Archive for July, 2010
My friend and I stopped into Dee Thai on a sunny afternoon in hopes of a cheap satisfying meal. This place has mixed reviews, but we decided to give it a go anyway. The empty chairs and dimly lit atmosphere among the contemporary decor, were cause for alarm. Though, despite of the sounds of crickets in the air… the experience was a pleasant one. The lunch specials offer several entree choices that include appetizers. Our mid-afternoon meal began with Thai dumplings served with honey-ginger sauce and kyo koong tod- a crispy wonton packed with shrimp and garlic served with sweet chili sauce. We slaked or thirst with a traditional Thai iced tea (not included in the lunch special price), hallelujah for sweetened condensed milk! The soft creamy layers of orange and white glided down our parched throats. A generous portion of time passed before we received our main courses, pad kee mow pork and pad kee mow shrimp. Although I normally don’t mind a wait for evening dining, this was lunchtime and the place was empty. When we were finally served our entrees our stomachs couldn’t have been happier. The satisfying helpings didn’t last long on our plates. The rich pork and shrimp mingled gracefully among the deliciously sauteed flat noodles. The vegetables were like colorful crunchy gems that floated throughout the dish. Green beans, baby broccoli and red peppers were sauteed just enough to maintain there raw hue and crisp. The flat noodles were tender and not over or under cooked. I haven’t tried Dee Thai for dinner yet, but judging by the lunch special, I would return. The ambiance was lacking, though I suspect it is livelier for evening diners. There is a full bar and delivery available.
Dee Thai 46-17 Queens Blvd Sunnyside NY 11104 718-786-8220
I first heard Joe Thompson and the Comfortable Catastrophe at WNYC’s Battle of the Boroughs last month. With a fierce talent and sharp wit, their music cut through the room like the raging tide cuts though the calm sands at Rockaway… In other words, they blew audience away and won the Battle of the Boroughs.
Be sure to checkout Joey and the Comfortable Catastrophe as the opening act at Summer Stage in Queens July 28 at Queensbridge Park in Long Island City and in their very own concert at WNYC’s Greene Space July 30, this Friday night at 7pm. Meanwhile, you can get to know Joey a little better. I caught up with him to get the lowdown on drinking, eating and why he loves Queens so much. Here’s what he had to say…
How has living in Queens inspired your music? I have lived in Queens in the same apartment in Astoria for nearly 8 years so the influence this community has had on my music is immeasurable. There is a mindset in the people who live here, a blue-collar mentality very much akin to what I grew-up around in Western Pennsylvania. That hard working, dirt under the fingernails attitude has really sunk-in and helped define the stories I like to tell.
In your recent interview with LimeWire, you received a lot of flack for saying that Queens does not have a big music scene, but it has a great music community, explain what you meant. I meant just what I said. There is a treasure trove of talent living in Queens. A supportive, esoteric community of truly gifted musicians. That being said, there really aren’t very many places for original, live music here in Queens. There are some coveted venues such as LIC Bar and Waltz Astoria. While I do wish there were more venues for original live music out here, I will say I will take a community over a scene anyday.
You’re a mixologist as well as a musician. How have these two talents influenced each other in your experiences? As an independent rough and tumble country singer in New York City, it is necessary for one to find a means to pay the rent. I have chosen the barcraft as my means. This means I have been forced to spend a lot of time in establishments that serve strong spirit. Tee hee.
What’s your favorite cuisine (or place to eat) in Queens? Ooooh. That’s a tough question to answer! For simple Italian American I like Bartolino’s. For Greek I like Agnanti over by Astoria Park on 19th Street. Gleason’s on Broadway has a great burger. Bai Sushi has the best kimchi I have had in the city.
What’s your favorite neighborhood watering hole? If I am cocktailing, Sweet Afton or Dutch Kills. If it’s a beer and whiskey night Daly’s Pub or Gilbey’s (used to be Gibney’s)
Your new album is titled- Yankee Twang, tell me about the name and what it means? I was raised in Pennsylvania by a family of fiercely loyal Texans. Anyone who has ever met a Texan knows how proud they are of their homestate. Until I was 18 I was a little ashamed that I was a Yankee until I realized how proud I was, in turn, of the Keystone State. So Yankee Twang is the reflection of the duality of being a country singer in the heart of Yankee Territory as well as that Pennsylvania kid with big Texas dreams.
What has it been like working with WNYC and winning the battle of the boroughs? The folks at WNYC have been fantastic and I couldn’t be happier to be working with them. Winning the Battle of the Boroughs is still a bit of a shock to me and I still have to pinch myself to believe at times.
Anything to add? Head on over to www.baldjoey.com to hear the songs, see the show schedule and sign the mailing list to receive our newsletters! we will love you…
For the next week (July 21- July 29) La Guardia Performing Arts Center will host the first international theater festival, Which Direction Home?, in collaboration with The Internationalists. The creative experience takes its audience through a unique interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey. Watch as eight directors from six different countries use the epic poem as a platform for their own theatrical story.
