Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dig your own Jackson Hole

In the midst of the city's current burger craze there lies an endearing little diner that sits on the side of the Grand Central Parkway like a shiny sentinel of roadside cuisine. Serving as a beacon of chrome-plated goodness to motorists and Rikers Island prison guards for over half a century, this mouthful of savory Americana is now home to the Queens outpost of the Jackson Hole burger franchise. Originally built as the Airline Diner in 1952, this classic streamlined car sits across the parkway from a vast cemetery. In case an Astorian hasn't boasted already, this is where Martin Scorsese famously had Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci's characters steal a truck in the movie Goodfellas. Nowadays you can get a 7 oz burger the size of your head. The food isn't phenomenal, it's just pretty reliable diner fare at a fairly reasonable price. This is no shackburger. Hell, its not even an In-N-Out burger. But the menu is comfortably meaty and what you lose in flavor you gain in pre-cooked-beef-weight. Unlike wiseguy Henry Hill, Jackson Hole doesn't like to take chances.

It gets pretty crowded on late nights but on a Monday afternoon it can become your own private burger wonderland (burgderland?) The menu is huge, so don't get distracted by the "burritos" and go straight for the almost two dozen or so choices of burgers.

What's a diner without real tabletop jukeboxes? This one plays Britney Spears alongside Bobby Darin, naturally.

Crisp golden onion rings are the perfect way to start (or accompany) your meal. These ones were by-the-book: hot, crunchy battered outside yielding to a scorching, tender onion strand on the inside. No crazy seasonings or tempura experimentation, just the same recipe that America's built upon... slathered with some ketchup.

Perilously perching atop this mallifluous mound of beef are two strips of bacon, barbecue sauce, onions, and and monterey jack cheese. It's known through out dinerland as the Western Burger. The deluxe platter invariably comes with steak fries, lettuce and tomato. The fries are passable (I'm a shoestring fry kinda kid myself) but they could have put a little more ooomph into the burger's barbecue sauce, you know what I mean? It was a bit thin and pink colored, whereas I believe proper barbecue sauce should be thick enough to stick to both ribs and burgers alike.

Solid vanilla milkshakes are a hallmark of a good diner and this one passes the test: its creamy without being sugary-sweet, which means they used real ice cream. For an extra 50 cents you can get yours extra thick.

The Baldouni Burger is the slab of meat (turkey burger in this case) topped generously with fried mushrooms, sauteed onions, and the cheese of your choice (monterey jack in this case). Although the turkey patty was well-seasoned and juicy, it wasn't the tastiest of turkey burgers; this is a rare animal, I know, since turkey can be notoriously bland and drywall-like. The detractor from this menagerie was the bun. I know most people believe the patty to be center stage but I think that supporting cast members can also make-or-break the show. In this case, the bun was just an ordinary store-bought-sesame-seeded deal. Kind of bready and not up to the challenge of supporting the monstrous patty. However, the highlight of this burger was the fresh (read: not canned) mushrooms, cut chunky and cooked to perfection.

The wonderfully preserved signage up top is all that remains of Airline Diner's classic pedigree.

Jackson Hole Diner
6935 Astoria Blvd (at 70th Street), East Elmhurst

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bugs and Bombs

We all hate roaches, even if we've never had them in our apartment (the other night I saw one lumbering down the streets of Manhattan, eeeeuw!). They are common, though, and there are all sorts of ways to get rid of them, from a professional exterminator/fumigator to do it yourself bug-be-gone. That's the route one Astoria resident went, and it ended in an explosion!

Roach Bomb Explodes In Queens Apartment

Friday, August 25, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 25.08.06

This Friday go get your wine on!
Omega Wines and Spirits (29-15 23rd Ave) are having a wine tasting from 6-9pm of Georgian Wines. Nice people, decent selection, i ask you - how could that be a bad thing? Bag some new additions for your stock at home.

Saturday bring on a sweet tooth? Artopolis has cookies, cakes, pastries galore! They'll be open til 9pm and til 8pm on Sundays if you need another fix before the work week starts up. What these goes do to these snacks is truly a work of Artopolis!

