Thursday, May 16, 2024

Throwback Thursday: MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza Co. at The Avenue in White Marsh

This post originally appeared on on March 15, 2018.

It's a shame this place couldn't make it. Mr Minx and I liked it quite a bit. The pizzas were tasty and the salads were huge and interesting. I think the odd fast casual-ness of the ordering process was its downfall. Had there been a more normal sit-down dining experience, I think this place might have lasted longer. Though the pandemic might have closed it anyway, hard to say. Also, the name was mighty weird and I'm betting 0% of people knew how to pronounce it properly. 
There's been a real push toward Neapolitan-style pizza in the last few years and I am so happy for the trend. The thin but pliable crust with a scattering of tasty scorch marks has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. When the trend shifted to fresh dough pizzas in the 80s, I lost interest in pizza altogether. Now we have several places in the Baltimore area that are embracing Neapolitan again, like Paulie Gee's in Hampden which imported wood burning ovens from Italy. MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza Company, with a brand new branch on The Avenue in White Marsh, is the first chain that I'm aware of that's attempting to spread this style of pizza nationwide on a large scale.

The Minx and I were recently invited to check out their space and sample their food and drink offerings. The space is clean and inviting, with a curving bar that runs along most of the dining room. The design allows patrons to watch the pizzas being prepared and cooked in their authentic wood burning ovens, just behind the bar. The menu itself is stripped down and very much reflects Northern Italian cuisine. Instead of crab pretzels and sliders, the appetizer menu has a selection of meat and cheese plates and several pairings with fresh burrata. There's also a nice selection of salads, but the main focus is the pizza.

Of course, diners do not live by pizza crust alone, so there is a wide selection of beer, wines, and specialty cocktails. The Minx and I sampled a few, including the Angel Margarita and Devil Margarita. The Angel is a fruity and refreshing concoction flavored with blackberries, while the Devil has some serious heat thanks to the whole Fresno pepper floating in the drink. We also sampled an Italian variation on the whiskey sour that incorporates an herbal liqueur known as amaro, and a Tequila Mojito that has a bright, citrus kick.

In addition to the meat and cheese boards, MidiCi offers an appetizer of meatballs with fresh mozzarella. The meatballs are made with angus beef and are a bit firmer than the meatballs you might get at a red sauce Italian place, but I'm fine with that. The dish is accompanied by their house-made wood-fire toasted bread with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Speaking of meat boards, the one we tried featured prosciutto, spicy Italian salami (calabresi), Neapolitan salami, and rosemary ham. The board included two types of mustard and a smattering of kalamata olives as well. This and a nice glass a wine is perfect start to a lively evening with friends.

Okay, let's get down to business. MidiCi offers about 15 different specialty pizzas as well as five classic Neapolitan pizzas that can be modified with a selection of toppings. The Minx and I tasted several, with the shrimp scampi pizza being a particular favorite of mine. The Minx enjoyed the Egg 'n Bacon pizza which also included Italian sausage and fingerling potatoes in addition to applewood smoked bacon and a freshly cracked egg on top. While I typically do not go for margherita pizzas, the freshness of MidiCi's ingredients made theirs quite appealing; the version with prosciutto and arugula was even tastier.

While eating all that pizza can be quite filling, MidiCi also has a selection of desserts to finish off the meal, including gelatos and sorbettos. If you're more into the concept of a cheese plate as a perfect end to a meal, there's also burrata with pear and honey. Their signature dessert, however, is the Nutella calzone with fresh berries. Made from the same dough as their pizza, the calzone is filled with Nutella and fresh berries, topped with more of each, and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. 

MidiCi is a rapidly growing franchise, but they haven't skimped on the details, like the choice of ingredients, the design of their restaurants (even the bathrooms are special), and the quality of their wood-fired ovens that make all the difference in preparing Neapolitan-style pizza. I'm looking forward to trying more of their specialty pizzas and diving into their wide selection of salads.

MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company
The Avenue at White Marsh
8139C Honeygo Blvd.
Nottingham, MD 21236
(443) 725-5456

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Monday, May 06, 2024

Dining In NY - April 2024

On my most recent trip to New York, food wasn't the first thing on my mind. Strange, I know. But it was Sniffapalooza Spring Fling weekend, so eating took a back seat to perfume sniffing. That's not to say I didn't have some delicious noms, too.

nutella earl grey swirl and coffee with oatmilk at Dominique Ansel Workshop
Of course I had to stroll over to Dominique Ansel Workshop to pick up a quick breakfast of pastry and coffee before I met with my BFF Andree. I ate half of this gorgeous laminated swirly pastry filled with Nutella/Earl Grey cream, saving the rest for an evening snack. I offered it to Andree, but she's apparently not that crazy about Nutella. Honestly, I've never heard such a thing. 

eggplant parm with arugula salad at Cecconi's at The Ned Hotel in NoMad
When Andree finally got her butt into town, she was hungry, so we went to Cecconi's--only a block from our NoMad hotel--for eggplant parm. I had eaten a horrible version not too many days earlier and found this one to be a welcome contrast. We also had a giant salad (in addition to the one that came with the eggplant) and doggie bagged about half our lunch. Our room at the Ace had a full-sized SMEG refrigerator so we took advantage of a cool spot to keep our leftovers. 

lemon meringue and nutella tarts at Masseria Cafe & Bakery
After a trip to Bergdorfs to do a little sniffing and to drop off a custom scarf for my friend Donna, we hiked to the theater district. We had tickets for the 7pm showing of Lempicka and an hour or so before it was time to queue up in front of the theater, so we grabbed an outside table at Masseria Cafe & Bakery across the street for coffee and pastries and people watching. There seemed to be a Vogue magazine photoshoot going on in the street, with models in pastel tulle frocks that gave sad 80s prom dress vibes but probably cost 10K each and a photographer in a Vogue sweatshirt. I'm tempted to pick up some late summer issues of the mag to see if these images show up.

After the show, we walked the nineteen blocks back to the Ace through the mayhem of Times Square and ate the leftovers from lunch for dinner.

The next morning, we had coffee and pastries at the Stumptown Coffee in the hotel before heading downtown for hours of perfume heaven. 

the hot antipasti course at La Mela
We broke for lunch at 1:30 for a five course family-style feast at La Mela. Their Cinque Corsi is $60 pp and gets you a salad, hot antipasti, (roasted red peppers and olives, asparagus parmigiana, spedini alla romano, stuffed mushrooms), a pasta course (rigatoni marinara, tortellini alfredo, gnocchi sorentina), a combined meat and fish course (veal francaise, chicken Scarpariello, shrimp marinara), and a wide selection of desserts (Italian cheesecake, tiramisu, cannoli, tartufo, zabaglione with fresh fruit)

the pasta course

It all looks a confusing mess, but everything was quite good. The pasta course in particular was impressively al dente--hard to achieve when made in mass quantities. I sampled all of the desserts except the cheesecake and cannoli and found them to be uniformly tasty, if messy.

Later that evening, back at the hotel, Andree determined she was hungry again but didn't want to walk anywhere (I had exhausted her the day before) so we went down to the The Ace Hotel Lobby Bar and sat for a while with this pathetic cheese plate.

this sad cheese and charcuterie plate cost $25 at the lobby bar at the Ace
I wasn't in the mood for savory food, so ordered the baked lubeck marzipan, which was two long, rather hard, and fairly uninteresting almond cookies that cost a steep $12.

brunch at The Harold: shakshuka and the smoked salmon platter with potatoes on the side
The next morning, we had our usual brunch at The Harold. Andree always gets the smoked salmon, while I try new things. The shakshuka was too brothy for me, but otherwise tasted fine. I think my favorite thing on their morning menu is the rosemary potatoes that accompany most egg dishes. Andree likes them too, so we ordered them on the side. While I like the Harold quite a bit, I do wish they'd use oatmilk instead of/in addition to the sweetened almond milk they offer for coffee.

best deal all weekend: yakitori bento at Kushi Kushi Yaki $17
My last meal of the weekend, after Andree left early and I spent some time in Saks' fragrance department, was at Kushi Kushi Yaki. I've eaten there many times and have never been disappointed by their yakitori. The little pork sausages are especially tasty, and I appreciate the wide variety of pickled items that come with the bento box.

This weekend didn't involve nearly as much food as my usual excursions to NYC, and honestly, my stomach was happier for it. The next trip, however, will be for Fancy Food, so it's likely to be a gut buster. Stay tuned!

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Throwback Thursday: Best of 2017, Part One - Restaurant Food

This post originally appeared on on January 1, 2018.

I get sad looking back on some of these posts and seeing dishes I can no longer get my hands on (or sink my teeth into). Like that beet reuben--Pen and Quill is long gone. Or anything from Smoke, though the former owner is hinting that he's planning a re-do. Hunan Taste is also gone, and the owners owe my brother $100 for the gift card he bought before they closed their other restaurant (a hot pot joint in Timonium). I've threatened to make the zucchini bread from The Turn House many times, but have never followed through. Thankfully, I can still get the tempura broccoli from Ekiben and the pambazo from Fiesta Mexicana anytime I want.
Welcome to our annual round-up of our favorite dishes from 2017! This first post will include all the restaurant dishes we enjoyed last year. Not all of them were written about here on Minxeats; some were Instagram-only posts (they'll be the ones without links). We tend to eat at the same restaurants over and over, so it makes more sense to post pretty photos than to write repetitive posts (which we are also known to do!).  (I know the photos seem blurry, but if you click on them to get a larger version, I promise those will be much more in focus!)

So. Many. Parentheses. Sorry.

The tempura broccoli from Ekiben is a flavor revelation! If you haven't tried it, what on earth are you waiting for? Be sure to order it with the optional Chinese sausage, unless of course you are a vegetarian.

Everything at Hersh's, especially the housemade pasta, like this tagliolini with shrimp and lemon breadcrumbs. And the pizza. Always get a pizza.

I loved the smoked beet reuben at Pen & Quill. Though the chef that created it is gone, it's currently on the online menu; if you're lucky, they really still do have them. A perfect reuben, with all the gooey cheese and tangy sauerkraut, with beets instead of beef.

At the B & O American Brasserie, the agnolotti with smoked carrots, morels, onions, and peas really floated my boat. Smoked carrots! Everything else we tried from the Spring menu was pretty delicious, including sweetbreads that nobody else seemed to like (they took them off the menu fairly quickly) and luscious lamb ribs.

We've tried all the sandwiches at Smoke, and the Boss Dawg is my favorite. It's got everything one needs in a sandwich: pulled pork, house-cured bacon, cheddar, slaw, crispy onions, jalapeno-bacon glaze, and pickles.

While our entire seafood-forward meal at By the Docks was really great, I can't stop thinking about the baklava cheesecake. BAKLAVA CHEESECAKE.

OMG the fried oysters and artichoke veloute at La Cuchara. Mr Minx thought they were the best fried oysters he had ever eaten. I concur.

While I was quite disappointed with the soft shell crab roll I had there in the same meal, Azumi's age dashi tofu was tender, crisp, and loaded with umami. Outstanding. Enough to lure me back to try more? Maybe.

The brisket the Turn House served at a media dinner in July was the best fuxxing brisket I have ever eaten.

Ditto for their zucchini bread, which was served with molasses butter. Find the recipe for both at Savory Experiments.

I normally don't order chocolate desserts in restaurants because they can often be too rich. But we couldn't resist this warm chocolate chess pie at Nickel Taphouse. Even my brother, who claims he's not a dessert person, couldn't help but assist in the demolition of this gooey delight.

This tomato water bloody Mary served at a lovely al fresco dinner held by Copper Kitchen was the best damn bloody Mary I have ever had. And it's dead simple.

Do you like sweetbreads? I sure do, and this pile of perfectly cooked specimens with a lemony sauce was served up at the Bluebird Cocktail Room one happy Happy Hour.

Back at B & O again, the Buffalo Pig Tails were dyn-o-mite (as was everything else).

