A Flair For The Gold

FranksTrios

I’m writing this as I watch the unofficial first day of coverage of the Winter Olympics, so please bare with me, I’m a bit excited.

I wanted on the eve (or day of depending on where you are and when you read this) of National Pizza Day, for this story to be inspiring, remarkable, heartwarming, and all those other superlatives and blessings.

FranksPizza

When talking about Frank’s Pizza & Pasta in the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Hamilton, or is it Overlea?  Well it’s Baltimore and it’s an institution that’s been around for over 30 years.   That to me is worthy of a medal itself.

I had actually intended on doing a story nearly two years ago but something told me the timing wasn’t right.  If I’m recalling correctly, my pictures looked underwhelming, or maybe some universal force told me it wasn’t time.   Some things can’t be explained nor need an explanation.

All roads brought me here this week.   Actually that’s exactly what happened.  Yesterday I drove passed Frank’s later in the evening, with the thinking that I need to get back here.  And while I was on my way home, if the situation presented itself, I know I’d be back again soon.  Literally, less than 24 hours later… And the rest is well…

My expectations had been raised after hearing about their pizza, from a couple peoples’ opinions that I respect immensely.  And it’s all about your own opinion, your own beliefs, experience, and all that good stuff.  But I can’t help but admit that I had high hopes.

If we’re using Olympic terms, the technical scores may be a bit low, or the qualification times may be enough to make the next round but I don’t know.  There are some deductions and maybe some penalties.   There may need to be a redo.

What does this all mean?  I’ll get to the point.  I wanted to love it but I can’t say that.  I want to love every pizza and every experience, but it’s not always going be that way.  While it’s easy to find positives (and there are), the faults do stand out.

I got three slices, and how perfect was this selection.  I might have stopped by right after the lunch rush since a lot of slices were bunched together, and the pickings were minimal. No problem at all, I still got a cheese slice, a meat lover’s, and the Mediterranean, which looked like it just came out of the oven.

FranksMeatLovers

I’ll get my critiques out of the way first.  The cheese, and meat lover’s looked much better displayed on trays beforehand than how they looked after they were heated.  Maybe my eyes were deceiving me but the plain cheese looked like it shrank.

FranksCheese

You can also see that they reheated these slices a little too long.  You can see the burnt parts, especially in the meat lover’s, that the crust actually fell apart where it was charred.  Now there’s good charring and then there’s this.   It wouldn’t have mattered though, as neither slice did much for me.  The cheese felt flat and something just didn’t taste right.  Maybe there wasn’t enough?  Maybe it was out there too long.  I don’t know.

FranksMeatLovers2

The meat lover’s is not one I would ordinary try anyways, but I figured why not.  This one I could only take one or two bites of before I had enough.  It was burnt and it was a little too hearty for me, but that’s more of a personal opinion as well.   I like more of a….

FranksMediterranean2

And this brings me to the Mediterranean.  This was the gem, or the crown jewel if you will, of the slices.  Maybe the fact that it just came out hot and fresh had a lot to do with it.  The toppings were exquisite and the pesto was tremendous.  I think I got some magnificent olive oil too.  All the toppings complemented each other perfectly.  It’ll make me want come back.    All this on top of a white pizza, is masterful.

And I will.  I think this place is capable of so much.  It wouldn’t be around so long if it hadn’t, even with changing times and tastes.

FranksMediterranean

That’s the most in depth I’ve been about pizza in some time.  I usually look for all the positives and situations related to everything outside of the food itself, as well.   And I still did here.  The staff is great, it’s very old school and very authentic in terms of service and appealing to a loyal clientele that serves a part of Baltimore you don’t always hear about, or think to go to.

All I know is that it won’t be another few years until I’m back.  If time allows, we shall do this again soon.  I know I say that a lot, but we shall do this again soon.

For more on Frank’s, here is their menu, and their storied history.

Enjoy the Olympics, the opening ceremonies, and all the good that comes from that.  I know I will.

And Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Sense of Community

MichaelsSlices


That’s what I got from visiting Michael’s in Monkton, MD about a month ago.

For the whole time I’ve been doing this I would periodically get the suggestion to write about Michael’s when I got the chance.   The advice came from folks who have ties to Northern Baltimore County and the Hereford Zone, and they’ve been going for years that the swear by it.

MichaelsPizza

When I hear that I immediately assume that it’s not just about the pizza but the history of going to that place.  It’s been around for 23 years so maybe parents have brought their kids here and grown up with the place.  Maybe it’s a place friends went to after high school or any school, and became a staple of their life.   Maybe it evokes memories of something bigger than I can even imagine.

I can’t pretend I have any attachment to this place.  Well obviously I’ve made it clear I’ve never been here before.   But what I can do it get a feel for what brings folks here.  I’m going to presume that it’s more than about the food.  In many circumstances it usually is.

The area is charming, it’s quiet, it’s small town, and it’s folksy.  Well the last two might not be mutually exclusive but you get the gist of what I’m saying.   A random drive through the area right before Thanksgiving inspired me to locate the exact location of Michael’s and thankfully it was minutes from where I was.

I wasn’t sure when I was going to get to writing about Michael’s but the longer I waited the less of a chance it was going to happen.  And what a waste of a visit that would be.

The space is tiny.  For all the stories I heard it made it sound like there was room for some indoor dining if possible.  It was tinier than I imagined, not like that matters.  I got my slices to go and didn’t hesitate to think otherwise.

Now these were in those tinier display racks you might see at some other places.  Similar to where you might order a soft pretzel.  That sounds like a knock but it really isn’t.  It also made my decisions easier, as I went with a cheese, pepperoni, and sausage slice separately.   And with two slices and a soda for $6, you really can’t complain about what you’re getting.

Well you can complain, it just depends on who might be listening.  Remember, at the end of the day it’s only food.  Now some places may claim to be bigger than they are, larger-than-life, and influence you into having an out-of-body experience. Now free will is free will, and no one else should mess with that.  Sometimes you just want your pizza and not worry about any of the logistics, how artisanal (I’m over that word by the way) it is, where the ovens were imported from, and any of that other sometimes unapproachable nonsense.

MichaelsPlain

This was good greasy pizza. The pictures can tell you that without having me to say anything.  This is a fun time that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than it is.  If I want avante garde I’ll know where to go.  During this time of year, you might just want food that’ll give you comfort with no thrills and no questions asked.

MichaelsPepperoni

I don’t need to review every slice or give a breakdown of what I liked or didn’t like.  I will say that if there was no sausage and pepperoni I wouldn’t be missing it.  Not that they were bad, it’s just that the plain cheese on its own was good enough that it didn’t need any toppings, for me at least.   Can you see that grease?  Maybe the cheese is all you need.

MichaelsSausage

The crust was a simple crispy and sometimes soft and comforting dough.  Sounds good to me.  Oh wait…

I was there on a weekday so whatever energy I was supposed to feel or create myself, based on what others have told me, wasn’t there.  Maybe another time.  But I did feel some solid pizza run owned and operated locally.  And as long as there’s local business it’s something always worth supporting.

If you haven’t been to Michael’s, and are near the area, I would absolutely recommend giving it a go. Perhaps you’ll have a different or unique experience compared.  Sometimes that’ all that matters.  Sometimes you just want a slice without having to think too much about it.

This is as simple as it gets.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

Made By Hand (And With Love)

AmysPizzaPies

When I told a dear friend yesterday that I would be writing about Amy’s Kitchen Pizza this week, she was so excited and so happy.  She sounded happy for me too.  It’s because her and her husband were the ones who introduced me to their pizzas a few years ago.

I must thank them so much.  Even though Amy’s is now all over the place, and gluten and vegan pizza and food alternatives are all over the place.  They still get credit for opening my eyes and expanding my food horizons.

