Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pain Perdu and The Sparrow = Crazy Delicious

This weekend I had a late lunch/early dinner at The Sparrow, one of my favorite bars. They have pretty good food (great grilled cheese) and drinks and the location can't be beat, at least for me. For dessert they offered pain perdu, which means "lost bread" in French but usually means french toast.

When the waitress told me they had pain perdu with butterscotch sauce, I decided to try it (I love butterscotch sauce). I expected it to be just regular old french toast, but it was way more than that. It was basically a grilled chocolate croissant with homemade butterscotch syrup on it, with a dollop of real whipped cream on the side. It was excellent! It totally hit the spot. My dining companion and I both loved it. Definitely worth a try.

Note: The Sparrow has updated their website and they also have a site for Oleput (their other venture).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

All Not Bird?

All Not Bird
Originally uploaded by mcotner
Maybe someone can tell me what "All Not Bird" means? This phrase was on a few subway posters at the Court Square 7 stop. So bizarre!

Astorian Weekend Edition 25.10.07

Happy Halloween... early! Since Halloween falls on a weekday close to the weekend prior, lots of Halloween activities fall on this weekend. And there's something for everyone, pretty much!

Friday night at 11pm, head over to 718 (35-01 Ditmars Blvd) for their Halloween Party. Check out their Scary Martini - Captain Morgan Tattoo Rum, fresh lime juice, splash pineapple, and grenadine.

Saturday afternoon at 4pm, grab your kids and go to PS1 for the debut of Café Cinema's Matinee Movies: Mystery, Magic, and Marigolds. This Halloween-themed film program is curated by twelve- and ten-year-old Maya and Noa Street-Sachs, daughters of avant-garde filmmakers. They've chosen seven spooky and surprising short films from the Film-makers' Cooperative. Children are encouraged to come in costume! Treats will be provided.

Saturday night Freeze Peach is having a costume party at 8pm. BYOB, and BYO Techno. At 10pm that night, Central Lounge (20-30 Steinway) is holding their own Halloween Party, complete with live flame throwers, stilt walkers, belly dancing, and a tarot reader. They're giving out prizes for costumes - first prize is $2,000, second prize is $500, and third prize is a bottle of Ketel One. At 8pm Last Resort Art Space (8-63 Astoria Blvd) is having a Halloween Party/Concert, featuring M.D.i., Dared the Knot, Kentucky Vampire Clan, Astrpohel and Stella & more. $7, $5 with costume. The Creek and the Cave (10-93 Jackson Ave in LIC) is showing a video premiere as part of their Halloween party. It's the debut of Wish You Were Mine - performing with The Proceeders (Steve O’Donnell of Pop Mafia).

Apart from the spooky weekend events are a couple of peace and justice events. Thursday night at 8pm, Waltz (23-14 Ditmars Blvd.) presents a Music and Poetry Cafe, a fundraising event for Astorians for Peace and Justice. Performing artists include Eli Yamin (Jazz Pianist), Stephan Said (Singer-songwriter), Christine Hamm (Poet), Betty Smith (Activist), and Russell (Bassist) & Eliot Katz (Poet). Admission is $10 and it's going to a great cause. On Saturday, you can join members of AFPJ for the peace march in Manhattan; this is an international event. They are planning to meet at Queensboro Plaza at 12:00 pm to join other Queens groups.

Saturday night at 10pm, McLoughlan's (31-06 Broadway) presents Phil Coad, who plays classic rock with a southern flair. No cover and cheap drinks.

And on Sunday, ladies, Fatty's (25-01 Ditmars Blvd) is offering you half price on all drinks from 10pm-midnight. Enjoy!

More fun, here.

Photo credit: Meg Cotner

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

El Athens Grill

Two TacosAfter the Art Home Gallery opening last week, my friends and I were suddenly hungry. M mentioned that she'd seen a little Mexican place around the corner. I racked my brain trying to figure out what it was and then it dawned on me - "that little taco place", AKA El Athens Grill. The reason I actually knew the name is due to the Roving Gastronome's post from last month. So, we stepped in and ordered tacos.

