Friday, January 30, 2009

Upcoming Community Planning Meeting

This came in my email box today. I think it's a great idea and hope you will attend.

Hello All!
Please join the Astoria Park Alliance in the beginning stages of planning for the Department of Transportation sponsored Temporary Pedestrian Street events for Shore Boulevard slated for August 2009!

Shore Boulevard Temporary Pedestrian Streets Planning Meeting
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Astoria Reform Church
corner of Ditmars Boulevard and 41st Street
Snacks will be served!

R.S.V.P. by replying to this email.
If you have questions, please call 718-344-3515 and leave a message so your call can be returned.

The Astoria Park Alliance is excited about involving you in this wonderful opportunity that allows us to create new ways of using this unique open space. With water views, a beautiful Astoria Park, and community full of great neighbors, what a fun way to come together to enjoy summer!

To give you an idea of the meeting's agenda and to get your ideas flowing, here are some of the questions we hope to start answering:

  • Does anyone have resources to help coordinate the logistics? (office, phone machine, etc.)
  • What other events are happening during the weekends in August 2009?
  • What kind of programming can people offer? (sports, arts, music, theater, fitness....)
  • What kind of day of event support can people offer? (volunteers)
  • How can people help to promote these events? (email lists, media contacts, website postings, etc.)
  • Does anyone have leads on funding activities?

At the meeting, we'll also discuss the guidelines as established by the Department of Transportation and plan next steps!

Thank you and hope to hear from you!

Best Regards,
Jules Corkery and Martha Lopez-Gilpin
Astoria Park Alliance

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition 29.1.09

The weather is crud. Cold and don't like to be out stuck in it? Get your hot chocolate on at some of my favorite places. Il Bambino (34-08 31st Ave.) has the awesomest gluttonous treat, a peanut butter hot chocolate. They have a Nutella one, too, if you prefer; you can't really go wrong. Get a regular cup of ho-cho at Mini Star (30-02 Steinway) It's out of the machine, no frills but tasty.

Thaw off and go for the wings at McCann's (36-15 Ditmars), hey've got all flavors and hotness for you to choose. Don't forget that Koliba (31-11 23rd Ave) is perfect for this time of year. Warm
you bellies with dumplings and yummy porky goodness.

Work off all the heavy winter food and pay a visit to the newest gym in the hood. Planet Fitness (30-33 Steinway) is what I would call a no-frills deal and a half! $20 a month gets you in the place along with massage chairs and tanning beds, too!

If you venture out, why not go for a trunk sale at Candy Plum (30-98 36th St)? This Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. check out all new accessories, tees, and other original goods.

Are you ready for some football? Well it's here, Sunday for Super Bowl get over to Indigo (28-50 31st St) by 6pm and join in on the partying. WLA has scoped out the back garden with the 2 huge TVs for the night. Happy hour specials and food deals all night.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition 22.01.09

Looks like we'll warm up a bit this weekend! The best day is Friday, where a balmy 41 degrees is projected. Maybe this weekend is a good one for a walk in the park.

On Friday at 7:00 p.m. at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (31-10 Thomson Ave) World Cinema Showcase presents "In Between Days" with director So Yong Kim (in person). This film won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, and traces the joys and risks of first love for a young Korean-American immigrant. A discussion with So Yong Kim, moderated by Chief Curator David Schwartz, follows the screening. Free for MOMI members, $10 non-members, $5 CUNY students. Members RSVP to 718.777.6810. Advance tickets available online at ($2 surcharge) and on day-of-show at the LPAC box office (718.482.5151).

For something completely different, join the Queens Drinking Liberally group for some politics talk. They will meet this Friday, January from 7:30 pm onwards, inside the Beer Garden (29-19 24th Avenue) at one of the tables downstairs.

On Saturday from 10 p.m to 4 a.m., SUBKULTURE returns to Hell Gate Social (12-21 Astoria Boulevard). DJ’s Bellladonna and Scandal spin all sorts of styles from the 70’s-90’s, plus cult music flicks! This month…Long Island City’s INS & OUTS magazine will be snapping shots of the DJs for their March issue. Free. Cabs to HGS are about $7, fyi.

Also on Saturday from 2-5 p.m., PS1 presents a performance event in the P.S.1 Café. In conjunction with the exhibition of Reductive art presented by the Brooklyn-based collective Minus Space, Bibi Calderaro will perform the work PRESENT. In the piece, the artist reads books about seemingly unrelated topics and writes her instantaneous responses in a typewriter, which are then offered to the public. The written word is the main element, the artist a medium for thought.

Restaurant week starts this week! Water's Edge in LIC (The East River at 44th Drive) is the only participating Queens restaurant, but it's a nice one. Dinner is $35 for a three course meal.

Sunday brunch is always worth mentioning. Some favorites are Grand Cafe (37-01 30th Ave), Vesta (21-02 30th Ave), Ovelia (34-01 30th Ave), Sparrow (24-01 29th St), Locale (33-02 34th Ave), and Tournesol (50-12 Vernon).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition 15.01.09

Although the weather outside is nippy, there are still plenty of fun happs in Astoria and LIC--especially in LIC this weekend.

Visit LIC Bar this Sunday from 5pm - 8pm for an eclectic music showcase hosted by award-winning Irish songwriter, Niall Connolly. The evening promises a plethora of new music talent from NYC and beyond. And if you can't make it on Sunday, go on Monday for another music showcase from 8pm - 11pm, featuring Egyptian, Brazilian and other "rowdy jazzsters." 45-58 Vernon Blvd, LIC. 718.786.5400

The Sage General Store in LIC is now offering weekend brunch from 11am - 4pm so check them out. Their brunch dishes peaked my interest, as I spied handmade pizzas, drunken baked French toast and Artisanal grilled cheese on the menu. 24-20 Jackson Avenue, LIC. 718.361.0707

Take this long weekend to scope out, LIC's covert and sought-after bar, Dutch Kills. Owned by the same company that runs Milk & Honey--an exclusive appointment or referral only Manhattan and London bar--this spot is sure to give you a unique experience (if it's open that is--it's all a big mystery). 27-24 Jackson Avenue, LIC.

A loyal reader suggested trying Just Arthur's, the old-school Italian joint on Steinway. He mentions that their specials are always good and that the "Pasta a la John" shouldn't be missed. 22-08 Steinway Street, Astoria. 718.728.7288

And don't forget to take advantage of Ovelia's Recession special (pictured above), as they'll be serving lunch all day and even extend happy hour until 10pm. Enjoy their scrumptious mezes and stiff cocktails at reasonable prices. 34-01 30th Avenue. 718.721.7217

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's name is Rio!

hahaha gotta love Duran Duran :)

Seeing as how we are full throttle into quite the chilly winter, we here at JIA thought it a good idea to review a place that would warm you from the inside out and have you feeling like dancing the samba- well your taste buds anyway! Located in the old Wassi/Tell Astorya spot now lies a Brazilian coffee shop/light bites spot.Let me introduce you to the deliciousness that is Rio's Mania (37-05 28th Ave).

Walk in and soak in the a mural of the Rio beachfront on the far wall and take a seat at one of dozen or so tables. The staff is super nice and informative and can help you navigate the somewhat foreign menu. It's not too complicated but if you need some help on deciding if you want the hearts of palm or the catupiry cheese, they can lend a hand. Now let's get down to the grub!

I started off with a can of Guarana, one of my favorite drinks ever. I was brought up drinking it (my mom lived in Brazil for about 10 years and brought alot of her tastes to the U.S.) and always order it if it's on the menu. I try to stay away from carbonated beverages but this one doesn't seem as bad, kinda on the ginger ale side.

After perusing the menu for a few minutes, it was pretty plain to see that I HAD to order the "with everything" or what they call X-Tudo ($6.50). It does in fact have everything on it and did not disappoint! In the warm bun, layered oh so carefully- there was a perfectly herb seasoned beef patty, some ham that had been set on the grill for a slight toasting, fresh bacon, a fried egg with a touch of softness to the yolk, corn nibblets, tomato, lettuce and mayo. Sounds crazy right? Somehow this was so delicious and light that it filled me up but I was still able to comfortably eat half the dessert without that "oh no I ate too much" feeling! I highly recommend this dish.

