Archive for January, 2007

Free internet, good coffee


A couple months ago, I wandered around my neighborhood of Astoria and came across yet another tucked away spot. A coffee shop called Freeze Peach. Free-zePeach, get it? (Took me a little while to).

The place is far from the typical coffee shop. Filled with computers, the shop has free wi-fi and use of the computers for one half hour. And after that, the rate is still lower than any internet cafe. Plus, the spot serves a delicious selection of coffees and teas. My favorites are the Chai Latte and the Chider (cross between Chai and apple cider, very tasty). They also sell loose tea leaves in all different flavors, my favorite being Rose Garden.

Heart attack in a cup–but what a way to go.


Yes, I love hot chocolate. Yes, I’ve posted about it before. But if you love it like I do, then you’ll probably enjoy this little New York mag write-up of nine of the most decadent cups in the city.

I’ve had most on the list, but was pleased to make a few new discoveries (Otto? I’ve eaten there a bunch of times, but who knew they served a serious cup of hot chocolate?)

I’m thinking a winter-long crawl of sorts will be in order.

“Our good friends in Venezuela!”

Chavez_JPKennedy.jpgYesterday evening, I was at the gym, minding my own business, riding the elliptical machine and focusing in on The Simpsons to try to distract myself from the burning sensation that was originating in my calf muscle. Then, the show went to commercial and I was caught off-guard by a ridiculous ad that I find both irresponsible and unfortunate.

Joe Kennedy, the first-born son of slain New York Senator and presidential hopeful Bobby Kennedy, had purchased a spot to plug his Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit that has a stated mission of making energy more accessible and affordable. In the short, propaganda-heavy, preachy ad, he is seen espousing the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company Citgo. For those of you who don’t know, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has a vitriolic hatred for all things U.S., and has come into our country and criticized our government. The Cuban, Syrian, and Iranian-aligned leader has also told the US to “Go to hell, gringos!” Because Citgo is state-owned, Chavez has ultimate control of the company. So, in essence, Kennedy is aligning with Chavez.

Death Penalty


How do you feel about the death penalty?

For the first time in more than 50 years, it’s been recommended in a murder trial – specifically, in the case of cop killer Ronell Wilson.
This brought up a short conversation with my boyfriend last night (short because it was mostly me ranting) about the ever-increasing obviousness that our criminal system is not about rehabilitation at all and is focused on vengeance as justice. In a country in which your criminal past can prevent you from getting a job, when it can put you on a registry so that everyone can know what you did wherever you go, and when it can land you in a prison designed to make you miserable with no chance of hope or redemption beyond serving out your time and leaving bitter and defeated, one wonders why we bother calling it anything but.
I have no real recommendations to fix our broken penal system but something needs to be done. As we move increasingly towards more punishment, more pain and away from even cursory lip service to rehabilitation, we’re in danger of losing all sympathy for our fellow man.

[Photo from the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty]

“You can drink it.”


Um, ew.

Those are the words used in this Post piece to describe the suckling pig at Spanish restaurant UreƱa.

And while the idea of drinking a baby pig is certainly gross enough on its own, I can’t get this recent BoingBoing post regarding the horrors of factory pig farming out of my head.

We do some weird things for our food, people. I’m with Dana on the whole “let people choose for themselves” thing, but my god, these are choices that are really easy for me, personally, to make.

I’ll pass.

[pic from the BoingBoing post]

Closed by the Department of Health

no_golden_apple_for_you.jpgIt’s a little freaky when you walk by a food establishment that you frequent, and there is a large sticker on the door that says, “CLOSED BY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH”. This, thankfully, did not happen to me yesterday since I don’t eat at “New York City Bagel” on 64th and Second, but once I got home, I immediately logged onto the NYC Department of Health’s Restaurant Inspection Information website and checked out their violations.

They had the whopping score of 97, the ninth worst score in the city (as of today). Their violations included, “Single service item reused, improperly stored, dispensed; not used when required”, “Milk or milk product undated, improperly dated or expired”, and the dreaded “Evidence of flying insects or live flying insects present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas”.

