Ah, the internet. What wonderful gifts it has given us. Thanks to Google, a wealth of information sits at our fingertips. Social networking sites let us connect with people all over the world, in an instant! We live in a glorious age.

But for all its treasures, the world wide web can often expose us to much, much darker things. For example, cybercrime, Donald Trump’s Twitter account and photos of other people’s disgusting food creations.

The great pineapple on pizza debate has divided people for centuries (probably), and I suspect is what spurred on this recent trend of doing unholy things to pizza.

“If we can’t defend this great evil, we must outdo it,” say the anti-pineapplers. “If we can’t convince the naysayers, we must distract them,” say Team Pineapple (go #TeamPineapple!!).

And so, the war rages on, as more and more people continue to test the boundaries of all that humanity holds sacred. The humble, yet perfect creation we call pizza.

As an keen pizza aficionado myself – and someone who never shies away from a weird food challenge – I made it my mission to sample all of these strange and beautiful creations. It’s not always been an easy journey. In fact, at times, it’s led me down some very dark paths. But what can I say, I didn’t choose this life – it chose me.

The pea and mayonnaise pizza

Described as the ‘abomination’ that unites anti-pineapplers and #TeamPineapple, this didn’t actually look so bad to me. I didn’t cook the mayonnaise onto the pizza (I’m not a lunatic), so I basically just tipped a can of peas onto a Margarita pizza, garnished with a drizzle of mayo when cooked and hoped for the best.

The verdict?

Delicious. Would (and have since on many occasions) eat again. I even tracked down the creator of this tasty little number, so I could thank them personally.

I also cheerfully responded to a great deal of backlash.

— Melissa Boyle (@geekmagnifique) March 2, 2017

Rating: 5/5

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Pizza dipped in milk

Sure, I like a nice cold glass of milk to dip my Ginger Nuts in, or Oreos if I’m pushing the boat out. But hot, savoury food? I wasn’t too sure. I know some people have cold milk with their dinner though, so while I found the idea bizarre, I could sort of see how it had evolved.

Here goes:

The verdict?

Meh. A truly unremarkable experience. The best thing I can say about it was it wasn’t awful.

Rating: 1/5

Glasses

The Swedish banana pizza

So this is an actual thing that appears on menus in Sweden, apparently. Naturally Twitter got wind of it, Buzzfeed wrote a post about it, and I swiftly decided it needed to get in my face.

Despite being obsessed with all things Scandinavian, it’s safe to say I had very low hopes. I don’t like cooked banana or curry powder, so a recipe that calls for both of these things to be thrown on a pizza? Nah, you’re alright. But, I’d committed to this culinary expedition of mine, so I couldn’t exactly back down, could I?

Besides, I was starting to get a bit of a reputation.

Guys, I’m about to do weird things with pizza. pic.twitter.com/zDdHkTfZwF

— Melissa Boyle (@geekmagnifique) March 5, 2017

People, as I’d come to expect, were very supportive and encouraging.

Here it is, in all its glory:

The verdict?

I’m sorry Sweden, I love you very much, but you’ve really screwed the pooch with this one. It’s just awful. I couldn’t even bring myself to swallow it, so I did something I never thought I’d do: I SPAT OUT PIZZA. There are many controversial toppings out there, but in my opinion this is the worst to ever besmirch a pizza.

Hella nope.

Rating, in minus figures:

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Seriously guys, I can’t stress this enough. DO NOT EAT.

Strawberry pizza

It wasn’t long before the flurry of confused and angry tweets simmered down and it seemed my brief but illustrious career as a weird pizza taster had ended as quickly as it started. My stomach (and Dave, who was starting to eye me with suspicion and fear whenever I entered the kitchen) thanked me.

But alas, it would seem there is no limit to our imagination where pizza is concerned, and pretty soon people were at it again, putting things on pizzas that don’t belong there.

This time, strawberries. As usual, the internet was divided. Some branded it an abomination (apparently that word gets used A LOT when it comes to pizza), while others suggested it could be an interesting twist on the Hawaiian pizza. I was more inclined to agree with the former.

It was time for me to rise to the challenge once again.

As you can see, being in this line of work has hardened me; after the banana pizza debacle I learned it’s safer not to cover your whole pizza with your topping of choice.

Smort!

The verdict?

This one was genuinely a puzzler. Initially I thought I hated it. The texture of the cooked strawberry was weird and the various flavours mixed together weren’t doing it for me. But, my gut told me to persevere (well actually, my gut was screaming ‘ABORT MISSION’, my intuition however, told me to keep going) and after two or three bites I was quite enjoying it. The sharp tang of the strawberries complemented the cheese, in the same way sweet chutneys or grapes make a nice addition to a cheese board. I’d possibly eat again.

Heck, I might even put strawberries on the whole damn thing next time.

Rating:

GlassesGlassesGlasses

So there we have it

My foray into the strange and wonderful world of disgusting internet pizzas has come to an end (for now). But watch this space, because I’m always on the lookout for strange foods to put in my face.

