Friday, January 29, 2010

And now you know… the rest of the Goldberg's story.

The City Paper's Young and Hungry blog has finally posted has the rest of the story on the Goldberg's Bagel feud. To make a long story short, the Baltimore bagel guy claims exclusive rights to the name "Goldberg's Bagels" in Maryland, but as the Goldberg's name predates his store by quite a bit, this claim is somewhat dubious.

Personally, I'm far more interested in the quality of the bagels than the store's name, and if the Silver Spring Goldberg's bagels are as good as the Baltimore one tested by the article's author suggests, we should be golden:
On the day I drove to his store, Drebin served me a sliced everything bagel with a thick layer of cream cheese in the middle. The round’s crusty exterior crackled when I bit into it, revealing a slightly sweet crumb that was both warm and chewy. It was a terrific bagel, one of the best I’ve had outside New York, and I told Drebin so.
What Goldberg's really needs to distinguish itself on that dreary stretch of Georgia Avenue is a bold bit of programmatic architecture, such as a giant bagel in the mold of the giant Randy's Donuts store in LA. Why not? The Exxon across the street had a giant inflatable cup of coffee on its roof for a time. Exxon could reinstall the coffee cup and it'd be a perfect giant breakfast pairing. Goldberg's needs to talk to the shopping center landlord about getting that done. (Or, even better, for their next location they ought to create the world's first drive-thru bagel.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Silver Spring's "Best" in This Month's Washingtonian

Somewhat surprisingly, the latest (February) issue of Washingtonian magazine includes a ten-page "Best of Silver Spring" section. (Though not credited, I did contribute a very very small amount to this endeavor.)

There's a feature story on Crisfield's as well as shorter blurbs about other Silver Spring eateries, including old favorites like Parkway Deli. Of course The General Store is mentioned as one of Silver Spring's best, though based on comments regarding their inclusion in this same publication's "Very Best Restaurants" list as well as reviews on Yelp, this distinction is somewhat questionable. (One of the restaurants mentioned, Cedar Crossing, isn't even in Maryland and there's also quite a few from Wheaton.) There are perhaps a few restaurants that I'd have liked to have seen included on this list, Ghar-e-Kabab being one. There's also sections on shopping and miscellaneous recommendations from locals.

The Silver Spring material isn't presently up on Washingtonian.com, so you'll have to pick up a print edition to read it. If you prefer to accelerate to the death of print media, a PDF of the section has been linked to on the SSSNA website.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day, everyone! I sure appreciate the hundreds of holes they dug in my yard this past week. Did they they misplace all their acorns during the snowstorm? Speaking of squirrels, I haven't seen our neighborhood albino squirrel in ages.

Anyway...

- Thayeravenue.com posted some photos taken at the future location of Joe's Record Paradise. I'm not sure which opening I'm looking forward to more - Joe's or Goldberg's Bagels.

- On the subject of Goldberg's, a posting on the Washington City Paper's "Young and Hungry" blog shines a little more light on the ambiguous relationship between The Goldberg's Bagels in Rockville and the one up in Pikesville/Baltimore. It turns out that while the owners of the two establishments were once business partners, they may not have dissolved their alliance under the friendliest of terms. Sadly, we'll have to wait for next week's post for the conclusion of the story. Bagel feuds FTW!

With respect to differences in taste and quality of bagels from the two establishments, they may be minimal. Both bagelries use dough from the same New Jersey wholesaler. Hopefully the Silver Spring location will open soon so that I might asses the worthiness of their "everything" bagels.

- The proposed Costco in Wheaton would likely be a big draw for Silver Springers who currently patronize the warehouse club's Beltsville and Gaithersburg locations. My membership lapsed a couple years back, but having a Costco so close would make me strongly consider renewing it.

One negative is that a Costco in Wheaton Plaza could exacerbate the already annoying downtown Wheaton traffic, not to mention its potential to make the parking situation at Wheaton Plaza intolerable. Of course, insufficient parking is a Costco trademark... try going to the Alexandria or Beltsville locations during the weekend.

- Following up on an earlier post, it turns out that three Silver Spring restaurants ended up making Washingtonian's Best Restaurants list: Jackie's, Ray's the Classics and... The General Store? Didn't see that last one coming. Kudos to them for making it in their first year.

- Since I've been accused of not posting about the Haiti Earthquake enough, I will take this opportunity to let you know about a happy hour fundraiser for Haiti tonight at Piratz Tavern hosted by the Montgomery County Young Democrats (the event itself is bi-partisan.) The happy hour runs from 5:30-8:30 and features half-price appetizers and $3 and $4 beers. A $5 donation at the door is requested, and Piratz will also donate $1 for each shot purchased.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Photos of the Day

Here's a couple of reader-submitted photos of recent Silver Spring goings-on I figured I'd share for your viewing pleasure.

First, a car somehow managed to flip over on a speed bump last night on Thayer Avenue. More details can be found on (where else) ThayerAvenue.com.


Photo by John B.

And here's workers removing the last vestiges of Hollywood Video from its erstwhile downtown location.


Photo by MBR.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- RIP Silver Spring Penguin (2007-2010). The ranks of Silver Spring blogs are thinning. Silver Spring Scene remains technically alive, but in not-so-perfect hibernation.

- I've recently switched my car wash loyalty over from the Mr. Wash in East Silver Spring to the Montgomery Hills Car Wash on Georgia Ave. near the Beltway. MoHills may cost a bit more than SeƱor Wash but they do a damn thorough job, leaving no spots on the car once it dries, plus the interior is included in the price. Last time out, they had nine people simultaneously wiping down my car inside and out once it came out of the wash. I may need to make bagels and a car wash in Montgomery Hills a new weekend tradition. That'd be a hell of a cross-marketing opportunity, if anyone's listening.

