Friday, 6 January 2012

Fire & Stone, Westfields.

What to say about this place? I love, love, love Italian food - cheeses, sauces, dough, basil, what's not to love? - but if I were really pushed for a favourite I would have to say that pizza is their finest achievement as a nation. In fact, it's one of my most beloved things ever; I am notorious for getting bored with foods easily and moving on to greener pastures, but not so with pizza. Not matter what time of day, month, year, give me a pizza and I will kiss you right on the mouth. 

So you can imagine my delight when I first frequented Fire & Stone in the summer, expecting an upmarket pizza joint akin to Pizza Express, Ask, Prezzo etc, and was stunned into gloriously appreciative silence when handed a menu absolutely teeming with pizza options from a smiling (and suspectly skinny) waitress. At Fire & Stone, they really have it all. Their pizzas take inspiration from around the globe, covering Europe, America, Africa, Asia and Australia, and making you feel something of a globe trotter just by perusing the menu. 

Yes, they offer a range of starters, pastas and desserts, but really the pizzas are their true claim to fame (I mean come on, they take up over half of the huge menu) and you can find it all here, from the more classic pizzas like the "Trinidad and Tobego", or a hot & spicy to the layman pizza consumer, containing pepperoni, chilis and jalapeƱo peppers, to the unusual and excitingly eccentric, such as their "Melbourne", which boasts brie, sweet roasted
butternut squash, balsamic roasted red onions and, to top it all off, toasted pumpkin seeds. Really. 

So, you can imagine my scarcely containable excitement and overwhelming self-pride at having found this restaurant in the first place, and I was more than satisfied with our choice (mercifully I am blessed with a boyfriend who likes to order two pizzas and then swap halfway through - good for someone who is cursed with being both greedy and indecisive, i.e. me) - a "Casablanca" which was heavenly creamy and featured one of my favourite things ever, blue cheese, alongside an aromatic rosemary infused mascarpone cheese sauce, richly robust garlic mushrooms and topped off perfectly with the crunch of toasted walnuts - it was salty, savoury and 100% delicious. However, my appetite was whetted most by their special offer at the time - an invention of pure genius, the "Brooklyn", which was, put simply, a New York Deli sandwich slapped on top of a pizza; mustard, gherkins, pastrami. It. Was. Heavenly. 

I was initially ever-so-slightly disappointed when I returned to Fire & Stone a few days ago only to discover that the legendary Brooklyn had not been granted a permanent spot alongside all their other fabulous pizza creations, but decided not to dwell on it, a.k.a I could feel tears welling up and didn't want to make a scene, and instead embrace the opportunity to try something else new and spectacular, the weirder sounding the better. And so I did. Announcing produly (although somewhat exhaustedly; there are a lot of pizzas to choose from) that I would have a "Marrakech", I sat back only to be suddenly overcome with trepidation; Fire & Stone's pizzas had become so legendary in my mind (and stomach) that I was sure they could never live up to my exacting standards. 

But guess what. It did. The Marrakech was absolutely sublime - containing a mint yoghurt sauce in place of traditional tomato, cummin spiced ground lamb, olives, red onions, raisins and (last but not least) chili oil, I was in absolute heaven with every (large) mouthful. It was ridiculously fresh and tangy due to the mint yoghurt sauce, making your mouth zing with flavour, whilst simultaneously satisfying any hunger pangs with the meaty, richly spiced ground lamb - and there was a lot of it. My favourite part, however, has to be the frankly genius decision to include a scattering of beautifully golden raisins over the lamb and mint yoghurty goodness - those sweet bursts of flavour surprising you every few mouthfuls made it difficult for me not to stand up and sing/propose to the chef/leave the rest of my student loan as a tip to say thanks.

The rest of the food consumed that night didn't fail to disappoint; their starter of crispy wonton king prawns was crunchily refreshing, made fantastic by a super savoury and sour-enough-to-make-you-squirm mirin sauce with ginger and chili. Dessert also really hit the spot; despite being immensely full from the sheer amount of food I had recently consumed, I managed to find room for it (justifying it to myself/my bank account by reasoning that it was research for my blog - smart) and was rewarded with a banoffee pizza. Yes, it is exactly as you imagine - all the ingredients of the american classic banoffee pie, namely bananas, a sticky sweet toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream, sliced, scooped and slathered over a crusty, crispy pizza base. True to Fire & Stone form, it was both slightly unusual and supremely delectable. Yum yum yum. 

At the risk of stating the obvious, I love Fire & Stone. That is all. 


banoffee pizza.

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