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Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide • 2012

QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, December 6, 2012 Page 2

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H oliday Shopping & Dining Guide

Don’t miss holiday events in Queens by Josey Bartlett Editor here are lots of holiday concerts, sales and classes all over the borough. Grace Church in Whitestone will host its annual winter festival filled with choral music, the NYC Puppet Theatre puts on “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in Springf ield Gardens, or if you are looking for some brain expansion during the holiday season check out “The Chanukah Lights Illuminating a Woman’s Perspective,” a lecture at the Rego Park Jewish Center. And these are just a taste of what’s available. The Forest Hills Choir will perform English composer John Rutter’s Magnificat and seasonal pieces by neighborhood composer Bill Ryden on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at 30-14 Crescent St., in Astoria. Suggested donation of $10. Christ the King High School, 6802 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village kicks off the Christmas season with its annual Tree Lighting on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. The Great Neck School of Dance along with PS 67’s parent teacher organization will perform a “Holiday Concert of Music and Dance,” on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 2:30 p.m. at PS 67, 51-60 Marathon Pkwy., Little Neck. There will be a food and clothing drive for Sandy victims. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Call (516) 466-3515. Angelica Harris and The Excalibur Reading Program at 80-17 78 Ave., in Glendale, will be hosting a special Holiday Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 2 to 5 p.m. for children of all ages. Come in your pajamas for a special reading of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” with hot chocolate and a goody bag. There is a $5 donation per child and $5 gifts for children affected by Hurricane Sandy. Call (917) 904-4905. Martin Luther School hosts its annual Christmas Craft and Vendor Fair on Sunday, Dec. 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 60-02 Maspeth Ave. Admission is free. Call (718) 894-4000. Come to the indoor Holiday Flea Market at Mulz Hall, located at Jamaica Avenue and 88 Street in Woodhaven, on Saturday, Dec. 8 and Sunday, Dec. 9 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (718) 847-1353. Visit the LIC Holiday Pop Up with local glass artist Cindy Avroch on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 12 to 5 p.m. at 46-36 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City. The second annual St. Cecilia Winter Festival to benefit of the Kathy Boller Music Fund will be


held at Grace Church, 14-15 Clintonville St., Whitestone, on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. The cost is $15, $10 for children under 16 and children under 3 are free. On Sunday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. the Sacred Music Chorale of Richmond Hill presents its Winter Concert at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 86-20 114 St. Admission is $15, seniors and students and advance are $12, children free. Visit richmondhill The Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District is sponsoring Pictures with Santa at Venditti Square at Myrtle and St. Nicholas avenues, on Sunday, Dec. 9 from noon to 2 p.m. in Ridgewood. Bring your own camera. Call (718) 366-3806. St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish will hold an Indoor Flea Market on Sundays, Dec. 9 and 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 150-75 Goethels Ave., Jamaica. Free admission and parking. Breakfast and lunch are available. For more information call (718) 591-1815. Come to the 25th anniversary of the Flushing Historic Holiday House tour on Sunday, Dec. 9 from 1 to 5 p.m. Visit the Kingsland Homestead, 143-35 37 Ave.; Voelker Orth Museum, 149-19 38 Ave.; Lewis H. Latimer House, 34-41 137 St.; Friends Meeting House, 137-16 Northern Blvd.; Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd.; and Bowne House, 37-01 Bowne St. Tickets are $10 per person in advance, $12 at the door and children under 12 are free. Tickets can be ordered online at On Sunday, Dec. 9 the Rosary of St. Anthony Holy Name Society will be holding a Holiday Breakfast at the Four Points Hotel, by Sheraton, 27-05 39th Ave., Long Island City. $28 per person. Contact Janet Adler at (718) 361-0698 for tickets. The Bayside Hills Civic Association will hold its Holiday Festival on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 5 p.m. at Bell Boulevard and 53rd Avenue. There will be a Christmas tree and Menorah lighting, Santa Claus, refreshments and entertainment. The Sacred Music Society of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs at 11006 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills, presents its annual Christmas Concert at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9. Tickets cost $25. Children under 12 are free. Call (718) 268-6251. There will be a free Chanukah Party sponsored by the Ben Kuyler Outreach Group on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism, 167-11 73 Ave.,

Hear the Oratorio Society of Queens as it presents its Annual Holiday Concert featuring excerpts from Handel’s “Messiah” on FACEBOOK PHOTO Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. at Queensborough Performing Arts Center. Flushing. Call Polly Kuyler at (718) 454-4818 or Paul Engel at (516) 547-4318. The Maspeth Republican Club will be having its annual Christmas Party on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 7:45 p.m. at the Kowalinski Post, 61-57 Maspeth Ave. There will be a raffle and food. The charge is $35 per person. Call (718) 894-0335 by Dec. 10. Holiday Pop: Artisan Market in Long Island City will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 12 from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 15 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 43-01 21 St., Suite 306B (3rd floor). Dutch Kills Civic Association will hold its annual Christmas Party on Thursday, Dec. 13 at the Growing Up Green School, 39-37 28 St., at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, but a small donation would be appreciated. Come to the Holiday Luncheon on Friday, Dec. 14 at CCNS Bayside Senior Center, 221-15 Horace Harding Expwy. Lunch served at 11:30 a.m. There will be ice cream, raffles and music for dancing. Reserve now. Donation is $4. Call (718) 225-1144. Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery host Carols ‘n’ Cookies ‘n’ Cocoa ‘n’ Cheer, a holiday community gathering with music and treats, on Friday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Center at Maple Grove, 12715 Kew Gardens Road. Admission and parking is free. NYC Puppet Theatre presents a holiday musical, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” on Friday, Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. at Springfield Gardens High School Auditorium, 143-10 Springfield Blvd., featuring holiday

