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

A Little More Lighthearted

VegetablePizza

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.

PepperoniPizzaSliceWine

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.

PepperoniPizza

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

PepperoniSlices

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.

PepperoniSlice

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…

VegetablePizzaTwo

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.

VeggieSlice

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

You Say Tomatoes

HotTomtoesSlices

Two years ago, when leading up to The Fell’s Point Fun Festival, I did a series of posts featuring pizza from restaurants, pizzerias, and the like from the neighborhood.   I didn’t do them all, I didn’t avoid any on purpose, but I wanted to discuss some that may be off the radar or not within anyone’s crosshairs on a regular basis.

HotTomatoes

Then there’s Hot Tomatoes.  It’s one of those things where if you live or hang out in the area, you know what you’re getting.  I was thinking myself that it was too obvious and almost unnecessary to write about this establishment.  This is not a knock on them or their food.   It’s just that it’s always been there and it’s not going anywhere.  And imagine any late night, especially on the weekends, where slices are coming and going at a rapid-fire place.  The place isn’t going anywhere as long as people had a good night (or even a bad night) out and need something to finish the night off and feed their bellies.

But with the Festival starting this weekend, I felt like if I’m not going to write about Hot Tomatoes now, I may never.

For me, I don’t know if I have any sentimental attachment to Hot Tomatoes.   I’ve been and many of us have been too many times to count.  But after a while we look for other sources for greasy food to keep us satisfied.   And while a couple of places have closed nearby (Little Italy Pizzeria and Italian Graffiti come to mind), this neighborhood staple has stood the test of time.  Having a prominent location on Broadway helps.   Location….

HotTomatoesCheese

So how’s the pizza?  Its’s pizza.  It’s food.  There’s some folks prepping the pies, putting sauce, putting cheese, toppings, and throwing it in the oven.  Then when it’s ready they’ll slice it up and put it in a box or you to go.  See where I’m going with this?  It’s pizza that looks rough, is not going to win any world title belts, but it serves its purpose.  And that’s just the way they want it.  And it’s just pizza.  Many of us at later hours don’t care about artisanal quality and world renowned craftsmanship.

HotTomatoesGreek2

But something happened recently.  They’ve changed their slices up quite a bit.  I had a Greek slice with olives, onions, feta, and a whole slew of awesomeness.  It was a white based and it was surprisingly good.  I mean that with all sincerity.  Because of Hot Tomatoes presents itself, you expect what you expect.  But when they throw a good slice that is, your taste buds are feeling good and it’s a welcome change from the standard cheese and pepperoni.   If this slice is on display this weekend I’ll gladly get another.

 

Their slices are in the $4-$5 range but their big, and prices at the late night hour are really not what folks are worrying about.

What is their true stand out if their deep fried cheese steak.  They don’t always make it, but when it’s there, jump on it.  It’s the most unhealthy and glorious of all guilty pleasures.  I’ve always had to split mine with a pal.  It’s incredibly bad for you, yet incredibly delish all at once.

And now their other venture, at the same location, Diablo Doughnuts is really wowing people. I had my first opportunity to try their sweet treats and a wedding last weekend.  I believe I had one with fruity pebbles.  So good.

UPDATE :

This has been updated with my actual first purchase of donuts from said Diablo, during the festival, which was rather mellow on Sunday.

I grabbed an iced coffee, along with a Samoa (yes the Girl Scout kind), and a Blackberry Lime.  I thought they were both fine, but in what ways do I compare this to other doughnuts?  I like the creativity of flavors, but not sure if this is anything amazing in my eyes.  They were tasty though.  That’ all that matters.

I’m assuming they will still have a stand outside of their shoppe.  Per neighborhood and logistical changes the festival will be condensed this year, to try to make it even a heavier focus on local business and give it a more cozy and welcoming feel.  I’ve always felt was it inviting and approachable to people from all walks of life.  I’m hoping this change is a good one.  We shall see.

BroadwaySquare

Broadway Square, with the exception of the pretzel dog and lemonade stand, has opened back up in time for this weekend.  All signs pointing to a positive experience and a great time.

FellsPointFestival

I’ve been attending this festival every year, except for 2003, since 2000.  It’s become a part of me, a part of many of us, and it’s that first weekend in October that many of us look forward too.  For me, it hasn’t always been the most amazing of times, mainly because I think the festival got carried away with trying to be too big and getting carried away with outside food, drink, and traveling carnival like vendors.

But the last few years have been fantastic, with being able to drink on the streets, and keep it more local, has been a welcome addition.  And an addition by subtraction.

FellsPointFestivalSchedule

For those attending this weekend, here is the link to the maps and parking at the festival, the band list, purchasing drink packages (it’s $20 for 3 drinks versus $5 for just the cup in previous years), and contact information.

With so many many changes going on in the city and one of the great neighborhoods in the country, I’m hoping the integrity and heart will always be there.

We’ll be seeing ya this weekend.

