03/22/13 3:45pm

Welcome home, Coley the osprey!

We checked in with the Osprey’s Journey folks, and learned that Coley – the osprey that scientists have been tracking all these months – is back in NYC at his home in Jamaica Bay! He was in South America during the winter, but as of 5:20pm on March 20, Coley was spotted by Jamaica Bay naturalist Don Riepe. Coley was “sitting in the marsh by his nest with his mate while she was eating a fish.” Welcome home, big bird!

Maybe that elevated rail line won’t be the Queensway after all

We’ve learned that those who want to see the now abandoned LIRR line in Queens (it goes from Rego Park to Ozone Park) turn back into a working rail line, are stepping up their efforts to make it so. Two Congressmen representing southern Queens - Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and Greg Meeks (D-Jamaica) plan to “endorse the proposal and push to allocate federal transportation subsidies to study a plan for bringing rail service back.” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) also supports turning the line back on. This could really throw things in another direction. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Green attractions in Queens – Astoria/LIC, Floral Park, Flushing, the Rockaways, and Douglaston

Joanna Eng wrote up an interesting article about green attractions in the borough of Queens. They include the Steinway & Sons piano factory in Astoria, the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park, the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in the Rockaways, the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston, and the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria/LIC. It’s very cool to see the environment be considered at all of these places.

Andre’s Hungarian for delicious kosher sweets

Anne Shisler-Hughes wrote about her love of Andre’s Hungarian, a kosher bakery in Forest Hills. They make some of the most amazing, delicious sweet things, that happen to be kosher. Check out their delicious macaroons and rugelach. They also sell traditional Hungarian sweets like strudel and kuglóf (enjoy it with coffee). Their baked goods can be enjoyed all year round, so stop in and taste the magic.

Dance at the Hell Gate

Take a look at this lovely, short modern dance, performed on Shore Blvd near the Hell Gate Bridge in Astoria. It is part of a series of dances called Under One, ”a dynamic internet-based project built around a series of short videos featuring professional dancers.”

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/62303678]

03/21/13 3:45pm

A photowalk in Forest Park

We love these photos from a recent walk though Forest Park that the Project Woodhaven folks did. So many great photos, and reminds us that there are still wild areas in Queens. Glad they are repairing the bandshell, too. And hello ducks! Definitely check it out – the photos are fab!

Ran Craycraft of Why Leave Astoria?! did leave Astoria

The NYDN wrote up a story on Ran Craycraft, the founder and editor of Why Leave Astoria?!, and how he actually did leave Astoria for sunny Los Angeles. He left because he wanted to spend more time in his job as the general manager of entertainment for AOL. He believes the site is “in a good place where it can maintain itself.” Ran made an imprint on Astoria and he will definitely be missed. And while WLA?! can maintain itself, we do wonder – will he run it from CA or will someone else, locally, step in…?

Queens in Jeopardy

No, no, we’re not talking about danger, we’re talking about the game show, Jeopardy! Turns out earlier this week Queens had a whole category devoted to itself in the second round. Astoria was the subject of the final question (worth 2,0000 bucks!) – “It ain’t no Waldorf, but this neighborhood has lots of Greeks, & Telly’s Taverna–To Die For.” Of course that’s “What is Astoria?” So. Awesome.

Street Eats U.S.A. visits Queens

Last summer Joe DiStefano took the Street Eats U.S.A. folks all around Queens to sample the delicious noms that the borough is full of. He was reminded of the show (“It was so long ago I almost forgot about it.”) and is happy to say that it will air on the Travel Channel this Saturday at 3pm EDT. Tune in and see Queens (and Joe) in all its glory!

Rockaway skate park

Scenes from the Rockaway skate park two years ago when it was in better condition (it has been trashed by two hurricanes – Irene and Sandy – at this point). Many people wish it could be rebuilt (all concrete), but of course, that takes $$$. It would be a nice outlet for the skaters in that part of the city – fresh air and exercise is good for most everyone.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/11641676]

03/20/13 3:45pm

Happy Spring!

Today is the day – it’s finally Spring! The Vernal Equinox is today, meaning the day and night are equal. This also means the days are going to start being longer than the night. Very exciting stuff – even if it still feels like Winter today.

The Queens Museum of Art is changing its name

As part of their renovation and expansion, the Queens Museum of Art is changing their name to simply, Queens Museum. They plan to change their logo, too, and we look forward to seeing the new design. You’ll still find engaging and thought-provoking art there. Tom Finkelpearl, the museum’s executive director, said “While this is a time of tremendous change for the Queens Museum, what will remain constant is our dedication to openness and engagement.” And never fear, the Panorama of the City of New York is not going anywhere! Thank goodness.