Cafe Bar (32-90 36th St) for brunch? All the cool kids are doing it why not! Just kidding, but they do have brunch and they were one of the local businesses to get slammed with the blackout. Sunday (11am-5pm) may be a perfect time to check them out. I've been there for drinks and its such a cool little chillout zone, its the perfect setting for Mimosas and a Ham, Apple and Brie Omelette... yum

I got this flyer the other day walking up 31st St from one of those cute kids in karate uniforms for S.Y. Kim's Tae Kwon Do. I never realized how many of these guys i see around town. It is definitley a good workout thats for sure, and you never know when you might need to know a chop or two. There are coupons on the website and i think their summer discount is still on (50% off.) Hop to it!

more for everyone over at about

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sign of the Times

For better or worse, (I'm sure most feel strongly one way or the other), Astoria's been outed by the New York Times Style section.
See Slideshow.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Still More Power Outage News

While walking home from a delicious lunch at Watawa with friends, I spied a flyer announcing a Power Outage related event:

Join Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney
for a legal clinic on insurance issues related to the Blackout
with the City Bar's Justice Center's Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Law Project

When: 4-7pm Thursday 8/24
Where: Federation of Hellenic Societies, 22-51 29th Street in Astoria

This is for business owners and residents. Looks like it could be very helpful.

More Power Outage News

The New York Daily News reports that city emergency officials are still pissed about the 10-day Western Queens Blackout (duh). They "no longer trust Con Edison to tell them how many people are affected by a power outage." So, they've created A Power Outage Response Team as a result. This team is given the duty of checking neighborhoods (including door-to-door and aerial surveys, wow!), whenever Con Ed says a power outage could affect more than 1,000 customers. Super! Best quote of the article comes from Councilman Eric Gioia:

"You could have gone to a psychic on Bleecker St. and got a better estimate of how many people were out in Queens than Con Edison."


Another angle from the Queens Chronicle.


Originally uploaded by mcotner.
Posted near the entrance to the N/W on Ditmars, by an enthusiastic Yankee fan, apparently. Yanks swept Boston 5 games last weekend.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ode to a neighborhood street fair

On Saturday we decided to take Meg's sagacious recommendation for weekend fun off this very site's invaluable Astoria Weekend Edition... and how can you go wrong? Rhetorical question. You can't. There are just too many awesome Astoria things to do every weekend. We happened to pick a convenient one; 36th Avenue and its colorful street fair was only a 5 minute walk from home. Meg tells us that this pedestrian wonderland was sponsored by the Dutch Kills Civic Association, and we say kudos, DKCA.

First stop: Italian sausage sandwich at the archetypal food cart (with zeppolis, fried calamari, cheese fries, deep-fried Oreos, bracciole...) Don't forget to pack the Pepto.

New York City's Finest. Doing what they do best: patrolling the perilous street fair beat. These guys were actually hovering hungrily around one of the kabob vendors-- you know, investigating a lead and maintaining the peace. Quick, loot the damned Mozzarepa stand!

They didn't know it, but the hungry cops were probably yearning for a piece of the majestic Meat Cage. Mmmmmmm barbecue!

Where else but Queens? Women shopping at one of the various jewelry stands...

In the same league as the Sock Vendor is the perennial Plastic Fruit Magnet table. Think of the luscious refrigerator art you could generate for $6!

What's a summer street fair without the intimidatingly aggressive games hawkers? First one to shoot the balloons gets a huge plushy beerbong-backscratcher-Barbie!

The best part about this particular street fair was that it reflected the vibrant colors and vivacious nature of the actual local community, as opposed to most of the generic street celebrations around the city. Astoria has a thriving Indian and Bangledeshi community (among the Czech, Croatian, Colombian, Brazilian, and Greek constituents, of course). This captivating performance was well-attended and seemed totally impromptu, on the western end of 36th street (between 29th and 30th streets). It was a real family affair, with children sweetly putting coins in the collection box and teenagers rockin' right along with their parents. GO America.

Is his instrument of melodical glory a stationary accordion? A xylophone with keys? I know nothing about musical instruments. Check out the gleaming knobs.

The quintessential street fair fare: grilled corn on the cob! Don't be a rube, get it with all the butter, lemon juice and cayenne pepper they have to offer (the jury is still out on slathering mayo on it).

There's no mistaking the face of real food when you're walking a street fair. No artifice, no factory-processed food-product here. Just a barbecued piggy's parts.

Naturally the best part of eats-on-the-street is that you don't have anything to clean up. Leave it to the venerable professionals of the street fair circuit (and the trusty NYC Department of Sanitation sweepers)... Which is convenient now that you're caught in the stupifying grip of some debilitating food coma.

More Free Films

Just learned in the past day or so that there is another - albeit brief - summer film festival happening in the heart of Astoria. The Astoria Center of Israel (27-35 Crescent Street) bills themselves as "an egalitarian synagogue that maintains a conservative Jewish tradition." Their film festival centers around Jewish themes and actors. I learned of the festival too late to tell you about their August 15th film, but the next two are just in time. Tonight, head over to see Paperclips (which I hear is a real tear jerker) and next Tuesday for Horse Feathers (which I know is pretty funny). Check here for the details of the films. To me, both films look good. And free! And since they start at 7:30pm you'll have time to head over to Bungalo afterwards for even more fun!

