Wednesday, June 25, 2014


River Japanese Cuisine, located at 61-44 Springfield Blvd. abuts another Asian restaurant with the name "Saigon" most prominent.  One might assume that Vietnamese cuisine is the bill of fare.  Look closer and the words, "Asian Cuisine" better describes an eatery that not only emphasizes food from Vietnam, but that from Thailand and China as well.

I went there more than once in order to sample the various cuisines.  Chopsticks, a fork, a table spoon and a knife are given depending upon what you order. One of the most popular items is their Grilled Pork Chop.  They begin by cutting the chops really thin and marinading them.  I have no idea what spices are used as I think it's "chef secret".   I was able to find out that garlic is used and I'm not much on having garlic in my food.  However, these were the absolute best pork chops I've ever come across. Aside from the seasoning, they were extremely tender and served with slices of raw onion and a piece of cucumber.  That seems to be a pattern in the food.  I think the cucumber is the "cool off" veggie for "spicy".  Although a dipping sauce was included I didn't need it. 

Iced cold Vietnamese coffee should be perfect with the meal.  Sweetened condensed milk is placed at the bottom of a glass cup.  A coffee powder rests in a metal container as the hot water is poured into the top allowing the coffee to "drip".   If you want hot coffee, just remove the cup.  For iced coffee, a tall glass of ice is presented. 

Signature dishes are my favorite.  I started with the the Cubed Beef Steak that uses the flank cut.  I requested to leave out the garlic.  The steak is cooked in a butter sauce with onions and there's that piece of cucumber!  Although I loved the flavors, the beef wasn't as tender as the pork chop. 

 Duck is another favorite of mine. In this case it is Braised Boneless Duck.  The meat is braised in a brown sauce and served with a circle of baby bok choy.  The slight bitterness of the bok choy works well with the duck that has a slightly sweet taste. 

The menu reads, "Live Lobster".   It doesn't mean that you get one flopping around on your plate.  I am told that there is a tank downstairs rather than using an already cooked and frozen lobster.  There are choices of how you want it cooked.  I requested ginger and scallions.  The lobster dish is presented with the head and end of tail with the lobster cut up in its shell.  
Crispy Whole Fish is another signature dish.   Snapper is used for this savory selection.  It's a perfect size, meaty, comes off the bone easily and has a fresh flavor in itself.  Not wishing for the spices, I chose to have it crispy with a sweet and sour sauce with bell peppers, carrots and pineapples. 
Chicken with Lemongrass sauce didn't sound to be too spicy for me.  The lemongrass gave that great both lemony flavor with a bit of heat.  The chicken strips are sauteed with red onions, green and red bell peppers and just enough red pepper flakes.

Returning for another tasting, I first sampled the two typical Vietnamese appetizers; that of summer rolls and spring rolls.  Summer rolls are a cold appetizer with a rice sheet that wraps shrimp and raw scallions.  They are served with a peanut sauce. 

Spring rolls are quite different.  Think of it as smaller egg rolls, with a beef filling.  This one is served with lettuce,that piece of cucumber and a dipping sauce that is both sweet and spicy. 
Having loved the grilled pork chops, I was interested in having them in a different style with a Peking sauce, which seemed to be a sweet and sour  red sauce with lots of onions.  Kind of like a Chinese version of a barbeque sauce. 

I had wondered what the difference was between having lobster Cantonese style vs ginger and scallions.  I believe that "lobster sauce" is this composition which is chopped pork, peas, eggs, and garlic in a white sauce that is thickened with corn starch.  I would suggest saving the sauce for a "to go" box and using it over white rice as a second meal. 

Vietnamese Prawns in Orange Sauce captured my eyes and taste buds.  This menu item is not sweet is made with red and green bell peppers, pineapple and resting on fresh tomato slices.  Surprise. No cucumber.
What's Vietnamese food without Pho?  A large bowl of noodle soup would fill you up for dinner.  Beef stock for this famous soup is made from soup bones that cook for several hours.  You get rice noodles, various thin sliced cuts of beef and bits of scallion.  It is served with a dish of bean sprouts, cilantro, a wedge of lemon and thin slices of jalapeno pepper.  I thought the pepper was extra scallions and wondered why the soup had a peppery taste....yes, I dropped a lot into the soup.  I asked if the broth was made with black pepper and was informed of my mistake.  You can substitute basil for cilantro if you wish.

