These MODern Times

MOD.Pie3

I know that title is cheesy.  You don’t have to tell me.   And speaking of cheesy, that pie has pictured above has some pretty good looking mozzarella and asiago cheese on it.  I got the wittiness down to a science folks.

Looks can be deceiving.  This is a creation of our own doing from this weeks choice, MOD Pizza.   This is a chain that since it’s debut in 2008, has been rapidly growing and shows no signs of slowing down.

MOD.Front

In a way I’m happy my first discovery of this franchise was their Columbia, MD location, the mecca of chain restaurants and box stores.

I’ve always had a sentimental feeling towards Columbia, dating back to when I was a kid.  I was a stalwart (and in many ways I still am) of the mall located in the heart of town, which is there MOD is adjacent to in its newly created strategic location.

Maybe it was the safe feeling, the folksiness of the locals, or just a sense of peace and calm.  I can’t exactly put my finger on it but even to this day when I pass through I get the warm and fuzzies.

As I’ve gotten older, the pleasures change and many remain constant.  I like what it has to offer in terms of restaurants, shops, parks, and entertainment.  I just wish there were more independent and family owned businesses.  There’s a few, you might have to work to find those.

What does any of this have to do with pizza?   Well in a way, it’s a sign of the times.  We still want things safe but we’re also in a rush.  The fast-food and hyper drive way we want our meals, our stimulation, our instant gratification has exponentially grown.  We want quick results with as little work done as possible. Technology is a main reason these in-and-out pizza joints have become phenomenons within the past five years and change.

The menu has some funky names and I dig it.  I went with the Tristan, for the simple fact I saw pesto and a great complement of veggies to go with it.  For a twist, I requested grilled chicken to go with it.  But as you can see, they never piled that on top.

It was lunch hour and extremely busy.  I understand people make mistakes and forget.  I took this as a sign that this is how it was meant to be eaten.  The chicken wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

With that being said, the pie was ok.  It didn’t wow me in any fashion.  The dough was cooked fine and the mushrooms, peppers, and onions all tasted fresh. The pesto seemed like it was out of a can.  It just didn’t do anything inspiring. Nor did I expect it to.

I understand the type of place I’m at, so in a way I’m grading this on a curve.  It just tasted like a decent pie you could find anywhere.

Why did I not say anything about the missing topping on my pizza?  It may be passive-aggressive of me, but the staff was very friendly and overwhelmingly busy.  It just didn’t seem right.  They were working hard and the line was growing.  I had no problem waiting a few extra minutes for my pie.  In a way, I found that refreshing.

Refreshing because, pizza is meant to be heated at the right temperature.  A lot of time and care needs to be put into it.   I’m not sure how I feel about these blistering pace pizza joints.  But they’re here to stay.  And I frequent them from time-to-time, so I’m supporting the cause whether I care to admit it or not.

And one mediocre experience will not discourage me from coming back.   Because if I feel I’m in a rush too, I know I can get a pizza swiftly and at an accelerated pace.  But the rush I talk about is all my own doing.   It’s likely all our own doing.

For a similar experience I had, with uplifting results, click here.

To find a location near you, go here.

Taking a minute to breathe and relax is very necessary.  It will make everything better.  It will make the pizza better. And yes, pizza makes everything better.

Thank you kindly,

Ideen

 

Pearl Jam

PearlStreetPie2

When you think of Albany, NY, the first thing that comes to your mind is pizza.  I know. Same goes for me.

All jokes aside, the slices and pies from other parts of the state you might have heard of are coming.  But I was in Albany this past week and since I’m here so infrequently, a pizza recap is necessary.

I was with a buddy walking around down looking for a bite to eat.   There’s quite a few cozy bars and restaurants nearby, and for no discerning reason we walked into The Pearl Street Pub & Dirty Martini Lounge.   The second part of that, the martini lounge, I had no idea about until looking at it today.  Haha.  No martinis on this day.

I was yearning for pizza somewhere over this random road trip and stay, and didn’t expect it here.  But oh how the universe looks out.   I looked at the menu and like a little kid shouted, “they have pizza!”.  Well not quite that corny but some facsimile.  I did a fist bump and did a little dance around the crowded bar.  No that didn’t happen either.

The online menu differs from the restaurant one.  I see options for pies that weren’t presented to me in-house.

Our server informed me because they were redoing the menu, but that I could still do build-your-own pie.  That’s exactly what I did.  I was excited.

After careful deliberation (10 seconds), I ordered a pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and peppers.  In essence this was a supreme.  I was forewarned that this was a massive pie that could feed 2-3 people.  She wasn’t kidding.

It was a lot more dough than I could handle.   The photos do not like.   It was soft, squishy, heavy, yet decent.  It’s not a pie that’s going to win any awards.   I don’t think that matters to them.

PearlStreetPie

I was starving so at the time anything is likely going to taste incredible.   The toppings were great.  The pepperoni and veggies tasted fresh and authentic.

The cheese may have been lost by a bit more tomato sauce than I was hoping for.   I barely ate a third of it at the restaurant.   Solely because it was so gargantuan.   The leftovers tasted just fine over the next couple of days.

