Thursday, May 31, 2012


New Yorkers would know about Uncle Louie G Italian Ice Cream and Ices...mainly for the 42 different Italian Ice flavors and even more flavors of ice cream. I checked out a new place located at 98-04 101st Avenue in Ozone Park.  I actually tasted about 40 flavors between both.

I met owner John Conza who wanted to complete his dream of cream and along with his family opened two Uncle Louie G's and waiting for a third to open.  The store is simply a place to buy the scooped ice cream and ices an being able to taste before you choose.

That's exactly what I did...tasted.  Ice cream: cookies and cream, chocolate, mint chocolate chip, pistachio, vanilla, chocolate fudge brownie, banana, cappuccino, cremalata, cherry vanilla, chocolate peanut butter, Brooklyn cheesecake, birthday cake, spumoni, strawberry, red velvet, and black raspberry.

Ices: mint chocolate chip, creamsicle, vanilla chip, chocolate mousse, chocolate peanut butter cup, spumoni, rainbow cookie, oreo, jelly ring, vanilla pretzel, vanilla peanut butter chocolate pretzel, cherry chip, watermelon, honeydew, root beer.

When it comes to ice cream and ices it's all about having something cold and full of flavor.  The fun is in choosing and enjoying the taste.  Watching the look on people's faces....especially what most of Conza's enjoyment is about.  I've given up the "fun" part and continue to explore additives, fat content, etc.

As for recommendation...I prefer the ices to the ice cream.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I should have blogged this days ago but it's never too late for a deal.   Fairway Market is selling live lobsters for $6.99 per pound regardless of the size until the 31st of this month.  I'm looking to pick up three.  I am going to ask them to steam one of them, prepare another for broiling, and just a live one that I will steam in beer.  I'll be asking all kinds of questions such as:  the difference between male and female in terms of taste; softer shell vs harder shell; best time to buy them; from which waters; best way to cook and for how long;  the red and the green... how good is it? 

If you are around the New York area, check out the events page to see which "monger" will be at a store near you.  They are just opening another store in  New Jersey and I believe the next one will be in Westbury, Long Island...hey that's not too far from the Westbury theatre. 


I was just watching Chopped on the Food Network.  It was all about BBQ and each were given a Cameron Smoker to use.  If you've haven't tried it, now is the time.  It's made of stainless steel, easily washable and takes up only one....wait!   I found an even better idea.  The smoker works perfectly with the NuWave Precision Induction Cooktop!   You don't have to use one of the burners on your stove and you get just the right amount of heat and timing to smoke whatever you want as well as needing only a small amount of wood chips.

The Cameron Smoker has a grill so while the ribs ( for instance) are smoking, the fat will drip into the pan.  Smoke a few ears of corn and use the corn in a chowder to give the smokey flavor, which can eliminate the use of some salt.  The Cameron Smoker seems to be selling for about $50 and there are deals going on with the PIC.  Did I tell you that there will be less heat in the kitchen?   Hey, you do this on your porch as well.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


It’s back! Yes, the Big Apple Circus has returned to Cunningham Park in Queens.   The bad news is that it’s Grandma’s last gig with them.  The good news is that I thought it was the best Big Apple I’ve seen and centers on a Flights of Fancy machine.

Lions, tigers, and elephants…are not my thing and neither was theirs.   How can you not like one cute dog, a pig, a porcupine, woodchuck (who didn’t chuck wood) and some darling horses that some lucky ringside seat humans were able to pet.  They are trained and led by Jenny Vidgel.

Grandma (Mark Gindick) is the clown but Jenna Robinson runs the show and singing live (meaning that she’s using her voice and not a corpse).  Scott & Muriel are seen most often as comic illusionists.  

What else can you expect?  Dimitry Chenov is a clown and juggler doing much with his balls. Melanie Chy does a hand balancing act.  Acrobats are a must and the troupe from China is called Shandong Acrobats.  Okay, there was one boo boo this night and no one was hurt.  Aerials are required and the Flying Cortes had me (and everyone else) at the edge of their seats. I’ve often wondered what this exactly meant.  

One more act (and these are not in order of appearance) was Anna Volodko with her aerial rope.
So…hooray for the circus, away for the circus.  You’re gonna have a good time!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


What can I say...I love Japanese food.   Shiro of Japan has two locations; one in Carle Place, Long Island and the other in Glendale in Queens.  Nancy and I didn't want to sit at the hibachi.  Hanging left of the host stand we are in the dining room where the sushi bar sits and a completely different menu.  Sunny was our waiter, who first presented us with the drink menu...of course. Skip to the very long sake selections.  Needing assistance Sunny recommended the Nionjin No Wasuremono Bunraku, a Yamahai Junmai.  Excellent choice! Kampai!

