James Islands Local Coffee Shop Vibe

 

A pillar of strength and consistency for many years, serving the early morning caffeine needing commuters. Unfortunately not structurally built for a drive thru, but finding fast parking is a cinch.

As I approached, a landscaper was wacking, trimming and bagging the grounds from, making the outdoor seating look that much more appealing.

Inside feels right, coffee-house calm — a tap on a keyboard the flip of a page all within the surrounding rich jazz notes of Miles Davis.

The coffee comes quick to the counter, quicker from Counter Culture as roasted coffee beans life span lasts about one week.

I loved my triple shot espresso from the Italian made La Marzocco machine, it had the perfect tamp pressure, the first sip to the final left me fully encompassed in the moment. That moment of the morning before the world attacks.

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Gettin’ Loose at The Tattooed Moose

The House Burger & The Duck Fries.

 

 

 

 

“If the parking lot is any indication of what is to be inside — we’re not getting seated for a while”, were my pre-hostess thoughts. Luckily a group of eight were just leaving as we entered — four two tops were separated and readied.

Not five minutes later, the live music fires up, I’m directly infront of it, the lighting is rather low for 3:00 Saturday afternoon — bad weather played a role.
Point being — I struggled a bit reading the menu and struggled a tad more hearing complete sentences.
Grade of ‘B+’ to have such good live music playing so early.

Moosehead was allegedly on tap, excited –we both ordered pints, but they came to us tasting off. We both knew it was not Moosehead, and tasted like a skunky Miller, significant disappointment there. Transitioning into Pabst Blue Ribbon 16’s, the cans were frosted, but the beer was sort of coolish in temperature, that did not thrill us either. The less modest beer prices are excelkent!
Many craft beers are available that I shall try next go round.
A grade of ‘C-‘ for the beer thus far.

If I hear that “I Must Order the Duck Fries” one more time, I’m gonna scream, it’s all heard when Tatooed Moose is mentioned. The fries were on the soft side, very pliable, the garlic and cheese pour-on masked this a bit, not to me. A grade of ‘C-‘ for the fries.

I thought to keep the main course as free from complications for myself, the menu had some very interesting looming items, most of all that I intend on eating, I went ‘ole reliable’ — house burger it is. (Tatooed Moose Burger) with a runny egg on top. Don’t knock it till you try it.

Once it arrived, grabbing for the phone to photo, didn’t cross my mind and once I had the double patties (standard) hoisted high, I went in. Conversation is still rattling, the band is still jamming, people are enjoying — I was in my own little world eating this wonderfully prepared hamburger.
A grade of ‘B+’ for the house burger.

The service deserves so much more than a simple one liner, yet it encapsulates the entire experience as I found it to be.

All who pitched in at our table, perhaps five in total, checking in, clearing, smiling all the way — You all stole the show.

Better service — I do not believe we could have had.


Segments of Times Past. Part 1.

 

 

Religion, Faith, Chocolate and Treats.

“You Can Never Go Home” ~Thomas Wolfe

The first segment of times past in the story’s history takes place in town just over ten miles from Manhattan named Forest Hills, in the county of Queens — New York 11375

Forest Hills is split onto a few sections, most notably, for non residents was the north side and south side divide of Forest Hills which is separated by Queens Blvd — a large east west road stretching from Jamaica to Long Island City.
The northern section of Forest Hills contained three sub sections clearly defined by the sizes of the homes and the families that lived within them,
1. The Forest Hills Gardens: A private community that features some of the most expensive residential properties in Queens County,
2. Van Court: A less prestigious and less affluent section, yet with substantial homes as well, just not close to the size and beauty of the homes in the Gardens.
3: The A Frames: An unofficial title of the smallest homes on the north side of Forest Hills, this is where I grew up.

As a child growing into his teenage years, my neighborhood had it all, one needent leave his or her own block to enjoy play time with friends of our exact age. There were so many children that were around of ages above and below, and we all played well together. The bulk of play time was spent after school these were the years of 1976 thru 1984.

Myself, my sister and the handful of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic school kids always had to take a bit of extra time to change out of our classroom uniforms — for the boys it was jackets, dress pants, ties and dress shoes and quickly change into play clothes.