puppets and holiday themes for youngsters. Cost is $8 per person. The Community Singers of Queens will hold a Winter Concert at Church on the Hill, 167-07 35 Ave., Bayside, on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6. For more information email The Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39 St., will host a Holiday Bake Sale to benefit its afterschool program on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. Tasters tickets are $20 for adults and free for children under 13. There will be an iPad raffle and silent auction. Email Decorate the Manor on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 12 noon to 3 p.m. at King Manor Museum, 150-03 Jamaica Ave. Call (718) 206-0545. Visit the Bohemian Hall Christmas Market, 29-19 24 Ave. in Astoria, on Saturday, Dec. 15 and Sunday, Dec. 16 from 12 to 6 p.m. Email There will be a Children’s Christmas Party on Saturday, Dec. 15 at All Saints Episcopal Church, 43-12 46 St. in Sunnyside, for children ages 3-9. Two sessions — 23:30 p.m. and 4-5:30 p.m. Space is limited. No charge and free refreshments. Call (718) 784-8031. The B-Sharp LI Branch of the National Association of Neg ro Musicians invites everyone to the Messiah Sing-In on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. at Amity Baptist Church, 164-12 108 Ave. in Jamaica. Admission is $10. The Oratorio Society of Queens will sing excerpts from Handel’s “Messiah” and other Christmas and Chanukah favorites at a holiday

concert celebrating the group’s 85th anniversary on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center, 222-05 56 Ave., Bayside. Tickets are $30, $25 for seniors, $10 for children under 12. Call (718) 279-3006, or visit Facebook. On Sunday, Dec. 16 at 12:30 p.m. at the Rego Park Jewish Center, 9730 Queens Blvd., Cynthia Zaliksy, executive director of the Queens Jewish Community Council, will speak about “The Chanukah Lights Illuminating a Woman’s Perspective,” chaired by Noreen Daniel. A deli luncheon and dessert will be served. The cost is $10 per person. Must reserve in advance. Call (718) 459-1000. On Sunday, Dec. 16 visitors to the Queens Botanical garden, 43-50 Main St., Flushing, are invited to enjoy a Winter Solstice Celebration. Admission is Free. The Center for Culture the Afrikan Poetry Theatre in Conjunction with National Council of Negro Women Queens County Section presents its annual gala Kwanzaa Celebration Ujamaa on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 1 to 8 p.m. at Springfield Gardens High School, 143-10 Springf ield Blvd. Free admission. For more information call (718) 523-3312. Join Santa for Breakfast at the Riverview Restaurant, 2-01 50 Ave. in Long Island City, sponsored by the Hunters Point Community Development Corp. Call (718) 392-5000. St. Thomas the Apostle Holiday Flea Market will be open this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 88-08 Jamaica Ave., Woodside. i

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Page 3 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, December 6, 2012

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Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide • 2012


QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, December 6, 2012 Page 4

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H oliday Shopping & Dining Guide

Gift ideas aplenty on Jamaica Avenue by Domenick Rafter Associate Editor

amaica Avenue prides itself on being Woodhaven’s own commercial shopping strip. When the holidays come around, the mile-long stretch of road colloquially known as “the avenue” that cuts through the heart of the community, does not shy away from the holiday spirit. Hanging from the freshly painted subway trestle are the city’s trademark street decorations, featuring garland, lighted bells and a Christmas design — Christmas trees, snowflakes, bows, etc. But the decorations are not where it ends. Blaring from bullhorns hanging from the tracks are tunes from the Christmas canon: “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Silent Night” and “Let It Snow.” “Oh, there’s music too,” said one shopper as she stepped off the subway at Woodhaven Boulevard. Alison Ruiz hopped the J train from her home in Brooklyn to do some shopping on Jamaica Avenue. “I typically come here for one or two things, but end up getting almost everything,” she said. Ruiz stepped off the train at 102nd Street in Richmond Hill and said she plans to walk to Eldert’s Lane on the Brooklyn borough line. “I’ll probably pop into a dozen or so stores at least,” she said. Among the items in her bag: • A tie for her brother from Karako. • A Brooklyn Nets shirt for her nephew from Sportslane.


Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven had its halls decked for the holidays even before Thanksgiving. PHOTO BY DOMENICK RAFTER

• Christmas decorations from a 99-cent store. “Maybe I’ll stop for a bite to eat too,” she concluded. Woodhaven Business Improvement District Executive Director Maria Thomson calls Jamaica Avenue “The everything avenue.” “We have everything here,” she said. “We have dining, clothing, electronics, you name it.”

