Sunday, August 31, 2008

NY Mag: Michael Psilakis Buys Greek in Astoria

Check out the short video from NY Magazine featuring Michael Psilakis giving Josh Ozersky of Grub Street a tour of some of the Greek culinary highlights in Astoria. I admit to loving both Titan Foods and Artopolis, and it reminds me that I need to stop by soon.

They also visit the meat market next to Artopolis, Plaza Meat Market, where they have whole lambs and organ meats, among other things. Offal is not my thing, but it's cool that those that love it have a source.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Boite a Cafe Tasting Event

What a lovely event I just went to!

Tonight there was a tasting offered to the members of and the accompanying groups. The newer-ish spot was Boite a Cafe (40-17 30th Ave) a small french restaurant amid the craziness of the all night cafes of 30th Ave.

Our organizer Ran, did a great job at securing an incredible price for the mini 5 course meal and it was BYOB since the restaurant doesn't have its license yet, which helped keep the price ridiculously low. I'd say there were about 30-35 happy diners out mingling as best as could be with the set up. The place itself is quite small but charming, the L-shaped room isn't very condusive to large groups socializing- but for reals- I was there for the food!

I'm quite new to French cuisine so I was looking forward to the taste test.
Let's not beat around the bush, here's the deets:

At 8pm we promptly started our first course with Cauliflower Soup. It was topped with Rosemary Cream and some delish croutons! I don't always like weird soups, but this was pretty good. I liked that it was served room temperature. I also liked that it reminded me of clam chowder, yum! I'd get this again if I were in a creamy warm my belly kinda mood, but ask for it hotter. I'll be back in the fall more a more extensive meal I think.

Soup is done, now let's get something we can chew on. Wild Arugula Salad with granny smith apple slices, dill yogurt, serrano ham and candied walnuts. Another dish that I wouldn't mind revisiting in its normal helping. The smidge we got was super yum and almost a tease! I'm allergic to apples but of course that never stops me, these were sliced sooooo thin, and they were still so crunchy- it was really nice. A very sweet plate, I don't mean in flavor- it just felt sweet :)

Duck Truffle Potato Gnocchi with crimini mushrooms, butternut squash & parsley puree. Hold the phone, this was my favorite. I wanted a heaping pile of these fluffy cushions of flavor! I had been talking about how much I am more of a fan of veggie duck then of real duck before this came out- ha! Well there is a plus and a neg here. I found no sign of duck anywhere. I like to think of it as "duck essence" maybe? Maybe the juices from a duck were used for the sauce? I have no idea but it doesn't realy bother me. Also I think the parsley puree was missing. Does any of this matter to me? Heck no- the gnocchi were fantabulous!!!!

Braised Lamb Shank with cauliflower puree, swiss chard, glazed root vegetables, cranberry and horse radish relish. Anyone who knows me, know how much i dislike lamb. I know boo hiss whatever- I can't like everything now people. Anyway, you know I was going to eat it just cause! So I did. I also looked for others opinions. People who LIKE lamb. We were all in agreement, meh. It was dry and alittle tough. Not enough seasoning and little to no horse radish (which I would have welcomed). The chard, puree and veggies were nice and flavorful though. Not a total loss. But yeah, I'm sticking to my dislike of lamb.

Crepe Sucree filled with pastry cream and cranberries & citrus sauce. Just the way I like it, not cloyingly sweet. I could have had a tall stack of these bad boys! I love crepes. Plain or filled, whatevs. The smooth pastry cream was refreshing as was the citrus kick. Very nice closing to an overall enjoyable meal. We skipped the coffee so I have no info on that front for you.

Would I recommend Boite? I think so. I'd like to try them on another regular night where they aren't rolling out bite sized samples and try the "meat and potatoes" of what they offer. I'm actually really intrigued by brunch. Maybe i'll have some updating to do soon, it is a long weekend after all.

Astorian Weekend Edition 28.08.08

Start the Labor Day holiday early with a drink and a song. Sunswick (35-02 35th St) has karaoke and some good bar food on Thursday.

