With Love,

AmericanFlatBreadIonianAwakeningPizzaReady2

You know so many folks throw out the word artisanal more than ever.  Well maybe it’s lost it’s cache if you will.  Me saying that is just one person’s opinion.  But that’s what I sadly sense.  If you throw out superlatives and overstate positives where they shouldn’t go, they tend to get lost in the shuffle.  And what’s actually great could sadly get lost in the shuffle or…

American Flatbread was speaking to me.  No, not literally, that would be goofy talk… But maybe it was.  I was searching my local supermarket’s frozen pizza aisle, and I was in the mood for anything but something that would be bloaty and stuffy.  The weather outside would deem suitable for comforts and getting full and happy, but that’s not what I’m usually looking for, now or ever.

I was reading the labels and their story, where it just kept striking a chord with me.  Maybe it’s the mood I was in, but the message of doing good, not just for others, but for ourselves brought a smile to my face.  The message of supporting charities, those in need, and still taking care of ourselves is important.  If we can’t help ourselves how can we be at our best at helping others.

As we approach Thanksgiving and the heart of the holiday season, these messages are going to be much more commonplace.  I do my best to support others throughout the year, while still trying to do right for me.

The importance of eating healthy, and by taking in the most natural ingredients has become indoctrinated in us more than ever.  It’s important, and we shouldn’t resist this.  I shouldn’t resist.  This to me is more artisanal than anyone claiming as much, with nothing to back it up.

They can back it up, and then some…

My two choices were the Tomato Sauce & Three Cheese, and the Ionian Awakening.

(Here is where to buy near you)

I will review them together and separately.  First, the crusts are 100% organically grown wheat, and I can feel it.  I can taste a difference.  You might trick yourself into thinking this, but it’s true.  There was something about this that didn’t upset my stomach or upset me in any way.  Ha that was funny.  But seriously, this flatter crust (well it is a flatbread) really made a difference, and made the cheese and sauce taste that much better.

This is an operation comprised of good people, good spirits, and good souls trying to make the best pizza they can.  This was incredible.  This is not your typical frozen pizza. There is a genuine feeling of good and health during and after eating.  The lower calorie content will tell you that as well.   And I can’t get forget those herbs.  You really get a good taste for them here.

AmericanFlatBreadIonianAwakeningPizzaReady2

I just like the name Ionian Awakening.  With a powerful name, you know it’s going to be good.  I never had a doubt. These are Mediterranean flavors at their best.  If you love feta cheese, red onions, and olives on your pizza (which I love off a pizza as well!), you’re going to adore this.  You’re going to savor every bite, and with the most brilliantly prepared crust to balance (not counterbalance, but balance) everything out, some may love this more than the traditional cheese.    I love them both, so I can’t really say what was better.  I can call it tie!

AmericanFlatBreadIonianAwakeningPizzaSlice

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness… This is pizza, this is true artisan style, and it deserved to be called that and so many other good things.   I also just love the good that American Flatbread represents.

I’m grateful I found this days before Thanksgiving.  I’m truly thankful and grateful that I was introduced to this pizza, and the timing couldn’t have been better.  There’s more pizzas to choose from, and I love what they represent.  So I hope to revisit this again and try to show them some of the love that they are projecting onto the world and the universe.

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

With Love,

Ideen

Home Away From Home…

BozzellisMicMacPizza2

I don’t venture back out to the Washington, DC area enough.  I was born here, I grew up here, spent my youth here, and now find myself an outsider, but I’m really not.

As eras have ended, new ones can begin.  We can honor the past, but not live in it too much.  We can honor the present and still be nostalgic all at once.  I tend to that part a lot.  It must been something good is happening or about to happen.

Bozzellis

We skip the good because it’s more than great.  Bozelli’s (menu and story) came through recommendations from my friends who live near the Newington location (there’s 4 altogether in the DC area) and have been raving about it.  They’ve wanted me to come just to try this pizza.  Of course I’m all about seeing my friends, especially ones I don’t see too often, and enjoying great company with great food, pizza or otherwise.

The cozy atmosphere is just what I wanted on this particular day.  It’s small, yet big enough to accommodate any group or individual, and they will feel right at home.   For me, less is more, even though more can be just as great.  For this particular evening, a small group of pals was plenty.  And just right.

