I Love Wegmans.

WegmansSicilianBuffaloChicken2

It’s one of those magical paces on earth.  I seriously believe that to be true.

I think I got it right this time.  Some time back, I wrote about Wegmans (past stories can be found here) and the slices and story I wrote about was a bit goofy.  It just didn’t click like I hoped. Maybe I was trying too hard.  And the anomaly was that their pizza was not up to par.  That’s going to happen.  That’s also not going to make me stop going here….

As a matter of fact I go to a Wegmans at least 5 days a week.  At least is the operative word, because sometimes it feels like I go there more than once a day.   That does happen.

For the sake of life, and things in general, I wanted to keep this as simple as possible. It’s November.  We’re already so busy to begin with.  The holidays are fast approaching.  What a trite thing to say, but it’s true.  For all the commotion that comes our way, there’s plenty of room to keep things as even keel and as comfortable as possible.

Pizza is at the top of that list.

Wegmans (more about their amazing story here) knows good pizza.  A visit to multiple locations verifies that.  They’ve been consistently great to amazing.  Maybe an understatement.

I’ve shared pizza with good friends, with family, and myself.  Their a growing supermarket chain, but no matter how big they get, it keeps feeling like home.

Their pizza has a familiarity and a simplicity that feels familiar.  It takes me back to places, and then it only takes back to a recent place.  Yes, like the last time I visited. Not everything is that dramatic for me, I promise…

If you truly judge a place by their cheese alone, then Wegmans can do no wrong.  What a perfect recipe of the most simplest ingredients.  I think the most important ingredient however is soul, spirit, and enthusiasm.  Having a wonderful crust doesn’t hurt either.  A strong base and foundation culminate into an all around winner.

Their blanca is the same.  The seasonings, the olive oil, and the ricotta on such a perfectly heated crust is the stuff of beautiful.  I love white pizza and can sometimes be critical of how some places make it, but they nailed it.   My personal and humble opinion is that it’s the most difficult of pizzas to do right.   Yes they did.

What I love is that their Sicilian Style is self-serve. Try saying that a few times over.  And featured today was the Buffalo Chicken.  It may be heavy and thick for some, but that’s the beauty of choices.  I enjoyed it but know I could make at least two meals out of this.  You know the main ingredient in buffalo chicken, so I don’t need to repeat them.  I highly recommend.

I highly recommend Wegmans in general.  Pizza notwithstanding, they have a commitment to the best quality food and the best everything.   I’ve always had good experiences here from grocery shopping, their pharmacy, their cafe, the hot food bar, the sandwich shoppe, the cheese market, the deli, the seafood department, and everything in between.  Trust me, there’s a lot in between that it may take a bunch of visits, and then more to get it all in.

There’s no need to get it all in now.  The journey is the best part.  It’s one I intend to continue on and revisit many times over.

I love it and I’m willing to bet many of you who are fortunate to live by one or have visited, can say the same.

I love Wegmans and I’m so grateful for all the good it brings.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Live Life On The…

CaulipowerMargheritaPizzaThree

Last month I wrote about cauliflower based crusts and how they can be such a wonderful alternative to standard, or even gluten free crusts.   With the evolution of pizza, and how we eat in general, every alternative is worth considering and trying out.

This time I didn’t have to search for a restaurant.  There’s always the joy and simplicity of going to your local grocery store and discovering something new, along with always knowing where to find your familiar items and staples.   Going back to when I was a kid, I always found it so peaceful and so blissful. I think I just said the same thing twice.  But I hope you know what I mean.

There wasn’t this vast selection of healthy choices at any time in history until now.  I don’t always acknowledge that fact, but I am grateful.  I only heard about cauliflower based crusts a couple of years ago.  And before last month had only had them via someone else’s creation.  Cauliflower crusts to prepare at home are becoming more of a thing and easy to find.

Caulipower is exactly that.  It’s got a lot of power to it.  Right off the bat, I had a great feeling about their pizzas.  I had such a feeling I bought three.  The Three Cheese, the Marhgerita, and the Veggie are all wonderful.   I can’t find any flaws to this, nor why should I?  There was a good feeling leading up to this and these pizzas found me and I found them like magnets.  We found each other.

