Friday, May 26, 2006

Last Sunday at the Sculpture Park

And so on a rainy and cool sunday afternoon i trekked out to the Socrates Sculpture Park for the opening of the Interstate installation. The word on the street was there would be some good chow, and you know i'm a big fan of the yummm!
Chef Jonathan Forgash from Film Chefs in LIC supplied the grub. Sufficed to say, i ate and ate and then ended up with a to-go bag. Pulled pork sandwiches,salmon salad sandwiches and spicy chicken sandwiches were all the rage under the awning! When you really can't walk around much and enjoy the weather, there's nothing like eating some good food with friends.
The weather really didn't dampen anyone's spirits though, and it did eventually clear up and warm up alittle.
Here's a beautious shot of the salmon sandwich (and all these sandwiches were only $5 a pop!)
A happy chef is a good sign! Here we see Chef Jonathan at home in his big oven on wheels. If you see it coming down your street, i'd say follow it-there may be a sandwich in store for you too...
In between showers the crowd started picking up a bit. As some of you may know, the park is pretty much unpaved, so the rain really could have made for some muddy patches. Luckily it wasn't bad enough to affect getting up close and personal with some of the pieces.
This top piece was probably my favorite. It was all the street/traffic signs you could probably ever see with all the info painted off. It was fun walking around and in it trying to decipher all the different ones. It really was a huge piece, reminded me of a jungle gym.
Throughout the park were these mailboxes. They followed the trail around. Some of us tried to open them to see if this was more of an "interactive" piece but to no avail, they were all shut. But you could let people know whether or not there was mail by putting up the little flags!
Here was a "ranger". Two women travelling with the exhibit had a kind of field guide with specimens from all the places they visited on their cross country trip. You could pull out the different test tube'y things and see all the random things they picked up (one had gravy from a chicken dish they had at a truck stop somewhere in the midwest).
A look at the dessert spread....
And to finish off, one of the several wanted posters throughout the park. I actually took this because i liked the contrast in colors!
Thats that. It was a fun look at some contemporary art and a great meal all in one. The exhibit will be there until August 13th, so you have plenty of time to get a better weather day to visit.

Astoria Weekend Edition 26.05.06

Another holiday weekend is upon us, and this time it comes with an extra day off work for some! Memorial Day (formerly known as Decoration Day), observed the last Monday in May, is an opportunity to commemorate US men and women who died in military service for their country. Memorial day also means getting together with friends and family for fun cookouts or parties. We're finally heading into some warmer weather, so the weekend should be quite summery and perfect for a gathering. Memorial Day parades are quite common around the country, and while there aren't any parades happening here in town, there are some going on around Queens. The Little Neck-Douglaston parade is apparently the largest one in the nation.

And speaking of summery, the Water Taxi Beach in LIC is re-opening this weekend! On Friday they'll be open at 4pm, and this holiday weekend they'll be open at noon all three days. Come by for drink, some food, and awesome views of Manhattan...from the beach!

Socrates Sculpture Park has much to offer this weekend. On Saturday morning, come join the Kripalu yoga class from 11-12. Then feed your creative self that same day at a sculpture workshop. From 12-3 Mitch Miller will help you create custom-made tinker toys using recycled materials. On Sunday morning, join instructor Aaron Kirtz from 11-12 for Tai Chi class. All events are free! These classes and events will happen each week, same day/time, throughout the summer. Very exciting!

Saturday night at 9pm head over to Waltz for their monthly wine tasting event. $20 gets you a selection of wines, tasty snacks, and a culinary education. And at the Beer Garden this weekend (Saturday and Sunday), come for the 24nd Annual Czech & Slovak Festival! The garden will be open 12noon-12midnight, and for $10 you can come and enjoy its fabulousness complete with music (including the Pilsner Brass Band), dancing (Limbora Slovak Folk Dancers) food (BBQ open from 3pm on), and even a raffle and door prizes.

More fun, here (and congratulations to John Roleke on the recent birth of his daughter Bea!).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A secret spot for lunch...

Here's my latest precious food find! This week i'd like to recommend to all you spanish speakers (or those who are willing to try!) - The Original Mexican Food Deli (30-11 29th St off 30th Ave) Hubba Hubba! You may think you have found good mexican, so did i... then i was turned on to this hole in the wall. I had tried before to find it but i mistakenly went to the place on the corner- thats not it! You have to turn onto 29th Street proper and its a few yards off the corner. I only say for you spanish speakers because its a little hairy if you try to communicate with the little lady behind the counter if you don't have at least the basics down.

Walking in to the place you might think its a bodega, but walk past all the hot sauces, frozen delicacies and fresh greens and you will see a little counter with a regular or two hanging out. You will feel like you just stepped into a whole new "old school" place. Its really the basics, no frills- and 9 times out of 10 from what i've experienced-thats when you find the winners!

I got this delectable beef burrito (that can easily feed two!) a beef empanada and a green tamale. The burrito had the perfect balance of rice to everything else, i always have a problem with too much rice-not here. And a delicious gooey white cheese held it all together.

