Last chance to vote for your favorites in the BOAST: Best of Astoria 2019 Survey
We have extended the BOAST: Best of Astoria 2019 Survey to Sunday, December 29. If you know Astoria, and haven’t filled it out yet, please do! At the end of the survey, if you enter your name and email, you will have a chance to win a prize. The link to the survey is boast.nyc/survey.
Here are some things going on for New Year’s Eve in Astoria:
Can you believe it’s already the end of 2019? The end of the decade?? So at the end of this year and decade, we have a special BOAST: Best of Astoria 2019 Survey for you to fill out. We have removed some categories (bye-bye Best Movie Theater [but know that you can see movies at Regal UA Kaufman Astoria & RPX and Museum of the Moving Image]) and added some others (hello Best Deli, Best Street Cart and Best Pet-Friendly Establishment). Additionally, there is a Best of the Decade category in each of the EAT, DRINK, and DO & SEE sections. There have been so many amazing things in Astoria in the past decade, and we would like to give them a shout-out! You also have a chance to add write-in categories towards the end of each section if you’d like to contribute something that was not covered. We always appreciate short write-ups about your favorite places (you might see them on the site!), but keep in mind that there are 60 total categories this time, so answer as many as you’d like. At the end of the survey, if you enter your name and email, you will have a chance to win a prize. The survey will be open until December 27, 2019. The link to the survey is boast.nyc/survey, and please share with anyone who knows and loves Astoria.
On Friday November 22nd, Museum of the Moving Image hosted a free GAMEplay/ARTplay GAME NIGHT, and it was a blast! There were half a dozen unique interactive games/art installations that one could play, all of which were projects of students and alumni of the International Center of Photography.
One game involved two people and a room with a sign on the door that read “You are now leaving the United States.” One person was on the outside of the room and looked in through a small rectangular window. The other person was inside the room, blindfolded, and wore a prison outfit. The two people communicated via walkie talkie, and the person outside of the room guided the person inside on missions involving the random objects on the table.
A different game involved four people holding up a boat that was meant to carry the dead spirit of a friend, with a video projected behind them that resembled a retro video game. The goal was to get the boat to travel 100 miles in under 10 minutes. Participants would pick cards, and depending on the card you picked, an obstacle or an aid would appear to help/hurt you on your journey. You would then roll a die to see how you fared against this obstacle. Once all four players picked their cards and dealt with their obstacles, the boat would move up 10 miles. My team was able to travel all 100 miles and safely deliver the spirit of our deceased friend, but it wasn’t easy. One of our teammates died and was brought back to life (phew!). I myself was extremely close to death, at one point having only one energy card. (Don’t worry, though. If I ever do die, my will stipulates that all my camera equipment will belong to BOAST so that readers like yourself can continue enjoying quality postings like this one.)
Another game involved a dark walled-off room, with a tent inside of it that emitted fog, and trails of cards around the tent. I wasn’t able to learn how to play this game, but it looked incredibly cool.
I had a ton of fun at MOMI’s game night. The students of ICP who created the games and their teacher, Sharang Biswas, did an excellent job, and I look forward to experiencing the next game night that MOMI hosts.
This past Monday I went to see Marguerite presented by Astoria Performing Arts Center. Despite the rainy evening, several patrons filled the pews of the Church of the Redeemer, an appropriate location for a show depicting the life’s work of the first saint of New France. One can’t help but feel a sense of awe inside the 1867 simple Gothic-style structure.
I was particularly struck by the dramatic use of light as the show began. The house lights were turned off and the only light to be seen was through several stained-glass windowpanes that surrounded the building.
In Marguerite, Cady Huffman portrays the religious calling and struggles of Marguerite Bourgeoys. Her warm voice is accompanied by a pianist and cellist who are positioned in the chancel. We learn about her upbringing, her devotion towards the growth of Montreal, and above all else her pursuit of education. Throughout her life, Bourgeoys made steadfast efforts to offer an education in Ville Marie to uncloistered girls, the poor, and children of first nations. The execution is intimate with Huffman going into the audience and speaking directly to us, drawing us into her journey. Huffman delivers the one-woman performance with grace, sincerity, and a touch of humor.
The Tony award-winner truly delivers as her voice fills the entire sanctuary with ease. When she melodically proclaims “Je suis canadienne!” I couldn’t help but agree. If you are drawn to musicals based on historical figures, French-Canadian history, and female leadership in the face of adversity, then definitely catch Marguerite while you can!
