Friday, December 31, 2010


A neighbor shared with me that she and her husband decided to trek onto Woodhaven’s Jamaica Avenue the Monday after the blizzard. Although it was way after the breakfast hours, they decided to eat breakfast at the New Pop’s Restaurant at 85-22 Jamaica Avenue finding that their bill came to $28. They said that the menu advertises juice as being “fresh squeezed” and came out of a can. I am also told that the waitress reeked from liquor, kept talking to them and that the eggs had to be returned twice because they were cold. A complaint got the waitress to deduct $1 off the check.

How did this restaurant rate? The rating is “pending”, so there is no “A”, ‘B”, or “C” as yet. I decided to go to the website of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene seeking the violation points. New Pop’s Restaurant had a recent inspection and scored 46 violation points! The highest in Woodhaven. So that you get the gist of it “A” means violation points from 0-13, “B” is 14-27, and “C” is 28 and up.

The second highest was Pan U Go Bakery at 84-42 Jamaica Avenue just behind with 41 violation points. I decided to view more in Queens. The highest was Yo, Aqui Me Quedo at 84-10 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights with 131 violation points and was closed by the Board of Health. I couldn’t help but laugh when I viewed another closing of one in Jamaica with a score of 89 violation points. The name of the restaurant is Food Lovers Paradise!

I’ve become a bit skeptic as I dine and review eateries. Thank goodness my favorite Woodhaven spot has scored an “A”! Due to the blizzard and my not wanting to chance the sidewalks I was running out of food to prepare. I’m not one to eat at a restaurant where I can basically cook the same meal. Mama Meena’s Family Restaurant it was, especially after the over abundance of meat that I consumed while in Texas. I think I also craved their Filipino cuisine as well.

Arroz Caldo. A large bowl of rice porridge if you get the idea. I keep forgetting if they use basmati or jasmine rice…both smell and taste so good. Okay, aside from the rice there are some pieces of chicken of the “on the bone” ilk as well as slices of fresh ginger. It is then topped with slices of hardboiled egg, scallions and fried garlic. What a great idea for a winter soothe, let alone the flavor! Using fresh killed chickens does add some savor to flavor.

Combine string beans (the long and thin kind), yam, bitter melon, okra and pork for a dish called Pinakbet that comes with that good rice. One more so that I didn’t have to go back there too soon re the weather. Pancit Bihon is rice noodles sautéed with shrimp, chicken and veggies. Just in case you want to know, Mama Meena’s is located at 94-20 Jamaica Avenue (718-696-888 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              718-696-8882      end_of_the_skype_highlighting2)of this came to about $21 with tax, less than that awful breakfast experience first mentioned.

Speaking of weather. “Nor rain or snow or hail can keep us from…” It’s that famous postman’s “vow”. I don’t know about the rest of you but mail was not delivered on both Monday and Tuesday. I called the post office in Woodhaven and was told that the trucks from the main post office in Jamaica could not get through to Woodhaven. In case it skipped your memory, there are four main post offices in Queens: Flushing (113--); Long Island City (111--); Jamaica (114--); and Rockaway (116--). Mail goes there and then to your town.

I got word that someone was driving passed the Fire Telegraph Station at Forest Park observing a private snow plow coming out of the driveway having just plowed. Where did they place the snow? In the street and just in front of the vehicle as it was approaching. So, let me get this correct. The mayor tells us that it is illegal to do so, yet property owned by the city can do it? Is that not one of those “do as I say, not as I do?

Garbage collection. Bad news is that unless you’re the lucky ones or having a private pickup, garbage has not been collected for a week due to both a holiday and the blizzard. The good news is that whatever garbage might have been rotting is being frozen! Gee I hope it gets picked up before the thaw.

One other thing…catalogue food companies. Nueske’s keeps sending me one and this time I decided to sample some it. The order was supposed to arrive on a Wednesday, two days after being shipped. Due to the weather, it arrived on Friday. Need I say that there was neither dry ice, or whatever was used to keep the food frozen and thus thawed. Fortunately there is a guarantee. I called them just after receiving and although they were supposed to be open, had to leave a message. No one called back. Say “hello” to the garbage and Nueske’s.

Friday, December 3, 2010


After getting back to the Atrium Hotel I decided to take advantage of the ambiance of the hotel. The pool area has cabanas and my studio room has a balcony. I could enter from either the sliding doors of the living room or bedroom.

Having relaxed I had dinner at the Waterfalls restaurant where I met the General Manager, Ron Nugent. They have a pretty diverse menu with some signature dishes from the Executive Chef.

