Last Friday at 4pm, Ample Hills Creamery opened on 30th Ave by 34th St, shortly after the 30th Ave N/W subway station re-opened (yay!). A line wrapped around the building while staff members brought out samples of the new 20/20 flavor, which has a marshmallow taste and a cotton candy swirl. Our trusty taste-testers came back after dinner to find the line still long. They opted for scoops in cups and sat in one of the few booths in the front window. One taster thought it will make a great place for first dates!
The new Astoria inspired flavor, Nectar of the Queens, made with local baklava, tasted like a sweet Greek goddess. The classic Peppermint Patty had a refreshingly clean taste. The Munchies flavor was good, but adding the Chocolate Trip made for a delightful pairing since you can pick two flavors to put in a cup. The line was much shorter the following day once normal hours resumed.
A tip from the couple behind our group in line: Divide and conquer. Ample Hills and Chip (30-06 34th St) are across the street from each other. One person picked up cookies at Chip and the other was waiting to buy ice cream at Ample Hills. Sounds like they had a sweet sandwich!
It’s June, and that means this month outdoor movies are starting in Astoria Park and Hunters Point Park South, by the LIC ferry station. All movies begin around sundown.
Here’s the schedule for Astoria Park:
Friday, 6/15: Grease is the drive-in movie at the Astoria Park parking lot
After that the movies are shown on the Great Lawn.
Thursday, 6/21: School of Rock
Monday, 7/23: Bambi
Monday, 7/30: Moonstruck
Monday, 8/6: ET: the Extra-Terrestrial
Monday, 8/13: Casablanca
Monday, 8/20: Black Panther
Here’s the schedule for Hunters Point Park South:
Saturday, 6/9: The Wizard of Oz
Friday, 6/15: Moonstruck
Thursday, 6/19: Sleepless in Seattle
Thursday, 8/16: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Saturday, 9/15: Ratatouille
“Horny! Horny! Horny!” comes the roar of the crowd at Truth Serum, the monthly comedy game show at Q.E.D. hosted by the boisterous Zoe Yellen. A comedian who performs regularly with the sketch comedy troupe Face for Radio at The Peoples Improv Theater, Yellen assembles a motley crew of drunken contestants for a raucous evening of trivia and dares that can include anything from the number of staircases at Hogwarts to a striptease accompanied by the Schindler’s List theme song. The crowd is invited to add their questions and vote for a winner by placing money into solo cups that is eventually donated to charity, and each night’s “Drunkest Audience Member” gets the honor of competing in next month’s show.
In between the game show rounds, Truth Serum highlights a wide variety of stand-up and sketch comedy. On the one side of the spectrum was Jack Pinsky telling jokes about awkwardly trying to sell a “g” of drugs in New Jersey, but unsure of whether that stood for a gram or a gallon, whereas as Aaron LaRoche’s deadpan served as a vehicle for jokes that riffed on how to avoid getting shot by the police, dead black fathers, and the sexual assault allegations against Morgan Freeman. The sketch troupe Mortals featured a dead-beat dad trying to impress his daughter by coming to her birthday party as “blender man” and a woman getting hit on by an HR rep while launching a #MeToo complaint.
I sat down with Yellen to learn more about the evolution of the show and what she loves about hosting shows in Astoria. Below are highlights from our conversation.
How long have been doing this show? I started Truth Serum about two and a half years ago, but when I originally started, it was a talk show. It was me and one other person, and what we would do is it would be like a drinking game and casually get drunker…I would have one guest, and we would start out the beginning, we’d take a shot. And then there were certain rules to drinking, and basically the idea was that it would start out with kind of easy get to know you questions, and as we drank more it would get a little more ridiculous and a little more revealing. And in between the rounds I would have improv and stuff—and that was honestly mainly to get people there. At this point in this version of it, I feel like game shows need a break in between. I like having standup in between because it’s kind of like a palate cleanser. And so I did the talk show version of it for a while, and honestly it was just too much drinking….and it was podcast for a while. I’ve been doing it at Q.E.D. in this form since September or December.
And what’s your favorite part about working with Q.E.D.? I like that they’re a community spot. First off, I love that it’s a 15-minute walk from my apartment. But even more than that, I love that it’s like—a lot of the people there and a lot of the shows are people from here, doing it for people here. I go here all the time for local events. So it feels almost like a home.
And how did you get into standup? I started doing standup in college. I have since then not really done it very much because it is very time-consuming and I’d rather focus on other things. I just don’t think I am good enough to do it every so often. And then I started doing improv, and now I do sketch comedy and I like hosting, because it’s almost like the same high that standup gives you, but I don’t have to create a set, I can kind of just be myself and present something.
