The Rockaway Hotel – Dinner, Drinks, and Sunset 4 October 2020

by Carene Lydia Lopez on October 5, 2020

Yesterday, I met up with peg and rtb for dinner and drinks at The Rockaway Hotel, which is the new hotel that opened last month on Beach 108th Street in Rockaway Beach. It’s expensive (rooms are $300/night), so I don’t know if they’ll be able to survive. They do have a spa and a few restaurants, so that may be enough to keep them in business.

First we had dinner at The Pool which is ground level. All dining there is outdoors and people were using the heated pool despite the temperature outside being in the mid-60s. We chose a table in the sun and it was warm enough to sit in our shirtsleeves.

I started with a Chardonnay since I was planning on having shellfish. Dinner didn’t start until 5pm and since it was only 4pm (there was a reason for the late lunch/early dinner), we had to order from the all-day menu. I started with the pool salad (mixed leaf lettuce and house dressing). They had spread the creamy dressing all over the bottom of the bowl so that it looked like the lettuce was sitting on a green tortilla. It was really good.

Next I ordered a half-dozen of the oysters and a half-dozen Cherry Stone clams. I always order East Coast oysters because they’re brinier than West Coast oysters and have a more appealing texture to me. For whatever reason, the restaurant only had West Coast oysters. Made no sense to me. rtb had the oysters as an appetizer and complained about the creaminess and lack of brininess, so I knew what to expect. I was displeased to say the least. For me, oysters should not taste like cream. The Cherry Stone clams brought the brininess, so I was happy I ordered those. I took the photo after I’d eaten a few of the oysters.

Then I finished off peg’s French fries.

Next stop was drinks up on The Rooftop, where we going to watch the sunset. The Jamaica Bay side gives you a better sunset view but they built the rooftop with few seats on that open side, then the building with some tables and the bar, and then the bigger open side with an Atlantic Ocean view. I would have split the open sides evenly.

You see the few remaining bungalows from up there. That entire area used to be filled with summer bungalows that were wooden shacks with screen doors. As a kid I’d beg my parents to rent one for the summer. Most were torn down for projects, apartment buildings, and two-floor homes. The remaining bungalows were winterized and they have little private sidewalks.

The views of the ocean and the bay are wonderful. For drinks I had a Shark Bite (Ghost Pepper tequila, cucumber, watermelon, lime, Tajin rim) first and then a Surf at Sunrise (Ilegal mezcal, Campari, pineapple, lime, smoked salt rim).

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French Dinner Event at La Boulangerie 13 September 2020

by Carene Lydia Lopez on September 16, 2020

Looking at Instagram and saw that La Boulangerie, a French bakery in Forest Hills, is having a French dinner event Thursday, September 10 through Sunday, September 13 with two seatings each evening. I have had their pastries and lunch but never a full meal. Since the lockdown, I have only eaten out during my short vacation in Rockaway Beach, so I decided it was close enough and I knew the food would be good and I made a reservation for the early seating (4pm) on Sunday.

You had to pay in advance (only $35) and choose your dishes. Since it was still the heat of summer, I chose dishes that would fit that weather. Of course, the day of the dinner, it was almost autumn-like, and some of the heavier dishes would have been a better choice. I wore a tank top and sandals because I was not ready for summer to be over but I did wear jeans. I did not have a sweater and there were a couple of times when a strong breeze came through and I wished I had one but except for those moments I was comfortable.

Since they do not have a liquor license, I could have brought a bottle of wine but I decided to go alcohol free for this meal. 

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Most of the crowd was couples. There was another woman dining alone and one table of five people. 

First out was the bread and their butter. I was disappointed that the bread was cold – this is a bakery so they could have served us bread fresh from the oven. There were several choices and, as always, the bread was very good. 

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Then the gazpacho. It was bright and clean with a few finely chopped vegetables and herbs in the center. Once I mixed them into the soup it added a bit of texture. I am not a fan of tomato soups but I always make an exception for gazpacho.

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The quail au jus was served with mushrooms, mashed potatoes, and sweet carrots. The jus may have deglazed with some wine. Like a cavewoman, I tore the quail apart and ate with my hands. It may not have looked attractive but I wanted to taste every bit of meat and the various herbs and spices. You want the entrée to be a highlight and this definitely was.

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Dessert was an almond-pear tarte. It was perfect. Not sweet except from what came from the pears. If you look carefully you can see three small dots of chocolate around the dish. I scraped the chocolate and ate it along with a piece of the tarte and it added just the right amount of sweetness.

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What wonderful way to end outdoor dining for this summer. 

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Vacationing during a pandemic – Rockaway Beach, NY

August 25, 2020

Many of us living in NY and most parts of the country have been quarantining and working from home since mid-March. We are tired. We are cranky. It is summer. And we want to play. But I did not want to travel by plane or train. I searched for local VRBOs and they were either […]

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All I Can Say: Playing in virtual theaters

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Before the review, I would like to encourage everyone to occasionally rent movies from your local independent theaters instead of just streaming from the big-name platforms. Also, when this crisis is over, the big artists will still tour and have big arenas and stadiums to play. But the smaller artists and the smaller venues are […]

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

July 14, 2020

I watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood either on On Demand or cable or a streaming channel – can’t remember which. I have not seen the Mister Rogers documentary. I was not going out of my way to see this movie either. Mister Rogers was not part of my childhood – he came onto […]

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Cracked Up: The Darrell Hammond Story on Netflix

May 10, 2020

“You’re not this way by accident. It’s not a mental illness – it is a mental injury.” Cracked Up: The Darrell Hammond Story on Netflix. Much of the documentary is taken up with Hammond speaking at different mental health associations, sharing his story. I knew that Hammond had had years of drug and alcohol abuse […]

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Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band / Violet Crown Virtual Cinema

May 5, 2020

I had been looking forward to seeing Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band in the theaters – I had seen The Last Waltz at the Ziegfeld Theater and I wanted the experience to be similar. Especially looking at Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko from 1978. But current circumstances were preventing that from happening. […]

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Frankenstein: National Theatre on YouTube 1 May – 8 May only

May 3, 2020

The National Theatre’s YouTube channel is showing Frankenstein. There are two versions: Benedict Cumberbatch is the monster and Jonny Lee Miller is Frankenstein. In the other version, they switch roles. The two Sherlocks. The play is a steampunk lover’s dream – costumes and set design. Acting is brilliant, of course. It’s a two-hour play and […]

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Performances in the Time of Corona

May 3, 2020

No shows in April, of course. I did watch a lot of StageIt, Instagram, and Facebook live concerts from various favorite musicians. And I will continue to do so as long as we are sheltering in place. Follow your favorite musicians, donate to their Paypals or Venmo’s, buy their music and merchandise through their sites. […]

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Coal Country: Anspacher Theater at The Public Theater 11 March 2020

March 12, 2020

rtb was gifted with a subscription to The Public Theater and she was kind enough to ask me to join her to see Coal Country at the Anspacher Theater since, as she put it, Steve Earle is my bae. Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen wrote this play based on real-life accounts by survivors and family […]

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