Flor x ASAP Pizza 1 Bedale St, London SE1 9AL
Flor x ASAP Pizza: I owe Pamela Yung
"Look- if you don't like it, then I'll buy your lunch" said a pair of fixing eyes over the top of a mask, the side doors of the police van flinging open and a group of officers piling out. Having now mustered across the road from us and gesturing with a single sweeping hand movement"it's the best mac and cheese around, I'm telling you" says the officer who, regardless of rank, is clearly in charge.
I immediately materialise amongst them, completely ignoring the possibility that I could be charged with wasting police time, asking that the officer be more specific. While the rest are clearly uncomfortable with the ongoing situation, I’m then implored to join them with the promise that I, too, will not regret it.
But a few steps in, I realise where we’re going and bail- remembering that I have had it before and, good grief what is this person on about? The memories of pallid, mushy penne- claggy with bland bechamel and spiked with the bitter salt of scorched bacon, having come flooding back. Besides, I’m not here for mac and cheese, anyhow.
I look across the street to the equally exasperated eyes of my Editor, patiently marking our place in the queue for the legendary Flor, who have been hosting a slew of guest pizzas under the muche-exalted command of Pamela Yung. Somewhere between the endorsement of Eric Wareheim and having narrowly missed Matty Matheson's slices by a week, curiosity was high.
Today saw the creations of Sarah Minnick and Philip Krajeck, famed for their strong sense of traditional Italian influence and new-school approach, respectively. Sarah has delivered a Mayan Gold potato, fontina and nettles which was a vast departure from the only time I’ve had potato on pizza in the south of France, which was a take on tartiflette. The coins of potato are firm and toothsome, characterised by a nuttiness and more honeyed than anticipated with a creaminess that blends into the fontina. Cut with that subtle herbaceous drizzle of nettle that resembles a loose pesto, the entire number is a high-five to discretion being the better part of valour.
Just as befitting in style is Philip’s creation of syrupy Tropea onions, the demi-funk of Morbier with its satisfying oozeability and then, completely out of left-field, a deer garum and torched anchovies. With only a sliver of anchovy (I hold no grudge as such- the queue is long and the slicing swift and ceaseless, which can’t always guarantee an even distribution) it still offers that meaty hit of salt but the garum isn’t readily apparent. Regardless, it’s that rush of Haribo-sweet onion that’s the focus.
The dough boasts Bulldog pride with the use of UK heritage grains which provides solace in knowing that we, as a nation, can do this also. A base that is so thin but absolutely refuses to wane; that can bear the load of dense and wet ingredients alike. A base that punctuates each bite with crisp crunch- it’s all I've ever wanted in a pizza- I just had no idea until this moment.
The resurgence of ‘The Sarnie’ as an art form in itself, is something I personally welcome. As someone who tried and failed to make a business out of them, I’m beside myself when encountering those that live out my bygone dreams. Shout-out to 40 Maltby Street, Max’s and Bake Street- the guardians of my dreams. Of course a sarnie is not out of place in a bakery, but I’d gleefully argue that a sarnie that contains a chicken-fried veal sweetbread, adorned with gribiche and some leaves, is.
A fine batter that both nurses and protects the virtues of a sweetbread- it’s deeply caramelised but the sweetbread itself is meltingly supple. The gribiche is a chunky balm to the residual fryer heat, bursting with capers, dill and chives- the cornichons zipping through all the fattiness, the brioche bun being no exception.
Pam’s gone now, and who can blame her? The calamitous hellscape that England has become can’t be very enticing for someone who possesses talent that would be gladly received almost anywhere else in the world. I realise I’m late to the Pam Party and she already has the affection of those with clout in London, so I’m essentially pulling a party popper after the actual party, on my tod, having just mine swept the tables. But London is a transient city as much as a home to a network of deeply rooted institutions- but with a bit of luck, Pam might grace us again.