One Olympic Place

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You know how long I’ve been wanting to use that as a title?  All of about two hours…

This came to me earlier today.  It would have made sense to write about Cunningham’s of Towson during the events of last month, yet I find myself having a bit of a laugh as I write this out.

For folks that frequent this charming restaurant, the title of this post will make sense.  I’ll leave the rest of the punchline to the audience right here.  Don’t worry, it’s nowhere near as an obscure reference as I might be implying.  Just look at the bottom of the page.

We were out for a good friend’s birthday, and at the halfway point of that winter event that goes on every four years.

I’ll tell you, if I lived closer I would be here on a regular basis.  I chatted with some of the locals, and got a good sense of community from the place.  The vibe is fantastic, the bar set up is tremendous, and the location is ideal.  It’s kind of like a village, but not the village I might be alluding to.  But still pretty awesome.

This is not how I thought this post would go, but I’m just shooting from the hip now.

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I’ve been to their Cafe and Bakery directly below the restaurant before, and find their food outstanding.    And more about why their food is just that, can be found here.   The majority of their results come from their own farm just a few miles away.  How can you not love local and love food fresh from the farm?  Try saying that a few times over.

Which makes me surprised that their pizzas weren’t up to par.  I was pleasantly surprise to find pizza on the menu to begin with.  Like I said, this was my first time at the bar and restaurant, and loved everything so far.

We had some appetizers during happy hour, that were tremendous, but I think they were trying a little too hard with the pizza.

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The two we shared were the Cunningham Farm Ham & Goat Cheese,  and then the Carne Supremo.    A lot of meat and a lot of toppings going on with both.  That might be the culprit.

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With the Farm Ham & Goat Cheese, the mozzarella and goat cheese is a great combination, but it might have been too much, in terms of being in your face.   The arugula and tomatoes tasted fresh, but the ham didn’t work for me here.  I’ve said it before, it’s a case of the whole not equaling the sum of its parts. Quite the cliche, but it applies.   I think less would be more.   The crust on both of these is fantastic by the way.  It’s comfort food bread that I would enjoy all by itself.    The brick oven really work here, I just wish the toppings did the same.

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What was even more of a challenge was the Carne Supremo.   There’s too much going on.  Lots of meat (pepperoni, sauage, and soppressata) which is balanced by the veggies (onions and peppers), along with mozzarella and asiago.  You think this would be tremendous.  But it’s just once again, overwhelming.   It’s ok if the topping are falling all over the place, and at times can make the experience more fun.   I just didn’t love all this red meat here.  This is based on personal opinion.  A few of our party shared the same sentiment on both of these pies.

CarneSupremo

I think, or actually I know, that less is more here.  This crust is fantastic and would work better with a simple base of cheese, sauce, a few vegetables, and a lighter protein.  A simple chicken pizza would work perfectly here.

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This by no means is going to stop be from coming back.  I find an endearing spirit and energy in this restaurant.  If you want quite, peaceful, cozy, and maybe a little noise, this is the place for you.  It’s my kind of place for sure.

If the situation presents itself in time, I’ll definitely try another pie or two again.

In the meantime, for more on Cunningham’s, here is their storymenu, and online ordering information.

Here is my history of pizza in this area.  It’s a town I will always be a bit partial too.

We’ll see you in 2020, oh wait, I mean next week!

Have a blessed one…

Ideen

A Little More Lighthearted

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And a little easier.  A little more simple is what I was seeking this week.  Nah, that actually isn’t true.  I wasn’t seeking or searching for anything.

I’m fortunate enough to have friends who embrace me, embrace what I’m doing, and share the love of food, wine, and good company as much as me.  It’s something I hold near and dear to me.

I’m overly sentimental.  I’m big on good memories, I’m big on the little things, and the simplicity of the important things are life.  For those little things are often the most important.  How many times have you heard that before?  It rings true.

What I’ve always found fun about dinner gatherings is not knowing what’s going to be prepared until the day of, or with as little notice as possible.  It’s the anticipation of not knowing.   There’s good anticipatory anxiety and then there’s just the excitement of it all.

For me, I would like to have some idea, as to know what wine to buy.  Sometimes being the in the dark can lead to peculiar pairings, which makes it more fun.

If you’re reading this, then you figured out by now what pizza was served.

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At first thought, I initially was going to ask where the pizza would come from, and what kind of sauce, toppings, etc.  That would dictate the kind of wine I may consider, which you can read about here.

But as I write about this, I don’t need to drive myself crazy.

Dinner yesterday was tremendous.  That’s the short story.

I could leave it at that, but I will say that it was a tale of two pizzas, and two wines (well sort of), and two or more conversations.  Actually the conversations went all of the place, but that’s what makes this so awesome, and therefore enlightening.