What immediately stands out is well, everything.  There’s a look about them and matches what a frozen pie would look like, which is a sign of things to come.  Because 15 minutes later they came out of the oven looking magnificent.  All I did was heat these but they just had this visual of a work of art.   The folks behind this (their difference, their story, and where you can find their awesome pizzas) have put a lot of effort and dedication into making a masterpiece.  Now that word, masterpiece, gets thrown around too much.  A blank canvas or a crust encourages us to create our own, and sometimes beautiful things can happen.   Their pies are a beautiful thing.  At around $8 it’s more than worth spending a few extra dollars versus their counterparts.

The constant in all three pies is actually a number of things.  First, this crust.  Oh my goodness this is fantastic.  I wouldn’t know the difference between their crust and a regular crust unless you hit me over the head with it.  Don’t do that as that would be a waste of food, but you get what I’m saying.  Under a blindfold test, I couldn’t tell the difference and I shouldn’t want to either.  I should love for what it is, and there’s so much to love.

Then there’s the cheese.  The way the respective cheese on these pizzas complement the other is a beautiful visual and is a joy to your palate and soul as well.

Garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and spices are important parts of each of their pizzas.  Their the heart, their the soul, and their the glue in a lot of ways to make this pie that much more magical.  While some pizzas have too much going on, and some items mean little to nothing, every means something here.  And they mean so much.

I love these pizzas so much.  Do I have a favorite?  They’re all my favorite.  They get my highest recommendation.  Maybe it’s already a favorite to you, like it seems to be with many.   This is some of the better pizza you’re going to find, and the crust is only part of the story.  There’s a story within a story, and then some.

This is magic and this is art right here.  I think I already called it art, but why the heck not.  This deserves repeated praise.

Before we head into the season of indulgence (which can be any time of year to be honest) I’m glad that I’m able to share with you a lighter fare alternative to all the comforting foods that are out there.  And while comfort is good, there’s comfort in the good.

CaulipowerPizzaSlices

This was spectacular.

Whatever I get to next may have a hard act to follow.  Only time will tell..

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

Something With The Zucchini

CuVinoWhiteSlices2

I had no idea that CuVino even existed.  And I’m slightly embarrassed by that.  I used to spend a lot of time in this vicinity (history lesson here), and can’t even recall what was in the space before.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter.

CuVino

What’s important is this combination of restaurant/bar/wine shoppe and one of the more cozy and welcoming places you’ll find, is perfect for anyone of any demographic and any walk of life.  Wait, I just said that.

I’ve seen reviews of this place that were a bit pretentious and off putting after I visited, that would actually make want to come back more.   Everyone’s tastes are different, and everyone has a mood and feel of that place in time, that can alter so much.   That can be for the better, or otherwise.

How ironic and fitting that I made two different visits and was fortunate to have different slices available at both times.  Yet, I wanted to keep it simple and get back to basics, with maybe a little pizzazz (ha!) one of them.

CuVinoSlices

First, are the two most recognizable slices on this here planet earth, the cheese and pepperoni.    I wonder how these would taste served a whole pies in a restaurant versus getting them to go.  Yes they’re made exactly the same but my mind thinks differently.  If I’m prepared to sit down and share a meal with friends, the pizza will be savored and appreciated in a way that being of the mindset of grabbing and going may not provide.  With that being said this is great pizza that feels like it was heavily thought about, yet tastes so familiar.  It’s simple, palatable, and wonderful.

I mean this with the highest praise that this is also great greasy pizza with more cheese than I’ve found in other pizzas.  No complaints here.  And the size of those pepperoni slices are absolute gems.  You don’t see that everywhere.  This is one of the better slices of pepperoni you’re going to find.  Of course I took it off the pie and enjoyed part of it all by its lonesome.  Tremendous.

CuVinoWhiteSlices2

Even better, and how that was possible is a testament to this place, were the White Slices.   This is some of the best Bianco I can recall.  And if I am a snob when it comes to pies, it’s that I don’t always find many places offerings the best.  This is up there. The olive oil, garlic, and herbs really come together here.   And it’s that has that slightly greasy goodness that takes me back to my childhood.  Maybe this is why I love this so much.

But the zucchini is the winner here.  Yes the tomatoes and onions are fresh, but the zucchini does it for me.  I just want a plate of wherever they got this from for myself.  I’ll still take the pizza, but this is from somewhere much bigger than us!   Incredible!

Did I not say anything about the crust? Oops.  Well the picture tells that story.  There seemed to be a conscientious effort to heat all of these to perfection.  Either that or the universe is alignment with everything.  And everything seems right…

At $3, give or take, per slice, it’s a bargain when compared to lesser quality pizzerias charging upwards of $5+ for slices.  These slices are worth that much.

CuVino2

What took me so long to get here?   I wasn’t supposed to discover this place until now, but I think I want to save a bigger story for later.  There’s much to be told here.  I hope to get back here before the year is out.  But for now here is their menu,and their location/contact info.

We’re just getting started…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

The ‘Shoulds’ In Life…

MellowMushroomHoly2

What am I attempting to say here?  There’s so many things in life we’re told to ‘should’ do, that we ‘must’ do, and that we have to do.  It’s programmed and wired into our brains pretty much the day we’re born.

It’s that which controls us, gives us wants and desires that may not always be reasonable, they may also be the path of least resistance, or in other words, following the herd.

We like our life simple, and with as few headaches as possible.  Experiences, challenges, and obstacles are going to come in our way.  We’ll experience heartache, joy, exhilaration, fatigue, and everything in between…

That’s the macro, or maybe the micro, or maybe I’m just being vague again.

Then there’s the ‘shoulds’ that are about the simple things.  We should have gone on this vacation, we should have accepted that job opportunity, we should have accepted when someone asked us out (or we should have mustered up the courage and asked them out, what’s the worse they can say?), or we should have…

This brings us to Mellow Mushroom, with a growing list of locations in the northeast, south, expanding westward, and many in Maryland, and a charming menu to boot.

The Rockville, MD location is footsteps to many things family.  A family business was once nearby, my family lives in the Rockville Town Square, where this and many businesses, commerce, and local entities reside, and where many of us have seen a transition from a historic town to well, looking like everywhere else.

No, that’s not a dig.  I’m just sentimental to how many towns used to look like, and many still do.   There’s another ‘should’.  I’m all for change as long as it helps everyone, yet we must also help ourselves.

Mellow Mushroom is among a list of many places I would suggest to pick up food from, or dine out at with my dad, when I would come visit him.   Yes a family business was footsteps away, so it was nice to come and spend time on a weekly basis.  Sometime more, sometimes less.  I loved every minute of it, more like every second.

But he has his favorite few places,  like many of us do.  And we get comfortable.  I get comfortable.  There’s another path of least…

Yet at some point something that is familiar and easy to us now, was once a stranger and foreign to us as well.  See what I’m saying?  Before I digress like I tend to do, let me talk about the pizza.

For the first time I finally walked into a Mellow Mushroom (just typing that out and saying that in my head makes me laugh, the name just sounds funny to me), without asking if he wanted any, because the ‘shoulds’ have done me in and done enough.

It felt like a different universe.  I can’t explain it.  But it felt like a place I’ve had recurring dreams about, and not in a bad way.  It’s just well…

MellowMushroomMenu

The pizzas themselves are reasonably priced.  I got two small pies to share at $13 a piece.  The House Special and The Holy Shiitake.

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The former is decent.  And the latter is really good, maybe even great.

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The crust on both, especially the Shiitake really complemented the pie well.

MellowMushroomHouseSpecial

The House Special has a lot going on more for my taste.  The extra mozzarella added on top is a nice touch.  And I know some people love it, or are going to love it.  It was a bit too much for me.

MellowMushroomHoly2

But the Holy Shiitake has everything I want in a pizza, and in food in general.   Olive oil, garlic, shiitake, portobello, caramelized onions, aioli, and truffle oil is up there with the best combinations in pie, or in anything ever.  Yet something was missing…

What was missing was… I ended up eating this on my own.  I came to visit, yet I was only able to enjoy it by myself.  I left the rest for family, and hope at some point they get to enjoy some too.   I wish I had done this sooner.

MellowMushroomSlices

I had all the intentions of getting pizza here, a year ago, two years ago, maybe even longer, and that didn’t happen.

What I’m saying is, with anything, don’t wait till something happens to do something.  I have to tell myself this.  You should just do, just be, and not overthink things too much.  I’ve done a lot of that, and continue to so.

You never know when opportunities like this are going to run out, or ultimately….

I was told by a wise man once, don’t let something monumental happen or be forced to make changes in your life.

Have a blessed one…

Ideen

…And All Is Spinning Around

UdisGlutenFreePepperoniPizza

I was first introduced to Udi’s several years ago by a friend who was looking at transitioning into a Gluten Free and other health conscious lifestyle changes.   I hope that worked out for him and worked out for any of you who have felt it was time for something else, and a time to do something different.  The results can be fruitful and beautiful, if you let it.

That goes for all of us.