What do you think makes this show unique? I’ve never seen anything like it—it’s something that I started cause I thought it was fun, and other people thought it was fun, and I just kind of kept doing it. It’s just kind of like a bunch of people hanging out and being loud and drunk together—but in a contained environment. There was one standup a couple of months ago who made this fantastic note about it. He was like, I saw this rowdy crowd and I was really nervous to go up there, and then as soon as the standup started you guys just kind of sit down like this. Everyone’s well-behaved when they need to be and rowdy when they need to be. And it just kind of feels like I’m having a fun night with my friends. It feels like a fun game night with my friends. (more…)
Do you enjoy waking up early to a bowl of grape nuts and no caffeine on the weekends? Yeah me neither. I’d much prefer to brunch, ideally a bottomless one. If you aren’t familiar, this isn’t some protest against pants (save that for the living room), but rather an all-you-can-day drink oasis with delicious brunch noms.
On a recent visit to Bowery Bay (Ditmars and 21st St) I was rendered full, tipsy and very happy. So your basic brunch here is reasonably priced at $16 which includes coffee/tea and one brunch drink. If you want to step into boozy brunch-land for two hours add an additional $16. My table obviously opted for the unlimited drink option. We ordered the chicken and waffles and the steak & eggs. A proper steak & eggs should be medium rare with slightly runny eggs (those eggs better run). Both were prepared to order. There are also options such as salads, a burger, and various egg dishes. Every dish out of the kitchen looked better than the last. Drinks were served promptly and generously. We couldn’t have been happier and highly recommend this spot for brunch!
Bruce Sabath and cast in FOLLIES. Photo by Michael Dekker.
Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, currently in performance by the Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) through the end of this month, expounds on such universal themes as love, innocence, loss and nostalgia. First performed on Broadway in 1971 where it won seven Tony awards (with two additional revivals), Follies begins in 1971 with the reunion of several of the “Weisman girls” at the theater where they performed back in 1941 between the two World Wars. The theater is about to be torn down and turned into a parking lot so this reunion represents the “last hurrah” of all those involved. While each of the women remember their younger days through dance and song, ghosts of their 1941 selves appear and immerse the audience in a multigenerational experience. While all the girls there look back to what they used to be, the central story line concerns two main couples: neurotic Sally (Tina Stafford/Andrea Dotto) and her salesman husband Buddy (Greg Horton/Spencer Hansen), and embittered Phyllis (Marcie Henderson/Tia DeShazor) and her famous politician husband Ben (Bruce Sabath/Ben Northrup). Sally and Phyllis lived together while they were Weisman girls, and were subsequently courted by the two gentleman callers. As often occurs in musicals, both women were in love with the same man: emotionally distant Benjamin Stone, who in the present day is unsure whether he ever knew how to love at all. This all builds to a climax near the end of Act II, when all the main players realize that their nostalgia and longing for the past is simply not enough to change the present. The lead actors are all superb in their own right, but it is the choreography by Sara Brians and direction by Dev Bondarin that allows the entire cast to shine. My favorite numbers were those where the 1941 and 1971 characters intertwine so you no longer remember which one is the present and which in the past. In addition, APAC’s understated set allows you to hear, see and feel the cabaret numbers in their pure emotionality. Who among us has not experienced regrets about lost love, how life might have gone if another path had been chosen? APAC has managed to take a master’s work and breathe fresh life into it.
Follies Book by James Goldman
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Dev Bondarin
Featuring: Denali Bennett, Victoria Bundonis*, LaDonna Burns*, Denise DeMars*, Tia DeShazor*, Susan Cohen DeStefano, Christine Donnelly*, Andrea Dotto*, Dan Entriken*, Jonathan Fluck, Spencer Hansen*, James Harter*, Marcie Henderson*, Greg Horton*, Kathleen LaMagna*, Andrea McCullough*, Sharaé Moultrie, Ben Northrup*, Rusty Riegelman*, Bruce Sabath*, Carolyn Seiff*, Cliff Sellers, Lauren Alice Smith, Tina Stafford*, Noah M. Virgile, Mandarin Wu*
Musical Director: James Higgins Choreographer: Sara Brians Set Design: Ann Beyersdorfer Costume Design: Jennifer Jacob Lighting Design: Annie Wiegand Sound Design: Caroline Eng Prop Design: Andrew Short Press Agent: Kimberly Wilson Marshall/Wilson Marshall PR/Events Production Manager: Annie Jacobs Production Stage Manager: Jessica McIlquham* Assistant Stage Manager: Robert Peatman Casting Director: Jason Styres, CSA.
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church 30-44 Crescent St. (at 30th Road), Astoria, NY 11102
Transportation: Queens-Bound N or W Train to Broadway.
May 3 – 26, 2018
Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm
Saturdays at 2pm
Tickets on sale now at www.apacny.org; Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for students and senior citizens, in advance.