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The first pizza was a pepperoni, and it was unanimously declared, just a pizza.

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It wasn’t good nor bad.  It was as some people like to say, just kind of there.  But I may like it just a little more in hindsight.  The dough, the pepperoni, the sauce, and cheese all melded together, and came together quite nicely.

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A discussion about how to see how well made a pizza is came up.  And quite simply, turn over the slice and see what stays on and see what ends up strewn all over the place.  In this case, everything remained intact.   That’s the sign of a lot of care and spirit behind the operation.  And considering who was hosting, I would 1000% agree.

But the feeling is maybe a little more sauce and cheese, and this would have been a better pie.  But we save the best for…

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You can just tell the vegetable pizza just glows and illuminates beyond words.  It just looks brighter doesn’t it?  I’m one that loves a simple cheese pizza, but also can appreciate and adore fresh vegetables.  It’s a matter of preference and that’s what I’m preferring right now.

I also think we tend to get the kink out during a trial run, or the first try of anything.  When we get to round two, quarter two, the second period, or whatever analogy you want to use, we tend to find our stride.   It’s happened to me when I cook, and maybe you can relate.

But this was truly art.  And knowing the brains and heart behind the operation, these are as fresh as veggies as you’re going to find.

The one thought was maybe adding basil.  I think less is more but I think basil would definitely have made this even better.  Every topping served its purpose.

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Just look at the kale, the peppers, the onions the spinach, and all the other goodness that nature has provided us.  I’m grateful to my friends for providing such a magnificent pizza.  Twas truly a blessing to be a part of, to be thought of, and to be shared with.

And yes, pretty much everything stayed in place…

This is what life is all about ladies and gentleman.   We don’t need much.  Good friends, good food, a little vino maybe, and a spiritual experience that will help us grow as individuals and as spirits.

I can’t wait for the next one.   I’ll be waiting anticipation…

What did I say about being a little more lighthearted?  Oops!

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Harvest Makes Me Happy

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The word ‘harvest’, evokes feelings of happiness, joy, tranquility, organic experiences, and well I honestly could go on and on.  It reminds me of what’s good in life, farmer’s markets, a sense of community, giving, and kindness.  Why does a harvest do this for me?

Maybe something happened in my past, and maybe a bunch of life experiences leading up to this story give me warm feeling of a harvest, and all that entails.  I’m smiling as I think about it, and write this out to you.

What I get the most is a feeling of togetherness and helping your fellow family member, friend, or whomever it may be out, and the feelings are reciprocal, but more importantly there’s a feeling of good from within.  I could go on all day…

That feeling of friendship, love, comradery, and all those other superlatives came together last week when my friends introduced me to a new restaurant that opened near them.   And what a most magnificent place this is.   I’m honored, thankful, and grateful to be sharing our experience at Harvest Thyme in Davidsonville, MD, which is comfortably nestled outside of Annapolis.

The location may feel a bit remote, but sometimes those are the best places.   My friends told me that there isn’t much in terms of food and drink in the immediate area, so this is a blessing to the community.   And we were witness to it, as the place was packed near the tale end of happy hour, leading into dinner.

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The exterior has a welcoming aura and energy about it, as does the inside.  I didn’t take enough pictures, but I hope you get some idea of how elegant this place is.

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We came in with the full intent of getting some pizza to go.  And if we had any second thoughts about dining in instead, those went out of the window immediately.  It was a sea of humanity, but a lot of good humanity.  People seemed jovial, upbeat, and realizing it’s the weekend, having a little worries or cares in the world, hopefully.

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We did share a bottle of wine while we waited.  And you can read more about that here.

But my pals and I decided on two different pizzas.  And it’s quite the dichotomy.

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The El Blanco is there White Pizza and it’s great.  When it comes to certain restaurants, you might come to have expectations of how a pizza may be presented; the size, the crust, the amount of cheese, and all those other nuances.    What I’ve looked forward to when some or all of the components of a pie are made in house.

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Their dough is made in house, and it’s terrific.  This is a good white pie, if you don’t want too much overbearing cheese and garlic, which has been known to plague similar pizzas I’ve written about it in the past.  This is a charmer, a grower, and has many endearing qualities.  Yes I’m still talking about the pizza.

However, even better is the Carnitas.

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The pulled pork, which is twice cooked (I love that), cheddar cheese, and spicy tomato sauce is a blend from beyond and on a whole other level.  My friend joked saying we wouldn’t like this.  Hoping to not have to share.  But you know what they say about sharing.   Right.

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This to me felt like a sneak preview, an appetizer, and almost a dress rehearsal if you will.  The restaurant has only been open a few months but it already looks like a hit.

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The dining room looks great, the bar area feels welcoming, and our waiting area felt like more than just that.  And we go to share a bottle of wine on a serendipitous night before we sat down and watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.  Yes I’ve got to throw in all the references to the Olympics I can.

This place is great, that’s all I’ve got for you right now.  If you’re in the area, or plan on visiting Harvest Thyme, here is their food menu, their drink list, their story, and of course their contact information.

 

 

More to come from this wonderful ristorante.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Short N’ Sweet

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That’s what I intended this post to be.  Or maybe I’m still salivating at the thought of this pie we ate last Friday.  It was just that, short n’ sweet.  It was decimated within minutes.   Well that’s it, thanks everybody!   Ha!

We were at a local wine club party enjoying our various snacks.  But I had another inspired thought, just like last time, to order a pizza from the highly touted and regarded, BricknFire Pizza Co.  The results were incredible!

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I scoured their menu, or big board, as I like to call it, to find something that fit the mood.   We’re fast-approaching the heart of November. A pie that would represent the spirit of the holidays was definitely in order.

A bottle or so in may cloud a persons judgement but not me.  I went with the ‘Jesse’ for the simple reason I saw cranberry. I felt inspired.  I just had a feeling this was going to be something exceptional.   Saying I was right would be an understatement.

So who’s Jesse?  Well he is the man.  And he was the gentleman heating up everyone’s creation in that incredible looking oven. This screams passion and heart.  And this pizza we ate definitely came from the heart.  My goodness.

This was jut the perfect thing we needed while we’re a little relaxed via our red wines. We had our cheese, crackers,  fruits, and other oddities, but this put out evening over-the-top. Alright I’ve used enough superlatives and vagueness, and I’ve yet to talk about the pie.  Let me get to the point.

The dough and crust had this perfect squishy factor to it (just right for the holidays).  And for the element we’re in this was beyond perfect.  We were inside a barn listening to live music in a very intimate setting.

Almost any pizza pie was going to be good here.  But only a few were going to be great.  This goes beyond great.  The goat cheese, walnuts, cranberry, speck, and balsamic all really shine through.  And no one gets lost in the shuffle.   Speck, a type of prosciutto, is not something I have frequently.  And for good reason. It’s very high in fat content but it was pristine and flawless here.  This whole pie was exquisite.

I did not deliberately leave out the brussels sprouts, but I wanted to give credit where its due on that too. I didn’t discover them until seeing them at the very bottom of the slice.  And sometimes under the cheese.  This was divine.

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As you can see this pie never had a chance just a couple of minutes in.  And it went perfect with our Merlot.

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My mouth is watering as I expound on this.  You have got to be kidding me.  This was a 5-star, pie for the ages candidate. I truly mean that.   Where can I find you guys again?

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Well for our friends in the Baltimore area, their Facebook page keeps us up-to-date on where they’ll be.

I know for sure I’ll be on the lookout for them.  I can’t say enough good things. So this post went about the normal length.  Hey I could go on forever…

For more on the wine and party mentioned in this post, click here!

Thank you kindly!

Best,

Ideen

Mary Queen of Fells

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After a delay and hopefully a lot of patience, the Fells Point Fun Festival commences this weekend.

My sincerest hope is that we get some good weather and that the original postponement won’t hinder folks from coming down in the usual masses that we are accustomed to.  And the hope is that local businesses and vendors get some great exposure and boost their bottom lines.  Many deserve it and many are fantastic people.

Speaking of fantastic, it’s my pleasure to write about what could be my last neighborhood pizza review for the calendar year.   A few extra weeks have been fun and I hope I’ve been able to capture some of the essence of this place of wonder and joy.

Ale Mary's

Ale Mary’s is the quintessential neighborhood bar.  It’s a haunt that I wish I frequented more often.  The set-up, ambiance, and dim lights are right up mine and many others’ alley.

The times I’ve eaten here have always been pleasant. It’s great bar food that doesn’t pretend to be anything overly pretentious or unapproachable.  And more times than not, that’s all we want. It’s just close enough to the commotion and heart of Fells Point, while also a safe house for many that want to avoid that.  It’s the perfect balance and especially for this weekend, the perfect pizza.

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I was in here over a month ago, and when examining the menu, I never realized they served pizza.  Even better, they tout it as personal Bowlin’ Alley Pizzas.   An instant light bulb and cheesy television theme music went off in my head.   I had to come back and try a pie!

The very likeable bartender suggested the Fresh Veggie with mushrooms added on.   How could I say no to that?

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I had no idea that there’s parmesan already thrown on top of the pie.  And with all the vegetables piled on, it was a splendid addition that enhanced the flavor of my pizza and the vegetables.   This is a piece of information I was pleased to discover.