Thomson said the reason to spend your money on “the avenue” is that it helps the community directly. “You should shop Jamaica Avenue because it’s local,” she said. “Our stores and businesses are the supporters of the community. They contribute toward cleaning our streets, removing graffiti and vandalism, as well as promotional activities during the year.”

Woodhaven’s Jamaica Avenue is a hotbed of mom-and-pop stores, even while the big names like Rainbow, Duane Reade and Payless Shoe Source do business on this busy strip. Favorites like Jason’s Toy Store and Lewis’ of Woodhaven are long gone, but old timers like Sportslane sporting goods store, Scatturo’s supermarket and Schmidt’s Candy are still around. Schmidt’s Candy, located at 94-15 Jamaica Ave., is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., but accepts orders at or by phone at (718) 846-9326. However, a walk through its wide candy selection i s wo r t h t h e a f t e r n o o n t r i p t o “ t h e avenue.” Thomson noted that small businesses owners often know their customers and shopping at these stores provides a personal touch. “Nowhere can you get personalized attention than at your local business strips,” she said. Only short walks from Jamaica Avenue are other shopping meccas along Atlantic Avenue on the southern end of the neighborhood of Woodhaven. For the past decade or so, one store, House of Holidays, has become a regional destination for those looking for holiday decorations. Located in the former Lalance Grosjean factory building in what is technically Ozone Park, the store boasts two floors of holiday items ranging from porcelain dolls to village scenes to light-up Santa Claus heads. i

Forest Hills, Rego retail just getting started by Michael Gannon

Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide • 2012


Sunday was ladies’ day out on the Austin Street corridor for a group of friends from Forest Hills. It was neither fully shopping nor completely a social gathering. “A little of both,” said Lucy, a woman in the group.

Lucy’s friends said she had been to Banana Republic, and long ago broke her amateur status in the Ann Taylor store. But full-contact Christmas shopping, consisting of die-hard customers, was not yet apparent in massive numbers over the weekend.

Traffic at Rego Center was steady this week, but shoppers said the crowds inside were manageable on Tuesday.

Leslie Brown of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce said the group’s big push last weekend was Small Business Saturday, a national promotion with American Express to encourage shopping at local “Main Street” merchants. “Which I understand was very busy on Friday,” Brown said in an email to the Queens Chronicle. But several shoppers and strollers this week said they had not yet begun their holiday shopping in earnest. At Rego Center on Junction Boulevard, Jill Fairbanks and Robert Williams of Kew Gardens said they are regular customers. But they also said they were just starting their December push. “And we’ll be going right up to the end,” Fairbanks said. Williams said the crowds inside the mall were “OK” but not enough to keep them from finding any items they wanted in stock at

Shoppers on Austin Street say they have begun hitting stores large and small for their holiday gift-giving needs. But the push and the bustle of the big crowds had not yet materialized in the first few days of December. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL GANNON

all their destinations, nor enough to cause even the minor inconveniences that come with the volume retailers historically hope for

in what is traditionally their most profitable time of the year. “We didn’t have to wait in long lines,” he said. i

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Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide • 2012


QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, December 6, 2012 Page 6

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H oliday Shopping & Dining Guide

Myrtle Ave. hopes for big holiday finish by Michael Gannon Editor

People shopping along Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood this week had shopping bags full of groceries, school and office supplies, and in one case a pair of pajamas for an ill spouse who doesn’t like hospital gowns.

It’s not too late to impress her, guys. Jordan Eddi of AJ’s Jewelry said his sales tend to pick up close to the end of the holidays.

Small stores battle the malls None on Tuesday said they were Christmas shopping, at least not yet. “This is the worst I’ve seen it in years,” said one clothing store manager who declined to be named. Others also said things are slow, but are holding out hope for their smaller downtown stores in the ongoing competition with malls. Jordan Eddi, who has run AJ’s Jewelry since 1988, said his fellow merchants all talk about feeling the pinch. “It’s been tough since 2007,” he said. Thomas Deja, a salesman at Myrtle Sporting Goods, said early holiday business has been uneven. “It comes in dribs and drabs,” he said. “Some years it’s good, some years it’s tough.” The store sells baseball-style hats, jerseys and other pro team merchandise, as well as athletic footware. He said one thing that has not been uneven at all has been sales of apparel for the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA franchise

that relocated to the Barclays Center this season after 35 years in New Jersey. “We were getting calls about Brooklyn Nets stuff before they even had a logo,” he said. They and Eddi hope there will be some uptick at the holidays get closer. “Jewelry used to be an impulse item,” Eddi said. “The business has changed. Now we’re a destination place. People shop around, do their research on the Internet.” One thing that has not changed is the men who come in over the last few days before the holidays to pick up something nice for those special ladies in their lives. “A lot of guys will buy things like earrings,” he said. And while the National Hockey League’s semi-regular player lockout has once again threatened to cancel an entire season, it has not had that much of an impact on Myrtle Sporting Goods. “We don’t usually sell a lot of

Owner Moon Kim and salesman Thomas Deja of Myrtle Sporting Goods sport Brooklyn Nets hats, which have been flying off the shelves with other Nets merchandise in an otherwise uneven holiday shopping season. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL GANNON

hockey merchandise,” Deja said. “But when the Islanders move to the Barclays Center [in 2015], if they change their name to Brooklyn, we’re right on the bor-

der. People who live there have a lot of pride in Brooklyn. If the Islanders change their name to Brooklyn, we’ll sell a lot of their stuff.” i

Skillman Ave. has lots of gift ideas by Josey Bartlett Editor

Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide • 2012

This holiday season instead of going to large corporations consider the smaller spots owned by your neighbors who could use the business. “Business is extra slow right now,” said shop owner Victor Alvarez of Belle D’ Epoque Inc. at 48-06 Skillman Ave. The shop sells everything from vintage posters to lavender lotions, which will be 25 to 50 percent off throughout December.