Suggestions were made and recommendations came.  But something about the Mic Mac felt right and felt oh so comforting on this particular night.  This is there Mac & Cheese Pizza and it’s incredible….

BozzellisMicMacPizza

Macaroni, mozzarella, cheddar, and peperoncini heated beyond words, with a crust that will make warm you all over.  This hit my heart, my soul, and everything in between.  The quaint and almost eerily quiet atmosphere added something to this.   This is my kind of Saturday night.

 

I can’t say enough about how this pizza was put together.  It’s like it was speaking to me and telling me you’re surrounded by good people, by a good energy, a home away from home, and that everything is going to be alright.   On this night everything was more than alright.

 

You get a few simple ingredients, a good energy behind the pizza creators, a perfect temperature to heat it, and you get this masterpiece.  I know how amazing it tasted, but writing about it in hindsight tells me just how brilliant this was.

After that, where do you go from here?   Well I had to do a reprise.   I stayed in the area, and the following day I went with one of the suggestions, to go of course, the Boom Boom Chicken.

 

I can’t say which pie was better.  It’s not a fair assessment.  I loved them both for different reasons.  This was to go, so the experience was different.  It’s not that I didn’t have time to savor it like the night before, it’s just that I didn’t have time to savor it.  Make sense?  I loved it though.  Chicken on a pizza is usually a safe bet.  But this wasn’t just a safe pizza, this was another work of art. The fire-braised chicken, red peppers, and the spicy mayo complement one another oh so well.

 

The mozzarella base is almost lost in the shuffle, but it shouldn’t be.  That’s the soul of the pizza.  Yes I say soul, because everything starts with cheese pizza.  Without that, the whole doesn’t equal the, well you know…

The prices for any size are reasonable, and nothing goes past $20 for the largest pizza. For Washington, that’s a good price.  It’s a great price anywhere, but food and experiences like this have no price tag.  They mean more than any dollar amount or any receipt.

Great experiences will last with you in this lifetime, into eternity, and every lifetime after.   This is one I will always regard with highest esteem because of not only the context, but for the magical moment in time.   This was so significant for so many reasons.  We all have those stories, you have those stories, where it wasn’t just about the food, and the food only played one part, yet an important one.

BozzellisPizzaBox

This was amazing, this was special, and this was important.

Until the next visit…

Peace Be With You…

Love,

Ideen

I Love Wegmans.

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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

Local, Simple, Superb…

ArostoBrisket

There’s that old cliche that if you stop looking for things, they come to you.  I’m not articulating it as properly as I could, but I think you know what I’m saying.  Watching too many cheesy (ha) Christmas movies a little earlier than maybe one should will get one overly sentimental.  Oh my…

Well where am I going with all this?

I’m so blessed to live in an area that is close enough to many busy cities and towns (Baltimore, Annapolis, DC, Philadelphia, and many places in, between, and around the area) that I get more of a pick of pizzas places and for that matter, places to go in general then if I were living in somewhere more remote.  I should not take that for granted.  It’s significant now and it’s going to mean something that much bigger later.  Oh here I go being sentimental and dopey again…

Where did I end up earlier this week, that has gotten feeling so emotional?   I mean it’s only pizza right?  But how can become so invested in something if I don’t have passion for it?

This week my travels brought me to Vienna, Virginia, which is right outside Washington, DC.

First of all, I technically have not written about a pizzeria in Vienna, so any new location is easily going to get me excited.  Second, while there’s still historic, more authentic, and older parts of Vienna that are easily accessible, it’s becoming like many other towns, and many other cities across the country, lots of chains, lots of town centers that portray themselves as something they’re not, and lots of transient people.

So when I find a local place, that’s where I’m going first.  And remember, I wasn’t looking…

ArostoSign

This brings me to Arosto Pizza in Dunn Loring.  Which is now more than a metro station, it’s a conglomerate of things that I may or may not have ever been to.  There’s chains, a grocery store, and a bunch of things that all look the same, but within all that Arosto brings a much needed local face that we can never have enough of.

