Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter in Astoria

It's a big week with Easter and Passover both here, and with that come lots of festivities featuring delicious food and drink.  Although you may already have plans with friends and family, here are a few thought starters on how you may want to celebrate it in Astoria

Koliba - My beloved Slovak restaurant always offers something special for Easter, and I was delighted to check out their special menu just for this occasion.  I love it because it's both decadent and affordable (veggie diners may want to sit this one out).  31-11 23rd Avenue, Astoria. 718.626.0430

La Guli - You can always count on La Guli to have the best Easter candy stock, including these beautifully colorful chocolate eggs (pictured above).  They remind me of the hand crafted folk confections I'd see in my native, Slovakia.  29-15 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.728.5612

Martha's Country Bakery - Martha's is another must as far as baked goods go.  Their medium and large sized hollow chocolate eggs are already in the store while their speciality Easter cupcakes and cookies will make their debut this weekend.  Can't wait! 36-21 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.545.9737

Front Toward Enemy - Although they don't have a special Easter menu per se, their weekend Punch Brunch will very much be in order, with an unlimited morning cocktail punch option.  Check out their brunch specialties menu.  40-11 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.545.2269

Zenon Taverna - In their traditional style, Zenon is starting the Easter celebration early with a late night dinner on Saturday night that goes until 3 a.m. A special menu of Cypriot specialties sounds delightful and includes items such as Magiritsa, Trahana and a Roasted Leg of Lamb.  See full menu here.  34-10 31st Avenue, Astoria. 718.956.0133

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Brunch and More at M. Wells

Image via Yelp, Ciprian T.

Just in time for Spring, M.Wells Steakhouse and M.Wells Dinette are rolling out some festive food activities that'll surely inspire us to get out of the house.

M.Wells Steakhouse Brunch:
Starting this Sunday April 20th, enjoy brunch service from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

M.Wells Dinette Specialties:
Enjoy a few of these deliciously indulgent specialty items available for pick up this coming Sunday and ready to put on your Easter table.  To receive these in time, make sure to place your order by this Friday the 18th by 4 p.m.

Rabbit Royale … $101
Whole rabbit, with the legs roasted, the shoulders confites and the rĂ¢ble stuffed with foie gras. Asparagus and ramps in a morel sauce included.

Eat-All-Day Pie … $50
Classic 9" chess pie is piled high with cookies, chocolate cream eggs, macaroons, liquor-soaked ladyfingers and more.

Maple Pie … $40
The pie that speaks for itself (pictured above). Serves 6 to 8 people.

M.Wells Dinette - 22-25 Jackson Avenue, LIC 11101
7 Train to 45th Road, Courthouse Square

M.Wells Steakhouse - 43-15 Crescent Street, LIC 11101
E Train to Court Square

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Passover Matzoh

Given that Passover starts tonight, and we're about to go to our first night's Seder, I wanted to spread some festivities through sharing a homemade chocolate caramel matzoh recipe.  Also known as Matzoh candy, this easy-to-make and fun-to-assemble dish is always a hit, so I made a lot of extra and packed it in some to-go boxes as well.

Originally spotting the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, it can be made with Matzoh or even just regular crackers when it's not Passover.  The homemade caramel is super easy to make, as all you need is good quality unsalted butter and brown sugar.  After you pour this on to the matzoh (I used whole wheat Streit's matzoh), you then sprinkle on the chocolate and get creative with your toppings.  My embellishments of choice included chopped pistachios, candied coconut, festive sprinkles and chopped Heath bar crunch.  You can use anything else that strikes your fancy, such as dried fruit M&M's, sea salt, etc - get creative!

Hope you find this easy recipe from Smitted Kitchen handy, and do let me know about the unique combinations you come up with.  Happy Passover, everyone!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Happy Passover Round-Up

Passover is almost here, which means a very limited diet for some, but fear not, as there are still plenty of delicious goodies to eat.  I've assembled a round up of Passover friendly eats for you here, and feel free to chime in with your suggestions too!

