Fall is coming

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
– To Autumn, John Keats

fall-leaf

It’s coming real close for Johanna and I to start busting out the boots and flannel. Dangerously close. It’s also that time where the summer trends lead into fall, and everything (EVERYTHING) is going to taste like pumpkin for a while.

And as the season winds down, so do the patio brunches, the long lines and outdoor BBQs. Now is the time to start hunting that bar that has the fireplace, that’s going to have cocktails that will warm your cockles and that all alluring season tasting menu.

Along with land speculation, NYC has a fondness for restaurant speculation. And right now: Queens has slowly been heating up. The recent produced Eater Queens Heatmap has rolled out and I gotta say some of these places are worth the trip.

1. Snowdonia (34-55 32ND ST, ASTORIA, NY 11106)- Gastropub, Good Beer Selection, good for a second date.

2. Tamashii Ramen (29-05 BROADWAY, ASTORIA, NY 11106)- Great Ramen at an even greater price. You’re gonna want to come here early, because it’s tiny and it WILL get packed.

3. Woodbines (47-10 VERNON BOULEVARD, LONG ISLAND CITY, NY 11101)- I’m already gonna spoil it for you- this place is gonna get it’s own dedicated post. Stay tuned.

4. Pata Paplean (76-21 WOODSIDE AVE, ELMHURST, NY) – We’ll make it out here and tell you all about it. We swear on our Kuai-tiao nam.

5. Sayra’s Wine Bar (91-11 ROCKAWAY BEACH BLVD, QUEENS, NY)- Quite the distance- and sadly we did not make it out to Rockaway Beach this year.

6. Crescent Grill (38-40 CRESCENT STREET, QUEENS, NY 11101) – We’ve made plans to go here- and we will. Just you see.

7. Mar’s (34TH AVE, ASTORIA, NY 11106)- I sampled one of every oyster here- and they were all magnifique. The menu is quite select right now- but they plan on rolling out some landlubbing fare soon.

8. Milkflower ( 34-12 31ST AVE., ASTORIA, NY 11106)-  Gonna get some flack on this- but we weren’t really fans. I like the hearth and soul they put into their woodfire pizzas, and I love the house made mozzarella, but I feel if they dialed it back a notch- things would be great.

9. Grill 43 (43-02 43RD AVE, SUNNYSIDE, NY 111040)- Trust me, I love me some Chicken Doner, so this is gonna be a very important trek for us.

10. Bunker (46-63 METROPOLITAN AVE, RIDGEWOOD, NY 11385)- I wanted to say a little out of the way, but I recall the madcap-ness of having to find this place- it’s way out of the way. If you’re in the area, it’s decent place- but bring your wallet. It’s also tiny, so bring some of your closest friends, no space to get acquainted here.  Also- there’s a great big Western Beef over there that captured our hearts.

11. Mamak House (35-20 FARRINGTON STREET, FLUSHING, NY 11355)- It’s not often that I’ve had any Malaysian food, but I think it’s high time I did. Johanna has had it, and in her words: “I liked it a lot. It’s good.”

12. MP Taverna (31-29 DITMARS BLVD, ASTORIA, NY 11105)- I directed my boss to go here on one of his seldom trips out of Manhattan. He loved it. Ditmars has really been ebbing and flowing with new restaurants, and this one seems to be the crown jewel of the avenue.

13. LÁO CHÉNG DŪ (37-17 PRINCE ST, FLUSHING, NY 11354) –  With all the awesome restaurants in Flushing, for this one to get called out, they gotta be doing something extra special.

14. Alchemy, Texas ( 71-04 35TH AVENUE, JACKSON HEIGHTS, NY)- Deep in the heart of Jackson Heights and tucked in the back of sports bar, some of the best BBQ in New York City. (Note: I believe this place has either shut down, or is shutting down very soon..)

15. M. Wells Dinette (22-25 JACKSON AVE, QUEENS, NY 11101)- I’ve read all the back-and-forth about M. Wells, that it closed, that it’s now reopened. I think I’m gonna make this trip soon just so I can see this version open for my own eyes.

SO- in summation- we’ve got a lot of homework and trips to make- and we hope you’ll make them too.

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Wisdom begins in wonder.

Today we went on a Loukoumades ( λουκουμάδες ) hunt.  Loukoumades (which I was corrected at least twice on the hunt), is a kind of fried dough soaked in sugar syrup, honey and cinnamon. All in all, it’s gonna be a lot of sugar. We needed something to relieve the eternal heat that has engulfed us.

Long story short, we came up empty handed. BUT, we were able to score some other items. We wandered over to Titan Foods to forage for any kind of Greek sweets. Titan Foods is pretty exclusive- anything Greek, anything remotely Greek, anything with a hint of Greek- they have it and it’s cheap. They’re the Greek superstore of Astoria. We’ve visited several times in the past, but this time I scoured the aisles in our search. I did find some good priced olive paste, but no, no Loukoumades. Instead, we hit up the bakery though for some Spinach and Cheese Pies:

Johanna and her Spinach Spanakopita (σπανακόπιτα,) , I’m rocking the cheese pocket (τυρόπιτα).

We also grabbed a 1/2 pound of another Greek pastries Touloumbakia (that was freak out full of sugar and honey- this is definitely a gift for my Greek co-worker, I couldn’t finish a single one without feeling a cavity coming on).  We made our way down the street to Ya-Ya’s Bakery,  a place we pass constantly. This seemed to be the Parthenon of Greek pastries. A small bakery, floor to ceiling was packed high with pastries, some crowded into glass cases.

And they had the Greek Donut. There was no name for it, just Greek Donut. for $1.50 you could purchase a ring of fried dough coated with huge granules of sugar, the size of your head. We jetted to Athen’s Park to down the massive pastries.

YaYas

Ya-Ya’s Bakery

Greek_Donut

Greek Donut gonna get you.

So far, still no Loukoumades- but we did get all hopped up on other Greek delights. We’re gonna keep hunting until we get them, but until then consider our pastry tour of Astoria incomplete.

Ramsay does Queens

A couple years ago British celeb chef Jamie Oliver started off a culinary tour of the US with a stop in Queens (Astoria specifically), and now it looks like it’s Gordon Ramsay’s turn to check out our fine borough.

Over the course (get it) of next weekend, July 13 to 16, Ramsay will be filming his show Kitchen Nightmares at Greek restaurant Kati Allo in Bayside. If you wish to be a patron of Kati Allo any one of these nights, email knqueensrest@gmail.com for reservations and more info!

P.S. check out the awesome music intro at the start of Kati Allo’s website… it reminds me of the site of one of my favorite Astoria establishment’s–Ornella Trattoria.

A Changing Astoria

I have been in Astoria only 4 years, but in that short time I have witnessed how the neighborhood has gradually shifted and changed.  During my first couple of months here I would walk to work, passing by construction on the first Bareburger on 31st Ave.  To me the opening on Bareburger kind of represents the start of my experience of a changing Astoria.   Of course, Astoria has been changing for much longer than that.

On it’s “Lens” blog today, the New York Times posted a photo essay on ethnic identity in Astoria by photographer Niko J. Kallianiotis.  There are some great photographs depicting both the Greek nationalities, as well as others who have moved to Astoria over the years.

I highly recommend having a look!