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Manhattan has the inspiring Empire State Building. Paris has the romantic Eiffel Tower. Queens has authentic, affordable and amazing restaurants. Lots of them. A culinary tour company that debuts this weekend, Local Finds: Queens Food Tours, hopes to bring taste-conscious tourists to as many borough establishments as possible. This two-person agency will organize weekly food sampling and cultural walking tours of Long Island City for now with hopes to expand to Flushing, Jamaica, Richmond Hill and the Rockaways as soon as possible. One of the company’s two founders, Queens native Sergey Kadinsky, will lead three-hour journeys every Sunday morning, starting at 11 am. Kadinsky, who also works for City Council Member Karen Koslowitz, will bring patrons to six local establishments, including a micro-brewery, a hip coffee shop and Manducatis Rustica (photo), where signature dishes will be awaiting. Plus, participants will receive a brochure with a neighborhood map, list of attractions, and recommendations for about 30 other great eateries in the area. 

“When it comes to good eats, Queens is the king of the boroughs,” stated Richard Mumith, the other founder and a former Council Member Koslowitz employee. “We are all about discovering, eating, and supporting…local.”

A list of other Queens food tour guides is on the jump page.

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It’s going to knock your block off. This Saturday, the Queens Council on the Arts will open the gates of the newly designated Kaufman Arts District for a block party with art, dance, food, live music, workshops and other creative activities. Let’s begin with the food. George Rallis from William Hallet will roast a suckling pig and have a spit going with pork butt. Kim Chi Smoke representatives will offer low-and-slow Korean BBQ food, and Mike Anzalone from Singlecut Beersmiths will serve locally brewed suds. Other participants include SnowdoniaManducatis RusticaBareBurgerMamu ThaiUNO PizzeriaOvelia, and Rockaway Brewery. Entertainment will feature local wordsmith Audrey Dimola, who will recite her own prose and host a special presentation of writers and poets. There will also be plenty to look at as the Queens World Film Festival will screen the award-winning short Recursion and Sal Milazzo from The Sparrow Film Project will present one of his own films. 

Details: Queens Council on the Arts Block Party, Kaufman Astoria Studios lot (35th Avenue and 36th Street), Astoria, June 21st, 4 pm to 10 pm, $35 for a ticket, which includes soda or bottled water, signature festival cup, all-day access to artist activities, eateries and breweries, admission to the film screenings, caricatures by art students and raffle prizes.

Bonus detail: The event raises funds for Queens Council’s High School to Art School program, which guides students through the art college application process and helps them with their portfolios.

Photos: Queens Council on the Arts

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Soccer Queens

City Councilman Peter Vallone is vocal again when it comes to the new Major League Soccer team coming to Queens, and this time it’s about making sure the team has “Queens” in the team’s name. He says, “Whatever happens, if we bring a soccer team to Queens, whether it be at Citi Field or a new stadium, that soccer team must be called ‘the Queens’ whatever. Like, there’s the Brooklyn Nets. I want a ‘Queens’ team.” And remember, if Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz would have his way, the team would be in Brooklyn (and would probably have Brooklyn in its name). It will be interesting, and we think it would be cool if the new team was called the “Queens ____”. What do you think would be a good name?

Gianna Cerbone Teoli: Pizzarista

We loved this video of Ginna Cerbone talking about making pizza – she’s been cooking in LIC all her life, currently at Manducatis Rustica. And she’s incredibly frank about being a female pizzarista. More:

She says female pizzaristas are rare for a variety of reasons: crafting pies requires a great deal of upper body strength and focusing on a single task, something she says most women—more inclined to do ten things at once—generally don’t care about. But the real problem, she swears, is having breasts. Because women capture so much heat in that part of their bodies, hours in front of a hot pizza oven just aren’t most ladies’ idea of a pleasant career setting. But Gianna braves the heat, from both the oven and critics, crafting pies that target her few appreciative, discerning customers who know what a simple, hearty Neapolitan pie is all about.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/55293508]

What’s coming to the Rockaways regarding short-term solutions post-Sandy

Tuesday night there was a Community Board 14 meeting at the Knights of Columbus (GMAP) and it was live tweeted by @rockawayhelp (they used the hashtag #cb14). They turned the tweets into a blog post, which is very interesting. Topics discussed were the beach and boardwalk, utilities, and libraries. They do plan to open the beach on Memorial Day, too!

Would you qualify to be a nanny for this couple? 

Gawker enjoyed taking apart a Craigslist posting for a nanny for a Sunnyside couple’s kids, aged 2 and 5. The ad starts out with “Grab your umbrella! You are a magical Mary Poppins, a wizard, or a giant spiky Triceratops. You love to play, pretend, create, teach, and nurture. You are reliable, warm, and fun, but also know how to say ‘no’ when necessary.” Applying for the job also involves taking a 65 question survey. We can’t deny they aren’t being thorough.

New Nepalese and Indian restaurant has opened in Ridgewood

The good folks at Ridgefood reviewed Nepalese Indian Restaurant, which has been open a little over a week. They serve primarily Indian food, but there is a small – and hopefully expanding – Nepalese section of the menu. Of those several Nepalese dishes, fried vegetable momos were tasted and deemed delicious. Other Nepalese dishes include thukpa (a kind of noodle soup), samaya baji (“an amazing-sounding combo-type plate with ingredients such as rice cakes, black soybean, boiled eggs, fruit, lentil patties, fresh ginger, and dried fish” – we’ve tried the version at Woodside Cafe in Woodside and it is excellent), and sel roti (a fried ring/donut made of rice flour seasoned with cardamom and cloves – it is good eaten with tea). On the Indian side of things, they particularly liked the Paneer makhan, made with paneer, creamy cashew sauce, and almonds.