ArostoOven

The stone hearth pizza oven which heats up these gems is just that, a gem.  Some people may frown upon this kind of rapid fire pizza making, and I might have been one of those people, but I got over it.  The crusts on both of my orders tasted differently in a good way.  My taste buds got a doughy, buttery, and most importantly comforting feeling at times.  And as we approach the holidays, this is the kind of pizza and food you want.

Man this was fantastic.

I’m singing the praises before I even tell you what I ordered.  Yeah it was that fun.

I was going to go with the cheese, but since I’m only here every once in a while, I went with two distinctively different pies, the District White and, the Smoked Beef Brisket.  The latter seems to be appropriate for the time of year.

ArostoBrisket3

The Brisket looks like art.  The presentation is immaculate.  Upon first reading, I thought the slaw would be infused into the pie, which would be quite ambitious.  And when re-reading the menu, it would be easy to make that determination.  But they pile it on high on top of this already gorgeous array of brisket, cheddar cheese, onions, and scallions.  If I had one gripe is maybe a little more brisket would have been preferred.  There was just enough (which means not too much for me) barbecue sauce that everything is easily accessible, easy to be tasted, and nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

ArostoBrisketSlice

And like I said, that crust is tremendous.  I like saying that word a lot, ‘tremendous’.  It’s tremendous, stellar, awesome, and anything else awesome you want to add. Ha…

But even with that being said, the simplicity of the District White was my favorite of the two.

ArostoDistrictWhite

The combination of spinach ricotta sauce (I know right, yum!), mozzarella, romano, and fontina cheeses is already a winner.  And I’ve frowned upon some of the whites I’ve had in the past for being overdone, but this was creative, yet simple, and that’s all anyone can ask for.  It’s done just right without doing too much.  I think there’s an analogy in there somewhere.

ArostoDistrictWhiteSlice

I would be happy with that, but they drizzled on some fresh basil that puts this pie over the top after it was already over.  And believe me it’s all over after this.  The pizza never had a chance.  And the visual of the spinach ricotta by itself is visually mesmerizing.

I’m craving some right now.   Thankfully I have leftovers.

The prices are listed with the menu, and while there isn’t a lot of places to compare it too, I find them reasonable for their medium vs. large pies.  But again, no need to compare it to anyone or anything.   These are charming pies that avoid all the pretentiousness that you find in the DC and Northern Virginia areas.

They heat everything in front of you.  I was in and out in 10 minutes.  But there was no rush.  I relaxed a little bit in the small park right outside of one of my new favorite pizza places.

And maybe it’ll be one of yours.

ArostoMenu

Here’s their menu, their gallery, and contact/location info.

ArostoBox

I’m so grateful I made this discovery.  I hope to be back again.

Thanks so much, happy holidays, and peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

I Love This Weekend

CarpaccioSlices3

Sometimes life works out, the planets and stars align, and the universe does look out for you.  It looks out for us in more ways than we realize.  We might not always see it.  I know I don’t always see it.   And even with all the good that is about to transpire this weekend,  I may not fully grasp how beautiful the next few days are going to be, until way after its over.  I know I’ll love it while it’s happening, but I’ll look back fondly on it even more as time goes by.  This is more than nostalgia or reminiscing.  Some thing just hit you.  You wish time would stand still, you could do this all day, you could do this forever, and you could be around these people forever.

CASA-Website-SaveTheDate-3

What I’m referring to is the annual CASAblanca Gala presented by Anne Arundel County CASA, this Saturday, November 4th.

I mentioned Anne Arundel County, which is synonymous with Annapolis.  I’ve said plenty of good about our state capitol in the past, yet I can never say enough.

My dear friend Rebecca is the Executive Director of Anne Arundel County CASA, and it’s an amazing time to share with friends and to support a wonderful cause.  This their 20th year holding the event, which takes place at the beautiful Westin Hotel in Annapolis.   It’s my third year attending, and the third time is a charm to finally write about…

CarpaccioFront

Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen is literally footsteps from the Westin, and has been as convenient and a go-to for me as any.  Well why do I say convenient and go to?  Isn’t this a sit-down restaurant with fine dining, a place to relax, and appreciate the food and surroundings?  Well yes, but I’ve actually never eaten here.   What I’m actually referring to is Carpaccio 2go which is adjacent to the restaurant, and I mean this with all sincerity, looks like something I’ve never seen.   I almost feel like it’s too good to be true in a way.  I don’t know how to explain it but the location is perfect, and I can’t exactly put my finger on why.