They were pretty good! I mean, not life-changing, but definitely tasty. My al pastor wasn't too spicy, but it had good flavors and I liked how the pork was a little crispy. M's sausage taco was probably my favorite, which had many layers of flavors, ending in one that was kind of floral. The green sauce they gave us was really good, too. Sadly, they didn't have horchata - I guess they had run out or something.

Most everyone speaks Spanish only, so you gotta order en Español.

I hear the tortas are great, too! I liked the altar they had, as well:


El Athens Grill
30-11 30th Ave

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

This Week's Vine-Wine Tasting

From LIC's Vine Wine, where they do great wine tastings on Wednesday evenings:

Rich, wonderful and Spanish - a taste of Priorat and Rioja

Let us revisit some old favorites, and maybe find a new, with this trek down memory lane via Spain. The first wine I ever purchased from T Edward Wines was the Rottlan Torra Priorat and I am willing to bet that it is still as good as the first time I tried it.

Wines of Spain
  • Garciarevalo Casamaro Blanco Rueda
  • Avinyo Cava Rose
  • Rotllan Torra Priorat
  • Luberri Seis Rioja
  • Rotllan Torra Moscatel

Wednesday October 24th
5:30 - 8:30pm
12-09 Jackson Avenue, LIC

Great Chocolate Find

I was just in Fresh Start Market (23rd Ave east of 29th Street), and discovered they have a new Green & Black's chocolate bar! It's dark chocolate with sour cherries, OH so good. Everything is organic, too. I definitely recommend you pick up a bar if you like this flavor combination.

They also have Dagoba chocolate there, and I recommend the "Seeds" bar. It's sweet, nutty, and salty at the same time. Dark chocolate with all sorts of interesting seeds. Yum.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Athens Tavern (was Anna's Corner)

Well, this place has gotten a bunch of press lately! No longer Anna's Corner, it's become a fancy-schmancy place, with what sounds like amazing haute Greek cuisine. My friend Debbie went to Athens Tavern for a tasting and here's what she said:

This is definitely not the norm. It is quite high end, with a Chef brought in from Athens. We tasted a number of items; they were all eclectic and delectable. It is not cheap, but for a special occasion, I would recommend this. Some of the items on their menu include:
  • Stuffed onion pearls with octopus in mavrodafni reduction
  • Grilled grouper fillet with basil sauce, served with black eye bean salad
  • Roasted beef marinated with herbs & orange, served with mushroom mashed potatoes
  • Rabbit with bergamot and mashed sweet potatoes
  • Grilled dry aged black Angus steak with orzo pasta and mushrooms
It is wonderful for a special occasion. I believe that dinner for two, with a drink would run you between $75 to $95, depending on what you have.

The only other high end restaurants that would compare are Christos and Piccola Venezia. I don't know of any others of that caliber in Astoria.

Sounds good to me! The other night I walked by and the place was really hopping, filled with people wearing nice suits and fancy dresses, enjoying all sorts of interesting looking dishes.

The Daily News and the NY Times have also written up this place. I think it will definitely be worth a visit.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

7-11 Has Arrived

Yes, it's arrived. The 7-11 has opened up on 30th Ave and 30th Street, where the old Park Kafe (and before that, Baru!) was. A lot of people in town are excited about this 7-11, fantasizing about slurpees and such. However, I understand that the slurpee machine has already broken down - possibly by over use by all the slurpee fanatics? Anyway, I looked inside and it looks very clean. They have wood floors, too, wow. But will the hot dogs be for "display purposes only?" Time will tell...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Opening at Art Home Gallery

Gallery Opening
Originally uploaded by mcotner
I attended a reception at the Art Home Gallery in Astoria (Newtown near 29th Street) this past week. Pieces by artists Clara Fialho, Graciela Cassel, and Priscilla Stadler were being shown and I really liked all the art. I especially liked these plaster heads by Priscilla Stadler. The place was pretty crowded but everyone was having a good time and I was able to see all the art. I'll look forward to the next event there - Robson and Adriano put on nice gatherings, so thank you guys!

Bistro 33 and me...perfect together

OK, I already knew I was lucky to live in Astoria - one of New York's great food Meccas - but I didn't realize how lucky until last Monday, October 8th. I was one of thirty or so lucky foodies invited to preview the Fall menu at Bistro 33 (19-33 Ditmars Blvd.)

