Friday, May 14, 2021

The Great Pizza Adventure #8 - Oleys

So here we are again, eating and reviewing pizza.  This time it's Oley's, a long-time local place with two locations.  Everyone raves about the south-west location but the entire south-west portion of town is filled with lah-tee-dah folk who think they're all that (and a couple of bags of organic avocado-oil fried chips).  Hey south-west folk... the Dupont/Carroll area has been the hot part of town for at least the last ten years.  Get over yourselves!

Ahem... where was I?  Oh yeah.  So the "good" Oleys is a "good" thirty minutes away, and far outside of my "pizzas of 46815-ish" scope, so I went to the Oleys a mile or two away.  I also didn't get the double-crust deep dish pie that is their specialty.  That beast would have set me back at least $25.  I had it once and it was good (and only cost $18 back then) but that's a completely different animal than the pizzas I've been reviewing.

So instead I got a supreme <ducks>.  Yeah, it's not a half pepperoni/half sausage like most of my other reviews, but that would have cost me a whopping $10.95* for a 10", and for just $12.95* I could get a supreme.  It's my blog, my wallet, and my digestive system so I'll do what I want!

 

Whoops, there it is!  I'd bore you with another picture but how about you just take my word for it that it came in at a perfect ten inches?

The crust was thinnish, nice and crisp.  The back of the crust was tasty with a slight puff.  There was a good amount of high quality cheese and lots of toppings.  Unlike the chains where the pizzas roll through a conveyor belt oven and get cooked for X minutes (so they have to reduce the amount of each topping when you order more so that it all gets cooked) a local place slides 'em in and out of an oven so they cook the pizza until it's done.  Did I mention that the toppings seemed to be of a decent+ quality?  Not B. Antonios quality, but good none-the-less.  As to be expected, the finely ground sausage tasted just like all the other local places, but they added a lot of it.  

Oh, I should mention that the supreme includes (from their menu) sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, green olives, onion and cheese.  There is no mention of "sauce" and oddly, I couldn't find much in the way of sauce.  Did they forget it?  It tasted good, but for a sauce-guy like me this was a disappointment.  Also the pizza was moist but not greasy.

In summary, there was a lot of good non-pretentious flavor despite the "missing" sauce. 

So how about those stats?

Weight: 24.5 oz
Diameter: 10.0" 
Cost: $13.99

Service:8
Crust:8
Sauce:2 (there just  HAD to be sauce but it must have cooked in)
Toppings: 8 (quantity) + 8 (flavor) / 2 =8
Value: 5 (57.1 cents per ounce) / 17.8 cents per square inch

                  Overall Score: 6.2

                  Flavor Score: 6.0

* Plus 7% Indiana Sales Tax Plus 1% Greedy Mayor of Fort Wayne Restaurant Tax

 

Friday, April 9, 2021

The Great Pizza Adventure #7 - B. Antonios

A few years ago my beloved and I enjoyed the ambiance of B. Antonios, a locally owned pizzaria with two locations.  Most notable is that they offer gluten free pizzas, which is what my baby needs for her gustatory health.  While there I filled out a VIP card and since that time I get an email offering a free personal pizza every March.  I've never used the coupon because I'd pretty much be using the restaurant because we rarely go there (as in it's been three or four years).  But because of The Great Pizza Adventure I decided to ignore my morals and go for it*.

The deal was for any personal pizza, including their deluxe pizzas.  So I took a detour from my pepperoni/sausage pattern and got a Meatza.  


 

Normally this puppy would cost $8.  It's got pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, woodchuck, zebra, ground beef, alligator, sea cucumber, Michael, and mozzarella.  A one topping personal comes in at $5.75, in case you were wondering.  A small pepperoni (likely 10") is $9.50 and it just goes up from there, all the way to X-Large ($20.75 for one topping).  This is a high-class establishment, as you can tell from the prices!  They even say so on their web site: "The Premier Pizzarria!" plus you can listen to the custom Pandora station that they play in the store.  Don't tell Little C, though... I don't think the world is ready for Little Caesars Radio.


7.25" inches ain't bad for a Personal pizza.  It also weighed 11.9 oz, just a smidge more than a Pizza King Personal Royal Feast.  

In the pizza world this is the bizarro opposite of Pizza King.  For one thing, this pie is loaded with quality ingredients.  There was only an adequate amount of cheese but it was hi-grade stuff.  The rest of the toppings were also very savory, though slightly salty.  I didn't test each type of meat 'cause it's my free birthday pie and I just wanted to enjoy it.  It could have stood with a little more sauce but again, the sauce was quite good, flavorful but not overpowering.  The crust also had good flavor with just a tad of crunch to it.

Overall it was a very good pizza but not so good that I was thinking "ME WANNA SHOVE THE ENTIRE PIZZA INTO MY  MOUTH NOW!"  It is a pizza for a nuanced and well-developed palate.  Unfortunately I don't have that.  I have a broad-stroke, cartoony palate.  Giving me this pizza was like giving a box of 128 Crayons to a color blind person.  

Also it wasn't worth the price, at least for a cheap-skate like me. 

So how about those stats?

Weight: 11.9 oz
Diameter: 7.25" 
Cost: $8.64 / free

Service:8
Crust:7 (more crunch please)
Sauce:7
Toppings: 6 (quantity) + 7 (flavor) / 2 =7
Value: 3 (72.6 cents per ounce) / 20.9 cents per square inch

                  Overall Score:6.4

                  Flavor Score:7.2

 

* BUT WAIT!  THERE'S MORE!

I couldn't just steal a pizza from this local restaurant.  A chain, possibly, but not a local.  So I bought a sausage roll for $10.  I don't have a lot of experience with sausage rolls but not having experience has never stood in my way of making a goober of myself.

 


And here it is.  It was 7.5 inches long and sorry but I didn't think to measure the width and girth.  But I weighed it...  15.85 ounces, including the garlic sauce.  I guess I should have removed that because it's just water weight.  Oh well... I'm new at this.

As you can see, I have lovely hands, as evidenced by my lucrative hand model career.  But enough of me.  The sausage roll is chock full of chunky sausage pieces.  Once again, not much sauce but overall this seemed to have more savory flavory than the pizza.  It was perfectly cooked, at least as far as I could tell.  The only issue I had was the flavorless "garlic" butter sauce.  It brought a little extra life to the party but it had about half the flavor of Papa John's magical elixir.

Should the Mrs. and I ever venture out to B. Antionio's again this is what I'll be eating. No points or whatnot this time... maybe that'll be my next series. 

 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Great Pizza Adventure #6 - Little Caesars

Out of all the pizza places on my list, this is the one I feared the most.  It came out when I was in college, back when it was "Pizza! Pizza!" and you got two pizzas in a long box for just $5.  It was a deal even though it wasn't that great.  Over the years, when some school or church group has an event, they almost always pick Little Caesars.  My recollection of it is "It's okay pizza if it's free."

So here goes nothing.  Well, here goes $5.40.  Ordering was quick and easy, once the person in front of me finished her interminable ordering.  COME ON, WOMAN!  IT'S A LITTLE CAESARS!  When it was my turn the box was in my hand within seconds of payment being rendered.  KA-CHING!

No split pepperoni/sausage this time.  It's time for the big reveal:


 

Sorry about the shadows... it was nice and sunny! 30 pepperonies on a decently cut pizza.  It's also a full 14 inches.  So far so good, Little C.



 

First bite.  Um, who forgot to add the flavor?  On my second bite I got some sauce and that was actually pretty good with the flavor starting to peek out at me.  Perhaps bland is intentional so as not to scare off children?  The next few bites were not too saucy, not too greasy.  On it's own the pepperoni gave up it's flavor profile... mild.  Very mild.  Cheese was on the scanty side, enough to cover but there were some parts without cheese, not that it would have made much of a difference.



 

I went for a bite of the crust and Little C reached new lows.  There was absolutely no flavor.  Nothing.  Store brand white bread has more character than this.  And throughout the entire tasting the pizza didn't give up a single crunch.  It wasn't soggy, just lacking any character, pretty much just existing to hold the toppings.  It was so un-worthwhile that I didn't both to eat any of the crusts, leaving a bunch of pizza bones behind.  It weighed in at 35.25 ounces and normally I subtract the weight of the box but in this case I'm also subtracting the weight of the pizza bones.

I had low expectations and this pizza met my expectations.  It IS much better hot off the presses instead of sitting in a youth pastors car for an hour but still, I can think of a lot better things to buy with $5.

So how about those stats?

Weight: 29.4 oz / 25.10 oz w/o bones
Diameter: 14" 
Cost: $5.40

Service:9
Crust:1
Sauce:3
Toppings: 5 (quantity) + 1 (flavor) / 2 =3
Value: 10 (21.5 cents per ounce) / 3.5 cents per square inch

                  Overall Score:5.6

                  Flavor Score: 1.7

 

This is about the time I start to re-evaluate my scale.  This rated .1 higher than Dominoes but this is completely due to getting the pizza quickly and it being super cheap.  All the other numbers make it fall on it's face and yet it STILL beat Pizza King.  How does that place stay in business?  Now I'm having to go back and add a Flavor Score to all these, and it looks like Little C can't even keep up with Pizza King.  That's so sad.

This pizza was so devoid of flavor that I tried this Garlic sauce that I had picked up a few days earlier at Walmart.  Ah yes, finally a way to get gobs of Papa Johns garlic dipping sauce at home!  A splash of flavor is EXACTLY what this pizza needed.  Except that it wasn't.  This was a nightmare!  Bad to worse!  While the Little C pizza was bland, it wasn't offensive.  This stuff was.  It was extremely eggy, like someone sprinkled garlic powder onto a bunch of blended egg yolks and called it good.  Just plain nasty.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Great Pizza Adventure #5 - Mama Mia

So far it's been all chain pizzas but that ends today.

Mama Mia's pizza... I've seen your shop for years, but just barely.  It's at the end of a small strip mall close to the end of civilization, next to a tattoo shop or something like that.  I figured it must be really good in order to have survived all these years so my hopes were high.  

And so it was, on the day that I was working on redoing a bathroom, that I took a break to brave the roads of Fort Wayne.  Ordering was easy.  They have a website but you can't order from it.  Nope, you call them up like a human.  They were efficient and friendly.  15-20 minutes.  That's standard.

The store was also pretty standard.  No seating (or maybe there is limited seating but it's been removed due to THE TIMES WE ARE IN), a glass-fronted refrigerator unit full of beverages, a counter spanned the width of the store, a few outdated papers on the walls.  Standard.  The two people I interacted with were very friendly, so much so that I might have actually seen a smile through the facemask.

$6.99 for a one-topping 14" large.  Here, take a look:


I ordered my usual half and half, which they cut reasonably well AND gave me a table for my action figures.  The toppings are under a sufficient amount of cheese so I couldn't count the pepperonis.

True to their word, this pie is a full 14 inches!  So far they're an honest shop!  It also weighed 35.5 oz, for those of you who care about those things.

My first bite was full of antici... pation (sorry).  The crust was not floppy but it wasn't even close to crisp.  It also wasn't doughy or flavorful.  It was just... there to hold the toppings.  Bummer.

The sauce didn't have a lot of character either.  Neither did the cheese.  It was good, mind you, just not the really, really good I was hoping for from a privately owned pizzeria.

 

But how about those toppings?  I'd say they fall in the "extremely generous" category.  Sure, the cheese is merely adequate, but there was A LOT of sausage.  As for pepperoni, I just had to peel back the top to confirm my suspicions... WALL TO WALL PEPPERONI!  I'm going to guess that a full pepperoni pizza would have about 45 of them bad boys on here.  They were of average thickness and flavor-wise we acceptable.

In fact, words like "standard" and "acceptable" and "okay" kept coming to my mind while eating.  It's a decent pizza but in terms of flavor it barely hits a 6.  It reminded me a lot of a Raimondo pizza but without the gobs of high-quality cheese.  

So how about those stats?

Weight: 35.5 oz
Diameter: 14" 
Cost: $7.55

Service:8
Crust:5
Sauce:5
Toppings: 10 (quantity) + 5 (flavor) / 2 =7.5
Value: 10 (21 cents per ounce) / 4.9 cents per square inch

                  Overall Score:7.1

                  Flavor Score: 5.0

For now Marcos is still in the lead with 7.4.  It's too bad this place doesn't have a better crust or access to salt and spices.  I'm kinda bummed because "just okay" wasn't what I was hoping for from a private pizza place.  But I've shed my tears and I'm over it.  I'm letting it go...

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Great Pizza Adventure #4 - Marcos

It turns out that the eating is the easiest part of this adventure, except when the pizza sits like a lead dough ball in your gut because them vittles were so delicious that you ate half the pie.

We used to get Marcos a few times a year because we had coupons in those coupon books kids sell in school and while there isn't one close to my current house there was one on the way home from picking up my kids.  It's probably been eight years since I've stepped foot inside that establishment... and I've been missing something good.

The online ordering process was pain-free.  I was given a 20-30 minute window and arrived at the 20 minute mark to a pizza that was waiting for me.  Most likely it had been there for five minutes because mine was the only pizza.  Their estimating software needs some work.  I was in and out in a flash.

I used their special of $6.99 for a one-topping medium 12" pizza, half pepperoni, half italian sausage.  Here's the glorious beast: 


17 Pepperonies... that's 4 more than Hungry Howie's put on a large!  Only 13 sausage chunks but some of these were biiiig chunks, almost like mini meatballs.  The sauce was on the sweet side and there was a lot of it.  I'm a guy who likes a lot of sauce but this may have even been a bit much... while driving and scarfing down yummies I got attached by a glunk of sauce... TWICE!  There seemed to be an average amount of cheese and the crust was a great blend of crisp and chewy.  I had no problem eating the pizza bones.

Overall the pizza was quite savory.  While the pepperonis didn't seem to have much of an identity the sausage was packed with flavor.  And even with the large amount of sauce and eating five slices (I blame the fact that it was a medium so I could eat more than usual) I didn't have heartburn. 