Directed by Dev Bondarin
Music Director, Yan Li
Costume Design, Jennifer A. Jacob
Lighting Design, Stacey Boggs
Sound Design, Caroline Eng
Production Stage Manager, Natalie Jones
Production Manager, Frank Nicholas Poon
Music Arrangements & Orchestrations, Joseph Trefler
Cello, Frederick Alden Terry
ASM / Wardrobe Supervisor, Dorothy Sherman
November 8 – November 23, 2019
Thursday the 21st at 8pm
Friday the 22th at 8pm
Saturday the 23rd at 3pm & 8pm
at The Church of the Redeemer
30-14 Crescent Street, Astoria
On a delightful Sunday morning in mid-November, Jonah and I went to have brunch at Rivercrest, the new craft beer and cocktail bar at 33-15 Ditmars Blvd in Astoria. The bar had its soft opening on October 3rd, and grand opening on November 14th, after four years of planning and renovating by a pair of Lower East Side bar owners.
Upon our arrival, we were warmly greeted by the manager and co-owner, Ciara. The name Rivercrest comes from a local former sanitarium (that opened in 1896), and the venue pays tribute to it with framed photos of people who were patients there (including actress Drew Barrymore’s great-grandfather).
The space takes over the entire bottom floor of the Acropolis apartment complex. We sat in the dining area, which has a number of TVs and very attentive waiter service. There is a bar in the middle area with seating on all four sides, and next to that is another more intimate, vintage inspired bar. A baby shower had been booked for later that day, so we dined with the morning crowd beforehand.
We perused the brunch menu, which is served from 10am–4pm on weekends. It includes delicacies such as Crème Brulee French Toast and Banana Pancakes with vegan chocolate chips. We settled on Eggs Benedict and the Farmer’s Wife French Omelette, which has goat cheese, sautéed spinach and wild mushrooms. Instead of an English Muffin, the Eggs Benedict is served on a crispy latke, or potato pancake, giving it a nice crunch. We added a side of toast and crispy potatoes.
The team has come up with cheeky names for dishes, such as “Morning Wood,” which is eggs with Applewood smoked bacon and salsa verde on a brioche bun. Prices are reasonable, with most dishes costing between $10 and $12. There is an extensive drink menu and we sampled the mimosa flight—Lavender Berry, Spiced Fig, Jalapeño Pineapple, and Rosemary Lemon. The Jalapeño was a bit spicy, but it was nice to get to try the different varieties, and the other three were excellent. We also had the local cider Ninepin’s Hunny Pear, which was crisp and delicious.
Our food was tasty and filling and we couldn’t help but wonder how the dinner menu compares. We’ll have to return for hand-rolled Flatbreads, Wings, Buffalo Falafel Street Tacos, and an extensive Tater Tot selection (beef bulgogi, anyone?).
The journey to open this bar was a long one. The storefront sat empty for six years, drawing much neighborhood interest. We’re happy to welcome them to Astoria!
The musical traces the life of Marguerite Bourgeoys, the first female saint of Canada, from her immigration to New France in the seventeenth century. A fearless pioneer, her ever-present faith combined with solid determination helped her bring liberated women to the New World and to build the city of Montreal. An inspiring tale of love, inclusion, and living life without walls. Canada will mark the 400th anniversary of her birth with a multi-event celebration in 2020. For more details see https://margueritebourgeoys400.org.
Marguerite was initially developed under the title, Second To Nun, and received a reading as part of Playwrights Realm Next Edition Series, starring Tony-winner Cady Huffman. It was next featured at Phoenix Theatre’s Caleb Reese Festival of New Works and Zeiders American Dream Theatre in Virginia Beach then produced the regional premiere starring Molly Pope. APAC’s production will mark New York premiere of the work.
