Friday, August 01, 2008

The Weekender

Sorry for the unintentional hiatus folks. It was a crazy month. Had a very busy staycation (I've been calling it that since college, how is it all of a sudden a buzz word I hear everywhere now?) and oh yeah, threw together a wedding in three days. I'm now offically a married woman. I felt married before, it's just official now.
But enough about me, let's start talking Astoria/LIC happenings!

On Repeat:
Yoga & Capoeria-Saturdays at Socrates
Pilates & Tai Chi-Sundays at Socrates
Sunday canoeing and kayaking in Hallets Cove
Sunday evening pub trivia at the Irish Rover (7pm 28th ave @ 38th st)

Tonight check out Art Is The New Black art showcase featuring four unique artists at Freeze Peach free from 8:30-11pm.

Saturday from 12-3 get creative at Socrates with the Mini Park Project with Rachael Champion. Create your own “mini park” by making a small terrarium. Participants will build a self-sustaining home for small plants out of recycled materials with soil provided by the Park’s composting station.

Also Saturday, Dutch Kills playground (37th ave/Crescent St) celebrates Family Day. A free days of crafts, games, face painting, inflatable rides, & more!

Hell Gate Social has DJ's spinning the tunes tonight and tomorrow to get your groove on.

And Sunday, HGS has their outdoor movie of the week, Red Dawn at sunset.

Make it a great one!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Weekender

Let's just get to it today shall we folks? :-)

On Repeat:
Friday night comedy at Mezzo Comedy Club
Yoga & Capoeria-Saturdays at Socrates
Pilates & Tai Chi-Sundays at Socrates
Sunday canoeing and kayaking in Hallets Cove
Sunday evening pub trivia at the Irish Rover (7pm 28th ave @ 38th st)

At 12 Socrates has another art making workshop:
Squirt By Numbers with Free Style Arts Association Using oil pastels to create an outline, participants use squirt guns filled with watercolors to “paint” the inside of the drawings and watch as their masterpieces explode with color.

Athens Square Park will be quite melodic for the second annual Make Music New York. 6 bands will be performing starting at 2:15 for free. There will crooners and tuners all over the city in general. Check out the website to see if you many land yourself near some music.

Ahhh, Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year; welcome back! Unfortunately if you really think about it the days just get shorter from here on out. But the sun is still out long enough that we don't really notice. Socrates Sculpture Park will be having their seventh annual Summer Solstice Celebration from 5 til sunset.
- "Pagan Rights" musical performance by My Barbarian
- "Cinema On Air" interactive sound and video "drive-in" by free103point9 and Electronic Arts Intermix
- "Drum Circle" by JustinJustin and the Alé-Alé Drummers
- Soulstice Ritual by urban shaman Mama Donna
- Solstice artmaking workshops presented by Materials for the Arts, The Noguchi Museum, Queens Museum of Art, Free Style Arts Association, and Socrates Sculpture Park- Transformation! Face Painting by Agostino Arts

Sunday is the Steinway Street Fair! I'm going, rain or not. They always say it runs between 34th and 28th avenues, but it never really stretches that far.

Later that night you can check out Rest Stop at Hell Gate Social.
Brace yourself for a spine-chilling experience with this bloodcurdling gore fest. Runaway lovers Jess (Joey Mendicino) and Nicole (Jaimie Alexander) are on a road trip to Hollywood. But when they pause at an abandoned rest stop, Jess disappears. Now, Nicole is tormented by a terrifying psychopath (Nick Orefice) who has an arsenal of equipment -- including drills and staple guns -- to carry out his demented desires. Movies start at sunset in their backyard.

I think I'm forgetting something, if so I will add it later. Otherwise, make it a great one!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stove warms the tummy and taste buds

Stove is a quaint Irish run, French cuisine restaurant located off the beaten path on 28th Avenue and 46th street. The outside is unassuming and the interior is a clean classic restaurant. Friendly warm staff with the Irish brogue welcome you in for a delicious dinner treat. John and I arrived around 7 on Sunday evening to see that it wasn’t very crowded. I do know that there were people in the back garden, but I am unsure of how many people it accommodated. Judging from the amount of plates I saw heading that way I would say a fair few. There were a few other large parties which could possibly explain the one complaint we have.

We were seated promptly and immediately noticed the menu we were given has a few differences from the online version. There are a few more choices on the menu at Stove than online. They have quite an impressive wine list and John and I settled on a bottle of Cabernet (Dona [with a tilde over the n]Something or other, I didn’t write it down!) which was very sweet and smooth, quite tasty.