Stats-wise, this one weighed 27 oz and was a full twelve inches in diameter (113 square inches of pizza).  Kudos on accurate sizing!


 

So how about those stats?

Weight: 27 oz
Diameter: 12" 
Cost: $7.55

Service:8
Crust:8
Sauce:7
Toppings: 7 (quantity) + 8 (flavor) / 2 = 7.5
Value: 6 (28 cents per ounce) / 6.7 cents per square inch

                  Overall Score:7.3

                  Flavor Score: 7.7

I recently watched a YouTube video where a guy stole my thunder and weighed the pepperonis and bought multiple pizzas to get a more accurate picture, etc.  Hey, I don't have that kinda dough.  But what he did do, which is smart, was to buy a 14" large from each place.  That would likely give a more accurate "value" estimate, I suppose, but I'm all about cheap.  

More upswing with this pizza adventure!

 

 

Friday, January 8, 2021

It’s Time To Start Living Again

I think 2020 has been a rough on all of us (unless you’re in the top 1% in which case it’s apparently been very good to you financially). I’ve been working from home in my basement. It’s cold, dark, and isolating. But I’ve loved being closer to my family and being more of a part of their day. And at least I still have a job and never missed a paycheck (although I did miss my annual 3% raise). 

But anyway. 

Early on I watched a video where a pastor urged us to use this time to draw closer to God and indeed, I’m pleased that this has happened. My favorite place for prayer is out in my yard on a porch swing early in the morning. For some reason it just seems easier to connect. But it’s winter now and so I’ve been inside on a couch, smelling a litterbox and looking out the window instead of inhaling tree exhaust. 

After Christmas I got outside went for a little walk and returned though a field behind my house. As I walked past the porch swing I received the words “It’s time to start living again.” I didn’t audibly hear those words but the thought was very clear. I realized that I had spent most of the year waiting. Waiting to go back to my office. Waiting for the most recent governors restriction to be lifted. Waiting for election results. Waiting for things to go back to normal. 

It's time to stop waiting. It’s time to move forward, whatever that looks like. While this past year wasn’t completely bereft of creative endeavors, it was pretty slim. I’ve decided to record four songs in 2021 (probably without lyrics) and to write two short stories, along with finishing the bass guitar I’m building. And maybe starting another guitar? I also decided to stop waiting for homeschool field trips and activities to start up again for my wife and kids. I’m a natural organizer. I’m hardly extroverted but I’ve found that I’m usually only invited to things that I put together. Sad, I know. What it seems to me is that people are quite glad to attend an event as long as they don’t have to be responsible for it happening. At least that’s what I tell myself. Part of the issue we’ve encountered is that you don’t know who is afraid of whatever the media tells them to be afraid of (or what their media-infused friends and family say) and who believe in science. 

It occurred to me that my wife and I are in a, um, “free faced” group online so I posted something to see if there were other homeschoolers in the group and if there was any interest. BAMMO! So I made a different group and there are about twenty members. Our first event is in two weeks. 

One thing of note is that right after I made the group I was emotionally sunk for a few days, just feeling like I don’t contribute anything to anyone, wasn’t worth anything and was completely unmotivated. Then something my pastor said at church made a light go off in my skull and I realized that I was under attack. The enemy attacks you where you are the most gifted and effective and I believe an attempt was being made to neutralize my efforts to form this new support group, a group that would encourage and benefit not only my wife and children but apparently many others. 

So take THAT, dark spiritual forces!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Top 100 CCM Albums of All Time - Introduction

That's all I've got.  Just a title.  Well, perhaps a little more.  

I read about Burlap to Cashmere's debut album on someone's top something list and my local library didn't have it.  Sure, I could listen to it on UberTuber but I'm old skool and don't have a streaming service.  "Put that one in the ol' failing memory banks," I told myself.  But a week later I saw a physical CD for $1 at a thrift store.  Why not?

Now this entry isn't about Burlap to Cashmere.  I've only heard it once and I doubt it's going to scratch my sonic itch, but since it is two days away from 2021 it started me reviewing my creative output from (wretch) 2020 and what I might want to do in 2021.  To that end, I decided to make a top 52 list of albums from my CCM collection, one a week to keep me on task.

Except when I started reviewing my nerdy database and this here blog I realized that I had already kind of started it.  Whoops!  At this point in time I have 108 albums that rated a 9, 10, or 11 and I've already reviewed 28 of 'em.  In looking at the list I find myself asking "Where's this album?  Why did I rate that album a 9 and this one an 8?  What happened with my life?" and other things.  So the remaining 80 might get condensed, with a few others sprinkled in.  It will be a surprise for both of us, and if there's anything 2020 has taught us is that surprises are always a good thing.