Once back outside, we played games such as Ring a Leveio, Red Light Green Light 123, Hot Peas and Butter, SPIT, Kill the Man With the Ball, Stoopball, Roller Hockey, Slapball and other urban street games.
We all played until dinner time, and all families ate between six PM and seven PM. We sat and ate with our family for thirty minutes, returning outside to commence playing till dusk came and the street lights were turned on, this was the sign that it was time to get home for the night, there was no returning back outside, there never was any reason to.

My sister I and were subjected to (I say that in jest as I really did enjoy the school) a private school experience at Our Lady of Mercy a Roman Catholic institute, not exactly a jewel in the crown of the Parochial school world, but a responsible education none the less. The public and private schools that all children in the neighborhood were sent to were separated by one intersection, even sharing the same street name. The private education was explained to us, to be far better than the public schools, but it seemed obvious the difference was that public school is run like a state school and private is a rich snobby religious schools not run by the state. What really separated the two learning institutions, from my point of view at the time, was the religion classes we sat through, uniforms we had to fashion ourselves in daily, and the nun’s we were rough and would crack you with a ruler in the blink of an eye.
To be quite candid, I can not say that I learned as much as I believe I should have in eight years of schooling in an effort to prepare me for high school, but in reality all school was to all of us was an extended day of fooling around and mischief.

All in all, it hasn’t made much of a difference except that he’s has more elitist tendencies and most of us didn’t have to work as hard to get into the necessary high school to advance into an excellent college Part of me always felt that because the school I attended was private, school administrators in concert with the OLM Roman Catholic Church papacy that was adjacent to the elementary school, would encourage whatever curriculum they wanted. The R.C. Church operates the world’s largest non-governmental school system and these education ministries taught a full curriculum in secular subjects, and a variety of extracurricular activities

One day while sitting in theology class I remember hearing Sister Terrance aka: Terrible Terrance say that “Homosexuality is a sin and it’s a conscious choice”. I internally questioned the topic being taught to us, as to its attempt to dissuade or more likely, influence a pupil’s future lifestyle. At our tender ages, this seemed like a topic that we were ill-equipped to grapple with. The issues of animal/human cloning were not yet in the works, but topics such as euthanasia and alike would have served the class better than countless hours of practicing for the May Crowning. Now, twenty years later on in life, I consider myself a person with a humanistic, pragmatic, secular and philosophical outlook on most matters. I have been content to use reasoning and science to help me solve most of my problems.

My parents were religious, not the fire and brimstone type where they believed in promoting eternal damnation to encourage repentance based on our choices. They believed they made the right decision in sending us to a private school; quite obviously, they were looking out for our education. It is my opinion that family values and engagement with your child matter most during school years.

Queens had its share of really rough public schools so my parents wanted me away from the horror stories they knew about regarding violence and illegal behavior. I know that’s part of the reason why they sent us to private/catholic school, I think they would’ve preferred me to be pushed into religion than pushed into drugs and sex at a young age. Can I say for sure if the education is much better, much worse, or equivalent, no I can not. What I can say is just that I had issue (still do) with the curriculum they feed you, based on their biased fundamentalist beliefs.

God alone created the world
God keeps all created things in existence God was moved by His Goodness to create the world.
The world was created for the Glorification of God.

For a young mind to be taught in this manner, seemed to be that even in science evolution was it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory. We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory
The process itself is rational. Catholic parents whose children are in public schools should ensure that their children are also receiving appropriate catechesis at home and in the parish on God as Creator. Students should be able to leave their biology classes, and their courses in religious instruction, with an integrated understanding of the means God chose to make us who we are.

The Chocolate Bars:
Once a year the school handed out as many boxed of chocolate as each child thought they could sell to friends, family and neighbors. All chocolate bars that were unsold from the chocolate fund-raiser drives, had to be returned in issuing condition, Catholic school fund-raisers were quite common and we had a full catholic school fund-raising brochures. Fundraising for your catholic school or religion-based school is a never-ending process, whether it’s for school trips, sports teams, benefits, playgrounds, school dances, proms, talent night events. Our school must have earned easily up to 75% profits with their chocolate fund-raising products.
If I recall correctly, the price per bar was $1.00 and we were all given about fifty bars to sell. Just the other day while I was sitting at home working on my ever mounting stack of paperwork a middle-aged girl appeared at my door selling chocolates. The rate per bar was amazingly $1.00. I was selling these in the late 1970’s when a Hershey bar in the store was less than fifty cents. My problem was I had not been able to keep my fingers out of the chocolate box that we used to carry the bars around in and consuming these chocolate bars was overtaking my ability to sell them. The bar is about six inches in length and two inches across. I found this bar enjoyable. It had a nice taste, it wasn’t too sweet or too bitter, at least for me. It had good creamy texture; I like how it melted in my mouth, more so than any bar at the candy stores.
Well, I sold about six to my family and next door neighbor and ate about thirty of them myself. Once the time came to turn in the money and if available, surplus product, I was told I owed thirty something dollars. This shocked me for some reason, clearly it was not the math equation portion, but how was I going to come up with the money to satisfy the owed money? Reality was closing in on me and I had to come clean and have my parents bail me out of this jam and they did. But I had a new revised chore list that would keep me working through the next few weekends to cover the payment they had made on my behalf.
The consumption, availability and varieties of candy and chocolate played a huge role in my life growing up, as the options were endless and it was the only affordable, consumable I could purchase without financial assistance. Just lift the sofa cushions every other week, the piggy bank always held a few extra coins and if not my sisters usually did. I was unable to repay what I had owed based upon my personal consumption, I felt terrible and from that day forward remained hesitant about debt.

The Candy Truck:
There was a dedicated candy truck that came around every day after school to sell all of the school kids his delectable, sugar filled items. Everything from Apple Heads, Boston Baked Beans, Bubble Gum Cigarettes, Bubble Gum Cigars, Candy Cigarettes, Charms Sweet & Sour Pops, Cherry Heads, Fizzies, Freshen Up Gum, Giant Smarties, Hot Tamales, Jolly Rancher Sticks, Laffy Taffy, Licorice Pipes, Pixy Sticks, Pop Rocks, Razzles, Sugar Daddy Pops, Sweetarts, Wax Lips, Zotz, Atomic Fireballs, Bazooka, Candy Necklace, Jaw Breakers, Lemonheads, Necco Assorted Wafers & Now & Laters. At the time it was a wonderful world to live in. Little did I know within 2 years all would be upside down? Sweethearts became shooting stars LSD and M&M’s would be substituted for Mescaline.


Emotional Motor Color

 

My emotional motor color is set inside and outside of car that no longer knows the way, its mostly forgotten and some roads were not remembered from their start, they were many roads ago. The car is one of the deep ones inside and with a personally painted exterior, but it suffers from a case of life long steering issues. So, I try not to take on too many passengers – for it is a dangerous ride sometimes, a ride you can loose on – I do not intend it to be so, I don’t even know when it is about to happen — it just does.

Accelerating through life faster and faster, giving up control as the motor color changes, it tends to sway far off course when nudged just a bit to avoid crashes, for you see, I’ve crashed many times before, one harder than the next.

My emotional motor color doesn’t have one or two colors, its paint that contains all of the colors — from the most illuminating sun streaks bursting of orange and yellows and the dull and drab matte black and all in between. I know, because I painted each color myself, it is very noticeable, and very unintentional.
The paint is the emotion, it’s tells more than the rest of the motor can,and the colors continue to change, because they must adapt or suffer – suffer the pain of becoming one single color again/

This uniformity is not something I can turn back to, I have come too far down another path, driving down a path of chaos and this path is the path I now feel most comfortable driving on, it is normal – and without it, I am uncomfortable.

There is more capacity inside than you can see from the outside though, I’ve more than my share to carry inside and in some cases, I must carry some on the top. It depends on where my motor has taken me and the colors it has chosen for me, the state I find myself in upon arrival, how hard, how far, how many emotional miles did I drive to get me here and how much did it hurt?

