Monday, February 28, 2011

Basilico's Pizzeria - Oh my, what a pie!

What a stroke of luck! First time I ventured out for pizza and I might have struck gold. In our quest for the best pizza, I think I found a gem worth mentioning, more than once. It started with a baked ziti pizza over the weekend which turned out to be pretty decent and within a week, I knew I had to try more. The baked ziti was all that you could imagine, plus more. I've had my fair share of baked ziti and although nothing beats home cooking, this was a close second. Baked ziti on a pizza was everything that I thought it would be. The tastes blended together like a baked ziti entree dish with a twist. I initially thought it was going to be tasty, but not that tasty.

After experiencing the baked ziti, I had to go back for more and the next 3 types were their own journey into something incredible. The first of three was the Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato pizza which I thought would be just okay even though it was a little pricey. WOW was I wrong. This was something special and I knew it once I smelled the fresh mozzarella and basil leaves on top. If you are trying to compare, imagine cutting up ripe and juicy tomatoes and topping them with quarter inch thick slices of mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. If your mouth isn't watering by now, place that on a rectangular pizza crust and spritz with some balsamic. Must I say more?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Freezer Case: Trader Joe's Organic Woodfired Sicilian Style Pizza

With a work call scheduled for 7 and my hubby getting home at 6:15, I was short on time to cook dinner tonight. So I threw in a frozen pie and quickly whipped up a side of spinach, bacon, garlic and pre-cooked lentils (also from Trader Joe's, those bad boys are a fridge must-have for cooking a healthy side dish in a snap).

During my last shopping trip, I noticed a new pizza in the frozen aisle. We generally enjoy their pies (minus the occasional not-enough-sauce complaint from the hubby), so I felt compelled to give it a try. In all reality, it is possible that Trader Joe's did have this pie in stock for a while and the nibble had already consumed all of his diaper bag snacks by the time we made it to that section, which means I just throw in as many items as I can before his sweet sounds are drowning out the nice Hawaiian-shirted man on the intercom inviting us to sample their spicy beef and broccoli.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Doesn't Scrubbing Bubbles make a power sprayer for this?

"May I remind you that you're the one who originally wanted a bulldog."
"May I remind you who his favorite is."
Well, I am his favorite. And it's hard to remember what my life was like before Bumpkin. But that certainly doesn't mean that I should be expected to scrub his boogies off the walls all by myself. Just in time for our annual Oscar party next weekend, we're doing our annual boogie cleaning this weekend.

If you've never owned a bulldog, you probably think this sounds a bit nuts. I'm not talking about the kind of boogies that you discreetly try to remove from your nose while you're parked at a red light or alone in the supermarket aisle. Our Bumpkin accumulates eye boogies in his eye fold several times a day. And if we don't catch them and wipe them off, he proceeds to shake his head and sends them flying to land everywhere and anywhere ... on the walls, on my pajamas, in our nibble's hair. I'm even trying to teach the nibble how to remove them from Bump's face with a tissue, although he's having a hard time grasping the concept of boogies residing somewhere other than in the nose.

Tale of the Pie: Main Street Pizzeria and Grille

To be fair to Main Street Pizzeria and Grille, when we ate their pie, we really didn't know we would be turning this into a blog. The wife and I just thought we would keep a spreadsheet to try and figure out what pizza shop we would order from going forward. Therefore, I didn't take a bunch of notes on the pizza we ordered. I will simply have to go on memory...which will be tough because the pie was instantly forgettable.

I guess I will just lean on the spreadsheet: Let's see. Six out of ten on crust. So probably less than average. Seven out of ten on sauce. Run of the mill, I guess. Toppings got a seven. They must have tasted OK. I don't seem to remember them being skimpy with the pepperoni and green peppers. One thing that did seperate them from the pack was the temperature of their pie on arrival. Only, not in a good way. Yes, the pie was ice cold. I think we might have had to heat it up again when they finally got here after a 45-minute wait. Not only did the delivery man seem to have to walk through a frigid Siberian wasteland to get us our pie, but the proprietors saw fit to charge us $2 for the pleasure of receiving our icy slices. Add in the fact that they went light on their pedestrian sauce and they ranked a pathetic 6 in the ever-crucial "overall tastiness" category, and you have an establishment that will be waiting a decent stretch before getting a call from my home phone. 50 Words or Less: Smuttynose IPA

Smuttynose IPA
California makes great IPAs. Something in the water, perhaps? Bear Republic. Stone Brewing. North Coast. The list goes on. However, I just sipped a Smuttynose. Is it possible that the best IPA out there is coming out of New Hampshire? I know two old codgers who would say "Damn skippy!"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Time for a Random List: Most Beautifully Shot Films by Decade

One night, when wasted of course, I composed an epic list for my friend of the most beautifully shot films by decade beginning with the 1930s. I really don't know why I did this. He simply mentioned the word "film" in a text and it sent me off on a diatribe that ended only because I was in the midst of consuming my sixth Weyerbacher Verboten of the night. Anyway, I would like to share this list with you right now because a) the list still intrigues me and b) I probably think this line of conversation is way more intellectually stimulating than it actually is.