The crust was so crisp and so crunchy, that I had to slow myself down and appreciate what I was having. The melange of cheese, sauce, and the veggies makes this such a charmer.  This is a really fun pizza.

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I don’t remember what bowling alley pizza tastes like or is supposed to taste like.  I don’t recall the last time I’ve had pizza at a bowling alley, if ever.   I don’t have that to compare it too, but I do know that this was so enjoyable, I could have had another.  This pie was decimated in minutes.

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And as always, it paired well my vino.

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I’m grateful to have Ale Mary’s as my day of festival post and highly recommend checking them out if you’re in the neighborhood this weekend and looking to venture outside the chaos at Broadway and Thames.  The regulars, who always seem so friendly, don’t need to be sold. They’ve appreciated their visits time and time again.

This may be the penultimate post for the neighborhood this year or this might be it.  I do have one more place in mind that I really want to talk about.  I hope and aspire to get to it.

I’ve really enjoyed visiting some new places, giving some old ones their just due (or justified critiques), and enhancing my love for one of the greatest places I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Hope to see you this weekend on the cobblestone streets of Fells!

Best,

Ideen

Bartenders Please

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I have wanted to write about Bartenders, since I began this blog.   This, among a select few other spots, were the inspiration for me to write about pizza.  And there’s so much fun that goes with pizza, besides eating some amazing pies.  It’s the joy of each others company, the drinks you have with your meal, and the memories that come with it.   If that’s a little too cheesy and overly sentimental for you, then good.

I first ate here nearly four years ago, through recommendations of regulars and good friends that have said their pies are the best in town.   And the atmosphere is one that is still incomparable.  Their are local bars and then there’s local bars.   I have found myself very comfortable eating and drinking a glass of wine their solo, on many an occasion.  The head bartenders (who are also the owners) are very personable and people I’m glad to call my friends.

Now I’ve dragged this as far as I can.   I love their pies.   I always have and always will.  The first time I ate there, I was taken for a ride on culinary excellence.  I don’t know where the dough, the cheese, the topping, and most of all the soul came from, but this is one of the best pizzas I’ve had period. And I would go here maybe once or twice a week from 2012-2013, and gained quite a bit of weight in the process.  I didn’t care.  I loved every second of it.

But if there is a down side, it’s that you get so spoiled from eating amazing creations like theirs, that other pizzas start not to taste as good.  I’ve learned to be educated about that and realize that not all pies are created equal.  And I should only judge based on taste and the energy behind it.

Here is where it gets funny.  I knew full well I was going to write about this spot, lauding and touting it to kingdom come.   But the last few times I’ve been the pizza hasn’t been up to the level I’m used to. It’s been good but the excitement and thrill I would get wasn’t there.   At first, I thought it might have been me.  But it was on three separate occasions.  It was still really good but not on the inspirational level I’ve become accustomed too.

But luckily a dear friend had been cooking the za’s there, but we rarely crossed paths at said establishment itself.  So I mentioned to her that I don’t think they’ve been as good as I remember.  She suggested I come in during one of her final shifts, and she’d make it for me personally.

And I’m glad I did. She made a masterpiece.   I’ve had The Spence before, but not like this.  Our friends who have been here repeatedly know the pie and know the man behind it.

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This is a work of art.  I think it’s worthy of multiple photos. So here’s another.

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The combination of the homemade sauce, cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella, and andouille sausage alone is enough to make this grown man act like a little kid at his first pizza parlor!  Oh my goodness this was made to perfection.  I’ve had it before but not like this.   The red peppers, onions, and fresh basil complete and complement this pie perfectly.  This is up there with some of the best ever.

Now I’ve had their cheese, white, and garden (vegetarian) as well, and loved those too. But this blows them all away. The crust, the way it was cooked, and the way everything melted and blended together is genius. And I mean this with all sincerity, this was one for the ages.  It was the perfect send off for her and the perfect early birthday present to myself.  I don’t think it could have been done any better.  And I’m glad I waited this long to write about this.  Faith has been rewarded.

I love that they give you paper plates with your meal. It’s a little detail that I don’t want to go unnoticed.  I prefer it versus a regular dish.

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But maybe my last few purchases of various pies such as the Barbecue Chicken, Peyton, and Tarlek just didn’t move me like the others.  It’s meant as a compliment.  The expectations of this place are extremely high and they will continue to be.

If you’re curious as to their menu and the selections I mentioned above, click here.

As my friend moves on to bigger and better, I will always remember Bartenders for their amazing pizza and good atmosphere.  I have many great memories but this might have been one of the best.  I look forward to more momentous occasions and many more delicious pies in the near future.

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Rock and Roll.

Best,

Ideen