My final attraction was the Orange County Performing Arts Center that abuts the South Coast Plaza. It was opening night as Beauty and the Beast was being performed by a traveling troop. The show would go for five days. Both the male and female leads did an excellent job and the actor who was the "sidekick" was quite funny and talented. I was disappointed with the female who took the role that Angela Landsbury was noted for. I didn't necessarily expect the Landsbury talent. She was not well applauded when she took her bows.

Nevertheless, the show itself was a high enough caliber considering the opening night slight mishaps.

I applaud the seats. Not only are they much wider than the Broadway stages, there is enough legroom for people to pass comfortably without your having to rise.


Pretend City Children's Museum is really cool for kids and their parents. The child gets a card to get stamped as they get to dress up and "experience" the things that grownups do and regardless of gender. "Cook" and serve "food" in the cafeteria. "Pump gas". Do a "check up" on your "patient". "Mail a letter". "Perform on stage" or "do the tech". During the time period that I was there moms were meeting with other moms with their toddlers. Grandparents playing with their grandchildren. It's a great learning experience for kids as well as a wonderful way for parents to interact with them.

All of the exhibit rooms are permanent accept for two. One room holds a changing exhibit which you can check out online, while another room changes for kids to learn how an ethnic group lives.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I checked out from the Embassy Suites Hotel transferring to the Atrium Hotel and got shuttled to the Spectrum Center. This is another of the large shopping centers and owned by the Irvine Company. It's a lot different from South Coast Plaza. One level with no connections from one shop to the other. There are loads of restaurants with stores that are not as upscale as South Coast Plaza, although there are some upscale. More of family fun and entertainment as I saw an ice skating ring, ferris wheel, carousel, IMAX movie theatre and Improv Comedy Club.

The 108-foot ferris wheel is imported from Italy with large "buckets" that seats up to four people. Best view of Irvine.

A new bistro called Le Napoleon Patisserie caught my taste buds. Sandwiches, salads and, of course, pastry. I had a roast beef sandwich and two of their scrumptious macarons...pistachio and chocolate.

I would also highly recommend The Yardhouse as a dinner spot.

After taking a tour as well as purchasing a few calendars, I called the hotel to get shuttled over to my next stop, Pretend City Children's Museum.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


There are two huge shopping centers in Irvine. I wanted to visit both of them to compare. I shuttled to the Southcoast Plaza, which I would describe as being most upscale with top named stores as well as some in the middle. It's more "mall" than shopping center as accept for crossing over to another group of shops, it's all indoors This is serious shopping!

The second floor has an area called Access, a VIP lounge. You can hang in there for refreshments or just relaxing for awhile. There is even one room with a recliner in case you are in need of a nap. It was there that I met Werner Escher, the head of marketing. Lynn Kozlowski who assists writers like myself then escorted me around to view and point out many of the shops.

Southcoast Plaza is adjacent to the Orange County Performing Arts Center where I go the next day.

Back to the Embassy Suites to relax before dinner. I chose to eat at the nearby Marriott Hotel's restaurant Elements 102. There is a sushi bar just outside of the restaurant in the lobby. I therefore ordered a sushi roll...a California roll with seven different fish. Had a bottle of sake with it. This time I had a chicken dish for an entree and a fresh chopped fruit over sorbet for dessert.


It's on to Irvine after leaving Long Beach where I checked into the Embassy Suites Hotel. Got a room near the top floor making for a longer glass elevator ride and view of their atrium. Although they have a hot breakfast and evening Manager's foodie, I didn't have an opportunity to try either with my busy schedule. Love the room but also couldn't take advantage of the frig, either.

One great thing about the hotel is that they have a shuttle service that takes you up to 3 miles when available.

The first place that I went was the Barclay Theatre on the campus of UC Irvine. Although I was unable to view a performance, I did get a backstage tour. The theatre is located on the campus but is not part of UC Irvine. There is a sort of fountain/waterfalls in front.

Across the way from the campus is a small complex of restaurants and a few shops called University Center. I had heard good things about one restaurant called Britta's Cafe, so lunch it was. Britta Pulliam is the owner and chef as well as waiting tables. She marinates a variety of olives as an appetizer. Olives grown in California!

I had a salad with chicken, persimmons, goat cheese, spicy walnuts and pomegranate dressing. Ice creams made on the premises. Best vanilla I've had being a chocoholic. Love the espresso. Take concord grapes, turn them into a sorbet!