Tag Archives: Astoria

Burglar wanted for stealing smokes and cash from Astoria food shop

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via NYPD

Police released on Thursday video footage of a man wanted for grabbing cash and cigarettes from an Astoria grocery store during a recent burglary.

Authorities said the break-in occurred at about 5:50 a.m. on Aug. 16 at the iKraveIt food store located at 34-02 30th St.

The business was closed when the suspect, whom police described as a male wearing a hooded sweatshirt, gloves, pants, a hat and sneakers while carrying a backpack, entered through the front door.

Once inside, the crook removed $250 from the cash register as well as nine packs of cigarettes kept from behind the counter, police said. After taking the loot, he fled in an unknown direction.

Workers at the store later reported the break-in to the 114th Precinct. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


WATCH: Astoria puppet visits Queens and vies for votes in America’s Got Talent live round

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via nbc.com

Along with wowing audiences for a third time on America’s Got Talent — with an act fit for Las Vegas — one unique contestant made his return to the place he says will always be in his heart: Astoria.

Besides his soulful voice, the thing that makes 32-year-old Ira, an Astoria native, stand out from all the other singers and competitors is that he is a puppet. During his performances, the audience never sees or meets the puppeteer.

Before taking the stage at Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday night for the popular NBC reality competition show’s round two of live shows, Ira hopped on the subway — with his mom Miriam, also a puppet – and took a trip to Astoria, a neighborhood he called home for about 29 years.

During their visit to Queens, both puppets stopped for some pancakes at the Bel Aire Restaurant & Diner, located at 31-91 21st St., and then walked around the streets and were stopped by a cop — also a puppet — who said Ira was stealing America’s heart. They also visited an old landlord, who asked for some rent they owed him, before walking off into the sunset thinking of what they could spend $1 million on.

According to Ira, he grew up in Astoria and then decided to make the move to Los Angeles with his mother, who wanted to chase her dreams of being a singer. However, the dream then became Ira’s and after just singing as a favorite pastime, he decided to take it to the big stage.

For his performance on the live show, Ira stepped it up a notch and took the stage not only with his mother, who played a saxophone and was whisked away inside a clam by a group of muscular men, but with an ensemble of puppet dancers and musicians all to the tune of Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual.”

The act featured a nautical theme with Ira singing on top of a ship surrounded by waves, dolphins and mist.

His performance was met with praise from judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B — the former Spice Girl who melted Ira’s heart since day one, when he dedicated his audition performance to her.

“These guys are fun and we want to have fun on a show like ‘America’s Got Talent,’” Stern said. “You took a guy like me and made me like what essentially looks like an old smelly sock and I’m in love with an old smelly sock.”

Mel B, who during Ira’s first performance didn’t see the potential in the puppet, couldn’t hold back her love for the act on Tuesday night.

“The smile on my face did not leave my face one single bit for one second. You’re entertaining and you’re adorable and you’re winning me over all the time more and more,” Mel B said right before winking at Ira.

Although the judges loved Ira and his performance, it is now America’s turn to decide if the beloved puppet and his mom will hit the stage again.

Watch to see if Ira makes it through Wednesday night on NBC at 8 p.m.


Astoria groups celebrate 50 years since The Beatles played at Shea Stadium

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Greater Astoria Historical Society

The 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ visit to Queens is being celebrated Wednesday night with a little help from some Astoria friends.

As part of the Greater Astoria Historical Society’s (GAHS) monthly lecture series at Q.E.D., located at 27-16 23rd Ave., the group will hold a tribute on Aug. 19 honoring the 50th anniversary of the Fab Five’s performance at Shea Stadium.

Richard Melnick, vice president of GAHS, will be joined by friends to give a retrospective of The Beatles and “that memorable Sunday night on Aug. 15, 1965, when 55,600 [people] got a big taste of Beatlemania.”

The lecture, which will be followed by a Q&A, invites guests to come and relive the performance, share their memories and listen to the music again.

“Our mission is to promote the history of our community. Our commemorative programming will delight and engage folks who attended these extraordinary events and educate and inspire those who did not,” said Rosalie Kenny, lecturer and GAHS trustee.

