One Olympic Place

CunninghamFarmsHam&GoatCheese3

You know how long I’ve been wanting to use that as a title?  All of about two hours…

This came to me earlier today.  It would have made sense to write about Cunningham’s of Towson during the events of last month, yet I find myself having a bit of a laugh as I write this out.

For folks that frequent this charming restaurant, the title of this post will make sense.  I’ll leave the rest of the punchline to the audience right here.  Don’t worry, it’s nowhere near as an obscure reference as I might be implying.  Just look at the bottom of the page.

We were out for a good friend’s birthday, and at the halfway point of that winter event that goes on every four years.

I’ll tell you, if I lived closer I would be here on a regular basis.  I chatted with some of the locals, and got a good sense of community from the place.  The vibe is fantastic, the bar set up is tremendous, and the location is ideal.  It’s kind of like a village, but not the village I might be alluding to.  But still pretty awesome.

This is not how I thought this post would go, but I’m just shooting from the hip now.

cunninghamsrestaurant

I’ve been to their Cafe and Bakery directly below the restaurant before, and find their food outstanding.    And more about why their food is just that, can be found here.   The majority of their results come from their own farm just a few miles away.  How can you not love local and love food fresh from the farm?  Try saying that a few times over.

Which makes me surprised that their pizzas weren’t up to par.  I was pleasantly surprise to find pizza on the menu to begin with.  Like I said, this was my first time at the bar and restaurant, and loved everything so far.

We had some appetizers during happy hour, that were tremendous, but I think they were trying a little too hard with the pizza.

CunninghamFarmsHam&GoatCheese

The two we shared were the Cunningham Farm Ham & Goat Cheese,  and then the Carne Supremo.    A lot of meat and a lot of toppings going on with both.  That might be the culprit.

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With the Farm Ham & Goat Cheese, the mozzarella and goat cheese is a great combination, but it might have been too much, in terms of being in your face.   The arugula and tomatoes tasted fresh, but the ham didn’t work for me here.  I’ve said it before, it’s a case of the whole not equaling the sum of its parts. Quite the cliche, but it applies.   I think less would be more.   The crust on both of these is fantastic by the way.  It’s comfort food bread that I would enjoy all by itself.    The brick oven really work here, I just wish the toppings did the same.

CarneSupremoPie

What was even more of a challenge was the Carne Supremo.   There’s too much going on.  Lots of meat (pepperoni, sauage, and soppressata) which is balanced by the veggies (onions and peppers), along with mozzarella and asiago.  You think this would be tremendous.  But it’s just once again, overwhelming.   It’s ok if the topping are falling all over the place, and at times can make the experience more fun.   I just didn’t love all this red meat here.  This is based on personal opinion.  A few of our party shared the same sentiment on both of these pies.

CarneSupremo

I think, or actually I know, that less is more here.  This crust is fantastic and would work better with a simple base of cheese, sauce, a few vegetables, and a lighter protein.  A simple chicken pizza would work perfectly here.

CarneSupremo2

This by no means is going to stop be from coming back.  I find an endearing spirit and energy in this restaurant.  If you want quite, peaceful, cozy, and maybe a little noise, this is the place for you.  It’s my kind of place for sure.

If the situation presents itself in time, I’ll definitely try another pie or two again.

In the meantime, for more on Cunningham’s, here is their storymenu, and online ordering information.

Here is my history of pizza in this area.  It’s a town I will always be a bit partial too.

We’ll see you in 2020, oh wait, I mean next week!

Have a blessed one…

Ideen

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.

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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….

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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

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.

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

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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.

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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

 

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