Thursday, May 30, 2013


My washing machine was having huge problems. I was contemplating as the whether it was worth fixing. In the meantime, things built up.  Linens, towels, bathrobes....items that I would rather have cleaned in hot water.  Then, of course there is the clothing. I could wash my underwear in the sink and then dry it  in the well as a few other items.'s true that if you put a dry towel in the dryer with your clothing, it takes less time to dry...also, if you want to get the wrinkles out of clothing, put a damp towel and take out the clothing about 5 minutes after the heat hits it.

Now I look at the price that I pay to do my own laundry in the house.  The amount of electricity and water adds to both the electric bill and water bill.  I could bring my loads of laundry to a laundromat but it would also cost me the $5.00 in transportation since I cannot walk the 10 blocks.

A came across Lins Jamaica Laundromat at 95-06 Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven with a sign saying that they will do the work for 70 cents per pound.  They will also pick up and drop off the laundry for free.

I decided to try it out.  I stuffed four pillow cases of laundry separating the three hot water items and one of rest of the clothing.  It wound up costing me $25 including purchasing a laundry bag.  All was clean, folded and made my entire house smell fresh from the fabric softener.

Needless to say with a pickup and drop off you have to rely on their weighing it...or you can hold each bag and do the step on scale thing before they pick it up. 

Well worth it!  Now that the weather is getting hot....what happened to Spring?   I think it's time to wash the bed covers! 


Just got word that all 12 Fairway Markets will be having a sale on Graeter's Ice Cream.  Usually $5.99 and on sale for $4.99.  So worth it.  I'll be checking out the flavors.  Sale is from June 3 to June 27th.  It missed the flyer...will see if it is in next week's flyer.  Ah....for the Graeter good.

Friday, May 24, 2013


"Mama's Special" is a cold sandwich of prosciuttini (different from prosciutto), salami, and mozzarella with marinated mushrooms and sweet red peppers.  It is the most requested Italian deli sandwich at a place called Leo's Latticini or "Mama's of Corona" located on the corner of 104th Street and 46th Avenue in a section of Queens known as Corona.  What makes it so special is that the bread is baked in their bakery down the block, and roasted red peppers and mozzarella is freshly made in the kitchen.

The story goes back to Irene and Frank Leo, who came over from the Italian city of Bari, opening a deli back in the 1930s at a different location.  Their daughter, Nancy De Benedittis and her husband Frank De Benedittis, took it over and brought the business to Corona.  Nancy, known as "Mama", was the matriarch of the family and the person that expanded the deli to include the Southern Italian recipes of hot foods.

Walk in on a Friday with choices of: Eggplant Parmigiano, filet of scrod or flounder; Fritatta (omelet); and Linguini with Seafood can always get roasted turkey with gravy made daily.  I decided on both the linguini and the eggplant parm.  Good choice!  They happened to have made a white sauce with the seafood being of clams, sea scallops and shrimp.  I would personally match this dish to eating in a fine dining Italian restaurant that Zagat gave a 30 to. What made the linguini extra special is that this wonderful place makes their own pasta in a store that abuts the deli.  Macaroni salad never tasted this good!

Oh, there is much more to the deli than the counter with the above hanging dry meats as well as some imported cheeses.  Shelves of imported Italian staples...they are also stocking up on the real Nutella! 

Let's get the whole family into this with her daughters Carmela Lamorgese (pasta maker), Irene Bend and Marie Bend along with a baker and staff.  Certainly need them all.  You see, there is no place to sit in the deli.  So where do the customers go?  Abutting the pasta venue is Mama's Backyard Cafe and bakery. 

The counters in the bakery extend with several glass cases of some delicious looking goodies.

Okay, twist my arm...I had to taste some pastries.  Sfogliatelle had a great outer crunch on the shell and creamy cheesy inside stuff.  I was surprised to see that cannolis were already stuffed but the shell on the chocolate one really held up without any sogginess (I waited until I got home to indulge), and judging from the customers at the counter, they go pretty fast!  Loved, loved the cannoli cream...which also sat atop the rhum baba...just tasted the top...haven't bitten into that one as yet.  One pastry similar to a macaron...meringue with almond paste. Delish!  Napoleons and more.  Coconut macaroon that is quite moist and with a bit of chocolate dipping.

