Friday, 18 June 2010

South Korea V Argentina: The Ultimate World Cup Pub (bar & restaurant) Crawl

By Rebecca Brett

Supporting South Korea against Argentina, in a Shoreditch Pizza deli, on a sunny afternoon. That was not a sentence I thought I’d be saying pre-World Cup. Nor did I think that I would have watched almost every single game whether it be from the comfort of my sofa or in a bar, pub, or restaurant somewhere in London.

It’s a sunny day, normally I would be the first in the park to soak up some rays while ignoring the rest of the world while snoozing or catching up on the latest ‘Shock horror – she was once so slim then, she got fat again, but look at her now she has lost four stone’ Heat magazine issue.

I’ve changed. The World Cup has changed me – I am loving every minute of it. So to be a part of Fluid London’s World Cup restaurant crawl this summer is making me happy. I get to visit great places to watch the football.

The great place today; Pizza East on Shoreditch High Street. I always feel inadequate around these parts, I don’t think my shoes are cool enough, my hair is probably too safe (I brushed it this morning – gasp) and I don’t have any odd piercings or tattoos.

The safe haven was meeting my Big Sis wearing her suit dress and smart shoes; I am definitely cooler than her even if she does describe my get up as a curtain. But it doesn’t matter what we’re wearing, Pizza East has a mix up of people sitting in the deli area; from the suits tapping away at their laptops to the men in jeans and t-shirts who have come in for a pint and to watch the match. Finally somewhere that is showing the match that has more than me and my guest in.

Ok, there is a problem with Pizza East, they don’t have the commentary on (some might say thank the lordy – no constant buzzing from the vuvuzela) I do like to hear the likes of Mick McCarthy droning on about what’s going on in the match but it’s not a huge problem. The other people, especially the four lads sitting opposite me, are giving constant commentary anyway with their cheers, oohs and aahs.

So the football is on, we’re sitting in the deli area of the section –a huge table that probably could sit thirty people around it. The area has a market place feel to it, with melons, bread, apples, podded peas and freshly baked banana loaf for sale in the centre of the table and more on the back wall of rice, pasta, flour and oils.

Time to order, forget Margarita, Mighty Meaty and vegetarian supreme, the sort of pizzas you get here are just as trendy as the surrounding area, Big Sis and I tuck into a smoked salmon, tomato, ricotta and caper pizza and it was divine. I’m not sure how the pizza bases are made but it was light, fluffy and crispy all at the same time. We probably didn’t need to order the Gem lettuce, pancetta, hazelnut and gorgonzola salad but we did and it made for the perfect accompaniment to the pizza. It was certainly filling.

Half a pizza down and Argentina are 2-0 up, Maradona certainly looks happy but it seems those around the table are cheering for the underdog just like me so when South Korea score just before half time there are some cheers from the group.

We finish all of the pizza; it’s a mean feat considering the size of the portions. For such a tasty treat and for the size of them, Pizza East is considerably inexpensive, paying on average £10 for a pizza.

Big Sis’s lunch break is over so I’m alone to watch the rest of the match and decide whether I should pig out on the Pannacotta with strawberries and basil or the warm banana cake with toffee sauce and hazelnut gelato. Oh so tempting.

The second half sees Argentina score another two goals leaving the final score 4-1, inevitable. What wasn’t predictable was that my trot east to Shoreditch would leave me feeling full and content even without dessert and vowing that I will be back to Pizza East. World Cup or not, it was individual and a great place for lunch with the girls before blagging our way on to the rooftop pool at Shoreditch House to enjoy the sunshine and veg out, letting the pizza go down.

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