Sunnyside resident Shirley Bomzer sells personalized drawings with a newborn’s name, weight and birthday at Tiny You children’s boutique and on etsy at shirleycreations.

Joining Alvarez on Skillman Avenue’s shopping corridor in Sunnyside are many bars, restaurants, a children’s boutique, pet shops and vintage stores — many of which make up a group of business owners called the Skillman Project, which has put on several pub crawls and helped out with the holiday lighting of the avenue on Nov. 29. “We’re always helping each other out,” Skillman Pets owner Abdel Rios said. For the food lovers on a holiday list the Aubergine Cafe at 49-22 Skillman Ave. will have a selection of gift baskets — available in a couple weeks, owner Gary O’Neil said. Then down the avenue between 48th and 49th streets sits Stray Vintage with its big bay window filled with one-of-a-kind pieces and a miniature Mary Poppins play set, created by Sunnyside resident and stop-motion animation producer Brian Haimes. For Halloween Haimes set up a creepy lagoon in the display window — adding a little artistic flair to the shop, owner Dan Glasser said. For these upcoming holidays Glasser has filled the quaint store with holiday goodies he collected throughout the year such as vintage glass-and-paper ornaments and lots of Christmas records. The shop is a hot spot for record collectors. Once a year Stray hosts a record fair with a few neighborhood collectors selling and showing off their rare finds.

“There’s something about listening to holiday classics on a scratchy record,” Glasser said. There are also antique jewelry boxes, furniture and artworks by Sunnyside and Woodside artists including newspaperand-paint collages by Amelia Andrezejwska, which are truly awesome. Tiny You Children’s Boutique at 46-21 Skillman Ave. also supports neighborhood artists. Artist Shirley Bomzer creates customized drawings filled with her imaginary cute characters incorporating the name, birth date and birth weight of a new edition to any family. Her drawings can also be found on etsy, the online handmade mecca, by searching shirleycreations. Tiny You also sells handmade headbands, jewelry and aprons. “A local artist made chalkboard placemats so kids can play while they are eating,” owner Jill Callan said. “There are also heart necklaces — puffy for the littler kids.They are really cute. And the handmade aprons come with a little cookie cutter and recipe. Another designer from New Jersey makes more vintage looking ones.” In addition to handmade works Tiny You sells lots of bright red rompers, Santa slippers and cuddly toys — anything to cute-ify a little one for the holiday with prices starting at $5. All these gifts will also be wrapped at the store for free. i

Dan Glasser of Stray Vintage puts on one of the many holiday records he has for sale in his shop. PHOTOS BY JOSEY BARTLETT

Shoppers will find lots of cute baby wares, including these holiday slippers, at Tiny You.

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Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide • 2012

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Holiday recipes bring glad tidings

Chris Lee

QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, December 6, 2012 Page 8

Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide

Shrimp, ’shrooms, stuffing balls and cookies

Stuffed mushrooms are a great holiday appetizer. PHOTOS COURTESY TASTE OF HOME

Weill Music Institute

by Liz Rhoades Managing Editor

Free Neighborhood Concert Friday, December 7 at 7 PM

Sponsored by

Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela

With the holidays fast approaching, what to buy the kids isn’t the only problem. Almost as important is what to serve at that special dinner. The main course probably isn’t the issue — there’s always turkey, ham, a crown roast or standing rib roast. It’s those side dishes, appetizers and holiday desserts that can be hard to choose. Below are a few suggestions, one from celebrity chef Ina Garten and the rest from various other culinary sources.

ROASTED SHRIMP from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa

Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide • 2012

This energetic group of young Venezuelans was a hit when it made its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall in 2007. Experience the electric verve as members of this amazing orchestra perform as a chamber ensemble on Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concert Series.

• 2 pounds (12 to 15-count) raw shrimp • 1 tablespoon good olive oil • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper For the sauce:

Flushing Town Hall 137-35 Northern Boulevard (at Linden Place) | Queens 718-463-7700, ext. 222

• 1/2 cup chili sauce (recommended: Heinz) • 1/2 cup ketchup • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)


Bus: Q34, Q25, Q50 Thanks to New York City Council Member Leroy Comrie for making this concert possible.

Part of the Voices from Latin America festival. Lead funding for Voices from Latin America is provided by grants from the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Sponsored, in part, by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mercantil Servicios Financieros. Public support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Consulate General of Brazil in New York. Bank of America is the Proud Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall. Breguet is the Official Timepiece of Carnegie Hall. United is the Official Airline of Carnegie Hall. CARH-059816

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in 1 layer. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool. For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Serve as a dip with the shrimp. Serves six.

