Best Noodles in Astoria

pho noodlesAll gluten aside, few things are better than a big bowl of noodles.  Whether you’re enjoying spaghetti, pad thai or ramen, they’re carb-y goodness that can help fill you up and, when it’s cold outside, warm you up.  It’s hardly surprising that in recent years there’s been a major interest in Asian noodle soups, particularly Vietnamese pho and Japanese ramen.  Lucky for you, every neighborhood in New York seems to have great places to get a helping of noodles.  I recently came across an article that features some of the best noodle spots in Astoria, Queens, which I’ve shared below:

Trattoria L’incontro: This is the perfect place for the special occasion that you’re craving a full Italian dinner of pasta.  The type of noodles here are diverse: lasagna, fettuccine and ravioli, just to name a few select choices.

The Queens Kickshaw: Even though it’s a coffee house first and foremost, Queens Kickshaw has a surprisingly diverse menu: unbeatable grilled cheeses, fun craft beers and, more recently, a delicious vegetarian ramen.

Vite Vinosteria: The author of the article spoke about how she and some of her colleagues recently came to this excellent restaurant, where the pasta, specifically ravioli and tagliatelle, were major standouts.

Tamashii Ramen: With no shortage of choices for vegetarians and meat-lovers, Tamashii is a great place for noodles, located right on Broadway.  The Champon bowl, topped with seafood and featuring a slightly spicy broth, is one major feature.

Brick Cafe: You can get a lot of great things here, and the pasta is no exception.  Two particularly notable examples are their wild bucatini ragu (featuring wild boar in a red wine sauce) and linguini mare nero.

HinoMaru Ramen: Located right of Ditmars, this is sure to satisfy the ramen-seeker in you.  Tonkotsu, with a creamy pork broth, is one of their signature dishes.spaghetti and meatballs

Wave Thai: Also located on Ditmars, this is perfect for those whose preferences lean more towards Thai than Japanese.

Pye Boat Noodle: Few things are more comforting than a large serving of pad see ew, and few places can do it better than this authentic Thai restaurant on Broadway.

Vesta: It’s hard to go wrong here.  If there’s ever a pasta special on the menu, then you’ll be in for a treat.

Ornella Trattoria: This cozy restaurant has everything you’d want for Italian: both reliable Italian standbys and more inventive options, such as hemp or chickpea flour pastas.  Pasta di Castagna, a chestnut flour pasta in a cream and pistachio sauce with truffle oil, is one of the more noteworthy examples.

60 Beans: Much like Queens Kickshaw, 60 beans has evolved from a coffee shop into something even more beautiful, in this case a go-to Ditmars dinner spot.  Their pasta selections are exceptional, especially the burnt leek reginette, featuring braised lamb and creamy ricotta.

A Godzilla-sized Gator

As the old phrase goes, everything’s bigger in Texas. However, local residents thought this pleasant moniker belonged to the local food and flair, not massive creatures. When a gargantuan gator was found weighing nearly 1,000 pounds was found by the local Gator Squad, Christy Kroboth sprung into action against a monster some would rather run from. But what went into wrangling such a monster? How do you put something into a cage that’s bigger than the truck you drove to the site?

13-feet of scales and teeth, the locally dubbed “Godzilla” was a sight when Christy arrived on scene. Responding to a call for a gator half his size, the routine procedure for catching a normal alligator quickly proved useless. The 50-year-old beast looked like something out of a dinosaur film. Missing piece of its tail and coated in the scars, Christy looked more like a knight preparing to fight a dragon.

An accomplished wrangler, Christy says that many doubt her ability to capture such prehistoric-looking prey, but she never fails to impress with her ingenuity in a pinch. Her partially blind quarry was no match for her years of experience, and with a roll of duct tape, a forklift rented from Home Depot, and more than a little persistence, Christy was able to lift the massive monster into the waiting bed of her truck.

Ari KellenNow a happy resident of a local alligator shelter, Christy is confident that Godzilla will live out the rest of his long life in comfort, far away from any he may frighten. One of the few female alligator handlers in Texas, Christy is proud of her laundry-list of accomplishments at only 30. With more than 40 calls a week from people in need of rescue from their own monsters, Christy’s work is far from finished in the state of Texas.