1930s - Gone with the Wind: There isn't a lot of competition here. Maybe The Wizard of Oz? The temptation is to give it to Judy Garland's film because of the sheer awesomeness of those flying monkey dudes, but GWTW wins for that massive crane shot at the train station alone. The one that ends with the shot of the Confederate flag in tatters. When that flag pops in and the solemn music comes in to accompany it, it is almost enough to make you feel for those slave-owning crackers. Nah, just kidding. I'm glad all those a-holes got iced. 50 Words or Less: Stoudts Triple

When you have kids or eat a lot of pizza, chances are you will drink a lot of beer. It just so happens that I fall into both of these categories. Since I will be drinking all this booze, why not review them? But I will keep these reviews short so I can get back to drinking beer.

Bought a sixer while at the Stoudts Brewery. In the middle of the workday. That somehow makes it even better than it is. Sort of like a poor-man's Chimay. But not that poor. Kind of like a middle-class Chimay. Chimay, if Chimay lived in a modestly equipped townhouse.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Freezer Case: Newman's Own

The Pizza Project is mostly devoted to deciphering the best pizza shops in the Norristown (and surrounding) area, but we will not ignore the frozen genre. This special section, The Freezer Case, will seek to identify the best pizzas that you can buy at your local supermarket.

Toward the end of his career, the legendary actor and philanthropist Paul Newman made a film by the name of Road to Perdition. The film starred not only Newman, but two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks and several-time Oscar nominee Jude Law. It was directed by Oscar winner (for American Beauty) Sam Mendes. The shooting was done by another great of the cinema, Conrad Hall, who won Oscars not only for Perdition, but for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and American Beauty as well. In other words, there was a lot of talent involved in the film. However, when I watched the film, I admired it for the craftsmen involved, but, in the end, it didn't really satisfy. The whole did not equal the sum of its parts.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tale of the Pie: Paradise Pizza

Full disclosure: Before it became this blog, The Pizza Project was just an Excel spreadsheet printed out and stashed away in one of our kitchen drawers. In all honesty, we ate this Paradise pie a few weeks ago, so the experience isn't super-fresh in my mind, but I remember it was tasty and have a few spreadsheet notes to share.

We had tried Paradise Pizza a few times when we first moved into our house - most memorably when we invited my dad, sister and two very good friends over to help us paint half the house ... in one day. Yes, clearly we were homeowner virgins and this was our first time planning a painting project of this magnitude. After 12 continuous hours of painting, we figured we should feed them something and ordered from Paradise, as it was the closest spot to our new house.

I remember it being good, very good in fact. But we didn't continue to order their pizzas because they don't deliver. Yes, this may sound extremely lazy, given that it is only a five-minute drive from our house. But the truth is, when you're already sitting on the couch in your PJs or velour sweatsuit watching TV with a total winetooth, the last thing you want to do is bundle up and head outside to pick up your food.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tale of the Pie: Kosmos Pizza & Grill

There was a time when the calendar turning to Valentine's Day meant a number of things. First, it meant a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant. And when I say "fancy," yes, I mean that I would take the seat that wasn't facing the basketball game. Valentine's Day called for those sorts of sacrifices. Second, it meant a nightcap at a bar of my lady's choosing. Even if the beer list had less than 50 sophisticated beers to choose from, I would walk through the doors without long as the watresses were hot. Third, of course, is the lovin'. Valentine's Day definitely meant action was in the offing. I would tell you all about the business that would take place, but I am trying to keep this platform as PG as possible (of course, if you are willing to supply the number for a major credit card and pay $1.99 per minute, you may feel free to call my cell phone and I will tell you all about it in heavy-breathing fashion).

However, things have changed now. I have a kid. This means the fancy restaurant is out, as is the trip to a bar offering alcoholic delights (I think I may still be getting the action! WOOHOO!). Instead, the wife and I decided to stay home and order a pizza. And on this blustery evening, we chose to try Kosmos Pizza and Grill in Jeffersonville, PA (Jeffersonville, of course, being the name one uses for Norristown to let other people know that they don't live next to a thriving crack house). Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from Kosmos. First of all, they are named after Kramer from Seinfeld. I don't really think he was Italian. Then there is the fact that the logo on the flyer - a low-rent looking globe of the world (is this African pizza?) - looks like it was designed by a graphic designer who flunked out of community college.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Getting to the Crust of the Matter

"I don't know why we couldn't just order Papa John's!"
There we were, sitting at the dining room table on a snowy Saturday night with another disappointing pizza. It wasn't even worth trying to reason with my husband that while I do enjoy a thin crust with pepperoni, pineapple and jalapenos from Big Papa, it's just not what I want when I'm craving a real pizza.

We moved into our house five years ago and have yet to discover "our" pizza shop. We've had some decent pies from time to time, but nothing that blew our socks off or consistently satisfied.