Friday, December 29, 2006

Astorian Year End Edition 2006

Seeing as how this weekend can basically be described as “PARTY,” we here at JIA thought it would be great to sum up our past year. There is no real rhyme or reason to it at all, just the years notables… good and bad! I’m sure in here you will find SOMETHING to do or try this weekend. Have a blast whatever it is!

Here you have it, JIA's Tops of 2006
  • Yummiest Condiment: Pebre from San Antonio.
  • Tastiest Conversation: Anything with Ali at Kabab Cafe.
  • The best way to stay active in the community: Biking and boating around with the guys over at the Waterfront Group.
  • Best far: beer and pool to boot, McCann's
  • Best way to pamper your toesies: Give the ladies over at Athena's a couple of hours and you'll leave a happy girl
  • Revamped Bar: From Tupelo to Sparrow , that birdie sings sweet sweet music in the form of a great beer selection
  • Most pointless renovation: Avenue Cafe ...
  • Best sandwich competition: Sal, Chris & Charlie's vs. Sorisso's
  • Biggest blown out of proportion blog entry: Why does the world have such an issue with my opinion on the Beer Garden ? Geesh!
  • Most notable food out of a truck: El Rey Del Taco - can't go wrong with anything on the menu
  • Summer's worst: The neverending Blackout and the Astoria Pool Melee
  • Best food filled guest blogger: Your foodie friend and mine, Annie in the Supermarket-lost as always
  • Well needed french addition to the hood: Le Petit Prince of course
  • NOT needed french loss in the hood: Le Sans Souci closed before i ever got to try out french yumms :(
  • Best fishy surprise: the $16.99 all you can eat of fresh sushi at Ginza
  • The place to see giant artistic objects: Socrates Sculpture Park. Happy 20th birthday!
  • Ugliest Renovation: The Eagle Electric Plant near Astoria Park. WTF?
  • Best source of fresh organic vegetables: Hellgate CSA
  • Most consistently unreliable promise: Shiny new, robot-enhanced N trains...still haven't seen one.
  • Best place practice your foodie speak in Spanish: Original Mexican Food Deli. And don't forget the sub-$2 tamales!
  • Best factory tour of a world famous cultural icon: Steinway Piano Factory. It's also been rated one of the top 5 factory tours in the country.
  • Best bottled beer selection (not in a bar): Heliopolis Deli. They also sell a spicy feta-sundried tomato concoction that is unbelievably delicious.
  • Wierdest burger preparation: Jackson Hole Diner. Steamed burgers? Why, I do not know.
  • Creepiest epidemic: Bedbugs. Totally gross.
  • Tastiest addiction: Sabra Hummus, made in Astoria. It's the new crack! Toss in some Astoria Pita and who needs to leave home?!?!
Stay tuned for 2007's adventures in the hood :) Happiest of Happy's to all our neighbors and friends and thank you so much for making this year here at Joey in Astoria a great one!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Party like its 2007!

Staying close to home this year? Well Astoria has a few "cover-less" parties in the works. I think a party for every taste will be available without getting on the train or wrecking your wallet this weekend, here's what i found for you all:

Hell Gate Social
12-21 Astoria Blvd (between 14th & 12th Street)
Doors open @9:00pm
Highlights of the night (imho) No Cover, multiple DJ's and live performances, 2:30am- White Castle for everyone PLUS the guys will be serving alcohol til 8am!!! Happy new year indeed :)

34-27 28th Avenue (at 35th Street)
Love the No Cover!
Its not a gala event or anything but definitely on the loungey tip. Champagne toast at midnight with a dj spinning all night. Party favors everwhere and drinky til 4am after which they will stay open and switch to the non alcoholic beverages ie: redbull- it gives you wings!

Kabala Lounge
24-01 36th Avenue
The neighborhood's newest fancy NYC VIP style joint. I really have no comment on it since i have never been and its just a bit odd to me, but i figure to each his own and you all should have the 411 on all the haps.
Entry is free til midnight- after will be $25 for general adm. They have all kinds of prices for different groups and bar plans so check them out if thats your thing. They've also got the only "after party" that i've heard of going on. $25 from 8am to 1pm.

Mezzo Mezzo
31-29 Ditmars Blvd.
So far the priciest, but its got alot going on!
Get in there at 9:30pm and stay til 2:30am. For your $85, you'll get a full 5 course surf-n-turf dinner, wine, champagne toast, a live middle eaastern ensemble all night with live bellydancers. If this fits the bill, call now for reservations or email: for more info.

Whatever you do or wherever you end up, please have a super happy and safe New Year!
Come back next year for more on all the goodies in Astoria :)

-now go and make your plans!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Mulchfest 2007

Help ring in the new year by returning your Christmas trees (or "Pagan Solstice Tree", in my case) to where it came from. No, not that dude in the Cow-Town parking lot. The earth, silly! You can drop off your trees at Astoria Park on 19th & Hoyt Avenue on January 6th or 7th from 10am to 2pm to see your coniferous friend become mulch. And if you want to, you can take his new mulchy self back home with you for your [community] garden.

Deets here: NYC Parks Department MulchFest

It's free for you and cheap for New York. And it helps slow the quickening process of our planet frying to a crisp. Mmmm, crips...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 22.12.06

Happy Holidays everyone! It's a big holiday weekend and I hope you are exactly where you want to be with regard to shopping, eating, and festivities. I know Astoria residents have been whoopin' it up with pre-holiday drinking parties, Festivus parties, and office parties in fabulous locations (I was invited to one at the Rainbow Room, which was quite nice). There's a lot going on this weekend, both holiday-oriented and not.

There are plenty of places have a Christmas eve dinner out (Sunday night), and a few places have found themselves on my radar: Mundo (8pm, $45), 718 (complete with a Chocolate Buche de Noel), and Koliba. All very different but I'm sure will be very fun and festive. Reservations required!

On Saturday, head over to Hell Gate Social for a screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas at 8pm. There's a happy hour from 7-9, too. Or, head to Waltz for holday fun, including nog and a movie. I'm told the yule log will be lit and there might be some spontaneous music-making.

And I've been told that there's gonna be free ice cream samples from 5 Boroughs Ice Cream at the new Bravo Supermarket on 34th Ave near 35th Street in Central Astoria. Stop by Saturday, 1-4pm and check it out. You might see me there! I've also been told that the new cafe Il Bambino on 31st Ave near 34th Street is pretty darn good in the food department, especially the mozarella & pesto panini. They have something called "warm maple milk", which sounds intriguing as well.

Hope you're having fun, whatever it is you're doing!

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Delicious Discovery

When I was at Freeze Peach last night, playing my little heart out for a few hours (I trucked my harpsichord down to the cafe via my new hot handtruck), I discovered they had new sandwiches available! One is vegan - spicy tofu, and one is vegetarian - veggie chicken salad. I had a taste of the vegan one, and I proclaim it to be...delicious! The vegetarian (not vegan because of the egg whites) chicken salad is tasty as well. They wrap the fillings in a napa cabbage leaf before slapping it between two slices of organic multigrain bread, so the bread doesn't get all soggy and gross. Nice! These sandwiches are made by a company called "Earthly Eats", based out of Ridgewood, NY. They are kosher as well. So, next time you're by the cafe, check them out! Sandwiches are $3.75, by the way, a pretty good deal as sandwiches go.