Maybe because many pizza places with slices to go don’t look as beautiful as this.  But if you look around the vicinity, the tiny of white colors of the building, the hotel, and the residential units across the way, all match.  While the area looks pricey, and of course it is, it almost feels supernatural in a way.  Again, it’s all open to your interpretation, but there’s an architectural and metaphysical force that worked in concert with each other to create all this.  In some ways, it”s almost too beautiful.  But I should appreciate all the beauty for what it is.

AnnapolisView1

I’ve been to the carry out side many times and because of the location and the aura I was feeling, I had immensely high expectations.  Now, not every time is going to be mentioned or will every slice be featured.  I will reserve it to two visits for now, which means a total of four slices.

CarpaccioSlices2

The first visit I will discuss was back in late Summer.  Now it’s hot and pizza is hot, so what am I trying to say?  I really don’t know haha, but my slices on this day were the Sausage and Peppers, and then Chicken Pollo. Now I know what I was trying to say.  I think some slices work better in different climates, similar to how we drink wine, and how we eat other foods during certain times and certain seasons.

CarpaccioSausagePepperOnion

While I’ve had mainly good experiences here, I know the best was still to come.  The sausage and peppers with onions was really good, and went great with your standard mozzarella cheese slice.  I will say without sounding like a broken record, the crusts on all these slices were heated tremendously.  You can see the colors across the board.  There was a lot of time and care put into the making of the dough and the heating.  You don’t need to be an expert.   You can just tell those things.

CarpaccioPolloPesto

Now I had high aspirations for the pesto.  I’ve ranted and raved about my love for pesto throughout my journey, and I wanted to love this one so much.  It was good but I know the best was still to come.  The pesto aioli was fantastic.  Maybe for me the white pizza with chicken, tomatoes, and those yummy mushrooms (more on the mushrooms shortly), caused a little bit of the flavors to be lost.   But still a good slice I would definitely have again.

CarpaccioSlices1

Now moving on to earlier this week, this is where expectations were matched and succeeded.

It almost seemed like the pizzas on display looked shinier and brighter, and I could do no wrong no matter what I ordered.  I was spot on and then some.

CarpaccioMargherita

The Margherita looks like art and tastes like art.  The marinara sauce is heavenly.  The photo doesn’t say it all but it says a lot.  Oh my goodness.  This is up there with one of the better slices I’ve had. The basil, garlic, mozzarella, and olive oil just makes this simple pizza one of the best I’ve had not just here but anywhere.  And the crust was even better today.

CarpaccioWildMushroom

Not to be outdone is the Wild Mushroom.  I love mushrooms and can have them with just about anything.  But when you throw gorgonzola, you’ve got to be kidding me, this is a gem.  Cremini and portobello mushrooms really make this pie but the combination of two contrasting cheese in mozzarella and gorgonzola also make this an absolute masterpiece.

CarpaccioSlices4

Recall how I said you look back on things with even more love and romanticism as time goes by?  This is how I felt about this visit.  I’ve been here many times and something about this one was just a cut above the rest.  I sensed it and maybe the universe did too.  This won’t be the last time I  talk about them.  The next time will be from the actual restaurant itself, which is gorgeous inside and in the patio area as well.  If you’ve visited then you know I’m talking about.   Yes I’ve never eaten there but was in awe of what I saw.

For more on Carpaccio, here is their menu (which serves many of the same pizzas as Carpaccio 2go, click here to make a reservation, their story, and contact information.

It’s going to be a beautiful weekend in the Annapolis area.  Not only is the CASAblanca Gala going to be amazing, but I’ll also be at the First Sunday Arts Festival footsteps away on West Street the following day.  It will be their holiday edition, yes it’s that time of year already. In addition is the Bay Bridge 10k this Sunday, the Eastport vs. Annapolis Tug Of War on Saturday, and the City of Annapolis General Elections are this Tuesday.  

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What an exciting time to be in the area.  If Annapolis wasn’t great enough, all these events just make this place all the more magical.