Hail, Snowdonia!

We’ve learned more about the gastropub Snowdonia, which will open in Astoria in May. Their plan to serve beer-inspired and beer-infused food is still on the books, and they’ll also have about 10 taps. Look for beer cocktails, too (here’s hoping for a fab michelada). Their chef will be Will Lubold, formerly of ’inoteca on the Lower East Side. We can’t wait!

Is the MLS looking to Florida now? 

From what we can tell, NYC officials need to pin down and settle on details of the proposed MLS stadium in Queens. MLS commissioner Don Garber said, “It needs to get done so that we can move on with our expansion plans. I’m not going to put any timing on that but we’ve got to finalize our expansion plan. There’s a lot of activity in Orlando and we’ve got to figure out where that fits in with our expansion timing.” There is also a lot of interest in soccer in Florida and the MLS isn’t represented south of DC, so the idea of many hungry soccer fans is appealing. That said, Garber believes NYC will come through and get the show on the road, build that stadium, and wait for the hordes of fans to descend upon Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Armchair traveler – Jackson Heights

Check out this short video of the sights and sounds of Jackson Heights. Loved seeing the Ecuadorian street vendors and Mexican wrestling masks!

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/59118635]

03/19/13 3:45pm

Macaron Day NYC 2013 is tomorrow

Now this is a reason to celebrate – it’s Macaron Day tomorrow! In 2010, François Payard, chef and owner of FP Patisserie and François Payard Bakery in New York, organized the first annual Macaron Day in NYC. It coincides with a celebration in Paris, the Jour du Macaron, created by la Maison Pierre Hermé Paris. Free macarons will be available throughout the city tomorrow – in Queens, head to Jackson Heights for Cannelle Patisserie for your macaron (but you must tell them you are there for Macaron Day). Have fun!

Pharaoh’s Army Fitness is opening in Forest Hills in April

While it may be too late to work off that macaron, check out Pharaoh’s Army Fitness in April, opening in Forest Hills on Queens Blvd (GMAP). They won’t be offering cardio machines or barbells, but will have monkey bars, kettle bells, and TRX equipment. They call their gym “a playground for adults.” They think playing is really good for you and gets you in shape with more fun. Sounds good to us.

LIRR train derailed in Forest Hills yesterday

Here’s hoping you didn’t have a terrible commute this morning – apparently an LIRR train derailed west of Jamaica Station. There were no passengers and no injuries, thank goodness. MTA folks don’t believe the snow was the culprit either. We look forward to learning more.

Property prices have dropped in Queens

Coldwell Banker issued a report that in Queens property prices dropped 13.8 percent in February, which is the sharpest single-month decrease since March 2010. There isn’t a lot of inventory, either – the number of listings on the market is the lowest in three years.

Tommy Hartung Is Off and Running

We loved this video about Ridgewood artist Tommy Hartung and the place running has in his life. Great to hear his philosophy (one point is that running gets him out of his head, a place where artists tend to live) and see parts of Ridgewood and Forest Park, a place you might not think of as very NYC, since the paths can look like they are far out in the country.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/57688186]

03/18/13 3:45pm

Update on the Hunters Point CSA

The organizers of the Hunters Point CSA sent out an update and it’s full of good news. They believe they have found a farmer – Golden Earthworm Farm, which is awesome. They’ll also be holding distribution out of Alewife, which is also very cool. BIG!Compost will also take care of their compost needs; they are working with a bunch of other CSAs in the area, too. So look for share sign up in late March! Very exciting.

Coconut Tapioca Pudding at Bún-Ker – yes, please

Serious Eats took a trip out to Ridgewood to Bún-Ker (AKA Bunker), and tried the coconut tapioca pudding there, which just from the name sounds tasty (if you like coconut and tapicoa, of course). Here’s their description:

The tapioca pearls are sized on the order of Israeli couscous. They’re cooked with care, just tender enough to drink up the lightly sweetened coconut broth. Dig deeper with your spoon to find curls of green coconut, juicy jackfruit, and chewy palm seeds—an ingredient common in Southeast Asian desserts but rarely found stateside.

And only three bucks! Sign us up.

