Golden Star

MarcosWhiteCheezy

When I was a kid, and even still as an adult at times, when I saw a new place or an unfamiliar place, I might be hesitant to try it out.   And there’s no basis for any of this.  Maybe sometime in my childhood the unfamiliar just didn’t appeal to me, for whatever reason.  But when you’re a kid, the new is what’s exciting.  Same goes for now.  Because everything that we know, like, find comfort in, and enjoy now was once well, strange and unfamiliar.

That comfort level may be too far for some as we settle in our routines, and may choose the path of least resistance.  Again that path of least resistance was once… Yep…

I love food and many of us do.  It’s a simple pleasure.  It bring us joy, brings us together, and brings us satisfaction.   Pizza in this case can never be strange.  I’m all for trying new foods, new pizzas, and new anything.  If there is some reservations in life, those should dissipate.  It’s too short, even though it feels long at times.  And for all the pizzerias in the world, there’s room for another, and there’s room for everybody.

What am I saying here?  Sometimes I don’t know.  Sometimes I should relax and take it easy with the questions.  Sometimes I should just relax and hang out. Ha.

MarcosPizza

A while back driving through Essex, MD (right outside Baltimore) I saw a sign for Marco’s Pizza (more about their story, their menu, and locations) and like with most discoveries pizza I welcome a new place, and can add it to the ongoing story that will hopefully go on forever…

I saw from the outside looking in their logo and the shopping center it was located in just a buzz and aura about it.  Sometimes it’s the energy we create and sometimes there’s just something there that feels right and tells you when you should come in, and when you should wait.  Both have that same feeling.

So after a few weeks of writing about and trying other foods, the time was right.  A new place to write about, in a town or city I’ve technically haven’t written about, is always refreshing.

I must have been in the mood for tomatoes because the new menu items that stood out to me were the White Cheezy and the Chicken Florentine.  And in this instance I didn’t even look at the ingredients or toppings.  I felt for some reason I didn’t need to.  It’s similar for when going to the movies, I don’t always read up on the plot.  It’s more exciting that way to me.

How funny is it that these two pizzas are so similar, yet just different enough. It’s all relative.

What else is relative is how great they are.  Look at that golden crust?  There’s an art to this.  And a certain amount of minutes, timing, and done with the right energy and spirit is going to make an entree that much better.  You could be in a bad mood and make the pizza the same exact way, and it won’t turn out like this.  This was magical.

MarcosWhiteCheezy2

I love how they pile on the cheese with this.  It’s cheese on top of cheese, and with that crust, I nearly took the toppings for granted.

The White Cheezy with the three cheese blend, feta cheese, and garlic parmesan sauce can compete with all the great pizzas.  And as a stand alone pie needs no toppings.  But to throw in bacon, onions, and the perfectly cooked tomatoes is a winner.  The irony is the bacon is what stood out the least to me.

MarcosChickenFlorentine

With the Grilled Chicken Florentine (which may be an exclusive to their Essex location) you’re essentially substituting the bacon for grilled chicken and spinach.  And those piece of chicken taste fresh, taste real, and just taste good.  Another recurring theme is that garlic parmesan sauce.  Maybe I was in the mood for the tomatoes without the sauce.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.  It was all great.

The folks behind the counter were busy but never looked panicked.  They were friendly and that is symbolic of how the pies turned out.  These pizzas are on the higher end of what you might pay.  My two small pizzas came out to just under $30.  But to pay a little extra for quality never hurt anyone.  And it’s a few extra dollars well spent.

I like this place a lot and I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more about them in the near future.  Based out of Toledo, OH, they’re expanding all over the nation.  For our pals in Baltimore, there’s locations in Essex and Pasadena, and a few in Northern Virginia.  So while it may be a little bit of a drive, it’s worth your time and a great change of pace.

This was wonderful, and I can’t wait to try their pizzas again.  Something unfamiliar is now a friend, and I’m grateful Marco’s Pizza is now a part of my pizza experience.  I found them, but in many ways it found me.