Additionally, we don’t have to switch to Gluten Free or anything free to try Udi’s or any similar brand.  Sampling different foods and different styles is what makes this world go round.

Their breads and bagels are just as on par in taste versus your regular style you will find anywhere.  In a blind taste test you could taste a difference, but it’s not that significant.  Good food is good food and eating healthy is a challenge, but only if we let it.  This is supposed to be fun.  Eating is one of the joys of life.

Honestly, I just dig the name Udi’s. Here is more about this young yet growing company, their product catalog, and where you can find them near you.

Before I completely digress, I had all the intentions of once again writing about a pie of the frozen kind.   Let’s make it two.

Udi’s does pizza right, and once again their is no sacrifice in taste.

It’s funny how different grocery stores frozen pizza aisles will be so different versus the competition.  Where you think you might find gluten free pizza, by anyone, might surprise you.

In the interest of keeping it simple, like they do, I went with a three cheese and then a pepperoni.  Both are fantastic in their own little way.  Yes the pizzas are little.  And you know Gluten Free items are a bit higher on the price side.  I believe these pizzas will run you for $7-$8 each.

The crust is perfectly thin and golden brown.  I had to show you a picture with my pizza turned over so you get the idea.  The way it cooked in the oven was so in sync with everything.  I can’t explain it exactly.   I mean it’s just putting a pie in the oven and voila, but there was something more diving going on here.  It was in there for the right amount of time, and yes I read the instructions…  But this felt so precise and in tune with the universe.

The olive oil, garlic, and basil just added so much in such a unpretentious fashion, that I had to savor every bite just a little more.

Oh and those pepperoni slices are divine, delicious, and delightful.  I did that on purpose by the way.  This is pizza, and even just food from another dimension.  I must really like the letter ‘D’ today for some reason.

UdisGlutenFreePepperoniPizza

This isn’t going to fill you up as fast as your typical frozen fare, but that’s the point.  It’s a lower calorie, lower fat, and welcomed alternative to what you might be used to.  The frozen pizza choices out there are in abundance that some may get lost in the shuffle.

Don’t let Udi’s be one of them.  This is world class and well done pizza.  Make it a point, make it a priority, make it whatever you need to, to find their pizza.  It’ll be worth whatever trip you need to take.

I will be taking this trip again.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Back Where I Come From

CSNYSicilianPepperoniPizza

I grew up around the Rockville, MD area, and each time I come home, I get these feelings of uneasiness.  It still feels like the place I remember when I was a kid, but all that is waning.

Here are my past posts from this historic town.

My peers and I are older now.  Many of the places we used to frequent are no more.  I supposed many people say that, because things end.  Nothing lasts forever.  But that doesn’t mean that when something ends, that something worse takes it place.  That does happen, but with a congested suburb of the Washington, DC area, I still attempt to see the glass half full.

There’s restaurants, stores, hidden gems, and just those things you can’t put into words that are no more.   I still keep in touch with family and friends, because that’s important to me, and they’re also the constant.  As we grow up the reasons we became close still exist and sometimes new ones formed.

And sometimes you discover a place that is one of the new gems, the new parts of a town that easily could fit in with the past.

CSNY

CSNY Pizza (an offshoot of Pizza CS, which I will get to in time) resides in a location on Rockville Pike that has seen many tenants, and many local businesses come and go.   This understated pizza place is not going anywhere.

When I saw the signs last year for this soon to be opened spot, I was excited, and then as time went by I forgot.  And not for any malicious reasons.  I don’t live here.  I haven’t lived in here in some time, and I don’t ever see myself coming back.   Never say never, but that’s not in the cards.

This was home.  It’s still has parts of my heart, but so much has changed.  And in the past year ever more has changed.   Some things are gone and are never going to come back.  I have to make peace with that.  As I’m writing this out, I’m still trying to make that peace.

I’m grateful family and friends are still around.  Like I said, that’s still the constant.

But onto the pizza…

The spot is simple and so is the menu.  Just how I like it.

I ordered three standard slices (cheese, sausage, and mushroom) which were all great.  But the Sicilian Pepperoni was even that much greater.

CSNYSicilianPepperoniPizzaSlice

If this is their version of New York Style, I want more.  I’m craving more right now.

I don’t often talk the sauce being the stand out on a pizza, but this is what happened here.  It has a a familiar taste that brings me back to my childhood.  There’s just something so divine about it.  I can’t place my finger on it and now is the not the time to. The sauce is an absolute masterpiece.