Tickets for the lecture are $10 for non-GAHS members and can be purchased here. GAHS members get in for FREE with an RSVP by noon on Wednesday. To reserve a spot email QEDAstoria@gmail.com.


Pesticide spraying across many Queens neighborhoods set for Monday night

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Trucks will spray pesticide across nearly every corner in Queens this Monday night as part of the Health Department’s ongoing efforts to kill mosquitoes that may carry the West Nile virus.

Weather permitting, the spraying will begin at about 8:30 p.m. Monday and continue until 6 a.m. the next morning. In the event of inclement weather, the spraying will take place on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning at the same hours.

The spraying will occur in four clusters of Queens as follows:

  • Areas of Long Island City and Sunnyside generally bounded by 47th Avenue on the north; Dutch Kills on the west; Newtown Creek on south; and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and 43rd Street on the east.
  • Parts of Astoria and Woodside generally bounded by 20th Avenue and 30th Street on the north; 28th Avenue, 43rd Street and Newtown Road on the west; Broadway and Northern Boulevard on the south; and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, 30th Avenue, 78th Street, Astoria Boulevard and 75th Street on the east.
The northwest Queens spray zones. (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

The northwest Queens spray zones. (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

  • Areas of Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood and Oakland Gardens generally bounded by 73rd Avenue on the north; 188th Street on the west; Jamaica Avenue, 199th Street, Hillside Avenue, 212th Street and the Grand Central Parkway on the south; and Springfield Boulevard on the east.
  • Parts of Briarwood, Forest Hills, Glendale, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Middle Village, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven generally bounded by the Grand Central and Jackie Robinson parkways, Groton Street, Yellowstone and Woodhaven boulevards and Eliot Avenue on the north; Lutheran Avenue, 71st Street, Metropolitan Avenue, All Faiths Cemetery, 76th Street, Cypress Hills Cemetery and Cypress Hills Street on the west; Jamaica and 89th avenues on the south; and 169th Street on the east.
The central Queens spray zones (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

The central Queens spray zones (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

Though the pesticide used during these sprayings, Anvil 10+10, poses no significant health risks to humans, the Health Department advises residents in these areas — especially those with respiratory ailments — to stay indoors while spraying occurs. Windows should be kept closed; air conditioners may be used, but the vents should be closed to prevent possible indoor exposure to the pesticides.

Any toys, clothes and outdoor equipment should be moved inside prior to spraying; anything left outside while spraying occurs should be thoroughly washed before reuse. Produce grown in backyards should be washed before being consumed or cooked.

Persons exposed to the pesticide should thoroughly wash their skin with soap and water.

For more information, visit the Health Department’s website or call 311.


Astoria playwright to debut three-person production at New York International Fringe Festival

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Darren Cox

An Astoria playwright’s new production is set to take the big stage at the New York International Fringe Festival this week and hopes to keep audiences thinking even after they leave the theater.

Lisa Lewis’ play “SCHOOLED” will celebrate its world premiere on Saturday at FringeNYC, a 16-day festival that presents productions from 200 companies from all over the world throughout 16 venues in the city.

Directed by James Kautz, “SCHOOLED” features only three actors on stage and follows the story of two university students competing for a grant from their professor. The real focus goes beyond the classroom and examines the concepts of privilege and ambition — and delves into what the characters are willing to do in order to succeed.

The 90-minute play, which Lewis began writing in 2011, is loosely based on the environment the Astoria resident experienced while studying at the dramatic writing program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She added that it examines interactions between students and teachers, and among students.

Since she started writing it, Lewis said the play has gone through many changes and has been rewritten, especially after readings with actors in different settings that helped add more to the characters.

"SCHOOLED" stars actors Quentin Maré, Lilli Stein and Stephen Friedrich. (Photo by Darren Cox)

“SCHOOLED” stars actors Quentin Maré, Lilli Stein and Stephen Friedrich. (Photo by Darren Cox)

“It’s just been evolving. I’ve just been grateful to work with great actors along the way,” Lewis said. “I’m a huge fan of the rewriting process. You’re chipping away at the statue until you find the right thing.”