Monday, August 21, 2006


So, my friend Eric has let me know about some great live music and hot DJ action going on locally at Bungalo, every Tuesday night. He's actually going to be spinning himself, the fabulous DJ he is. You can also bring your instruments and join in the fun. So, check it out. Wonderful to have more live music and DJs spinning here in town! Not to mention no cover and $5 imported beer.

Tuesday 8/22 @ 9pm
32-03 Broadway
Astoria, NY 11106

Friday, August 18, 2006

Astoria Weekend Edition 18.08.06

Weather looks great for this weekend, which is good for regular events around town: yoga and tai chi at Socrates; canoe rides at the LIC Boathouse; and Warmup at PS1. There's ultimate frisbee happening at Astoria Park on Saturday morning at 11am, too.

Other exciting news: the N/W is getting new trains!

Friday, stop by the Beer Garden for their Stella promotion. There will be prizes, give-aways, and, of course beer. Or, make your way to Queensbridge Park (41st Avenue at Vernon Blvd. for Dancing Under the Stars. DJ Cee Roc will be spinning some funk and soul. 5-8pm and free!

On Saturday, the Albatross Bar will hold the Second Annual Date Auction to benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The Matthew Shepard Foundation's goal is to educate and replace hate with understanding, acceptance and compassion. The event will take place at the Bar (36-19 24th Avenue at 37th Street), from 10pm to close. The evening will be hosted by Candy Samples and Jermy Hovies (Sirius Out Q Radio). Apart from the auction itself, raffle prizes, other auction items, as well as drag performances and music will be featured throughout the evening. There is a $10 suggested donation at the door, with all proceeds going to The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

It's street fair central this weekend, with two fairs going on simultaneously! From the 18th-20th (Friday-Sunday), the fair is sponsored by the Borgetto Cultural Association and takes place on Steinway Street between 25th & 28th Avenues. On the 19th (Saturday) the fair is sponsored by the Dutch Kills Civic Association and takes place on 36th Avenue between 29th & 35th Streets.

Live acoustic greek music is going on throughout the weekend at Mezzo Mezzo (31-29 Ditmars Blvd.), too.

More fun, here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New Guest Blogger: Live from Supermarket

Wandering the freezer section of C-Town can be a daunting experience for the best of us. Meg, Sooz and I are therefore thrilled to tell you that fabulous, soon-to-be guest blogger, Annie, of lost in the supermarket, will be guideing us through the aisles of Astoria until the end of September.

So, Annie - do they have Cream of Mushroom soup here?


From Vintage to Candy!

You may remember back in the spring i paid a little visit to a cute as a button shop over on 36th St named Plum Boutique. Well, i'm here to update you on their name change. Welcome Candy Plum into existence! Same great items, just new name. This Sunday Aug 20th, they are having a partay to celebrate their article in Sunday's NY Times. From 12-5pm come shop as you nibble on some cookies and toast their up and coming-ness with some champagne!

Oh yeah, they are always looking for homegrown designers to seel their goods on consignment. Can you say neighborhood treasure???? LOVE IT!

Candy Plum
30-98 36th Street
Astoria, NY 11103

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 11.08.06

So after last week's bad vibes at the Astoria pool (19th Street and 24th Avenue) , i thought it might be a good thing to try to show the better side of the place. Today, from 11am - 1pm there will be this summer's last installment of "Special Swim" for peeps 55 and up and also those with disabilities. There will be lessons, activites and of course keeping cool!

Saturday is calling for nice cool weather-why not get out and enjoy it! Head over to Hallets Cove for one or both sessions (10-11:30am & 2-3:30pm) of Coastal Classroom and learn about preserving our water resources and all kinds of cool nature facts. Call 212-360-2748 to register or for more information.

Fellow Astorian blogger Miss O, is trying to get her "teacher on" with a fundraiser for a local elementary school's library. I had to go on and donate - made my day! Maybe you can help too.

Speaking of books- I know Astoria has Seaburn, but for some time now locals have been complaining of the lack of good/more bookstores in the area. Well you heard it here folks, there's serious talk of something in the works! Joy of joys, we may just see some alternative book buying options pop into the neighborhood yet. Keep your eyes peeled.

Sunday brings us another installment of our famous NY street fairs! Head over to Steinway St. between 28th & 34th Avenues... try not to overdo it on the sweets!
While your in the area - EVERYONE reading this should go out for a nice Sunday night dinner and support our local restaurants that suffered and some who still continue to suffer from the ConEd fiasco! Stop in to see Ali at Kabob Cafe as he just got some new equipment and is on the road to getting back on his feet. I will probably be there myself, can't get enough of his delicious Egyptian goodness. Tons of wonderful places in our town for a bite-this is the time to show them some love.

