October 20, 2017

Another Astoria institution expanding to Manhattan.

This 54 year old institution located at 30-13 Steinway street in Astoria has been keeping the locals happy with top notch pizza and now it’s time for the city to get a turn. A new branch will open this spring at 17 Clinton Street in Manhattan.

Roast beef and csa veggies (for dummies)

Got hours to spend poring over recipes and even more time to futz around the kitchen while nanny takes care of the kids and maid does your dishes and laundry? Yeah, me neither. So when I cook at home it’s all about KISS. Google that if ya don’t know it.

Here’s what you do for a nice roast beef and veggies dish. I like to do this on weekends when there is a few hours to cook before dinner. Actually work time is minimal. You just rub, season and get it into oven. Then play with kid or spouse till dinner time.

I spy Astoria @ The Astor Room

It’s Wednesday and that means “Pine Island oysters and Stella from 5pm – 7pm at The Astor Room, all for the low low low low price of$15! I could probably stop right here but then it wouldn’t be a blog post would it.

This could be one of those nights that you talk about at the end of summer. To quote my friend Mark “You’re gonna have to roll me outta there”. Mark is smart, full of “one liners” and hungry. The kind of good buddy you look for when planning a gluttonistic (?) night out. Heck, I might even be a generous type and pay. Nothing like looking good for cheap. And by the way, if you miss it tonight you can always try again next Wednesday or the one after that.

I spy Astoria food scene

Let’s talk about restaurants. First off let me say that, Yes, I am a chef and yes the food matters. BUT it is not all about the food. It is not the scene or the atmosphere or the “farm to table” thing that does it for me. You too(?) perhaps. It is the people who really make it.

Our local restaurants here in Astoria really stand out in this category. These are the places I have started writing about and will continue to share more stories in the coming months. Many of our best places are run by people who care more about more than the bottom line. These people are part of the community. They work in the “Arts” or do community work. Others simply put their life and love into every dish that comes out of the kitchen. That is why your food tastes so good. A few names come to mind here. Evan at the Queens Kickshaw, Chris at The Astor room and Piccola Venezia, Gary at Bistro 33 and William Hallet, Natasha at Bear, Darren at Il Bambino, Michelle at Sugar Freak. Good people, family people, community people. And oh yeah, their food kicks ass and can make your swoon.

I spy Astoria @ Sac’s Place

Dear Jonathan, We’ve been going to our farm in Pennsylvania twice a week to hand-pick fruit, vegetables & herbs. We’ve been featuring fresh produce (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, peaches, plums, parsley and basil) in many of our daily specials for the past few weeks and will continue to do so as long as the harvest lasts. It really is a great time of year to be creative and experiment with delicious, home-grown products and we would like to invite everyone to come and share the goodness with us.

We also are featuring live music twice a week. On Mondays, The Larry Luger Trio plays jazz and on Tuesdays, The New Standards Trio plays contemporary standards and old favorites. Both nights are a great deal of fun (and we encourage people to get up and sing).

How was Ramen fest? Lame.

Ok folks, I really wanted to love this event. Probably my own fault. I didn’t realize the Japan block party / Ramen fest was only a sub event of a six block long standard street fair. The Ramen booths looked great BUT, you had to buy a ticket then get on a line from hell for each booth, EACH BOOTH! There were few other booths selling Japanese food but we were there for killer Ramen.

Aurora shooting victim fundraiser @ The Laughing Devil Comedy Club

The good people at The Laughing Devil Comdey Club sent me a letter asking for help spreading the word.

On Monday, July 30th, the Laughing Devil is holding a fundraiser for Caleb Medley, one of the victims of the Batman shooting in Aurora. Caleb is an aspiring comic, and our GM, Scott Sharp, is a former Denver comic who knew Caleb personally. Caleb was shot protecting his 9-month pregnant wife (who has since given birth). The fundraiser is simple – anyone is welcome to come and have a drink with us. It’s $15, which gets each customer one drink. 100% of the cover will be donated

I Spy Astoria @ Ovelia

Looks like we have a new celeb in the ‘hood. Chef Pete over at Ovelia on 30th avenue / 34th street was recently interviewed by E! for a show and qualified to the last round for a new ABC show w Anthony Bourdaine (we hope he gets the gig). Pete was also featured in last week’s episode of Mike Colameco’s Real Food “Pig Island”

As for us locals, we get to enjoy Pete’s non acting skills every time we sit down at Ovelia.

Grub Street’s “Hated food words” list is out!

How many are on your own personal “Hated annoying words” list? I count 7, Ok, maybe 9.

The list (to learn more and how to add your own, click the link).

New York street Ramen fest 2012

Are you ready for it??!?!?!?! Tweet

A Chef On A Diet

I have started a new diet and in order to keep myself accountable it is now a website.  A Chef On A Diet follows my journey of weight loss, diet exploration, recipes and tips on dining out.  My diet of choice is the 4Hr body slow carb diet by Tim Ferriss. Please join me and […]

Not your Bubby’s chopped liver

Some years later while eating at a friend’s restaurant I was introduced to his house special amuse bouche. He was famous for a small ramekin of pate with toast points which appointed every table upon being seated. The pate was delicious and he chuckled when I asked for this obviously expensive secret recipe. It was nothing more than chicken livers (discarded during prep) sauteed with copious amounts of butter and cheap brandy, some onions and yesterdays stale bread for toast points. That’s it. Well that and a chef’s talent for turning bits and pieces into a four star dish. I was hooked! Who knew butter went with everything? Well, the French did and my childhood friend of course but it was new to me. Life was getting better and you weren’t going to get struck dead.

Green market Tuscan vegetable soup

In soup pot, pour in oil to cover bottom of pan. Saute onions to soften. Add garlic and cook till fragrant. Crush tomatoes by hand and add to pot along with juices. Add all remaining ingredients. Stir and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and let cook uncovered one to two hours. The longer the better. This dish is even better the next day. Adjust for seasonings.

Ladle soup into big bowls. Each bowl gets a drizzle of oil and dollop of basil oil (below).

Serve with grilled or toasted good bread slices, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.

Green market butternut squash soup

The fall harvest is crazy with colors and flavors from dark leafy greens to heavy yellow and orange squash. The green market had it all. I scooped up some butternut squash, carrots, apples and onions. Another farmer inspired me to purchase dark green Tuscan kale, zucchini, basil, celery and garlic. Some canned goods and other items from kitchen pantry rounded out the ideas brewing for the day’s soups.

I spy Astoria & LIC

Wednesday night was the Edible Queens Uncorked event at The Foundry in LIC, NY. So much food, so much wine and so little time. Let’s focus on the highlights and big news from the evening.

The event was hosted by Leah McLaughlin, the wonderfully personable and charming owner of Edible Queens. Leah is a true believer in all things Queens and might be the borough’s biggest booster.

Now for the news.