Monday, July 28, 2014

Odd Fellows Ice Cream - Unstrangely Delicious

Last Thursday eve, Dan and I had an early birthday celebration for me (just the two of us), and it was perfect.  Starting things off at The Brindle Room in the East Village, we ended our eating adventure with ice cream at the new Odd Fellows Manhattan locale.  Not only did it not disappoint, it left a lasting impression and a curiosity to try other interesting flavors.

Set amongst lots of other amazing East Village eateries, Odd Fellows fits right in with the chilled out, experimental vibe of this neighborhood.  While the location is on the small side, equivalent to something like the new Momofuku Milk Bar (also in the East Village), it has a lot to offer to ravenous New Yorkers.  

A friendly looking bench welcomes you even before you come in, and you'll find a few people out there lingering and enjoying their freshly scooped ice cream.  The inside is intimate and a little narrow, but overall feels cozy and welcoming with a high counter that you can hover around and place your ice cream, as you get ready to devour.

Ice Cream:
I like that there's only 8 flavors to choose from each day and they're all freshly made.  Although I expected the flavors to be unusual and funky, Thursday's offering seemed a bit standard with things like Tahitian vanilla, s'mores, chocolate chip caramel and the like.  This was A-OK with me, as I quickly chose my poison wasn't disappointed.

Milk Chocolate Coconut & S'mores - Going all out with two scoops, I first tasted the s'mores, which was anything but an ordinary vanilla, graham crackers and chocolate.  Certainly more of the chocolate persuasion, the s'mores tasted smoky (almost baconey) and truly reminded me of roasting these by the campfire.  The milk chocolate, coconut flavor which sat at the bottom of my cup was delightful as well and super creamy.  My favorite aspects were the little pieces of coconut flecks that bejeweled this generous scoop.

Chocolate Chunk with Caramel - Although it didn't sound overly exciting, I have to say that Dan's ice cream scoop, which sat on a homemade sugar cone was a total standout.  The chocolate part was rich and slightly bitter, which was awesome, while the caramel ribbons shone through sporadically--pleasantly surprising your tastebuds with silky butteriness.

Service and Cost:
Two young ladies worked the ice cream counter and they were pretty friendly.  Not overly so, but nice enough for sure - reminding me of my early days as the ice cream girl at Baskin Robbins.

Costs are pretty standard at $4 for a single scoop or $5.25 for a double.  Luckily, I was able to use my Blackboard Eats coupon, which saved us around $3 off our total bill, which is awesome. 

3 Mmmms

Odd Fellows Ice Cream - 75 East 4th Street, New York NY 10003
6 Train to Astor Place

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fun Weekly Events at Bowery Bay

Image by Bowery Bay

It hasn't been too long since the well known Bistro 33 became the new Bowery Bay, and I'm excited that I'll have the chance to try it soon.  Just the other day, I spotted a few weekly specials that are already whetting my appetite before I visit next week - and they're wallet friendly too!

Happy Hour - 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. 
$4 select beer, wine, liquor

Monday - 2-for-1 drinks all night

Tuesday - Small plate Tuesday 
Purchase 2, 4 or 6 small tasting plates for $5 each.  You can also get get $5 beer and wine as well.

Wednesday - Movie night
The kitchen stays open late, til 10:30 p.m.  Get a kick out of "awful" movie night during the first Wednesday of each month.

Saturday & Sunday - Weekend brunch
$15 menu, including coffee + cocktail.  Also enjoy Bowie brunch the 3rd Sunday of each month.

Bowery Bay - 19-33 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria NY 11105
N/Q Train to Ditmars Blvd

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

King of Falafel Does it Again!

After an awesome video shoot last night for We Heart Astoria, together with graffiti artist, Louie KRONE Gasparro, I was totally hungry and in the mood to devour something good.  Having falafel and shawarma on my mind since last week, I headed over to the one, the only King of Falafel and Shawarma cart.

Freddy's cart was busy and bumpin' on this random Tuesday eve at 8 o'clock, but what else is new? You can't compete with greatness!  I got in line, which was about 10 people long, but everyone was in a good mood, including Freddy and his staff of course, infecting us with their endless positivity and cheeriness.  As they sometimes do, we got first dibs on some free falafel, which made the wait go even faster, the staff dishing out free smiles and jokes to boot.  Overall, it's always a pleasure to be surrounded by such great people, which makes me appreciate how much pride these guys have in what they do.