Friday, December 15, 2006

N Train: Hot! (apparently)

According to the New York Inquirer (have any of you heard of this publication?), the N/W/R/Q tied with the F/V for sexiest train line! Now, I think whoever did this survey had a lot of time on their hands. Or maybe it was a slow week. Anyway, Astorians should feel good that their train line is sooooo sexy! The 7, on the other hand, was determined to be not so sexy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Astoria Loves Will Smith!

At least the Museum of the Moving Image does. Last Sunday night he was the most honored guest at the 22nd annual Museum of the Moving Image Salute. The event paid tribute to Will Smith's diverse body of work for television and film. You may wish you could have been in attendance at the event, and according to the AMMI website, Moving Image Salutes Will Smith will be broadcast on Bravo on January 12, 2007, at 8pm. On Wednesday there's going to be a preview of The Pursuit of Happyness at the AMMI, and I hope to be in the audience, because I love Will Smith, too! I've seen a bunch of clips of the movie and it looks wonderful.

Need to get OUT?

Come meet LGBT Astoria!

Out Astoria Holiday Party
32nd Street and Broadway
8-10 p.m.
$15 for all-you-can eat buffet,
$3 beers, $5 well drinks

Astorian Weekend Edition 15.12.06

Friday break out the soofganiot and grab a match, Happy Hanukkah to all!

Not doing the holiday thing? Languages and culture a topic of conversation? Well, it will be on Friday at a Multi Culti Meetup. Apparently, there is a weekly meeting of the minds at Mike’s Diner (22-37 31st St) at 6 p.m. Go talk, meet new people…get out a little!

Saturday use your time wisely and FINISH your shopping! Do yourself a favor and when you get to the end of Steinway (near Astoria Blvd.) or the end of your shopping, go grab a bite at Kabab Cafe. Ali’s got new dishes on the menu (well the menu in his head, just ask him for the specials or anything new.)

Sunday continue to celebrate the festival of lights at “The Light of a Hundred Menorahs” - A Gala Chanukah Celebration and Meal. Goodies and kosher yummies for all! ($20/person, 718-278-2680).

Or party in a different way with beer and music LIVE from the Sparrow (24-01 29th St), one of my new fav bars to chill. The rumors are true: sooner than later the kitchen will be open for all your beer-induced cravings!

Single and looking to mingle? Monday after work swing by The Cave around 7 p.m. for half-price cocktails and drink specials all night to help you ease into the madness of the dating scene.

I know its hard with Steinway blaring the holiday tuneage, but stay sane my neighbors, the madness is almost over!

...More on KrisTees

I know i mentioned it here, but i so didn't give it enough talk space!
KrisTees is an adorable new little shop for the ladies over on a quiet stretch of 23rd Ave.
They have everything you need to look uber cool and comfy for work and play. The sweaters and tees were so very stylized and soft, i think there was some sort of complex blend of wool, cotton and something fancy...
Hats, jewelry, scarves (with adorable prints) tees, skinny jeans, and what i thought was really smart- belts made of exotic leathers that can be totally made to order, fill the open space. Like the buckle on that funky green crocodil-ey looking belt but prefer the red sued-ey one? No prob, they can switch them out. Need an extra inch or a hole or two? Easy. Make them one of a kind to your specifications. The shop itself is quite attractive. Swirls of browns and unobtrusive displays let you just chill as you shop.
They don't have a website yet but are working on a myspace to help spread the word about what they've got going on - stay tuned. While in the store though i signed up for they mailing list- just got the first blast and thought i'd forward it along to you all! After all, there is still time for holiday shopping :)

As a special thank you before the holidays, I will be hosting a 2 Day only "Special Customer Appreciation Event" starting this Wednesday, December 13th through Thursday, Dec.14th only. The event includes 15% off all Regular Price Designer Clothing I recently received for Holiday as well as an extra 10% off Already Reduced Items. If you stop by during either evening I will also have wine, champagne and cheese for you to snack on.
Wednesday- Open 12 Noon to 8PM
Thursday- Open 12 Noon to 9PM
Something to keep in mind during the event.......... In addition, for those who might spot something they want their friend, loved one or family to pick them up for Christmas, I will be happy to set the items asside until next week Thursday for them to pick up for you.
I look forward to seeing you and Happy Holidays to All!

Kindest Regards, Kristie

Isn't she sweet?!
24-01 23rd Avenue
(at 24th Street)
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 204-5031
Store Hours:
Mon/Tues -Closed
Wed/Fri/Sat- Noon-8pm
Thurs- Noon-9pm
Sun- Noon-6pm

Personal Kyoto

While reading Carrie McLaren's Stay Free! blog, a great site about consumer culture and media criticism, I came across this:

Has anyone used this? It's apparently a way to "track your residential or commercial electric usage automatically". It works with your ConEd account. Sounds like it could be pretty interesting and useful. Personal Kyoto was developed by OpenLab at Eyebeam, which I know has a good reputation. I may check it out this week. It would be good to know how I'm using my electricity and then move toward lowering my usage. My own personal Kyoto!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Astoria to be "extra character" in Greek TV Show

Looks like more filming will be happening in Astoria. From the article:

The subway rumbles over 31st Street, passing by a small, unobtrusive office in Astoria tucked next to a convenience store. A tiny sign on the door advertises the company, “Ikseni Productions,” in orange and black letters.

Inside, 20-something filmmakers are working feverishly, writing scripts, securing permits to shoot around Queens, casting extras and handling piles of accounting paperwork.

It’s the pre-production phase of “On 31st Street,” the first show for a Greek television network to be filmed entirely in the United States. The show’s Greek-American creators plan to shoot and produce it primarily in Astoria, Queens.

“We would like to show them what New York is like and how Greeks live here,” said Andreas Georgio, the show’s co-creator, lead actor and producer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

More on Flux Factory This Weekend

Just got a mailer from them. Sounds like fun!


Response to Tatlin’s Monument... Continues. Party from 5:30pm – late

Highlights include:

Ice Cream and Beverages in the Kafeteriaeria
George Galliano Jazz Trio performance at 10pm
Performances on the Small Stage for Very Brief Performances
Odd and delightful musical interludes throughout
Love propaganda!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 8.12.06

Holy moly, it's cold today! The weekend will be a little warmer, but not by much. It's a good weekend to stay inside if you have thin west coast blood like I do. But I bet most of you reading this have hearty Northeastern or Midwestern blood and will be able to handle it, no sweat. So, maybe take a stroll down to the Goodwill Triangle and see the progress on this awesome greenspace developing. Or head to Astoria Park and gawk at the ridiculous architecture that is the Eagle Electric Plant Riverview apartment co-op building, then take one of their open house tours from 12-4. Maybe even do some shopping while you're out! On Friday, stop by Candy Plum for their Holiday Trunk Show from 5-8pm. This Saturday, if you find yourself on Steinway Streeet, you might catch the Strolling Goliard Carolers, singing on Saturdays from 2-4 until Christmas. If you've got kids, head on over to Jackson Hewitt (28-17 Steinway) on Sunday to see Santa. He'll be there from 12-4 and you'll get a free photo and gift with your visit.

