Category Archives: Supporting local dining establishments by avoiding chain eateries. Homesteading in the city.

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?

Advertisements

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 behaviour 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.


A Shape That Remains.

They were a tradition of sorts, those golden brown dehydrated sack shaped figs that magically appeared during the holiday season. “Are these exotic looking items actual fruit or mainly purchased for looks?”

I often wondered. Nobody really ever ate them, not family nor visitors and the few that I did try I would cautiously pierce into with the tips of my front teeth. I questioned the inhuman feeling of the leathery texture and the seemingly thousands of tiny seeds that find their way into the deepest caverns between teeth and gums and scrape the roof of my mouth like sandpaper.

I would always manage to chew down a few before Christmas but after Thanksgiving, yet the taste of pasty blood and brown sugar was never truly palatable, cloyingly sweet.

Come January when all the desirable treats had vanished I would revisit the figs again that now had a light coat of dust upon their cheap, cracking cellophane packaging. I liked the packaging, perhaps more than the figs.
The ‘Made in Greece’ label kept me coming back — as I conjured up views of goats with bells around their necks, just walking the mountains in this distant land, which is why I suppose I still do purchase them, but its more than that.

Now I am the faithful holiday purchaser though nobody will ever eat them but me, I have a full year to do so. Yet year after year, they endure this same debate and remain with me. I guess—they remind me of being home during the holidays which had all the joys of eating figs.


YELP Elite Event:              Japanese Tea Tasting at RESOBOX

A very calm evening in Long Island City, a sort of ease after our first bite of winter, now with Autumn pressing out a few days.

Upon the walls hung beautiful painted works, the likes of which I can not speak too and even now I reflect upon wishing I had learned more of them. This is a place of beauty, creativity and harmony — full bore body and soul.

Sitting, with attentions full forward, each of the select and exclusive Japanese teas we were too sample were to be explained then sipped & savored.
These tea have no American representation as to distribution, this tea seminar in a sheek cultural center, with overwhelming positive receptions, may have tilted the scales in our favor.

All of the time and effort was strictly on a volunteer basis, you’d never know as the entire experience was as professional and classy as having lunch with the Prince of Monaco, waited on hand and foot.

With the explanations of each teas origin, processing, (when necessary) fermenting, roasting Yame Dentou and Hon Gyokuro left many of us flabbergasted in the most wonderful way. So informative, so brilliantly tabled in an easy to understand manner, I found myself thursting to learn more upon my departure, it was that impactful.

The tea line up:

-Prime Roast Brown Rice Tea.
-Matcha 1 and 2. Hot and Cold.
-Star & Cherry Blossom Tea.
-Marubi 1 and 2. One was low grade for explanation purposes, two was the actual.
-Standard Roasted Tea
-Prime Roast Tea

1) The Genmaicha was very refreshingly light and more delicate than than the genmaichas that I usually buy at the Japanese grocery stores. I really enjoyed this tea.

2) The Matcha roasted brown rice tea had a varying level of matcha intensity and flavor. 

3) The Star and Cherry Blossom roasted brown rice tea was a delicate green tea that had crispy tiny balls of rice cracker that was filled with green tea. It was so surprising to drink this tea! Many people enjoyed this tea but I thought it was a little too bitter for me. I did enjoy the surprise of tea in the crispy rice cracker.

4) The Marubi was a favorite by all outward appearances, served two ways: cold and hot. The cold was beautiful and clear and tasted of roasted rice, and soba but in a distilled way. The hot was more aromatic and intensified the same flavors of rice, soba and umami. 

5) The Standard roasted tea tasted like pu’er tea or a simple black tea, not very intrusive — it got me thinking about crumpets.

6) The Prime roasted tea was a step above the standard roasted tea. It tasted oddly unique, as if we had tasted a decadent rose, indeed — a rose truffle at the last of the tea tasting.

——————————————————————————–

What is the Elite Squad?

We are a community of Yelpers who are all about finding and supporting the best local businesses around. We champion the mom & pop shops, and consistently add reviews, photos and more to spread the word and build Yelp into a free tool that we can all use to discover the best NYC has to offer.

What is an Elite Event?

Your personal, exclusive introduction to an amazing local business you might not know about yet. It’s a chance to sample what makes them unique and, most importantly, to mingle with other NYC residents who are also interested in the best Queens has to offer. If you make it on the guest list, introduce yourself to someone new! You probably have a lot more in common than you think


Autumns Up at Queens Museum

One foot inside and a face I recognize locks in with mine, I know this person but can not place her. She certainly remembered me tho.