My good friend and fellow foodie, Chef Jonathan Forgash from Astoria's own Start Struck Catering, set up the Chef's tasting menu. He and his friend, Bistro 33 Chef, Gary Anza, recently spoke about how to get some locals introduced to the grub the chef's been cranking out for all these years. Sometimes you just need a little nudge to go for something new you know? I've never been about French cuisine Per Se, but the fusion part got my attention - and also the sushi (one of my weaknesses). So prior to the Fall menu preview, Jonathan took me there for dinner as somewhat of a tease I think! He was already working the idea of the tasting out with Chef Gary and was looking for my opinion. It was so, so, so, good, I knew this tasting was going to really wow everyone lucky enough to be in on it

I could sit here and tell you about the great new space they've got up on Ditmars, or how local artists painted the original artwork adorning the walls, or even the fact that they have an awesome selection of sake (peach infused sake anyone?) and Japanese beer- but why would I do that when you know I'm all about the FOOD!!!!

Let me get my food porn out of the way- I'll walk you through it :)

Included in our incredible price was one drink of the alcoholic variety- wine or beer- I ordered the Pinot Grigio (Alverdi, Italy) since i saw that there was going to be alot of seafood- i liked it. Then came course after course of incredible dishes...

We wet our whistles on plates of Edamame with the perfect amount of salt (you'd be amazed how many times I've had to ask for salt!) And what a heaping portion- everyone at the table thought we'd be sharing a plate when in fact we each received our own. I can't really go into Edamame now can I? Umm... reheat and serve? No complaints.

I guess this would be considered the first course- Salmon Truffle Tartare on an egg noodle crisp topped with Ikura (Salmon Roe). You could have knocked me over with a feather! I was asking for more from everyone around me- silly me was hoping someone wouldn't be into salmon or something and I would be able to help them out so as to not insult the Chef...wrong. Everyone loved this. It was so delicate and no crazy over salty explosions of roe in your mouth. Really, it was wonderful.

The opening was followed by Grilled Shrimp with a lime aioli dipping sauce followed. I was intrigued from the get-go when I saw this plate. Not a lemon, but a grilled orange was used to hold the aioli. We were then instructed by our gracious servers to squeeze the oranges with the sauce directly over the shrimp and eat that way. The lime and orange citrus burst combination was incredible, such a refreshing flavor. I could kill a heaping plate of this.

Roasted Sweet Pork with sauteed baby shitake mushrooms & grilled scallions was perhaps Annie's favorite. As hard as it was to pick one that night, the pork was so tender and flavorful- I can understand her choice. I'll just add that the mushrooms and scallions were cooked perfectly and played in nicely as a bed to absorb all the yummy juices from the pork!

Sautéed Scottish Salmon atop thyme roasted potatoes with a black summer truffle beure blanc. Maybe the shrimp were my favorite- or maybe it was this to die for salmon! ding ding ding... we've got a winner. A perfectly cooked piece of moist salmon was heavenly. The accompaniment was nothing to scoff at either. Tiny little toasted taters floated in a indulgent beure blanc. This dish... wow. Please don't be afraid of the perfect crispy skin on there either, you're taste buds will thank you!

5th in line for our ready-to-burst bellies, Spicy White Tuna Asparagus Sushi Roll topped with white tuna & avocado. I have to confess- the Chef had sent us out this dish the previous time I was there as a surprise "hey look what i'm working on" kind of thing. The sushi at this place is really spot-on, and the combinations they come up with are all incredible.

Rounding out the night of decadence- Chocolate Espresso Stout Ice Cream on a fudge brownie. I don't normally make it to dessert because I tend to overdue on the savory - but this time, how could i say no? Lucky for me, my companion took off early and I was stuck with his desert... not a lick went to waste. Something about the stout kick in the melty ice cream and the warm gooey brownie to soak it all up- it's the best sweet I've had in quite some time.

I suggest a nice long walk home after a meal like this!

The long and short of it? Get a party of 33 friends together who are up for the Chef's tasting menu and give Gary a call and see what he can do. Or just get your butt over there now, I mean come on- they are open every night..with brunch on the weekends, too. Take your pick from the menu- you won't be disappointed!

