Tuesday, February 03, 2015

&Pizza Comes to Gaitherburg Downtown Crown

The &Pizza Team 

This is a guest post from my daughter Mitali Bellamkonda @Bellmit

I had never been to &pizza until today, but I had tagged along with my dad for their grand opening at the Crown in Gaithersburg. 

When we got there, the place was somewhat crowded, but not as loud as I was expecting. We could still talk at almost normal levels, albeit a little louder. 

The space itself is very narrow, something I'm not too fond of as it was a little difficult to get up and get drink refills and/or takeout boxes. The white walls made it feel more open and non-claustrophobic. If you don't like tight spaces, I recommend getting the pizza to go, as there's not much sitting room. 

Now, the pizzas are excellent! 

They're made in the assembly line counter next to the cash register and they are personal pizzas that you can either design yourself or pick from a few specialty ones. I got the Moonstruck pizza and dad made his own, something with a lot of leaf, shrimp and aged pepperoni. I had a bite; it was good, but I liked my Moonstruck better. 

Now, the Moonstruck was a tangy, but mostly sweet mushroom pizza. There wasn't much crust, which is good, because I don't like crust and it was flat, thin and when I picked up a slice, almost no grease appeared on my fingers, so it must have been healthy. 

It wasn't as hot as some of the pizza in other pizza places, but that just meant that I could take a bite and not burn my tongue on hot cheese. I'm too impatient to wait for things to cool, so if it's not too hot in the first place, it's perfect for me. 

Now, I'm not entirely sure why it was called Moonstruck and my best guess is that it was because of the white sauce on the bottom, but it impressed me so much that I forgot the name for about half a second. 

Now, unfortunately, the whole thing was too large for me to finish in one sitting, so there are about 3 slices leftover. I know what lunch is going to be tomorrow. 

I think &pizza is going to be very crowded very soon and I would recommend going as soon as possible (maybe lunchtime) before everyone gets word of it and starts lining up around the block. 

Sunday, February 01, 2015

You Caught My Eye - Disapora Feb 2015

Image Credit: fsu.edu

Ragamala Dance: Song of the Jasmine

8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7
Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at Maryland
University of Maryland, University Boulevard and Stadium Drive, College Park, MD

Zakir Hussain: Celtic Connections
Tabla master Zakir Hussain has long explored other cultures, and his newest project, Celtic Connections, makes its U.S. tour debut, pairing the beautiful and flowing melodies of Celtic instruments including bodhran, violin, pipes, flutes and whistles with tabla, bamboo flute, and Carnatic (south Indian) violin, providing a musical experience that explores common threads with sounds rarely heard together. “Musicians are the same the world over
Lisner Auditorium
8 p.m March 17th 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Opens March 6th 2015 


'Monsoon' is my love letter to India. I've been romanced by the idea of monsoon since I can remember. I've travelled often and extensively throughout India, am married into a big Indian family and have long dreamed of experiencing the monsoon, so when (producer) Ina Fichman offered me the opportunity to make a film about it I jumped. I guess it's kind of personal on many levels. For one thing, I love weather, and I especially love big weather. Something about it brings me a feeling of mystery and awe that's as close to god as this non-believer will likely ever get. I've lived in India and made a film there (Such A Long Journey) and experienced how challenging and, on the face of it, impossible, everything can be there. Even a trip across town can be a whole-day affair. And despite this, in every photograph I've seen of myself in India, I have a big smile on my face. It's just something about the place, and especially the people, that makes me feel that, in spite of all the obstacles, things are possible. That sense of the possibility, of faith, is what drew me to this project. I saw in the monsoon an awful, beautiful, unfathomable phenomenon and wanted to both experience and meditate on it.
Sturla Gunnarsson Director of Monsoon

Monsoon is part of the 23rd annual Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, March 17-29, with more than 150 films from 31 countries at over 60 venues. Details at http://www.dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org/ 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Rusk is now main stream in India

A visit to India is exciting with all the different food that you can taste.

Growing up in India it was a habit to drink tea with "Rusk". Rusk is like Biscotti and from what I remember available only from local bakeries or in Tea shops. (Coffee was very much a Tamil Nadu habit)

This morning at my brother's house I am now eating this Maska Rusk made by Brittania, a brand I grew up with eating their biscuits.

