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

 

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

Bartenders Please

BartendersFrontBartendersSide2

I have wanted to write about Bartenders, since I began this blog.   This, among a select few other spots, were the inspiration for me to write about pizza.  And there’s so much fun that goes with pizza, besides eating some amazing pies.  It’s the joy of each others company, the drinks you have with your meal, and the memories that come with it.   If that’s a little too cheesy and overly sentimental for you, then good.

I first ate here nearly four years ago, through recommendations of regulars and good friends that have said their pies are the best in town.   And the atmosphere is one that is still incomparable.  Their are local bars and then there’s local bars.   I have found myself very comfortable eating and drinking a glass of wine their solo, on many an occasion.  The head bartenders (who are also the owners) are very personable and people I’m glad to call my friends.

Now I’ve dragged this as far as I can.   I love their pies.   I always have and always will.  The first time I ate there, I was taken for a ride on culinary excellence.  I don’t know where the dough, the cheese, the topping, and most of all the soul came from, but this is one of the best pizzas I’ve had period. And I would go here maybe once or twice a week from 2012-2013, and gained quite a bit of weight in the process.  I didn’t care.  I loved every second of it.

But if there is a down side, it’s that you get so spoiled from eating amazing creations like theirs, that other pizzas start not to taste as good.  I’ve learned to be educated about that and realize that not all pies are created equal.  And I should only judge based on taste and the energy behind it.

Here is where it gets funny.  I knew full well I was going to write about this spot, lauding and touting it to kingdom come.   But the last few times I’ve been the pizza hasn’t been up to the level I’m used to. It’s been good but the excitement and thrill I would get wasn’t there.   At first, I thought it might have been me.  But it was on three separate occasions.  It was still really good but not on the inspirational level I’ve become accustomed too.

But luckily a dear friend had been cooking the za’s there, but we rarely crossed paths at said establishment itself.  So I mentioned to her that I don’t think they’ve been as good as I remember.  She suggested I come in during one of her final shifts, and she’d make it for me personally.

And I’m glad I did. She made a masterpiece.   I’ve had The Spence before, but not like this.  Our friends who have been here repeatedly know the pie and know the man behind it.

BartendersSpence

This is a work of art.  I think it’s worthy of multiple photos. So here’s another.

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The combination of the homemade sauce, cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella, and andouille sausage alone is enough to make this grown man act like a little kid at his first pizza parlor!  Oh my goodness this was made to perfection.  I’ve had it before but not like this.   The red peppers, onions, and fresh basil complete and complement this pie perfectly.  This is up there with some of the best ever.

Now I’ve had their cheese, white, and garden (vegetarian) as well, and loved those too. But this blows them all away. The crust, the way it was cooked, and the way everything melted and blended together is genius. And I mean this with all sincerity, this was one for the ages.  It was the perfect send off for her and the perfect early birthday present to myself.  I don’t think it could have been done any better.  And I’m glad I waited this long to write about this.  Faith has been rewarded.

I love that they give you paper plates with your meal. It’s a little detail that I don’t want to go unnoticed.  I prefer it versus a regular dish.

BartendersSpenceWithWine

But maybe my last few purchases of various pies such as the Barbecue Chicken, Peyton, and Tarlek just didn’t move me like the others.  It’s meant as a compliment.  The expectations of this place are extremely high and they will continue to be.

If you’re curious as to their menu and the selections I mentioned above, click here.

As my friend moves on to bigger and better, I will always remember Bartenders for their amazing pizza and good atmosphere.  I have many great memories but this might have been one of the best.  I look forward to more momentous occasions and many more delicious pies in the near future.

BartendersSide

Rock and Roll.

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.

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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

In Plain Sight

pasticcio

There’s a lot of places we go to, because we like it, love it, out of necessity, or out of habit.  And then there’s you don’t even know exist or unintentionally take for granted.   Many of us drive by such locales to and from work everyday.

Pasticcio, in the Can Company part of Canton, might be one of those places.    Until a few years ago, I didn’t know it existed either.    But they have some mighty good slices.   They also have a full menu and a stocked bar, which is set up nicely to the side.

In the half dozen or so times I’ve been in, I’ve always felt a good energy and a good welcoming aura walking in.   The staff has always been friendly, and that’s an understatement.

One of the charms of this place, unintentional or not, by the pizza trays, is there his no signage describing which each pizza is.  So I always find myself asking one of the team members each time what certain pies area.     Always fun.  In turn, their online menu seems limited but in person it’s anything but.   They change their specials daily, and even the big ing.board with their specials list doesn’t feel intimidating.

All I’ve had their are slices, but next time, I would love to get something else.  It all looks so beautiful.

I usually do types of pies, but I was in a great mood, so let’s do another!

elookatthat

The pictures above don’t do this justice.

As I mentioned, the descriptions were not available, so I am going to describe each one, based on what this amazing person told me.

Going clockwise, we have Grandma’s Slice, which is squared shape and with a thicker crust.   And I could taste something  different about it, I just can’t put my finger on what it is.  Maybe it’s left to be mysterious and under the radar.  Seems to be a common theme throughout.  The yummy pesto and marinara are layered over the cheese and that’s it. Simple. Awesome. Delicious.

Next down the line is, the Deluxe, with pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and peppers.   And I don’t usually eat pepperoni slices, not out of spite, just because it’s not one of my preferred toppings.  But this was wonderful as well.   Everything was baked into the cheese perfectly.  And the thin crust is just as great as the aforementioned Grandma’s slice.

The white pizza, with ricotta, spinach, and mushrooms was next.  This was good, but my least favorite of the three.  I feel maybe since I tried the other two first, that my palate may have been thrown off a bit.   And I’ve also had some amazing whites.   You don’t often see mushrooms added to a white pie, so I loved that very much.

All in all, this was a rousing success, and I like the fact that this is readily available to us, in a wonderful part of town.   This is not something to be taken for granted.

Thanks so much.

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