If you're craving artistic manna this weekend, stop on by the Chocolate Factory in LIC for the Fresh Meat Festival. On Sunday, the Astoria Symphony is holding their annual holiday concert. And the Flux Factory's next open hours are this Saturday, if you've been curious to check them out.

If you're hungry or need a lot of food for a party, head on over to Sal, Chris & Charlie ("The Sandwich King") over on 23rd Ave (33-12 23rd Ave, more specifically). They'll cater a ginormous, delicious six-foot sandwich for $90! And if that's too big, pay $15 a foot and make your own size. And when you're done with your shopping, stop by Mundo, where they've got tasty mulled wine for the season. And speaking of holiday drinks, it's SilkNog season! It's a soy product, much tastier and lighter than the regular eggnog you find on the grocery store shelves. I love the stuff and have polished off a quart of it already.

More fun, here.

Hey, man!

There's jazz tonight at the Beer Garden! Come check out some great musicians and hear some excellent tunes. It's cold enough to keep the out-of-town hordes away, so I bet you'd get a seat, and maybe more attention by the waitstaff. And it's free! BTW, jazz organ totally rules.

Dan Pratt Organ Quartet

Dan Pratt: saxophone
Alan Ferber: trombone
Dave Smith: trumpet
Jared Gold: organ
Mark Ferber: drums

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

More and more, buildings are being converted to condos in Long Island City. While that's great for ameliorating the housing shortage here in western Queens, it's sad to me when a bunch of artists are kicked out. LIC has many buildings full of artist studios and slowly their buildings are being converted. This is happening to the building housing Queensboro Potters. As a result, they're having one last holiday sale before things are shut down. Here's the info:

Eleven ceramic artists will have work available to sell. If you're looking for original holiday gifts for an art lover (or just need a nice handmade serving bowl) come on by.

Thursday, December 7, 4-8 pm
Friday, December 8, 4-8 pm
Saturday, December 9, 12-5 pm (live music 2-5 pm)
Sunday, December 10: 12-5 pm

Queensboro Potters
42-26 28th St, Ste 2E (Star Building)
Long Island City
(718) 729-4882

Just off Queens Plaza/Queensboro Bridge.

N,W or 7 to Queensboro Plaza. Use Queens Plaza South exit to street. Walk straight ahead to 28th St and turn right. The building is at the end of the block on the corner of 28th St and 42nd Rd.

E,R or V to Queens Plaza. Use Queens Plaza South exit to street (the middle of the train is nearest this exit). Walk straight to 28th St. and turn left. The building is on the right at the end of the block on the corner of 28th St and 42nd Rd.

G to Court House Square. Walk north on Jackson Ave and turn left onto 42nd Rd. The building is straight ahead on the corner of 28th St. and 42nd Rd.

(Cream and sugar set by potter Posey Bacopoulos. Photo source from Sunnyside Community Services)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Art Garden

The Art Garden
Originally uploaded by flooznyc.
So whats the dilly? i would love for this to be true! Anyone have any info on this jammy? I'm going to try giving them a call tomorrow and see what gives. I walked around back to see this alleged "garden" and didn't see anything remotely garden like.
p.s. the sign itself is on 31st St. near the corner of 24th Ave.

More on the Waterfront

The next waterfront meeting is coming up. Join in, help out, and have fun!

Astoria-LIC Waterfront Parks Alliance Meeting

What: Join us to help figure what we can do to improve our Astoria/LIC waterfront parks and our waterfront as a whole. This meeting is open to all, but will be focused on planning for the next year, and therefore may be more relevant for current members. All members are encouraged to attend, and new members are encouraged to attend if they intend to participate regularly in the upcoming year.

When: Wednesday, December 6, 6pm

Where: Greater Astoria Historical Society, Quinn Building, 35-20 Broadway, 4th Floor

Who: All Are Welcome!

Why: To join together with friends and neighbors to re-envision our waterfront and improve our neighborhood.

More info: Please call 718-706-8044, 917-902-9165 or email

Can Someone Tell Me?

What "Pre-Finished Units" are?

I saw this sign on the Eagle Electric building/now condos (codos? or co-ops? or apartments? bah.) while I was running down by Astoria Park. Does this mean you buy a "fixer upper" of sorts? I hear the units are shoddily built, but I'd like to take a look-see myself. Not that I could afford to buy, mind you, but I have fond memories of looking at model homes as a teenager with my mom and brother. Maybe it's wierd, but it sure was fun to see brand spankin' new homes, sometimes with tasteful decorating and sometimes with laughable decorating.

Anyway, what is up with this "pre-finished" business????

Monday, December 04, 2006

Like a Phoenix?

While walking along 31st Street near the Ditmars train station this morning, I saw that substantial work had been done where the McDonalds/TwinDonut/31 fire had been. I am very curious to see what goes in...hoping not another McDonalds, ugh. Or another 99cent store or nail salon. Has anyone else seen this work being done, too? Or know what's going to be in that space?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More About Parks

Well, today I made it over to the Goodwill Triangle/Two Coves Garden for a couple hours and helped with the beautification project there. Instead of planting daffodil bulbs, we ended up planting some bushes and shrubs, as the daffodils arrived later in the day, just as I had to leave. But it was great to help with the planting and so nice to work with the other volunteers. If I can, I'll post some pictures of the progress we made. The space is going to be really nice when it's done. It's already much nicer than it was, from what Gail told me, it having been a dumping ground for local garbage and other miscellaneous crap. I'm really glad that it's being improved and it will be a wonderful open space for the community in far western Astoria.

Next parks-related gathering is Monday at 6pm. There will be an informal meeting regarding Astoria Park, an opportunity to share ideas about Astoria Park and most likely community stewardship of the park, which is truly a jewel here in Astoria. From the email I received:
I've had contact with most or all of you on this e-mail because of your interest in Astoria Park! Since there are many of you interested in different areas of the park, I would like to invite you to all meet each other, share your different expertise and perhaps think about collaborating forces to form a larger Astoria Park umbrella group.

The meeting will be held at Waltz-Astoria, which is on Ditmars between 23rd and 24th Streets. I think it will be a nice place to meet. I'm planning on being there, and I hope to see many of you there as well!

And for those who are interested, there's a holiday party following the meeting at the Greater Astoria Historical Society. Party is at 7pm. Details:
Kevin Walsh will discuss his book and web site Forgotten New York, and there will be Christmas music and refreshments.
Please join us and support your local historical society!

The GAHS is at 35-20 Broadway, in the Quinn Bldg., 4th Floor.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Helping your Community with Daffodils

Dumb thunderstorms should be gone by Saturday, and more normal temperatures will be back (althought not frigid temps), so consider helping out your community! From Emily Maxwell of Parks:

Saturday, December 2, from 11-3, help plant daffodil bulbs at the shiny new Goodwill Triangle/Two Coves Garden!

Throughout the week, volunteers have been planting trees and shrubs at Goodwill Triangle/Two Coves Garden. They're busy transforming the space into a beautiful park and community garden, and it's looking amazing. But, more help is needed! If you can help, please join them anytime from 11-3 on Saturday or call Gail Harris at 917-498-1403. Goodwill Triangle/Two Coves Garden is at the intersection of Astoria Blvd and 8th Street.

You may indeed see me there! Hooray for beautification!

Astorian Weekend Edition 1.12.06

December brings shopping on the brain!
Ease into the weekend Friday, Candy Plum is throwing a trunk show by a local designer. Not enough to get you over there? Well how about 10% off all clothing purchases...while you sip some wine on the house?!

Saturday, take your pick or even better do it up proper and hit both craft fairs!
Kicking off at 10am (until 6pm) we have the Magic of Astoria's 5th installment of crafty fun. This is being held at United Methodist Church, 30th Rd & Crescent St. You'll find everything from snacks to photos to paintings to clothing. I can feel it now- names being crossed off the dreaded long gift giving list!
At 11am you can scoot on over to the second shopping bonanza, the Trinity Lutheran Church XMas Sale at Trinity Lutheran Church- 31-18 37th St @ 31st Ave. Shop for sales and bargains til 4pm. I heard there will be entertainment, food and balloon hats for those of you who are already humbugging :)

Finish off your shopping weekend exploring KrisTees, one of Astoria's newest & cutest boutiques. Find Kristie (no really its her name!) and her soft and pretty gear at the corner of 23rd Ave. & 24th St. The shop has only been open for two months but i think its got staying power. Scarves, hats, jewelry, belts -which are totally customizable and made from various materials, skinny jeans and oh so soft silhoutte tees are to be found there. Dress it up or dress it down, hot stuff.
(24-01 23rd Ave. closed mon + tues.)

Pool leaguers or just plain ole pool playing people- come out to Break on Monday nights. You can check in with the American Poolplayers Association! Beginners are welcome but you have to commit and show up every Monday night.

Also on Monday is the Kiwanis Club Annual Holiday Auction
What: Shop for charity (proceeds go to children & seniors of Astoria)
Where: Riccardo's by the Bridge, 21st St. @ 24th Ave.
When: Preview at 6:30 pm, Auction starts at 7 p.m.
What else: Free Admission, Free Parking, Free Finger Foods, Cash Bar.

Don't be alarmed: the lack of food recommendations in this post is not normal! I'll get back to the yums next time.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Astoria Holiday Shopping

Inspired by a post over on, I got to thinking about how Astoria has a lot of great shopping options for the holidays. No need to go to Manhattan for everything! Or the mall (ugh). There's plenty right here in western Queens, some I've mentioned before, and some that are new (at least to me).

First, check out a terrific slideshow from the NY Times, written by Astoria's own Amanda Trimble. Love the pictures and descriptions, and it's a great overview of some of the wonderful and unique boutiques in Astoria/LIC. KrisTees is new to the neighborhood, and is a lovely upscale kind of place (more about them from flooz, later). I've checked out The Blooming Company on 31st Street (by the Ditmars station). They have cute clothes and jewelry, as well as other items like wallets, shoes and bags.

Apart from clothes, Blue Eye Boutique has a lot to offer for the evil eye fans on your list. Inside Astoria on Ditmars sells home items, gifts for pets, and more. Olympia Chemists on 31st Street sells wonderful L'Occitaine products and a variety of other great smelling things, including environmentally sound and cruelty-free products.

Astoria's own Socrates Sculpture Park has a new book out on their 20 years in existence, and The Noguchi Museum has a wonderful gift shop with books and other intersting objects. The Art-O-Mat in Hunter's Point is a "store/gallery featuring artisan made items", so check them out for locally made art. The Museum of the Moving Image also has a gift shop, for the film buff on your list.

Heliopolis, as I've mentioned before, has great chocolate (including Scharffen Berger) and an amazing selection of beer, perfect to bring to a holiday party. Vine Wine in LIC is doing a series of tastings throughout December, so stop on in and educate yourself about wine so you can get your favorite oneophile something they'll love. And budding Astoria pastry artist Michelle McDonald is selling handmade chocolate truffles for the holidays! Both flooz and I have had these truffles, and they are absolutely delicious. Highly recommended!

While not based in Astoria, online options I like include Threadless, which sells wonderful tshirt designs for women, men, and children. Right now they're having a $10 sale! What a deal. I'm also a big fan of Mighty Goods, an awesome shopping blog by Maggie Mason in SF. I've also shopped at The Hunger Site's online store. Each purchase you make feeds someone. What a wonderful way to shop and do some good while you're at it. And for Astoria-based online shopping, our own flooz has a terrific cafepress site, selling things with an Astoria theme. Click, click, click and check it out! Lastly, December 1 (that's tomorrow) starts the NY Cares Coat Drive. See where you can donate your used winter coat so someone else can stay warm.

Oh, and don't forget all those 99cent stores for wrapping, bows, and cheap decorations!

Where do you like to do your holiday shopping in Astoria?

Welcome December!

Here it is, decorating season. I have a feeling there will be some big lawn to-do's!

(over on 23rd Ave near 26th st... i think?)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Astoria Weekend Edition 24.11.06

Well, I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving — mine was nice and chill here in Astoria, just the way I wanted it. Kind of a gross day, but I was happy that the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade happened despite the wind and rain. We're in for a nice sunny weekend, which will be great for you shoppers out there on Black Friday. For some local shopping, head on over to Candy Plum boutique, Blue Eye Boutique, or the Blooming Company. Besides shopping (or not shopping), you can do some wine tasting, savor some Rivette at the AMMI, check out the 2006 Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition at Socrates (and consider a copy of their new book while you're at it), or head on over to the Art-O-Mat. You can also hang out in the Ditmars area and watch the filming of The Accidental Husband, with Uma Thurman. I hear they'll be filming in our fair city until January.

If you get hungry, hop on over to the San Antonio Bakery #2, where I've been eating lately. I'd forgotten just how good their hot dogs completas are. I recently stopped into the Heliopolis Deli (32-16 Broadway) and was so glad that I did. Wonderful selection of beer, and they sell an addictive product that they make in-house: a mixture of feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, hot peppers, and olive oil. Amazing! I could eat it every day. They've also got tasty baba ghanoush and wonderful dolmas. If you haven't already, you need to check this place out. I've also heard great things about Marjana, a new Morroccan restaurant on Steinway. Apparently the most expensive thing on the menu is $11.

More fun, here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Over the years, I've learned that Thanksgiving is somewhat of a quirky holiday. I used to think everyone went home to see their families then. Not so. Some of my coupled friends make this holiday their own, eschewing the long drive or flight across the country or to the next state to see extended family. Some gather their friends together for a day of laze and gluttony. Some people go to church, some don't. But, we do eat! Whether or not it's home-cooked.

Going out for Thanksgiving is a foreign concept to me, but it's a wonderful option for a lot of people. John over at has some great info on T-day dinner out in Queens. There's also been discussion over on astorians about where to go in the nabe for Thanksgiving dinner. I noticed the other day walking past Koliba that they ar doing a Thanksgiving dinner. I wonder if it will be Czech-influenced? Also, Fresh Direct is an option. Just heat and serve.

One of the coolest aspects about Thanksgiving in NYC is going to the city to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation. For several blocks you can watch the balloons for the parade get blown up to full size, Wednesday night. Sort of the "unofficial start" to the Thanksgiving holiday. I'll be there!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 17.11.06

If you're still looking for decent sushi in Astoria, Friday after work march on over to Ginza (31-31 Steinway Street). Some call it a hibachi joint- which they do have, but i can tell you, it really is a full on sushi supplier! I was very very satisfied with the $16.99 all you can eat. Soda, soup, salad, apps and a pretty decent selection of sushi and rolls. 4 people=$80 -keep it coming!!!!