Personally for me, I can’t keep eating all this pizza at this rate.  I can’t speak for anyone else.   My stomach has gotten some ill affects over the past couple of years with all this exposure to cheese, bread, and sauce.   I’d say the first two have really done a number on me.   Thankfully, I have pizza to share with friends, share with family, give it to those in need, or save it for later.   Sometimes I feel I have no choice but to let it go to waste.  But I try to limit that if at all possible.

I had every intent of doing a couple of frozen pies this week.  The weather has been gloomy, rainy, and starting to feel more like fall, here in Maryland.  This leads to days where you don’t want to cook, don’t want to leave the house, and don’t want to do anything.

Instead of grabbing some standard pies (here is my frozen za history), I felt inspired to go the gluten free route.  Simple eating doesn’t have to be unhealthy, yet can still be timely.

So when I went my local supermarket yesterday, I perused the gluten free pizza aisle and was reminded of Amy’s.  I’ve had other brands thanks to my friends, but Amy’s was the first.  And you’ve got to give love to what got you here and what resonates the most.

I deliberately went with rice crust based pies for both.  I love the way it tastes and just wanted a reminder of how it compares to your standard wheat crusts.  It’s a more than viable alternative to those with gluten allergies.

First up is the Cheese.  It’s exactly what you want from a cheese pizza, with the different crust.   I was in a good mood throughout the pizza prepping process (I know, so challenging, heat and serve haha), so I just had this feeling these pies would turn out great.

AmysCheesePizza

The way the cheese melted into the crust was gorgeous.  I don’t know if pictures will do this thing justice.   I cut them up into slices, and while I enjoyed this, I will definitely be saving some for seconds.  That rice crust is fantastic.  I want more of this in my life. And that house-made tomato sauce, tastes just like home.

AmysCheesePizza2

Speaking of wanting more,  I had to do two of these.

The Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pesto warmed my heart.  The way this thing melted from pre heat to afterwards was such a joy.   I almost forgot this was dairy free.  As much as I loved the cheese, this was one was just that masterful.    I would be lying if I didn’t say it was the house-made pesto (my love for pesto can be found here) that did it.  It’s tremendous, but so are these tomatoes.  I love the broccoli too, but those tomatoes sealed the deal for me.   I’m a bigger fan than ever.

AmysPestoPizza

And yes I felt much better after having these pies than anything I’ve had recently.

AmysPestoPizza2

And at $8-10, you’re getting a deal for these pizzas.

Since they have so many pizza pies to try, I hope to do this again.   As the weather gets colder, there may be more opportunities to try some for frozen pizzas, which should not be discounted.  I’ve had pizzas from the frozen aisle that match or surpassed many pizzas I’ve had at pizzerias.

More importantly, I like what Amy’s is about.  Family owned, independent, community based, and autonomous are the best kinds of stories.

I don’t need to explain it, here is more on their food philosophy, their community efforts, their story, and course all their foods, and where to find all of their products near YOU.

You don’t have to find be gluten or dairy free to enjoy what Amy’s has to offer.  I’m all for trying different foods, with different ingredients and especially wholesome ones made from love.  There’s a soul behind this and if you’ve had any of their foods or pizzas, then you know what I’m talking about.

AmysPizzaSlices

Sometimes you just know when something comes from a place that’s bigger than us.

I look forward to the next opportunity to try something about from Amy’s, and maybe share it with you here.

In the meantime, stay healthy and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

Four Corners of Fun

JetsPizzaSlices

Yeah that title is cheesy (ha!) I know.   I just think it’s appropriate considering the pizza, the location, and the all around mood I was in.

JetsPizzaShoppe

Jet’s Pizza is somewhere I should have heard of.   Maybe I have and knew or the time it was not quite within driving distance and slightly out of reach.

A trip to sunny and glorious Florida included a visit to Ft. Myers, which has its own sense of beauty that my words won’t do it justice.  But how happy I am that my first visit to a Jet’s location takes place here.