I love the fact that the comfort for from the streets is now a mainstream product. I plan to look for these in the Indian grocery stores back in the US.

What foods do you remember from your childhood?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Nirvana Via the Stomach

My friend and chef of Washington DC's Al Tiramisu always says that food is a ritual that should be savored. In this post Anil K Rajvanshi says "
Great food not only gives us energy; the taste and aroma are balm for the soul."

Words to remember when you are eating in a hurry in a fast food drive through lane.

Read the post here

Yum Brands Making Deeper Inroads into India

My visit to India coincided with the opening of the latest of the 345 odd stores that KFC has in India in Warangal, Telangana. The signs were in Telugu, a brilliant marketing move. The menu is very customized to local tastes and I found the rice Bowlz very interesting.
We felt like a snack and my son chose the Popcorn Chicken  which was nice, The whole restaurant operation was spotlessly executed and the whole experience was as good as any KFC restaurant in the world.

Yum Brands chose well. Warangal is about 150 miles from Hyderabad and is the second biggest state of the newly formed state Telangana. It has a population of 7 million and has the high literacy of 84%. It has a NIT ( National Institue of Technology) a preimier educational institution and  well connected by rail.

Instead of being a elite high priced restaurant chain, KFC strategy seems to be to follow the "bottom of the pyramid"  and become a mass amrket fast food restaurant. According to the KFC India website "It is predicted that India will have the largest consuming class in the world by 2030." and i wish them success.

"Yum! Brands has been in India for more than 10 years and is the largest and fastest growing restaurant company in the country. At the end of 2011, we separated our India business to create a standalone reporting division to underscore the potential scale of this exciting emerging market. "

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Planes, Trains and Cars at the Dulles Day Plane Pull 2014 at the Washington Dulles Airport

The WMATA and sponsors organize an annual #PlanePull event that is open to the public and benefits the Virginia Special Olympics. We went to the 2014 event held on Saturday 20th September 2014. The event was excellently organized and was easy to reach from the specially designated Purple parking lot with ample signs and people guiding you to buses to the event area.
25 person teams of local companies and organizations who raise at least $1,500 compete to see who can pull an 82-ton FedEx cargo jet 12 feet in the shortest time.
The Commomerative Air Force volunteers flew several aircraft to the event.
Lovely to see a still flying Pan Am aircraft.
A lot of kids activities including toy trains that took tots and aprents to different areas of the event.
You could buy a drone with a camera for less than $200
Contribute to charity with this Dunk a Cop booth
Take a tour of the Washington Dulles airport in this People Carrier
Donate to charity and get an opportunity for a opportunity to ride a fire truck
Look at some pretty cool cars and a paddy wagon.
Plenty of opportunities to watch planes. I will definitely recommend this event for everyone specially with kids. Parking for the event is free, about 15k people were expected to attend the event and it was very well organized. Food was available and was not expensive at all. On the whole kudos to the organizers, volunteers and sponsors. Tip: Take cash.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Crystal City's Sip and Salsa Event was fantastic

Sometimes good times are coincidental. I got pulled in to volunteer at the talklocal / Disruption Corp tent at the #SipAndSalsa event in Crystal City becuase my daughter had volunteered as well. I am so glad I did it. Crystal City has a very good vibe and is amazingly walkable. I love the fact that there are several below ground walkways with shops and restaurants. I have eaten at the Jaleo and the Neramitra Thai restaurant. Attended tech startup events at the Crystal Tech Fund/ Disruption Corp offices.

Of course Bozzuto manages the Concord At Crystal City Apartments and my colleagues were at the #SipAndSalsa event as well.
Along with sipping wine from Spain and Argentina, there was some amazing salsa dancing and experts teaching new comers.
The Crystal City Wine Shop had a fantastic variety of wines. I know they have a lot of craft beers which is another reason for me to visit Crystal City again.
I was so happy to meet my friend Kate from UrbanIgloo.com
The startup Bloompop was represented at #SipAnd Salsa. They do serve a few of the Bozzuto communities in the DC area.
It was fun time and the Crystal City Business Improvement District (CCBID) did a great job organizing the event. The hundreds of attendees really seem to have enjoyed the Saturday afternoon.