I was interested in Executive Chef  Hiro Ishikawa's specials and signature dishes.  The four Chef Special do change. Here is what started with.  Tropical Roll of tempura shrimp inside, topped with tuna and mango. Lobster Fiesta Roll with white tuna and mango inside, seared lobster with butter and scallions on top. Faccibene Roll is a basic California roll topped with tuna, salmon, and lobster salad with eel sauce and sweet chili. Exotic Salmon and Tuna Appetizer of spicy tuna and avocado, wrapped with salmon and topped with eel sauce and masago.  They were all soooooo  good.  Kampai!

The appetizer menu has a sampling for two of which four were chosen.  Fish and Chips Shiro Style is thinly sliced tuna and salmon marinated in sweet miso yuzu served over crisp lotus root and sweet potato chips.  Fried oysters were coated with panko. Popcorn Shrimp was fried in potato basket accompanied by a curry a mayo dipping sauce. Lastly was Broiled Cod. Kampai!

Next was one of Shiro's Signature Rolls called Black Dragon Roll.  Get this...Jake (chopped shrimp, crunchy, crab mixed with mayo and fish egg) inside, topped with avocado, eel, tobiko, scallion, and sweet eel sauce.  Kampai!

As entrees we chose the Filet of Beef Steak sauteed with Japanese mushrooms and the Tempura Scallops. We didn't go for the whole entree accompaniments of miso soup, Shiro salad, and green tea.  The Beef Steak came with broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and potatoes.  Tempura veggies of broccoli and other delicious goodies filled the plate of the Tempura Scallops.  Kampai!

The advantage of eating in the dining room is having the privacy that you may not get at a hibachi.  On a busy day, you are most likely sitting with people you never met along with the habachi "performance".  You can get sushi appetizers, etc. at the hibachi table.  However, you cannot order some of the hibachi menu items when sitting at the dining area.  Kampai!

This is a photo of Nancy. We've been buddies since college.  "Kampai" is the toast that you say when you drink. Each of the above "kampais" was a shot.  

For reservations at the Glendale location call 718-326-8704.  Check it all out at 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


In 1964 the Beatles invaded America and Live Nation is pleased to present “1964 – The Tribute” at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Friday, June 1 at 8 p.m.  Tickets are $49.50 and $39.50 and are available online at, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the Westbury box office.  All acts, dates and times are subject to change without notice.  Tickets are subject to applicable service charges.  For further information, visit   

Since the early 80's, “1964”…The Tribute has been thrilling audiences all over the globe with what Rolling Stone Magazine has called the “Best Beatles Tribute on Earth ”.   “1964” …The Tribute takes their audiences on a musical journey to an era in rock history that will live in all of our hearts forever.  They are hailed by critics and fans alike as the most authentic and endearing Beatles tribute in the world.  Choosing songs from the pre-Sgt. Pepper era, “1964” astonishingly recreates an early 60’s live Beatles concert, with period instruments, clothing, hairstyles, and onstage banter.  Over 25 years of researching and performing have made “1964” masters of their craft.

The People’s Tenor, Michael Amante, will appear at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Sunday, June 3 at 3 p.m. along with Special Guest Ric Mango.  Tickets are $69.50, $49.50 and $29.50  A limited number of VIP Meet & Greet tickets are also available at $89.50.

Michael Amante is affectionately known as the "People's Tenor.” He has been crowned the "Prince of High C's" for his remarkable ability to hit and sustain with ease, one of the highest notes of a tenor’s voice. With Michael’s long history of singing popular Rock and Gospel music, coupled with extensive classical Bel-Canto training, he is able to sing even higher with a strength and mastery rarely heard anywhere in the world.  Being able to produce these notes consistently requires not only talent, but skilled use of technique.