MarcosPizzaBox

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

Circle of Trust

CulinaryCircleGarlicChickenAlfredoHeated

This one is by request…

A random person had asked me to do a little digging, a little research, and to go on an adventure to write about a couple of pizzas from Culinary Circle.

Whether this person ever reads this post, or that it finds them well will be left to the universe.  I’ve always wanted to say that.  Nevertheless, I hope this finds all of you well…

Before I continue, here is more about them, their list of products, and where you can find Culinary Circle’s foods near you.

How do I analyze frozen pizzas?  I really don’t.  I just tell stories. This tends to go across the board with a lot of what I write and talk about.  Of course there’s opinions, critiques at times, and overall quality.  But I don’t always find fun in that.  I find fun in all the elements of the universe that brought this whole thing together.

There’s a reason I was directed by a force to find this.  I still don’t exactly know why.  Maybe it was for the fact that the crusts are thinner, and in hotter temperatures this would be ideal.  Maybe someone is telling me that lighter might be better, for right now at least.

Maybe someone is telling me to take it easy…

I would say it’s all above, and so much more that I don’t even know about.  I don’t need to just yet, it’ll be shown to me.

Am I even talking about the pizza anymore.  Ha.

The Garlic Chicken Alfredo and then the Margherita tells a tale of two different pies, yet crafted with lots of love, soul, spirit, and all the other good things.

We’ve all enjoyed so many pizzas at home, at restaurants, at pizzerias, and everywhere in the middle.  These culinary gems are just another in a long line of good food made by good hands.   It makes me feel good to eat good and then to feel good again.

A thin crust certainly helps.  Pictured above is how they look frozen.

CulinaryCircleGarlicChickenAlfredoHeated2

The former has so much flavor and rich that you could make a few meals of this, and of course share with friends.  Sharing is the best.

CulinaryCircleMargheritaHeated

And the latter, while so simple, brings the taste you’ve known to grow and love with a margherita pizza.  No it’s not the best I’ve ever had but that doesn’t matter.

Both are enjoyable and perfect for summer gatherings, lunch, dinner, heck even breakfast.  It doesn’t matter.  If you feel good, it’ll make you feel good, and that’s what’s most important.

Until yesterday I had never seen nor heard about Culinary Circle.

I’m glad it was then. I’m glad it was now.  First time for everything.   And I look forward to many more first, second, and many times.  This was fun.

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Try the Caprese

MargheritasSlices2

Three years and change ago, I wrote about Margherita’s, and their Kingsville, MD location, knowing that more would be coming.  Another location would coming.

When I saw the signage and construction begin for their newest digs in Bel Air (menu can be found here) like a goofy kid, I was excited.  But in similar ways, I got distracted, and I got busy.  And I kept saying I would get around to it.  I would be in the vicinity and just not be in the mood for pizza (sacrilege I know) and keep saying there will be a next time.  There’s always next time

Enough rambling, how was the pizza this time?

MargheritasCaprese

Try the caprese, is all I can say.  This is phenomenal.  Even if the heavier Siclian Style is not your slice of pizza, I would say go for it, or just pick the toppings off and enjoy.  There’s a captain obvious in there somewhere, but yeah no…

What we have here is the freshest of ingredients, cheese, and the finest soul and spirit behind this slice.  You know when you walk into a place, and you know the pizza (or any food or anything is going to be good?  That’s what I sensed and have been sensing.

I’ll be honest, I go to Margherita’s a little more than I’ve let on, but never felt the story was there, or was inspired to do as such.  Maybe this is the first time I noticed the Caprese.  That’s inspiration enough.  In many ways, it’s a great choice for the summer and warmer temperatures.

MargheritasBuffaloChicken

The buffalo chicken and white veggie slices are just as delicious.  The thin crust on these are heated to perfection.  I would say I got there at the perfect time, as many of the pies had just come out of the oven and looked as fresh as a daisy, or a pizza.

MargheritasWhiteVegetable

Seriously, the crust was a New York Style and comforting bread you don’t get too often, from anywhere.