Did I mention the Italian cheesecake and cupcakes?  

Definite long list of breads that include a prosciutto bread and these small round pizza looking ones with its own spices.  Great for placing some of the fresh mozzarella and giving it a quick visit to the broiler. If you are not up for a sweet dessert, there is always the taralli, a breadstick textured bite sized snack that is baked with fennel or black pepper. 

There are tables and chairs as well as a small food menu and tasty Italian coffee.  Cappuccino anyone?

Another room past it has a long table with chairs and seems to be used by the firefighters and police officers who are taking their lunch break.

So, why is it called Mama's Backyard Cafe?  Go out the back door to view an outdoor garden complete with wrought iron furniture, a statue of St. Francis, fountain, picturesque mural and a wall herb garden.  Hey, what's an Italian cafe without fresh basil and such?  Someone obviously wanted to duplicate an Italian piazza.

With a picture being worth a thousand words, you will find millions on the outside of one of the stores depicting the history of both the family and those who stopped in for a loving day of food and conversation, which now may turn to baseball.  The New York Mets.  Mama's has a few stands at Citi Field selling those scrumptious sandwiches.  When do they find the time to sleep? LET'S GO MAMA'S!

Phone number for the bakery is 718-565-9104...Mama's of Corona deli is 718-898-6069

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Having tasted the burgers made by Ottomanelli at the "A Taste of Queens" event, I ventured over to one of the several butcher venues located at 61-05 Woodside Avenue.  The butcher stores are called S. Ottomanelli and Sons and they have been around the New York City area since 1932.

Frank Ottomanelli and his brother Michael own the store at this particular locale.  Don't let the wood shavings on the floor fool you regarding cleanliness. It's just the decor.  What are in the glass cases is what counts.

As I looked around there was one customer was placing an order. It was not only for the meats but a sandwich.  Michael decided that a sandwich to go would be a great idea, not only for someone just on the run but perhaps your schedule got you home before dinner could be prepared.  Perhaps you want to get in the order, go back to work with your sandwich and then pick it up prior to going home.

One of the cases displays an array of marinated meats that would go fine on the grill such as: beef or chicken on a stick; beef and chicken kabobs; steak wheels with Provolone cheese; and a rack of pork ribs.  Burgers are big. Patties with or without spices that include lamb burgers. As a matter of fact, Ottomanelli packages and sells its own spices.

Looks are not deceiving here at this family tradition is quite known  to have not only top quality on meat but a long line of wild game as well. Maybe it's a bit more common these days to get duck, quail, rabbit, venison and even ostrich.  This place can you provide you with rattlesnake steaks, python steaks, elk steaks, alligator steaks, kangaroo steaks, pheasants, frog legs, antelope and wild boar.

Frank tells me that his mom, a true Italian cook, can give me a recipe on cooking rabbit and wild boar, two particular items that I have found on the some fine dining Italian restaurants.

Steaks aged for 21 days.  Shell steak carefully wrapped in that white butcher paper.  I froze it since I wasn't sure how soon I'd be indulging.  Placed the frozen meat in my NuWave oven for a total of 23 minutes with just some sprinkled salt. in the middle but not raw.  Perfect the way it was.  


There was more for me to learn but I was wanting to try a sandwich as I saw this great looking pastrami that they make.  Better than most delis.

Lamb from the US, Australia, New Zealand?  Frank gets the lamb only from the United States...Colorado.  When I'm buying lamb chops, what are differences?  Frank took out various parts of the lamb to show me and explain.  Loin chops have a loin across the top similar to the filet mignon in beef.  Rib chops are the same minus the loin.  Frank then brought out the shoulder to show me those chops as well as the shanks. Being a butcher shop I can simply request one loin and one rib. A look in the case revealed some shoulder chops marinated in rosemary, garlic and olive oil.  Let's try that! 