Since I was pretty ravenous on this evening (and knew Dan would be too), I opted for full meal options for both the falafel and the shawarma.  Anticipating us splitting both, that's exactly what we did when we got home, and even had leftovers for the next day.

Falafel Platter - Filled to the rim of the container, the falafel platter includes four big pieces of fresh falafel that are perfectly crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  Resting on a bed of yellow rice and veggies such as jalapenos, tomatoes and lettuce, this platter is an explosion of flavors.  The falafel is quite hefty and nice to split into halves so you can stretch it further.

Shawarma Platter - Similar to the falafel platter, except for the protein of course, the chicken shawarma is also delicious.  Loving the expert way in which the chicken was cooked, it's all kinds of tender and flavorful, marinated in a carefully prepared mix of herbs and spices.  I chose to go with more creaminess on top through a generous helping of white sauce and tahini that rounded out the dish.

Service and Cost:
As I already hinted above, the service at the King of Falafel is second to none.  Every customer is treated with respect and is made to feel like they're important, which goes a long way, especially after a full day's work.  

Costs are super affordable, and since the portions are quite large, you're able to stretch the dollar.  The above mentioned meals set me back just $14 in total.  I can't wait to go back!

3 Mmmms

King of Falafel - 29-18 Broadway, Astoria NY 11106
N/Q Train to Broadway

Monday, July 21, 2014

Loverly Rolls at Pink Nori

After a long week, I was looking forward to some R&R with good friends in a chill setting.  Strolling along 30th Avenue last Friday, my friend Andrea and I had a hankering for some sushi and chose Pink Nori as our destination. Relaxing, enjoyable and filled with good eats, we walked out happy and full, with plenty of leftovers for later.

Even though Pink Nori is in the middle of the action on 30th Avenue, it's easy to miss, since the signage is unassuming and also because it's right next to the busy Antika Pizzeria.  The interior is simple and slightly devoid of character, as it lacks charming touches and feels slightly generic with its minimalist approach.  The most welcoming factor is the bar area, set in the front of the house, decked with colorful tiles and a backlit wall, displaying sake and wooden sushi boat containers.

Slightly overwhelmed by the menu, there was an immense amount of choice in the sushi rolls, sashimi and various Japanese specialties.  In the end, both Andrea and I combined a specialty roll with a simple sushi roll as our main course and shared Pink Nori's signature sushi pizza as our starter.

Sushi Pizza - Ever since Meg and Emily tried this dish when we got Pink Nori take-out, I've had food envy.  Consisting of a homemade scallion pancake that seemed to be layered, it was topped with a thin layer of guacamole and seafood goodness such as yellowtail, salmon and tuna.  Looking like an abstract painting on a plate, I'm happy to say that it tasted as colorful as it looked.

Hamachi Lover Roll + Salmon Roll - Attracted to this specialty roll because of the spice factor, it consisted of spicy yellowtail (my favorite), scallions, panko crunchies and a little sliver of jalapeno on top.  While the heat was distinctive in this roll, it wasn't overpowering and dissipated after a few seconds.  

The salmon roll provided a great complement to the Hamachi, mainly because it was simple and clean with a little bit of crunch as well for texture.

Pink Nori Roll + Tuna Roll - Andrea went with the namesake Pink Nori Roll, which looked beautiful as well, with seared salmon, cooked shrimp, avocado and tempura flakes. There was a lot going on in one bite, and while I appreciated its complexity, I think it lacked cohesion and would've been better with fewer ingredients.

The tuna roll was standard and simple and because it was wrapped in brown rice, I thought it to be a tad dry.

Service and Cost:
Impressed by the efficiency of the service, we were always paid attention to and never felt that we had to wait too long for anything.  Despite our severs being quick, we didn't feel that we had to rush out and were comfortable to stick around and chat. 

Costs are moderate setting us back about $37 each including tax and tip.

3 Mmmms

Pink Nori - 36-06 30th Avenue, Astoria NY 11103
N/Q Train to 30th Avenue

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Oyster Happy Hour in Astoria

Just last week, I spotted Thrillist's extensive list of 64 Amazing Oyster Happy Hours in NYC, which included some options in Astoria and LIC.  Although the choices were quite limited, I was happy to see both neighborhoods mentioned.  Posting the article on the We Heart Astoria Facebook page, I also noticed a few suggestions from people in the neighborhood that were omitted in this list and that I wanted to mention here.  What other Oyster Happy Hours do you enjoy nearby?