I adore the presentation of the buffalo chicken, as you can tell there’s thought and feeling behind it.   And the white veggies, well, the toppings are prolific but they won’t take away from the pie whatsoever.  This is well done.  These three slices were under $10, yes another reason to be grateful.

I feel like I’m writing this in a way like I did three years ago.

What else is there to say?  This was great, and the Bel Air location feels welcoming and feels quite neighborhood life.  Their Kingsville pizzeria has a small town feel with just a couple of tables, that it’s made for carry-out.  But that’s what makes both places distinct, approachable, and wonderful.

Just about every neighborhood in every town has their pizzeria, their grocery store, bank, bar, restaurant, and those other gems that make a town so charming and has that home like feel.  And the staff was friendly and personable, like any neighborhood spot would traditionally be.

MargheritasSlices1

Margherita’s fits right in like it’s been there forever.  And in many ways it has…

And by all means, try the Caprese.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

A Truly Amazing Club…

CheddarBurgerDeepDishPizza2

A group of kind souls got together and signed me up for a Pizza of the Month Club.

For more on this and other Amazing Clubs, click here.

It was unexpected, an incredible gesture, and something I will always remember.  It’s something that makes me warm inside, and makes me feel so much gratitude.  It’s a validation that not only what I do means something to someone.  But I also have people that care for me in general.

It’s a hard thing to grasp.  I’m not good with compliments, I’m not good with people doing kind things for me, or to me.  I’m not good with anyone doing anything for me with no expectations in return.   I don’t want anything in return either.  Well maybe kindness, because I don’t think that’s asking too much.  So maybe in a way, how I’ve been to people has been reciprocated.

And a lot of the best parts of our life are based on reciprocity, doing good things for one another, with nothing expected in return.  Anything that’s attracted to us is a bonus, but it’s to be cherished, embraced, and loved.

That’s that attitude of gratitude you might have head about.

So when this package arrived at my doorstep I was blown away.  I mean I was literally blown away.  This was beautiful.

This is so beautiful.

I opened up the package to see not one, but THREE Chicago-style pizzas in the most charming and welcoming of sizes.

I wish I had people to share this with, but maybe for this installment, I was meant to share these over time, and alone.

The three for this month are the Artichoke & Plum Tomato, the Cheddarburger, and the BBQ Chicken!  The themes may have to do with the season, the summer, and the upcoming holiday.  Whatever the reason I’m just so thankful for this, and it’s a change of pace for this blog as well.

As a friend who spearheaded said that they hope this inspires a few blog posts.  Well you know at least two more are coming.  But first things first…

I loved each pie so much, and for various reasons.

ArtichokeTomato

The Artichoke & Plum Tomato might have been my favorite.  Maybe because it’s the most season and light to me.   I’ve also grown to prefer vegetables and different types of veggies over your standard toppings.   That’s what makes pizza so great.  You can add just about anything to it, within reason, and even for no reason, and it could turn out to be YOUR masterpiece.

Tomato&ArtichokeDeepDishPizza

I love the quality of the ingredients, and the golden brown crust just works fabulously here.  This is a unique taste on a white pizza, is one way to look at it.  Yet I can also just say it’s awesome.  Awesome!

Just so you know, the cheese complements the pizzas on all of these in first-class fashion.  I don’t need to go over every ingredient, there prominently displayed in the one picture earlier on in this story.

Now the Cheddarburger would go great for the nearing holiday, or whenever you want.  This is simple yet creative.  Ground beef and cheddar cheese in that deep-dish crust, well… you might know the rest.

BBQChicken

In the past I’ve said how I feel BBQ Chicken is one of the harder pizzas to master.  This was well done though.  And if you notice, I have goofed heating this one in the oven. There’s the burnt marks on the pie and on the crust, but it turns out it worked in my favor.  I heated these all just a few minutes under the suggested amount, and they all turned out differently, yet so well.  Lesson learned.