Someone told me that tamales were their specialty and i tend to believe it. All i can tell you is, its the first one i've had since moving to NY that wasn't dry and hard- so yummy! Its really cool to observe the lady making the yummy tortillas by hand, from scratch and tossing them onto the skillet.

Theres a huge vat of beef simmering on the stove ready to fill orders. I watched her make my empanada and fry it up. Warning: It was greasey, more so then i usually have-but that didn't deter me! It had so much flavor, a little blot here and there and it was good to go. There are also a bunch of Mexican juices and sodas to choose from to top off your meal.

You definitley will not be dissapointed!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 19.05.06

We now have an awesome chance to peek into the world of sculpture at the Modern Art Foundry, they present Alternative Space where you can actually step into their foundry and check out all the cool art. Stuff is for sale too so bring your checkbook! They are located at 18-70 41st Street and i would definitely call ahead to make sure you can get in there - 718-728-2030. (they used to do this on weekends but have since changed over to mon-fri 9-3)

Free time on Saturday? Why not go spend some of it at Build It Green for their Volunteer Day! Once a month they need a bunch of us to help them out with their awesome work of saving our globe, one recycled bit at a time. They are attempting to bribe the "free-gans" out there with coffee and bagels too...could be an easy meal! But really, i see this as a great opportunity to check out their inventory for a future home improvement project of your own!!!!

On Sunday, Chef Jonathan Forgash & his Film Chefs truck will be cooking up a batch of goodness (i've had some, i know!) and tasty treats galore at this weekends Socrates Sculpture Park for Interstate (just keep walking on Broadway till you hit the water, on Vernon Blvd.) opening event going on Sunday from 2-6pm. If you've never been to this little patch of art land, then its a perfect time to check it out!

After a nice Sunday afternoon out and about you can always head over to Hell Gate Social for Hell on Reels, our very own Moving Picture Festival. Doors will open at 7:30 and the flics start at 8:30. Get there early so you can make sure you find the place... from what i hear its a bit elusive (12-21 Astoria Blvd. Btwn 12th st. &14th st.) Then get your drink on, sit back and watch the local talent in action.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Anti-Yum

Much talk as of late has been about the curious and repulsive odor that wafts though Astoria, particulary pungent in the Ditmars area. We've been talking about it over on astorians, wondering, wondering WTF?!?!?

Finally, two astute members found out what's what with the smell; here is the news article about it that astorian Mark posted. My favorite line: "It smells like 20 dogs took a dump in my yard." Priceless. And not far from the truth!


One of the things that makes me feel like a real New Yorker (although I've not lived here really long enough to say this, but humor me for a moment) is eating street food, especially souvlaki (aka "meat on a stick"). When I lived in CA I never ate street food, mainly because it didn't really exist. A popular souvlaki cart in Astoria is the center of a recent Times article, "Kebabs on the Night Shift." It's at Broadway and 32nd. Anyone eaten from this cart? I will say one of my favorite carts is on Steinway at I think 31st Ave. I understand the cart off Ditmars near 33rd (I think) is also pretty good. From the article:
Mr. Spertos, a Greek immigrant who has lived in Astoria for 45 years, and his partner, Christos Bouras, sell about 100 beef and chicken kebabs in a typical night, but it looked like more. The burnished skewers of meat are $2 a stick, or $4 with lettuce, tomato and onions in a dappled golden pita.

Two police officers from the 114th Precinct came for chicken kebabs after a busy evening spent writing up accident reports. A carful of Albanian boys from Merrick, Long Island, arrived for what one of them authoritatively declared "the best kebabs in Queens."

Like I said, yum!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Alternative Outside Spaces...

Well now that we've had our fill of the pros and cons of the Beer Garden, i want to find myself another option. And what better way to do that then to try out all the open air "backyard" type establishments we have at our disposal? You figure, there has to be at least one that will appeal to any one of us looking for a replacement.

Now, am i as daring as the girls over at Alpha Astoria with their cafe project? I don't think so. But i think that checking out one of these backyard beauties a week shouldn't be all that ridiculous! So i ask you fellow Astorians- where else can i venture to for my little al fresco adventure? I'd be thrilled if there were more then 10. And please, no places with the word "cafe" in the name!

All i know of so far is Fatty's, i have to check on when they're opening the outside (if its not open yet) Cavo, Central, and Hell Gate Social. Bring on the recommendations, i'll start a list and report back with pics and revues.
Im on a mission.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Astoria Weekend Edition 12.05.06

Well the big news this weekend is that it's Mother's Day on Sunday here in the US and Canada. Not a "Hallmark holiday," it was started in the 19th century during the Civil War. Celebrate your mom by giving her a call, send some flowers, or if you're lucky enough to have her here locally, maybe try for brunch at a few great restaurants in the area: Brick Cafe and Mundo in Astoria, or Tournesol in LIC. I've heard great things about each of these places. A little less traditional kind of brunch is happening at the Bohemian Beer Garden. Beginning at 1:00 pm, head over for a buffet in the Main Hall consisting of various Czech specialties. If it's not raining, seating will be in the garden, otherwise in the Main Hall. Admission is $15 per person.