The QueensWay really could become a reality – RFPs issued by TPL for feasibility study

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is ready to find a company to do a feasibility study on the elevated QueensWay park, and has issued an RFP (request for proposals) to do just that. They’ve got $467K to spend on the study, thanks to Governor Cuomo. The feasibility study would focus on analysis of engineering and environmental components. The study will also figure out a design that will incorporate various ideas and concepts. Not everyone in the borough agrees that this elevated park is a good idea, but it will be interesting to see what the feasibility study results are.

The historic Lewis Latimer House in Flushing

Queens is full of historic homes, including the Lewis Latimer House in Flushing. Lewis’s parents, George and Rebecca, escaped slavery in 1842 and ended up in Massachusetts – abolitionists supported George and raised money to pay for his freedom. Lewis enlisted in the Civil War and served in the Navy, where he taught himself technical drawing. After that he worked for patent attorneys Crosby Halstead & Gould. He also handles the complicated illustrations for Alexander Graham Bell’s patent – the telephone. He worked for Thomas Edison, too.

In 1903, Lewis and his wife Mary moved into a house in a primarily white neighborhood in Flushing. He lived there until his death in 1928. Definitely check out the rest of his life’s story – it’s fascinating!

Currency Kites in LIC

We first saw these Currency Kites by artist Erika Harrsch at the No Longer Empty: How Much Do I Owe You? exhibit in LIC. Little did we know that one can actually fly these kites! Check out this short video, taken at Gantry Plaza State Park in LIC.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/61642171]

03/15/13 3:45pm

Buenos Angie’s now offers chocolate covered alfajores

Alfajores are superbly delicious. They are a sandwich cookie, popular in Latin American cuisine, made of luscious dulce de leche sandwiched in between two soft sugar cookies. There’s a variant, called alfajores de maizena, where the cookies are made with cornstarch, making them crumbly and more delicate. Buenos Angie’s is a local alfajores maker, based in the Entrepreneur Space of the Queens EDC. She is now making yet another variant on alfajores – covering them in chocolate. Holy business, that sounds good. In the words of Anne-Shisler Hughes, “you will never settle for a boring cookie again.”

The Entrepreneur Space’s second birthday on Martha Stewart

Last week’s Entrepreneur Space second birthday party made it onto the Martha Stewart Living blog! The MSLO folks took a real liking to MitchMallows, which is understandable, as he makes so many tasty and cute marshmallow treats. The bloggers really made the rounds, too, and took a ton of photos. Check it out!

Sayra’s Wine Bar will open in the Rockaways very soon

This week we learned about Sayra’s Wine Bar, which will very likely be the very first wine bar opening up in the Rockaways ever. It will be run by Rockaway native Rashida Jackson, along with her partner, Patrick Flibotte (he is designing the interior of the bar). One detail of note is that they will be serving wines from various surfing regions around the globe; that makes sense, since they’ll be located just around the corner from Boarders, the popular local surf shop. Look for the wine bar by summer.

NY1 wants to rebrand themselves as TWC News

Have you heard? NY1 is going away! Well, in name only – they want to change their name to “TWC News” instead. Gothamist reported on it this morning, and from what we can tell on Facebook, folks are a bit bummed out by the impending change. People really love the “NY1″ moniker (it also rolls off the tongue easier than “TWC News”). NY1 says, “Our research shows that people who watch our stations, such as NY1, are loyal viewers, yet most people don’t understand their connection to Time Warner Cable. It is for these two reasons that we’re embarking upon a rebranding project that will take the better part of a year.” We always knew it was a Time Warner Cable property – guess some folks were confused.

West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills turns 100, has tons of plans in the works

The West Side Tennis Club is an institution in Forest Hills – hard to believe they wanted to tear down the 100 year old Club just a few years ago, after hearing about all the fun plans they have in store. They want to hold a New York Open (July 4-7) where both professionals and amateurs alike will compete. In April, a private club event will take place. And in the summer, they are looking at hosting carnivals, free tennis clinics, and music festivals. Awesome!

03/14/13 3:45pm

A little bit about the people at Cassinelli

Nancy Ruhling at the Huffington Post wrote about the people behind Cassinelli, the pasta factory over on 23rd Ave in Astoria. Their hours are a bit wonky, but their product is a delight.

Tony Bonfigli and Nella Costella are the owners (they are not married) and have been at the pasta business at Cassinelli for over 50 years. Tony came over from Italy when he was 13 (1956) and Nella arrived in 1951 (she’s 8 years older than Tony, so she was 21). After she had her first child she worked part time at the factory. She and Tony bought Cassinelli from the owners in 1972.