I can quickly add up and some of the miles, but there are some that are incalculable, and some that are long forgotten I’m not sure their name of their color, but they hurt more than they helped me, but I take their color with me anyway. These are the colors that scare, I never know how far I can drive with them, it’s always a long way though. The sharp twists and turns are to keep us safe on the un-even road of life where the dangers never seems to end and around every bend, they always start again. Back on to the road with my colors and they’re changing again, individual colors I began my drive with many years earlier, remain a combination of the many I just don’t know if I can get them back to how I knew them, back to their calm individuality, I don’t think I have the desire to try anymore.


Bomb Cyclone — Bomb Genesis and the fallout.

A snowstorm wasn’t the first thing that came to mind as an Orlando friend texted me “are you ready for It”? I replied “Ready for what”? Having no idea what the term meant, “Bomb Cyclone Dude”! Still not making the connection, I quickly read up a bit online and flicked on the tube.

The abbreviated version: Barometric pressure drops swiftly, winds increase, precipitation is cool and abundant.

The media didn’t stir the story leading up to its fierce arrival, it wasn’t much of a story initially, and then it hit and kept increasing in wind strength and copious amounts of flakes hailed down outside. What was originally thought to be a “three to fiver” became a “six to ten” and then “ten to twelve” all within a half of a days time. Total snowfall accumulation here in good ‘ole Forest Hills was just a hair under sixteen inches in about twenty hours.
The storm was more fierce than most all we endure here in the northeast winter months. The wind blew very hard, the snow pounded upon the streets like a million tiny white ambassadors of winter, with their accumulations swift and the snowndrifts deep, well above my knee in the alleys, it stuck hard upon the lifted foundations.

Venturing to neighbors homes to commence the dig, assigned by civic duty, proceeded to shovel out eight. Eight walkways, eight stoops, eight driveways, two garages and one plowed in car, the absolute worst of all the others by far.

Side Rants and a question at the end.
1. Grayson was not a befitting name for such a storm, it just isn’t a tough enough name. Greystoke “Bomb Genesis” — on the other hand certainly is and Tarzan certainly was.

2. My shovel stinks: A Lynx plow shaped metal shovel weighs a ton, not taking advantage of more modern and lighter materials. Yet, I make up for the shovels suckiness with good weather gear so i will not feel the angry bite of the howling frigid winds.

3. These folks that I shovel out play a game of ‘I didn’t know you shoveled’, as if magically the snow removes itself from driveways, walkways and stoops. They play this game every snowfall and have done so for years. I’ve never preformed the labors for any money nor recognition, I like the exercise, and I’m the only person around who will do it. No kiddos come around with shovels in hand anymore. I must admit, I’m still slightly bothered by the fact that not one of these folks reached out to say “thank you”. And I must admit, I think each time a snow storm arrives that I should stop assisting them. But there is an element of guilt I feel knowing that they are mostly old and don’t move around well and could have a heart attack with the first shovel thrust and lift.

So, what do I do?


No Butt’s About it, Metro is Filthy!

Double walks have me out and about on Metropolitan Avenue twice a day and I am becoming frustrated with the amount of continual litter strewn from each sidewalks end to end along every block, and its getting worse.

The responsibility to address the litter issue is that of the absentee property owner that usually does nothing nd ignores it completely. So for the most part, the liter remains on the sidewalks, as the upstairs apartment rental dwellers don’t deal with it either — and so it remains. And with each pass, upon an easy glance, more and more articles of trash, stack and slide into their resting place.

The litters preferred spot to settle is within the corners that sit upon higher than normal sized walls that make up parking lots or doorways and/or at the base of trees with overgrown grass along a strip of Forest Hills fixture stores. And with a new gust of wind, the collection adds and adds, gets rained on, packs down and accepts more. These winds can be intense during the winter months and have a propensity of increasing velocity gusts upwards of thirty miles per hour.

Throughout each of our days, over the course of years, more little liter clusters are adding up by kicking up, twisting the papers and wrappers in the air — they spin land in the same general areas, having added more to their growing collection.

Each day our walk begins with litter and ends with litter. Each day I take an extra empty plastic bag with me when walking to Forest Park walking six blocks east of Alderton Street along the North side of Metropolitan Avenue.