Celebrate Ethel Merman and other musical and classical works this Saturday when Genesis Repertory goes off-off Broadway to the Advance Island City Mispah Lodge (21-14 30th Ave) at 8 p.m. Entertainment and refreshments all yours for $20. (646-226-0370).

No cooking for you this weekend? Apparently there is competition for my sandwich guys, Sal Chris & Charlie! On the other side of town we've got Sorisso's (30th Ave. between 44th and 45th Sts.) They get my thumbs up just for the name (smiles in italian!)!There are claims they have the best fresh mozarella, best sandwiches, great sausages, & delish homemade sauce. Time to go pay them a visit and put the grub to the test.

Ok, its not the weekend, but on Monday at 4:30pm at the Intersection of Steinway & Broadway
go welcome Santa to Astoria with the Tree Lighting Ceremony!!!!! Kids visit Santa and receive a free book. This will also be the big green flag for you late night shoppers, most of the area stores start extending their hours through Christmas.

Now go home and start preparing for Thanks-for-giving-us-a-day-off!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Astoria Weekend Edition 10.11.06

First, remember us talking up 5 Boroughs Ice Cream? And the fact that it's not available in Astoria, despite their using Astoria-based ingredients. Well, that's changed! It's now available at the Best Yet Market (19-30 37th Street) and soon at the C-Town on 28th Avenue (40-12 28th Avenue). They'll be doing free tastings, at least at the Best Yet, during November. Keep an eye on their PR page for info on this. We'll do the same here.

There's so much going on this weekend! On Friday, there's a kosher pasta potluck at Astoria Center of Israel, and a poetry reading (and networking time) at 8pm at the Women's Studio Center. On Saturday there's fun acoustic 80s music at Waltz, compliments of Michael Burke & Jason Hare, a book and crafts sale at Trinity Lutheran, and ultimate frisbee at Astoria Park (newbies always welcome, bring a dark and light tee shirt). And Sunday, catch the last day of Sacred Spaces: Altars for Dia de los Muertos, and exhibit at the Art-O-Mat. Finally, check out Freeze Peach's new ongoing events calendar for what's going on there, from read-aloud nights, to crafting and knitting, to simply relaxing and listening to vinyl, complete with a hot cup of coffee, tea, or cider in hand.

This weekend also marks the closing of beloved Astoria restaurant Lil Bistro 33; they 11th is their last night (Saturday!). But they're only closing temporarily, as they'll be moving into a larger space in the Ditmars neighborhood (19-33 Ditmars Blvd), down by the park. Great news for northern Astorians, for sure! We'll let you know when they re-open.

More fun, here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 03.11.06

Want to liven up your home for the fall? On your way home on Friday, swing by the new to the hood, tucked back from the main drag Blue Eye Boutique (32-07 37th Street @ Broadway.) They are full of all kinds of stuff with the all seeing all knowing nazars (evil eye). You can get everything from cute earrings and rings to keychains, plaques and random household items starting at $5.

Its getting cold these days so why not go somewhere warm like Brazil? Can't afford it? Me either, luckily Astoria is full of Brazilian shops and restaurants to make you feel like a Carioca! My mom grew up in Rio so i sometimes get a craving for some fried yucca and black beans. I have found a new place nearby that can accommodate my food urges... Favela (33-18 28th Ave.) Yummy, affordable and cozy. I went all out with the meat and had the Picanha with rice and beans and my favorite-Farofa!!! can't beat it for $15.

Want to give Brazilian cuisine a go at home? Stop in to the cute mini market, Ipanema Girl (28-19 Steinway St). I was in there recently and got a kick out of the little things that i haven't seen since i was in Brazil last- about 7 years ago. You can find typical snacks and beverages there along with the green and yellow flag emblazoned on clothing and flip flops. If you feel like you really want more, they even have a mini travel agency there for your travel needs.

Sunday is good cause day! Join in on the PFLAG Annual Fund Raiser Awards Luncheon.
The Queens Chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) will be honoring among others, one of our very own, Astorian Dirk McCall, President, Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC who will be awarded the “Morty Manford Award.” Tickets are $50 and it will be held at Riccardo's (21-01 24th Avenue.)
For more information see PFLAG or call (718) 271-6663.

All of this and oodles more here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Late Weekend Entry, But So Good It Needs Its Own Post

The lovely Annie, our most recent guest blogger, dropped me a note today about a fabulous sale on Saturday:

Housing Works Thrift Shop (one of the best in the city, I think!) is having its WAREHOUSE SALE in the LIC this weekend! Tomorrow!! $20 for an all-you-can-stuff bag of loot!

WHAT: Overstock Sale! 1000 square feet of clothing. Help us clear out our closet by shopping our overstock warehouse sale featuring bins of good but not perfect merchandise, including clothing, shoes and accessories from well-known designers and brands. Medium shopping bag all you can stuff - $20.

WHO: Housing Works, the nation's largest community-based AIDS service
organization helping to improve the lives of people living in New York with HIV/AIDS.

WHEN: Saturday, October 28th, 2006, 10:00am-5:00pm

48-49 35th Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
(Take the 7 train to 33rd Street)

$20 per "all you can stuff" medium (provided) shopping bag
$1 - $5 for shoes

METHOD OF PAYMENT: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Cash

Astoria Weekend Edition 27.10.06

This weekend expect two-faced weather, what with rain and wind on Saturday (boo!) and a bright and sunny Sunday (yay!). Friday night is great no matter what because the work week is over for those of us 9-5'ing it. However, if you happen to get off work early on Friday, think about heading over to the ARTSPACE at the Athanasiades Cultural Center (30-98 42 Street). Currently there's an exhibition of works by screen-printing artist Paul Thimou, with screen-printing demonstrations from 5pm-6pm. The ARTSPACE is open 3pm-6pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information, contact Paul at

On Friday evening, consider heading to LIC to Smokeys11101 (5-16 51st Ave between Vernon and 5th Street) for BBQ and live music. Afua Richardson performs rock, blues, jazz and soul from 8pm until 11pm. There's no cover, and drink specials all night. Saturday night, the're holding a costume party with free beer tasting sponsored by Anheuser Busch. Prize goes to best costume. DJ Mischief will be spinning that night (R&B, soul, salsa and reggae).

The Astoria Performing Arts Center presents Steve Martin's Play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, and it's opening this Friday. It runs October 27th through November 12th, Friday through Sunday, at the Variety Boys & Girls Club on 30th Avenue & 21st Street. It's a hilarious and thoughtful take on what a fictitious meeting between Picasso & Einstein might have been like at the start of the 20th Century. Tickets are only $15 in advance and $18 at the door, and wtudents and seniors pay $12.

This weekend also brings the premiere of the children's opera Gargoyle Garden, composed by local resident and musician B. Allen Schulz (Libretto by Jeff LaGreca). The Astoria Music Society presents two performences, one in Manhattan and one in Astoria! The Astoria performance is on Sunday at 3pm in the Quinn Building, 35-20 Broadway at 36th St, 4th Floor. Tickets are $18 general, $15 for students and seniors. Children are free. Allen writes: "We have a wonderful cast of 5 adults and 2 children (Garret Euker and Maddie Weinberg), and a chamber orchestra of 12 musicians. The story is halloween-themed and is appropriate for children of any age."