Chocolate Matzoh - There's nothing like a beautiful matzoh on this non-bready holiday, and I love decking mine in chocolate and fancy accouterments such as pistachios or dried fruit.  Here's a simple recipe for a dark chocolate truffled sea salt matzoh I made last year.  

Homemade Macaroons - A very different but equally delicious treat that sounds similar to the elegant French confection, this one is coconutey, a little creamy and often drizzled with chocolate, in honor of this holiday.

Classic Chicken Soup - One year, I decided to make a from scratch chicken soup, instead of having my hand in dessert and it came out great.  I recommend it, as it's low maintenance and goes a long way.  Anyone from adults to very small children will find comfort in this classic. 

Matzoh Brei - Another Passover staple, Matzoh Brei always wins big point, especially as a breakfast dish.  It's made of eggs and milk-soaked matzoh that creates a comforting dish not unlike Mexican chilaquiles.  

Shakshuka - The recent recipe I've tried for Shakshuka would also make a nice Passover dish, not so much for a Seder but more for the everyday weekly meal.  All you need is 5 simple ingredients, including eggs, tomatoes, spices and olive oil and you've got yourself a hearty breakfast or dinner.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lima 33 - Feast Fit for a Peruvian

Being that I'm a chicken, rice and beans kind of girl, I was naturally intrigued by the a fairly new Peruvian restaurant I spotted in Little Neck called Lima 33.  Previously a sushi joint, Lima 33 came on the scene about 4 months ago and sits amongst a sea of Asian food establishments.  Lima's differentiation certainly helps it stand out, as my brother Peter and I noticed it right away, and then shortly after, perused their Yelp reviews.  A few days later, along with Fiana, we were there devouring their delicious Peruvian cuisine.

Located on a busy corner on Northern Blvd and 254th Street, Lima is accessible by car, bus or even the LIRR.  Because it's new, the decor is sleek and modern, boasting a few colorful touches such as bright pink banquettes and seat cushions.  A royal blue accent wall injects more cheeriness and elegance, along with enlarged prints, showcasing scenes from Lima.

While the kitchen isn't completely open concept, you do get a glimpse of what's cooking, especially the golden brown rotisserie chickens that are Lima's specialty.  Since they're still in the process of getting their liquor license, you can for the time being enjoy a BYOB option, so if you fancy a a little vino, make sure you stop across the street at the new Collezione Wine & Spirits. The staff will even get a bottle of wine for you, if you ask nicely.

I liked perusing Lima's classic but uncomplicated menu, making it easy to choose something quickly.  Since we were in the mood to share, we went for the appetizer special of the day as well as the Super Combinacion meal, which was big enough to share between 3-4 people.

Stuffed Plantain Appetizer - Sounding too good to pass up, we were immediately entranced by our server's description of this dish and ordered it on the spot.  Consisting of a pretty layer cake of mashed plantains, chicken salad, olive tapenade and avocados, it presented virtually all of my favorite Latin flavors.  While we liked the overall flavor profile, we agreed that it would've been preferable to serve the chicken warm, instead of in a chilled salad format.

Super Combinacion - This combination meal represented everything that I appreciate about Peruvian restaurants, and it reminded me of a similar menu item you can get at Pio Pio.  We loved that the plates just kept on coming, creating quite a feast before our eyes of a whole rotisserie chicken, rice & beans, salchipapas (little hot dogs with French fries), sweet plantains and an avocado salad.

The chicken was my favorite, boasting a beautifully golden crispy skin and an incredible amount of juiciness in both the white and dark pieces.  A close second were the sweet plantains that had a slightly sticky, sweet coating and a nice firm texture when you bit into them.  The mountain of slightly smokey salchipapas and the crispy fries didn't suck either.  Together, it was more than enough food to feed a small Peruvian village (or at least 3 hungry New Yorkers).

Service and Cost:
While our food experience surpassed expectations, the service was even more remarkable.  Not only were we greeted in a friendly fashion, every last detail of our experience was well taken care of, including the refilling of our water and wine glasses, clean silverware, and an acute attention to virtually everything.  We felt well taken care of but in such a way that was friendly and welcoming, enjoying an easy conversation with the staff.