Off the Hook (pictured here) - Happy Hour runs Monday - Thursday from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. to close as well as on Friday from noon to 7 p.m.  During this time, you can enjoy $1 Blue Point Oysters, $1 Little Neck Clams and $4 beers, wine and well drinks.  28-08 28th Avenue, Astoria. 718.721.2112

Ovelia - Hosting their Pink Oyster Raw Bar Happy Hour
every Sunday from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. you can take advantage of $1 Blue Point Oysters, buttermilk fried oysters ($12), and baked oysters ($14).  34-01 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.721.7217

Psari - Boasting a generous Happy Hour each day from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. you can feast on everything from 1/2 dozen raw oysters for $8, 1/2 dozen raw clams for $5, fish and chips for $10 and other yummies. 32-10 36th Avenue, Astoria. 718.786.6015

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chela & Garnacha Knocks it Out of the Park

On Thursday, after Dan and I spent an awesome evening at the Museum of Moving Image seeing the brand new Chuck Jones, What's Up Doc? exhibit we also headed to the new Chela & Garnacha Mexican joint for some eats.  The exhibit was a lot of fun and the overall evening a big success, but it left us feeling hungry, so we stopped in for some impromptu eats.

Known for being the restaurant location of the popular Mexico Blvd food truck, Chela & Garnacha is situated on 36th Avenue and 34th St right next to Arepas Cafe.  In truth, we were actually headed to the latter but spotted Chela quicker and it drew us in.  The colors and the cheery decor is in itself attractive, as it consists of rustic touches such as a reclaimed wooden wall, little cupboards with greenery inside and the bright green tables you can see bits of above. Menus are printed on recycled paper and the place has an overall eco-friendly vibe that goes well with the simple, rustic yet authentic food from their kitchen.

Although the menu is limited, it makes your decision an easy one.  The few items to choose from include tacos, quesadillas, flautas and various appetizers.  Dan zeroed in on the tacos immediately while I went with the more inventive route and got the intrincadas.

Intrincadas - Even though I was unfamiliar with these, I was drawn to the ingredients, which included crispy massa patties with guacamole, chipotle sauce, crema and shredded chicken.  They reminded me of the huaraches from La Condesa I had in Austin back in the winter.  Not only were these hearty and a little bit indulgent because they were fried, the ingredients on top, including the shredded white meat chicken felt light and fresh.  Since the portion is quite big, it's great to share with your dining compadre.

Tacos -Dan went with the Al Pastor and the fish tacos, which are his favorites in any taqueria.  We compared them with the tacos we had just the night before from the Tacos Jalisco truck and while the Al Pastor was super flavorful -the pork tender and a little smoky - the fish tacos weren't as tasty as from the food truck.  I personally wished there was more fish vs. some of the fixins such as the slaw. 

Service and Cost:
The service at Chela & Garnacha couldn't be better.  Our waitress was friendly and struck up a genuine conversation with us.  She quickly informed us about the BYOB factor, which we loved and even offered us some limes for the Coronas we brought in.

Costs are reasonable, especially due to the BYOB option and set us back about $24 total, including tax and tip.

3 Mmmms

Chela & Garnacha - 33-09 36th Avenue, Astoria NY 11106
N/Q Train to 36th Avenue

Friday, July 18, 2014

Veggie Dinner - Grilled Eggplant with Peanut Sauce

In the mood to make something hearty and healthy, I spotted some nice looking eggplant at the supermarket so I grabbed it in hopes of getting inspired.  After a quick recipe search, I found an easy method for a grilled eggplant with cilantro and peanut sauce.  It's funny because I used to absolutely abhor peanut sauce on anything, but my tastebuds have changed and I now love everything from peanut butter to my once loathsome peanut sauce.

I love this recipe because you only need a few simple ingredients including peanut butter, olive oil, garlic and lemon.  Being pretty generous with the garlic, it was distinctly felt in the sauce but that's exactly what I loved about it - the more garlicky the better.  You can adjust it to your own taste or pair the eggplant with something else altogether such as this homemade avocado hummus you see above.

Eggplant with Peanut Dressing Recipe


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