Pearl was busy was for happy-hour and the folk visiting all seem to be in good spirits.  We were as well.   It helped with the experience as it always does.

For just my second visit to Albany, I’ve found myself becoming sentimental and partial to it.  We all have our reasons why we love coming to a new town or old one.   I’ll be back again.

Stay warm,

Ideen

 

Mary Queen of Fells

AleMarysPieWine

After a delay and hopefully a lot of patience, the Fells Point Fun Festival commences this weekend.

My sincerest hope is that we get some good weather and that the original postponement won’t hinder folks from coming down in the usual masses that we are accustomed to.  And the hope is that local businesses and vendors get some great exposure and boost their bottom lines.  Many deserve it and many are fantastic people.

Speaking of fantastic, it’s my pleasure to write about what could be my last neighborhood pizza review for the calendar year.   A few extra weeks have been fun and I hope I’ve been able to capture some of the essence of this place of wonder and joy.

Ale Mary's

Ale Mary’s is the quintessential neighborhood bar.  It’s a haunt that I wish I frequented more often.  The set-up, ambiance, and dim lights are right up mine and many others’ alley.

The times I’ve eaten here have always been pleasant. It’s great bar food that doesn’t pretend to be anything overly pretentious or unapproachable.  And more times than not, that’s all we want. It’s just close enough to the commotion and heart of Fells Point, while also a safe house for many that want to avoid that.  It’s the perfect balance and especially for this weekend, the perfect pizza.

AleMarysPizzaMenu

I was in here over a month ago, and when examining the menu, I never realized they served pizza.  Even better, they tout it as personal Bowlin’ Alley Pizzas.   An instant light bulb and cheesy television theme music went off in my head.   I had to come back and try a pie!

The very likeable bartender suggested the Fresh Veggie with mushrooms added on.   How could I say no to that?

AleMarysPie

I had no idea that there’s parmesan already thrown on top of the pie.  And with all the vegetables piled on, it was a splendid addition that enhanced the flavor of my pizza and the vegetables.   This is a piece of information I was pleased to discover.

The crust was so crisp and so crunchy, that I had to slow myself down and appreciate what I was having. The melange of cheese, sauce, and the veggies makes this such a charmer.  This is a really fun pizza.

AleMarysSlice

I don’t remember what bowling alley pizza tastes like or is supposed to taste like.  I don’t recall the last time I’ve had pizza at a bowling alley, if ever.   I don’t have that to compare it too, but I do know that this was so enjoyable, I could have had another.  This pie was decimated in minutes.

AleMarysPieEaten

And as always, it paired well my vino.

AleMarysSliceWine

I’m grateful to have Ale Mary’s as my day of festival post and highly recommend checking them out if you’re in the neighborhood this weekend and looking to venture outside the chaos at Broadway and Thames.  The regulars, who always seem so friendly, don’t need to be sold. They’ve appreciated their visits time and time again.

This may be the penultimate post for the neighborhood this year or this might be it.  I do have one more place in mind that I really want to talk about.  I hope and aspire to get to it.

I’ve really enjoyed visiting some new places, giving some old ones their just due (or justified critiques), and enhancing my love for one of the greatest places I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Hope to see you this weekend on the cobblestone streets of Fells!

Best,

Ideen

Called An Audible

The Fells Point Festival Version 2.0 is now only a week away.   And the pizza party has taken a detour and we are making some new moves!

This post is about what I ate last night.   Sounds like a normal thing to write about.  But this is what makes blogging so fun. The dining establishment I’m expounding on today was nowhere on my radar.  It was suggested by a couple of friends. And away we go.

Cockey’s was nowhere on my radar.  It was suggested to me by a couple of friends last night.  And in the context of where these posts are going, I feel like this was the perfect place to write about for today.   I took the inspirational several block walk from near the heart of the neighborhood to Upper Fells or Butchers Hill.   Since the website states Cockey’s Fells Point, I think I am ok.

I had only been here once before and really liked the atmosphere.  The interior is beautiful, the staff is friendly, there’s a nice outdoor dining area, and they have a good wine list.   The place has been open less than two years and a lot of the locals seems to enjoy it.

CockeysMenu

While going over the menu, I saw a lot of other meals I was interesting in getting.  But pizza is the name of the game, and I ordered the Ace Special.   I ordered this simply because the name stood out and I was in the mood for portabella mushrooms.

CockeysPie

When they brought the pizza out, I noticed it was cut awkwardly.  If the pizza tastes good, I wouldn’t think anything of that. But, I sensed the way it was uneven has to do with how hard the crust was to eat in certain places.  Some of it felt a bit overcooked and I had a hard time biting into my mini slices.  The tiny cuts are always a nice touch by the way.  It just felt rough on my teeth at times.

CockeysSlice

The toppings were very good.  I liked the cheese, sauce, diced chicken, mushrooms, and red peppers.  This is a simple yet tremendous mix of cheese, protein, and vegetables.  I just wish the crust was cooked a bit more evenly.   It was a distraction.   It didn’t detract entirely from the pie, but I was more perplexed than anything.   My wine was very good and complemented the pizza well.