We started off with me having the Prince Edward Mussels steamed in white wine, garlic, shallots and teardrop tomatoes. It was fantastic. I was using the wonderful warm bread they gave us to try and soak up all the goodness; in a civilized way of course. The mussels themselves were fresh and I appreciated there not being a single closed one in the bowl (which has happened to me quite often at other places, usually just one, but it is kind of annoying).

John had the baked stuffed clams with bacon bits, herbs and paprika crust. I would have loved to try it, but since it’s been nearly 15 years since I have eaten bacon I would have gotten sick. John however really liked his. The crust and the bacon along with the clam all blended together perfectly.

While waiting for our entrees we noticed something kind of annoying-another server recited a list of specials to another table that our server did not. There was a tasty sounding crab cake on the specials too. Mental note for next time and for all of you, if you don’t hear about specials don’t assume they don’t have them, ask! Your server is just spacing!

I will say that I really appreciated that our entrees did not come out immediately after our starters. I like to digest a little bit and enjoy what I’ve just had and have a little more wine before diving into dinner. About 10-15 minutes later our dinner arrived (I am fine with that wait time. John got just a touch antsy). John, of course, went for the steak. He chose the 16oz New York Shell Steak. Here’s something tricky-online it lists your choice of red wine reduction and caramelized onion or peppercorn sauce. Since we looked online first and John pretty much made up his mind before we got to Stove we aren’t sure if that option is on the menu there and it’s now just peppercorn sauce or if since he didn’t choose and she didn’t ask that’s what he got by default. Either way he still enjoyed it.

I was torn between a few things; in all honesty since I am not a big connoisseur of French foods I had to look up a lot of things on the menu before we went. Never hurts to be in the know, right? I settled on the Pan Fried Trout meuniere (which merely means it was dredged in flour) with white wine and lemon glace. It was quite peppery which I wasn’t expecting. I’m not a peppery kind of person but this wasn’t bad. I’m not going to say it was awesome because I thought the pepper kind of overpowered the lemon and wine sauce. It was pretty good though if not what I was expecting. Both of our meals came with mashed potatoes (our choice) and the veg of the day which was carrots (I’ve never been a fan of cooked carrots, you cook all the fun right out of them). Portions were just right and it was a very satisfying meal.

We decided we were going to go all out-it was our four year anniversary after all-and get dessert. Here’s the one complaint we have. It did start to get more crowded as we were finishing our meal and there were a few large parties, but our server (one of two or three) took a while to check on us after we finished to check if we wanted dessert. It was a good 10 minutes or more before she came by. She recited a lengthy list of desserts and left us to choose. John immediately knew he wanted the Crème Brule; I was torn between a chocolate mousse type dessert or an apple tart. When the server finally came back again she suggested the chocolate but because she’s a chocoholic-not because it was a standout dish, so that didn’t really sell me. I decided to try and be a little lighter and got the apple tart. After this we had a ridiculously long wait for both the coffee that John ordered and our desserts. I mean over a half an hour. I had enough wine that I didn’t really notice just how long it was but John did and that’s his major complaint. Especially since twenty minutes (or more…I wasn’t really timing everything) into the wait she came to apologize and say the kitchen was backed up. But she still hadn’t brought John his coffee, which he asked for again at that point. She did bring it right over, but dessert was ten to fifteen minutes later. It was enough time that I was contemplating ordering another glass of wine or a cocktail! When dessert arrived it was very very good. John’s Crème Brule had a great caramelized top as it should be with a light and sweet filling. My apple tart was lovely. Not too sweet, not heavy and with fresh cream. Yummy.

I would say as far as service goes it was just this one server. I’m not sure how backed up the kitchen could be for dessert, 2 simple desserts that are most likely prepared earlier and just finished off (caramelize the top for his and basically warm up mine) could have taken so long. She could have checked sooner, or told us sooner. I would definitely go back; I would just try not to have this server. I’m somewhat forgiving unless you poison me.

Stove is definitely a must try and a nice place for dinner. It’s in the upper mid to lower high price-if that makes any sense. You wouldn’t go there all the time unless you were just ordering off the bar menu. It’s a nice place to have a romantic dinner or take the parents out for a nice dinner to show off the neighborhood.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Socrates Film Schedule

It's out! Here's the film schedule for Socrates' Outdoor Cinema. Ahhhh, movies under the stars overlooking the Manhattan skyline.