She added that she is very excited to be able to share her play at the festival, which she sees as a great starting point for people’s careers.

She also hopes that after experiencing the play — which explores the politics in a college setting,  economic class conflicts and the differing opportunities for success among characters – audience members will think about their actions and examine the world around them.

“I’m hoping people will come away thinking of those choices that they themselves make and how it affects the community at large,” Lewis said. “And I hope they have fun.”

Lisa Lewis (Photo courtesy of David Gibbs/DARR Publicity)

Lisa Lewis (Photo courtesy of David Gibbs/DARR Publicity)

For Lewis, writing was always a passion and while she started out creating short stories, she saw that getting into the theater world would show her biggest strengths as a writer. She has since been a playwright for about 15 years.

“As I got older, I saw that theater was the best medium that could tell the stories I wanted to tell,” she said.

Lewis is also an essayist who has appeared in The New York Times, ELLE Magazine and other publications. For six years she worked as a story analyst for organizations such as New Line Cinema, Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal at Tribeca Film, and The Weinstein Company.

Lewis is also in the works of creating her next play, “Sex, Friends and Real Estate,” which examines another issue she has seen living in New York City regarding the challenges of buying a home and the affordability of the American Dream.

“SCHOOLED” will be shown at The Robert Moss Theater, located at 440 Lafayette St., on Aug. 15 at 9 p.m., Aug. 18 at 2 p.m., Aug. 20 at 4:45 p.m., Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 27 at 4:45 p.m.

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at FringeNYC.org. For information on the play visit SchooledThePlay.com.


Queens real estate sales drop, but turn bigger profits in recent months: report

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Reflecting a market gripped by high demand and low supply, real estate sales in Queens decreased slightly but yielded higher prices during the second quarter of 2015, according to a report from broker Cushman & Wakefield.

Approximately 230 properties across the “World’s Borough” changed hands between April and June of this year, a 7 percent drop from the number sold during the first quarter of 2015. Even so, the aggregate sales consideration this quarter — the volume of money exchanged in real estate transactions — reached $835 million, an 8 percent increase from the first quarter.

Cushman & Wakefield described the first six months of 2015 as the second-highest dollar volume the Queens real estate market has seen within the first half of any year, with $1.6 billion in real estate sales generated.

“[At $313 million], development sites accounted for 20 percent of all dollar volume,” the report indicated, “followed by retail properties, with $259 million accounting for 16 percent of the total dollar volume.”

The average price for all types of real estate sold in Queens was $3.4 million, an 18 percent jump from the first half of 2014.

Queens’ strong real estate numbers were evident of a continued upward trend in New York City’s real estate market. According to the report, $37.8 billion in sales activity took place through June, and the city is “on pace to exceed the previous cycle’s high established in 2007.”

“The first half of 2015 will go down as one of the best six-month periods in the city’s history,” said Adrian Mercado, Cushman & Wakefield managing director of research. “All submarkets and property types are firing on all cylinders with market activity outpacing our year-end forecasts.”

Cushman & Wakefield catalogued 141 sales in Queens in which properties were sold for $1 million or more during the second quarter of 2015, accounting for 61.3 percent of real estate transactions during the period.

Among the most lucrative deals were the $71 million sale of an office building at 33-00 Northern Blvd. in Long Island City; a $4.35 million sale of a 23-unit lot of apartment buildings at 1705-1725 Putnam Ave. in Ridgewood; a $72.25 million sale of a 144-unit apartment building at 11-15 Broadway/30-50 21st St. in Astoria; and a $8.8 million sale of a 43,800-square-foot industrial building at 72-42 60th Lane in Glendale.


Suspect assaults, robs Astoria furniture store employee over missing sofa: NYPD

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police have released video footage of a man who they say assaulted and robbed an Astoria furniture store employee last month after he went looking for a refund on a sofa that he said was never delivered.

