere. Some Italian food mafia list.
And make no mistake, they are out to feed me.
First, Milano’s invite me to come and taste their new Francesco Mazzei range. All of it. Two starters, a pasta dish and three pizzas. In one sitting.
Let me tell you that the word full doesn’t remotely cover it.
Milano's Francesco Mazzei Pizzas:
Calabrese (sweet, chili-hot and sausagey, the crowd favourite), Mia Sofia (a thin-based pizza blanca that is all about the mushrooms) and Rustichella (which, let's face it, people will love for the pancetta)
Then, when I had finished digesting that, they sent their guys around with dough balls and pizza from the new Milano At Home range (eh, don’t mind if I do, grazie mille). Perhaps they’re out to change my spudly ways (after all, with the noble exception of gnocchi, Italians don’t seem to go in much for the whole potatoes thing). Or maybe they wondered if I had opinions to share, which, when it comes to food, I generally do.