Cast & Crew:
Cady Huffman’s credits include: Broadway: CHICAGO, THE NANCE (Outer Critics’ Circle nom.), THE PRODUCERS (Tony, Drama Desk & Outer Critics’ Circle awards), THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES (Tony nom.), DAME EDNA: THE ROYAL TOUR, STEEL PIER, Bob Fosse’s BIG DEAL, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. TV includes: 10 seasons as a judge on Iron Chef America, Younger, Difficult People, Master of None, The Good Wife, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Law & Order: CI, Law & Order: SVU. Law & Order: TBJ, Frasier, Mad About You, One Life to Live. Film includes: “The Company Men”, “Romance & Cigarettes”, “The Nanny Diaries”, “Dare”, “Hero”, “Billy’s Dad is a Fudgepacker”. Web series’ include, HE’S WITH ME (2016 Indie Series Award), AFTER FOREVER (Emmy nom), and self-created and produced CADY DID (due out Winter 2019). Cady is a busy director around New York City and recently directed THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME at Weathervane Theater. Proud union member. @cadyhuffman cadydid.tv
Anton Dudley (Book & Lyrics) Off-Broadway credits: City Of (Playwrights Realm, directed by Stephen Brackett), Substitution (Playwrights Realm, featuring Jan Maxwell), Getting Home (Second Stage Theater), Slag Heap (Cherry Lane Theater), 17 Orchard Point, co-written with Stephanie DiMaggio (Theater Row), and Honor and the River (Theater Row). Other productions include A Dram of Drummhicit co-written with Arthur Kopit (LaJolla Playhouse, directed by Christopher Ashley), Girlstar (Signature Theater, directed by Eric Shaeffer), Cold Hard Cash (Williamstown Theater Festival), Honor and the River (Walnut Street Theater), Davy & Stu (Ensemble Studio Theater), Letters to the End of the World (Theater Row, Finalist for the 2012 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Drama), and The Lake’s End (Adirondack Theater Festival). His work has been commissioned by Manhattan Theatre Club, New Victory Theater, Cherry Lane Theater, Houston Grand Opera, Baryshnikov Arts Center, and Williamstown Theater Festival, and is published by Samuel French, Playscripts, Backstage Books, Heuer, and Vintage.
Michael Cooper (Music) Broadway: It Shoulda Been You (Outer Critics Circle Nomination, Additional Lyrics). Off-Broadway: City Of (Music). Regional: Love, Always (Music & Lyrics), Marguerite (Second To Nun) (Music), ZADT, Virginia Beach. London: Luna Park (Lyrics), From Page To Stage. Paris: Love, Always. 2005 Jonathan Larson Award Winner. Williams College; NYU Graduate Musical Theater Writing. Sunfish (Co-Book/Lyrics) Top Jury Honor DIMF Korea; Second To Nun (Music), Playwrights Realm, Phoenix Theater. Selected for NAMT, ASCAP/Disney Workshop, and Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals. michaelcoopermusicandlyrics.com
Dev Bondarin (Director) is the Artistic Director of Astoria Performing Arts Center where she has directed Caroline, or Change (AUDELO Viv Award nomination – Best Director of a Musical), Follies, Raisin, (New York Innovative Theater Award – Outstanding Musical, NYIT Award nomination – Outstanding Director & AUDELCO Viv Award nomination – Best Director of a Musical), …Spelling Bee, Merrily We Roll Along (NYIT Award – Outstanding Musical), and In The Bones. As Associate Artistic Director of Prospect Theater Company, Dev directs a musical theater lab which has premiered over 85 short musicals. Other: Little Women (Festival 56), Elevator Heart (THML Theater, The Tank, NYU), national tours of Rosie Revere Engineer & Friends, Junie B. Jones, and Junie B.’s Essential Survival Guide to School (Theaterworks USA), King Lear (American Bard), and Reefer Madness (Gallery Players). Member: LCT Directors Lab. Associate Member: SDC and League of Professional Theatre Women. In 2018, Dev was named “Alumni of the Year” by the Theater Department at Brooklyn College where she earned an MFA in Directing. BA: Brandeis University. devbondarin.com
For more information and for tickets to any of APAC’s 2019-20 productions, visit www.apacny.org
Sizzling King Oyster Mushrooms at Veggie Lin Garden
Vegetarian Asian restaurants have always been magical places to me.
I’ve been on a plant-based diet my whole life, and while normally I am exiled to a tiny box at the back of a menu, it’s liberating when I get to have a whole menu at my disposal. When I get to bask in the fancy-looking, theatrically plated dishes instead of the same old Buddha’s Delight every single time.
Which is why I was so excited walking home a few weeks ago and I saw a sign for Veggie Lin Garden, a new vegan Chinese restaurant just a few steps from my subway stop. While I wouldn’t trade the food scene in Astoria for the world, there aren’t a ton of places around here that have more than one or two decent vegetarian (let alone vegan) entrée options, so I was excited to see a newcomer to the neighborhood and check it out with Jonah.