According to authorities, the incident began just before 6 p.m. on July 23 when the suspect entered American Design Furniture at 32-94 Steinway St. and confronted the employee about the sofa.

The furniture buyer started arguing with the 24-year-old store worker and asked for his money back, police said. He then allegedly pulled out a knife and placed it against the victim while still demanding his money.

After the employee handed over the $500 he wanted, the suspect began to punch the victim and took another $1,500 from his pants pockets.

The suspect then fled the store in a vehicle in an unknown direction. The victim was removed to Mount Sinai Queens for minor injuries, which included a cut to his forearm, and was released, police said.

Authorities describe the suspect as a Hispanic man, about 28 to 30 years old, 6 feet tall and 190 pounds with short, black hair and freckles. He was last seen wearing a pink shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Car-sharing company car2go to make its move into western Queens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of car2go North America

Updated Tuesday, Aug. 11 12:05 p.m. 

Joining Citi Bike, which launched last week in Long Island City, a new company will soon call Queens home, giving residents another quick, easy way to get around.

Car2go, a car-sharing company that launched in Brooklyn last October, has announced that it will expand into Queens — primarily Long Island City and other western Queens neighborhoods – starting Aug. 29.

“Since the twilight of the trolley system many decades ago, there really hasn’t been a reliable option for New Yorkers to travel between Brooklyn and Queens without going all the way through Manhattan,” said car2go Brooklyn General Manager Tom McNeil. “Queens is a bustling hub of cultures, small businesses, international cuisine and affordable housing opportunities that have long been a challenge to access. We believe that with the rapid adoption of car2go in Brooklyn, we can help make it even easier for members to live and explore beyond the reach of the subway.”

The company, which was started in Germany, rents out a fleet of white and blue Smart cars that car2go cardholders can use by either using the company’s app or website, calling the customer call center or spotting one of the cars on the street. Once unlocking the car with a car2go card, users can use them for one-way or round trips at $0.41 a minute plus a $1 driver protection fee.


Once finished using the car, users can park at any unmetered space or residential neighborhood street within the car2go home area. Parking, fuel insurance and maintenance are included at no additional cost.

With the Aug. 29 expansion Long Island City, Astoria, Woodside and Sunnyside, car2go’s home area in the greater New York City area will grow from 8 square miles to 44 square miles. The expansion is expected to bring an additional 25,000 members and will add 100 Smart cars to the 450 in Brooklyn, totaling 550 cars in New York City.

“We’re excited to see car2go bring a sustainable and sensible transit option to Queens, extending the reach of public transit and helping our residents get the most out of our borough,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said.

For more information or to register to become a member, visit www.car2go.com or follow @car2goNewYork on Twitter.


Astoria Flea at Kaufman Astoria Studios returns with Saturday night markets

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Pete Olsen

The Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios is back and with a new twist.

The popular market, which received immense positive feedback when it first launched last May, will open once again for a night market on Sept. 12, 19 and 26 from 6 to 11 p.m.

The Astoria Flea & Food Night Market, a partnership between LIC Flea & Food — Queens’ largest outdoor market — and Kaufman Astoria Studios, will operate on the studios’ outdoor lot, the first of its kind in the city.

Visitors will be able to enter the lot from 36th Street either from 34th Avenue or through the grand entrance on 35th Avenue featuring a 40-foot-high steel gate, designed by David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group.

“I’m thrilled to partner with Kaufman Astoria Studios and open their outdoor movie lot to the general public. It will be a fun and family-friendly destination to enjoy the remaining evenings of summer,” said Joshua Schneps, LIC Flea & Food president. “Our first-class flea vendors offer the opportunity to discover unique items to buy and our food vendors serve up delicious eats you can’t find anywhere else.”

Kaufman Astoria Studios is currently the home of hit series such as “Orange is the New Black,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Alpha House” and “Sesame Street.”

The Astoria Flea & Food Night Market at Kaufman Astoria Studios, which is in walking distance from the M, R, N and Q trains, will offer visitors the best from the LIC Flea & Food and will also feature new vendors selling exclusively at the night market.