We love their pasta and especially like making lasagna from their fresh pasta sheets (believe us, it makes a huge difference).

The 2012 Report Card on Large Parks

New Yorkers for Parks has released their 2012 Report Card on Large Parks – these parks are defined as public spaces between 20 and 500 acres. The Report Card has run data-driven evaluations on aspects of each parks against agreed-upon benchmarks, and they highlight well-functioning parks.  Queens has the most number of parks evaluated – 17! This includes Astoria Park, Juniper Valley Park (Middle Village), and Baisley Pond Park (Jamaica), among others. NB: really big parks like Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Idlewild, Alley Pond, and Forest Park were not part of this Report Card.

Hello, secret affogato

Hey, that rhymes! Seriously, we loved reading about this off-menu affogato – gelato or ice cream with espresso poured over it – at Eddie’s Sweet Shop in Forest Hills. “It’s vanilla chip ice cream drowned in espresso and topped with a crumbled sugar cone and hot fudge.” And it’s only $7! Sweet (literally).

White Bear’s wontons #6 rule, no lie

Gothamist agrees that the wontons at White Bear in Flushing is some of the top Chinese food in NYC. They call them spicy wontons, and they are also known as “wonton #6.” The wonton skins are strikingly bright white and the wontons are crazy delicious.

“This minuscule Flushing shop—located steps from the Flushing-Main Street 7 stop so no excuses!—makes Sichuan-style wontons stuffed with savory pork and cabbage, lovingly encased in a thin, tender wrapper. The dumplings are then generously sprinkled with spicy chili oil, chopped scallions, and diced picked vegetables.”

Our mouths are watering just thinking about them.

MTA Bus Time – many more lines in Queens will get a hookup

The MTA Bus Time project - a real-time bus tracking tool – will find its way into Queens by 2014. Currently it’s only implemented on the Q60 in Queens. It’s on many lines in Staten Island the Bronx and has been a great success. Fernando Ferrer, the MTA’s acting chairman says, “Bus Time is so helpful to our customers that we have scheduled an extremely aggressive timetable to introduce it to three other boroughs.”

03/13/13 3:45pm

Get ready for the second annual Queens New Music Festival

Brought to you by the folks behind Random Access Music, the second annual Queens New Music Festival is coming to LIC’s The Secret Theatre’s Main Stage from May 16-19, 2013. This concert is the result of the call for proposals that happened in 2012. Featured artists include the newly established Periapsis Music and Dance ensemble and the Kaufman Music Center’s Face the Music program. Other local groups are participating as well. An all-access festival pass is only $50! One day passes and single ticket prices are also available. It should be an amazing festival.

More love for HinoMaru in Astoria

The folks over at Patch do a run down of ramen spots in the city in their list, Six Great Places to Eat Ramen. Not surprisingly, HinoMaru Ramen on Ditmars made the list. In their words: “Proof that ramen is growing as a form of comfort cuisine in New York City, this Queens restaurant was recently lauded in Food & Wine magazine for serving its noodles with uni and Parmesan cream.” More ramen action is coming to Astoria as Tamashii opens their doors soon. We look forward to doing a “ramen-off” then.

Public space in Corona survey

If you live in Corona and are concerned about public space in the neighborhood, consider taking this survey by Cody Herrmann, a college student at Parsons the New School for Design. He is doing a project about new creative public space in Corona, Queens.

Agnanti is a top Greek restaurant in NYC

While it’s probably not a surprise to many, Agnanti is a top pick when it comes to Greek restaurants, according to Greek Reporter USA. They are located adjacent to Astoria Park, overlooking the northeast corner, which has a nice view. The food is great – recently we stopped in for a light dinner of Greek salad, meatballs, and zucchini fritters, with a carafe of wine. Yum.

The Rockaway Center for Coastal Recovery and Preservation

Yasemin Smallens wants to repurpose the former Park Theater (on Beach 116th) into the Rockaway Center for Coastal Recovery and Preservation (CCRP). It will have “panoramic views of the ocean, and it will engender a feeling of oneness of the ocean and will embrace fear of it.” It will have sustainable construction, contain a database of personal stores of loss and recovery, and provide facilities for healing with art. It will be a community gathering place. Also, it will be a national meeting center in which to discuss things like rising sea levels, transportation issues, and the creation of a sustainable coastline.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/61685925]

03/12/13 3:45pm

The NYC soda ban was overturned

After all this anticipation, Bloomberg’s soda ban was overturned. You can thank Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, who, in a 36-page ruling, called the ban “arbitrary and capricious.” In his mind there were some legit inconsistencies. Bloomberg says he will appeal. Some restaurants, though, plan to carry on with the limitations set forth in the ban, regardless of yesterday’s decision.