Which reminds me. I’ve got some doughnuts to make.

Hummus doughnuts tweet

Wish me luck.

EDIT: While looking through my old tweets, I came across this. So I guess this is happening too.

Help.

“From the start I knew I wanted to make it amazing” 

Carpenter Simon Clissold talks about how he helped make Pause Cat Café a perfect kitty sanctuary.

When Simon first saw the café it was nothing but a “shell of bricks” and he knew it was going to be a mammoth job. As well as standard renovation, there was a lot of work to be done structurally, in order to meet the health and safety regulations around keeping animals in areas where food is served.

A former boat-builder and owner of Scallywags, a local floor restoration company, Simon has a passion for working with reclaimed wood. He got creative with leftover timber and always aimed to get the most out of his materials. He is most proud of the café’s fascia, which he crafted out of old floorboards. Rather than using expensive cedar wood – the original plan – the reclaimed wood cost him just £150.

Simon standing outside Pause Cat Cafe

He used a mixture of wood he had in stock, donated materials and old furniture. The cute little kitty doors were actually made from regular doors!

Little wooden cat door

Simon came highly recommended to Jaya and though he admits the work was very stressful at times, he says he thoroughly enjoyed it. There were some very long days – up to 18 hours! –including one particularly memorable one.

“I ended up falling asleep at about 2 in the morning and didn’t wake up until people started coming in at 9am,” Simon laughs. “So I got up and pretended I’d just arrived as well!”

“I wanted the cats to be able to get around the whole café without having to touch the floor.”

Perhaps the café’s most striking feature is the incredible maze of bridges, walkways and stair cases for the cats to get around on.  A lot of thought went into their design and Simon wanted them to be neat and symmetrical. “I like the contrast of the disorder of the reclaimed wood and the order of the clean designs,” he explains. “The whole look is very organic; all the shelves support one another and it almost looks as if they are growing out of each other.”

The cat bridge The cafe interior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon used a lot of wooden dowels as supports, which he bought for £1, and even got creative with a rolling pin, which he used to support the spiral staircase.

Rolling pin staircase support

A lot of work went into the back of house areas as well, including individual bedrooms for each of the cats.

Petrus' bedroom

The cat flap to each bedroom is activated by its cat’s own microchip.

While he admits he’s more of a dog person, Simon has grown to love the cats. “They all have very different personalities – that’s something I didn’t know about them at first.” He even very kindly named one of the cats, Petrus.

Petrus

“Petrus was the name of my grandmother’s dog, so I like that it has a family connection. I’ve named a boat Petrus as well.”

 “It satisfies my creative side.”

Simon’s passion project is carving beautiful end-grain chopping boards, which he plans to sell online very soon. He has a range of designs, his favourite being this Escher inspired “3D” chopping board.

Escher chopping board

He also carved and generously donated one to Pause, featuring a beautiful dark wood inlay of the café’s logo.

Pause Cat Cafe logo chopping board

He’s done such a fantastic job that I think we can forgive him for being a dog person!

You can find Simon’s work here – www.scallywagsfloors.co.uk – and buy his chopping boards here: www.geekmagnifique.co.uk/shop.

Are you a tea lover? If so, how does having a selection of delicious loose leaf teas delivered straight to your door every month sound?

Yorkshire-based tea subscription service, True Tea Club, offer just that. They specialise in seven different teas – white tea, green tea, black tea, oolong, chai, rooibos and herbal – and have packages starting from £10 per month.

Subscribers receive a box containing four different teas each month and the lovely folk at True Tea Club very kindly sent me my own to try. So naturally, this was the perfect excuse to buy lots of cake (not that I need one!) and enjoy a lovely afternoon tea in the sunshine.

Each one of the teas was lovely and I thought the packaging was so cute. It was hard to pick a favourite, but I’d probably have to say the Mighty Mango took the crown.

Mighty Mango

Now, perhaps I’m being swayed by the fact that it was an absolute scorcher of a day and this was the only one of the teas we had iced, but this was lovely.

I’m a huge fan of mango iced tea anyway and though this one wasn’t quite sweet enough for me, with a tiny dash of agave syrup it was perfect. Also, the leaves smelled incredible!

Earl Grey Rebel


Earl Grey is usually my tea of choice and this was as lovely as they come. The leaves are wonderfully fragrant with strong citrus and bergamot notes. The blue cornflower also made them look beautiful.


This was lovely both with, and without, milk. It had such a refreshing, delicate flavour that I’d love to try it iced, as I think it would work really well.

Rainbow Chaser

Described as a ‘magical concoction of apple pieces, blackberry leaves, peppermint and orange peel’ this tasted like a really lovely peppermint tea with a twist. It was zingy and fresh, yet also very soothing. Again, I think this would work really well as an iced tea.

Vanilla Cupcake

Admittedly, this was the one I was most excited to try. Cake: good. Tea: gooooooood. Cake flavoured tea: GOOOOOD!