Items for sale include everything from food, antiques, collectibles, arts and crafts, fashion and more.

Vendors who are interested in selling at the market can now visit www.LICFlea.com or email info@licflea.com to apply. For updates visit Facebook.com/LICFlea or follow @LICFlea on Twitter and Instagram.


Queens Council on the Arts inaugurates junior board of trustees

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Nicole E. Reiner/QCA

The Queens Council on the Arts (QCA), located in Astoria, has inaugurated a junior board of trustees.

According to QCA Development Coordinator Nicole E. Reiner, the junior board is comprised of 10 young professionals passionate about making an impact in their communities and bringing new perspectives to the boardroom table.

In accordance with its mission statement, the QCA, founded in 1966, has spent the past 50 years working “to foster and develop the arts in Queens County and to support individual artists and arts organizations in presenting their cultural diversity.” The junior board, with its diverse cultural makeup and professional experience in fields ranging from education to municipal administration to entrepreneurship, will come together with the goal of working with QCA staff to strengthen the nonprofit’s work as an arts services organization.

Four members of the junior board — Argentina Flores, Monica Sarmiento Castillo, Morgan Jones and Omar Solis — have already undertaken a project to advance toward this goal. Along with QCA staff, they have begun pooling their language and media skills to create a web series of multilingual informational videos designed to provide career-building skills to artists and art organizations.

In addition, the junior board organized a guided tour of Kaufman Astoria Studios, as well as a meet-and-greet with Principal Donna Finn of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, which included a student dance concert.

“Hearing Donna speak with pride about her accomplished students and teachers and their vision for the school’s further development was a spine-tingling highlight,” Reiner said.

QCA’s junior trustees, who are mostly in their 30s, will benefit from working with the more experienced senior board of directors, who will mentor the junior board and help them develop fundraising knowledge, make professional contacts and build their resumes. This mentorship will prepare the junior board to eventually succeed the current board of directors.

The following are the 10 members of the junior board of trustees:

Aryana Anderson – associate producer, Amplify Inc.
Monica Sarmiento Castillo – assistant director, Spanish graduate program, St. John’s University
Eileen Diskin – alumni relations director, Rudolf Steiner School
Claudia Filomena – NYC regional lead, NY Rising Communities Reconstruction Program, NYS Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery
Argentina Flores – founder, QNS Collective
Morgan Jones – senior advisor of outreach, Office of the Mayor
Alexandru Lucaci – personal banker, Investors Bank
Emily Schwartz – public programs manager, King Manor Museum
Emily Rios – blogger, We Heart Astoria
Omar Solis – founder, Digital Villain


Phony motorcycle seller robs buyer at gunpoint in Astoria: NYPD

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A man who was supposedly selling a motorcycle robbed his buyer at gunpoint in Astoria, stealing $2,500, according to authorities.

Police released video footage Wednesday night of the suspect, who is accused of robbing the victim after meeting up with him on June 17 at about 8 p.m.

The suspect and the buyer, a 45-year-old man, got together that day to arrange the purchase of the motorcycle, authorities said. The two entered the victim’s car and the suspect directed him to drive to 21-16 35th St.

When they arrived, the suspect pointed a gun at the buyer’s head and demanded his money. He then handed over $2,500 and the suspect fled.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Co-worker gets cash back following Astoria street robbery

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

A woman almost lost a bag of cash in an Astoria robbery last month, but her co-worker was able to chase the perp down and retrieve the money, police said.

The victim, a 25 year-old woman, was heading to a bank to deposit money with her co-worker just before 10 a.m. on July 6 when the incident occurred, authorities said.

The NYPD have released these photos of the suspect.

The NYPD have released these photos of the suspect.

As the victim was walking near Steinway Street and 30th Avenue the suspect snatched the bag containing store proceeds and began to flee.

According to police, the victim’s male co-worker then ran after the suspect and was able to retrieve the money, and the suspect escaped empty-handed.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


First Queens Citi Bike station debuts in LIC

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A longtime dream for Long Island City residents finally came true as Citi Bike made its grand entrance into the neighborhood and Queens for the first time.

Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, the Department of Transportation and local elected officials and leaders gathered Wednesday afternoon to cut the ribbon on the borough’s first-ever Citi Bike station located on Center Boulevard right on the waterfront.

This station, which is the first of 12 in Long Island City, is part of the Citi Bike expansion announced last October which is expected to double the size of the bike share network from 6,000 to 12,000 bikes throughout the city over the next two years.

“New Yorkers love Citi Bike. It has transformed the way we get around. It’s providing an alternative that doesn’t just move, but it moves and it changes at the pace of our city,” said Jay Walder, president and CEO of Motivate. “But now we will see the real potential of Citi Bike as it moves out to more communities and more New Yorkers can experience the freedom of bike share from Long Island City and Astoria, to Bed Stuy and Gowanus, Red Hook, Harlem and many other places.”

There will be 91 new stations installed by the end of the summer during the first phase of the expansion, which also includes stations in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.

Stations in Long Island City, which will be installed in the next couple of weeks, will be found in locations such as by the Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av subway station, in front of MoMa PS1, next to the LIC Flea & Food and by Queensboro Plaza. There will also be a station by the Queensbridge Houses.

“We never ever stopped believing that this could happen because it’s good for Queens and if it’s good for Queens its good for New York City,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “This is a tremendous victory [not only] for Long Island City but for all of Queens. It is one that we never ever gave up on. This is a dream come true. This moment is a dream come true.”

Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase, which debuted in 2013, but was pushed back after equipment damage from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.

Once all stations are installed by the end of the summer, the DOT and Motivate will begin the community outreach and planning process for the next phase of expansion, which includes stations in Astoria.

“The inclusion of Long Island City was a long time coming but I am glad it has finally arrived. Bike share will allow people to enjoy our neighborhood in a healthy, fun way and facilitate easier travel around western Queens, an area in dire need of better mass transit,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “I am thrilled to see western Queens given the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of Citi Bike and look forward to its further expansion into more of our neighborhoods.”

Along with the expansion, Motivate has replaced the software that powers Citi Bike, replaced software and hardware at all exiting stations and docking points, and added 1,000 new and upgraded bikes to its fleet. An additional 1,400 bikes will be added this summer to stock up the new stations.

The bikes, which were developed in partnership with Olympic bike designer Ben Serotta, have new features, including higher-quality parts and upgraded seats.

To celebrate the program’s expansion, Citi Bike is offering a $25 discount, up until Aug. 31, to new members. For more information visit www.citibikenyc.com/expansion.


PHOTOS: Queens residents enjoy a fun ‘Night Out’ with New York’s Finest

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Promoting greater harmony between police and the people they serve, Tuesday’s National Night Out Against Crime brought thousands of Queens residents out to venues across the “World’s Borough” for family-friendly activities.

From Astoria to the Rockaway Peninsula, each Night Out event included free games and activities for children of all ages as well as refreshments, live music and other entertainment. Residents also had the opportunity to meet with the officers who serve their community and learn more about the NYPD’s various crime prevention programs.

Local elected officials, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, attended each gathering and presented proclamations to the precinct commanders. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who made the rounds at Night Out events across the city, stopped by the 113th Precinct’s Night Out in Springfield Gardens.

The National Night Out Against Crime, founded by the National Association of Town Watch, aims to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities. Millions of people across the U.S. and Canada were estimated to have participated in Night Out events Tuesday evening.


The Catskills Comes to Queens celebrates the best in farm-to-table fare

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Foodies from across the borough were given the chance to sample farm-fresh epicurean delights during The Catskills Comes to Queens, a tasting event celebrating the farm-to-table movement, held at Flushing Town Hall on Saturday.

The culinary event was created by New York Epicurean Events co-founders Chef David Noeth and Joe DiStefano, famed food writer behind Chopsticks and Marrow, the wildly popular guide to adventurous eating in Queens.