CockeysSliceWithWine

Nevertheless, I will come back again  I will gladly get another pie or maybe something else that looks like it could be scrumptious.   Since it’s a fairly new restaurant and so much work seems to have been put into it, I want this place to flourish. There is a charming feel and energy surrounding the whole place.    This has the look and feel of what Fells Point is really all about; cozy, quaint, and approachable.

Cockeys

I look forward to coming back again.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen

We Take Care Of Our Own

PizzaPartyFriendsFirst

For a while now, we knew we wanted to make our own homemade pizzas, and were just looking for the right occasion to do it. Along with celebrating my birthday, a friends raise and their job, and the Summer, it’s always fun to cook at home.  And it’s always more fun with friends.

We each picked out the proper ingredients like cheese, sauce, oils, and toppings.   It can get exciting but can also be pressure packed to make a good pie.

As I was reminded, it’s always better to keep it simple.   It’s also good to be creative.  Most importantly, it’s about having fun and learning from mistakes and experience along the way.  As I learned here, less is always more.

ArchivistWithGlasses

We each made two pies a piece.  And they were all from delicious whole wheat dough.   Thanks to Wegmans for the majority of our ingredients.  For more on the wine pictured above, click here.

Here are the results of round one :

PizzaPartyMyFirst

Mine was a pesto base with cheese, mushrooms, olives, peppers, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes.   This was an adventure and maybe not the best one.   The ingredients were fine but the whole didn’t equal the sum of its parts.  The tomatoes didn’t need to be included and I picked those off the pie and ate them on their own.   I think a pesto base is great.  I adore pesto.  But just didn’t work here.  I was able to finish it, but it was a minor struggle.

My friends kept is simple for their first entries.

PizzaPartySimpleCheese

A basic cheese was made with pizza oil, and the results were better.  This was in the similar style to a white pizza.  You can see the cheese baked in the dough like a professional would make.   I got to try a piece and thought it was fantastic.

PizzaPartyAFriendsFirst

The final creation for the first go around was a tomato sauce base with cheese, peppers, onions, and chopped pepperoni. This turned out very well, as this was also kept simple.  The pepperoni pieces were a great add-on, as you’ll read about in our second set of masterpieces.

For round two, it was a combination of being creative and keeping it simple.   I chose the latter.

PizzaPartyMySecond

I learned quickly from my first undertaking to get back to basics.   This time I used tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and fresh basil for my pie.   The basil was growing by the kitchen window, and was found upon instinctively while we were making our meals.  I was happy with how mine was looking, but the basil really put it over the top.  After mine came out of the oven, I was pleased.   The shape of both of my personal pizzas weren’t the best, but that will be learned with experience, patience, and repetition.  But overall I was heartened with mine.

PizzaPartyFreshBasil

One of my pizza pals had a similar pie for theirs except no pepperoni. And he put the cheese on first, then the sauce (and a lot of it), and basil.   He was happy with that one.

PizzaPartyStromboli

And finally, my other fellow pizza pal turned hers into a calzone.  How cool is that?   This is a perfect case of knowing to be creative, but to also keep it simple and yummy.  She was pleased with hers as well.

We will be doing this again, either to celebrate, or for no reason at all.  It’s good to change it up a bit, and see if our meals can measure up to the outside pizzerias.  I was happy with this and can’t wait to do it again!

Keeping it simple, fundamental, and then taking the right chances is the way to go.

PizzaPartyAerialView

Have a great day!

Best,

Ideen

Toss

Toss

Further on up the road, just past the Baltimore City Line, we have Toss.

I learned about this pizzeria from friends who work or live nearby in Towson.  The majority have said it’s a solid to good place.  I checked it out last fall, and though the vibe, for me, wasn’t as positive as some said, I found my pie to be superb.   Something about the energy, is not as what I envisioned.  It’s hard to put my finger on it.

A few months back, I ordered the Portabella Mushroom.   My oh my what a choice.  The dough tasted so fresh, right out of the oven.  It was easy to eat.  I could have eaten the bread on it’s own and been happy.  It broke apart so easily, but in a good way.  So delectable.  The combination of mozzarella, mushrooms, red peppers, spinach, and feta  cheese rocked my world.   An inspiring creation.  The garlic herb sauce was the perfect complement to order.   I wish I had been doing this blog then, as I could write about that one for a while.

This week’s selection, as pictured at the top, is the Satchma’s Spicy Chicken.    I have repeatedly spoken of my love for tomatoes, so that’s some of the reasoning for the order.   In addition, I have been vocal about loving veggies on my pies, so this did not disappoint.  The red onions, mushrooms (which I love so much), the red pepper sauce, the aforementioned tomatoes, and of course, the mozzarella cheese, give this chicken pizza a great taste.   It was very good, but maybe I expected this to be along the line’s of the Portabella choice.

The location, which is easy to drive past, if you didn’t know where it already was, is one of the fun parts about it.   Settled right on York Rd. in Baltimore, makes it easy to go in and out, for carry out or dine in orders.   I do recommend trying it as I will again.   Perhaps I will get another choice heavy on the vegetables.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen