With Love,

AmericanFlatBreadIonianAwakeningPizzaReady2

You know so many folks throw out the word artisanal more than ever.  Well maybe it’s lost it’s cache if you will.  Me saying that is just one person’s opinion.  But that’s what I sadly sense.  If you throw out superlatives and overstate positives where they shouldn’t go, they tend to get lost in the shuffle.  And what’s actually great could sadly get lost in the shuffle or…

American Flatbread was speaking to me.  No, not literally, that would be goofy talk… But maybe it was.  I was searching my local supermarket’s frozen pizza aisle, and I was in the mood for anything but something that would be bloaty and stuffy.  The weather outside would deem suitable for comforts and getting full and happy, but that’s not what I’m usually looking for, now or ever.

I was reading the labels and their story, where it just kept striking a chord with me.  Maybe it’s the mood I was in, but the message of doing good, not just for others, but for ourselves brought a smile to my face.  The message of supporting charities, those in need, and still taking care of ourselves is important.  If we can’t help ourselves how can we be at our best at helping others.

As we approach Thanksgiving and the heart of the holiday season, these messages are going to be much more commonplace.  I do my best to support others throughout the year, while still trying to do right for me.

The importance of eating healthy, and by taking in the most natural ingredients has become indoctrinated in us more than ever.  It’s important, and we shouldn’t resist this.  I shouldn’t resist.  This to me is more artisanal than anyone claiming as much, with nothing to back it up.

They can back it up, and then some…

My two choices were the Tomato Sauce & Three Cheese, and the Ionian Awakening.

(Here is where to buy near you)

I will review them together and separately.  First, the crusts are 100% organically grown wheat, and I can feel it.  I can taste a difference.  You might trick yourself into thinking this, but it’s true.  There was something about this that didn’t upset my stomach or upset me in any way.  Ha that was funny.  But seriously, this flatter crust (well it is a flatbread) really made a difference, and made the cheese and sauce taste that much better.

This is an operation comprised of good people, good spirits, and good souls trying to make the best pizza they can.  This was incredible.  This is not your typical frozen pizza. There is a genuine feeling of good and health during and after eating.  The lower calorie content will tell you that as well.   And I can’t get forget those herbs.  You really get a good taste for them here.

AmericanFlatBreadIonianAwakeningPizzaReady2

I just like the name Ionian Awakening.  With a powerful name, you know it’s going to be good.  I never had a doubt. These are Mediterranean flavors at their best.  If you love feta cheese, red onions, and olives on your pizza (which I love off a pizza as well!), you’re going to adore this.  You’re going to savor every bite, and with the most brilliantly prepared crust to balance (not counterbalance, but balance) everything out, some may love this more than the traditional cheese.    I love them both, so I can’t really say what was better.  I can call it tie!

AmericanFlatBreadIonianAwakeningPizzaSlice

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness… This is pizza, this is true artisan style, and it deserved to be called that and so many other good things.   I also just love the good that American Flatbread represents.

I’m grateful I found this days before Thanksgiving.  I’m truly thankful and grateful that I was introduced to this pizza, and the timing couldn’t have been better.  There’s more pizzas to choose from, and I love what they represent.  So I hope to revisit this again and try to show them some of the love that they are projecting onto the world and the universe.

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

With Love,

Ideen

Local, Simple, Superb…

ArostoBrisket

There’s that old cliche that if you stop looking for things, they come to you.  I’m not articulating it as properly as I could, but I think you know what I’m saying.  Watching too many cheesy (ha) Christmas movies a little earlier than maybe one should will get one overly sentimental.  Oh my…

Well where am I going with all this?

I’m so blessed to live in an area that is close enough to many busy cities and towns (Baltimore, Annapolis, DC, Philadelphia, and many places in, between, and around the area) that I get more of a pick of pizzas places and for that matter, places to go in general then if I were living in somewhere more remote.  I should not take that for granted.  It’s significant now and it’s going to mean something that much bigger later.  Oh here I go being sentimental and dopey again…

Where did I end up earlier this week, that has gotten feeling so emotional?   I mean it’s only pizza right?  But how can become so invested in something if I don’t have passion for it?

This week my travels brought me to Vienna, Virginia, which is right outside Washington, DC.

First of all, I technically have not written about a pizzeria in Vienna, so any new location is easily going to get me excited.  Second, while there’s still historic, more authentic, and older parts of Vienna that are easily accessible, it’s becoming like many other towns, and many other cities across the country, lots of chains, lots of town centers that portray themselves as something they’re not, and lots of transient people.

So when I find a local place, that’s where I’m going first.  And remember, I wasn’t looking…

ArostoSign

This brings me to Arosto Pizza in Dunn Loring.  Which is now more than a metro station, it’s a conglomerate of things that I may or may not have ever been to.  There’s chains, a grocery store, and a bunch of things that all look the same, but within all that Arosto brings a much needed local face that we can never have enough of.

ArostoOven

The stone hearth pizza oven which heats up these gems is just that, a gem.  Some people may frown upon this kind of rapid fire pizza making, and I might have been one of those people, but I got over it.  The crusts on both of my orders tasted differently in a good way.  My taste buds got a doughy, buttery, and most importantly comforting feeling at times.  And as we approach the holidays, this is the kind of pizza and food you want.

Man this was fantastic.

I’m singing the praises before I even tell you what I ordered.  Yeah it was that fun.

I was going to go with the cheese, but since I’m only here every once in a while, I went with two distinctively different pies, the District White and, the Smoked Beef Brisket.  The latter seems to be appropriate for the time of year.

ArostoBrisket3

The Brisket looks like art.  The presentation is immaculate.  Upon first reading, I thought the slaw would be infused into the pie, which would be quite ambitious.  And when re-reading the menu, it would be easy to make that determination.  But they pile it on high on top of this already gorgeous array of brisket, cheddar cheese, onions, and scallions.  If I had one gripe is maybe a little more brisket would have been preferred.  There was just enough (which means not too much for me) barbecue sauce that everything is easily accessible, easy to be tasted, and nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

ArostoBrisketSlice

And like I said, that crust is tremendous.  I like saying that word a lot, ‘tremendous’.  It’s tremendous, stellar, awesome, and anything else awesome you want to add. Ha…

But even with that being said, the simplicity of the District White was my favorite of the two.

ArostoDistrictWhite

The combination of spinach ricotta sauce (I know right, yum!), mozzarella, romano, and fontina cheeses is already a winner.  And I’ve frowned upon some of the whites I’ve had in the past for being overdone, but this was creative, yet simple, and that’s all anyone can ask for.  It’s done just right without doing too much.  I think there’s an analogy in there somewhere.

ArostoDistrictWhiteSlice

I would be happy with that, but they drizzled on some fresh basil that puts this pie over the top after it was already over.  And believe me it’s all over after this.  The pizza never had a chance.  And the visual of the spinach ricotta by itself is visually mesmerizing.

I’m craving some right now.   Thankfully I have leftovers.

The prices are listed with the menu, and while there isn’t a lot of places to compare it too, I find them reasonable for their medium vs. large pies.  But again, no need to compare it to anyone or anything.   These are charming pies that avoid all the pretentiousness that you find in the DC and Northern Virginia areas.

They heat everything in front of you.  I was in and out in 10 minutes.  But there was no rush.  I relaxed a little bit in the small park right outside of one of my new favorite pizza places.

And maybe it’ll be one of yours.

ArostoMenu

Here’s their menu, their gallery, and contact/location info.

ArostoBox

I’m so grateful I made this discovery.  I hope to be back again.

Thanks so much, happy holidays, and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Brick N Fire Fridays

BNFPie

I had heard so much about BrickNFire Pizza out of Catonsville, MD, that I knew I was destined to try it.   How or where I would have my first encounter would be purely unplanned.

BrickNFireSign

As luck would have it, I was enjoying myself at a wine festival last Friday, and I was happy to see they were serving up their pies as part of the event.

In talking to people in the past, the great majority of them have sung the praises of their pizza.  They’ve said how great the crust tastes.  And that the overall flavor and presentation is distinct.   Their toppings are homegrown which is always a plus. And they make their own sauce.  Everything sounds amazing here. And in just the one year they’ve been operating, they have made a wonderful impression on a lot of pizza lovers.    Sounds like a recipe for success.

However, to my surprise, I did not have the best of experiences.  I can take what people tell me and use the information as a basis to form my own opinion. And maybe understand where they’re coming from. But in this instance something fell flat.

I do say this with a disclaimer, I got my pizza in the latter stages of the evening.  I ordered the Megan’s, which looked really good on paper.  I don’t think I’ve ever had squash on a pie, so I was really excited to try it.

To my disappointment, they were out of their Heirloom Tomatoes, as they told me this was the fastest selling pizza of the night.  I can understand that and willing to try something else.   The staff there suggested green peppers in place of that and I was ok with that.

BrickNFireMenu

It just did not come together well.   I could see the tomatoes were a huge part of this one, and the flavor was missing.  But, there were a couple of other things wrong.   I didn’t taste much in the way of basil on half the pie.  The garlic oil and mozzarella seemed non-existent. It just tasted very plain to me.  However, the vegetables were great.   I really liked  the squash and the peppers were fresh but they did not fit in with this pizza at all.  And I will not give them demerit points for offering a new topping to replace the tomatoes.

But I will question the $15 for this pie.  I understand this being market price but I don’t see the justification in the cost, especially for not having all the ingredients as advertised.

BrickNFireBrickNFireUpClose

The dough was tasty and the burnt parts really added something.   A friend who was with me liked how certain parts were more charred than others, but agreed with me that the pie had been compromised. It was a serviceable yet mediocre creation.  I think the soul was missing from here. And that’s just as important as anything else.

I like Neapolitan-style pizza so this made me sad.

I know it was towards the end of the evening, but this was disappointing.   They also took a while to making my order by a few minutes longer than promised.  I understand they were backed up, but I feel as if I hadn’t come back to check on my food, they may have forgotten about me.  Heating it up at this temperature only takes a few minutes.

BNFBox

With all this being said, I will definitely try one of their za’s again.  I have mainly heard positive things about their pies, so I was a bit surprised at my troubling experience.  Their wood-fired oven looks impressive and I have posted pictures of the massive work of art. I’m not big on first impressions, and I expect my next pie to be nothing short of stellar.

BrickNFireEvenCloser

For more on the wine festival I attended, where BricknFire was click here.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen