Bike Journeys in Queens
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…
Want to cycle in the hood but don’t have the wheels? I just got wind of a new bike rental place opening up, Ride and Roll Astoria, on Ditmars Boulevard and 35th St. Being an avid cycler, I was rolling with excitement when I received the message. Although I haven’t tried them yet because I have my own bike, I am eager to hear what you think!
Check out the website for more information http://www.rideandrollastoria.com/index.html
This Sunday September 13th marks the annual NYC Century Bike Tour– that’s 100 miles of cycling through the five boroughs. Can’t push the pedal quite that far? Don’t worry you can still participate, there are truncated versions of the tour with earlier finish points of 15, 35, 55, & 75 miles. Register September 11th or the day of the race for an extra $5.
Cyclists will be riding through our very own Astoria Park. Here is an excerpt of the rundown with the bike schedule, distance and location (for map click here) (and to watch my personal bike tour of Flushing Meadows Park on vimeo- click here )
“15 mile: Park to Park Escorted by T.A. Marshal, this ride is meant for first-time riders and families. Riders travel down NYC’s first ever protected bike lane on 9th Avenue in Chelsea and then proceed over to the East River. The tour rolls onto Manhattan’s east side greenway and towards Chinatown. Riders have the option of staying in Manhattan or continuing along onto the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Leave 8 am. Finish 10 am-2 pm. 35 mile: East River Loop This ride is for those looking for more than a Sunday stroll. Riders are taken through downtown Brooklyn, around Prospect Park and continue through hip and trendy Williamsburg and up to Astoria Park, Queens, finishing in Central Park. Leave 7:30 am. Finish 11 am-3 pm. 55 mile: The Waterfront This route is more miles but since NYC is relatively flat terrain it makes for a manageable ride for someone who is looking to challenge him or herself. This route takes riders along the Brooklyn greenway with views of the Verrazano Bridge and Coney Island and connecting to with 35-mile finish. Leave 7 am. Finish 11 am-4pm. 75 mile: The Velodrome This is not for amateurs. From Canarsie Pier, riders split and continue on the greenway and head north to Queens. The journey takes riders to Kissena Park where riders can take a loop around the Velodrome. Leave 6:30 am. Finish 12-4 pm. 100 mile: Experienced Riders Only. Riders travel out to Far Rockaway and beautiful Fort Tilden after Marine Park. Cyclists head north to Astoria Park and then progress into the Bronx. This part of the ride is the most challenging because we saved the hills for the end. Riders enter northern Manhattan and take to the east side to get a view of Yankee Stadium and travel through historic Harlem. Leave 6 am. Finish 12-6 pm.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
May is Bike Month is NYC. Get off your couch and hop on that beautiful piece of metal to show this city that YOU own the road. Feel the wind against your face and sweat like you mean it in the 22 mile Second Annual Tour de Queens. Registration begins May 26 for the July 12th bike tour- that will start in Flushing Meadows park and take you all over your favorite boro’ For more information visit http://www.tourdequeens.orgRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
There are only a few more weeks to enjoy the summer warmth… and that means getting off your bum and onto your bike. Here’s a bike friendly journey that took me from the heart of LIC to the meat and potatoes of Jackson Heights. Map
Start 50th Ave & Vernon Blvd LIC-Head North/East on Vernon Blvd
Turn Right onto Broadway until you hit 59th/60th Street- then veer left onto 34th Ave
Take a right onto 78th Street until you hit 37th Ave- take another right- You are in Jackson Heights…
Starting Point- Dorian Cafe on 10-01 50th Ave at Vernon Blvd in Long Island City. At this low-key but tasty restaurant, you can stock-up on a hearty and inexpensive brunch-(greek omelets, pancakes, mimosa…) before you start pedaling. You will then head North/East on Vernon Blvd. This is a road that’s wide and scenic with a bike lane. You will pass Queensbridge Park and Rainy Park along the way- so if you need a break- you can stroll along the grassy knoll. Keep going (about 10 min) until you come to the First Stop– Socrates Sculpture Park – at Vernon and Broadway, chain up your bike and take a walk along this riverside amusement. There are always some unusual works by local artists to ponder or you can just sit along the water and listen to the wind chimes by the trees. Turn left onto Broadway- this is a major street with quite a few lights, but there is no bike lane.