The cheese, the toppings, and that crust all complement each other so well.  So simple, so understated, yet so amazing.  This is CSNY Pizza and it’s incredible.

CSNYSicilianPepperoniPizza2

Yet that Sicilian Crust is that much more memorable.  The pepperonis are some of the best I’ve tasted, and even though I saved a lot of that crust for later, I enjoyed my few bites.  And that’s all that matters.

CSNYPizzaSlicesAll

I ordered four slices because it felt like the right thing to do, and I will get a few meals out of this, and who knows when I’ll be back.

Oh I’ll be back.

This was once home.  Somewhere in all this madness is still home.  I’m grateful the simple, yet oh so memorable, still exists.

This was world class.  This was beautiful.   This was….

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

Say Hello To Everybody

SammysFourPizzaSlices2

That’s the feeling I got when I walked into Sammy’s Italian Pizza Kitchen, in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis.  I’ve talked at length (history can be found here), about my fondness for our state capital.

Here’s Sammy’s menus, contact info, and more on their story can be found at the bottom of their main page.

SammysItalianPizzaKitchen

I’ve been to Sammy’s many times before, initially out of curiosity, but then out of convenience.   The shopping center itself has a feel from decades ago, and once again takes me back to being a kid, and going out to lunch on a Sunday with my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and you get my drift.

It’s a feeling of comfort and familiarity that is a great reminder that restaurants don’t need to be fancy and over-the-top to produce quality food, service, a warm atmosphere, and a positive dose of energy.

Now in every town, you have your bakery, post office, general store (do those still exist?), local bank (one can only hope), florist, and many other mom-and-pops.  That does include plenty of good food, and of course pizza.

That’s the sense I got the first time I drove through this part of Eastport, and discovered this, among several other hidden gems.

What’s funny is there’s been many instances where I have not been enamored with their pizza.  I thought it was good, but nothing to necessarily write home (or write a blog/story) about.  I have an ongoing list of places I’ve been meaning to talk about, and Sammy’s among others was on that list, but I either never felt the time was right, or just wasn’t feeling it, good or bad.

You’ve got to feel it, positive or negative, or what’s the point?

But something about a recent visit felt different.  Maybe it was me, maybe it was the mood I was in, or maybe there’s just something else inexplicable, where I should just let it just be, and allow the best experience to come to me and find me.

That’s exactly what happened.

I love how you can’t see the inside of the restaurant from the outside.   There’s something mysteriously beautiful about this, that will draw many in, and I’m sure scare a few people off.  I promise you nothing about what I’m saying is to be feared or be made to feel afraid of.

The interior feels more authentic than how many more contemporary restaurants try to portray themselves as.  This just feels real.  And if and when you’re inside, I think you’ll get what I’m selling here.  Nor do I have to sell.  Everything about it sells itself.

SammysFourSlices

To go back to basics, I went with the four most simplest slices there is.   Cheese, pepperoni, white, and vegetable is about as genuine and to the core pizza as you’re going to find.  It’s as if the slices were there waiting for me.  Maybe they were.

The staff working the counter made me feel like home and made me feel good about my visit.  And to feel like a million bucks is not something you ask for or expect, but it’s great when it happens.  The next few groups of people that walked in got that same first class treatment.  It’s good to be feel important.  That feeling should come from within but it’s always gravy when it comes from external sources as well.

Before I go on any further of a tangent, this was the best pizza I’ve had by them in the multiple times I’ve been by.  And it’s not even close.  From what was once mediocre to decent, turned into fantastic.

What makes this all the more intriguing is I got these slices at dinner time.  I don’t know how long the pies were out.  Those are not the questions I should be asking, when the pizza turns out to be this good.  Maybe I answered my own question.

Maybe the reheating from the cold pies made it that much more tasty.  But good pizza is good pizza.  And these four slices really turned out well.

The pepperoni and the white were the true stand outs.   The crust and dough just had a taste about them that once again took me back to my younger days sharing pizza with family and dear friends.   That’s where a long synopsis is no longer necessary.

It’s a simple pizza, with a simple feel, from a creative source.

SammysFourPizzaSlices

What more can you ask for then what I just described?

That’s good pizza, nestled in a neighborhood in one of my favorite places.

If I could write about a place like this every week, I’d be happy.  But then it wouldn’t be so special.  Yet for now, this is to be savored, adored, and appreciated.

SammysItalianPizzaKitchen2

I look forward to my next visit to Annapolis, and a future visit to Sammy’s.

Peace Be With You.