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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Waitrose Piemonte Inspired Pizza with Truffled White Sauce & Italian Porcini Mushrooms

If there's one thing guaranteed to get my attention in a supermarket, it's a product with a poncy name. OK, they're designed to let the customer know that it's something new, something special, something the manufacturer is especially pleased with - deserving of its own line, and the requisite highlighting.

Most of the time, there's actually very little difference between any one poncily-named product and a comparable product in a standard own-brand line, or something by one of the big names. In short, a lot of the time, the new label is little more than an obvious target on which folks like me are delighted to pour scorn.

And, sadly, this particular 'Inspired' pizza is one such product.

That's not to say it isn't good... Just that it isn't really deserving of any special attention.

Here's what the box says:
"Inspired by the rich, intense flavours of Italy's Piemonte region, with truffled white sauce, succulent porcini mushrooms and mozzarella, on a thin, crisp base, hand-stretched from the centre for a light, puffy edge and charred in a hot oven for extra flavour."

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but when I read a phrase light 'intense flavours', I tend to expect rather more than I got out of this pizza. In fact, my abiding impression of this product was that, even following the cooking instructions to the letter (and using the low end of their recommended cooking times), the base no longer had a 'light, puffy' edge, but a tough, crunchy one. And perhaps it's just my unrefined palette, but I tasted no discernible difference between the 'truffled white sauce' and any white sauce I've ever had on a pizza. It was light, it was creamy... and that's really all I can say about it. The mushrooms, meanwhile, were certainly succulent, but their flavour was entirely overwhelmed by the white sauce and the scant addition of mozzarella.

There was also one large part of the pizza which was almost entirely devoid of toppings, because a large bubble had formed in the dough, making everything fall/run off it. What toppings there were had been baked to a crisp. This is a common thing with pizzas, though, and it seems to be hard to avoid.

The dough is a rather confusing component. Much of it tasted rather bland, but the crisp edges had a rather sharp, bitter element. The ingredients list 'sourdough powder', suggestive of something sprinkled on the dough, rather than being an active part of it, but there's no further detail about the dough - while everything else has its own little ingredients list.

But, as I said, this is a good pizza... and the toppings may well have been inspired by the Piemonte region (truffles and porcini mushrooms being their speciality) but, somewhere along the lines, the combination of ingredients did each other a great disservice, and resulted in a pizza whose very creamy white sauce dulls whatever flavour the mushrooms may have when fresh, and in which only the most discriminating of palettes might possibly detect the merest hint of truffle.

As mushroom pizzas go, it has a good flavour, but nothing about it struck me as 'intense'. There are several other pizzas in Waitrose 'Inspired' line, and I may well give them a go but, at £5 a throw, I shall be looking elsewhere for mushroom pizzas.

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