I think to myself “I can’t fix this, but I will do my part for our precious parks, for nature and for Merto”. And I finished my thought with. “If I could catch an offender in the act, I’d let give them an ear full of my thoughts.”

I do understand the nuisance of carrying garbage further than we care to. That as New Yorkers were moving quickly and might not think to pick up something we have dropped. But we must look beyond our immediate feelings of annoyance and to go the extra block to a garbage can and properly dispose of your garbage.

In a feeble attempt to push my agenda to the feet of the offenders, I say, People Please! Just hang on to it a bit longer, a proper receptacle will be around the next turn.


Village Barn, Sliver Barn and Joe.

The decisions that led up to the creation of Village Barn I do not know of, as I remain a magnetic force of local business talk on the street.

This is not breaking news, but there is a trend, a shift, a movement to organically grown produce here in Queens for the better part of seven years..

Eating cleaner foods is healthier, so they say thru print and digital media and the usual social media platforms. For years, I have taken a genuine interest in filtering through and reading closely what is being said. Neither has provided me a firmness of opinion on the main points, I mut now return to the racks of my university library.

With a cleaner foods mind set can come the aesthetic improvements both inside and out of Queens New Yorks grocery stores, to coincide with ‘out with the old and in with the new’ identity. There are now three grocery stores in a five square mile radius that have outfitted their storefronts and interiors with modern equipment and more attractive displays and ways of displaying.

Inasmuch as the new looks adds some value from a customer experience point of view, the prior business (Sliver Barn Farms) had a charm on to itself. Shopping there was a look back to yester years day of food shopping, an identity of quality goods at a fair value, from a long and trusted local merchant. People you knew and they knew you too.

It’s sad to report that I do not see much dollar value just yet in the everyday needs to nourish a household, but I do see this above mentioned trend, the movement, the shift towards designer food related items ramping up here. Flipping the can, a jar or a box over reveals fugures that caught me off guard, the prices can really pinch you in the pocket if your not paying attention upon receiving your total due at the registers.

Two Broccoli Rabe bundles cost me three times the amount from grocery stores closer to me and this happens to be the prime time of the season for this sturdy green. So, I choose not to make the purchase and passed it down the line, away from the bar code reader.

It was at that point that it was said that the “California wild fires” shoulder the burden of the blame in rising costs — as it was not only the broccoli price that spiked.

So, I did look it up & the LA TIMES did well to outline the specific crops affected. However, the ildfires damage passed down a three percent increase, so although a plausible rebuttal, fell short of the financial mark.

I’m concerned about this trend, movement, shift as local retirees on a fixed income may now be considering additional shopping options. I had high hopes that Village Barn would enhance Silver Barns strengths while renovating the space to make it attractive to customers and price sensitive.

Not being a heavily price conscience shopper, as you do get what you pay for, most all the items seem to be very expensive at a time where Whole Foods, Trader Joes are cutting prices on organic products.

I suspect a long road ahead unless Village Barn re-positions their products through diversification and reconsider their pricing structure a bit.


How NOT to be a Jerk When Eating Out.

Since we are now eating away from home more than ever, here is a quick list on:

How Not to be a JERK While Eating Out.

#1. Do not be the loud and obnoxious table:
With each weekend nights full dinner service comes the one table that is boisterous to the highest degree. What they are saying apparently needs to be heard by everyone else sitting for dinner. Their conversation is the only conversation that matters, expressed in their indifference toward others and the sheer high volume of their hemming and hawing. That behavior is for Low Class Jerks.

#2. Try to make pleasant eye contact with your server:
It’s just not in good form to neglect some eye contact with your server, tending instead to be glued to your phone, book, significant other, or just staring out the window, because it’ll make you look like a Indifferent Jerk.

#3. Being the unfunny customer:
Don’t be that customer that is completely sure that they’re funny and they are not — at all funny, more derogatory than anything else. An example would be “Oh, you went to college & your a waiter?” Its a bit degrading and makes you a Insulting Jerk.

#4. Asking the server for their opinion:
If your going to ask your servers opinion of whats the best meal,then completely disregard the advice, order something else and complain about the different dish you ordered instead. That makes you a Self Inflicting Jerk.