Introduction by the director. 2008, 80 mins.
Directed by Jackie Salloum.
A breakout hit at this year's Sundance, and New Directors/New Films Festivals, the exhilarating documentary Slingshot Hip Hop tells the dynamic stories of young Palestinians who use Hip Hop to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty.

Introduction by the director. 2006, 61 mins.
Directed by Valerie Kontakos.
What happens when Greece, a country with no history in baseball, has to field a team for the 2004 Olympics in Athens? In this engaging documentary, a charming underdog story turns into a parable of pride and capitalism.
PERFORMANCE: Live music by Mohammed Al Farra (from PR) and Abeer (from Lyd) from Slingshot Hip Hop.
FOOD: Greek cuisine by Opa! Souvlaki in Astoria

AFRICA 2006, 115 mins.
Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. With Aïssa Maïga, Danny Glover.
In an outdoor courtroom in Mali, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are on trial. Far from polemical, this surprisingly lyrical movie is a poetic exploration of modern-day Africa.
PERFORMANCE: African beats and rhythms by DJ Stone
FOOD: Moroccan cuisine by Mundo Café in Astoria

UNITED STATES 2007, 84 mins.
Introduction by the director.
Directed by Ramin Bahrani. With Alejandro Polanco, Isamar Gonzalez.
A deeply affecting slice of urban neorealism, this Queens-made film, set in the Willets Point "Iron Triangle" near Shea Stadium, follows a 12-year-old orphan who ekes out an existence with his teenaged sister.
PERFORMANCE: A mix of folk, rock, country and jazz, The Robe Crowe Situation will perform a blend of music and poetry.
FOOD: Homestyle American cooking by Josephine's Soul Food Café in Queens

SOUTH KOREA 2006, 119 mins.
Directed by Bong Joon-ho. With Song Kang-ho, Bae Doo-na.
This satirical monster horror movie about a rampaging mutant lizard that captures a young girl, The Host is Korea's biggest box-office hit to date. It is great fun and a timely spoof of rampant militarism and environmental recklessness.
PERFORMANCE: Song Hee Lee Dance CompanyFOOD: Korean cuisine by Go Wasabi in Astoria

FRANCE 1956, 34 mins.
Directed by Albert Lamorisse.
A young boy and a red balloon wander through the streets of Paris in The Red Balloon, one of the most beloved children's films ever made.

FRANCE 2007, 95 mins.
Directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi.
Persepolis is a coming-of-age tale about an Iranian girl's struggles with love, religion, and politics, based on Marjane Satrapi's popular graphic novel memoir.

8 1/2
ITALY 1963, 138 mins.
Directed by Federico Fellini. With Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimée. Fellini's stunning, romantic autobiographical fantasy is a self-portrait of the filmmaker as a circus ringmaster. It is also one of the landmarks in contemporary world cinema.
PERFORMANCE: A five-piece band, Le Nozze di Carlo will perform a mix of Italian classic pop, folk and original music.FOOD: Italian cuisine by Manetta's in Long Island City

MEXICO 2006, 85 mins.
Directed by Fernando Eimbcke. With Enrique Arreola, Diego Cataño, Danny Perea.
A lovely neighbor distracts two teen friends from their Bush vs. Bin Laden video game in this charming chronicle of adolescent life, a surprise indie gem.
PERFORMANCE: Bachelor Sound Machín - like the best garage of yore this quintet of Mexicans in NYC have found a way to turn their idiocy into art-channeling the traditional sounds of Veracruz through the Dada outbursts of punk.
FOOD: Mexican cuisine by Mojave in Astoria


Live Music at Gantry Plaza (LIC)

Recently found out about this and thought I would pass it on to all of you. Check it out!