Second Stop- Natural Market (46-03 Broadway LIC/Astoria) for an organic juice or smoothy. There is outdoor and indoor seating and a bike rack so you can enjoy a snack without hassle. They also have a plethora of natural and organic food and beauty products. Keep going on Broadway until you hit 59th/60th Street- then veer left onto 34th Ave– This is a bike friendly, quiet tree-lined avenue (with a bike path.) Pedal along 34th Ave then take a right onto 78th Street until you hit 37th Ave- take another right- voila! You are in Jackson Heights…
Third Stop- Delhi Palace Sweets 37-33 74th Street- This tiny bakery fits about 2 people standing, and has an assortment of traditional Indian pastries such as milk sweets, milk cakes, and samosas. A perfect taste of culture to-go.
Fourth/Fifth Stop– Bollywood (37-11 74th St) and Golden Music (37-13 74th St) stores. Both stores featuring contemporary Bollywood and Bhangra CDs as well as traditional Indian music and movies for dirt cheap ($5-$7 per CD) and video conversion. Mahek Salon (see review below)– 37-13 74th St for a cheap facial, eyebrow threading to look your best for the next stop…
Final Stop- Jackson Diner– For delicious traditional Indian cuisine- well worth the blood, sweat and tears it took to get there.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Summer weather is finally here and there are so many things to do when the sun is shining. Take advantage of the longer days in and around Queens with these summer outings.
Bike or walk from LIC to Greenpoint and explore what two fantastic neighborhoods have to offer- just minutes away from eachother:
1.) LIC QUEENS WALKING JOURNEY– (Map)
First Stop– Get yourself a nice cool drink at LIC bar or Dominie’s Hoek– both on Vernon Blvd just steps away- enjoy the large outdoor patio area and sip some refreshing beers on tap. The neighborhood crowd is usually easy-going at these two local bars and the service is friendly.
Second Stop- Now that you’ve cooled off enjoy some culture at Dean Project Art Gallery ( 45-43 21st Street Long Island City, NY 11101 718-706- 1462) . This month’s exhibition- Cringe- features live performance works like Asshole that will make you…well, cringe. Some audience participation required!
2.) WALK OR BIKE JOURNEY–LIC to Greenpoint via the Pulaski Bridge–(Map)
First Stop- LIC The Creek and the Cave (10-93 Jackson Ave 718-706-8783) This is more than just a bar- they have an outdoor patio and entertainment like music, comedy and theater. Get a drink here and sit outside- then head over to Brooklyn for an American Nuveau dinner…
Continue by foot or wheels over the Pulaski Bridge. There is a pedestrian friendly walkway and it takes about 15-20 minutes (walking) to cross the bridge into our neighboring boro- Greenpoint- once you’re off of the bridge- go three blocks until you hit Eagle Street. This is a quiet- unscathed by the hipsters- tree-lined street. Continue on Eagle Street then take a left on West Street- keep going until you hit Greenpoint Avenue- between West and Franklin there is a little jem of an eatery called Paloma.
Second Stop- Hungry? Paloma (60 Greenpoint Ave) is a sure bet for tasty inventive American entrees- at half the price you will pay in Manhattan ($7-$14). Camille Becerra- a former contestant on Top Chef- is Paloma’s executive chef. Take advantage of the outdoor sidewalk seating or come inside to enjoy the ultra modern decor. The food menu and extensive cocktail list at this restaurant are creative but not overly ambitious. Some of our favorites are Parmesean Encrusted Pollock dish with cous cous and herbs and the Stuffed Poblano Pepper with pumpkin and chedder entree . Cool off with one of the many delicious cocktails like a Pink Lemonade or La Paloma- refreshing and manly enough for the guys to drink. Be sure to check out the cool bathrooms and get dessert- even if you are full.If you are too tired to walk back to Queens you can always take the bus B61
Second Stop #2– Don’t you like those alternative ending storybooks? If you’re not hungry, or on a budget you can always bypass Greenpoint Ave and keep going down West St until you hit the mega furniture warehouse- From The Source (69 West St) . This giant showroom houses custom made indonesian furniture and it doesn’t cost a cent to peruse the warehouse. There are tons of uniquely made wooden furniture pieces to gander just for the sake of it.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )