Literary Astoria

This weekend really opened my eyes as to how much great literary action is happening in Queens!  I had no idea there were so many people involved in developing a supportive community of poets and writers in our very own borough.  It’s all very exciting and refreshing to see it first hand, which is what we did on Friday and Saturday nights this weekend.

On Friday night, we rocked up to the Queens Literary Town Hall, held by the Queens Council on the Arts in their “3rd Space” location in Astoria.   The event, hosted and curated by local artist Audrey Dimola, featured different people from all over the borough giving information and in some cases a sample, of their literary-related Queens-based event and organizations.  The participating collectives/businesses included Boundless Tales Reading Series, First Tuesdays Reading Series & Open MicREZ Reading SeriesOh Bernice! Reading Series, Astoria Bookshop, Enigma Bookstore, and Newtown Literary Journal. It was really great to see that there is so much going on that we have yet to explore when it comes to experiencing local writing!

Literary Town Hall at the Queens Council on the Arts 3rd Space

Literary Town Hall at the Queens Council on the Arts 3rd Space

On Saturday night, jazzed by the evening before, we decided to check out the Oh Bernice! Reading Series at Astoria Bookshop.  Featuring poets and writers including Celine Keating, Kathryn Levy, John Reid Currie, and Peter Vanderburg, we got to taste a selection of some of work that I think otherwise I might not have sought out on my own.  I particularly liked John Reid Currie‘s work, and it was a bit of a kick to hear him recite a poem set in our very own Astoria!

For more information on what’s going on in your area, check out the above sites and go support the writers of Queens!

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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.

MOMI to Break Bad

The duality of Walter White, courtesy of Laughing Squid

Thanks to a tip-off from another Astoria enthusiast,  we have learned that our favorite local museum, The Museum of the Moving Image aka MOMI, will soon be holding an exhibition on most excellent AMC show Breaking Bad!  As a fan of the show, I am really curious to check it out and see what it’s like.

For more information check out the MOMI website (unfortunately the talk with creator/producer Vince Gilligan on July 28th is already sold out!)

LIC Flea and Food is Jumping!

LIC_Flea_Food

LIC Flea and Food!

From 10am-6pm, on Saturday and Sunday, a small corner of the LIC waterfront is transformed into the latest in weekend revelry- a Flea Market.

Long gone are the days of the flea markets where you would haggle over broken kitchen appliances or sifting through Barry Manilow LPs. These days the food and flea markets are a real venue for local artisans and food geeks can sidle up to one another and hock their wares.

This weekend we trekked out to LIC to see what all the hubbub was about. In a corner between all the industrial buildings the tents unfolded. We first hit up the food stalls to see what was happening- Asian BBQ, Empanadas, Baked pies. They really had a wide array representing Queens. I first hit up a South African street food vendor, Woza. I grabbed something called a Boerwors, which is braai (sauage) over pap (polenta) with a sweet tomato sauce.

Boerwors!

Boerwors!

While I was getting my Boerwor-on, Johanna grabbed a chicken and veg pie.

Since the weekend was a scorcher, really, cooling off with the lemonade from The Butcher Bar was quite the thirst quencher. Since it’s opening in Astoria, they’re really become a landmark in the the area for their grass-fed cuts of beef and sausages (also they cater, which methinks would be a good birthday situation).

Ice Cold Lemonade!

Ice Cold Lemonade!

We passed a few different stalls- a gentleman selling taxidermied squirrel skulls, robot emblazoned t-shirts and a lot of different kinds of jewelry. One good haul was that we finally got the Queens Map that we’ve been eyeing for the last couple of years. Score.

Before heading back to Astoria, we made another swing through the food stalls- the Peruvian manjares (baked empanadas)  from Jessy’s Pastries were out of this world- flaming spicy chicken wrapped in a sweet pastry- couldn’t go wrong here.

Needed to make one more pit stop- Smoky Chan’s BBQ for the pulled Duck Sandwich!

Pulled Duck BBQ Sandwich!

Pulled Duck BBQ Sandwich!

 

Something that hit us big was the Horman’s Best Pickles stall- tons and tons of different pickles, and since we were having a dinner party later that day- we needed some of these pickles: A pint of the Spicy Sour and the Honey Mustard. Their only online currently, and only taking large orders- so you’ll have to stop by here for your pickle needs.

Slangin' them pickles

Slangin’ them pickles

 

It’s all LIC

Finally, it’s feeling like summer, and LIC in turn is hotting up over the next few days.

On Saturday, June 1st, Flux Factory is holding their ribbon cutting ceremony for the very curious Kitty City. I am definitely planning on stopping by (between 12 and 6pm) to check out the kittens doing their kitten thing.

If kittens don’t float your boat, on Tuesday, June 4th, The Chocolate Factory Theater is hosting the 8th Annual Taste of LIC at Gantry State Park.

Kittens and food? This summer’s shaping up to be amazing already!