Another alternative to pork is veal....which is basically a younger beef.   I was interested in the breast which contains the ribs.  How do you stuff and cook a breast of veal?  Let's get Frank's mom on the phone to tell me.  She seems to be the one with all the recipes.  That's another story for the Italian newspaper.

Short ribs are a big time with both grilling and potting.  Can be "fall off the bone" good.  I remember having this growing up.  It was called “flanken” and cooked in chicken soup.   I prefer potting it.  I need an Asian recipe! 

How about a fresh duck?  I already know how it comes out in my NuWave Oven.  This is one of a few items that you have to call for in advance.  Same goes for chicken livers, chicken fat and marrow bones.

Freezing meat was the next discussion.  If you are going to use the meat the same day or next, it will taste as fresh as when you picked it up.  Otherwise, don't wait a few days to freeze.  Do it when you get it home.  With all of the ways to pack it to avoid freezer burn, having the meat wrapped in that white "waxed" butcher paper with the "waxed" side facing the meat. 

I was just about ready to leave when I heard another customer raving about the chicken salad, one made with raisins, slivered almonds and celery.  Got it to go...I'll make a sandwich at home.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Moisten your face with water. Massage some extra virgin olive oil directly into your face. In the palm of your hand, put a small amount of sugar…not a sugar substitute…just some common granular.  Now, scrub the sugar into the olive oil that is on your face. Rinse until all the sugar granules go bye-bye. This will not only get rid of the dead, dry skin cells but leave your face with a natural, healthy glow.

Dry lips? Rub the olive oil on to both alleviate or prevent chapped lips. Makeup? Dabbing your eyes with a cotton ball or cosmetic pad with the olive oil will remove eye makeup, even that waterproof mascara. Ditch the contact lenses before you put any of the oil around your eyes.

Does it make a difference as to whether the olive oil is “extra virgin” when it comes to using it on your skin?  It may, if the olive oil is not true to its category, as companies have found ways to combine other types and lie about the label.

How can you be sure about what you are getting when shelling out for both quality and taste, let alone what could have a different affect on your skin? 

Most people are not aware that there are several olive growers in the United States, especially in California.  A company such as California Olive Ranch has a few varieties.  Let’s take the “ for everyday meals ilk”…first cold pressed.  The back of the label displays a harvest date and a “best used by” date as well.  The olive oil is also tested in a lab located at UC in Davis as many CA olive oils are and stamped with a label from the California Olive Oil Council. 

I happened to find this particular olive oil at a supermarket on sale at less than $6 for 16.9 fl.oz. and at it's regular price at Fairway. I was skeptic on the low price.  When I got home I called the company and was able to obtain some wonderful information and had a spokesperson as a guest on my internet radio show.   

According to Steven Jenkins, taster and buyer for Fairway Market, “California EVOOs are way more expensive than all of my best oils, and none of them are close to being as good.  What you need to strive for, regardless of origin, are early-harvest monocultivars.  Bitter and peppery means high in polyphenols.  This should become your mantra.” I guess that California Olive Ranch must be special.

Steven has researched each and every olive oil product that comes into the stores so you can be certain that not only are the labels correct, but that his own line of Fairway olive oils have been checked out as well. 
There is no doubt that many imported Extra Virgin Olive Oils are not as great on the palate and are not of high quality, the problem being that the regulations are not the same.  Labels may not show a harvest date but a “sell by” date.   As for the olives themselves, the label may show that the olive oil is imported from Italy, for instance, but that the olives are from Greece and Spain.  That may not matter as growers within that area tend to “co-op”. 

Olive growers here in the US have made their way to the Mediterranean areas and purchased the olive branches to grow on their ranch, which according to California Olive Ranch lowers the cost to the consumer. Compare for yourself.

A mild extra virgin olive oil of excellent quality will substitute well in baking.  Using it to sauté may not make as much of a difference but using it as a dressing or to dip some freshly made bread will have an effect on the palate.

