Wednesday 20 July 2016

Pizza Express and Ice Age Collision Course #PizzaExpressIceAge

Saturday we headed off to Pizza Express for a late lunch, followed by Ice Age Collision Course at the Cinema. That'll be the 5th movie that Lottie has seen - yep you can take a baby to the movies. She either stares at the lights and marvels at the sounds OR breastfeeds OR sleeps OR normally covers all three in one film. She's easy going really, my smiley baby girl. 

Originally I had intended joining everyone in London to Pizza* en masse followed by the movie at Fox HQ - how cool would THAT have been?!? But it turned out we couldn't make it so it was a family day out, instead of a blogger day out and for so many reasons it was wonderful. Yes, we didn't get to meet Sid and Scrat, but we made lots of amazing memories as a family and discovered one of the best branches of Pizza Express in the process. But more on that later. 

Pizza Express have teamed up with Ice Age Collision Course, so while you are eating, in addition to the ordinary activity sheet you get an Ice Age one, where you can enter a competition to win a family trip to Hollywood and VIP tour of the world famous Fox studios! Plus amazing goody bags, gift cards, Ice Age toys, and pizza making parties to be won EVERY WEEK. See here the terms and conditions of the Pizza Express Ice Age competition.

If you liked Buck then you'll be glad that Buck is back as you see below...

P.S. I've made pizza a doing word, as in "to pizza". It's like "to hoover" except a lot more fun and way more nutritious. So many fresh ingredients yum! And way more colourful than that there blooming acorn.
Scrat’s epic pursuit of the elusive acorn catapults him into the universe where he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transform and threaten the Ice Age World.  To save themselves, Sid, Manny, Diego, and the rest of the herd must leave their home and embark on a quest full of comedy and adventure, travelling to exotic new lands and encountering a host of colourful new characters.From Producer Lori Forte and Directors Mike Thurmeier and Galen Chu, ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE will be opening in cinemas 2016 and stars returning cast members Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Simon Pegg, Keke Palmer, Wanda Sykes with Jennifer Lopez and Queen Latifah.Joining the herd are Stephanie Beatriz, Adam Devine, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Max Greenfield, Jessie J, Nick Offerman, Melissa Rauch, Michael Strahan, Neil deGrasse TysonICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE IS IN CINEMAS JULY IN 3D AND 2D 
So back to our trip. Lottie recently received a Tot Seat to review and even though it fits nearly every chair known to man it's not a good fit on ours indoors so I have been laying an egg to try it whilst dining out, as that's what it's for anyway. Oh my golly, she was so very thrilled to be able to look all round herself without an adult blocking her view, she literally scanned every inch of the restaurant (which she liked as did we) and refused, for ages, to look at the camera. I know, unusual for my model baby who normally loves nothing more than to look down the lens of a camera. First she busied herself with pulling her tights and then, I couldn't resist it, she's SO close to 6 months I tried her on the cucumber in Aaron's starter. She will literally be 6 months and weaning in a week. So I can say, she had her FIRST taste of solids in Pizza Express. I soon realised that the slices of cucumber in Aaron's starter were too slim for me to have a good grip of, so once I established that she loved the taste and loved sucking on them I asked our waiter for some chunky bits. I had already gotten to know him as a good egg, for which NOTHING would be too much trouble so I felt confident making the request. Given he has a 1 year old of his very own, he brought TWO bits and they were both big enough to chew (in a teething type way) and long enough for Mummy to hold while Lottie had a munch. She sucked so hard she hollowed them out so I had to cut off the end, start again, and then switch ends on each of the two bits. It was a lot of fun and she was utterly thrilled with herself.

Aaron was eating from the rather fabulous Piccolo menu which has dough balls to start, pictured below. As it says on the menu it comes with a fresh salad of crunchy red pepper, cucumber and fresh tomato. It's £6.95 which is fabulous as that's for 3 courses AND a bambinoccino. That's bambino, not baby! Get the jargon right and impress your waiter ;-) I will be uploading a video and I myself got it wrong on there ooooppps!!!
I had the cheesy dough balls which are called Dough Balls Formaggi. They are baked with Gran Milano cheese and served with garlic butter, priced at £4.35. Pictured below.
Daddy as always, likes to be different, so he ordered the Calamari. You won't believe it, but he loved it SO much he ordered it again, but by then he had his pizza so our WONDERFUL waiter jokingly said "shall I make it a side dish now?" It's @lightly crumbed crispy calamari rings served with Caesar dressing, lemon and fresh parsley. To die for! He let me have.... one! :-)
Aaron adored the drink that our waiter chose for him. I can't find it on the menu, but I remember him assuring us that it would not be fizzy - Aaron hates fizzy drinks thank goodness and they don't have them on the Piccolo menu anyhow. They have milk or juice. Actually, I am back with an edit, it's the Passionfruit Lemonade from the additional "fancy something special" menu and clearly went down a treat! And it's not fizzy but is delicious! Served with ice.
So, continuing with the "fancy something special" menu (which is attached to the main menu) I ordered the Barbacoa Romana pizza as recommended by my good and trusty waiter. He said it is spicy but not too much and he was dead right. Enough to blow away the cobwebs but not enough to be troublesome. Be warned it is huge. 2006 to 2012 I worked near a Pizza Express and was in there every week. I'd never get full from just a pizza and would always need starter and dessert, but the Barbacoa is bigger than your plate, which I noticed as my waiter moved it around to cut it. As it overlapped a bit all round. We were in there for 3 hours, so I just grazed on it until I got it down to one remaining slice which I took away (I wasn't about to throw away any of that baby!).
Aaron chose pasta not pizza as his main meal and adored it. He particularly loved spooning the Parmesan cheese on to it. I was worried he wouldn't like the taste of that, being used to cheddar at home, but he thoroughly enjoyed his meal. I swear he is made of pizza and pasta. Good ole staples for children. Before you have kids you think they'll love chicken nuggets and chips but that is not at all something you could give Aaron often. He loves colourful nutritious made from scratch food, not just frozen food bunged in the oven. He's got very discerning taste actually, always has done. And LOVES eating out. He was spoiled at a young age as I was still working then.