The #4 Crepe ($6.50) was also a win win. A warm pocket of chicken, catupiry cheese, corn & hearts of palm. I didn't try this but my dining mate was happy with it. I like the fresh idea of corn in some of the dishes, it's a different kind of filling and tastes really good with the other flavors. They also have sweet crepes with the typical Nutella and fruits. This time we didn't have the room to try one but they are on the list for next time.

The Acai Traditional ($6) is the star of the "bowl" menu. They blend frozen acai berries to the consistency of sorbet. Fill up the bowl with it then top it with granola, honey, bananas & strawberries and you either have a healthy dessert option, an energizing afternoon snack or the breakfast of champions. I could seriously see myself killing a few of these a week especially in the thick of summer.

So whether you're just looking for an after dinner espresso or a healthy snack of lunch/dinner, you can find all of the above at the un-assuming little Rio's Mania. If this sounds good to you, stop in and let the guys know it. They've only been open a couple of months, so you know the deal- we have to keep our businesses open by going to them! I'd love to keep something open in this spot, and from what i've seen so far- this is a great candidate.

Rio's Mania Brazilian Cafe
37-05 28th Avenue
Astoria, NY 11103

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Menu Items at Sparrow

I was just at Sparrow this afternoon for brunch (which was fabulous, by the way), and noticed they have some new menu items advertised on the chalkboard above the kitchen area. The menu is definitely fleshing out (no pun intended! you'll see...). Here are the additions:

sweet potato fries ($7)
tater tots ($6)
mac n' cheese ($9 - made with fontina and parmesan - bacon or speck can be added for an additional cost)
blackeye pea and barley salad ($9)
ribeye steak and fries ($26)
baby back ribs ($18)

There are also some new wines on the menu, too. Sadly, the Malbec I loved so much is gone, but a tasty Minervois ($10/$35) is on the menu, and it is terrific (I tasted it at brunch). On their list of whites is an off-dry Riesling from Washington state called Kung Fu Girl ($11/$39), which sounds delicious (and I love the name). There are 6 reds and 6 whites to choose from.

Just a brief note about brunch - it is one of the best brunches I've had in town - simply delicious food and service that was not rushed, but she attended to us in a timely manner. It was amazing that she was able to do so, as the place was very busy and she had a lot on her plate (so to speak).

I had eggs scrambled with potatoes (all eggs are organic, by the way), T had the brunch burger (topped with a fried egg on a lovely brioche bun), and we split some leek sausages which were very good. The sausages were rich and savory without being overly salty. Oh, we started with a warm croissant that came with homemade blueberry jam and some maple syrup. Coffee was great. It's all worth a return visit.

Photo credit: (cc) Susan Vasconcelos

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sales this Weekend

I've been sick this week, so I'm a little slow on the trigger about these things, but I wanted to pass along these two weekend sale announcements to you all:

Loveday 31 (33-06 31st. Avenue) is having it's first official "recession-ista sale"!

Come cure your recession blues by getting a great deal on loads of items that have been marked down as low as 75% . All coats prices have been reduced and are now $45-$89, all vintage jewelry is 25% off, all leather jackets are $49, fall jackets are $25-$35, blouses are $19-$28, and all sweaters and skirts are $19!!! What a deal! In addition there is a special $12 vintage handbag sale, so come and dig in to our sale bin! We would love to see you!

KrisTees (24-01 23rd Avenue @ 24th Street) is having their big winter sale!!

Take 30 to 60% off designer clothes including coats, as well as select handbags & clutches, scarves & heels among other items.

We’ll see you soon & Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition 8.1.09

Warm up with a Flamenco performance on Friday at 8:30pm (there is a second performance at 10:30 as well). Watch the American Bolero Dance Company while nibbling on some tapas for the $20 cover. It's at the Auditorium Centro Espanol (41-01 Broadway) but you'll have to give them a call for reservations: 718-392-8888.