With neck strapping the Don Julio Tequila bag around my neck, worked it properly in place, such as a like a feed bag for horses. It felt right and we drank up, we were merry and engage in continual chit chat having not seen many of the YELP Elites in a few weeks.

And as I walked the food line with my guest, the horrors of self temporary food deprecation really began to set in and I wanted nothing more than too do away with my Mule Bag as fantasies of sugar sweet treats, pumpkin canoils and spicy tuna danced in my head.

The sheer number of vendors was staggering, below is a listing of some of the many vendors that took part in the event, that seemed as well attended and as robust as the Inaugural Ball.

1) Thirsty Koala Lamb Chops -chocolate salted carmel lamb chops. An active Yelp restaurant participant that yearly hosts events and it should be understood.
2) ICONYC – Brewery in Astoria. Hoptrolllop: bitter & hoppy for a ‘NE-styled IPA’ & Cream Ale w/ coffee was
3) Snowdays – Pocky stick was cute
4) Juju Bowl – Slightly sweet BBQ bowl.
5) Butcher Bar: Classic brisket. *Burnt ends were the Best!*
6) Allora Italian Kitchen: Meatballs
7) Pata Paplean: Extra Spicy tuna salad. *tuna was sautéed with onions and sliced peppers*
8) Bourbon Street Cafe: Fresh and warm crunchy corn bread, was delish.
9) Rare Treats: Gourmet coconut, chocolate, green tea and black sesame soft cookies.

More Don Julio Mules – 

I was barely on the lower level choosing to stay in the second floor, where you could really get a full, birdseye view of the evenings event.
And while the DJ spinning tunes kept the karaoke going, more and more attendees whom all braved the rain kept filling in. Fortunately, The Queens Museum was more than enough space to mix and mingle and housed the amount of people on hand.

Memorable mentions;
Allora Italian kitchen,
Blend On The Water,
One Station Plazat,,
Pa-Nash Eurosoul,
Rizzo’s Fine Pizza,
Rudy’s,
Deep Eddy,
Mansi Beverages,
Bai Beverages,
Clovesz.

As to my above mentioned side note:

About four months ago, Queens Museum hosted a well attended Ramones exposition, showcasing instruments, letters, instruments and such. I lightly touched a jacket and in a flash some boob preempted to give me the heave ho to which I called him a twit and dismissed him, the curator of the event. He called security as I continued the tour and ignored his tantrum. The kind woman with whom locked in on me was the museums curator and allowed me too stay and gave me a mini tour of the innards of this magnificent building.


Le Gavroche – Menu Sneak Peek


• Soufflé Suissesse

• Cheese Souffle Cooked on Double Cream

• Saumon Mariné au Citron Aigre-Doux Gelée à la Vodka

• Marinated Var Salmon with Lemon and Vodka Jelly

• Filet de Maigre Parfumé au Ras-el-Hanout Fenouil et Riz Rouge de Camargue

• Stone Bass & Pastilla, Scented with Arabian Spices Fennel, Red Rice and Meat Jus

• Coquilles St. Jacques Grillées et Minestrone de Palourdes

• Grilled Scallops with a Clam Minestrone

• Boudin Noir, Oeuf Frit, Salade d’Asperges Crues et Chutney de Tomate Epicée

• Black Pudding, Crumbed Egg, Crackling Asparagus Salad and Spicy Tomato Chutney

• Filet de Boeuf Grillé et Purée d’Epinards Poêlée de Champignons

• Grilled Fillet of Scottish Beef, Wild Mushrooms Red Wine Shallot Sauce

• Le Plateau de Fromages Affinés

• Selection of French and British Farmhouse Cheese

——————————————————————

• Millefeuille aux Framboises et Gianduja

•Crispy Layers of Pastry, Raspberries and Praline Flavoured Chocolate

• Café et Petits Fours

                             
                            Wines
• Dry Amontillado “Los Arcos”
• Sherry – Emilio Lustau
• Vouvray Sec “La Dilettante” 2010
• Domaine Catherine & Pierre Breton
• Chateau Roubine “Terre de Croix” Semillon 2009
• Côtes de Provence
• Pouilly Fume 2010
• Domaine Alexandre Bain
• Côte-de-Nuits Villages 2006
• Domaine Claude Chevalier