Little Miss will like her food too and this is just the beginning:
I have proper coverage of her exploration into eating on the video I've made, but not yet edited. It will be a Vlog on my Channel hopefully in the next couple of days.

Aaron loved the dot to dot and the word search on the activity sheet and that kept him happy for ages, which is probably how we were so easily able to stay in there very close to 3 hours. Before he got onto the Ice Age activity sheet he decorated a chef's hat with stickers the restaurant provided and our waiter so generously agreed to wear it. It made Aaron's day decorating the hat but he was beyond thrilled when he saw our waiter with it on. I captured his joy:
The restaurant has been decorated with Banksy in mind and you can see one of them behind Aaron. There are several dotted around and they're awesome. You can read about them here: Refurbishment of locally themed Pizza Expresses continues. I cover all but one of the pizzas of wall wrap vinyl artwork in my video.

Stupidly I told Aaron that he needed to draw his favourite character from the movie with a pizza to win us a trip to America. Had I remembered that working on this promotion means we wouldn't qualify I wouldn't have even told him that but he got so flustered that our trip or no-trip would hinge on him, that he had to get through FOUR pieces of Ice Age activity sheet paper and in the end got all tearful. Silly Mummy I shouldn't have told him. He doesn't do pressure and is a bit self conscious about his drawing but it is cool as I now know I need to draw with him lots in the school holiday and I needed a kick up the bum and an incentive to do that anyhow.

Luckily his tears ended the minute he saw the dessert. Not because of the ice cream or the beautiful cone. Not even because of the beautifully displayed fresh strawberries. No! He was thrilled because he has never had a babyccino before and this was a BAMBINOCCINO and he was over the moon with it. Warm milk with a few chocolate sprinkles thrown on top. He was a right proper little gentleman. I should have reminded him to stick out his pinkie finger.
Hubby could not be persuaded for love nor money to have a dessert even though he simply loves chocolate fudge cake and loves brownies. His excuse being that he was full. Well he did finish a meat feast pizza! They don't do one called that but he got close by altering one with some help from our waiter friend. I know! Can't take him anywhere. We go to a posh pizza restaurant and he wants a meat feast. He did love it though and finished it to the point of bursting but then he did have the Calamari twice!

The waiter suggested the Leggera Tartufo Limoncello for him as it is only 230 calories and perfect for a full person, but he found it too "tart" - I happily took it over and loved it so I ate BOTH of the desserts you see below. No wonder I loved the limoncello, listen to this: 
Under 230 calories. Full of southern Italian flavours: creamy Sicilian lemon and Fior di Latte gelato with a liquid centre of limoncello
It tastes like a meringue, but like icecream too at the same time. Truly amazing!

But my heart was set on a dolcetti so I got one. The Salted Caramel Profiteroles.

Personally I prefer my photos of these to the ones Pizza Express has online:
Clearly in my branch, presentation is everything and it's not just Banksy that gets that right! Hmmmm! The fresh mint was just as good as the earlier fresh strawberries. The freshness and flavours at Pizza Express grab you and don't let you go. So when you leave you have a very wholesome full feeling, which sustained us through the movie. Like I have a spare space in my tummy for pudding always, it turns out I have a popcorn tummy too as I still downed a bag of sweet popcorn nay bother :-)

Before I let you go dear reader, this was hubby's pizza
And then it was off to the movies for us. After 3 hours of eating with us, we let Daddy have two hours of downtime whilst me and the kids (oh I love saying kids plural) went to see the movie. Aaron has all of the previous ones on DVD so he was thrilled to see this new latest version.

What's funny (as you will see on the video once I edit it) is that Aaron ran into the bushes before we went into the restaurant and like a good ole explorer came back with TWO pine cones that he found. Due to the focus on the ACORN in Ice Age it did kind of make me chuckle, but perhaps that's just me........ I guess you had to be there.

I'll leave you with this:
It's a great movie go see it!
The Piccolo menu is fabulous go eat it!
Pizza Express is a wonderful restaurant go visit!
No but seriously, all words and photos and opinions are our very own. It only leaves me to say that we were provided with a complimentary meal (not film, I should have gone to London for that and seen it in the exciting Fox HQ like everyone else) for the purposes of this promotion. Gosh we milked it though. Pizza Express is very classy so we were not restricted to a voucher. Oh no that is so de classe. Oh no, we could have starters, sides, mains, pudding and a couple of drinks. As I am breastfeeding and Daddy was driving, we substituted extra Calamari for alcohol. Oh and Lottie's cucumbers bless her. Don't forget, she started her weaning journey AT Pizza Express. SO cute and something I will never forget.

I was so excited to work with Pizza Express we sorted the film ourselves AND gave our water an £8 tip as he was AMAZING. But apparently he is always like that and not just because we were there as part of the Ice Age promotion. It was an amazing family meal out and will be remembered for years to come.

Can't wait to share the video with you all once I have uploaded all of the many clips and edited them. I've made a start.

Actually I just went through my photos which reminds me of two things I forgot to say. I had the Bottlegreen Raspberry Lemonade and it was amazing. I had two!!!! Also, crayons in restaurants are normally shite, but not so in Pizza Express, they had these amazing extendable ones which I have never seen anywhere before.

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