#5. Asking price differences between items:
If you ask for price differences between menu items — well, your already a Jerk. Then making it worse, and adding many extras to the less expensive option.
Example: “I’ll take the small salad with extra cheese, bacon bits, tomatoes, croutons, olives and dressing.” Don’t do that, because if you do, your most certainty a Cheap Ass Jerk.

#6. Moderate Phone time:
Baring taking an important call from work or home, keeping the cell phone out of arms distance. Talking continuously on the phone when your server is attempting to take your order, is the behavior of a Clueless Jerk.

#7. Getting there at closing time:
No matter how sweet you are to the employees upon arriving minutes before closing, each and everyone of them hate you right now. So, try to arrive at least thirty minutes before the listed closing times. If you ignore closing times and arrive just moments prior to closing, my friend — Your an Inconsiderate Jerk.

#8. Your not the only customer in the place:
If the service is not set up right and some of your particulars are not readily available, work up a quick mental list. This way, there would be really only one need, two at the most to get the servers attention. A napkin, a new fork, another napkin, an extra dish, a little more pepper, more water, extra lemon.
If you ask for each of these items individually at different times,
You are a Nuisance Jerk


When I Eat Sushi

The slices of Yellow Fin Tuna, Mackerel, Salmon and Roe are served up at my favorite table along with a bottle of Biwa No Choju as it has not arrived sooner as imagined. Rows of piano tuning pin sized scales and slabs that sit erect next to the pickled ginger and wasabi sitting patiently on the trays outer corner sharpening its great breath.

I gaze closely to unravel the briny map that tells 0f the deep dark ocean recently carrying these narezushi to my dish. There’s an echo calling out about the Sushi slices that once rippled through the Southeast Asian currents about a place the fish began, a place I could never find on my own, nor were ever meant to.

Even the plum and the tiny eggplant are no relief. Perplexed and inflamed I continue hoisting piece after piece off my ceramic plate as the fish now seems as diminutive than possible.

My mouth opens for the last piece, exposing the truth it so desperately wanted to keep hidden from you,
and you,
and you,
and you.


Station House: Beer House & Whiskey Den: Positively Piquing Taste Emotions.

 

With the end of summer and the advent of winter dangerously lurking behind the few weeks we call Fall, cozy bars with great food are now in season for me.

Within the harvest season we harvest many things that we desire to store as we baton down the hatches for the ever nearing long and cold winter.
A new acquaintance, a sweater or cinnamon swizzle stick for your hot apple cider, we all surround ourselves with things that make us feel cozy and comfortable and perhaps, places we can comfortably burrow into and relax within.

My stocking consists of a short list of the finest local food and beverage establishments where I can swing by at anytime and enjoy comfort foods and some fine craft beer selections. Which has always been the motus operandi of my blogs focus. Putting Local Back On The Menu. (bestbitesclub.wordpress)

Never has Station House delivered less than top eats served up by a well trained staff and a beer list that is fit for food pairings, beer club discussions, there are no bounds to what great beer can do to lift spirits and raise a meals flavor profile.

To illustrate:
1. For lunch a friend and I ordered the special for starters. Lamb, feta cheese, cucumbers and sauteed tomatoes atop an amazingly light and crisp flat bread. New Holland’s Full Circle was the accompanying beer, light in body and tangy crisp it did not overtake the delectably light appetizer.

2. Medium rare cook temp for The Decadent Burger allowed the boursin cheese and demi-glace to work into the magnificent chopped meat creating a unique burger texture change with the braised short rib topping. As per Steve’s suggestion I dove into my Southern Tier Imperial Stout with reckless abandon.

3. The hits just kept on coming with a hearty plate of beautifully encrusted Haddock fillets, crisp on the outside moist yet well textured on the inside, I slapped some dollops of the tarragon tartar of the fishes side and down the hatch it went.

The Many Mac & Cheese has just arrived to the table, choosing the sausage and bacon meat infusion. I wavered not. Fork in hand I took down the greatest beast of comfort food but not without the help of River Horse’s Bourbon Oak Vanilla Hip Lantern.

Thank you Station House for whipping up another memorable lunch experience.