Pictures galore on Flickr

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 18.10.07

On Thursday from 7-9:30pm, join a new division at Break (32-04 Broadway) and earn yourself a free cuestick! The APA meets up regularly on thursdays there anyway- but get there today and score a stick :)

So there is more then corporate coffee making going on at the Starbucks on Steinway! Who knew? Coffee Tub Productions is presenting the 4th edition of their monthly musical showcase series. It's going on from 7 to 10pm on Friday. The event's organizer Sean Tubridy says "The Showcase has become a hot spot for local talent to hone their chops before moving up to the Manhattan and Brooklyn open mic scene". Personally I think its funny that alot of the artists are current/former employees of the joint! Are we looking at a retro beatnik coffeehouse jam? Not sure, but at least its something.

I went to the NY Cares back in the spring and found it very "neighborhood-ingly" fulfilling. If you missed out on the fun- you've got another chance this Saturday. Check the site and look for a local group and location and jump right in!

Just an FYI, Il Bambino (34-08 31st Ave) is ripe for the eating :) The menu has changed up a bit since I last visited, so maybe you'll want to stop over and pick out new favorite or two!

On Sunday, if the "Fall" weather stays friendly- go check out the uber cool installation at Socrates (Broadway @ Vernon). The Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition has some of the most interesting pieces I have seen at the park. Like this huge metal crow- i'm totally fascinated!

foto credit Newell the Jewell
- The scarecrow is part of Groundswell by Rachel Owens at Socrates Sculpture Park

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

KrisTees One Year Anniversary Party

I received this from Kristie at KrisTees - it looks like a lot of fun! Definitely check it out.

This Thursday night starting at 6:30PM we will be celebrating KrisTees One Year Anniversary !!! :)

As part of the festivities, we will have at the store:
  • Astoria's own Duo of Anthony Lanni & Dave Kendall playing Brazilian Jazz
  • Plenty of refreshments, all compliments of our very own favorite neighborhood hangouts of Fatty's Cafe and Crescent & Vine

So on your way home from work, pick up some friends and stop in at the store for some good food, great music... and maybe something new to take home!
Sounds like a Fantastic Combo to Me!

Looking forward to seeing you!

*Also, for those looking to continue the evening on a Samba note, Anthony and Dave will be playing around the corner at the Waltz-Astoria with the rest of their band at 10:00PM :) Definitely worth a trip over!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 11.10.07

LIC Daisies Head over to LIC at 9pm on Saturday to hear local musician Richard McGraw play at Dominies Hoek (48-17 Vernon Blvd.). He'll be playing with some great musicians, and you can enjoy the music with one of their self-proclaimed "best chicken sandwich[es] in the neighborhood", along with a nice cold one. Anyway, I'm a big fan of Rich's, so I hope you'll all go and support one of Astoria's great singer songwriters.

Waltz Astoria also has a weekend full of music. Saturday gives us a double bill of acoustic musicians Tim Miller and JustinBadger ($3 cover,$7 drink minimum), and on Sunday is the New Talent Showcase, Music Edition ($5 cover, $7 drink minimum).

This weekend come by the Beer Garden for a family puppet show! Sunday at 11:30am is A Bohemian Rhapsody, presented by Sean Keohane. The Beer Garden says, "His expressive and richly costumed puppets were hand carved by traditional artists in the Czech Republic. Each of his Czech-centric shows will be in English with some Czech."

This Saturday, Housing Works Thrift Shop in Long Island City is having their monthly warehouse sale. Come on out to Housing Works warehouse to pick through the clothes that do not make it into their stores. Fill a bag for $20. 10-4pm, 48-49 35th Street.

Tell Astorya Cafe (37-05 28th Avenue), has a lot going on throughout the week. Fridays are Independent Film nights, and every Sat starting at 2pm they've got a jazz trio playing. Coffee and desserts are available. Stop by and say hi and relax with a hot cup of joe.

