Wine Tasting

Autumn Cocktail 101

Posted on October 15, 2011. Filed under: Astoria, Wine Tasting |

There’s nothing like relaxing at home on a lazy fall afternoon sipping a homemade cocktail, or 10! I first met Joe Thompson, area man, drink master and musician in the summer of 2010. His mixing expertise was noted in the 2010 fall edition of Edible Queens.

While doing a photo shoot for the Notable Edibles article, I was fortunate enough to see the master at work in his own home, preparing a neighborhood favorite he calls “Harvest 718”. It is a warm and sultry mix of citris and spices simmered on a stove top for drinking on those chilly days of fall.

Harvest 718 (recipe first published here)

½ stick butter
½ gallon apple cider
2 ounces butternut squash purée
2 ounces bourbon
½ ounces honey
Mulling spices: cinnamon, 
cloves, star anise
Angostura bitters
Orange peel

In medium saucepan over low heat, brown butter. Stir in cider, squash puree and mulling spices; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Let cool.* In shaker, combine 4 ounces of the cooled cider mixture, bourbon, honey, a dash of bitters and ice; shake to combine. Rub rim of glass with orange peel before pouring in the cider mixture.

The Harvest 718, a simmering stove-top delight.

A warm drink to accompany your favorite seasonal treats.

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The Never-Ending Italian Feast, Made by Grandma

Posted on July 16, 2010. Filed under: Bike Journeys in Queens, Italian, Off the beaten path, Wine Tasting |

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…

seafood salad

zuchinni flower stuffed with ricotta and blueberries with a side a fruit infused red wine

rosemary lemon lamb chops

nutella tart

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Hamlet, Wine Tasting, Ballet and Local Artist’s Photo Exhibition

Posted on March 5, 2010. Filed under: Art, Astoria, Entertainment, Free, LIC, Music & Dance, Theater, Wine Tasting, Woodside/Sunnyside |

Hi readers! The snow is melting, the birds are chirping and Spring is “Marching” in. I would like to share with you some events and cool happenings in our lovely borough. As always thanks for reading!

St Patrick’s Parade in Sunnyside- Sunday March 7th 1pm- The parade starts at 43rd and Skillman Ave. For places to eat and drink after you watch click here.


Stomp & Howl Haiti Benefit at Hell Gate Social– “Lespwa:  A Haitian Health Foundation Benefit this Sat. March 6th @ Hell Gate Social 9:00pmThis event is the third in a series of fundraisers Stomp & Howl Movement has curated to raise money for Haiti earthquake relief efforts and it will feature a hip hop lineup with some of Queens’ finest emcees and deejays including Homeboy Sandman, Illimanjaro, Hops, Drew P, and DJ Lo-Fi.  All proceeds from the event will benefit Haitian Health Foundation


Hamlet in a Black Box LaGuardia Performing Arts FREE Long Island City- “A little known play, written by an obscure English playwright, makes its debut this Friday at LaGuardia’s Black Box Theatre. The production tentatively called Hamlet (working title) will run through mid-March and debuts a new collaboration between LPAC & LAGCC Humanities Department.”

March 6, 11, 12, 13 at 7:30pm & March 5, 9 & 10 at 2:30pm


Queens Symphony Orchestra Concert – Taiwan Center in Flushing on March 7, 2010 at 4 pm “is excited to announce our prestigious 2010 Young Soloist Competition. The final round of this competition will be held as a public recital… , after which the winners will be announced.” (Taiwan Center Flushing Queens 137-44 Northern Blvd. Flushing NY 11354)


Court Square Wine & Spirits is having a benefit tasting and auction for the Long Island City School of BalletThursday March 11 at 4:30pm-8pm

“Stop in to enjoy a free tasting of: Woodford Reserve (with free bottle engraving!), Jack Daniels, Gentleman Jack, St. Germain, Elderflower Liqueur, Spanish Wines. We’ll also have cake and hors d’oeuvres from local restaurants, and a raffle to win awesome prizes donated from several local businesses, including tickets to PS1!”


Photo by Jennifer Lim

Himalayan Tea House Astoria Photo ExhibitMy name is Jennifer Lim, a travel/fine art photographer living in Astoria. I wanted to let you know about a show of my Tibet photography currently up at the Himalayan Tea House – (on 31st Ave between 33rd and 34th Sts).  The images were taken in 2007 in Lhasa, and the Amdo region


The Sunnyside Project Sabine Heinlein is a Sunnyside resident who has created an online project profiling the residents of her neighborhood. Check out her endeavor as she warm heartedly captures the lives and stories of her community through photos and audio.


Queens Art Express LIC- Learn how to sell your art online! Event in DUMBO presented by Queens Council on the Arts

Art Builds Community Spring Series Brainstorm! Selling Work Online Thursday, March 18, 2010, 6:30pm RSVP and more info


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Winegasm Wine bar and restaurant Astoria

Posted on July 28, 2008. Filed under: Astoria, Bar-Hopping in Queens, Brunch, Date Spot/ Romantic, Fine Dining, French, Pan European, Wine Tasting | Tags: |

Winegasm (31-86 37th St 718-932-3331) is a classy low-key eatery that brings the heart of Europe to central Astoria. The rustic wooden decor is simple yet elegant, just like the vibe of the restaurant. There is nothing flashy about Winegasm. With wines hailing from France, Italy, Argentina, Russia, Spain and California, it leans more on the side of sophistication rather than snobbery. Service is friendly and the staff is knowledgeable. The unique selection of wines ranges in price as does the rest of the menu.  The food is a European fusion of creativity. If you’re looking for small plates to accompany your drinks, Winegasm offers a variety of Socas- tapas friendly cousin from France. There is a delectable choice of cheeses, meats, savory bacon wrapped prunes, warm olives, arugula and feta and chablis shrimp. There are hearty panino and salads for light meals. For more substantial fare, try one of the main courses like skirt steak with cheese, sauteed chicken or pan seared salmon. The crab-cakes are rich and full of taste– and small enough to leave just enough room for the deliciously warm cheese cake. The wine-by-the-glass selection is reasonable, but you’re better off ordering by the bottle- as the selection is much larger. Winegasm also offers brunch specials. The citrus infused pancakes with caramelized apples and berries will send you into a pancake-asm. Choose from the buttery crusted quiche lorraine or florentine with a baby green salad or smoked salmon on multi-grain toast. There are also the conventional egg dishes, socas or croque madame or monsieur- Frances traditional breakfast sandwiches. Winegasm is definitely worth the trip for low key sophisticated fare in a friendly environment. Happy hours run from Tuesday-Saturday 5-7 and wine tasting on Thursday evenings 7-9- Around the World in Seven Wines

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Grand Wine and Liquor Store Astoria

Posted on January 16, 2008. Filed under: Astoria, Specialty Food Markets, Wine Tasting |

Grand Wine and Liquor– 31st & 30th Ave

Searching for a cheap bottle of whiskey for that friday night you’ll spending solo? How about a nice Malbec for your special date saturday night? Perhaps you need the finest bottle of Tequila for that party your throwing… What ever the occasion, Grand Wine and Liquor  will most certainly have what you need. If you don’t know what you need, the neighborly staff will steer you in the right direction. Everything from the Southern Comfort of the Kentucky valleys to Borolo straight from the hills of Valtellina, they’ve got it, small labels big labels, they’ve got it. The knowledgeable staff can tell you the difference between Malbec and Merlot and smooth tannins verses full bodies. Grand Wine and Liquor is the place that will accomodate all your drinking tendencies.

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