Hands up who loves pizza? Gluten-free, vegan, diary-free and missing decent pizza? How about if I told you Pizza Express have you covered?!
Last month, I had the honour of being invited to the first ever Vegan Party being hosted by Pizza Express at their flagship restaurant on the Gloucester Road, London. A group of the UK’s top bloggers had the pleasure of taking part in a pizza party, where we learned how to make pizza, choose the best toppings and then catch up with dough balls, olives and wine whilst they cooked!
Sounds wonderful doesn’t it!
Avid readers will know that we are big fans of Pizza Express and their ability to safely cater for Callum. It’s his go to restaurant of choice, and we have celebrated every one of his birthdays in our local branch since his 2nd birthday.
Not only do they do a full gluten-free option, they now do a fully vegan option for pizza too!
Rather impressive wouldn’t you agree!
Launched on 20th June 17, the vegan cheese has taken the pizzeria quite literally by a storm, with some 200k+ orders to date and climbing steadily.
Currently, the vegan pizza option is 6th in category currently, which shows just how much in demand it is. This is a mix of vegans and also people with a dairy allergy, looking for a safe alternative cheese option which this now provides.
It’s no surprise to me that customers are requesting vegan cheese alternatives, as particularly from our perspective, allergies are on the increase and families are looking to find safe places to visit and eat out.
This was the 1st ever vegan pizza party, and it can be accommodated to be an option for children's parties too! It was obvious to see that for Pizza Express, it's all about inclusion and they are happy to accommodate dietary requirements as much as possible.
This has always been the case for us with Callum, and we have always been so impressed by how accommodating they are!
It was clear from the start, when the chef hosting our party talked us through the background of how they got to the point of launching their vegan cheese that they take much pride in launching new products and not just simply releasing them.
This vegan cheese has taken 2 years to create, and thanks to their skill and understanding of the ingredients they have used, not only does it behave in a similar way to normal cheese, but incredibly it tastes just as good too!
It’s produced in Italy, using Italian ingredients, and melts perfectly over the pizzas to create a creamy finish. It’s kept frozen, for quality, and is portioned out to ensure no cross contamination. This, in particular, I find incredibly reassuring and means I can trust it for Callum!
During our pizza party we learned about the history of Pizza Express, and how they began their vegan cheese journey.
We then got to the creative bit, where we learned how to toss our pizza dough, with much hilarity. The head chef made everything look effortless, while we all desperately tried not to rip holes in ours. I must add at this point, that the flour used during this process, particularly the flour sprinkled on the work surface to stop the dough from sticking, is gluten-free ensuring no cross contamination. It is this that has awarded Pizza Express with their Coeliac UK accreditation!
The standard pizza dough is made in their factory and uses water, flour, vegetable oil, yeast, salt, sugar. And it's dairy-free and egg-free! And the gluten-free version is made using rice flour.
So gluten-free and dairy-free/vegan options, impressive isn’t it!
Then came the part where we learned how to spread the tomato sauce over the dough. The recipe calls for just 2 basil leaves to give a hint of flavour, and the pizza that has a leaf is said to be lucky. One of my fellow bloggers got one of the leaves, so fingers crossed she gets lots of good luck!
We then topped our pizzas with various ingredients of our choice. I chose to use artichoke, olives, onion, rocket, pesto and tiny peppers, before sprinkling the vegan cheese over the top.
Typically, to make sure there are no mix ups, all vegan pizzas are identified by a half of a cherry tomato.
The pizzas took about 5 minutes to cook, and looked delicious when presented to us!
For pudding I was so pleased to see that there was a raspberry or coconut sorbet, which also just so happen to be safe for Callum!
A few weeks before this fabulous Vegan Party, we actually went to our local branch for Callum’s 6th birthday.
And once again, they were brilliant with him!
He had the gluten-free dough balls with carrot and cucumber sticks as a starter, followed by a gluten-free pizza, made using my nomato sauce which we brought with us, ham, onion, olives and then finished with sprinkling the vegan cheese over the top.
He then had raspberry sorbet for pudding!
I really can’t recommend Pizza Express enough for not only those with allergies, but also for those who choose to follow a vegan diet.
Their attention to detail is exceptional, the staff are all happy to help, and their knowledge and understanding of allergies and cross contamination are of the best I have ever seen.
If you’re still hesitating, please don’t, go and check them out for yourself this weekend. And if you need even more proof of how fab they are, they just won gold in the Free From Eating Out Awards 2017!