Travel Smart

In light of the recent and horrible events in Paris, many are reconsidering traveling outside the borders of their home country. In a world where borders are becoming more like dividing lines than simple lines of demarcation, do we choose to venture beyond or stay within the relative safety of the familiar? Below are some ways to combat the ever-growing sense of unease that comes with travel, and remember that the world was meant to be seen, not feared.

Be Aware: You’d be surprised how many people arrive at unfavorable conclusions because they didn’t take the time to research where they were going. It’s not enough to purchase a ticket and pack a bag. A smart traveler does research on where they are visiting if there are any dangerous elements, and how to avoid them. This applies anywhere you can travel, from Colorado to Columbia, so keep a level head and do your homework.

Be Understanding: Though it’s pertinent to be aware in this day and age, the same can be said for being understanding. Assuming that everyone around you is a potential threat will only ruin your vacation and weigh heavily on your mind when you should be relaxing. You may not have control over what goes on around you, but you can certainly manage your reactions.

Ari KellenBe Realistic: While the attacks in Paris were awful, it’s important to be realistic when traveling. Statistics show that, at least in the United States, you are more prone to catch a stray bullet from an act of gun violence than be involved in an act of terrorism. Now, I’ve listed this as the third thing to remember because the above two are vastly more important. Statistics cannot replace alertness and will not substitute understanding, but they can offer some sense of truth in a time of concern.


A World of Wonder

Experience is often the best teacher. If that phrase holds true, then travel may be the best way to gain a varied collection of experiences. The world is as varied as it is massive, and new ways of life can be as close as the farm in Pennsylvania, or as far as the jungle tribes of the Amazon. Opening your eyes to new cultures, new modalities of living can motivate a growth of character and spirit that would otherwise go unmoved. It’s for precisely this reason that educational travel has grown to prominence.

Ari KellenBuilt on the idea of taking “non-tourist” trips around the world, educational travel is not about collecting souvenirs or visiting the next Disney, but rather the gathering of experiences. One of the many benefits of this process is that it usually costs less than your traditional vacations. Tourist traps, for lack of a better term, are aware that they are massive draws for crowds, and thusly raise their prices to make some extra money. When comparing educational travel to a vacation, it’s best to compare the cost of visiting Florida against a stay at Disneyland.

Children benefit greatly from this process, as well. The days of week-long family trips is all but a memory, and the modern family cannot escape the screens that follow us in our pockets, but they can take the family on a trip that can offer more than what can be seen through a tiny screen. Though most of the world can fit in the palm of their hands, children light up when shown the wondrous world in real life. Facebook and Instagram pale in comparison to the wild Sahara or the jungles of Asia. Bring them to the historical sites that have since become fodder for countless movies, and show them their heroes carved into living rock.

As said by the eternal Maya Angelou, “travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” The concept of the Global Citizen is far from fantasy.

Travelling as a Minimalist Pt. 2

Now that we know the basics of how to travel light and comfortably, let’s looks at why you should choose to wear the same clothes and save your back from “heavy carryon syndrome”. Avoid lower back problems and the paradox plenty with this list below:

Save yourself from frustration

Land, get off the plan and go. There is no waiting around for your checked bag to come around the turnstile, it’s just you your backpack and your destination to explore. By not having a checked bag, you also dodge the possibility that your airline may lose your precious clothing. Headache saver.

Cheaper flight costs

For the cheaper airlines, they charge extra to check a bag or bring a carry on that is too big. Save your wallet some stress by learning to pack light and live off of little so you can take the cheapest flight available!


There is no accommodating a large bag or suitcase when you’re a minimalist on the go. Let’s say you want to go from the airport to a restaurant to meet friends. Cannot happen with a large bag, but if you have a simple backpack, it saves you the hassle of having to account for large items.

Avoid looking the part of a tourist

In New York, we can spot tourist by their open mouths and heads tilted upwards, but also from their enormous bags that are being dragged around. Chances are you will not look the part of a tourist when you travel with a smaller bag. This can then lead to less risk of being taken advantage of by schemers and pick-pockets.

