Archive for May, 2010

Vote in the Battle of the Boroughs!

Posted on May 28, 2010. Filed under: Astoria, Jackson Heights, LIC, Music & Dance, Woodside/Sunnyside | Tags: , , , |

Figuring out what to do after all of the Memorial Day mayhem has disappeared? WNYC is hosting first Fridays performances in their new Jerome L. Greene Space. Friday June 4th is a salute to the musicians of Queens! Support your neighborhood music scene by attending this event, participation is encouraged!

The Battle of the BoroughsQueens Throwdown is June 4th at 7pm with performances from bands of all different genres from Queens. Purchase your ticket so that you can vote with the judges for your favorite performance from your favorite borough.

Be sure to cast your vote because the finalists from each borough will compete in the semi-final concert throwdown June 18th. The final winner will get their own concert in the Greene Space at WNYC this summer!

The Queens line-up includes: DamselJoe Thompson, Misty Roses, Jason Lalor, Le Nozze di Carlo, Waiting For Bobby, Jeanne Marie Boes, New York Funk Exchange

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12 Hours of Nonstop Music From Astoria Music and Arts

Posted on May 19, 2010. Filed under: Astoria, Entertainment, Music & Dance, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , |

I am always looking for people, places and things that make an impact on our borough. Astoria Music and Arts has done just that. For three years they have been creating a viable music scene right here in our neighborhood. From hosting free concerts in the park to promoting the newest local bands. Saturday May 22nd AMA presents AMandA in the Garden at the Bohemian Beer Hall, a benefit for the Astoria Music Now! – the annual free music and arts festival scheduled to be held this year on Saturday, July 24th in Astoria Park. Astoria’s favorite singer/song writer, Jamie Stellini, will host the day’s events. So grab some german sausage and a beer and take a seat to watch this great event!

From the press release:

Performances include bands from Astoria:  The Missing Teens, Thunderbang!, Little Creatures, Bliminal, The Jamies, Digamy, Freedomhead, Illimanjaro, Mainline Gypsy, RatTrap Bumpkin and Bad Buka with DJ Sambarella on the decks and MC Stellini hosting the event.

12 hours of music, 11 bands all for only 10 dollars.

To learn more about Astoria Music and Arts and for artist links please visit:

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Indonesian Food Bazaar in Astoria

Posted on May 19, 2010. Filed under: Astoria, Astoria Street Fairs, Cheap Dining, Off the beaten path, Outdoor Recreation, Outdoor Seating/Patio, Pan Asian |

Tipped off by the fabulous Eating in Translation blog post on food related events, my dining companion and I decided to try the once a month Indonesian Food Bazaar. We hopped on our bikes and pedaled as fast as we could, arriving just in time to catch the last half hour of this delicious event. Situated in the parking lot of the Masjid Al-Hikmah mosque, this party takes place every second Sunday during the spring and summer months. You don’t have to be religious to enjoy, all you need is a big empty stomach. For lack of choice in Indonesian restaurants, this is a place in which people can go to enjoy the food of their native land while socializing with others. Everyone was extremely friendly and willing to share their culture, friendship and food with us. Striking up conversations with the locals was easy. Here are some of our photos of the bazaar. I hope to return next month. Some things we ate- soy dumplings with peanut sauce, pork and chicken kebabs, a hot ginger/coffee type drink, colorful fruity concoctions with tapioca, rice and beef wrapped in banana leaves and indonesian empanadas.

Indonesian Food Bazaar Masjid Al-Hikmah, 48-01 31st Ave., Astoria, Queens

enjoying sweets

dumplings, banana leaf and green tapioca drink

kebabs and more

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Local718 Author, C. Smith Interviews C. Smith

Posted on May 18, 2010. Filed under: Local718 Neighborhood Update |

My good friend and fellow blogger, Joy ,once interviewed herself for her blog. What a great idea! Thanks Joy, I am now going to steal your idea…

Q: Why did you start your blog Local718?

A: I started Local718 in 2008 for several reasons. At the time I began writing it, I knew there was a lot of competition with other great blogs based in Astoria, but I wanted to create something that included all of Queens (or as much about the Queens neighborhoods as I can possibly write about). I felt the need to tell everyone about all the wonderful things borough life has to offer.

Q: Where does the name Local718 come from?

A: That’s a good question. It has a couple of meanings behind it. First, it is the Queens area code 718. Second, it is a play on the word local. It represents a union, and in this case it is a union of the people from Queens, but it is also a local blog. Get it?

Q: Is all the work on Local718 created by you? Photos, videos, posts…etc?

In a word, yes. Or at least 99% of the work. I will occasionally recruit a friend to write a post, but almost all the posts are written by me. Although many of my friends frequently accompany me on my ventures, so I have to give them credit for that. They are the most wonderful people I know! You can usually determine which are my posts by the grammatical and spelling errors. It’s impossible to be perfect every single time! The photos are always taken by me unless otherwise noted. The videos are 100% conceived, produced and edited by me as well. It’s all me me me!