This is not to single out New York City Bagel, but rather to point out what a useful resource the above site is. You can search by restaurant name, neighborhood, violation points, and it even lists the restaurants that have won Golden Apples. For a restaurant to get a Golden Apple, they have to have no major violations and a score of less than 8 for two inspections in a row. I invite everyone to take a look at how their favorite eating establishments rate, but don’t blame me if you can’t eat there anymore after seeing their score and violations.

Homeless in New York


The city’s conducting its annual count of the city’s homeless.
Started in 2003 in Manhattan only, the count now covers all five boroughs and last years count was nearly 4000 homeless on the streets. Nearly 35,000 live in the city’s shelters.
Bloomy (our dear mayor) wants that 4000 reduced to under 2000 by the time he leaves office in 2009. Think it can be done?



Had dinner at Agave last night, an attractive “Southwestern” restaurant in the Village. And it was fine. Totally fine. The margaritas were fine; the appetizers and entrees were fine; the dessert was fine. Nothing spectacular, but certainly nothing horribly dissatisfying, either.

Of course, there were some hiccups: the hostess situation when we walked in was bizarre (a woman who was not the hostess was standing at the hostess station, and rather than make an attempt at courtesy, made the fact that she was not the hostess abundantly clear to anyone who walked in the door), and the service started out as particularly lackluster (we were shuffled from server to server for about twenty minutes, before landing with one that stuck). But once these things were behind us, they were offset by a couple of resounding successes: a crab and spinach dip appetizer was particularly yummy, and steak fajitas induced near-orgasms in one of my companions.

So overall, the meal balanced out to…fine. And honestly, that’s how most of my dining experiences have been lately. There’s so much out there that falls within the “moderate” price range, and yet, so little of what I’ve been eating lately has struck me as anything particularly special. Last night my party of four spent $300, after tax and tip. Not outrageous, but also not cheap. And for that amount of money, I have to assume there are places out there I’ve yet to try that will really knock my socks off.

So am I just going to the wrong places? Or should I lower my expectations to embrace “fine,” and be glad that I rarely (if ever) have an experience I’d consider “bad”?

Blackout Cake


The state report on the Queens blackout of 2006 is set to be released.
While Con Ed receives the blame for letting the power grid in Queens grow into disrepair, the report notes that the state let deregulation cause the Public Service Commission to be understaffed and incapable of monitoring for problems such as this.
Con Ed has since increased its budget to repairing the power grid in Queens (and apparently the rest of the boroughs; I was told Manhattan was mostly completed long ago).
How does something like this happen from a Fortune 500 company? How can record profits not translate into maintaining standard – not even exceptional! – quality of service?

(I realize the photo is from the big northeastern blackout from a few years ago…but come on. It’s a neato pic, right?)
[photo from]

Is FreshDirect Good For You ?

Image Copyrights: The Gothamist

FreshDirect trucks plying all around the city is now a city staple. Like the yellow cab and the hotdog vendor it is part and parcel of New York life. When FreshDirect started out, it served Manhattan initially and slowly spread to the outer boroughs. This inspite of the fact that its warehouse and facilities are in Queens.

Since then it has followed an arbitrary pattern of opting neighborhoods into its delivery zone. Many parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx are not yet served by FreshDirect.

These are neighborhoods that FreshDirect deems underserved, or in plain terms…not worth the bother.

Bed-Stuy my old neighborhood is one such place. It borders Williamsburgh and Clinton Hill but FreshDirect wont go there. And this has riled a lot of residents, who are venting their frustration on this discussion board.

As one poster to the board writes

….they had the nerve to have a subway ad in the Myrtle-Willoughby train station and they don’t even deliver here!….And what’s more insulting is that I think some of the people around here actually WORK for Fresh Direct! Evil or Very Mad Fresh Direct can go directly to hell.


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