Speaking of karaoke, Friday at Albatross (36-19 24th Ave) lube your vocal chords with $7 pints and check out the face lift on the cute corner spot.

The lunch specials at El Jamon (25-51A Steinway) are seriously -- no joke -- out of this world yum! It's even on the weekends, so if cooking is out of the question, pay them a visit.

Skeeball, foosball, ping pong or pool, find it all at Break (32-08 Broadway) along with your everyday happy hour! Enjoy the drinks and play pool free til 9 p.m. This could make for a fun and relatively inexpensive Saturday night.

Sunday join the gang at Hell Gate Social (12-21 Astoria Blvd) for a no-fuss, no-muss Labor Day BBQ. They'll be opening early at 2 p.m., to celebrate the holidays with free burgers and hot dogs. Stick around for the apple pie eating contest at 6 p.m., too; better yet, sign up for it! They are looking for some hearty contestants.

Whatever you are doing this weekend, have fun and be safe out there! There's tons of stuff going on, check out more here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

El Jamon extras...

My meal partner had some other notable bites that I wanted to share as well :)

Montados de queso e chorizo (serrano ham, chorizo, salchichon, cabrales and manchego cheese). Worth the $15 I think. That crumbly blue cabrales cheese is what was melted over my steak. It's very strong when eaten this way, but tuck it into some bread and enjoy a glass of the house red and you're good to go.

Pargo con Salsa Verde (grilled filet of red snapper with green sauce & grilled vegetables) perfectly matched to the $12 price tag. I have nothing at all negative to say about any of the dishes, all were winners :)


Here's the regular menu if you want to take a gander and order some for delivery (you'll have to stop in for the lunch specials)

And no, I have no affiliation with this place- I just have a thing for the under dog and think they are really good. Astoria needs to know!

Monday, August 25, 2008

El Jamon, don't sleep on it!

El Jamon (25-51 Steinway) has got a lunch special fit for a king I tell ya! To my surprise, I went in for a nice Sunday afternoon lunch and was offered the new lunch special. Now I've gone there a few times before and been very satisfied with both the food and the service every time, but now there is even more of a reason to like the place, 3 courses for $12.95! (You can add a fourth for another couple of bucks but that would be gluttony). Needless to say, I had lunch for the next day...

I didn't take too much of a close note on all the options but there are 2 or 3 for each course. While you are looking over the menu there is always a nibble or two brought out by the sweet wait staff, this time was no different. We got toast with a ceviche flavored fish of sorts, maybe sardine? Also two little croquettes (I had a lunch date, i assume they will always bring out one of each person). I then of course looked over the lunch menu - which is available every day mind you.... but I forget the times (sorry!) and found great options.

I settled on Hogaza de Lomo (melted manchego cheese topped with grilled marinated pork loin and piquillo pepper) as my appetizer. Here I am thinking OK, I'll get a piece of toast with some smidge of pork- yeah right! This could really have been enough for me at this point. I was already starting to daydream about my lunch of leftovers for tomorrow! The flavor of the pork was so nice and tangy. It had a nice red tinge to it too, you could see the seasoning had worked.

So now comes the big one. My main was the Chuleton ala Brasa, a 10oz. grilled rib eye with cabrales cream sauce served with poor man's potatoes (they are kinda like home fries but better). I couldn't believe this was a "lunch" portion! They have the 16 ounce version on the regular menu and it goes for $20- that's craziness I tell you CRAZINESS! No joke, I started in and tried to make a dent and pretty much fell in food lust with the whole thing. The potatoes where nothing to scoff at either, they were under there just sopping up the cheese and meat juices, I'm not much of a potato person and I killed these- for reals. Over half of this plate ended up for lunch the next day. Filling isn't the word.

Is there room left for anything? Damn right there is! When it comes to their Chocolate Mousse, I can always make room. What kind of review would I be able to give if I didn't go all the way with my 3rd course?!?!?!? I really do love the simple homemade mousse they have here. I get it every time I'm there :) It's got flecks of shaved chocolate in it and they serve it with these little fried puffs of some sort of not too sweet fruit goo. Hahahaha I know my description sucks but hey, I'm a foodies not a proper writer!!!! But you get it right? Go try it for yourself, give me the better description- I'd love to hear it!