Also on Sunday, consider joining The Yoga Room and John Cavanaugh for a class to benefit Yoga 4 Life. The Yoga Room will be donating a portion of the day’s sales to The World Food Program, an organization that provides food aid to victims of war, famine and natural disasters. The funds raised on October 29 will support the WFP’s school feeding programs which then give children food, safety, and the key to a better future-education. The class takes place at the Astoria location from 1:30-3pm. Cost is $10 (please come by with your $10 to reserve, space is limited!) Cash only!

Lastly on Sunday, come by the Beer Garden for a Halloween Book Party! This is celebrating the newest Queens guide by Ellen Freudenheim, QUEENS: What to Do, Where to Go (and How Not to Get Lost)in New York's Undiscovered Borough. The Book will come out officially on Tuesday (that's Halloween!). The party is from 5pm-8pm, and since this is a Halloween Party, the author asks that you dress up like Queens neighborhood. Best costume wins a free book! Also a percentage of profits from sales of books will be donated to the student charity, D.A. Sokol, for the benefit of Czech students.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 20.10.06

This great fall weather just begs for strolls. The sun will be out so why not check out some of the newer shops in the area? The diversity is pretty evident walking down random side streets. I stopped into what appeared to be a new euro style type clothing store the other day.

Two Becca's (38-01C Broadway @ 38th St, 718.267.2141) has a sweet selection for men and women from cool brands like Ed Hardy, Lucky Jeans and Sledge. They've only been open a couple of months so they are still adding stock...good news too since the lady working there (the owner's mom) told me that they are getting in- get this- size 14 & 16's! Maybe now we can all shop a little easier!

Saturday night go mull over the Mets loss with a drink at the super cute and spacious Indigo Kitchen & Cocktails (28-50 31st St @ 30th Ave.)Beware though, they have some gorgeous new flat screens that will no doubt have the game on. They have a menu that goes on for miles of all your favs and a pretty decent beer selection as well. Oh and if its nice out, go and enjoy their backyard with the really cool fireplace (there are no tv's out there either so maybe a better choice...)

Sunday get creeped out by the puppeteers from City Parks Foundation's PuppetMobile for part of It’s My Park! Day at Rainey Park (Intersection of Vernon Blvd. and 34th Ave.) Maybe they won't be creepy exactly, but puppets freak me out... From 11am-4pm enjoy the day and help the park get spiffy at the free event.
“The Princess, the Emperor and the Duck” will take place at 1pm if you want to set your watches, but get there earlier and help clean, rake and plant! After the show there will be workshops and all kinds of all-ages activities.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Astoria Weekend Edition 13.10.06

Well, it's finally feeling like fall, what with these cooler temperatures this weekend. A great way to welcome fall is to head on over to Socrates Sculpture Park for their Halloween Harvest Festival on Saturday. From 11am-3pm, come by for all sorts of fun at the Park: make costumes, listen to creepy music, get your hands painted with henna, eat some local food, and lots more. Should be a great time!

On Sunday, head to the Yoga Room for a workshop on developing a home yoga practice. We can all use more peace in our lives. It's from 3:30-6:30pm and it will be lead by Leigh Evans. It proves to be a worthwhile event. Also on Sunday (and Friday), the Museum of the Moving Image is showing Kiss Me Deadly, a great noir classic with Mickey Spillane.

On Friday, check out Trojan Women, an anti-war play by ancient writer Euripides, performed in the original language (supertitles provided). This takes place at the Greek Cultural Center at 27-18 Hoyt Avenue South. According to the press release, "this work contains a message that transcends time: in war, there are no true winners. The consequences of war, regardless of its causes, are devastating to conquerors and conquered alike." Certainly appropriate for our time as well.

Througout the weekend, head on over to the Art-O-Mat to see The Long Island City Series: Paintings and Prints by Sharon Florin. This show includes selected paintings and prints from an extensive body of oil paintings that Florin created over a period of thirty years in which she’s documented the changing face of Long Island City’s Hunters Point neighborhood. This is the second in the See LIC Art series. The show closes on the 22nd, so this is a good time to see it.

Mor fun, here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 06.10.06

I am proud to announce that October is Portuguese wine month! Never had it? I'm a little biased but i must say its damn good :) For a great selection, head over to Grand Wine and Liquor (30-05 31st St. - 718.728.2520) While you're there, take a look at what i consider, a huge Sake section! I'm not a big fan of it myself, but all the pretty bottles almost got me to buy some.

Sticking with the Japanese vibe- Saturday get over to Watawa (33-10 Ditmars) in time to enjoy the lunch deal. Mon -Sat before 4pm, throw down $10.50 and feast upon a wide selection of rolls. You get to pick 3 AND it comes with a soup and salad. Can't beat that with a stick. I stopped in on Tuesday night and it looks like the place has some sweet business-it was quite packed. Sushi not your thing, they've got a pretty extensive "cooked" items menu that will run you anywhere from $9 for a garlic chilean sea bass app. to $10 for Seafood Udon and even $40 for a Seafood Teriyaki for 2 (and those are the regular prices! not bad at all.)

Saturday and/or Sunday, take a walk and visit a few of the local spots participating in openhouseny. We've got a few favorite places on the list like Astoria Pool, Noguchi Museum and P.S.1 to name some notables. If you haven't been to these places yet, you should definitley get going because enjoyable outdoor activity weather, sadly- is coming to an end.

Sundays bring us FOOTBALL!!!! Lucky for Astorians, there are quite a few places to stop in for a game or two. I've walked by The Zone (28-43 Steinway) a few times and peeped their 10 or so large flatscreens and still have to try them out - you may remember it as the old Nickolodeon place on Steinway. If a big new place isn't what you're looking for then there's always the good old Irish Rover (28th Ave & 38th St) and Mary McGuire's (Broadway & 38th St.) which i hear has a pretty fine brunch on Sundays to boot. There you have it, no excuse to miss the game.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Astoria Weekend Edition 29.09.06

I think I'm still in denial that summer is over and fall is here. While I enjoy the cool temperatures, I miss the more carefree feeling of summer. I will say, though, that it's certainly easy to run in this weather. On Saturday morning, I'll be in Manhattan running the Fifth Avenue Mile, while thinking ahead to a concert I'd like to go to over at Wassi that night. The Astoria Music Society is presenting a jazz show that should be fun, featuring musicians Jacob Varmus, trumpet and cornet; Daisuke Abe, guitar; Jacob Garchik, accordion, trombone; Gil Smuskowitz, bass; and Brian Woodruff, drums. Through the grapevine, I heard the news that the owner of Wassi will be giving away free shots to add to the party atmosphere. I didn't realize Wassi had gotten their liquor license, but it's good news that they did. It's a suggested donation of $12 at the door, but that also means pay what you can. The show starts at 9pm, and Wassi is located at 37-05 28th Avenue. Come support local jazz in Astoria!

Tonight also has great NY musicians coming to Astoria from two of the other boroughs at Waltz Astoria. Ranjit and Justin present an evening of bossa nova, with Indian influences. Their combination of guitar and violin proves to be a fascinating and enjoyable mix of instruments and styles.