LA vs. NYC Mexican food – which is best? 

Via the City Spoonful Facebook page, we took a look at this interesting article from FirstWeFeast, The Great Debate: Is L.A. Mexican Food Really Better than NYC Mexican Food? It is a common complaint among California expats that NYC Mexican food is not that great and that the real deal Mexican food is on the West coast. We tend to agree with this statement: “There is great Mexican food in New York City—anyone who denies it just isn’t looking hard enough.” We’ve eaten a lot of truly delicious Mexican food especially in neighborhoods like Jackson Heights and Corona – both in restaurants and off of street carts. Tortas Nezas, take us away!

Open Door has opened their doors

Open Door restaurant, run by local guy Nick Guitart (he’s executive chef and owner), is finally open. We first heard about it in 2009, and four years later, it’s in business. Their original concept was to serve “small, American-style tapas” in a relaxed environment. There are definitely small plates involved and the atmosphere is relaxed. The “leg of lamb, with apricot slaw on top of a walnut and date bread” sure sounded good. Yuca gnocchi with cilantro pesto also is intriguing. We can’t wait to try it ourselves.

Mets second baseman Jordany Valdespin is going to be OK

We read over on Gothamist about an unfortunate experience Mets second baseman Jordany Valdespin had yesterday. There was a 94 mph fast ball and… no cup. OUCH. The pitcher (Verlander) that threw the ball felt pretty bad (but probably not as bad as Valdespin). Everything is ok, though, and in working order. Maybe Valdespin will change his ways after this.

El Panadero – making pan dulce in Jackson Heights

We loved this video called El Panadero, about a man who makes pan dulce – those are the colorful Mexican pastries you see in various bakeries in Jackson Heights, Corona, and Elmhurst – at Panaderia Coatzingo in Jackson Heights. It’s fascinating to see him crack eggs, wrestle with a giant mass of dough, and create colorful pastries. Makes us want to run right down and pick some up!

03/11/13 3:45pm

Traffic calming measures implemented in LIC/Sunnyside

Back in September we we told you about the frustration experienced by locals living near 39th Street in LIC/Sunnyside – apparently drivers would regularly drive the wrong way on 39th Street. They would do that after they approached the roadway to the LIE, realized that the traffic was nuts and would find an escape solution. Sadly, it was an illegal one, though that didn’t stop anyone. At the corner of 39th Street and 51st Ave, DOT installed a quick curb, which has made the area much safer. Happy to know this is the case.

Overheard in Astoria

“That Charlie Chaplin – he’s no Harold Lloyd!”

Overheard at Agnanti restaurant in Astoria, while Charlie Chaplin films were playing at the restaurant.

No tolls on the Cross Bay-Veterans Memorial Bridge? Many Rockaway residents would welcome this.

State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) introduced legislation in the Assembly to abolish the tolls on the Cross Bay-Veterans Memorial Bridge. As you can imagine, many Rockaway residents embrace this idea. In order for them to take care of a number of basic needs - gas, drug store, church, bank, doctor’s office, post office – they are required to cross the bridge and pay a toll. State Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) says the toll “slows the advancement of the peninsula.” It also discourages new businesses from opening, which has a negative effect on advancement of the peninsula. And if the city needs toll money during the summer season (the busiest, by far), Addabbo suggests maybe lifting the toll between Labor Day and Memorial Day.

A farmers market may come to the Hunters Point section of LIC

Good news for you greenmarket/farmers market fans out there – one may be coming to the Hunters Point section of LIC. It would be run by Down to Earth Farmers Markets, a company that runs 20 markets in Westchester County, Rockland County, and NYC. It will be located on 48th Avenue between Vernon Blvd and 5th Street. The dates/times it would be operational are mid-May to mid-November, probably on Saturdays, from 9am-4pm.

Salvaged Hurricane Sandy boardwalk pieces find love in Heartwalk

This is a very cool art installation that happened recently.

“Situ Studio, a Brooklyn design firm, won the fifth annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition. The design, Heartwalk, was inspired by Hurricane Sandy and how local communities persevered in a time of hardship. Situ Studio salvaged boardwalk pieces from Sandy’s aftermath—in Long Beach, New York; Sea Grit and Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Rockaways, Queens—to build the 34-feet in diameter installation.”

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/61447181]