Yup, that's my review. The place is adorable and the people are sweet. The food is good and you get more then your money's worth (especially on this incredible lunch deal). I'd like to see this place stick around, it will now be my go-to steak place when I get the hankering thats for sure.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Food and Wine Tasting at Winegasm - Today!

Winegasm is having its first official Italian food and wine tasting, featuring chef Pasquale Frola of NYC's Naples 45. Come on by and feast on delicious Italian apps such as pizza rustica, lemon meatballs, octopus carpaccio and even some delectable desserts. Below is the scoop--the tasting is today. And not to worry, there will be plenty of fabulous wine and specialty aperitifs to enhance all that food.

Buon Appetito!

When: Sunday, August 24th at 8p

Where: Winegasm - 31-86 37th Street, Atoria NY 11103. 718.932.3331

How Much?: $25 for food and $5 for wine


Crostata di Tagliatelle - Tagliatelle pasta with peas, bechamel sauce, parmesan cheese, ham; oven baked with a crunchy crust

Polpetti Alla Luciana – Braised octopus with olives, capers and cherry tomatoes

Carpaccio di Polpo - Octopus carpaccio Ligurian style served with lemon vinaigrette

Pizza Rustica - Rustic pie with ricotta, eggs, ham and cheese

Pere al Cioccolato - Baked pears, almond dark chocolate, honey, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic glaze

Tiramisu - Mascarpone cheese and coffee soaked lady fingers cake

And much more...


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Astorian Weekend Edition 21.08.08

The Astoria Park Concert Series continues with Gary US Bonds. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Astoria Park Lawn, Shore Blvd between Hellgate Bridge and the pool.

On Friday, join Recycle-A-Bicycle’s Summer Ride Club. Learn on-the-bike riding skills and safe maneuvering in city traffic in this family-friendly event. The session lasts from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at RAB's training center (46th Ave and 5th St). Contact for more information.

More music on the weekend! LIC Bar (45-58 Vernon Blvd) continues their outdoor music series. On Saturday come listen to Dave Barckow (folk, powerpop) from 5-7 p.m. From 7-8 p.m. Charlotte Cornfield (folk) performs. No cover and BBQ to boot!

Hell Gate Social (12-21 Astoria Blvd) is putting on what they hope to be a yearly event, the Hell Gate Social Music Festival. The event is on Sunday. They have assembled 8 bands from different music genres; hip hop, electronic, and rock for a full day of music enjoyment.

The doors will be opening at 3 p.m., and there will be a $3 cover. Out back on their outdoor patio they will be BBQ'ing hamburgers and hot dogs for $2 each. Happy Hour will also be extended from 3pm-9pm, along with drink specials with every new band.The schedule is (more or less): Lead the Resistance 4p.m.; Luneur 4:45; Speak Onion 5:30; Puppet Show 6:15; Buddy Hollycost 7:00; Dead by Choice 8:30; D Music Productions 9:15; Sweet Magma 10:00

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Astorian Weekend Edition 14.08.08

Although this weekend isn't marked by special events, there's always fun to be had in Astoria and LIC.

Check out the new Mediterranean eatery, Balu on 30th Avenue. It 's only been open for about two weeks but so far it's buzzin'. While the food isn't anything special, the atmosphere is oh so chic—very Miami-esque. Balu – 37-11 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.626.2258.

This Friday at 8:30p, bring you best artistic material (whatever that may be) to Freeze Peach Café for their "insider art live mic" night hosted by the Whiskey Dregs. A free secret will be given to all who come. Are you intrigued? Freeze Peach Cafe - 22-00 29th Street, Astoria.

This Sunday is supposed to be nice out—a perfect opportunity to stop by the Water Taxi Beach for a free performance, Jellybean—Ain't Nuttin' But a House Party. Water Taxi Beach – 2 Borden Avenue, LIC.

Also, speaking of LIC, check out the nice Gantry Plaza Park shout-out from Brooklyn Based blog. They call it "the skyline picnic sweet spot." We agree! Grab your favorite snacks, a ball and some friends and you got yourself a fun picnic in back of the famous Pepsi sign. Gantry Plaza State Park – 50-50 2nd Street, LIC. 718.786.6385

Still hungry? Try Tournesol, the French restaurant that has won over my heart—and stomach. I strongly suggest trying their garlicky French Onion Soup (pictured above) and for dessert, the bread pudding with raspberries, mint and Crème Anglaise is an absolute must. Tournesol – 50-12 Vernon Blvd, LIC. 718.472.4355

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Astorian Weekend Edition 07.08.08

There's concert going and work-shopping on Thursday. At 10 a.m. be entertained and make puppets at Queensbridge Park (Vernon Blvd & 41st Ave) then head over to Astoria Park Lawn around 7:30 p.m. for the musical stylings of Joey Dee and the Starliters.

Gas prices are getting people out and about on their bikes; learn safety and other riding skills at Recycle-A-Bicycle’s Summer Ride Club on Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Meet over at their training center (46th Ave and 5th St.) and feel free to bring the kids!

Try the newest Asian eatery in the Ditmars area, East Moon (35-12 Ditmars Blvd.). Some say there are already a ton of them, but this one has a twist: Japanese and/or Thai! Take your pick; chances are you'll find something to your liking.

Sunday earn a medal or two at Astoria's own Beer-lympics!!! The hops laden event was put together by the Astoria Pub Hunters and Why Leave Astoria on There will be both individual and team events, so you have no excuse to not participate. RSVP in advance and pay $15 for men and $10 for women (or more at the door). The fee goes toward the open bar and snacks, so all in all, not a bad deal. I will be trying my hardest to make this event; I just need to see this for myself! This is a great excuse to try out the new Club 21 (30-09 21st St.) too.

More Queens stuff here.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Astoria's Very Own Playwright

Astoria's very own Kari Bentley-Quinn is the playwright of an upcoming NYC production called The Permanent Night. The show is a part of the NY International Fringe Festival, which starts on August 8th and runs through August 24th. Check it out and support one of our own. Way to go Kari!

Here's the low-down:

The Permanent Night: "New York City. Blackout. Secrets and betrayals illuminate the flaws of a wealthy couple's seemingly perfect marriage, a first encounter sheds light on the scars of a young woman's past, and the night leaves an indelible mark on them all."

The Barrow Street Theatre:
27 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014
(at 7th Avenue, South of Christopher Street)
A, C, E, F, V to West 4th Street1 to Christopher Street/Sheridan Square

SATURDAY, August 9, 2008 @ 3:45 pm
SUNDAY, August 10, 2008 @ 1:45 pm
FRIDAY, August 15, 2008 @ 9:45 pm
WEDNESDAY, August 20, 2008 @ 7:00 pm
FRIDAY, August 22, 2008 @ 3:00 pm

Featuring: Dave Beagle, Vina Less, Kat Garson, Cory Whitfield
Playwright: Kari Bentley-Quinn
Director: Heather Arnson
Stage Manager: Daria Maidenbaum

For Information/Tickets visit: call 866.468.7619

Friday, August 01, 2008

This place is poppin!

Got a note on our Myspace from local friend and reader Steph-fannie about an upcoming street closure for filming. Get ready you paparazzis out there, all day Monday you get to be crowded out of your neighborhood by the folks at Lipstick Jungle. Apparently there are signs up around 30th Ave & 27th St that we know of - maybe more, so don't forget to move your cars Sunday if you see these hot pink signs!!!

Lipstick Jungle is a new-ish show on NBC, Brooke Shields is in it along with the old girlfriend from 24 and Ian Zering's girlfriend from 90210... just wanted to fill you in alittle cause I've never heard of it. Let's hope not too many people are watching and get the crazy idea of moving in! Oh wait....