Jerk brisket pizza on the menu as Sunderland's Pop Recs turns up the heat with Calabash Tree Caribbean collaboration
The distinctive deep pan of Detroit-style pizzas meets the heat of the Caribbean with a collaboration between two of the city’s most-popular independent businesses.
Since setting up base at its new home at Pop Recs in High Street West, lockdown success story Midnight Pizza Crü has been slinging pizzas aplenty each weekend, in both Detroit and New York style versions.
Now, they’ve teamed up with Washington-based The Calabash Tree whose owner Ryan McVay, inspired by his family’s heritage, brings the melting pot of flavours from Trinidad and Tobago to the North East.
A former firefighter, Ryan’s food also proved a hit in lockdown and last year he left the fire service to pursue his passion for cooking Caribbean food with flair, opening his own prep kitchen and takeaway, Cove Caribbean, in Swan Industrial Estate in Columbia.
Dan Shannon, who founded Midnight Pizza Crü in lockdown doing takeaways at Ship Isis, is a big fan of Ryan’s food and say the collaboration was a no brainer.
Dan, who is also one of the directors at Pop Recs, said: “Midnight Pizza Crü has always done collabs. With Ryan, we’re a big fan of each other’s food and he’s a real sound guy so it just made sense to do something creative with the two.”
The brand’s Detroit and New York pizzas will be topped with options including hand-pulled jerk brisket and mango pepper sauce ricotta and a vegan option of geera mushroom and jalapeño. Sides will include macaroni pie.
Dan said: “In New York, there’s a big tradition of merging food cultures, it’s a real melting pot of flavours.”
Ryan, who is looking for premises to open a Caribbean restaurant in Sunderland, said: “Pop Recs is such a great asset to the city, they’re doing great work so it’s really exciting to team up with them on this.”
Since transforming once derelict buildings at the bottom end of High Street West, Pop Recs has proved a real success story.
As well as the venue side of the business, which hosts a whole range of music acts, community events and functions, it runs a coffee shop, which is open daily.
As well as its regular breakfast, brunch and lunch menu, serving options such as sandwiches on house focaccia (the same base used for the Detroit pizzas) and Turkish eggs, it recently launched a vegan Sunday lunch menu.
"People seem really up for trying new things,” said Dan. “We had a great response to our first vegan Sunday lunch, it was beautiful, people loved it. There’s such a big population of people who want to eat sustainably, for health and political reasons and people who have meat-free days, so it’s great to be able to offer something for them.
"We’ve become a real destination venue and the support has been fantastic.”
:: The Pop Recs X Calabash Tree collaboration takes place from 4pm to 8pm on Friday, January 20 and Saturday, January 21. Tables can be pre-booked through the Midnight Pizza Crü and Pop Recs social media pages.