We were invited to a Friendsgiving dinner at the Turn House where we had a lot of really fine food, but my favorite item of the evening was this chocolate nut pie. It wasn't too sweet, nor too chocolatey. I know--no such thing as too chocolatey for some folks, but there is for me.

We always go to Hunan Taste around my birthday. This year, we might have had the best meal there ever. The twice-cooked pork was fantastic and something we'll definitely order again to go with our usual Sichuan green beans and beef on toothpicks (seen in the background).

I've eaten the Buffalo brussels sprouts at Nickel Taphouse a few times this year, and they are always dynamite. So flavorful!

The pambazo at Fiesta Mexicana is definitely worth writing home about. I ordered mine with "milanesa" or breaded beef, and my mouth was very happy. Can't wait to get back there again where I just might order the same thing.

Hope you enjoyed reminiscing with us. Here's hoping for a delicious 2018!

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Monday, April 08, 2024

Epic Fail

a truly epic bowl of cream of crab soup
I gotta laugh at native English-speaking influencers (AKA people who spend too much time posting on Instagram or TikTok) who have no working grasp of the language. And I get that there's slang--I do, honestly. Every generation has had it. We went from "nifty," "swell," and "keen" to "groovy" and "far out," to "rad" and "bitchin'" and even "bodacious." All stood in for "good" or "great." Then came "awesome," and "phenomenal," which were used to describe even the most mundane of things. But they already had their own meanings. To be awesome means to inspire awe (awe=reverential respect + wonder or fear). God, for example, might be awesome, so too an active volcano, Stonehenge, or the strength and diligence of an ant. Something that is exceedingly great can be phenomenal; the word also refers to phenomena. Calling a well-prepared hamburger "awesome," or a piece of clothing "phenomenal" (I'm looking at you, Nina Garcia) is gross exaggeration, plain and simple. 

There are many words that mean "good" or "great," including extraordinary, noteworthy, fine, splendid, terrific, first-rate, marvelous, outstanding, exceptional, top-notch, stellar, lovely, delightful, fantastic, fabulous, tremendous, superlative, essential, remarkable, and dozens more. When one is talking about food, however, be it a specific dish, ingredient, or entire meal, those words don't mean a whole lot. Let's use cream of crab soup as an example. One diner might prefer a thicker soup because that's the way grandma made it, or one using shellfish stock in addition to milk. Another diner might want a more liberal seasoning with Old Bay, and another may prefer a pinch of JO spice, or a glug of sherry. They're all "good," and none are "awesome." The bowl you just ate might be the best of your lifetime, so tell us why. "The cream of crab at __________ is so silky smooth and full of crab flavor, it's almost a bisque. Not only did every spoonful contain crab, but there was also a mound garnishing the top along with a sprinkle of parsley and Old Bay." Or maybe, "the cream of crab at ___________ was thick and lumpy, not with flour but with chunks of crab meat and little bits of onion and celery, which made it more savory than most." I know, my mouth is watering now, too.

Do you know what word never makes my mouth water? Epic. Let's examine that word more closely, shall we?

1 of 2
ep·​ic ˈe-pik 
1: a long narrative poem in elevated style recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero;
the Iliad and the Odyssey are epics
2: a work of art (such as a novel or drama) that resembles or suggests an epic
3: a series of events or body of legend or tradition thought to form the proper subject of an epic;
the epic of the winning of the West

2 of 2
1: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an epic; an epic poem
2a: extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope; his genius was epic

In layman's terms, epic generally refers to something that is long or large, lasts a long time, or takes a long time to achieve. Good examples are Beowulf, the Civil War, and pretty much any movie with a running time over 3 hours. Unless a bowl of cream of crab soup is forty feet wide and contains the meat of a thousand crabs, it makes no sense to describe it as "epic." 

Yes, language is changing. But why should we accept giving new meanings to words that already have perfectly fine ones that have endured? Because people are too lazy or dumb to use words properly or to even make up new ones? One of my favorite new words is "rizz," which refers to romantic appeal or charm. AKA "charisma." Note that the middle syllable of the word "charisma" is pronounced "riz." Yes, so it makes total sense. 

C'mon people--smarten up! English has lots of words. Please utilize more than 2 of them.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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