Sunday, 15 September 2019

At home: Pizza Express

AD: Gifted items.

Pizza Express at home pizzas are consistently good quality, with a tasty base and generous toppings. Ideal for a treat but cheaper than a take away.

Pizza Express got in touch to let me know about their new extra premium range of at-home pizzas. They have added some new flavours to the Romana range. The base is thinner and larger than the standard Pizza Express offering, which they say is a better delivery system for the toppings.

When I first read about the new range, I thought the flavours sounded delicious. Think a premium Margherita with basil and mozzarella pearls, Carbonara with ham, mushroom and mascarpone; and Ragu with bolognese, ricotta and red onion.

I tried the Ragu, Carbonara and Vegetable and Ricotta; all of which are available at Waitrose. They are presented in a large swanky blue and gold box with a little hole to show the toppings.

The cooking information is detailed, with some top tips for getting the best possible results. Of course, you will know your oven best so keep an eye on the pizzas while they're cooking. Mine needed a little less time in my fan oven.

When I opened the plastic wrapping, the toppings were already pretty evenly distributed. I was impressed with the amount of cheese and other toppings. Following the instructions, I chose to drizzle some oil over the top before popping in the oven.

The pizzas had tasty bases which really did carry the toppings well. I enjoyed the fact that the veggies retained a little crunch. The meats were good quality. Each slice was delicious.

The front of the box makes it clear that the pizza is 'made for sharing' and a look at the calories explains why.

Yes, pizza is a treat and 1000 calories on a one-off isn't the end of the world but if you don't feel like that much pizza, you can share or save some for lunch the next day, as I did. To add a bit of freshness, I cooked myself some broccoli.

I'm really impressed with the quality of this new range of Romana pizzas. Great toppings, a great treat.

Pizza Express Romana Pizzas

Photographs taken by me.

Pizzas were complimentary for review purposes. 

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Eating out: Marmalade at Birmingham REP

The food and drink were  complimentary for publicity purposes. 
Marmalade: The restaurant inside Birmingham REP Theatre. They are open for lunch and dinner with a pre-theatre menu. There's also a bar. They've just revamped their food and drink offering, which I'll share a little of in this post.

The terrace

Marmalade at the REP is situated on Centenary Square, which itself is going through a bit of a revamp. To make the most of this, Marmalade have a lovely terrace set up (seemingly sponsored by Martini). Here was where I started the party, with a sensible iced tea as it was so hot.

Inside has been kept the same, sensible as it's a lovely space.


New partnerships with local and national drinks suppliers make for a well-stocked bar. Beer is from the splendid Purity who had even brewed up a limited edition Marmalade Pale Ale for the occasion. Fingers crossed they bring this back as it was summery, light and zingy without being overly sweet or fruity.

New to Birmingham and Marmalade are ODK Mixers, who are providing the syrups and fruit juices for iced teas, cocktails, mocktails etc.

I also tried a Spritz made with Martini Fiero, an orange vermouth which might put you in mind of another summery aperitif!

I love that Marmalade are making connections with other local businesses, such as Sam of The Vanguard , who has recently launched his own mead: The Modern Mead Co. If you don't know, Mead is an alcoholic drink made with honey. That's it really. The Modern Mead Co have worked hard to create a light, crisp mead. Don't be put off by the honey- it isn't sickly. If you haven't tried mead you need to give this one a go. We tried it on its own and also in a 'Meadmosa' made with sparkling wine and orange juice. Splendid. If you want to know more, click on the two links above.


I didn't have a full meal but I tried a lot of the menu in canape and sample form. What I like is that the menu at Marmalade feels reasonably healthy. Yes there's treats (fish and chips, pate, chocolate mousse) but you can have your pre-theatre meal here and feel like you've been good to yourself.

Vegetarians, pescetarians and vegans seemed well taken care of  but you should take Tofu Tasha's word for vegans over mine.

They also have Afternoon Tea (veggie and vegan available) - a rather classy way to start an afternoon at the theatre I'd say.

A lovely evening sampling the new menu at Marmalade. Definitely the place to visit for dinner or lunch before an excellent show at the REP.

Marmalade at Birmingham REP

Photos are my own

Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Drink: Blue Tea Box

The box was complimentary for review purposes.

Blue Tea Box  is an absolutely genius product for tea lovers or the tea lover in your life. £6.99 gets you a bag of top quality tea through your postbox each month, which is cheaper than at least two high end tea shops I can think of.

You can also get three teas for £12.99, which is what I tried. Cleverly, you can choose the styles of tea you would like: black, green, connoisseur (such as oolong and white), infusion (mint, fruit) or healthy (herbal, rooibos).

I picked Green, Healthy and Connoisseur. When I buy tea I always reach for the fancy black teas and my cupboard is full of them so I tried to pick styles I don't already have lots of.

Blue Tea Box have a variety of quality suppliers, which they bring together to make your perfect tea selection. So although I knew the styles of tea I didn't know exactly what they would be.

The box fell through my letterbox (no need to sign) containing three generous pouches of loose leaf tea and an information card for each.

Each tea was excellent quality and easy to use. I have a couple of tea pots but you can use one of those individual ones. It says the temperature the water should be on the pouch- basically if it's 90 odd degrees it should be straight off the boil. If it's less, leave it to cool a little or add cold water.

Refresher Green is a zingy and-yes- refreshing green tea. Lovely for mid-afternoon dips.
The Herbal Detox Tisane is the one I've got through the most (let's ignore the word detox). Made of a relaxing and tummy-friendly mix of nettle tops, rooibos, chamomile, ginger, fennel, peppermint and more, this was perfect for the hours between dinner and sleep.
Finally, Body Boost, another zingy, refreshing tea due to the addition of Yerba Mate. I've particularly enjoyed this one on weekends.

The pouches are generous and I didn't get through them in a month, but that's partly because I am at work so much and partly because I am always buying tea so my cupboard is full of it. If anything, having this subscription might stop me buying so much! You can also send a subscription of Blue Box Tea as a gift. 

Not into tea? Try Blue Coffee Box.

Blue Tea Box

Photos are my own.

The subscription box was complimentary for review purposes.