If music isn't for you tonight, you can catch the second evening showing of Alwill he run for President?Gore's An Inconvenient Truth at the Museum of the Moving Image. I saw it last night and was really impressed. Everyone should see this movie.

And oh yes, here it is, the Beer Garden's Octoberfest, AKA hipster invasion, Saturday the 30th. The Beer Garden says: "Mark your calenders....we'll be rolling-in the barrels to offer you some of the best beer ever made. You don't want to miss this one. Starting at 1pm till 10pm. We are featuring 2 bands, the Pilsner Brass Band and the Czech Polka Cruisers, a band from Texas. We will have plenty of imported and local beers. Food will be available from our restaurant or BBQ grill. We will have both Czech and American style food available. Admission is only $10 or $5 for BCBSA members. Children under 12 free."

And even though I'm really just (sort of) kidding about the whole hipster invasion thing, I expect people from all the boroughs to descend upon Astoria that day to enjoy the Beer Garden. I mean, who doesn't love an Octoberfest?? So locals, get there early! I'll also add that tonight the Beer Garden presents their Spaten Octoberfest. They'll be holding a raffle and giving out prizes, as well as good times.
As they say, Czech it out!

And if you've got some time to kill this weekend, take a walk on down to Astoria Park and check out the almost finished Riverview Apartments. They're now up for sale. While quite ugly (to me) architecture lives on the 21st Street side, the Park side of the building looks much better. Prices, while NYC-style-nutso, are less than I expected. And enjoy the Park while you're at it. Things still look green and summer-like, though soon the leaves will change (and they are gorgeous when it happens). Head down to Shore Boulevard and admire the work that was done during the Shoreline Cleanup a couple weeks ago (here are some pictures, no need to sign in).

Most of all, enjoy your weekend!

More fun, here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Best French Baguette in Astoria!

A new patisserie recently opened here in lower Astoria (it used to be a sleepy Columbian bakery), and upon the urging of some friends, we stopped in to sample their fare. The Petit Prince is much more than a little pastry shop: they also serve a small selection of sandwiches and coffee too. My personal love is french bread. Real french bread. As a disclaimer, I must say that there are some truly great bakeries in Astoria (Parisi Brother's, La Guli, Rose and Joe's, and Long Island Bakery are among some of the best)... but they're all coming from an Italian background, let's face it. The "baguettes" at Parisi's are made with shortening and Rose and Joe make a better Sicilian slice than a crusty french loaf. The Petit Prince, with its charmingly authentic French-accented baker/propietor, is the first I've sampled here that is loyal to French technique. Snobby, huh? Finally, a baguette reminiscent of Paris and worthy of a big blob of St. Marcellin! Next time I'll have to try some actual pastries.

Note the blistered, crisp skin and the characteristic point on the end of the baguette. Real topography here: high, crunchy ridges crown the loaf. The color of the skin is actually golden brown, not doughy and pale. The inside is airy (the result of a proper working of the gluten) and has chewy big bubbles that yield beautifully to fresh butter, pate, confiture, Nutella, or anything at all! At about $2 for a large baguette, its just as well priced at its Parisian cousins but a lot more convenient to pick up for dinner tonight.

Who can resist a fresh croissant? I got a smaller size one (they've got two sizes) and was pleasantly surprised by how authentically buttery and delicate its innards were. No margarine here. The layers were distinct and slightly chewy. The outside was less crispy than flaky, which is okay. As long as its not one of those big bready monstrosities from the early-morning midtown bagel cart vendors

The Petit Prince
Broadway between 33rd and 34th Streets

It only opened fairly recently so they're still working out some final details and I suspect that we will see more menu additions as time goes on...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 22.09.06

Friday night come out to dinner and celebrate Rosh Hashana at Mundo! It's a great way to try out some Jewish special occasion food with Roasted Turkey and Mundo-style spiced Rice. Call and reserve now for tonight and have a Happy Holiday!

Presenting the cutest new store to hit Ditmars, Inside Astoria (37-20 Ditmars Blvd)! All things cool and new for you, your kids, your home, your pets... you get the drift huh? There's been tons of buzz about this place and they've only been around for 2 weeks! Stop on by Friday and/or Saturday to help them celebrate their grand opening. From noon to 8pm on Friday and 11am to 8pm on Saturday go in and enjoy some wine and tasty treats as you shop (*10% off everything during the celebration no less.) Welcome to the neighborhood oh adorable shop a few blocks away from home!!!

If a Sunday in the park sounds good to you, then we'll see you out at The Variety Boys & Girls Club Run. From 10:00am to 1pm in Astoria Park, join in some fundraising at the 2nd Annual Gloria D'Amico Fun Run/Walk. Prizes, music, food and drinks will be provided. Good stuff right? More info at 718.728.0946. Can't make it? You can always volunteer to do all kinds of goodness with the kids, just check their site for the opportunity!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The loneliest bookstore

So yeah there's been alot of talk of wanting to get some decent book selections in the hood. Nothing has come out of it though. No new bookstores.... at all. The dream isn't dead yet, but i figure in the meantime-maybe we could still give our one and only store another go? If you're like me and haven't even gone in yet, this might be the excuse to check it out. Tomorrow night, Thurs. Sept 21st @ 7pm, Seaburn Books will be hosting a book signing party for Patricia Carragon’s first book, ”Journey to the Center of My Mind,” a Rogue Scholars Press release. It's free and who knows, you may just happen upon a random good read as you peruse the digs.

Seaburn Books
33 - 18 Broadway
718 - 267 - 7929

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Socrates's Birthday!

We stopped by the Socrates Sculpture Park's big 20th Anniversary bash this past Sunday and there couldn't have been a more beautiful backdrop for such a righteous fete. The weather was warm, the light was golden, the air infused with the delightful aromas of souvlaki (Opa! Greek) and chana masala (bangladeshi eatery). There was a totally sweet live band, lots of arts and crafts for the kiddies (face painting!), and of course innovative art installations galore. Power to the people.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Astoria Weekend Edition 15.09.06

Looks like we'll be heading back to summer by Sunday! Sunny and highs in the low 80s. Very exciting. And summer to me means ice cream. Did you know there is a brand of ice cream that was created right here in Astoria? It's 5 Boroughs Ice Cream, the brainchild of a couple from Astoria. They currently have five flavors, each one representing a different borough in NYC. Queens is represented by the town of Astoria (yay!) and the flavor is Bakla-Wha?. It's baklava ice cream! The chunks of baklava in the ice cream are from Astoria's own Victory Sweet Shop. Astoria also shows up in their SoHo flavor, which uses hazelnut biscotti from Rose & Joe's Bakery. Sadly, the ice cream is not available in Astoria! For shame. There is a way to remedy this, though. What a better thing to do while it's raining?

Someone on suggested that this weekend should be considered "Astoria Pride Weekend," due to all the wonderful Astoria-centric things going on this weekend. First, on Friday the AMMI is showing A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. This was filmed throughout Astoria during the summer of 2005, and is based on the autobiography of Astorian Dito Montiel, who is also the director. Montiel will be there to introduce both screenings. And if that wasn't great enough, food from Astoria restaurants will be sold in the courtyard starting at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 general, and free for Museum members. Call to RSVP (718-784-0077).