A true tasting of olive oil is like tasting wine.  You wouldn’t be dipping the wine in bread.  Place a small amount in a shot glass. Place the palm of your hand on the bottom and the other on top to warm it.  Smell it. Taste by slurping…sipping both the oil and air. Note that the stinging sensation in the back of the throat is a good thing.  Like wine, various flavors will be detected and choices will be formed.

What does it “oil” boil down to?  It’s best to get olive oils in dark bottles as the oils need to be kept in a cool and dry place, away from light and used within a year.  Not only for taste, but that oils go rancid.  Choosing a reliable EVOO is more important regarding a nut allergy, in case the unscrupulous one contains peanut oil…but does not say it on the label.

Other than allergies, the way most important factors are the taste and price.  Just as you would not automatically buy a Merlot simply for the type of wine without knowing the origin or year, the same goes for EVOO. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


What better way to raise money to support tourism in Queens County than having a fine food event.  On May 14th, the Queens Economic Development Corp held a feast of food with 40 vendors representing various cuisines of Queens.   Over 900 people shelled out $125 for a 3 hour array of savory and sweets tastes as well as lots of liquid refreshments, all held at that Caesars Club at Citi Field and raising approximately $40,000.  

This eleventh annual extravaganza included performances by a Big Apple Circus clown, an appearance by 1969 Miracle Met Ed Kranepool, a booth displaying work by local emerging artists curated by Jackson Heights-based Zoescope and a stand up routine by Steve Hofstetter of the Laughing Devil Comedy Club in Long Island City.

Needless to say…Citibank was a big sponsor but one who gave the most, and not just in money, was the lead sponsor, Fairway Market. Queens was hit in the Rockaway and Breezy Point areas with destruction from hurricane Sandy.  One specific area of Brooklyn, Red Hook, got its share as the Fairway Market got totally flooded out.   They were determined to reconstruct the huge supermarket and not take it out on the employees, who during the rebuilding were transported, if necessary, to another of the 11 venues around the tri-state area. 

As far as food goes, Fairway Market gave a presentation of their catering menu, which included their own brands.

A couple won a gift basket in one of many raffles. 

Just about every vendor had more than one item to sample.   The Dog and Duck offered duck burgers as one taste.   O Lavrador leant its flavor on Iberian cuisine.  La Adelita and de Mole gave us authentic Mexican fare (vs. Tex-Mex), while La Rioja showed us what you would eat if you dropped in at a restaurant in Spain. 

Leo’s Latticini Mama’s was there to give us a the Italian taste of not only the sandwiches offered at both their restaurant and Citi Field food stand, but the pasta and baked goodies that they make as well.  

Surprisingly, the fare was minus Asian delicacies…Thai, Chinese, Korean…even Filipino.   Only one Greek restaurant was represented by Christ’s Steak House.  

Some of the others were: Austin’s Steak and Ale House; Bourbon Street; The Irish Circle, a Rockaway venue that rebuilt; Rocoto Restaurant; La Fusta Restaurant; and Sac’s Place.  On the sweet side was: Cookie Fairy Sweets; Rudy’s Bakery and Café; and Little Bird Chocolates.

Four tasters chose winners. McClure Pickles took the appetizer spot while there was a tie for entrée with both Pine Restaurant’s Chicken Scarpareillo and spiced Burgers and Belgian Fries owned by F. Ottomanelli.   Dessert went to Take a Break and I’ll Bake (pies were later raffled off). 

Liquid refreshments of the alcohol ilk were available that included wines, vodka, and some of the hard stuff.  Native Coffee Roasters was one of the non-alcoholic option.  Me, I’m Milkaholic. Whatever reason people choose for a shot of booze….I need milk.   Luckily, I didn’t have to opt for coffee…extremely light.  Five Acre Farms had their brand called, “Local”.  I did remember seeing that at Fairway and wondered what it meant.  Fairway had some killer brownies that were OMG and Five Acre Farms was just steps away.  Need I say more? 

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall attended to give the event a thumbs up.

 Melinda Katz, who will be vying for Marshall's end of the term spot, was also present.

Photos by Merle Exit and Dominick Totino