“As someone who’s been writing about food in Queens for years, it’s always been a dream of mine to do a food festival,” DiStefano explained. “In early 2015, I met Ellen Kodadek, the executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall, and she told me that they wanted to do more culinary programming. For months beforehand, I’d been having all sorts of wonderful meals made with Catskills-sourced ingredients—grass-feed beef, farm-fresh eggs, free-range chicken, locally foraged mushrooms—at my business partner David Noeth’s house.”

“At some point the idea hit us: Why don’t we go into business together and help showcase all these wonderful products, help the farmers and expose the people of Queens to some great food?” DiStefano added.

Chef Nate Felder's pork belly

Chef Nate Felder’s Berkshire pork belly with red pepper marmalade.

The Catskills Comes to Queens featured a delectable array of mountain-fresh fare from some of the borough’s best chefs. Chef David Noeth’s beef heart tartare was accompanied by cheese from Vulto Creamery in Noeth’s native Walton, New York.

Chef Nate Felder of The Astor Room in Astoria topped tender maple syrup-cured Berkshire pork belly with a red pepper marmalade and served them over a bed of sour cream grits. Lamb and goat tacos dressed in homemade queso fresco, crisp corn salsa and an earthy corn crema were on the menu at New World Home Cooking Co. courtesy of The Food Network’s 2010 Chopped champion Chef Ric Orlando.


The Food Network’s 2010 “Chopped” champion and New World Home Cooking Co. Chef Ric Orlando.

Smokehouse favorites were popular throughout the festival. Chef Alfonso Zhicay of Casa del Chef Bistro in Woodside featured succulent short ribs braised in an intoxicating blend of fruit chutney and Madeira wine served atop a briny bed of homemade pickled carrots and cabbage.

Chef Danny Brown's

Chef Danny Brown’s torchon of La Belle Farms foie gras and guinea fowl.

Chef Danny Brown, of Danny Brown’s Wine Bar and Kitchen in Forest Hills, crafted an exquisite torchon of La Belle Farms foie gras and guinea fowl accompanied by hazelnut oil and fresh microgreens. Bravo’s “Top Chef” Season 7 runner-up and Sotto 13‘s Chef Ed Cotton offered a twist on traditional American fare with his mini rabbit and mortadella hot dogs served between toasted brioche buns topped with mustard and spicy kirby relish.

Bravo's "Top Chef" Season 7 runner up and Sotto 13 Chef Ed Cotton prepares his rabbit and mortadella hot dogs

Bravo’s “Top Chef” season 7 runner-up and Sotto 13 Chef Ed Cotton prepares his rabbit and mortadella hot dogs.

Smokey fare ruled the outdoor courtyard of Flushing Town Hall as well, where Chef Tyson Ho’s whole barbecued hog from Arrogant Swine took center stage, its head displayed on the table, presiding over the festivities. Guests were delighted by bite-sized treats, such as the lamb sliders from Chef Harry Hawk of Schnack and the Eagle Hollow Farms barbecue chicken sliders from Chef Lou Elrose of the soon-to-be-opened Charred smokehouse and bar in Middle Village.

Smoked beef tongue sliders from Harry & Ida's Meat and Supply Co.

Smoked beef tongue sliders from Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co.

Adventurous eaters enjoyed the warm, earthy smoked beef tongue sliders topped with birch bark-infused mayo and pickled heirloom tomatoes from Chef Will Horowitz of Harry and Ida’s Meat and Supply Co., while M. Wells Steakhouse Chef Hugue Dufour’s lamb tagine provided a flavorful feast for the senses.

Chef Hugue Dufour unveiling his gigantic lamb tagine

Chef Hugue Dufour unveiling his gigantic lamb tagine.

Silk Cakes bakery’s Pandan cupcakes topped with coconut buttercream and white chocolate truffle nearly vanished in an instant. Delicate pastries by Rudolf Merlin at Creme French bakery and Leske’s Bakery’s peanut butter and Cotton Hill goat cheese donuts provided a sweet finish.

“We like to think that we’re bringing the best products in New York State to the New York’s best chefs at New York City’s best venue,” DiStefano added. “And what better place to do it than Flushing, which was once itself farmland.”