La Guardia Performaing Arts Center– 31-10 Thomson Ave Long Island City, N.Y. 11101
It’s going to be 100 degrees and a full moon Saturday. While all the werewolves are shedding their fur and howling at the moon, you will be dancing in the green grass of Astoria Park with the Astoria Make Music Now! festival. Get out of your stuffy apartment and join the live bands and local artists from all over the neighborhood. This event happens only once a year so don’t miss it!
I try to avoid the suburbs. I would rather find myself lost among the trees and rolling hills of the vast countryside or racing for a cab (or the N train) between two concrete and steel slabs before I set foot in the Anytown USA that is the American suburbs. Kew Gardens however, is an exception to the rule. The neighborhood’s million dollar tudor-style homes with their pristinely manicured lawns make for a luxurious break from the Queens norm. Forget the luxury condos that are sprouting up all over the borough. If you want quiet decadence, take a stroll amid the streets of Kew Gardens just as I did last weekend. You will either be pleasantly surprised, or bored to death. Upon visiting this unchartered territory for a few hours, I was the former.
My friend had just gotten some new wheels and we decided try them out, taking a ride to the other side of our borough. Walking among the neighborhood we stumbled upon Tu Casa, a peruvian restaurant on Metropolitan Avenue. It appears to be a sleepy casual joint during the weekday lunch hours. Though sitting among the bustling main strip, it offers a more animated experience for evening diners. The Spanish and Peruvian choices on the menu revealed their stamp of authenticity at first bite. The Carne Guisado (beef stew with rice and beans) was a hearty explosion of juicy meat and its accompaniments. The tender cuts of beef seemed to melt in our mouths as they slid effortlessly off the bone. And the good part is, we got this meal for under $7 from the lunch menu. Next stop was the pricier ceviche. Our server bestowed our table with a large plate of healthy chunks of seafood marinated in lime juice served with corn nuts and sweet potato. The delicate tastes of cod, octopus and tender calamari balanced the citrus infused nectars as they swam freely throughout the dish. Sweet potato and corn nuts seem like an unusual side with this entree, but combine the flavors of sweet and sour on your palate and you will forget everything you thought you knew about taste and texture. The soft sweet mush of the potato and the crispy salt of the nuts mixed together with the ceviche is an unique mouthful all skeptics must experience. We stuffed our hungry faces and as a result saved no room for dessert, but a return visit is in order. Check Tu Casa’s website for information on when they set-up shop in Astoria on Steinway Street!
Tu Casa 119-05 Metropolitan Ave. | Kew Gardens, NY | 718.441.6363
Take a break from the heat and head to Brick Cafe in Astoria for some neighborhood shopping and eating. Join Kristees and 14 of her fellow local designers for an evening of fun and fashion Wednesday July 21 6-10pm.
Brick Cafe 3095 33rd Street Astoria, NY 11102-1457 (718) 267-2735
This week I cycled into the other 718- Staten Island. My dining companion and I hopped on our bikes and pedaled down to Battery Park to catch the free ferry. Our destination- Enoteca Maria, a small Italian restaurant a few blocks from the ferry terminal. It’s difficult to pin-down the menu at this place because there is a different chef every night. While other restaurants tout celebrity cooks, Enoteca Maria introduces a different guest chef every night- an Italian Grandma, who will cook for you from Wednesday through Sunday. Each Granny creates a unique menu for that particular evening, preparing dishes from her home town in Italy (step aside marshmallow yams, and get ready for some serious meatballs!) For an unparalleled Italian feast, sit back, relax and let Grandma do the cooking. The guest chef this evening was Maria from Palermo, Sicily cooking her special spuntino menu. We decided to try several of the small plates, each one was as unbelievably delicious as the next. Here is what we ate from Grandma’s special menu:
Fiore de Zucchina: zucchini flowers stuffed with rice, blueberries and ricotta; Caponatina Siciliana: eggplant salad with capers, olives and celery. Other items on our plates included meatballs in marinara, lemon lamb chops, and celery seafood salad. We washed it all down with a home made fruit infused red wine and ended the evening with a torta di nutella, a nutella version of tiramisu. This was by far one of the best meals I have ever eaten in my life (sorry Grandma). Although the ever changing cast of Grannies will make each experience special, there is a standard menu to choose from as well. Upon finishing our meal, we felt compelled to give thanks to Grandma Maria for all her hard work. We introduced ourselves and shook her hand as she quickly rattled off some things in Italian (most of which we did not understand) and handed each of us a slice of her special Palermo pizza. We stuffed the pizza into our already full bellies. It wouldn’t be a true Italian feast if we didn’t eat more than humanly possible. And we did.
Check out their website for the daily grandma, regional menu and wine specials.
Enoteca Maria 27 Hyatt Street, Staten Island, New York 10301 (718) 447-2777 Open Wed-Sun 3pm onward…
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