Gladys Knight arrives at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Saturday, June 9 at 8 p.m.  Tickets are $69.50, $59.50 and $49.50

The great ones endure, and Gladys Knight has endured.  Very few singers over the last 50 years have achieved what Gladys Knight has achieved.  An eight time Grammy Award winner, Gladys Knight has had an unsurpassed recording career, triumphed in film and on stage.  Known as the “Empress of Soul,” her catalogue of hit singles includes “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “Best Thing That Ever Happened,” “Since I Fell For You,” “Neither One of Us,” “If I Were Your Woman,” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” to name just a few.  Her latest recording is “I Who Have Nothing” and she was featured earlier this year on ABC TV’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Singer songwriter and producer, Brian McKnight is a multi instrumentalist who plays piano, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, trombone, tuba, flugelhorn, and trumpet.  Recognized for his strong falsetto range, Brian McKnight has released 11 studio albums featuring hit singles such as “The Way Love Goes,” “One Last Cry,” “You Should Be Mine,” “Back At One,” and “Love of My Life.”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


 Leann Rimes brings her current tour to the NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Sunday, May 20 at 7 p.m.   Tickets are $69.50, $49.50 and $29.50 and are available online at, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the Westbury box office.  All acts, dates and times are subject to change without notice.  Tickets are subject to applicable service charges.  For further information, visit   Long Island’s own Lisa Matassa will also appear.

Leann Rimes, known for her rich vocals, rose to fame as an eight-year-old champion on the original Ed McMahon version of Star Search, followed by the release of the Bill Mack song “Blue” when she was 13.  Since then, she has released 10 studio albums and four compilation albums that combined have sold over 37 million records worldwide. She has placed over 40 singles on American and international charts since 1996. Hits include “How Do I Live,” “Can't Fight The Moonlight,”Unchained Melody,” “You Light Up My Life,” and many more.  In addition to her two Grammys®, she has won three American Country Music Awards, a Country Music Award, 12 Billboard Music Awards, and one American Music Award.   Her current album,  Lady & Gentlemen, was released in 2011 and features a number of classic country covers including “Swingin’,” and a revisited version of her breakout single, “Blue.”

Lisa Matassa is putting Long Island, New York on the country music map as she emerges on the music scene once again in an unprecedented comeback story for a forty something wife and mother of two teenagers. After being away from the music industry to raise a family, she has just released her debut country LP, “Sunrise Highway.”
About Live Nation Entertainment:
Live Nation Entertainment is the world’s leading live entertainment and ecommerce company, comprised of four market leaders:, Live Nation Concerts, Front Line Management Group and Live Nation Network. is the global event ticketing leader and one of the world’s top five ecommerce sites, with almost 27 million monthly unique visitors. Live Nation Concerts produces over 22,000 shows annually for more than 2,300 artists globally. Front Line is the world’s top artist management company, representing over 250 artists. These businesses power Live Nation Network, the leading provider of entertainment marketing solutions, enabling nearly 800 advertisers to tap into the 200 million consumers Live Nation delivers annually through its live event and digital platforms. For additional information, visit

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


My next adventure was experiencing The Ride.  This has got to be one of those “happenings” and you have to walk away in a great mood and smiling. There are these multi-million dollar coaches that are equipped with surround sound, LED lighting and 40 video screens. They are, in essence, rolling state-of-the-art theatres that introduce their travelIng audiences to an interactive experience that only New York could offer . Adding its own actors to the crowded mix on the street, the huge motor coaches deliver a show worthy of the standing ovations and group euphoria that results at the end of each RIDE.

Let me explain it further.  The side of this HUGE bus facing the sidewalk has come up with a second “face”; that of the 3-D art of Charles Fazzino depicting a concept of miles of New York.  You are seated stadium style facing the streets and opposite sidewalk.  You can see the folks and they can see you.  The small video screens give you the opportunity to see Fazzino’s art as well as the words to any sing-a-longs.

Then, there are the actors and you’ll never know what they’ll do.   The bus will slow down as you watch a guy suddenly go into a tap dance, play an instrument, run some rap for a few blocks or even do a ballet in Columbus Square.  The mike is open both ways and the “audience” of whoever happens to be passing will see and hear it all, especially the constant encouragement of getting them to wave back at you.  You can tell who the tourists are…they are taking photos and video of the passengers.  

The voice of Charles Fazzino will chime in many times to tell you about the art of where you are; the hosts will do the rest.  What became most amusing to me was seeing how many people totally ignored both the bus and actors as if it is just so typical of New York…they were probably New Yorkers.  

CEO Richard Humphrey and Charles Fazzino were on my internet radio show today.  Check it out on  on Whirl With Merle.  Be sure to see more of Fazzino's works at

Sunday, May 6, 2012


I went to the opening of a new Facial Bar located at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center in Bayside, 
Queens.  I was given this most relaxing facial treatment.  Great part is that there is no disrobing of any
 clothing.  What you give up is the privacy and silence but well worth it.  Here's what it's all about.