Ordering the noodle soup with grilled pork chops will have you indulging in a chicken broth with slices of white onions.  Same accompaniment.

For a completely different soup choice, try the sea food soup.  It's kind of like having egg drop soup with various cut up seafood other than "fish" such as  shrimp and squid.

There are condiments on the table for those who want to add "hot", salty, etc.  I passed on all.

Liquid refreshments are far from your average can of soda.  This second time I was here I went for a cold Oreo Cappuccino.  I don't even need to explain.    


It is no surprise that I shop at Fairway Market in Douglaston.  I have trouble keeping up with either their new items or ones that they have their own label on.

I watch a lot of the food show competitions as well as ones like Mystery Diner.  Recipes do not spark my interest.  The food and cuisines do.  Fairway certainly has a tremendous amount of ingredients and imported products from Italy.  I was looking to expand my own cooking with other cuisines as I explored the aisles.

Suddenly, I see a huge display regarding Asian fare of mostly Chinese and Japanese products of sauces, rice, nori (seaweed), rice wrappers, various jars of pickled ginger and more.  Into my basket they go.  I'm thinking Vietnamese summer rolls and get the rice wrappers and dipping sauce.  The rice wrappers can be used as a great bread substitute in making a sandwich.

Create my own maki rolls with other than raw fish.  Nori, sushi rice, pickled ginger, wasabi.  I come up with the protein and make sure I get cucumber.   Cooked and frozen shrimp works well for both the maki rolls and summer rolls.

I saw a new brand of the frozen shrimp with no chemicals and snatched a two-pounder.

There were some other products on a stand next to the sushi counter as well.  Kimchi was near the dairy aisle. 

A large display of sausages from around the world were situated across from the deli counter.   I would have tried a few if it weren't that I'm not in love with garlic.  They did have, however, these pretzel rolls for the sausage.   I decided to get chopped sirloin and shape them for burgers.  Sprinkle some Ponzu sauce and ginger on top.

Although there are many kosher items very little are from Israel.  Rather than make falafels from scratch, I opted for a frozen product that had the tahini sauce inside the falafel.  It was pretty good for frozen. 

An excuse for chocolate is it be imported from Belgium.   Fairway has their own brand and I saw a brand called Vosges that had a chocolate bar containing rooibus (from South Africa) and cherries.

While I was obtaining the chopped sirloin, I came across some new products.  One was duck confit and the other was smoked duck breast.  Duck confit is basically the use of the duck legs.  Neither had to be cooked.  Hmmm....slice it up and use it for a maki roll.  A sausage made from lamb looked tempting.  I need to bring a magnifying glass with me when I shop.  The fine print listed the garlic and something peppery.  

Seafood counter had two "foreign" fish.  One was turbot from Iceland and the other was perch from Africa.  I asked about whether the fish could be frozen.  I asked if arrived frozen.  I asked the wrong person.   I cut it up, portioned it out and froze.  It wasn't until I looked at the photo that I took when I noticed that the perch read that it was frozen and thawed.  Refreezing go me tossing it out and the perch had a definite "fishy" odor.  Question someone who knows and not one who simply does a task.

I also picked out a few items that had imported products from England, Ireland and India.  I bought one called "Korma", which I will try with some Naan bread...also sold here.   

Got a few tapenades, as well as the makings for guacamole.

Having gotten the Soda Stream machine, I have been drinking plain seltzer with a twist of lime.  Next time I have to get some Ubet chocolate syrup to make the perfect egg cream and check out some cookies from Carla Hall. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014


My evening began in Woodhaven as New York City was celebrating Summer Solstice with free outdoor concerts.

After that I went to see a production of Twelve Angry Men performed by a community theatre group in Douglaston.

Friday, June 20, 2014


I have experienced seeing Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and in Toronto and with various leads.   Open the present Playbill for this recent show to view a two-page spread on Norm Lewis who had already retained the role of Inspector Javert in Les Miz.   What is the hype?  He is the first African-American to play the role of the Phantom.  WHAT?  WHO CARES?

