Sunday, 15 February 2015

Programming and Pizza Perks

Java is one of the most commonly used programming languages in the world and derives its name from the fact that programmers are apparently addicted to coffee.  While I have not seen much evidence of this (maybe because the labs at Imperial forbid you to bring in hot drinks), I can say that ever since I started programming, my consumption of pizza has gone up exponentially.  In fact, I'm sure I can produce a graph that charts the progression in my programming skills with weekly pizza consumption that would indicate a significant level of correlation - surely there must be causation in there somewhere!

Almost every tech related meetup or event I have attended is catered with pizza.  It is convenient and easy to eat, the vast majority of people like it, you can have great vegetarian choices and toppings to satisfy meatlovers alike, it is probably quite cheap and doesn’t taste too bad when slightly lukewarm either.  There is already a programming language called Pizza but it definitely ought to be more mainstream!

In an alternative post to one about programming, I thought I would write a review of the best takeaway pizza that I’ve had at programming meetups! I would also like to give a shout out to Women Who Code and PyLadies for bucking the trend and providing delicious non-pizza catering (as well as desserts!) at their most recent meetup!

Basilico 


The codebar meetup is particularly fond of ordering from Basilico, partly because they are careful to cater to gluten-free and vegan diets.  This is how I got to try vegan cheese for the first (and last) time (I promise I was not stealing food from vegans - the vegan Margherita pizza slices I snaffled were unloved and would have otherwise been destined for the bin). For anyone who has not yet had the pleasure, it is an interesting shade of highlighter yellow, has the same consistency as very cheap cheddar and the only similar taste to real cheese is general savouriness.  Luckily, Basilico’s normal pizzas are otherwise delicious - their sundries tomatoes can be slightly acidic and too tangy, but their white pizzas  are delicious, the slice sizes and topping distribution are just right.  They also do delicious and very healthy juices and salads (again, kudos to codebar for ordering these extras!).

Dominos


The classic pizza delivery chain has improved a lot in recent years - they have great variety in both their meat and veg toppings.  I especially like their Vegi Supreme and Vegi Volcano pizzas - they have the right idea with their meat pizza topping combinations, but the quality of the meat can't really compete with the more gourmet meat options offered by Basilico, Lupa and Franco Manca.  Although the base is not too sophisticated, and the cheese is just a tad on the rubbery and greasy side, you know that you are going to get a satisfying meal.  Dominos also do something unique with their pizzas by supplying a dip  - die hard pizza afficianados may argue that a good crust and high quality toppings need no extra dressing, but I say having a garlic or barbecue dip can only be a good thing!

Franco Manca - BEST BASE AND BEST MEAT


It is almost worth ordering their pizza just for the delicious sourdough base, which apparently takes 20 hours to rise and has its roots in a sourdough starter that is 500 years old?!.  The quality of ingredients used for the toppings (especially the sausage and cheese) is amazing, although a few more vegetables would be nice.  The reason why Franco Manca is not my top choice is because of the topping distribution - the coverage is far too sparse and they cut their slices very unevenly so some slices are basically margheritas.  Quite often the toppings are not firmly attached and roll off easily when you are trying to eat and mingle at the same time!

Lupa - BEST ALL ROUNDER


In terms of taste, Pizza Lupa is my favourite and I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the toppings I have tried.  I especially like their goat's cheese, sausage and roast vegetable toppings (not all on one pizza!), but to be honest their wide range of pizzas are all top notch. The base is inconveniently floppy but the taste more than makes up for this, and I find their pizzas are especially resilient to falls in temperature - the cheese doesn't go rubbery when cold!  One thing I would say is that they need to cut their slices A LOT more - they are absolutely huge!!!  I'm one of those people who loves trying a little slice of lots of pizzas, but one slice of their large pizzas (circa 17 inch) is not too far off half of a 12 inch pizza!  Also, Pizza Lupa if you are reading this - although it doesn't affect the quality of your produce, I would suggest you hire a better web developer/designer!

Pizza Hut


There’s not much to say really -  their pizzas are solid but unspectacular, heir range of toppings satisfy most palates, but are not particularly imaginative and in the absence of special offers, they are not great value for money.  I get the impression that the company is more focused on their restaurants, where they emphasise that they are also great at doing salads and pastas (remember when they changed their name to Pasta Hut for a while?).    One especially noticeable difference with other takeaway pizzas is that the base is relatively more rigid, which improves ease/tidiness while eating!

Voodoo Ray’s - BEST WEBSITE


I have only had Voodoo Ray's once at a tech meetup and they are a solid contender, with interesting and slightly unusual topping combinations.  They are better known for their Dalston branch and van which pops up at various food markets, where they specialise in selling pizza by the slice rather than in whole units - a concept that I'm very supportive of.  Some online reviews do suggest they are on the pricey side though, so perhaps that's why not many meetups order from them. However, their very colourful and eye-catching website (I guess they are based in Dalston after all!) is well worth a visit (and bookmarking for future web design ideas!)

Other Pizza that I paid for myself and have thoroughly enjoyed:


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