Take good care,

Ideen

 

 

South River Situations

BellaSeraSlices

A dear friend, who has helped me with this blog over the past couple of years, always suggests to change up the city or town of pizzerias and pizza parlors, whenever I can.  If I end up in a place I’ve never written about, you know for sure I’ll be looking and hoping I discover something of a gem.

BellaSeraFront

Bella Sera of Edgewater, MD is a not-so-hidden gem in a strip mall loaded with chain restaurants and box stores that so many towns are loaded with, and make an otherwise charming town look well, just like every other.

So you could look at it and say, thankfully there is a local pizzeria, restaurant, in a sea of chains, and think to yourself, that it’s good that local business is still there and still thriving.  The other school of thought is well, you have a local operation that’s there and allowed to exist, in spite of everything around it.  I hope that makes sense.  And I’m not talking about this restaurant in particular.  It’s more of how I’m observing things.

Last year I had passed through Edgewater several times and literally just kept on going.  I didn’t stop and appreciate what was around me.  These things and moments are important to me.  It’s not a big thing, but the little things lead to big things.  And they’re all significant.   I had seen Bella Sera in pizzeria searches and then driving through, but I kept moving along.  I can tell myself that it wasn’t meant to be.  But at the time, it wasn’t…

Now it’s over a year later, and I’m back again under the most unusual, yet entertaining of circumstances.  That’s more of inside joke to me, but that’s how the universe works.  The currents and the energies led me here and I finally need to make the most of it.

Snuggled (or nestled) in one of the more approachable looking shopping centers, this pizzeria looks like a castle from the outside.   I had high hopes and sometimes those hopes based on nothing but how the exterior looks can lead to unrealistic expectations.

It was right before dinner time, so it was just starting to get busy, but thankfully they still had a lavish display of pizza slices on the counter.  I’m grateful for this because many establishments will nix slices in favor of whole pies for dinner time.  It’s a concept I completely understand, yet I find it refreshing when slices are available open to close. It’s so beautiful.

The exchange when I ordered was awkward to say the least.  And I’ll put most of this on me.   For inspired reasons, I went from wanting to order two slices to four.   Realizing that I would actually be saving money if I ordered a whole pie, I still went with the slices. I didn’t get the sense that mentioning my blog would be rejected, but nor was I feeling like explaining myself.  I stand by that decision.

And now I figured out why I might have been better off ordering a pie… I’ll get to that in a few moments.

BellaSeraSlices3

I ordered (here is the menu) the cheese, buffalo chicken, the spring white, and the inspired call was the spaghetti slice.   I’ve reviewed a similar slice here, to great results.

First off, I did not eat all of this right away,  I saved a lot for later.  Eating too much of this would be crazy.  I got three meals out of this, and that’s me trying to make myself feel better about this.

BellaSeraCheese2

The cheese was the best.  It’s simple.  The thin crust was great, and the cheese and sauce are exactly what you would want from a plain slice.  How does it stack up again others I’ve had?  I can’t say.  They’re all similar yet unique in their own essence.  I know there’s a real soul and a real emotion behind the making of these particular slices, and that counts for a lot.

BellaSeraBuffaloChicken

The buffalo chicken, again had a great crust.  The crusts on all of these stood out in a good way.  I see that the buffalo chicken is homemade.  That’s always a plus.  This wasn’t my favorite.  Something about the blue cheese, and maybe the mozzarella cheese didn’t work this time. It was a style clash that may work more times than not. But this didn’t click for me.

BellaSeraChicken

The spring white looked gorgeous.  The grilled chicken strips were so great. I could’ve had a plate or bowl of those on their own.  So in my traditional fashion I had a few on their own.   Maybe my tastes for white pizzas have changed or I’m having higher expectations because this didn’t gel like I hoped either.  The tomatoes tasted fresh, as did the boat loads of spinach (which I appreciate), but the actual white pizza by itself felt like it was lacking something.  It didn’t wow me.  I really wanted it too.

The spaghetti slice was $7.  That’s why I was told an actual pie of anything else would be better.  This was not worth $7.  This will fill you up.  And while it was good, the reminder of what I paid for did bring this down some.   This is something you could get multiple meals out of if you wanted.   But I wasn’t loving it.

If you look at their menu, their prices are on the higher end of what you may see elsewhere.  But that comes with a local business, and being in proximity (20-30 minutes Southwest) the state capitol of Annapolis will do that.

With that understanding I can understand the prices.  The other slices were $3-$4 which is reasonable and justifiable.

I will absolutely come back.   I’ll put a lot of this on me.  Maybe I forced this experience and it didn’t feel as organic as I hoped.  That’s going to make any food taste a bit differently.   Our minds are funny like that.

But I’m all for local and always want these businesses to succeed.  So if I’m in the area (which happens more times than I realize), I will absolutely get some more pizza, and maybe try some of their other entrees once again.

BellaSeraDoor

Here is more of their story, their menu, their contact info and location, and online ordering for our pals that are local.

Thanks so much and have a blessed weekend.

Ideen