Celebrating the rich musical and ethnic tapestries of Queens in boisterous style, “Live at the Gantries”, the borough’s newest free summer performance series will kick off in Long Island City on June 24th.The free, outdoor performances will feature some of the borough’s most celebrated entertainers, from Afro-Brazilian jazz musicians to Japanese punk rockers, with acts for audience members of all ages. Live at the Gantries’ nine nights will take place on Tuesdays at 7 o’clock at Gantry Plaza State Park, a 2.5-acre waterside oasis between 49th and 50th Avenues along the East River.
The series will run from June 24th to August 26th.
Event Schedule:
June 24 Corina Bartra, Afro-Brazilian Jazz
July 1 The F# Miners, Irish Traditional Music
July 8 Blue Pipa, Chinese Folk Music
July 15 Bliminal, Indie Rock
July 22 Calpulli Mexican Dance, Traditional Mexican Dance
July 29 York College Summer Big Band
August 5 Mahina Movement, Folk, Rock and Rhymes
August 12 No event scheduled
August 19 Zikrayat, Arabic Music and Belly Dancers
August 26 Noirceur and Uzuhi, Punk

For additional information, please visit,, or contact,

The series is sponsored by The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Queens Council on the Arts, Queens Theatre in the Park, New York Water Taxi. Live at the Gantries is funded in full by Rockrose Development.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Weekender

I'm going to have kind of a schizophrenic weekend. Sunday is both my first Father's Day without my dad but it's also the 4 year anniversary of my first date with John. Methinks I should keep myself occupied this weekend. What's perfect though is I've dug up some fun stuff to do! Saturday seems to be the better day for hitting up the park activities since we're supposed to get another bout of storms that night. It may just be a little soggy on Sunday. Hopefully we'll get all dried out in time for Sunday fun. Speaking of storms, check out what happened next door to me during that wicked bout of weather we had this week:

Luckily no one was hurt, but I am unsure how that car fared. Even more luckily there was no power damage since there are powerlines overhead where it fell. I've already witnessed power lines catching fire right near one apartment I lived in; it's not something I want to see again. As of today the tree is still there. Not in the middle of the street, but the branches are all over the sidewalk on one side and the trunk is taking up a parking space on the other.

On Repeat:
Friday night comedy at Mezzo Comedy Club
Yoga & Capoeria-Saturdays at Socrates
Pilates & Tai Chi-Sundays at Socrates
Sunday canoeing and kayaking in Hallets Cove
Sunday evening pub trivia at the Irish Rover (7pm 28th ave @ 38th st)

Tonight Waltz hosts Jazz Duo Eric DiVito and Motohito Fukishima at 9pm for $10. No link on the site so I couldn't preview it.

Socrates has a few more treats up it's sleeves for us. This weekend PlaylabNYC is presenting a production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, in the park, for free! Shakespeare's fairytale will be energetically but simply told, using a wooden stepladder, two small trunks of props and costume pieces and six actors. Check out the website linked above for more information about this group. They will be performing Saturday at 3 and Sunday at 1 and at 4.

Also this weekend at Socrates is another one of their 12-3pm artmaking workshops. Rock, Paper, Scissors with McKendree Key - A Socrates classic! Using recycled and natural materials, participants learn the basics of papermaking to create beautiful handmade paper.

Sunday Hell Gate Social's outdoor movie of the week is The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Grab a drink and some grub and catch a flick in their garden as the sun sets.

Sunday make sure you treat dad! Get some pub grub from Cronin and Phelan's or Dillengers. Or take him out for steak at Christos Steakhouse or Cavo. Or just take a walk through Astoria Park and catch up with him.

Coming up: I wanted to make sure I got this bit in since it sounds pretty cool. This Tuesday Socrates (man they are busy!) presents a free outdoor concert featuring Salt and Samovar at 6:30pm followed by Nicole Atkins and the Sea at 7:30. Check out Socrates' website for all the info, but I linked their names so you can check them out. I'm sure to be there with my blankie and some picnic snacks.

Make it a GREAT weekend everyone!

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Weekender

Heat wave alert! I can’t believe it’s going to be that hot in June of all months. I’m not quite ready for it. I’m still enjoying spring! Honestly, I don’t do too well in that kind of heat. I may not wind up rambling around the hood with my camera like I intended. I may just have to amuse myself some other way.

On Repeat:
Friday night comedy at Mezzo Comedy Club
Yoga & Capoeria-Saturdays at Socrates
Pilates & Tai Chi-Sundays at Socrates
Sunday canoeing and kayaking in Hallets Cove

Saturday at 12 Socrates has another great little art making workshop. This week- Waterfront City with Free Style Arts Association. Using an array of recycled and reusable materials, kids, big and small, are guided in creating and decorating a life-size architectural form that will slowly become a city with rooms, walkways and porches.

Starting this Saturday at noon, the Beer Garden will be broadcasting Eurocup soccer games for the season.

Tonight at 8pm Waltz lines up two singer/songwriters for their 8pm showcase-$10 cover.