For those who aren’t big on the ’shrooms, corn stuffing balls are another oh-so-filling choice.

STUFFED MUSHROOMS • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened • 1/4 cup mayonnaise • 1 jar (6-1/2 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion • 20 to 25 large fresh mushrooms, stems removed • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs • 2 teaspoons olive oil In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Beat in the artichokes, Parmesan cheese and onion. Lightly spray tops of mushrooms with cooking spray. Spoon cheese mixture into mushroom caps. Combine bread crumbs and oil; sprinkle over mushrooms. Broil over indirect medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Yield: about 2 dozen.

CORN STUFFING BALLS • 1/2 cup chopped onion • 1/2 cup chopped celery • 1/4 cup butter • 1 12-ounce can cream-style corn • 1 cup water • 1 teaspoon salt • 1/4 teaspoon pepper • 1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning • pinch of ground thyme • 1 8-ounce package prepared bread stuffing • 3 egg yolks • 1/2 cup melted butter Cook onion and celery in butter. Add corn, continued on page 14

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H oliday Shopping & Dining Guide

Happy Holidays from

Hot holiday gifts and stocking stuffers


Unique items to make the season bright by AnnMarie Costella Assistant Editor

It has often been said that it is better to give than to receive, but what if deciding on the perfect gift isn’t an easy task? Fear not, the Chronicle has taken some of the guesswork out of the shopping experience by highlighting some of the cool or even unique holiday items making the rounds this season. Children can have tons of fun with the Disney 250 Feet of Activities set. It comes in several varieties including a princess version and “Cars,” the movie version. It’s more than a coloring book. There are stickers and banners to help complete each scene as well as a set of markers and safety scissors. It is for ages 3 and up and retails for between $15 and $20. The winter has been relatively mild so far, but that cold air is right around the corner, so be prepared with Duane Reade-brand socks, tights, sheer hosiery, toe covers, foot covers, knee highs and leggings, which come in a variety of styles and colors. They retail for $3.99 to $14.99. An activity set that’s 250 feet of fun. They may not be unique, but their promotion is. If you really like the way your legs look in syringe, stethoscope, medical chart and comes the product, you may want to enter Duane packaged in a portable kennel and is recommended for ages three and up. Each set Reade’s “Show Us Some Leg” contest. It retails for about $16.99. calls for contestants to upload original When playtime’s over the Twilight photos of themselves wearing Duane Ladybug Nightlight from RedEnveReade hosiery via the company’s lope is a cute and cuddly way to Facebook page. The gams contest get a little one to sleep. The runs through Jan. 7. There are a friendly bedtime companion also whole host of prizes. projects constellations on the What holiday would be comceiling and walls, transforming a plete without something sweet to child’s bedroom into a planetarieat? Enjoy the soft delectable um. It retails for $29.95 and is goodness of homemade doughalso available in a turtle version. nuts with the Sunbeam Donut The light can be switched Maker. It retails for about $40. between amber, green and blue, Just turn it on, wait for it to warm up, fill the molds with bat- Find out your pooch’s and to prolong battery life, it ter, close the lid and wait until family histor y with a automatically shuts off after 45 doggie DNA kit. minutes. The item includes an cooking is completed. illustrated star guide, measures After they have cooled, you can have fun dressing your creations with frosting, 12” x 7 1/4” x 3 1/2” and requires three AAA powdered sugar, sprinkles or chocolate drizzles batteries, which are even included. People love their pets, but how many know — the possibilities are endless. If your child is an animal lover, perhaps she their pooch’s family tree? Now they can learn it would enjoy the Let’s Play Pet Care Center, with the Wisdom Panel Mixed Breed DNA Test which comes in two varieties, either with a Kit, priced at around $58. Testing is an easy stuffed puppy or a kitten. The set includes a toy continued on page 14

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Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide • 2012

QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, December 6, 2012 Page 10

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H oliday Shopping & Dining Guide

Not a customer was stirring ... Facing tough economy, big rivals, merchants hope ‘shop local’ sticks by Joseph Orovic Assistant Managing Editor

ob Coccia sat at his in-store desk, past aisles made of stoves and ranges, with flat-panel televisions showing an army of Fox News’ Shepard Smith talking in unison. The phone was busy but the shop floor was empty. His eponymously named Appliance Center, at 215-03 Horace Harding Expressway, was devoid of customers. Usually is, Coccia said. “It’s been a tough run,” he said. “I’m just trying to survive the times.” The plight of Coccia, if it may be called that, is common among North Queens’ momand-pop merchants this holiday season. For all the bluster and emphasis on shopping local, entrepreneurs of all stripes from Flushing to Bayside are having trouble moving inventory and keeping their heads above water. Operations like Coccia’s have been acutely hit by the economic crunch and competition from online and big-box retailers. Why seek out a small shop with limited wares when a Best Buy or Target can cover most of your holiday gifts in one trip? It’s been bad before, but not this bad. “In the 1980s, the late ’80s, it was tough,” Coccia said. “I don’t think it was as bad as this though.” The mechanisms in place to push small businesses in the area have cranked up into gear and thrown a substantial amount of pageantry behind the concept of shopping locally. The Flushing Business Improvement District held its annual holiday lighting ceremony on Nov. 19, as elected leaders gathered in front of Macy’s on Roosevelt Avenue. A gaggle of elected officials, local merchants, and even a day care center chorus attended. “We’re trying to tell shoppers to stay local, support our local businesses,” said executive director of the BID Dian Yu. Shortly after kicking off the ceremony, Santa and Mr. Met made surprise appearances, giving a thumbs up throughout the proceedings.


