There’s no better place than Queens to watch the leaves change color, feel the wind pickup, and no that soon there will be warm drinks offered. Johanna is home in Australia right now- but we are plotting and planning our next adventure. Stay tuned!
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 Mic, REZ Reading Series, Oh 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!
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!
This weekend kicks off the second Annual Astoria Art Festival! Get out there and see some local art by Queens residents!
The map of bars and restaurants participating in the event can be viewed at the Astoria Art Festival site.
For more background information, check out this article in today’s Daily News.
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
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.
A couple weekends ago we cruised out to the last stop on the R train at Forest Hills-71st Ave to see what actually was at the end of the line. When talking about Queens, Forest Hills doesn’t really seem to come up. People talk about Flushing, Astoria, Jackson Heights- but not Forest Hills. Since at the time we were in the midst of a heatwave, we had put off making a weekend trek further out into the borough. We’d stayed home, cranked the A/C, and swore to each other that we wouldn’t use the oven, under any circumstances. But we felt obliged, we felt like we should, so we peeled ourselves off the couch and went.
First off- this is one of the NICEST neighborhoods I’ve been to in NYC. Nestled between Corona, Rego Park and Kew Gardens, stepping out of the station is stepping into a serene space, quiet and tranquil. Actually, I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. Deafening.
The first spot we hit was Emily’s Sugar Rush. Unfortunately, Johanna is not a fan of candies of the gummi variety, but lo and behold there was a wall of gummi candy that stretched the entire store. I filled my bag with gummi eggs, gummi chickens feet, gummi whales, gummie cherries, gummi… bears, you get the picture:
Afterwards we wandered around taking in Austin Street. We were hungry- yes- the gummi candy wasn’t going to satisfy me. We wound our way over to Jack and Nellie’s for brunch- unfortunately our meandering caused us to hit that dreaded time in all weekend brunch spots- changing the kitchen over. So instead, their extensive list of beers helped us power through.
After a tipple we wandered some more- it seems that FH has an abundance of green spaces- parks, lots transformed into gated gardens. Like many other neighborhoods, the streets have no rhyme or reason, but in this instance it’s a good thing.
Before heading back to Astoria we decided to try a bar I had heard of. I had read really good reviews of Dirty Pierre’s and it seemed too hard to pass up the opportunity to try a local dive bar. It’s a gem. Really eclectic, dizzying decor, cheap drinks and cheese balls. You really don’t need much more. After introducing ourselves to the bartender and a couple local patrons, the bartender hooked us up with some delicious samples of sangria. Apparently that’s something their known for, and after a couple of those babies, I can understand why. Definitely try it if you are every in the neighborhood!
All up, this is a fantastic neighborhood. If you’re looking to show that NYC isn’t a concrete jungle, this would be the destination.
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!)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.