The quality of chicken and sauce on this is quite high end.  You just know.  And you just know there’s a soul and feeling behind this and the previously mentioned pies, that you’re a part of something special.

I’m grateful to be a part of something special. I’m grateful to my friends for being there in a rough patch of my life, maybe the roughest.  This means so much to me.  For future installments of this, I hope to share these pizzas with the folks directly involved in having them attracted into my life.

What an Amazing Club…

Peace Be With You…

Ideen

 

Break The Contradictions

MaisysBuffaloChicken

Maisy’s is what Downtown Baltimore or what a downtown in general feels like.  I prefer the latter, because it reminds me of a part of any city, that truly feels like a city.  Baltimore has a lot of neighborhoods within it, yet it does have parts that seem like there’s lots of action.

This particular part of Charles Street, which bridges downtown to Mt. Vernon, is an area I used to frequent all the time.  While it gets busier things also seem to be a bit slower.  Time has stood still, and so does the traffic, so does everybody.

Maisys

Good friends of mine were regulars of Maisy’s when it first opened maybe 5-6 years ago, but for various reasons, life happens, and life goes on.  That didn’t mean to sound so dramatic.   But my friends did sell me on the place without having to sell it.  It’s a hidden gem, hiding in plain sight.  Near several other restaurants, bars, and other establishments it might be easy to overlook and take for granted.   I could see that.

MaisysBoard

The first time I ate here was literally five years ago.  And that might have been my only time.  This was before any blogs or pizza storytelling were on my radar.  Well it was slightly on my radar or we wouldn’t be here now.   I just recall the pizza being pleasantly awesome.

I had been tipped off (sounds so exciting) on the fact that their pizza is one of the more underrated in the city.  That’s a relative term.  What’s rated one way to you, is well, yeah..

Having no recollection of what exactly I had, I can say that the pizza and atmosphere was tremendous.  Maybe it’s having no expectations, going somewhere alone, and going somewhere for the first time.  I also recall that I was in between social engagements that day, so that time alone is always welcome.  Don’t take that for granted.  We all know how time alone is fewer and far between than it used to be.  If we let it.

That was a moment in time.  Nothing noteworthy, newsworthy, or life changing.  Sometimes those are the best.   The way the place was lit did leave a lasting impression, and there’s a quaintness, despite the large space, that is perfect for this or any neighborhood.  It works in a downtown setting.

Moving along a few years later, you can’t replicate the first time.  I was with a friend, and was craving pizza. Surprise surprise.  But this time something felt off.

By no means was I trying to relive something that doesn’t exist.  The restaurant looked exactly the same, which I like.  Well maybe it was different.   I don’t know.  It’s been a while.

MaisysMenu

We shared the Buffalo Chicken and The Mediterranean.

MaisysBuffaloChicken2

There isn’t much home to write about.  It was fine. It was food.  It was there.

MaisysMEDITERRANEAN

You’ll notice the charring on the crusts of both pies. They went a little overboard.  I love brick oven pizza.  I love any way a pizza is cooked, as long as the end result is that it tastes good.  Sometimes you want it greasy, crunch, and with little thoughts to the craftsmanship behind it.

There’s some effort put into these pizzas, but something was missing.  It just didn’t wow me.  The style in which it was cut is in line with what I remember, maybe.

The tastes on both were fine.  Once again, I don’t know what happened.  But it’s average pizza.  I wish I could say otherwise.   On the Mediterranean there’s too much going on, and many of the vegetables, feta cheese, and even the pesto got lost in the shuffle.  When the pesto doesn’t work, you know something is off.   The Buffalo Chicken looks amazing, and the pieces of chicken are great, but again something fell flat.  The sauce and cheese is fine but…

If we’re counting this exactly, we’re 1-1.   I supposed the third time is the time charm.  You’ll be the first to know when that is.

Thanks so much and peace be with you…

Ideen

 

For My Dad…

MoreGhormehSabzi

I’m going to do things much differently this week.  And it’s absolutely necessary.  I lost someone close to me last week.  I lost someone so important to me.   You only get one parent, one mom, and one dad in this lifetime.  It’s a blessing.  But yes, all things must….