JetsPizzaGuy

There wasn’t anything out of this world about the store, and that’s just how I liked it.  I don’t recall any tables or chairs to sit in, but that could just me being overly excited about trying some pizza that was quick and easy.  And would be easy to write about.   This will be one of the easier ones.

Just envision that life is going good, you’re on vacation, time is standing still, and you spent it with some fantastic people.  That’s going to make most foods, most experiences, and most anything taste better and feel that much more invigorating.

JetsPizza1

It helps that this pizza was spectacular.

When I walked in the door I had no idea what I was expecting.   The joy comes initially comes from knowing I’m trying a pizza out of the way, and might not be on my radar anytime soon.

JetsPizza2

Time wasn’t necessarily of the essence, but I did want something for the road.   I was hoping for a cheese and a pepperoni (you know keep it simple), but all they had was the latter.  Considering the store had just opened (yes I was more excited than usual, but pizza is exciting…) the only thing available pepperoni.    And as I’ve said before,  I could easily pick the pepperoni slices if necessary.

JetsPizza3

In this instance it wasn’t necessary.  The deep dish and greasy goodness is the stuff of vacation, it’s the stuff of marvel, and it’s the quintessential and affordable comfort food is just what the travel Gods ordered.

JetsPizzaPlate2

And when I mean greasy, I mean greasy.  And this is a compliment.  I wanted something like this to capture what I don’t know.  Maybe just some happiness.  I was happy and honestly one slice was enough that I saved the other for later.   Deep Dish squared pizza just has this approachable look about it.   It takes me back to my youth and my childhood, and from where I can’t quite picture it.  But it brings back joyful memories and sentimental feelings that only be described as fun.

As their synopsis says, pizza should be fun.  And ‘Life is Short. Eat Better Pizza’, is their mantra and I agree on both.    And I recall my two slices and a soda was $6 or so, at the most.  A tremendous deal.

JetsPizzaPlate

This isn’t meant to be the world class, overly analyzed artisan pizza that many places tout themselves as, and throw that word ‘artisan’ around to the point it means nothing. Their pizza means something.  The crust was heated to perfection, the cheese was great, the pepperoni was great, everything was great.  I have no complaints.  I only have good things to say.

I imagine if I came across a Jet’s Pizza in not so romantic circumstances I would still be heaping praise where praise is deserved.  I absolutely love the lack of pretension and I adore the genuine vibe I get from their pizza and this pizzeria.

An awesome vacation visiting some awesome people helps.  But that’s for another time. I’m so happy right now!

JetsPizzaPlate3

For more on Jet’s Pizza, here is their menu, their locations, and their charming story.

JetsPizzaBox

I can’t wait to go back, when can I go back?  There’s so many pizza options that calling this the beginning is an understatement.

Where do I go from here?  Hopefully a return engagement can match the joy attained fro this visit and my visit to Ft. Myers overall.

This makes me feel so good.

Ideen

 

Do Go Back To Rockville

ModernPizza

Rockville, MD, like most of Montgomery County, and like most of the Washington, DC area (I could go further) has expanded to the point where congestion and overcrowded is just a a part of the norm.

I have plenty of family in the area, so I will always have a reason to go back.  And I’m so grateful for that.    There’s other places I like to eat and like to visit.  And once in a while I get nostalgic, but it’s not really like that anymore.

However, along with all my amazing family, and the few friends that are still in town or nearby, I now have another reason to come back and visit.

ModernSign

I had most likely never heard of Modern Market until yesterday.  I say most likely because maybe I’ve passed by the one in D.C. or Bethesda and didn’t even realize it.

With 29 locations, and growing, this will be one of the larger franchises I’ve ever reviewed since the inception of this blog.

Yesterday I was on Rockville Pike with what seemed like the rest of the world, and just wanted to find something new to eat.  It didn’t necessarily have to be pizza.  But at the Congressional Plaza shopping center, so much has evolved and new businesses have opened up.