Flushing’s Business Improvement District held its holiday lighting on Nov. 19, part of an effort to PHOTO BY JOSEPH OROVIC boost shopping at local small businesses in the neigborhood.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), Assemblywoman and Congresswoman-elect Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) were all on hand to urge consumers to stay within the confines of their local ZIP code. “What are we going to tell our parents?” Koo asked the line of children assembled before him. “To shop local!” Bayside’s equivalent Business Improvement District has a whole host of events and specials it holds annually, with the similar goal of propping up its members and promoting commerce in the area. This Saturday, Dec. 8, it will hold its final Sidewalk Sale of 2012, with merchants putting their wares out for holiday shoppers. That same evening, the BID will host a holiday ceremony on Bell Boulevard, with a Christmas tree and menorah lighting. Elected officials will also be on hand, touting the same message to shop locally and support small businesses. While the rhetoric and strong presence cannot hurt, many along North Queens’ shopping strips are in need of something closer to a Christmas miracle, and not a lump of holiday coal. Raj Sawlani, owner of the Bayside Smoke Shop at 41-05 Bell Blvd., has found while the festive lights continue to burn, fewer customers are lighting up, especially since the economy went bust in 2008. “It’s a big impact, last two years, business has been down,” he said. Breakdown Records has been in existence for 25 years, experiencing Sawlani’s business has both ups and downs. But now the store has largely become a storage been open for 30 years, COURTESY PHOTO 26 of which were run space for an inventory that has gone online.

with vinyl discs that are now retro-chic to a young hipster crowd in burgeoning parts of Western Queens, like Astoria and Sunnyside. Cascella’s shop? It’s at 48-09 Bell Blvd., which requires at least one free MetroCard transfer to get to, unless you live close enough to walk anyway. It’s been there for 25 years. Breakdown Records has had to survive by modernizing its storefront, essentially taking it online. An eBay store and several other electronic retail outlets act as a conduit for collectors and audiophiles looking for that Led Zeppelin record to complete their collection. Breakdown has to enter that milieu and try to stand out. The online customers pay about $10 on average for Breakdown’s records. Making the trek to Bayside may be worth the trip, since you can get six records for the same price if you buy them in-store. But few do anymore. It’s not like it was years ago, before iPhones and online downloads killed the need to deploy physical energy to buy music. “Christmastime there used to be a line around the corner,” Cascella said, pointing to a barren streetscape with minimal passersby. Part of the problem is his ZIP code. “A place like this would thrive in Astoria,” he said. But few are contemplating moving. Too costly, not worth the hassle, why bother. The cigar boxes, online sales and circulars are helpful. And for Coccia’s appliance store, a largely unwelcome boost came in the shape of Hurricane Sandy, which flooded southern Queens. Used to be Coccia mostly sold ranges and big screen TVs. Now he’s seeing an uptick in demand for laundry machines, kitchen ranges and refrigerators. “I hate to be a vulture,” he said, admitting some guilt at potentially profiting from the storm. He keeps his prices as low as he can for those affected by the hurricane. “I work with the customers, always, to try to help them out.” Coccia admitted slow business is a constant complaint, and one he’s been trying to avoid. “You get into the habit of saying ‘Things are bad’ all the time, then one day you look and realize you’ve been saying that for years,” he said. “It’s gonna be just a matter of time and things will turn around.” i

under the auspices of his father. The 26-yearold inherited a wealth of knowledge about shopping habits and how to best meet customers halfway. Some come in already knowing their friend’s or family member’s favorite cigar, plop down the cash and leave, Sawlani said. The non-cognoscenti sheepishly enter asking what’s a good brand to buy, seeking recommendations. For them, gift boxes with assorted cigars, cutters, lighters and other works are available. But none of the sales offerings negate prices inflated by state taxes, to the tune of 75 percent on the wholesale price of cigars. “Taxes are what’s killing everything,” Sawlani said. “We’re still doing business, but it’s not like it used to be.” For Sawlani’s cigar shop and other businesses that have seen a few decades stretch by, there’s a tendency to reminisce about the good old days. Times when lines would stretch to the door, and shelves were hard to keep stocked. They’ll tell you they’re surviving now. Through resourcefulness, belt tightening and rock-bottom pricing, they’re surviving. But the shopping bags touted along Main Street in Flushing and around Bay Terrace include names like Target, Best Buy, The Gap and Express. Ask shoppers passing by where they’ll be doing their holiday shopping this year, and they’ll likely name a publicly traded company. It’s enough to make Anthony Cascella’s days even more hectic. He owns a record shop, Breakdown Records, a living relic to a bygone era when music was ungainly, time-consuming and far from A common sight: the aisles of Bob Coccia’s Appliance Store are PHOTO BY JOSEPH OROVIC portable. Shelves are stocked full of wares, awaiting customers.