Recently I was over at the Museum of the Moving Image - there's more than just the movies there. The museum itself is pretty awesome and super informative about filmmaking history. Every hour or so there are talks given by museum staff with opportunities to ask questions. I saw a demonstration about sound editing and it was fascinating. One of the coolest things in the whole museum is Gregory Barsamian's "Feral Fount". Here's a good description:
"Feral Fount" is a rapidly rotating armature affixed with 97 small sculptures, each differing slightly from the preceding one; the armature's dizzying spin, combined with the effect of a strobe lamp, make a convincing case that the viewer is seeing a drop of water transform itself into a bomb shape and eventually into a paper airplane that shatters a dish at the bottom of the sculpture.
Also fun is watching the serial The Adventures of Red Ryder, shown in Tut's Fever, the little screening room they have there. While the acting is a bit cornball, they really knew how to craft a great cliffhanger. Red Ryder shows at 1pm and 3pm and is free with admission.

The best thing I can recommend this week for eats is the sushi at Kumo (Ditmars and 37th Street). I've ordered it a couple times in the last few weeks and it's always been fresh and tasty Good prices, too. Total yum and an affordable way to satisfy the sushi craving.

More fun, here.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Breast Cancer Screenings at Little or No Cost

This came through my inbox this week, and though some of you would find it helpful:

Mobile Mammography Unit
Queens Library HealthLink, a federally funded collaboration among Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the American Cancer Society’s Queens office, Queens Library, and the Queens Cancer Center of Queens Hospital, was developed to place libraries at the center of an innovative new effort to help medically underserved communities in Queens access free cancer information, early detection screenings, cancer treatment resources, and other life-saving services.

A mobile mammography van will be making convenient stops at several Queens Libraries to enable women ages 18 and older to get an overview of breast cancer and early detection with screening services on the van. Call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 to schedule a mammogram. All are invited to visit the mobile unit to receive educational information and referral for services, and to stop inside the following libraries for cancer-related information while the unit is parked outside. Cancer information workshops will be presented in languages appropriate to Queens Library customers served in these neighborhoods. Plans are being made to add pap smears to the services offered in the mobile unit in coming months.

Upcoming HealthLink mammogram van visits:

October 24
starting @ 10 a.m., Queens Library at Astoria,
14-01 Astoria Boulevard

October 27 starting @ 11 a.m., Queens Library at Long Island City
37-44 21 Street

If you have health insurance that will pay for this service, it will be billed. If the insurance requires a co-payment, you will be responsible for this co-payment. If you don't have health insurance, there is no cost to you.

Friday, October 05, 2007

From the Upper West, to LIC...

Jacques-Imo's looks to be on its way to the nabe!
I have heard great things about the restaurant in its previous incarnation but never got to trek up there for a visit. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for the opening :)

Upper West Side: New Orleans transplant Jacques-Imo's is playing the blues: "it's official," emails a tipster, "the attached (above) says 'lost lease' but this place has looked dead for some weeks." Something of some sort will live on in the Mecca that is Long Island City, however, so there's that.
Eater filled me in here

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 04.10.07

I finally made it to Lil Bistro 33 (19-33 Ditmars) and am kicking myself for not having gone there sooner! Find your way over there tonight and try the crawfish tempura slathered in a spicy mayo for $9. I'm thinking that and some rice and right there is a slammin' dinner! It was hands down the best thing to touch my lips all night. My main course of sushi was nothing to shrug at either. All this freshness for $19, hubba hubba!

Help out Greek Aid on Friday at Central Bar and Lounge (20-30 Steinway St.) You may recall a post earlier for a fundraiser; here's another chance to get in on the giving. The fires in Greece had a huge impact and help is definitely still needed!

Saturday morning 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., take a 5 mile ride of the waterfront with Richard Melnick from the Greater Astoria Historical Society. Learn all kinds of stuff about the place you call home :) The jaunt will be meeting at Gantry Plaza State Park (48th Avenue & East River) and ending at Ralph de Marco Park. Please register with Karen at (718) 706-8044 or

Saturday afternoon, the Astoria Music Society presents The East Side Five woodwind quintet at 3 p.m. at the Quinn Building (35-20 Broadway at 36th St, 4th floor.) Tickets are $12.

Sunday I plan on trying out some southern cuisine at Miriam's (34-11 Crescent). There aren't many -- if any other -- options for these tasty vittles in the hood, so why not?! I just got turned onto the place, so sorry for no review yet. Go there yourself and let's swap yummy finds!