AnnapolisView2

It all begins with CASAblanca and I so greatly look forward to it.

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For more on Anne Arundel County CASA, here is more about them, volunteer, and donation information.

Thanks so much and I look forward to an incredible weekend!

Peace be with you and happy beginning to the holiday season…

Ideen

 

 

Pretzel Pals

PretzelPizzaOlympicPizza2

Pretzel and Pizza Creations of Downtown Frederick, MD is a refreshing change for so many reasons.  First, the location just makes me feel so warm inside.  I adore any town that has a historic and neighborly looking part.   It feels even more cozy when the temperatures start to drop a little bit and those leaves start changing color.  The symbols and images are open to your interpretation.  I interpret as feelings of community, love, and looking out for one another.

PretzelPizzaStore

With all that being said, Prezel and Pizza definitely has a feel of a small town shoppe with all kinds of treats and goodies ready at your disposal.   Not every town or community has a store like this.  You got your community bank, your bar, wine shop, bookstore, and your various food places.  This might sound like something out of program or cinema, but it’s also real life.  Mom and pop shoppes are still number one in my eyes, and always will be.

I’m grateful to have made two visits to Frederick in as many months, and my inquisitive nature made me research a place for pizza.  And a bonus was this charming place.

My first time I was mesmerized by the menu.  If you’ve never gone to a restaurant or any food place, you may find yourself perusing the menu a lot longer than wherever you might be a regular.  But that’s the fun of it.  Every place you’ve been to, there was a first time.  I like the sound of that.

PretzelPizzaOlympicPizzaPie

Back near the end of the Summer was that first time and I ordered the Olympic Games as my first pizza.  Now for those who know me personally know why I went with that.

PretzelPizzaOlympicPizza

I had no idea what to expect with how the pretzel would taste along with the mozzarella cheese, spinach, olives, and feta.  I just realized that my pie had two cheeses.  I did take notes and that taste resonated with me.

PretzelPizzaOlympicSlice2

The Bavarian Style soft pretzel crust is divine, it’s heavenly, and it’s comfort food at its finest.  As the weather gets colder, this is the kind of doughy goodness you’re going to be seeking.

PretzelPizzaOlympicSlice

As a collective I think the clash of cheeses might have been an issue for me.  I didn’t love this pizza, or pretzel if you will.  I didn’t love the flavor of the dough on this first go around.  But that was until…

Fast forward to earlier this week,  I kept it simple and then I got into the spirit of the season.

PretzelPizzaCheese

The simple cheese is just what I needed and the flavors of their mozzarella and homemade sauce worked perfectly with this crust.   And while the pictures of both look appetizing, the cheese is truly a winner.  Sometimes keeping it simple is the way to go.  Just like the simple town setup is some all anyone needs.   A standard and reliable cheese is usually going to raise your spirits and make you feel good.   This made me feel really good.

PretzelPizzaPumpkinMenu

Just when it couldn’t get any better, a nice bonus menu of pumpkin pretzels was their just glistening and waiting to be ordered.   I went for the big one and that means the stuffed pretzel with pumpkin chips, cream cheese, and loads of pumpkin spice sugar. We might be getting carried with all this pumpkin stuff, but I love it.  Tis the season, wait not that season just yet.  It’s full on pumpkin season and this pretzel is a treasure to behold.

And what a great way to celebrate National Pumpkin Day.  Yes that’s a holiday!

PretzelPizzaPumpkin

Their menu is loaded with exciting foodies, aside from the pizza and pretzels, that will be sure to please anyone visiting, and all the locals.   For a moment I felt like a local.  The staff was personable and welcoming upon each visit.

PretzelPizzaMenu

Until just now, I had no idea they had a second location in Hagerstown.

To find out more about Pretzel and Pizza Creations, here is their story, their menu, the food, and contact information.

This was so fun. I’m so fortunate and grateful to have discovered this gem in a different part of Maryland, that I don’t visit nearly enough.  If you live or are ever around the Frederick or Hagerstown areas, I would definitely pay a visit here if you haven’t already.

ILoveDowntownFrederick

I welcome the next time I’m in town and will make it a point to visit again.

Thanks so much and peace be with you.

Ideen