On Saturday, consider checking out the Dutch Kills Walking Tour. Led by urban geographer Jack Eichenbaum, it's from 2-4pm and costs $11, $9, or $8. You'll get to explore this historic area of Long Island City. Sponsored by the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment. For more history, maybe stop by the Greater Astoria Historical Society to view their exhibit Astoria at War 1941-1945. And though it's not historical necessarily, I've heard great things about the exhibits at the Museum of the Moving Image. And on a rainy Sunday that might just be the place to be. They've also got a whole slew of movies worth checking out; the Altman Retrospective looks particularly good.

For something a little different, head over to Local Project in LIC on Saturday evening 6-10pm for Urban Log Books, an exhibit/installation comprised of artists books, zines, DIY & independent publications, journals and sketchbooks. For something that's different from that, check out Waltz Astoria on Fridayand Saturday nights for some acoustic and jazz music, not to mention tasty desserts.

More fun, here.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Beer Garden Blues

It looks to me like those good ole relaxing days down at the beer garden just might be over. There has been talk for the past couple of years of how the crowd has been getting more and more "manhattan-ish" or even "hipster-ish". Sadly I have now witnessed it, whatever you want to call the invasion!
I have been staying away purposely because of stories of gold lamee purses and skinny jean wearing androgynous peeps seen on line, but this past weekend a friend decided to have his birthday there. Apparently he and the main gaggle of friends got there before lines started- when things still had a semblance of the way they used to be a long long time ago...
After about a 2-minute attempt at waiting in the line I looked behind us and saw that the line was nearing the corner! Yowsers! It was pretty bad. I just couldn't wait in that line anymore so I jumped out and walked to the front where I took these pics (everyone looked at me like I had 3 heads too!) So there you have it folks, if you still need your kielbasa and dumplings fix-you may want to try an off-hour. I will try again during the week but later then what would be considered happy hour and see how I fare. I guess its really a personal preference, you either like crowds or you don’t. Unfortunately I got used to the place without these crowds so now I just can't do it. Granted it has always been a popular place (as long as I’ve lived here - 5.5 years anyway) but the crowds never seemed to be this out of control. I guess the Time Out articles aren't helping to keep our little gem under wraps! I'm glad they are getting recognized for the great place that it is, but couldn't we have like a "locals day" or something? A way to be sure that we could get in and grab a pitcher and a table for a few hours? Good luck enjoying Astoria's backyard this summer guys!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 05.05.06 (Cinco De Mayo!)

How about going Chinese for Cinco de Mayo? Well you can this Friday at P.S. 84 (22-45 41 St.) From 7-9pm bring your $5 to the Chinese Auction and help stock the school library with new books! I don’t think 5 bucks has ever had a better chance of going a such a long way. There are tons of prizes and gift certificates to all sorts of local business. Some hot prizes that stick out in my mind are $50 GC for Wave Thai, Lunch for 2 at Taverna Kyclades, a hefty $75 meal at the much talked about Trattoria L’incontro and dozens of other great treats. Its a win win situation!

Local artists will be selling their work (cheap) this Saturday at the United Methodist Church on the corner of 30th Road and Crescent St. Goodies like paintings, sculpture and handicrafts all from Astorian talent. From 10am - 5pm take a walk by and maybe invest in tomorrow's Van Gogh's and Pollock's.

Sunday brings the 5 Borough Bike Tour. The route takes them along 21st St. (and all its bumps) from the Queensboro Bridge up to Astoria Park then onto Vernon on its way to Brooklyn. You can get a gander at the multitudes from the park or at the Con Ed Learning Center (i wasn't aware of the "learning center") where they have a scheduled rest stops . They start at 8am in Battery Park- so it shouldn't be too long after that when they arrive here. You should be able to catch the action between 9am and noon.

Sometime this weekend, find the time to stop by Sal, Chris & Charlie Deli, better known as The Sandwich Kings of Astoria (33-12 23rd Ave. near the overpass (718) 278-9240). I had heard about this place from so many people but noone could ever give me the exact address- It was always "Near the train off 23rd i think, you can't miss it" Well i always missed it-until this past weekend when walking home from the line at the Beer Garden i ran smack into it. And boy am i glad i did! This meat and cheese filled roll with the works, a bag of chips and a cherry coke (a treat) all yours for $6.50. Can't beat that. I think the key here is the thinly sliced super tastey coldcuts and my new favorite addition- sweet peppers. This place should definitely be a stop on anyone's trip to the beach for a packed lunch.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mondays are so blah... i thought, this would be a perfect time to look for Astoria's cutest pet!!! yay! And its also something i can talk about without having to venture outside in the middle of my allergic hell. I would love pics of all your critters and to hear about their personalities. At the end of allergy season (i'm hoping june 1) i will post a little poll and you lucky peeps can vote for your favorite.
Just leave your comments/pics here or if you have larger'ish pics, feel free to email them to and i'll keep a list going.

I saw a subway poster the other day advertising Old Navy looking for a new mascot-and its only for dogs. I would totally have signed up my babies if they allowed felines, well too bad for them!

So have fun with it, lets see if we can't have a happy thread going here! Maybe we can get some prizes going or something....

(edited this post to remove my gratuitous pet pics! i'll save those for the contest!)