You do not need so much

Cyril Northcote Parkinson stated that work expands to fill the time that it allocated towards it. The same goes for luggage space. If you have a huge bag, you’re going to fill it up because, why not? Be realistic about what you need and how you can pack it. It makes everything easier.

Read the original post here.

Travel Light as a Minimalist

The minimalist movement has found its way across our society, but where did it start? Travel, that’s where. We have been in the airport dragging a suitcase the size of a 50 inch box TV, struggling to wrestle it into a cab and manage all of our stuff inside. It can be daunting and inconvenient, but never fear there is a better way to travel and pack. If you are familiar with Notorious BIG then you are aware of his proclamation that if you have “Mo money” you have “Mo problems”. This same rule applies to Mo luggage, mo problems. Here is how to minimize what you travel with and live a more minimalist lifestyle on the go.

The root of minimalism is efficiency, so we need to break down a traveler’s basic needs.images-1 Here is one of the basic tools at our disposal, wool. The itchy sweater that your grandma knitted you in the third grade may have upset you then, but if it was a few sizes bigger now you would put it to great use around the world. Wool doesn’t smell bad, it is stink resistant and when you are wearing the same clothing day after day that can save you some offensive odor. It is also great at regulating body temperature by being equally breathable and insulating. Adding to its already impressive attributes, wool also dries very fast in case you are caught in a rainstorm, and an added bonus is you will always look your best because it does not wrinkle!

Moving from outerwear to underwear, stick to the wool train. They dry quickly and are incredibly comfortable for being made from wool. If you easily chaffe, pick up the boxer version to reduce friction.

For entertainment, instead of carrying a huge book around in your bag taking up space, invest in an eReader like Kindle. Not only will you save space, you will save money on each book you buy! They reduce the price because they are not printing paper and killing trees (added bonus!)

Tune in for the next installment of travelling as a minimalist!

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Latest Travel Tech

There are not many things better than quality, reliable luggage when travelling, except smart luggage of course. The latest trend in smart technology has hit travel luggage aiming to make your voyages as comfortable and convenient as possible. Below you will find the latest in cutting edge technology that will keep you entertained, and keep your things safe among other features.

picture of andiamo iq
Andiamo iQ

The Planet Traveler Space Case 1 is rumored to be the most technologically advanced suitcase on the market once it hits stores this fall. Decked out with Bluetooth speakers, global tracking, and fingerprint identification locks, you will always have peace of mind when it comes to what you check while at the airport.

Andiamo iQ is an italian phrase for “lets go” and its technology backs up its name. Small features pack big value into this USB accessory-ridden charging station built into the body of the suitcase. It also sports a digital scale, remote lock, and anti theft system.

The Samsonite Geo TrakR allows owners to track their luggage at any time any place. With smart technology, this suitcase will automatically shut itself off mid flight so it does not screw with in-flight instruments.

The TAB Seatback Pocket Organizer is a dream for germaphobes on airplanes. Unbeknownst to many travelers the seat pockets are some of the dirtiest places you can find in an airplane. This organizer is designed to take the grime out of flying by bringing your own hang up pockets. Six separate compartments for devices slide easily into the seatback pocket offering a clean space for your gadgets.

The LeTrav Convertible Carrying Case will protect your documents and computer/tablets from inclement weather while also being stylish. A leather briefcase can quickly convert to a water resistant backpack for inclement weather. Transformers have successfully infiltrated luggage.

LugLoc features an app and tracking gizmo that stays in your bag. Shutting off mid flight it is mid-air safe and allows for tracking with GSM and Bluetooth technology from your phone via an app.

To read the original article, please click here.

Tips For Travelers in NOLA

Thinking of heading down to the Bayou this year? You will not be alone as scores of tourists visit New Orleans every year to get their taste of culture and gumbo. WhileBarataria-Preserve-e1375250099100 you are there it would be prudent of you to keep an eye out for those nasty tourist traps though. No one enjoys getting caught up in costly, crowded places that attract the eye and are nothing special other than an instagram picture opportunity. To find the real New Orleans see my list of tips and places to check out in order to visit like a local.