C M HOL SEC page 11 Y K Page 11 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, December 6, 2012

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H oliday Shopping & Dining Guide

Shopping sparkles in Laurelton, Jamaica Clothes, music, pets, tools and more by AnnMarie Costella Assistant Editor

he holidays are almost here and that means shoppers are hitting the stores looking for that perfect gift. But you don’t have to go far to find something special or unique. Stores in Laurelton and Jamaica are offering some great buys that are worth checking out. A good place to start is the Pathmark shopping center at Springfield and Merrick boulevards in Laurelton. At Petland Discounts, one cannot help but be drawn to the GloFish display that is near the front door. As their name indicates, GloFish are neon-colored swimmers whose genetically altered pigment is made brighter with the assistance of fluorescent lights. They are available in a variety of colors — electric green, sunfire red, sunburst orange, cosmic blue and galactic purple. Petland has several aquariums specially equipped for GloFish to highlight their colors, ranging in price from $39.99 for a 3-gallon tank to $59.99 for a 5-gallon one. It also offers a 5-pound bag of rainbow mixed gravel for $5.99 and neon decorative plants from $1.79 to $2.99 to complete a colorful underwater environment. “That would be a great gift and I think it will sell pretty decent,” said Petland employee Nixon Beatrice. “GloFish are very vibrant and they move a lot, so they are fun to watch. And they are a very hardy fish. Most of the aquatic fish require a water heater, but they are fine without it.” The economy may still be struggling, but when it comes to the


A sparkly silver sequined dress at Rainbow is a holiday dazzler and perfect party attire. holidays, people are still willing to spoil their pets, according to Beatrice. Popular items include dog clothing and Christmas stockings filled with treats and toys for the fourlegged family member. “Sales have been great,” Beatrice said. “I don’t know if it’s because of the whole Sandy thing and us being the only pet store that’s really open in the area.” Those looking for Christmas trees and ornaments at a discount can find them at Dollar.Up. There is a whole wall filled with tree trimming items in every possible variety and color from glittery reindeer and butterfly ornaments to the traditional ball kind,

Dollar.Up manager Jason Gonzales says discounted Christmas ornaments are good sellers.

and rows upon rows of garland. Each item is priced at $1. Store manager Jason Gonzales said the holiday decorations sell so well that the store typically gets three shipments of stock for the season with 15,000 items in each load. Early Monday afternoon, Gonzales received a new supply of Christmas trees, which range in price from $10 and $35 depending on their height. “Business has been good this year,” Gonzales said. “It’s about the same as last year.” What holiday would be complete without something fabulous to wear? At Payless shoe store, there is plenty of silver and gold glitter footwear — in both flats and pumps — as well as red-bowed heels. Although boots are typically what sells during the winter season, according to one store employee, women are looking to dazzle at parties as well. In order to satisfy those fashion needs, the store offers a variety of handbags and jewelry to match the party shoes. The sparkle continues at Rainbow, a women’s clothing store, where an eye-catching silver sequined dress sells for only $12.99. Other popular items, according to manager Tanisha Mitchell, include velour track suits — with pants and top priced at $12.99 a piece — and winter coats and blazers.

Red and gold shoes at Payless would be show stoppers on the dance floor.

Petland Discount employee Nixon Beatrice shows off one of the colorful PHOTOS BY ANNMARIE COSTELLA GloFish aquariums that are for sale at the store. “We have a lot of nice, fashionable singer Beres Hammond entitled outf its that aren’t expensive,” “One Love, One Life,” priced at Mitchell said. “If you are on a bud- $18.99. The artist will be making a get, you come here and get a nice lit- special appearance at the store on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 2 to 6 p.m. tle outfit.” Of course, the holidays aren’t just and will be signing copies of the for the ladies, and to that end, Auto- album. VP Records is located at Zone has some great deals, especially 170-21 Jamaica Ave. Across the street there is Universal on stocking stuffers. There are Titan brand items for $4.99 such as a four- Electronics and Computers, where piece pick and hook set, a collapsible manager Manny Santos is offering a magnetic parts tray, a three-piece 32-inch Visio-brand flatscreen televisocket adapter set and finger grip dri- sion for $179 and a 19-inch Sansui vers. For a little extra, one can pur- one for $99. But despite the dischase a Titan quick read tape mea- counts, Santos says he is losing a lot sure or fits-all-Phillips screwdriver, of business to big box retailers. “The big stores take away most of each priced at $7.99. AutoZone district manager Risa the share from small business,” SanBalkaran said other popular items tos said. “Walmart and BJs — those include gift cards, tool sets and seat are the ones that make the money. It’s covers. “For guys who like tools, very hard for us.” i women come in and buy the tools for them,” she said. “Guys also buy stuff for other guys.” Just a few miles away from Laurelton, on Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica, one can purchase some great music at VP Records. The two most popular items, according to employee George Carr, are the Golden Jubilee 50th Anniversary Origins of Jamaican Music 4-CD Boxset, which is priced at $55.99, and George Carr shows some of the popular CDs for sale the latest release from at VP Records on Jamaica Avenue.

