Tierras Colombianas: Astoria

Tierras Colombianas was a childhood staple of mine. My father would take my sister and I here for father-daughter dates and special occasions. For approximately 15 years I have been ordering the same item off the menu, #14-the seasoned, grilled chicken breast with beans, rice and sweet plantains. Now, I’m not saying you have to order this but… Yeah, okay. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Order this and order this now.

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On Friday I celebrated my 28th birthday at Tierras Colombianas and It should be no surprise that I ordered #14, the perfect birthday meal. The #14 chicken breast is pounded thin and this thickness allows the seasoning to permeate all the way through. Once you eat chicken like this you won’t want it any other way. Inspired by this dish, I tried to tenderize and flatten my own chicken with a hammer. In case you’re wondering,  it doesn’t work. Tenderizers are worth the investment. Hammers are messy.

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The Latin flavors of the chicken are further enhanced by the side dishes. The perfectly salted rice and beans are accompanied by your choice of sweet plantains or tostones. I used to order tostones but my first taste of sweet plantains was a game changer. The sweet plantains are soft and moist, where as the tostones are dry and salty.  It is a difficult decision for the indecisive because they are both delicious in different ways. For those of you who suffer from indecisiveness, just get both. You can always start your diet tomorrow. YOLO!

Tierras Colombianas is located at 33rd and Broadway. Go check it out!

Everything Is Coming Up Meaty

If you haven’t noticed,  I have been making an unusual amount of meaty meals lately.

Crackpot Robs
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Meat Pie
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McCarthy Meatballs
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I do love meat, but this trend has more to do with my new obsession with K&T Quality Meats. This butcher is located on Ditmars Blvd in Astoria, NY -dangerously close to my house- and it is feeding my meat addiction one purchase at a time.

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If you already like meat then the skilled butchers at K&T will make you love meat. The other day I purchased 3 lbs of spare ribs,  3 lbs of lean chuck meat, and 1 lb of chicken breasts for 25 dollars! What a steal! When i saw the final price I wanted to buy more but my husband gave me that “don’t you dare buy another piece of meat” look. He’s such a drag sometimes!

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The butcher who helped with this purchase asked me what I was planning to make and then skillfully cubed the chuck meat, sliced the ribs and split the chicken breasts. He customized the meat to accomodate my planned meals. I was doing the happy dance all the way home.

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This experience was much different than purchasing the “whatchya see is watchya get” meat from the supermarket. It was different in a good way but I can understand why some may find it intimidating. It’s not easy to make decisions when the hanging lambs and skinned rabbits are judging your every move with their glazed eyes. Also, you have to actually speak to a human being. I understand. I hate talking to humans. It’s much easier to just sift through the shrink wrapped meat section until you find what you need, sort-of. They never have what you actually fucking need. Frankly, it’s annoying. This lack of customization and selection of supermarket meats will cause you to spend more time in the kitchen and less time enjoying the fruits of your labor. And all of us deserve quality time with our fruits. I, for one, love my fruits. They’re delicious. So, do yourself a favor and shop at K&T or your own neighborhood butcher. You. Won’t. Regret. It.

The Brick Café: Astoria

“Well, that was disappointing”, said the soggy ravioli to the under seasoned soup.

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A couple of years ago I celebrated a friend’s birthday at the Brick Café on 31st Ave in Astoria, NY. The food, drinks and service were all excellent! So tonight, when we couldn’t find parking near the restaurant of our choice, my husband and I defaulted to the Brick. We thought it was a safe bet…Wrong-o!

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The dim lighting and dark wood of the Brick Cafe is welcoming and cozy. The restaurant is split into two sections, the formal dining area and the bar. Both sections serve the same food. Since we were dressed like hobos, we decided to sit in the bar section. The bar has a great atmosphere and the drink selection is wide and varied. It’s too bad the food sucked tonight because everything else grade A, including the rating from the health department.

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The husband and I weren’t in the mood for full meals tonight. So we each had a soup, french onion for me and pea for him, and shared an order of fries and fried ravioli. Let me clear the pink elephant in the post. Yes. We have an appetite for fried, unhealthy food. Whew, felt good to get that off my chest! Okay, moving on…

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Let’s start with the soups.

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Both soups were highly under seasoned, and the pea soup was actually cold! Have you ever tasted cold pea soup? It’s not fun. Not fun at all. A good french onion soup should be salty and oozing with cheese. This one just didn’t have enough of either. It was like biting into a joy bar, when expecting a snickers. Disappointing and not worth the calories.

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The fried ravioli were the saddest part of the meal. The little guys had so much potential. They could have been something! Instead, they were soggy, little pockets of cheese. The rich filling and spicy sauce were DElicious but these flavors could not save the dish. Ah, it’s so sad when good flavors are wasted on poor execution.

And a yadda, yadda, yadda…I will only eat at the Brick again if there is a zombie apocalypse and it is the only restaurant within a 50 mile radius that I can raid for survival. Too harsh?

