Any time there's the merest hint of sunshine out this way, I bust out my discount railcard and head down to Brighton for a walk along the beach.
But walking along the beach is only the start of it: when I go to Brighton, I'm thinking about what I can stuff in my stomach. Mr Flicking the Vs is a devout fan of pizza of all kinds, so when I told him there was an all-vegan pizzeria we needed to check out, he was only too happy to come with me.
As I've probably said on many occasions, I'm not a huge fan of pizza, but he is, so I thought I'd throw myself on the culinary pyre for the poor sod. The thing that mainly puts me off buying in vegan pizza is vegan cheese - the nut stuff, I love; the rest, I really struggle to eat. Browsing the menu of Purezza, I saw mention that most of their cheese is the soy-based stuff. I boked a bit.
But then a light shone down, and I saw a way forward: there's a 'specials' section of the menu, that has all sorts of non-cheesy vegan pizzas. They all looked amazing. I was hooked.
Mr Flicking the Vs, a newly-minted plant-based eater, was over the moon when he sat down and started checking out the menu. "I can eat all this?" he asked, confused and pleased. Yep, you can I told him - the whole lot's vegan. Even the garlic bread.
Garlic bread, he gasps. His eyes light up. He loves garlic bread, so we got some. We thought it would be the normal saucer-sized portion you get at most pizza places on the high street. Oh no. This is big old plateful - pretty much a whole other pizza was put down in front of us. Certainly, there was enough dough for another whole pizza, just this one was denuded. We ate the whole lot though - the dough was perfectly crisp, and the best I've had in any veg or non-veg place in a long while. The dough was generously covered with rosemary and I think olive oil - whatever it was covered in, it tasted like gorgeousness.
The main event was equally pretty wonderful. There's an old dining aphorism that says 'never eat anything bigger than your head'. Anyone who doesn't at least try is missing a trick, as I found out at Purezza.
Mr FtVs chose his pregan favourite, Hawaiian. There was vegan cheese, seitan salami, and pineapple. He was as happy with his choice as a dog with two tails. I had some: the base was great, the salami was good, and even the cheese wasn't pretty nice. But I was more pleased with mine.
Mine was a Zucca. Mine was a cheeseless, squash covered wonder. Instead of the usual cheese and tomato sauce layers, I got a sweet squash puree. There was another deeper, sweeter note from caramelised onions, but the sugar was smartly offset with bitter radicchio, both cooked and raw.
For extra green goodness, there was great big heaping helping of spinach all over the top. Want bonus points? You got them: pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. If I was a griping kind, I'd say they should have been cooked a little with the pizza rather than being put on raw once it comes out of the oven, but I'm not, so I won't.
As befits a pizza bigger than my head, I couldn't finish the whole thing, despite my valiant efforts to do just that (note to self: next time, skip the garlic bread unless you're sharing it with a table of six). The waitress rather kindly offered to box up the leftovers, which pleased me no end - why waste good food? It's a trend that's oddly not taken off in the UK, but I hope that Purezza's stance will soon be more commonplace in future.
It's worth giving Purezza some extra props too on having not only a small, but perfectly formed beer section - the Brighton Bier IPA was delicious - but on sourcing vegan wine and selling it for a distinctly affordable price.
More props too on the dessert list: there was cheesecake, brownie, and ice cream to be had. The menu mentions that the ice cream comes from Boho Gelato, which makes some of the best vegan gelato you'll find anywhere, full stop. So, while I was too full to try any of the desserts (yep, I was that full), I'm hopeful they would have been good ones.
Purezza, you've made a pizza convert out of me. We'll be back.
12 St James's St