- I've changed my perspective on the best way to enjoy a movie at the Regal Majestic (what an unjustifiably grandiose name!). I may gripe about the Majestic a lot, but I do so out of love - the fact remains that I probably still see 90% of movies there. Anyway, my old theory on how to maximize your experience at the Majestic was to only select the "grown-up" movies that wouldn't attract the kiddies. However after recently attending a 3D screening of Avatar, I have revised my strategy.

Rather than trying to see the quiet movies with fancy stuff like "dialogue", one should actually select the loudest movie possible. I've found that at the quieter movies shown in the smaller side theaters, the sound mixing tends to be poor, requiring you to strain your ears just to hear what the characters are saying. If anyone is speaking in those theaters, you will hear every word loud and clear. Unbeknownst to me, perhaps because I always went to the quieter movies, the big theaters at the Majestic (at least Theater 1) have a kick-ass digital sound system and the theater isn't afraid to use it. For Avatar, the sound was so loud I couldn't hear anyone even if they were talking - and that's the way it should be.

As a reminder, another way to significantly improve your Majestic experience is to print out your ticket at home. Sure, it's an extra buck to pre-purchase, but it beats the alternative of waiting in the scrum of the ticket line.

Speaking of intrusive sound sources at movies, according to a recent article on Smartmoney.com entitled "10 Things Movie Theaters Won't Tell You", theaters are letting offenders slide in order not to drive away business:

A major check on theaters attempting to police these and other sorts of audience disturbances is the fear of customer backlash... Movie houses don't want to lose younger audiences-who are primarily responsible for disruptions-by cracking down too hard.
Not sure if this is the case at the Majestic or not - I always assumed they just didn't care.

- No word yet on the open date for Goldberg's New York Bagels, but they do have a flashy new neon sign up in the window.

- The Silver Spring Swings concert series is in danger of being canceled for 2010 due to county budget cuts.

- Congratulations to Jackie's, which again made Washingtonian Magazine's 100 Best Restaurants list. Not sure if any other Silver Spring restaurants made the cut. I'll have to find a print edition, as the full list isn't online yet. Last year, Ray's The Classics and Nicaro were also included. Of course, the present incarnation of Nicaro (or "Newcaro") has little relation to the restaurant honored last year.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

"The Great Pumpkin", Explained

As a follow up to my last post concerning the "Great Pumpkin" water tank mystery, multiple sources have confirmed that the tank long ago sported an orange hue, hence the gourdlike nickname.

The following is explanation provided by C. P. Zilliacus, who, back in the early days of this blog, also identified a mystery building in Four Corners.

At some point in the distant past (1970's?), there was a much smaller water storage tank on this site, which the WSSC dismantled to replace with the structure there today.

The WSSC proceeded to build this "new" tank, and the (unpainted) steel as delivered was an orange color, and as the tank started to assume its shape (I believe the steel was hoisted into place and the joints welded), it did indeed look like a large pumpkin, looming over Montgomery Hills, and during the fall of that year, it was labeled by parties unknown as The Great Pumpkin.

Eventually the entire tank was painted in that baby blue color, and the graffiti was covered over and forgotten by most.
Clearly, the context was lost entirely when the tank was painted its present ugly pale blue shade. If they're not planning on removing the tank anytime soon, perhaps WSSC should do something creative to transform it from an eyesore to a curiosity. It'd definitely create more recognition for Montgomery Hills than those Age of Aquarius banners up and down Georgia. How about painting it to look like a colossal Olmec head or perhaps the head of a gigantic subterranean robot awaiting an interstellar signal from its alien masters to initiate the destruction of human civilization? Imagine an unsuspecting first-time area visitor glancing over at that from the Beltway.

(If anyone can provide a old photo of the water tank in orange, unlimited kudos shalt be bestowed upon you.)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Water Tower WTF



I was recently having my car cleansed of a inch-think layer of road salt at the Mongtomery Hills Car Wash when I glanced up at the monstrosity of a water tank looming over me and noticed that "THE GREAT PUMPKIN" had been written across it in large letters. The faded graffiti, painted in impressively level block letters, is visible only under close inspection and was presumably added quite some time ago. There is presently no obvious way for a person to access that section of the tank, so I have no idea how someone was able to add this text in the first place.



Do the words "The Great Pumpkin" imply that the silhouette of the water tower looms over the Montgomery Hills neighborhood in a manner similar to The Great Pumpkin over a Charles Schultz pumpkin patch? Or is the tank supposed to resemble a big pumpkin? The explanation of this phrase is not as obvious as the legendary "Surrender Dorothy" railroad bridge graffiti just up 495. (Sadly, now just "Surrender".)

Anyone know the story behind this?

Also...

- Mayorgaistas, rejoice! The coffee house, whose last day in Silver Spring was Thursday, plans to re-open in Takoma Park Takoma, DC in the building that once housed the now-defunct Savory Cafe a space near the Metro station. I should note that like Mayorga, Savory also served crap bagels. Best of luck to them, but if they don't upgrade what many claim to be substandard customer service I don't know if a change of scenery will necessarily help.

- The Washington Examiner has a profile of the SSINO neighborhood of Rock Creek Woods, which is at least technically in Silver Spring. Very interesting houses back there. I suggest taking a drive through the neighborhood sometime to check it out, provided you can find it. (It's not that easy.)

- A Silver Spring man was among the passengers who subdued the "Underwear Bomber" on Northwest flight 253.

- Today's Post has an article on the "Pinball Museum" in Silver Spring yet fails to mention the perfect location for its new home.