Will that bring a larger black audience?  Will bigoted people stay away?   What truly counts is the performance and I’m sorry, but he is NOT a Hugh Panaro.   Granted, if you are seeing the show for the first time, you will be quite satisfied with everything.  In fact I went with someone who is above the age of 60 and has actually never seen a live performance of Phantom of the Opera.  She loved it. 

Norm sang and acted well.   He just seems to miss it for me on the vocals.   Sierra Boggess is now in the role of Christine.   It is interesting to hear the difference in her high soprano vocals vs that of Carlotta portrayed by Michele McConnell.    McConnell sounds more “opera” in tone (as her character would have it), while the excitement lies in how high Boggess’s voice will go. 

Having seen a tv spot that focused on machines that can capture and change your singing voice I continued to watch as they talked about performers who might be singing in positions that may warrant a voice over or recording.   It would appear that the performer is continually singing.   What if they can’t hit the notes that evening or walking along a sort of scaffold…as in Christine and the Phantom? You’d still get the vocals but the performer is mouthing the words with his or her own voice.  Just saying. launched its 30 Days of Pride initiative June 1, profiling the dynamic voices of the LGBT community and pioneers of the stage. As part of the celebration, the company has switched its banner from the well-known yellow to rainbow.    Will it be a Collector’s item like the opening performance?

Phantom of the Opera is being performed at the Majestic Theatre.    Incidentally, if you haven’t heard, Love Never Dies is the sequel.   I doubt that it will come to Broadway unless people get tired of seeing Phantom.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Written & Directed by
 JUNE  19 – JULY 24

            When Ed Malone’s hilarious “THE THREE IRISH WIDOWS versus THE REST OF THE WORLD” opened in Dublin the critics raved.

            So he got himself an American Visa and opened the comedy in New York where he was rewarded with four sold-out runs; two at Stage Left Studio followed by the Singers Forum and the 1st Irish Festival.   Another avalanche of rave reviews.

            Mr. Malone has teamed with entrepreneur/producer MICK MELLAMPHY who will present the esteemed international hit at the second floor THEATRE SPACE at his Upper East Side Irish emporium, RYAN’S DAUGHTER (350 East 85th Street – between 1st & 2nd Avenues) where it will open on THURSDAY, JUNE 19th and play through THURSDAY, JULY 24th.

       Only this time.

           Mr. Malone will direct his own play, which now stars Ireland’s newest exported sensation, FERGAL TITLEY.  (Their loss; America’s gain.)   


            “THE THREE IRISH WIDOWS versus THE REST OF THE WORLD” will never play in Cork City, County Cork, Ireland.    NEVER.   That’s where Mrs. Malone, author/director Ed Malone’s mother lives. 

This is a play about Mrs. Malone, her sister and her sister-in-law, three Irish widows, the men that got them that way and what the widows did with their newfound freedom.

            Of the thirty-four (34) characters star, FERGAL TITLEY plays at hyper-space-break-neck speed, the three widows are the apex of the triumphant and hypnotic hilarity throughout the evening.

            Not that Mr. Titley’s Michael Jackson isn’t stunning.    It is.   Or the tree he portrays isn’t convincing.   It is. 

            But it is the three widow’ declaration of independence that shakes the world and kidnaps the audience.

            Their names are NUALA, BRENDA and MARGARET. 

            They live in Ireland because that is where they were born.  

            During the 80’s and the 90’s they existed for their husbands.  They cooked for their husbands.  They cleaned, shopped, organized and entertained for their husbands.  

            And sometime between the husbands beating them, ignoring them and taking them for granted; the husbands died; two of cancer and one driving drunk into the tree Fergal so convincingly plays at the top of the show.

            The widows arranged the funerals then they arranged to go to Pat, the hairdresser, Tony, the travel agent and to America to find some REAL men.

            What happens to the widows in America is the stuff of which great shows are made.   And movies.


Fergal Titley trained at the Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College, Dublin from 2006-2009.  He then went onto complete his Honours Degree in Advanced Performance, Film Studies and Directing, also at Trinity College which he graduated from in 2011. He was an Actor in Dublin for over four years before moving to New York in 2012.