ModernSeats

This is nowhere close to the landscape that I recall as a kid.  I’m not saying that’s good or bad.  It’s really just evolution and the world we live in now.  It’s more of a business and more higher end stores than ever before.  It caters to the clientele and the people that live and work in the area.

So what used to house something else (which I honestly don’t remember) is now the space for Modern Market.  And I’m happy to say I’m a fan and will be happy to go back.  That’s it everybody thank you.   Haha no…

When I first walked in I felt a stuffy vibe. I can’t lie about that.  Rockville and the surrounding area takes pride in this and many feel it’s a term of endearment, or just a part of how it’s supposed to be.  That’s not something I identify with and never will.   It’s a huge reason why I don’t come back here as much as I probably should.  But I digress…

Those feelings alleviated quickly because they’re just feelings.  They’re temporary.  And I can live in my own universe at any time, and all the time, and not worry about anyone else. But I’ll still have to pay DC area prices and that’s a whole different conversation.

Spring is here and the intent is always to eat healthier.  Actually that’s always the intent.

ModernMenu

As a first timer, I wanted a half and half type of meal, which would include pizza.  Here is their menu, which is not as intimidating as I originally thought.

ModernPizzas

ModernPizza

Whenever there is a chance to get a seasonal or limited time pizza, I’m all about it.   The seasonal pizza is the Hot Honey and it’s fabulous.    Served on stone-ground wheat flour bread it has ingredients I don’t pretend to all know but there’s no pretending on the taste. It’s fantastic and kind to your belly, especially if you get the half.  The ingredients include creminelli salami piccante, goat cheese, arugula, organic red sauce, and Mike’s hot honey.

ModernSlice

I don’t know Mike personally but the honey really hit the spot.  And the little drips of honey on the plate made for a great presentation.  But everything shone through.  And I can never get enough goat cheese and arugula.

ModernSalads

 

ModernSalad

I got a half of that and a half (which looked more like a full, no complaints here) Farmer Salad.   Another winner. It was easy to eat and I may have liked it more than the pie.  Anything with almonds is almost certainly going to be awesome.  And yes.

ModernKombucha

The real treat was the Cherry Blossom Kombucha they had on tap.  Yes they have kombucha on tap!  I may get this is another universe and at another time.  But that alone, even if its seasonal, is worth the visit.  And how beautiful does that look?

ModernCalorie

What’s a real hoot is that they give you all the nutritional info on your receipt.  It’s a little thing that’s a big thing.  And it makes them stand out from the crowd just a little more than other places.  It’s not so easy to do but then it’s even easier than we even realize.

ModernCater

The counter service is exactly what I needed on this day.  After just a few minutes my  food was ready.  And it was busy for lunch so the rapid-fire place my food was made may concern some, but it all came out splendidly.

And as for all the rest of the world. I wasn’t worried about them.  I sat in my own corner and in my own bubble, and felt content and felt happy.  I literally was in my own universe of peace and of harmony.

After taking a few photos, I enjoyed my meal for a good 20-30 minutes.  I lost track of time because for reasons that need no explanation I felt at peace.  No need for nostalgia or going down memory lane.  Because it’s the present tense and we’re in more a modern way of life.  Well it’s always been modern at whatever tine it is.  But it’s expansion of horizons, ideas, food, life, and everything in between and on the peripheral.

I wanted to save my favorite part about Modern for the end.  Their story says it all.

ModernFront

Anyone who takes a chance, quits their jobs, and decides to follow a passion should always be lauded and celebrated, especially if they succeed.  This place has succeeded.  And the goal to use natural ingredients and appeal to everyone’s fancy and dietary restrictions, is a wonderful thing and a perpetual goal that is always going to be there.

Now I realize why they’re changing their menus every season.  It’s for us, but as just as much for them.  So it’s for everybody.

This is a place for everybody.  And I can’t wait to come back to Rockville or maybe another location.

I hope every Spring outing can turn out like this.  It easily can.

Ideen