The banana chips were a wonderful addition to an already lovely, smooth rooibos tea. I had a cheeky banoffee cupcake with this and it’s safe to say my taste buds thanked me. My mother-in-law even went as far as to describe it as the best rooibos she’d ever tasted!

I was so impressed with the quality and selection of teas in my subscription box and I could definitely see this being a great gift for that special tea lover in your life (or just for you!).

You can customise your subscription by leaving a note on checkout. So, for example, if you’re not a fan of green tea, you can let them know and they’ll be sure not to include it in any of your boxes. If you fall in love with any of the teas they are available in the online shop and subscribers get 15% off all orders. I know I’ll be placing an order soon!

Delivery is free in the UK and just £3.75 for international shipping. Plus you can get 50% off your first subscription box by using the code ‘LOVE’ on checkout.

You can also find True Tea Club on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

 

Now I’m going to start this post by saying that I’m not a vegan, so a plant-based raw café wouldn’t be my usual choice. However, I’d heard such good things about Sukha Lounge (in particular, their hot chocolates!) that I had to give it a go.

Located next to Yoga Lounge, Boscombe, Sukha Lounge has exactly the relaxing, peaceful vibe you’d expect. The owner, Juliette, is warm and welcoming, and her passion for her food shines through.

Naturally we started with her famous hot chocolate and it did not disappoint! Made with cacao nibs, dates and almond butter, it’s hard to believe a hot chocolate so smooth and indulgent is completely dairy-free.

We were torn between the colourful array of salads on offer, as well as the sumptious all-day breakfast options, so we ordered ourselves a bit of a feast!

Fresh, crunchy and flavourful, the spring rolls were a personal favourite, and the pancakes topped with peanut butter and berries were a definite hit as well.

What surprised me the most was how much variety there was. We were spoiled for choice and each dish was simple, but full of great texture and flavour.

And then there were the cakes. Oh, the cakes. We tried a selection, including lemon cheesecake, banoffee pie, chocolate and raspberry cake and quite honestly, the most delicious apple tart I’ve ever eaten. Each one was indulgent, rich and impossibly creamy.

Last up I had a matcha latte, something I’ve been very keen to try for a while. Creamy, comforting and with an interesting seaweedy flavour, I could see how it might be an acquired taste, but I loved it.

I came away from Sukha Lounge feeling calm, relaxed and most importantly, full! The food is healthy and delicious, and the atmosphere warm and inviting. The simple, stripped back decor is complemented nicely by a few quirky pieces of furniture and soothing music helps to turn the cafe into a little oasis.

Vegan or not, you should visit Sukha Lounge if you want wholesome, delicious food served in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. I promise, you’ll be glad you did!

The lovely folk at Franco Manca Bournemouth very kindly invited me to attend their press event recently. Being a MASSIVE pizza lover, how could I say no?

We were welcomed at the door by lovely staff, who offered us a drink from a selection of wonderful sparkling wines, beer and the most delicious homemade lemonade I’ve ever tasted.

We were seated shortly after and from this point we enjoyed what I can only describe as a constant stream of food brought to our table.

We sampled amazing meats, focaccia bread with homemade pesto and burrata so good I’ve had dreams about it since.

The burrata of dreams!

Then we moved onto the main event: the pizzas. All Franco Manca pizzas are made with sourdough and fresh, simple but delicious toppings. We tried so many it’s hard to say which one was my favourite, but if you’re a fan of goat’s cheese, I have to say the goat’s curd is divine.

The wine was flowing freely as well, with the highlight definitely being a biodynamic (no, I had no idea either) sparkling red. I’ve never tried anything like it – smooth and mellow yet refreshing, with a light fizz. Wonderful.

Thankfully, we had a little break before dessert, at which point we had a go at making some pizzas ourselves. The chefs guided us through the process and it was great fun to have a go at picking our own toppings and use the giant paddle to put our pizzas in the oven.

The fab Kirsty having a go. Check out her vlog of the event here.

I pull some lovely faces.

The gorgeous Emma with her pizza creation!

My finished pizza.

Dessert was a wonderful selection of cakes, including tiramisu (an Italian favourite!), chocolate and hazelnut cake, and my personal favourite, a lemon and rosemary semolina cake served with natural yoghurt and honey. The perfect balance of sweet and tart, it was a great way to end what was admittedly a very rich meal!

I felt thoroughly spoiled as the drinks continued to flow and we enjoyed coffees and Limoncello, a cheeky digestif.

Cheers!

The service was wonderful and the food was honestly incredible – I would highly recommend! I also loved the simple, modern decor of the restaurant, with its beautiful, open kitchen offering you the chance to watch your food being freshly prepared.

Bournemouth’s Franco Manca is attached to Debenhams, and one quirky feature of the layout is that they have a door leading straight into the menswear department!

Everything, from the staff to the music, lent itself perfectly to the chilled, friendly atmosphere, making this not only a delicious, but thoroughly enjoyable dining experience.

Find your nearest Franco Manca here!