There's been alot of talk of a new beer haven in the are, the jig is up. After hosting a New Year's party, looks like Wunderbar (37-10 11th St) is finally having its grand opening this Friday the
9th. This is a good thing during the recession! Open bar from 6 to 8 p.m. along with a yummy buffet. Enjoy some authentic German tunes from a live band the whole while, too!

Who says bigger is better? Not me. My European roots have taught me well that a good espresso can go a long way. Rio's Mania (37-05 28th Ave) makes a fine $1.50 caffeine boost. They are in the old Tell Astorya spot and bring a little tropical warmth at an affordable price. Oh, and if you want a little extra pep in your step, get their acai bowl for $6 and be prepared to share with a friend; it's huge!

On a budget? Cold winter Saturdays bring us the awesomely delicious smoked tomato and parmesan bisque from Il Bambino (34-08 31st Ave). For $5 you get a heck of a bowl full and a crostini slathered in pesto. There are a lot of yums on the menu. So it may be hard, but it really IS possible to eat frugally.

On Sunday while I'm grubbing at my first Sunday Night Dinner party, why not go out and do some fun food shopping? I don't get a
chance to head over to Bravo (34-12 34th Ave) often enough, but it's got such a great variety of stuff. I'm sure you can cook up something exotic and delicious, too.

Monday, January 05, 2009

MulchFest - It's Coming!

Give More, Waste Less....

MulchFest: Recycle Your Tree!

Bring your holiday tree, wreaths, and pine trimmings to the parking lot of Astoria Park to be recycled into mulch that will nourish plantings across the city! Remember to remove all lights and ornaments before bringing your items to be mulched.

Want Mulch?
You are encouraged to bring bags to take advantage of the free mulch provided at the Park.

The Astoria Park Alliance will be there to cheer on the Parks Department Staff, so stop by to say hello!

Saturday, January 10 and Sunday, January 11
10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Astoria Park

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Upcoming Astoria Park Alliance Meeting

Doggie Meetup

Just wanted to alert you all to the upcoming Astoria Park Alliance meeting this Tuesday, January 6. They will be discussing what is coming up for the group this year, including projects and activities. The APA is run by community members like yourself. All are welcome!

Astoria Park Alliance Meeting
Tuesday, January 6th
6:30 p.m.
Steinway Reform Church (downstairs)
Ditmars Boulevard & 41st Street

Photo credit: (cc) Meg Cotner

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Astorian Weekend *New Year's Edition* - 01.01.09

Happy New Year Astoria!

We hope that you had a fun and eventful evening last night. And while you're probably still recuperating from last night's celebrations, we wanted to bring you the latest and greatest happenings for this New Year's weekend.

There's a new Greek taverna in town, which replaced the old Anna's Corner and the more recent Athens Taverna. The new eatery is called Psitopolio Ta Vlahika and it offers pretty much the same type of cuisine as its predecessors but at more competitive prices. They've refurbished the space so it looks brand spankin' new. 31-01 23rd Avenue, Astoria. 718.545.4000

Enjoy a lovely brunch at some of our Astorian favorites:

Ovelia - For $10 - $13 you'll get a hefty brunch entree with a coffee and a morning cocktail. One of my favorites here is the tiropita toast, which is a flat bread made with feta cheese. 34-01 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.721.7217

You can never go wrong with Grand Cafe's $11.50 brunch special (pictured above), which includes adorable little breakfast muffins, coffee served with a delicious pirouette cookie, a morning cocktail and an entree. 37-01 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.777.7321

And don't forget to check out our latest brunch favorite, Vesta. Meg provides a great recap of their dishes here. Personally, I can't wait to try their hangover pizza! 21-02 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.545.5550

Another fun activity for this weekend is shopping--especially on Ditmars.

Check out Inside Astoria for their 50% holiday sale, where you can get cool holiday cards and funky home items. 37-20 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.956.4000. Nook n' Crannie also offers unique, gently used vintage furniture. 29-18 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.204.8399. Or get some fun jewelry on sale at Mimi's Closet . 21-10 31st Street, Astoria. 718.726.0971.