Crackpot Robs

I have a friend named Parch. Actually, her “real” name is Sarah…

I know what you’re thinking. Sarah? How average. Yeah, that’s what we (“we” being a hilarious group of drunken like minded individuals) thought too. So imagine our excitement when T9 mistook the spelling of her name for PARCH. We were elated! Finally, a solution for the name Sarah! At that moment, Parch was born. There was no going back. This is how it had to be. T9’s reign of texting bloops lasted only for a moment, but Parch is forever.

Personally, I was saddened by the loss of T9. This, of course, was before I learned of the joys of auto correct. If you have not fallen victim to this ingenious function of the smartphone it is important that you visit the website damnyouautocorrect.com.

:Sigh: Oh, auto correct, how I love thee ❤

Actually, since we are on the topic, auto correct chose the name of this post! The original title was “Crock Pot Ribs” (Borrrrrrringg). Auto correct decided that a better name would be “Crackpot Robs” and I couldn’t agree more! Crack is the perfect way to describe these robs. Sometimes you just have to let the computers do the work, ya know?

Let’s get down to business, crackpot business. The last meal we ate in 2013 was Crackpot Robs, more commonly known as spareribs made in the crockpot. The first step in this recipe is ditching your crackpot and purchasing the Ninja Multi-cooker.

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This black beauty has a stove top, oven, and slow cook function. This will allow you to sear the ribs (both sides) in the cooker before you turn switch to the slow cook mode. Of course, you can always sear the ribs in a separate frying pan before placing it in the slow cooker, but then you will have to clean that extra pan…and that sucks.

Before seasoning and searing make sure that the membrane is removed and that the individual ribs are sliced halfway through. My butcher at K & T Quality Meats in Astoria, NY did all of this for me [Thanks, Butch!], and it turned out more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. So beautiful, in fact, that I was tempted to pull a Lady Gaga and wear the meaty rack as an evening gown. Lucky for all, I have no idea how to assemble a meat dress and no shoes to match.

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Before searing, season the meat generously with salt and pepper or any preferred meat seasoning. We used Grill Mates Montreal Steak seasoning.

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After searing, throw those meaty bones into the crackpot and cover them in crack sauce, also known as Sweet Baby Rays. I love Sweet Baby Ray’s almost as much as I love auto correct, except more. If I could bathe in Sweet Baby Ray’s, I would. Set your crackpot to 8 hours (on low) and let it work it’s magic.

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These crackpot robs slathered in crackpot sauce are nothing short of crack itself. You will want more and more, and when you realize there are none left you WILL have a child-like tantrum. Unfortunately, they were made on New Years Eve and I was too drunk to remember to take a photo of the finished product. In fact, there is a chance that my child-like tantrum had more to do with the alcohol then the robs…Happy 2014 Everyone!

New York Dog House: Astoria

The humble and dark exterior of the New York Dog House make it an easy place  to miss. The food, however, is far from forgettable. Their menu is filled with a variety of playful dishes but the hot dogs steal the show! Each dog is infused with unique flavors and topped with refreshingly, unexpected ingredients. Every bite of every dog is a party in your mouth (that’s what she said) and you will NOT want this party to end.

On our first trip to the New York Dog House I got the bangers and mash. This came with three different bare dogs and the parsnip-potato mash (which are to die for! ). It is a good sampler dish because you get to taste and compare the flavors of different dogs, but eating a bunless and toppingless dog isn’t too satisfying. It’s like sending a model down the runway naked.

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After the bangers and mash experience, I was on a mission to get a signature dog! So on the next trip I opted for the luscious looking dog that you see pictured above, called the Far East. The dog filling is a blend of sweet Asian flavors that are offset by a sour pickled daikon topping. It is literally the perfect combination of flavors. So take this lesson from me folks: when in Rome eat Italian food and when in the Dog House get a hot dog!

Click here to be redirected to the New York Dog House site.

Open Mic at Quays Pub: Astoria

I am obsessed with open mic nights. So when my friend invited me to open mic night at Quays Pub I jumped at the opportunity. Typically, I prefer to go by myself and fool people into thinking I’m a talent scout by sitting in a corner and taking notes, but I figured going with a group would be just as fun.

The crowds of young, drunk people usually drive out bar flies on open mic nights. Lucky for us, the bar flies of Quays Pub stuck around and performed. Among the stars was a toothless Paul Shaffer doppelganger and a singer whose drunken croons ranged from Billy Joel to ACDC.

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I got so caught up in open mic night that I totally forgot to tell you about Quays Pub. Bad, Sally! I have lived in Astoria for 5 years and have never heard of Quays Pub. I am really upset about this. Why, world?! Why have you been keeping Quays Pub from me?! This cozy bar has tin tile ceilings, a faux library and smiling (Irish!) bartenders. It’s just perfect for an after work drink, or in my case, an after no work drink.

Jackson Hole Diner: Astoria

The Jackson Hole Diner in Astoria, NY is located on Astoria Blvd, far from the hustle and bustle of the trendy 30th Ave restaurants.

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Fried onions, barbecue sauce, bacon and 7 ounces of beef make this burger a diner’s delight…and a potential heart attack, but let’s focus on the delight part. This burger was so good that we gave the last bite a moment of silence. Glutton free, fat free and paleo dieters beware that this food is not for you. Their menu is large so I’m sure there is a side salad or defrosted veggie burger you can enjoy, otherwise you should stick to 30th ave.