Saturday holds two awesome events: The Shoreline Cleanup and Socrates Sculpture Park's 20th Anniversary Party. Come help beautify the shoreline! For the Shoreline Cleanup, sites include Astoria Park, Hallets Cove, and Socrates Sculpture Park. Tools, gloves, and good company provided, as well as free snacks for all volunteers. The event will be held rain or shine, although a thunderstorm will cancel. The times and locations are as follows:
10am-12pm:Socrates Sculpture Park, Broadway at Vernon Blvd
10:30am-3pm: Gantry Plaza State Park, 49th Ave at the East River
12-3pm: Socrates Sculpture Park ’s beach at Hallets Cove, 31st Ave at Vernon Blvd
12-3pm: Hallets Cove North, 31st Ave at Vernon Blvd
12-3pm: Astoria Park, War Memorial at Shore Blvd

For information on the cleanup at Gantry Plaza State Park, please call 718-340-8307. For information on all other events, please call 718-706-8044 or email For information on the day of the event, please call 917-902-9165.

Also know that from 4-6pm will be a Shoreline Cleanup Celebration at Socrates Sculpture Park, where volunteers will be honored in a ceremony at the 20th Anniversary Celebration! The full Celebration event will be from 12-6pm that day (rain date September 17th). It's a party for friends and neighbors and the entire community of artists, volunteers, patrons, elected officials and businesses that helped create and sustain the Park since 1986. Totally free.

Sunday, check out the Astoria Alive Street Festival. Should be a beautiful day to be out and about. Sponsored by the Astoria Restoration Association, it will be on 31st Street between Ditmars Boulevard and 21st Avenue. Food, games, and the requisite fun will be had that day. awesome!!

More fun, here.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 8.9.06

Here we have it, a break in the rain!

Saturday join in on the Waterfront Parks Bike Tour! I've been wanting to do this since Joey did it last year, it looks like tons of fun and educational too. It will be led by local historian Richard Melnick of the Greater Astoria Historical Society so i assume questions are encouraged... Don't worry its only about 5 miles, and wont be more then 3 hours after all is said and done. Tag along but bring a helmet (kids are welcome too with a guardian, that is)
Meet up at 11AM at Gantry Plaza State Park (48th Ave & the East River)

After doing a good thing for the environment, go do a good thing for your social life! Pimps & Ho's Costume Party @ 9pm... and its not even Halloween yet! Sparrow Bar (corner of 29th St @ 24th Ave) is a pretty chill little spot i just stopped into on Weds night. This may become a semi regular place actually (they have a stash of boardgames!) Go dressed as your favorite Pimp or his "friend" and have a blast. Their beer selection is pretty cool too.

If you're in the market for chile's or peppers for your next fiesta, pop over to Original Mexican Food Deli (30-11 29th St) for pretty much the most extensive collection i've seen in the tri-state area! What's even better is that if they don't have what you need, the other Mexican market on the opposite corner probably will. It's like you can't lose!! (Pick up a tamale for a buck and you won't be disappointed either)

T&H Mini Market (28th Ave & 36th St) has the "realest" red bean ice cream ever. I've had it before in Japanese restaurants, but never like this. You could taste/feel the starchiness and upon closer inspection- you see the big ole plump beans! It was just so weird to me i had to let you all know about this random little market. Its like a bodega with odds and ends from an Asian market. Shrimp Crackers (which look like Cheetos) are hung next to a great standby of BBQ Dirty Chips, wasabi peas next to Jolly Ranchers, what an ecclectic mix huh? Check them out if you're just looking for something unexpected...

Culture more your calling? Wind down your weekend on Sunday @ 7pm with Beethoven's World. St. Joseph's Church (43-19 30th Avenue @ 43rd Street) kicks off the season opener of the Astoria Music Society, make sure you check the website for tickets or call AMS at 718.204.9036.

OH and blackout troubles weren't all my pal Ali over at Kabab Cafe had to deal with recently. He has, as of this week lost his sidekick and cook extraordinaire Luis and is on the hunt for a new person. Know of anyone? He's got a few friends coming in and helping out for now but he definitley needs someone else in the kitchen. Personally i think its an awesome opportunity to learn from this inventive foodie. Check out his ad on craigslist if you don't believe me! Or you could always stop in there yourself and grab a bite... (25-12 Steinway St. @ 25th Ave)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Open Letter to Summer 2006

Dear Summertime,

What happened? I thought we were soul mates. I feel a little vulnerable saying that, but after all the golden dusks and steamy nights, I feel like I've really bonded with you. Kind of like how your sometime 100% humidity stickiness bonded my upper thigh to the subway seat. Good times. Are you going already? Did the picnics in the park, Mister Softee visits, and bike rides to Brooklyn mean nothing to you? Your obvious exit these days is a bit disdainful to say the least. Couldn't you at least break it to me easy, instead of turning your back as soon as Labor Day hits? Well, Summertime, in the immortal words of that prolific 80's band Roxette, It must have been love, but its over now...
Maybe we'll hook up again next year? Until then, here are some of my favorite memories from our time together.

P.S. Autumn is way sexier than you anyways.

Farm-fresh ramps from our CSA!

Meat cage! The universal sign of street fair season.

Socrates Sculpture Park opening day.

Gantry Park for Fourth of July!

Classic summertime fieldtrip: Giant squid vs. Sperm whale at the American Museum of Natural History.

Nathan's original. Coney Island. Midnight in August.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park (pre US Open madness)

Stini Yiamas

Lately I've met up with friends at a new-ish place on Ditmars called Stini Yiamas. It's kind of a lounge, kind of a bar, hard to absolutely categorize. But it's been a nice place to chill out at the end of the day with friends, have a drink, and the music is low enough to have an easy time conversing with each other. I've had some really delicious cosmopolitans there, and my friends have enjoyed the small selection of imported beers (bottles, no taps). Happy hour prices are really good, $4 for the cosmopolitan and $3 for the beer. I'm actually not positive when happy hour starts (opening hours are still a little wonky right now), but it's safe to say that if you get there by 6pm, things will be open and ready for you.

The look of the bar is really appealing, and the bartenders do a great job serving and pouring drinks, and are just really nice people. Earlier in the evening it's rarely crowded, but at night things pick up. I have walked by there around 10pm or so and there have been more people in there hanging out. I'm guessing the music gets louder, too.

The atmosphere is pretty relaxed, the lights are low, which is conducive to chilling out. I noticed they have a large screen TV (couches, too), and have seen Mets games playing on it (not sure about Yankee games, this being the home borough of the Mets and all), so it's an option for those who want to watch a game but don't want a sports bar atmosphere. I think this is a terrific option to have, not that I don't like sports bars ('cause I do), but that it's great to have options! I imagine now that we're into football season, those games will be on as well.

Stini Yiamas is also right next door to 718, so Stini Yiamas could be a good place to go for a drink before dinner. I hope there develops a good relationship between the two places, and that Stini Yiamas can make it here in the Ditmars neighborhood. It's a really pleasant place and a different kind of drinking establishment in the neighborhood compared to what is around it, and it's always terrific to have variety. I believe there is room for everyone here, and Stini Yiamas is a perfect example of that. Definitely check it out!

Stini Yiamas
Ditmars Boulevard and 34th Street