Costs are super affordable, especially now that Lima is still BYOB.  The above mentioned hefty dinner only set us back about $57 for 3 people, which includes tax and tip!  Que bueno!

3 Mmmms

Lima 33 - 254-04 Northern Blvd, Little Neck NY 11362
LIRR to Little Neck or N20 Bus

Monday, April 7, 2014

LIC Flea Foodie Highlights

This past weekend, we celebrated the return of the LIC Flea, which also in a way symbolizes the start of spring.  And while the weather didn't 100% cooperate (it was a tad windy, let's just say), we managed to have a great time and enjoyed checking out all the talented vendors and their bevy of creations.  The food is of course a huge highlight for me, and I spied both new and returning vendors from last year.  A few purveyors stood out to me during this first Flea weekend, including:

Trakia Pizza - This Astoria newcomer piqued some serious interest with their makeshift wood-fired oven.  Not only is the pizza delicious, boasting a crispy, thin crust, but the guys who run the place are happy and jovial, emanating all sorts of positive energy!

King of Falafel & Shawarma - There's just something about seeing Freddy (aka King of Falafel), which makes you feel that all is right with the world.  Smiling, joking and offering free samples of his irresistible falafel, we of course succumbed and had a few pieces that made our tastebuds dance.  There's nothing like that perfectly crunchy crust of the falafel and a creamy, slightly spicy middle that he dresses with a homemade spice mix that comes from a secret recipe.

Gotham Cookies - Also a newbie to the Flea, their cookie display was elegant and certainly caught our eye.  I was trying to be good and stay away from sweets that day, so I resisted, but Dan tasted the Peanut Butter Crunch and sang its high praises.  I gotta say, that Apple Pie cookie also looked very enticing.

The Grateful Bread Baking Company -
 Remembering these guys from the Coffeed, Qns Urban Market event back in the fall, I wanted to try a few of their new varieties.  The plantain/dark chocolate bread was a big stand-out, combining a mix of savory and sweet flavors, while the Buckwheat & Raisin stole my heart and I ended up buying a 1/2 loaf.  It's nice that they let you purchase smaller portions as well, which make this more practical in a semi gluten free household.

Overall, we enjoyed our time at the Flea and look forward to coming back in the next few weeks.  I'm also psyched for the Astoria Flea & Food to make its big debut on May 4th.  Woot woot!

LIC Flea - 5-25 46th Avenue, LIC
7 Train to Vernon/Jackson Avenue 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sweetleaf's Tasty Cocktails Delight

Spending part of this weekend at the LIC Flea, helping to ring in its inaugural day, a few of us including Dan, Emily, Daniel and I headed over to Sweetleaf afterwards for a few early evening cocktails.  Hearing about Sweetleaf's cocktail menu, I had high hopes, judging by the standard of their other drinks and food.

Boasting 10 signature cocktails on the menu, we each tried something different with high marks all around.  Note that their cocktail service starts at 6 p.m., which makes this a perfect pitstop for a post LIC Flea activity.

Tarzan cocktail - Choosing something spicy and tequila based is usually my go-to, and this is exactly what the Tarzan offered.  Made up of slightly bitter pink grapefruit juice, tart lime juice, agave, and a spritz of seltzer, it was a perfectly refreshing, fruity drink.  Even though it wasn't overly warm outside, the back couch room in which we sat was sunny, therefore creating lots of warmth, so this drink was the right antidote.  I'd definitely get this again, especially in the midst of spring or summer.

My friends each got different cocktails, including the Whizz-Bang and the Mure Mule, also receiving high marks.

Service and Cost:
I can't say we were overly impressed with the service, as the staff seemed very blaze and too slow.  We were astounded that our drinks took about 15 minutes to make, especially since we were the only ones buying cocktails at the time.

Each cocktail will set you back about $10, which is standard for a high quality libation.

2.5 Mmmms

Sweetleaf - 46-15 Center Blvd, LIC NY 11101
7 Train to Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave 


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