I’m heartbroken to say that I lost my dad last week.   I’m still sad, numb, grieving, overwhelmed, and in a state of disbelief.  And he passed just eight days before my birthday.

The timing is never good for these things.

This post will be seen my most on May 31st, which is my birthday.

For my birthday, his birthday, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, other family members’ birthday, and often no particular reason at all, we would share in delicious food from all over the world, and more often times than not, from our native Iran.

That hasn’t happened in quite some time, and it hurts.  And it will no longer happen in person.  That’s a hard thing to accept, but accept I will have to at some point.  I’ll have to make some kind of peace at this at some point.

However, I can still celebrate his honor and spirit by sharing with you some our favorite dishes.   He’s still with me in spirit and I know he’s watching, and I hope he appreciates the foods I’m about to share with you.  I’m sure he’s either having some of this right now, or will be shortly.  It feels weird typing this out this way.  It’s good therapy I guess, but it just feels so weird.

This is over a collection of meals, locations, and times.  Not one in particular.  I could recommend a few places in the DC and Baltimore area if you would like to contact me.  There’s a lot of good Iranian and Middle Eastern food in the area.  I’m grateful my dad and many of our family got to share in many experiences, and created some amazing memories.

I can only hope there’s more memories to come, albeit they’ll be different…

Ghormehsabzi

First up, is one of the first meals I remember as a kid, prepared by both of my parents, Ghormez sabzi.  I won’t elaborate on every ingredient, as links have been provided.  But this is an absolute gem.  The combination of beef, herbs, and dried lime may come off a bit sour or bitter at first, but that won’t last.  I loved this immediately.  I loved this more to this day.   And I particularly love it that much more today.

Morgh&Tahdig

Next, is Zeresh Polo Morgh, or more specifically just Morgh, in this case. This is a favorite of both of my parents.  It took me years later to appreciate chicken off the bone.  And in the last few years, I would prefer it when ordering food with my dad.  Something about the taste off the bone is such a great contrast to simple pieces of grilled (more on that shortly) chicken.  Both are great, but there’s something about it this style of chicken I now love so much.   The carrots, tomato sauce, and potatoes are the perfect complement to this.  Whoever invented this recipe is a genius.

Bademjan&Gheymeh

What you see with that is the Tahdig (crispy rice) next to it and in the picture below is Gheymeh, which goes with the Tahdig, or goes fine just by itself.  Ah such memories of piling at Gheymey on top of that crispy greatness.  It’s the perfect appetizer, or an amazing dinner all by itself.  Even if you don’t love Persian food, Tahdig is univerally loved.

The Bademjan, is another one that took a long time to grow on me.  But now I find eggplant to be divine and a joy to eat.

Another favorite of mine, which is traditionally eaten at Nowruz, which is Iranian New Year (First Day of Spring).  is the Ash reshteh.  The melange of noodles, beans, lentils, and chick peas is perfect for the cold winter months.  During the summer it may not feel right, but it doesn’t matter.  It’s what feels right to you.

whitefish&kuku

To go along with Nowruz is the kuku and whitefish.   I mean what else needs to be said.  You might be able to tell that the kuku is egg based and it’s glorious.  I’m craving everything I’m writing about, right now.

Kababs

I would be foolish to leave out the kababs, so there you go.  Koobideh makes everyone happy, and so does grilled chicken, onion, and tomatoes.  I know right?

The pastries is the one I’ve shared with friends and pals.  I’ve been requested to bring baklava, bamiyeh, jalebi, and all these other delights to parties and gatherings.  Who am I to say no?  I’ve also had friends request it if I ever stop by a store and I’m happy to oblige.

These are the memories that I love.  Food brings people together.  And it bonds us like not many other things do.  I’m grateful I shared so many experiences with my dad, and now hope to share new memories with family, friends, and of course my dad in spirit.

Every story was different, yet me might have shared the same exact dish.  But not everything is going to be same, or what’s the fun in that?

ghormehsabzi2

Our moods may have been different each time, different company may have joined here and there, the soul and spirit behind the food can vary, yet the constant was me my father.

I’ll miss that.  I know he’s still here,  I know somewhere he’ll be reading it.  I know he’s now relaxing and at peace.  I think he was at peace for a while, but not it’s all official, and that just feels weird.  But it’s time.

Everyone will have their time.But for now it’s time appreciate the ones we love, we care about and adore, whether it’s family, friends, our pets, or anything that raises our spirits.   Surrounding ourselves with the best spirits makes us better ones as well.

I’m so grateful I had one of the best spirits of all, my father.  He was a great a man, he was the man,  I love him and miss him so much.

I know I’ll see him and dine with him again soon.

I love you dad.

Ideen

One Step Up and Two Steps…

FranksAberdeenStuffedCheesesteak

It’s good that I can take appreciate what’s a little bit closer to home to me.  There’s plenty of places that serve pizza anywhere, in one shape or another.  In one form or another form, pizza pies can and will be found.   And while the flavors, topping, and ingredients remain constant, everyone has their take, their soul, and sometimes just different types of pies are going to be prepared and served to you.

FranksAberdeen

Frank’s Pizza in Aberdeen, MD (all menu and no website makes this a bit easier), is not far away from home, and the nearby streets surrounding it have a small town feel, but then it kind of doesn’t.  I don’t mean to sound do obscure, but I’m really not.  Every town has its historic part with their post office, cafes, small shoppes, a few businesses that add to commerce, and a few randoms.  I love the randoms too.   And yet there’s always another constant, pizza.

Frank’s is as no thrills as it gets.  It’s got a simple counter, a massive space, and old school seating that makes it easier to write about, so the artisanal and sometimes pretentious aspect is out the window.   It’s refreshing to write mainly about the pizza itself and nothing else.  Well the staff was busy yet courteous.

The pizza trays are the first things you see when you walk in.  That’s a strategy that’s not rocket science, and I’m always been a fan of.

I’ve been here before, and the pizza is pizza.  It’s nothing life changing nor does every experience, food, or pizza need to be.   It does its job, does its job well, and you’ll likely to come back if you work, live, or are in the area.

This time I noticed a couple of stuffed pizzas on display, and for the sake of changing it up, this was necessary to purchase.   I did not eat all of this one sitting.   These four slices are the equivalent of four meals, at least.

FranksAberdeenCheese&BuffaloChicken

So along with getting your simple cheese, a buffalo chicken, a stuffed cheesesteak, and a stuffed romano (pepperoni, sausage, and mushroom… if I’m missing something, I’ll stand corrected).

The cheese and buffalo chicken are fine.  Nothing amazing, nothing that’s going to be questioned.  Unless you write about it.  The crust is fine, but nothing extraordinary.

The same can be said for the romano.   The golden brown color is always a nice sight to see, but again, it’s solid but not much more than that.

FranksAberdeenStuffedPizzas2

I gloss over these three slices for a reason…

FranksAberdeenStuffedCheesesteak

Finally, the cheesesteak is a guilty pleasure.  And as you see with the romano, they pile on the toppings.  And I don’t care how authentic this cheesesteak and the steak itself (Frank’s is less than an hour outside of Philadelphia), it’s the height of comfort food.  But again, you could get multiple meals out of this.  This is not meant to be eaten all at once.

FranksAberdeenStuffedCheesesteak2

I have all four slices, resting comfortably in my refrigerator, that may be sitting there for a while.  I don’t recommend all of this in one sitting, or even a couple.   Get a work out in before, and one sometime after.   This can’t be healthy, but this is not why you eat this stuff to be healthy.  This is not some conspiracy theory.

Sometimes you just want to eat and not worry about the consequences.   That’s what you’re going to get with Frank’s.

Maybe next week we’ll go artisanal and a little more classy?  Whatever that means.

Blessings to you…

Ideen