As we ordered and took in the simple, tasteful décor of teal and artificial plant life, we sipped on hot tea and munched on a tiny tray of pickled veggies.
We started with the barbecue veggie ribs, which weren’t super rib-like visually, but had a nice barbecue flavor full of sweet umami notes. I liked the taste, but the tiny chunks made them a bit challenging to eat.
But the starter that really impressed me was the wonton soup, the sort of thing that I usually never get to enjoy at most Chinese restaurants, as wontons are usually stuffed with pork swimming in a chicken broth. The broth here was extremely flavorful without being overly salty, and the soy protein and veggie-filled dumplings were deliciously delicate. I can definitely see myself returning for this on a rainy day, along with their vast array of other soup offerings, including pumpkin and veggie shark fin.
Remember when I told you I loved being able to order the fancy-looking dishes? I was utterly not prepared for the entrance Mango Madness, which was served with two halves of a hollowed out mango as a garnish that formed a sort of crown around a mixture of soy chicken, peppers, peas, and mango. The Sizzling King Oyster Mushrooms also made a pretty dazzling first impression, with steam wafting up from the hot skillet.
What I appreciated about both entrees was that the sauces were flavorful, but they didn’t overwhelm the delicately cooked veggies. The juicy discs of mango contrasted nicely with the denser, chewy mock chicken pieces. The oyster mushrooms of the other dish were a pleasant surprise. Typically when I eat oyster mushrooms, they are mainly the thin, delicate ones with floppy tops. These on the other hand, were the larger, king trumpet variety, with a large stem that here cut into thick, soft wedges that, when cooked, took on a pleasant, rubbery texture that I understand is close to seafood (I only know this because I once used them to make vegan clam chowder). The other fun textural surprise in the mushroom dish were crunchy little chunks of jicama.
This visit we both got entrees involving mock chicken but I look forward to seeing their take on mock duck, seitan beef and veggie prawns. And honestly, I loved their veggies so much I may just skip the fake meat all together next round. The one frustration I have at a lot of these vegetarian Chinese places like Buddha Bodai and others is that the sweet, oily sauces and the proteins can get a bit overwhelming, and I leave feeling bloated and in a food coma. The dishes here had lighter and fresher, and yet still filling and substantial. As a Midwesterner, I was happy to see hearty portions, more than enough to share or bring to work as leftovers the next day.
Overall, great first impression, and welcome to the neighborhood!
Veggie Lin Garden
Astoria, NY 11103
On Friday, November 1st, Matt Koff will release his debut comedy album, Who’s My Little Guy? Koff will be celebrating at QED in Astoria along with famed comics Jo Firestone (The Tonight Show), Ronny Chieng (The Daily Show, Crazy Rich Asians), Matt Wayne (Comedy Central) and Brendan McLaughlin (Best Week Ever). Fans know Matt from his writing on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noahand The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, for which he won an Emmy, as well as his stand-up appearances on Adam Devine’s House Party and The History Channel’s I Love the 1880s. After doing comedy for over a decade, Matt decided it was time to fulfill his dream of releasing an album because his therapist told him to shut up and do it already.
As a late-night TV show writer, Matt typically deals with current events, so for Who’s My Little Guy? he wanted to shift gears and delve into more personal experiences, like what it’s like breaking your arms in a bicycle accident in New York City, getting fired from a game show, having a neurotic mother who believes that every day may be your last, and how awkward it can be to celebrate Christmas when you’re a Jew. Recorded at Union Hall in Brooklyn, Who’s My Little Guy? provides an escape from the times we live in by offering a delightfully strange comedy experience.
More about Matt Koff
Matt Koff is an Emmy-winning television writer and stand-up comedian from Westchester, NY. He currently writes for The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. He’s also written for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. When Matt isn’t writing jokes, he is saying them into microphones at comedy venues throughout New York City. Additionally, Matt has written for IFC’s Onion News Network, Comedy Central’s Onion SportsDome, and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner with Hasan Minhaj. He is also genuinely flattered that you’ve read this far.
As a stand-up, Matt has appeared on Adam Devine’s House Party on Comedy Central and The History Channel series I Love the 1880s. He has toured with John Oliver, Michael Ian Black, and Bo Burnham. When Matt is not doing stand-up, he is usually eating a gyro in the rain.