(L to R) Sea Sloat, Daniel Rauchwerk and Nicko Nicko
BOAST’s Live Music Showcase is in the books, and it was a success! Thanks to The Astorian, the musicans (Daniel, Nicko, Sea, Nicole and Christine), and everyone who came to support and listen. Also, congratulations to the raffle winners who won prizes to QED, Astoria Performing Arts Center, the Greater Astoria Historical Society, and Saloon Salon. Below are links for the musicians.
Here is some info about the three musicians performing at BOAST’s Live Music Showcase on Sunday, May 6, 4–7pm. You can find out more about the event and get tickets at boast.nyc/music.
Daniel Rauchwerk Best described as a “musical Wikipedia,” songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist seeks to educate as he entertains. A founding member of the internationally touring folk band The Lords of Liechtenstein, Dan has recently embarked on a solo career. His debut solo album, “We Are More Than What We Leave Behind,” will be released in late 2018.
Nicole Denett Nicole is a New York City native, born and raised in Queens. She plays piano, guitar and ukulele and is influenced by the likes of Fiona Apple, Sara Bareilles, Carole King and The Beatles. Her songs are a blend of pop, soul, and jazz infused with a little bit of attitude and a lot of heart.
Christine Mitchell Christine Mitchell is a singer/songwriter/guitarist from the Jersey Shore. Her musical influences have been Bob Dylan, Justin Townes Earle, Joni Mitchell and John Mayer. Christine has been accepted to Berklee College of Music in Boston and was nominated for the 2018 Asbury Music Awards for Top Female Acoustic Act. She enjoys performing her original music as well as covers.
Come to BOAST’s Live Music Showcase on Sunday, May 6 at 4pm at The Astorian! We are thrilled to have this event here since we want to bring business to places affected by the 30th Ave subway shutdown, and The Astorian opened just a few months ago.
We’ll provide some nosh (flatbread, sliders, fries and brussel sprouts), and we encourage you to purchase drinks at the bar (there is a terrific draft beer list, as well as delicious cocktails). You can also purchase more food if you want. We’ll be upstairs, and the live music will start at 4pm. The lineup includes Daniel Rauchwerk, Nicole Denett, and Christine Mitchell.
$15 (+ fee) in advance, and $20 at the door. Register by Sunday, April 29 and you will be entered into the raffle to win a prize from an Astoria business! Click here to register.
This should be a really fun afternoon of hanging out and listening to some great tunes, so we hope to see you there!
A few weeks ago, I was walking home from the Astoria ferry and noticed a cute little Italian restaurant had popped up at 18th and Astoria Boulevard. My favorite foods are bread, cheese and pasta so I was eager to check out this new place that was less than five minutes from my apartment. So a meat eater, a pescatarian and a vegetarian dined at Trattoria Ora on Thursday, March 14.
The cute brick walled rustic restaurant, which opened in early February, made us feel at home with a fantastic house staff and fabulous food.
We were greeted by the owners who quickly brought us a pitcher of water, warm bread and plate of scrumptious cheese and olives. We opted to start with an appetizer of caprese. The cheese was creamy and firm and paired nicely with the tomato and second basket of bread. The vegetarian considers herself a “carb-itarian” so she was a happy camper. Since Trattoria Ora dubs itself a wine bar we each had a white wine which paired nicely with our meals.
For entrées we ordered chicken, fish and pasta. The menu had a few vegetarian options and the staff was very accommodating. Everything had a beautiful presentation. The vegetarian (that’s me) ordered penne a la vodka. Our waitress provided plenty of Parmesan cheese to top off the dish. The pasta was fresh and cooked al dente. The sauce was a light red vodka sauce with chunks of tomatoes.
After wavering between the bass and the sole, the pescatarian ordered the striped bass filet which was cooked in a delicious tomato-based sauce with olives and served over spinach. A side of sautéed brussel sprouts rounded out this very tasty dish.
Our resident eater of all foods had the chicken special with portobello mushrooms in a champagne and white cream sauce. The chicken was prepared to perfection, not too dry and not undercooked either. The sauce had a nice flavor, and did not feel too heavy, which is saying something for a cream sauce. The portobello mushrooms were a nice touch to complement the chicken.
A night out at an Italian restaurant isn’t complete until you eat a dessert while already happily full. Our trio agreed on sharing the tiramisu. We easily agreed not only was this best tiramisu in Astoria, but the best in NYC. We were also gifted a slice of ricotta cheesecake that was light and fluffy. If you like ending your meal with a nice light choice the cheesecake is the way to go. If you prefer a super-sweet and decadent dessert – the tiramisu is a slice of heaven.
This seems like a nice place to take a date or have a nice family meal at the large table in the back. I look forward to coming back for future dates, glasses of wine and tiramisu!
—Emily (vegetarian), Ally (pescatarian) and Jonah (eater of all foods)
Trattoria Ora 18-01 Astoria Blvd. Long Island City, NY 11102 718-433-9680