Or try something a little different that night. The gals from Seeds of Love are at it again. This time they are participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at Astoria Park, at the track. Cancer survivors, caregivers, family members, corporate sponsors, neighbors, individuals and relay teams will join together in a celebration of survivorship and hope at the 3rd annual Relay For Life at Astoria Park.
They’ve got tons of great raffles to raise money for this awesome cause as well as a DJ, games food and of course, the fun times. Here’s the schedule-Registration begins at 5 p.m. Survivor’s Lap/Opening Ceremony at 6:15 p.m. Luminaria Candle Lighting Ceremony at 9:00 p.m.

Sunday is another (#10) Magic of Astoria Arts & Crafts Market from 11-6 pm at the Queensview Houses (Building #7 on 33rd RoadBuilding #14 on 34th AvenueBetween 21st Street and Crescent Street). Original Paintings, watercolor & oil, jewelry, photos, soaps, crochet, children’s clothing. Unique hand crafted items of all kinds

And, to round it off, a night of pints and useless knowledge at the Irish Rover-7pm.

Make it a great one!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dear Napoli

Dear Napoli,

What the hell happened? For years, you were my favorite neighborhood secret. That great corner pizza joint that served up consistently fast, flavorful, and generous portions of bangin' pasta at a great price. Someone virtually had to be in my inner sanctum for me to take them to you, lest it get too overcrowded and I couldn’t eat myself. I wouldn’t even write about you on this blog.

There would be an off night one out of ten times. Hey, it happens, I can forgive the occasional night off for the regular chef, or if he just wasn’t himself that day. I know it’s not the norm. You were consistently good. Note the use of the word, were. Somewhere things started to slip. But I knew you; I had faith that it was me having off nights.

There was one night when I ordered the baked ziti (one of my trifecta of Napoli perfection which also includes manicotti and the chicken francese) and Jamie had the chicken. Hers was up to par, but mine…well it just didn’t even look the same, never mind the taste. I wished I had the chicken. But still I came back, each time with hope in my tummy.

And after I moved it wasn’t as easy as it used to be. I still had that faith that it was me going on the off night, not that every night was an off night. I came to you, since I moved outside of your delivery radius. I rotated through all my favorite dishes and each time I came up disappointed. I wasn’t the only one. My partner in eating crime also felt disappointed when we would dig in, expecting the beauty of the Napoli I introduced him to on our third date. Instead bland, sometimes under sometimes overcooked food. How hard is it to boil pasta correctly? You’re Italian! I even went so far as to commit what Jamie and I consider sacrilege-ordering salad with my meal instead of the pasta. The day my chicken francese came in a brown looking liquid (I can’t call it sauce) and tasted of nothing but burnt, I couldn’t go back, and I threw my whole meal away, except for the salad which I was thankful to have ordered in lieu of pasta.

I let a few months pass. For someone who used to eat there or order in once a week that’s a long time. When John wanted pizza (I’ll cut you some slack, the pizza is still good) I succumbed and got the baked ziti-out of my faves I figured it was a safe bet to dip my toes into so to speak. I wish I had taken a photo. The top, which used to look perfectly white with melted cheese, was burnt in spots and had an orange hue. Orange? Underneath the normally ooey gooey mozz I would ordinarily find a beautiful pink ricotta rich sauce enveloping every piece of ziti. So good I would secretly wipe it clean with my finger to get every last drop (obviously when eating it at home). What I had in front of me was little bits of ricotta in places and large lumps of it in others, almost as if it had been tossed in last minute and then microwaved (that’s my only explanation for the orange rubbery cheese like substance on the top). Where was the sauce to dredge my piece of bread through to soak up every little bit?

What happened? Did you get new owners? A new chef? Rosie the waitress is still there. Last time I did the pick up I didn’t really recognize the guys at the counter. And there’s a, let’s face it-tacky-LED scrolling sign in the window with your specials now. Everything inside still looks the same, but nothing coming out of the kitchen, save the pizza (which I can’t vouch for, at Napoli I was always much more interested in the pasta) was the same.

Napoli, please come back to normal. Please teach your chef that if your customers can make better food at home, something is wrong. Please please please tell me what happened.

Jenn-your loyal customer of 6 years who has been disappointed for at least one of them.

If anyone knows what’s going on over there, please tell me!

Athens Square Park

Stopped by Athens Square recently, here are a couple of shots.

Waste Not Want Not

Here are some photos from the current exhibit at Socrates. As well as some people getting their work out on in the park.