The girls, reunited after several months, embraced the heatwave with open arms, the golden sun engulfing them in heated arms. Sun rays caressed the nape of their neck soothingly, heels tip tapping on blazing pavements, where could they seek refuge from this blinding heat? A slight breeze surrounded them in an airy halo, as they marched forward with providence, the cloudless sky turning them into melting puddles. But at last the shelter was just a step away, Japes Soho, where a sunny pizza spread awaited their salivating lips. Welcomed with a smile, doors were opened with gluttonous greed, famished bellies seeking food, 1, 2,3. A white rustic wall awash with a palm frond print welcomed us into their air conditioned home, a fitting interior aesthetic for the blazing glory of sunshine that exploded into ascension outside. Our eyes poured over the menus, gleefully taking in the gastronomic beauty that lay before us. There would be cheesecakes dancing on a bed of textured berry coulis, wrapping its smoothness around our tongues incorrigibly. There would be rustic ‘American style’ deep dish Pizzas oozing with melted cheese, peppers dancing in a blaze of vibrant glory. And who could forget the Caprese salad which made being healthy unbelievably sexy, a sensuous riot of flavour that swam into our mouths in a frantic dance of debauchery?
A bottle of Mesta Tempranillo Organic was plonked on the table in riotous ceremonious accord, a vibrant and juicy wine that was bursting with flavour. We poured our wine into patient glasses, glugging the unoaked Tempranillo with undisguised elation. The Spanish red was a welcoming start to a warm day, lulling us into a state of dreamy oblivion, as it showed great purity from high altitude vines. Expressive and well defined we swilled Mesta in our mouths experimentally, the well defined aroma of red berries, rosemary and a touch of licorice echoed on the palate marvelously. For a red, while it had a satisfyingly dry finish, its rounded texture and strength of flavours were surprisingly fresh, a drink that would pair well with the sunny pizza spread that was yet to come. It would be a glorious Caprese Salad to start;fresh tomato, Italian buffalo mozzarella, sundried tomato, fresh basil presented beautifully, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And what a glorious salad it was, the tomatoes were ripe and juicy, round red creatures beaming expectantly as it burst forth onto creamy mozzarella. The sundried tomato though wizened had plenty of pep in its step, an intense, yet sweet and tart flavour that was more potent than its fresh tomato counterparts. And who could forget the jewel in the crown that was the mozzarella, soft and moist, with a milky tasting, almost spongy flavour?
But nothing could have prepared us for the beauty of our mains; a rustic deep dish pizza fantasy at Japes that had us swooning from the get go, remember the oozing cheese? It would be a Mediterranean Deep Dish Pizza for me, that was positively alive with flavour, goats cheese, feta cheese, mozzarella, halloumi, peppers, cherry tomato, red onions, tomato sauce, fresh basil and green olives come together as one. Given my Portuguese heritage the pizza spoke to me in unadulterated volumes, the tart earthy flavour of the goats cheese crumbling in my mouth with nonchalance, while the salted tang of the aged feta battled among the cheeses, desperately vying for a place as queso numbero uno. As far as the Mediterranean goes this was a paradise, transported back into summers in Madeira nibbling on plump juicy olives, drinking Poncha and Nikita on the beach, the sun coating us in its natural tanner. And the green olives were no exception, ripe and bursting with oodles of flavour, they complimented the cheeses unbelievably. It was an unreal explosion of taste, the saltiness of the olives pairing beautifully with the sweet yellow and red peppers, the fresh basil lending a subtle peppery flavour to Japes Pizza. In one word it was nothing short of perfection, the combination of the ingredients leading to my ideal pizza fantasy, as the sun reared its lustrous head mere feet away.
As for Kumba despite being ill, nevertheless the pizza she chose was a home run for her, describing the Chicago Pizza laced with pepperoni, mozzarella, Parmesan, tomato sauce and fresh basil as a pizza aficionado’s delight, pairing satisfactorily with the red wine in a gastronomic tango. We drank our fill of the wine, our bellies pooched with food, reveling in the delight of delicious tastes, textures and flavours that burst into prominence. And lo and behold, our wines were drained, one last sip before we moved on to our desserts, could we conquer our three course meal? We would share the desserts together, a New York Cheesecake drizzled with berry coulis that practically threw itself at our waiting mouths and the sharp lemon tart, crumbled and sour, two fitting sweet treats to end our time in Japes Soho with finesse. Arguably it was the lemon tart that was a titillating fancy, with a well cooked pastry and the perfect ratio of lemon casing that filled our mouths with glee. It was a surprise given my love of cheesecake but it was a welcome surprise nevertheless, as we slurped the rest of our wine and munched on our sweetened lovers with a cheeky wink. We had spent hours gossiping, drinking and eating but alas our time at Japes had come to an end. Though the sun had paled to a peachy glow, the weather outside was just as warm, embracing us with its arms once more.
Have You Ever Been To Japes?
Please note we were invited as guests of Japes but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by monetary compensation.