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.

The Freshest Neighborhood in Queens?

28th Ave. and Steinway just got a lot more… fresh.

The empty storefront that was previously Lil Joe’s Bar and Grill, and even more further back Luna De Juarez has gotten a new awning and fresh coat of paint.

Friday was the Grand Opening of Steinway Fresh Farm- an open-aired organic market that leans heavily on Middle Eastern fare. It was slow going, but once they got set up the places is fantastic. In the recent wave of more organic shops opening in Astoria, this one is welcome with open arms.

Not close to 28th and Steinway? Here’s a list of other organic markets in the area:

Ditmars and 31st Street: California Farmers Market

Broadway and 46th Street: Vitality & Health Natural Market

30th Ave. and 31st Street: Sai Organics

Broadway and 31st Street: Broadway Natural

Steinway and 31st Ave.: Organics for All

Broadway and Steinway: 24/7 Organic & Natural Food Market

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

 

This IS Queens!

I just read today that new app “This is Queens” will be launching on June 26! The app was designed by the Queens Chamber of Commerce to highlight Queens’ attractions.

I am very curious to check out what the app will be like, and to see if it does indeed help draw tourists to the borough.  For more information check out this article on The Daily News.

A Song of Ice and… Lemon Ice

Summer is here- and that means a lot to NYC. Beaches are re-opened, all the bars dust off their patio furniture,  BBQ pits are being rolled out. People are finding ways to get back to the rooftops of their apartment buildings and wondering how many people can be up their at once.

Also- trying to keep cool and trying to keep your cool.

Lemon_Ice

The Lemon Ice King of Corona

We trekked out to Corona last weekend to hit up the Lemon Ice King of Corona. Many people may be familiar with it from the opening of King of Queens (yes, the CBS situation Comedy from yesteryear that paid homage to our borough). Corona has been of my favorite places since I volunteered at OpenHouseNewYork and had spent the day at the Louis Armstrong Museum.

The Benfaremo family have been serving up Italian Lemon Ices for some 60+ years. That’s 60+ years of squeezing all sorts of fruit and ice together to make a frosty concoction somewhere between a Snowcone and a… well, it’s like a thick Snowcone.

So many Flavors

So many Flavors

WE DO NOT MIX

WE DO NOT MIX

Johanna had the traditional lemon, while I went wild and had the grape. My infatuation for grape flavored anything goes back to grape flavored dubble bubble gum. Something about that artificial grape flavoring. Anyway, what better way to spend a hot day that watching a rousing game of Bocce and eating Italian Ices? There’s something to it.

Raising a Lemon Ice to the Lemon Ice King.

Raising a cup Ice to the Lemon Ice King.

And an extra treat, the King of Queens intro:

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!