Q: Speaking of photos, why are there no photos of you on the site?

A: Well, I decided from the beginning that the site was going to be about Queens, not about me. There are many blogs out there that are all about their authors and that is fine if that’s your thing. I personally don’t like promoting myself, (except for this post of course!) but I love promoting the things that I like.

Q: Have you ever written professionally? What do you do for a living?

A: Yes! I wrote for my college newspaper, and I will occasionally write articles for small publications. My most recent work will be featured in the 2010 Summer issue of Edible Queens. Right now I do some freelance work, writing and videography, but I am currently looking for full time media work. Most of my experience hails from television production.

Q: Where are you from?

I have lived in New York for ten years, but my life has taken me to and from a lot of places in and out of the U.S. Migration makes for a well rounded individual.

Q: Are you a foodie?

A: I really think it’s silly to label myself. I like to eat and I like to write about what I eat, especially if I am trying a new cuisine for the first time.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Local718?

My favorite thing is connecting with the community and being able to document it in so many different ways. I love taking photos of people and food. I also love eating a lot of great food and writing about it. Did I mention I love eating and photographing food?

Q: What’s your advice for fellow bloggers?

Keep exploring every aspect of life, so that you never lose interest in it. Then, you will always have something interesting to say on your blog. Use flash photography to a minimum, remember the best camera is the one that you have. Keep creating new ways to express yourself. For example, I started making videos on my blog and it has opened up a whole new way to get a message out there. Not to mention, I also meet so many interesting people while doing it! Keeping my interest in my site has lead me to be linked to New York Times City Room, Time Out New York, other local blogs, Queens Ledger, Glendale Register, Serious Eats and many other sites. The Daily News has also written stories based on my posts.

Q: Now that you have created a blog, what’s your next move? A book deal?

A: My next move will involve going to the corner store to buy some milk so that I can make some whole wheat pancakes to eat. I really love real maple syrup. You’ve simply got to try it!

Q: Um, are we done yet?

A: Yes!

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Avocado Shakes Things Up at Tito Rads Filipino Restaurant in Woodside

Posted on May 18, 2010. Filed under: Cheap Dining, Filipino, Woodside/Sunnyside |

The crispy pieces of pork belly were still sizzling when they arrived on our table at Tito Rads. The golden brown chunks were like a heart attack on a plate, but who cares about blood pressure when you’re chompin’ on a juicy piece of deep fried fat? Not the diners at the modest Woodside restaurant, most of whom hail from the southeast Asian islands themselves. The menu at Tito Rads was like nothing I had ever tasted before eating there. Despite the minor Spanish influences, the cuisine remained a culinary mystery to me. We began our meal with dessert, an avocado shake. The light green drink consisted of milk, sugar, ice and the buttery green fruit. Blend those together and you’ve got a smooth and nutty sihn to bo hearty enough for a meal in itself. Next on the table, sinigang na bangus- a soup made with milkfish and vegetables in a tamarind broth. Although there were no eyeballs or heads swimming around in our bowl, this soup was not for the faint of heart. Sour enough to make our lips pucker, the tangy flavor of the stew was contrasted by the meaty flesh of the milkfish, bones and all. Although the taste was satisfactory, my dining partner and I found it challenging to navigate our way around the tiny fish bones. After we finally finished the pungent pottage, we moved onto the main course, ginataang langka, jackfruit and shrimp sauteed in coconut milk. The meaty wedges of jackfruit that swam in a pool of creamy coconut sauce were what made this dish so interesting. The tiny shrimp however, fell short in taste as their flavor was overwhelmed by the dish’s other exotic ingredients. Tito Rads calls for another visit. Although I wasn’t blown away by our meals of choice, I was however left in awe by the unique concoctions that Filipino food has to offer. I am eager to try more of the many unusual selections on the menu.

Tito Rads Woodside/Sunnyside New York 49-12 Queens Blvd 718-205-7299

avocado shake

milkfish soup

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Local718 Update-May Blossoms Puppetry, Crafts, Fashion and Music in Queens

Posted on May 13, 2010. Filed under: Art, Astoria, Fashion, Flushing/Corona, Free, LIC, Local718 Neighborhood Update, Music & Dance, Outdoor Recreation |

After a harrowing trip to India, inspired partly by Jackson Heights (one of my favorite places in Queens)  I have returned to the comfort of my lovely borough. I normally do not write posts about my personal affairs, but my lack of keeping up with the blog in a timely manner warrants an excuse. A good excuse. I won’t go into detail about the challenges we faced when traveling through this magnificent country, but I will tell you that it is a place of extreme beauty and extreme ugliness all at once. Wealth and opulence like you have never seen and poverty you would never want to imagine. Here is a photo I took that displays communication without words, some of the locals listening to our guided audio tour of the Amber Palace as they are (presumably) also making fun of us in our tourist clothes (you know, just like we NYers make fun of those crazy midwesterners with their fanny packs and mom jeans).

Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend in Queens! Here are some great things you won’t want to miss!

Step into Summer in style with he help of Kristees Boutique in Astoria. Join her for the Summer Warm-Up Thursday May 13. There will be music, her new collection, and live sketching of guests by NYC artist Mieko Anekawa.

Waltz Astoria is hosting their second Ultimate Singer Song Writer Competition that starts May 13th. Like an Astorian version of American Idol, the performances will go on throughout the weekend until Sunday, when the audience votes for the winners. Join and play for prizes or just watch and vote.

Local Astoria artist and friend of mine Pam Bertini is using her free time to create some fantastically creative cards and sculptures, and she is telling you all about it in her new Seventh Life blog site. She explains what inspires her and how she makes her beautiful crafts- if you’re into DIY this is a must see! Purchase her one-of-a-kind items on Etsy.

Flushing Town Hall is hosting Puppetry Workshops throughout May and here’s what they say about it: “Puppetry Workshop 2: Tasty Puppets Saturday, May 15, 2010, 2 p.m. Maximum 30 participants.Food is a great way to explore and celebrate the different cultures in our neighborhoods. Don’t be surprised if you end up making a talking hamburger, taco or dumpling in this workshop! Puppetry Workshop 3: The Puppet Next Door Saturday, May 22, 2010, 2 p.m. Cities and neighborhoods need people. In this final workshop, participants can make a local neighbor or hero/heroine. It could be your teacher or coach, a parent or shopkeeper, an artist, friend, or even yourself”  For more information on how you can take part, or call the Box Office: (718) 463-7700, ext. 222

Queens County Farm hosts Farm Fest May 16 Sunday 11:00 a. m. – 4:00 p.m. “Celebrate the return of spring with a visit to the farm! Sheep shearing demonstrations, cultural exhibits and spring plant sale. Country Western Band, Hayrides, historic house and greenhouse tours, food, pony rides and petting zoo.” ADMISSION:  $3.00 per person

Coming up: Saturday May 22 Astoria Music and Arts will host AMandA in the Garden- an all day fundraising event for Astoria Music Now with music, local artists and bloggers, June 3 Blogger BBQ from Queens Council on the ArtsWNYC presents Battle of the Boroughs featuring Queens bands in June and Ornella Trattoria owner will soon host Italian cooking classes in his upstate farm.

Thanks for reading! Want to make a suggestion, contribution or list your event, email me at

Yours Truly,


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Ornella Trattoria Casual Italian Dining in Astoria

Posted on May 7, 2010. Filed under: Astoria, Italian | Tags: , , , |

When Giuseppe Viterale decided to open a restaurant named after his wife, he created a place where locals can eat home style Italian cooking in a warm casual atmosphere. Italian food is easy to find in Astoria, but this place is unique because it offers a moderately priced menu in a relaxed environment and pasta selections you can’t find any where else. The regional specialties include hearty buckwheat pasta, chickpea noodles and, my personal favorite, Chestnut pasta and bread. The Viterale’s main focus is uncovering the authentic tastes from Italy and bringing them to you right here in Astoria. I had never heard of chestnut pasta or bread until I tried them at a tasting here, and they blew me away! The smooth nutty flavor is complemented by a subtle sweetness, unlike pasta dishes I have tasted previously. After hearing all the positive reviews, my mother and I headed over to 23rd avenue to see what else they offered. We found that the food was not the only thing to get excited about, the service was also  impeccable. They treat you like a king at Ornella. The wait staff was genuinely friendly and personable. We often felt as if we were dining as guests in their home rather than strangers in a restaurant. We started off with a special appetizer of fresh mozzarella atop of arugula and tomatoes. This was a the perfect introduction to our Italian feast. After we finished our first course, our server Sergio whisked away our empty plate to make room for the main dish, tonno all’aceto balsamico- grilled tuna served with vegetables in a balsamic reduction. This was a hearty cut of tuna steak grilled and served rare. The slightly smokey taste was a good contrast when smothered in the sweet vinegar reduction. Luckily we managed to save some room for desert. A fluffy Italian cheesecake with a hint of orange graced our bellies. This light dessert went down easy as we sat at our sidewalk table watching the sunset. Being the warm-loving Italian that she is, my mother instantly struck up a conversation with the friendly Giuseppe Viterale. We not only chatted about Italy and food but he also mentioned that he owns a beautiful farm upstate where he will soon begin hosting cooking classes in July. We can’t wait to try them! And more importantly we can’t wait to eat more delicious Italian fare. Ornella has unlimited mimosa brunch that I can’t wait to try, and inexpensive  lunch specials for those working (or not working) in the area.

Ornella Trattoria Italiana Astoria 29-17 23rd Ave 718-777-9477

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Kristee’s Summer Warm Up in Astoria!

Posted on May 6, 2010. Filed under: Art, Astoria, Fashion, Free, Music & Dance |

Get ready to dress to the nines with a little help from Astoria’s favorite boutique. Join Kristee’s for local fun, fashion and art in the sun!

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