Film/T.V credits include: '
The Tudors ' (CBC/Showtime), 'Chevalier' (Elk Films), 'Natural Selection' (High Council Productions) and 'Extra Garlic Sauce' a short comedy for (Sweet Media Productions).

Dublin Theatre Credits include: 'Little Women' (Gate Theatre), 'Hamlet' (Second Age Theatre Co.), 'You can't just leave' (Spilt Gin Theatre Co. Nominated for 3 Fringe awards at the Dublin Fringe Fest 2011), 'Down onto Blue, (Project Arts Centre, Rehearsed Reading), 'Dive' (Riverbank Arts Centre), 'Poe Show' (Bewleys Theatre/National tour), 'Basin' (Anu Productions. Nominated for 2 Fringe awards at the Dublin Fringe Fest 2009), 'Sodom and Begorrah' (Russell Cultural Centre), 'The Drunkard', 'Now is the Winter of our Discontent', 'Churchill X 3', 'The Cherry Orchard', The Hostage' and 'The Winters Tale' all at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College, Dublin.

New York Theatre Credits include: 'Star of the Sea' (Irish Arts Centre/ Rehearsed reading), 'Maybe and 'The Chicken House' (Rehearsed readings both for Origin Theatre Company as part of the 1st Irish Festival, NY 2012), and 'Future' (PS122).

Fergal also traveled to the Arezzo International Festival in Italy for two consecutive years with 'Love or 'Money, a cabaret show and 'Sweeney's Flight', a mythical Irish piece written by Seamus Heaney.
                                 (Playwright & Director)

Ed Malone is a playwright, director, actor, and clown who was born and raised in Cork City, Ireland.  He moved to New York City in 2007 after two years of schooling in Paris - first in Ecole Jacques Lecoq and then working with the legendary French clown Philippe Gaulier at Ecole Philippe Gaulier.  His solo play 'The Three Irish Widows Versus The Rest of the World' received three acclaimed runs in New York City in 2010 including a sold-out run at the 1st Irish Theatre Festival.  Ed's debut play 'The Self Obsessed Tragedy of Ed Malone' toured Ireland and England extensively to great critical acclaim, after which, it and it's sequel 'The Self Obsessed Tragedy of Ed Malone Chapter 2' received  sold-out runs at Stage Left Studios in New York City in the spring of 2009.   Ed's play ‘The Ballad of Charlie & Cate’ was performed as part of the Irish Repertory Theatre's 2013/2014 reading series.  As an actor Ed stepped into the role of Brendan in the Irish Repertory Theatre's Lucille Lortell Award nominated production of ‘The Weir’ and he also played Johnny Boyle in ‘Juno and the Paycock’ at the Irish Repertory Theatre.   Mr. Malone is a member of the Dramatist's Guild of America and American Actor's Equity.
350 East 85th Street

JUNE 19 through JULY 24
Thursdays at 8:00pm
Sundays at 3:00pm

By Phone: 646-384-0009


These photos were taken by Jen Suarez at Citifield.  Enjoy them but keep in mind that USE OF THESE PHOTOS WITHOUT PERMISSION IS A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.

Daniel Murphy had a two-run shot and New York beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-2 Tuesday night to snap a six-game skid. "If I could help get the monkey off the back, whatever it takes," Teagarden said
Ruben Tajada, Short stop for the New York Mets, Double  Play Vs. Milwaukee Brewers 6-2 Tuesday night
Lucas Duda, On First base as the Pitch is thrown by Daisuke Matsuzaka
Ruben Tejada  walked with two outs in the third (For the Photo of him on 2nd base pointing up)

JUNE 10: Daisuke Matsuzaka #16 of the New York Mets waits to bat against the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth inning during their game on June 10, 2014 at Citi Field
Estrada ran into control problems in the sixth as he walked David Wright and Curtis Granderson with one out, and Lucas Duda with two away to set the stage for Teagarden, who was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas on Sunday to replace the struggling Travis d'Arnaud. Gomez's two-out RBI double in the eighth made it 6-2.