The Barataria Preserve, lying 30 minutes south of NOLA offers guided walks along cypress swamps and bayous. You will be in the natural habitat of many birds, turtles, snakes, alligators and insects so be prepared to take some pictures!

If you’re a fitness buffs looking to stretch your legs after that flight in, there is a 10 kilometer jogging tour that takes you around historic New Orleans. Do not worry about being able to make it 10 km all in one swift bound, your guide will keep to your pace and point out the interesting and historical landmarks as you pass them.

Head down to the French market on the Riverfront streetcar to walk the roads that have been serving a similar purpose for centuries. The French heritage is rich in this part of town as you can inspect local produce, fish and hot sauce before heading to the French Market Restaurant for lunch. I recommend their Jambalaya.

Sticking to the food theme, for those cooking nuts there is a way to bring more than just a souvenir home with you from your trip. On Canal St. there is the New Orleans School of Cooking where they offer a three hour class on making the basics in NOLA eating. Fun, informative and historical, the cooking class will leave you well fed physically and intellectually.

To read the original article, please click here.


Travel Companies Take Over Your Inbox

Big data has taken over business marketing in the 21st century making its way into nearly every single industry, even travel. A recent study suggests that non-business travelers receive 6 messages a day from travel sites they have booked trips on, or shopped with. Business travelers are likely to receive as many as 11 messages a day offering deals or promoting specials. While many couponers may love this bombardment of stimuli, the vast majority of travelers are becoming quite frustrated with the big data outreach. 60% of customers who receive these messages admit to not reading or accepting such outreach from companies.Unknown-3

An Irish data mining company, Boxever undertook the task to find out why so many frequent travelers are shunning travel companies emails. Their conclusion, travel companies are doing a very poor job using the data at their disposal. Lack of personalization and overreaching has put them in the dog house with their key customers.

The result of the poor marketing is taking a direct toll to companies brand loyalty. Those customers with an app to aid travel plans are likely to delete the app, and unsubscribe to newsletters from an annoying company. It turns out no matter what the contact chanel, bad marketing burns bridges.

If you are among some of these people who have become very upset with the multiple emails per day from travel sites, never fear because Boxever may be to the rescue for your inbox and the airline firms. They are courting travel companies through their studies to show value in their big data services. Should they win over a few contracts, you might be receiving less emails, with better deals and alternative upgrades. Who does not want to sit in business class at a coach price? Until then, I would unsubscribe to these pesky inbox intruders.

To read the original Forbes article, please click here.


Must Haves For Travel

Travelling is a fun and adventurous hobby, but as vacationers are planning what to bring with them some important key items can be left behind. Do not be that traveller that gets to their hotel and and has that “oh no” moment. Bring the following items with you everywhere you travel.

USB wiresUnknown

Having USB ports for you infinite amount of electronics is a necessity in today’s world. Without power is the equivalent to being without knowledge in many cases. Airports and hotels alike have an incredible amount of ports for your cameras, phones, tablets, watches, Google Glasses, etc.


Whether travelling to warm or cold climes, odds are you will catch a chill. Airports are air conditioned to maximum effect, as are airplanes. A sweatshirt can turn a shivering trip into a comfortable nap time. It is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to chilly temps. Remember, even in the desert it gets very cold at night.

Combination Lock

Keeping with the cautious theme, lock your luggage so nobody can rifle through your checked bags. You will be thankful when your new shoes arrive back home in your suitcase and not in someone’s eBay account.

Travel ID, Itinerary

A classic mistake is forgetting identification while travelling. Do not make this mistake as it is so easy to make!

First Aid Kit

Bumps, bruises, scratches and cuts happen, be ready for them with a travel sized first aid kit. Many people also discover food allergies while on vacation so be prepared with an epipen! Lastly, folks tend to get over served at dinner or while out on the town. Be sure to pack some advil.

Pack these items every trip you take and you will be able to fall back on your great planning come a time of need.

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