Monthly Archives: April 2011

We Are Family

Did you ever have a totally rotten day where everyone seemed to be against you, and your brain stopped functioning like a normal human’s, and also you found your 4th gray hair? And then you got home to your humid apartment with a stank cat and almost cried the minute you walked in the door? And then you noticed a package on the table from your amazing, very-soon-to-be sister-in-law with 2 of the most beloved cookbooks of your hometown?

No? Well. I’m sorry for you then.

Thanks for making my terrible day soooo so much better, Steph! I cried anyway, but out of happiness.

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Sunday Sauce

A few weeks ago I pretended like I was a good Italian housewife and made sauce on Sunday. I have my go-to, easy-peasy red sauce, but I didn’t have a nailed-down creamy vodka sauce recipe that I really loved. I figured this was a good opportunity to concoct one.

Vodka sauce shown here with breaded chicken cutlets and penne pasta

On the menu:
Vodka sauce

1/4 cup butter
1/2 white onion, diced
1/2 cup vodka (or 3/4 cup if you’re feeling particularly boozey)
1 (28 0z.) can tomatoes, crushed
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat, sautee onion in butter until translucent. Add vodka and cook for 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and reduce heat to low. Simmer for around 35 minutes. Add heavy cream and cook over low heat for another 35 minutes. Add half of the parmesan cheese, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked pasta to sauce, toss until coated, and garnish with remaining grated parmesan.

*Note: this sauce is good the day you make it, but it is KILLER after it sits in the fridge for a few days. You could easily double this recipe and freeze half for a rainy day. It’ll be even better when you rediscover it.

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The Germans sure can cook

Okay, so maybe you disagree with that statement. I don’t really care. If you work in midtown, go to the Schnitzel ‘N Things storefront on 3rd Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets. I ordered the pork schnitzel platter with Austrian potato salad and sauerkraut with cranberry compote on the side for only $11! Fantastic. And for your sweet tooth… they serve cookies and brownies from The Treats Truck at checkout! As if you need extra calories on top of your fried meat. Just go. You’ll thank me.

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Food Revolution

Hi all! I’ll be back real soon with another fabulous Astoria establishment, but in the meantime, don’t forget that Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is back on TV! Watch the very first online episode here.

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Filed under Chefs, Miscellaneous

Throwback to a More Glamorous Time


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m never really one to be on top of the newest and most exciting places. I view this blog as more of a way to bring you along on my journey of discovering “new to me” places and hopefully inspiring you to go or stay away from some of the thousands of restaurants in New York. So when the BF told me he had heard about a new bar located in Kaufman Astoria Studios (the film studio where Sesame Street and The Cosby Show film/filmed at), I figured he had stumbled upon an old article. Turns out the place has only been opened for 2 months. So… ahem… you heard it here first.

The Astor Room 34-12 36th St, Astoria, Queens. You enter the restaurant down a marble staircase, surrounding by gold-framed mirrors and peacock wallpaper. Enter to the left and a piano greets you, followed by a dark mahogany bar and a feeling that you’ve stepped back in time. The bar just reopened but in its hey day in the 1930s, it was frequented by silent movie stars that were filming at Kaufman Astoria Studios. The menu is a throwback, too, with dishes like Dover sole, lobster thermidor, and short rib stroganoff.

On the menu:
Crispy fried calamari over roasted tomato paste with green pepper shavings
Spaghetti carbonara
Double cut coca-cola porkchop
Smoked seven layer chocolate cake


Verdict: It’s aces! It’s keen! It’s swell! (I had to Google “1930’s slang”… in the interest of full disclosure, you know). This place is awesome. The food was SO well done; the pork chop was juicy but crisp and sweet, the spaghetti smooth and buttery, and the seven layer cake sprinkled with gold. Yes, gold. Edible gold. Old world luxury and glamour at its finest, gals and pals. I also have to give props to the amazing staff. I read many reviews of The Astor Room that criticized the service, but I could not have been more impressed. Our wine glasses were never empty, an empty plate never sat on the table for more than two minutes, and on our way out the maitre’d asked if we needed umbrellas to battle the rain. We were never smothered, always taken care of. Loooove love love this place.

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Oh, hello there. Remember me?

Hi friends. Lauren E. here. How many of you are actually reading this after my very long hiatus? I’m gonna guess 3. Hello mom, dad, and… okay, maybe 2.

In any case, I’m back! I made myself a manageable schedule to keep on posting amidst the busy day job schedule I’ve recently inherited. I love my new job but suddenly this blog felt like a chore. “Ugh, I guess I’ll post tonight…” But then I was eating at all these amazing places and missing great recipes in my life and I thought, “Okay, time to get back in it.” A good friend told me if it’s my passion, I can’t just give it up.

So I’m not. I’m not giving it up! And to welcome you back, I bring you a week of Astoria (it’ll be Wednesday to Wednesday… so sue me). Have you been to this neighborhood? It’s the one I live in. It’s the one I love. It’s affordable, it’s safe, and the restaurant scene here is blowing up. Visit us, why don’t cha?

Pachanga Patterson 33-17 31st Ave, Astoria, Queens. The idea behind this restaurant is simple and brilliant. I usually try to reserve my opinion for the “Verdict” section of my restaurant reviews but I just can’t contain myself. I LOVE THIS RESTAURANT and I love the idea that inspired it. In the restaurant world, “family meal” is the meal that the kitchen staff eats after all the patrons have gone home. The meal, built on the remnants of the night at the restaurant and enhanced by the cooks’ expertise, comes out without agenda. Pachanga Patterson’s owners claim that because the restaurants they’ve worked in have had mostly Mexican staff members, no matter the cuisine of the restaurant, all the “family meals” come out with a decidedly Mexican influence. It is these menu items that make up the menu of Pachanga Patterson. Each dish has a Mexican flair, and is made with local ingredients and by expert hands. Small plates, even smaller prices, a cozy tucked-away atmosphere, and a warm staff that takes care of you like you’re part of the family, too.

Braised pork shoulder tacos with crispy pork skin and pickled red onion

On the menu:
Guacamole and house fried tortillas
Chipotle braised short rib tacos with roasted tomatoes and scallions
Berkshire pork shoulder tacos with crispy pork skins and pickled red onion
Panna cotta with pumpkin seed brittle

Verdict: Duh. I love this place. Not only is it literally downstairs from the BF’s apartment, but it is some of the most delicious, well-thought-out, comforting food I’ve had in Astoria. Hands down. The pork shoulder was so tender and perfectly complimented by the crispy bits of skin and juicy, fat slices of pickled onion. The guacamole was DIVINE and the chips fresh. The panna cotta pushed the whole meal over the top, and had me running for the kitchen to make my own pumpkin seed brittle. The restaurant is slowly adding more meals to its hours (recently lunch, soon-to-come weekend brunch… thank God!) and come summer, they have a lovely patio out back, perfect for drinking pitcher after pitcher of sangria and pretending like you’re in Mexico. Ah bliss.

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