C M HOL SEC page 13 Y K

The gifts are great, but so is the need Help the underprivileged enjoy the holidays by Peter C. Mastrosimone Editor-in-Chief

This year’s Queens Chronicle Toy Drive, our 18th annual, has certainly been a success so far, and if you happened to come by our office just after a contributor dropped off gifts, you might think it’s been a resounding success. But the fact is donations are down this year, even though the need is as great as ever, maybe more so. The decline is more than understandable, given the circumstances. Five years of a weak economy. Borough unemployment hovering around 8 percent. Hurricane Sandy. These aren’t, however, factors the children at the Dove House domestic violence shelter in eastern Queens necessarily understand. Certainly not the many infants whose mothers fled there with them. Or the homeless kids at the Metro Family Residence in Elmhurst. Or the storm victims in South Queens and the Rockaways who were living middle-class lives one day and lost everything they owned the next. These are the children you’ll be assisting by contributing to our toy and gift drive. “I just feel that we should be helping our neighbors, whether they’re right next door to us or farther away, and there’s a great need to reach out to the victims of Hurricane Sandy,” said Marcie Galatioto of the Glendale-Maspeth United Methodist Church, which, along with the Glendale Volunteer Ambulance Corps, will help us distribute those gifts bound for storm-struck families. “The children shouldn’t be deprived, and particularly because they lost so much, we should try to make

sure that they have a nice Christmas.” Galatioto — a retiree from the City Department of Homeless Services who knows need when she sees it — added, “Their parents can’t deal with everything right now, and I’m sure they appreciate some help with getting things to the children.” Many of our readers are giving that help. This week we recognize donors Pat Lynch of Kew Gardens, Robert and Kathleen Giglio of Elmhurst, Vincent Ciccia of Flushing, Kathy Chevannes of Rego Park, Michael Schreiber of Little Neck, Arlene Walsh and John Morstadt of Bayside, Dorothy Adams of Rego Park, Lucille E. of Jackson Heights, Mr. and Mrs. Dom Marino of Woodhaven and Peter and Lillian of Brooklyn. Next week we hope to put your name on the list. Together we’ll be helping hundreds of children this year, as always. Many of them are asking for educational games like LeapFrog. There are babies whose mothers need disposable diapers. There are teenagers hoping for video games they can play on the Sony PSP or Microsoft X-Box systems. And so many others who’d be happy with a doll, a coloring book, a model car. In their letters to Santa, they all say they’ve been good this year! Let’s be good to them. Your gifts — always new and unwrapped, please, so they can go to the right recipients — may be brought to our office from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. We’re at 62-33 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park, about a quarter mile south of Long Island Expressway Exit 19, on the east side of the street, one door away from the corner of 62nd Road.


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Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide • 2012

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After hours, presents may be dropped off next door at Barosa restaurant, at 62-29 Woodhaven Blvd., or Barosa Brick Oven Pizza, at 62-37. Please leave your name and the name of your community with any gifts brought after hours so we may thank you along with the donors who come to our office directly. We’re taking gifts until Dec. 20 so they can go to the children by Christmas. Please bring the holiday spirit to life, and call us with any questions at (718) 205-8000. i


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Chronicle intern Trevina Nicholson shows off just a few of the gifts PHOTO BY PETER C. MASTROSIMONE our readers have brought in so far.




Page 13 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, December 6, 2012

H oliday Shopping & Dining Guide

QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, December 6, 2012 Page 14

C M HOL SEC page 14 Y K

Appetizers and desserts

Holiday gifts

continued from page 8 water, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Pour over bread stuffing and mix lightly. Add egg yolks and shape into 12 balls. Spread in shallow baking pan and pour melted butter over all. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.

continued from page 9 three-step process — collect a sample from the inside the dog’s cheek with the included swabs, mail it back to the manufacturer’s laboratory in the postage-paid envelope and within three weeks you will receive an emailed ancestry report with the results. Looking for a cute stocking stuffer? Try Mini Crime Scene Tape by Accoutrements. It can seal tears or mark off the scenes of tiny crimes, like if someone steals your stapler off your desk or eats the sandwich you brought for lunch. Each plastic dispenser comes with 100 feet of 3/4” wide tape. It retails for about $7. i

GINGER CREAM COOKIES • 1/2 cup sugar • 1/2 cup hot water • 1/2 cup molasses • 1/4 cup butter • 1 egg • 2 cups all-purpose flour • 1 teaspoon baking soda • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon ginger • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg • 1/2 teaspoon cloves

This adorable ladybug nightlight is available COURTESY PHOTO online at

It’s hard to beat ginger cream cookies, especially frosted, as a Christmastime PHOTO COURTESY TASTE OF HOME dessert.

Frosting: remaining cookie ingredients and then combine with molasses mixture until well blended. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls two inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets immediately and cool. For frosting, in small bowl combine all frosting ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. Spread over baked cookies. Makes three dozen. i

• 2 cups powdered sugar • dash salt • 2 tablespoons butter, softened • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. In large bowl combine sugar, water, molasses, butter and egg and blend well. In separate bowl stir in flour and

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C M HOL SEC page 15 Y K


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Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide • 2012

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QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, December 6, 2012 Page 16

C M HOL SEC page 16 Y K

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Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide • 2012

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Queens Chronicle Holiday Section