As always, get your Queens info over at about.com

Friday, August 04, 2006

Astoria Weekend Edition 04.08.06

Well, as you know, power issues are still in the forefront of many of our minds here in Western Queens. Worry about the power possibly going out has changed our behavior: we now unplug unused appliances, find public airconditioned spaces, and wait to buy groceries. This weekend should be much cooler, and if the power doesn't go out, perhaps a good time to go stock the fridge again, as I haven't heard news of a heatwave slamming us any time soon. If it does stay hot, though, and you've lost power, consider finding a cooling center this weekend. Other ways to stay cool and relaxed this weekend:

Icy drinks! This town is full of greek cafes serving frapp├ęs. The girls at Alpha Astoria have the info.

More traditional cafes: Freeze Peach is serving iced drinks, from traditional iced teas (turkish to peppermint supreme) and coffees, to limonata and peach tree (a tea/cider combo). Wassi, a newish cafe on 28th Ave near 38th Street is a great place to have an iced drink (with free wifi!). There's also Waltz on Ditmars, and they're having music both Friday and Saturday nights. Can't forget Communitea in LIC, too.

Hellgate Social also serves up a wonderful Hellgate Lemonade, very refreshing.

Museums are also great places to spend a few air conditioned hours away. The Long Island City Cultural Alliance has a nice site with links to the local museums, including PS1, The Noguchi Museum, and the Fischer Landau Center for Art. And if you want to hang outdoors at a museum, both PS1 (Warmup is this Saturday) and Socrates Sculpture Park can deliver.

I would have suggested the Astoria Pool, but be aware...

Consider getting out that stress from the frustration of low power or no power with yoga at Socrates on Saturday morning and tai chi on Sunday. Both are free. If you want to run off your frustration, consider registering for Sunday's 5K run sponsored by the Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Queens, Inc. It will be held at FIAO Soccer Field (20th Avenue and 33rd Street). $20 to register the day of the race. Call 718-204-2444 for more information.

Or, head over to the Water Taxi Beach for some food and drink, (less harsh) sun and sand, and relaxing.

Finally, as a sign of summer normalcy, the latest in the series of summer street fairs happens this weekend, too, by the Hellenic Orthodox Traditionalist Church (26th St. from 23rd Ave. to the Amtrak Trestles). Mmmmm...salty, sweet, and greasy street food...

As for me, I'll be in sunny Southern California for a week, visiting family and Disneyland! Hopefully it will be less hot, and certainly less humid. Have a great week, everyone!

Hello from VT

Hello Astorians!

I hope all is well - er - other than your little power situation going on over there (yikes!). Things are wonderfully cool and green here in Vermont!

Some of you may notice that I've made some small changes to the site - nothing dramatic. Just playing around. My own current blog is hopelessly out of date, but I retrieve my camara (long story) soon and will then be blogging again merrily. Feedback on these (or other potential) changes is welcome. Yes, they include a shameless ad. Don't hold it against Soozy or Meg. Speaking of whom, can you believe what great bloggers they are? Yay for them!


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Still black...

Well i guess it comes and goes these days huh? Yesterday had me in a tizzy! We lost power from about 10am to 7pm last night-not fun. I'm sure noone is surprised by the lack of entries in here these days, unfortunatley i don't want to turn on my computer at home so i have to try to sneak in some surf time while at work. I am keeping the faith that all will be rectified sooner then later and we wont have to worry about stocking the fridge anymore. ***crosses fingers***
plus • people have been getting there reimbursement checks pretty quickly
minus • cold stone creamery on 31st and ditmars has apparently fallen from the weight of the blacouts
plus • we can go voice our anger in person, tonight @ 6:00 p.m. PS 234 (30-15 29th Street)
minus • has astoria pool gone to crap? read up here
and to end on a plusFresh Direct has acknowledged our little issue and decided to try to help out in their own little way! i appreciate it-but i hope they keep it going for a little while longer because i know i'm not ready to risk a full fridge just yet. Free delivery

A few posts back, Meg had put up the "I was Conned" pic from the Gothamist. One of our readers and fellow blogger Zip decided he just needed to pass that on. So he redesigned it and made it into stickers and has been passing them along throughout the city! They can be found in all sorts of random places like ConEd trucks, light posts, subway cars etc. Keep your peepers peeled, let me know if you've spotted any!

Stay cool neighbors, conserve your electricity ~ we'll be a-ok! ***fingers still crossed***