The Repêchage “Facial Bar” is a new  business concept developed by Lydia Sarfati (Founder &
CEO of Repêchage) that enables spas to offer fast, affordable facial treatments that deliver
immediately visible results in an open setting. Facial Bar allows customers to have more accessible,
affordable and clinical skincare that they can indulge in more often (even on lunch break!). Lydia’s
philosophy is that, just like we take time for a weekly manicure or blowout, we should also take care
of our skin on a regular basis.
 In terms of time and money, Facial Bar gives consumers access to express facial treatments that a
15-30 minutes long, and cost $25-$75, depending on the treatment. A traditional, non-express facial
 takes an hour, and costs at least $125 (some facials can cost $250 or more!).

Facial Bar is the name for the concept; each spa’s Facial Bar can offer a variety of different express
facial treatments, which all have their own names. I can share examples if you need.

        All of Repêchage’s professional spa treatments are delivered to spas in unidose packaging, and
arrive in  boxes. The boxes contain individually portioned treatments. The Biolight Professional 
Treatment Box, which you photographed, contains what’s needed to perform the hour-long Biolight 
Miracle Facial. The express treatments used in the Facial Bar concept come in similar packaging, but it 
doesn’t really have anything to do with the Facial Bar concept itself. 

Other spas are rolling out Facial Bar, in addition to Christie & Co. At this point,
The plan is to keep expanding into Lydia’s wide network of spas - Her “Spa de Beaute” concept is currently 
implemented in 300 spas globally, and her Repêchage professional treatments are offered in more than 
30,000 doors – So Facial Bar is poised to be the next national / global beauty breakthrough.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Shichimi is a Japanese 7-spice blend that typically includes red chili pepper, roasted orange peel, yellow and black sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, seaweed, and ginger.   Have you ever tried it sprinkled on French Fries as a side to Wagyu Sliders of tender wagyu ground beef with guacamole and sautéed mushrooms and an accompanying original spicy sauce to dip the fries in?   Sound scrumptious?   Thank Mr. Robata and feel free to indulge at the restaurant located at 1674 Broadway in Manhattan’s theatre district.

Robata , a rustic grilling technique, originally from Japanese farmhouses, takes up about half the space of a very long sushi bar.  Other than a few items, all orders are prepared right there.  No that’s a great way to watch the chefs spring into action. Tasting time!

Kaiso Seaweed Salad of mixed seaweed with grilled eggplant, rice cracker and cucumber served with a Izu Miso dressing.  Chef Quinoa Salad: boiled blue shrimp, organic quinoa, micro ice leaf (in the cactus family), avocado, red radish, and radicchio served with a shiso dressing.  Spicy Tofu Salad using organic tofu, macadamia nuts, caviar, and mixed greens with a scallop and shrimp infused chili oil.

The menu has sections of appetizers, tapas, Robata, Maki Rolls, Chef Specials, salads and sushi, each with flavors that cross Japanese with a bit of French and they brew their own soy sauce to boot. Hungry yet?  Ramps (wild leeks) with duck breast, fried tofu, and pink peppercorn.  

A tasting of a few specialties had organic zucchini; Erinji Mushrooms (aka trumpet mushrooms;  and Jidori Muneniku, slices of grilled free range chicken breast.  It was our opportunity to sample their six sauces: passion fruits, ponzu, wasabi cream cheese, yuzu miso, ginger teriyaki and remoulade.

One of the most popular Maki rolls is the New York, New York.  Get ready to drool. Spicy tuna, macadamia nuts, toro scallion and avocado wrapped in seared tuna and topped with wasabi cream cheese, eel sauce and a rice cracker.   Alongside were some single sushi – Chu Toro (belly of the tuna), Japanese Horse Mackerel, and Sea Urchin (not my favorite or one has to acquire a taste for ).  

Now, you shouldn’t expect me to tell you about any common desserts do you?   They only have three. Orange scented chocolate mousse. Eggplant compote (Eggplant for dessert?):  cardamom scented Japanese eggplant  compote with lychee  sherbet, sesame coulee and pink peppercorn (it’s as if eggplant was the secret ingredient for an Iron Chef show and chose “savory” on dessert).   Our waitress told us that it’s one that people either love or hate…I loved it. 

The third was Lychee Zen Zai using sweet red beans with rice cake topped with brandy cream and mochi (sweet rice dough with ice cream in the middle). 

I’m sorry. I forgot to tell you the name of the innovative and talented Executive Chef.   His name is Masaki Nakayama also known as Chef Naka, who had lately been involved in Japanese Week and National Ribs day.  

Make sure you check out their Sake and do a flight.  Kampai!!