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Raclette night at Astoria Bier and Cheese

Being an expatriate, I’m always trying to find things that reminds me of home. From bread and cheese to wine and even flowers… I always seems to try to reconnect with Paris.

One discovery that has helped me in this quest has been The Astoria Bier and Cheese shop. Luckily it just so happens it is also conveniently located in my neighborhood.  It’s a locally owned business that features craft beer and artisanal gourmet food. The selection of cheese and charcuterie is extensive and of the highest quality. I love this place not only because they offer products from home as well but they also features over a hundred different types of beers and ciders.The energy level is always high with lots of attracted young people enjoying the food and biers. This wonderfully trendy spot is located on Broadway in Astoria.

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We just happened to pass by the store a few weeks ago and noticed the sign featuring an upcoming raclette night. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of experiencing raclette, it is basically a velvety melted cheese scooped over potatoes and vegetables with lots and lots of chacuterie and bread. In France, you might have your own little melting skillet in which case you can melt as much cheese as you want. Here it is more commonly treated like a gourmet dish, so you might find yourself wanting more cheese (because it’s so good). However, in this case I knew the quality of their food and respect they have for their products so we decided we had to try it out.

When we got there, it was fairly crowded and noisy, as it is always the case, but we were lucky enough to find two seats by the bar. It didn’t appear to me personally that a lots of the people that were there for the raclette however. The price were very reasonable. The traditional raclette was 8$ and they had a truffle raclette for 10$. I have to confess I was a little skeptical about the truffle raclette because it’s very rare to find good truffle cheese but, in this case I was very wrong. I would say that the truffle raclette at Astoria bier and cheese was truly out of this world. I would go as far as to say that it’s one of the best that this French girl had ever had. You could also add the charcuterie for an extra 3$ as well as a small salad, which my husband said it was delicious. If I hadn’t mentioned it yet, the charcuterie was outstanding also.

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My only complaint about this meal was that there simply wasn’t enough cheese over my potatoes, leaving some of them a little try and lacking salt. Other than that, I really have nothing else to say except it was an excellent meal and we were pleasantly surprised. We left the restaurant full and happy with me thinking of memories of home.

Besides the raclette, I also would recommend their sandwiches. I have never had a bad one yet, they change the selection seasonally but I can say with confidence that you can’t go wrong with anything you choose. They also feature a growler station where you can fill up and take home one of your favorite beers on tap. Service is professional and friendly and will help you with any questions you might have. The atmosphere is so comfortable that my husband, who normally prefers to take out, is always happy to seat down and enjoy a meal with me. For me this is priceless. So if you are feeling a little homesick or just visiting and want a little taste of home, I would highly recommend to come visit my beautiful neighborhood Astoria and stop by the Astoria Bier and Cheese.

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Check it out and tell us what you think!!!

Black Friday, how to start your holiday season

For the uninitiated, the term Black Friday refers to the day after Thanksgiving. It traditionally kicks off the Holiday season. People line up in the cold and dark outside of the major retailers in the hopes of being in a good position (when the doors open before dawn) to take advantage of all the crazy sales. If you are determined enough, you can find savings anywhere, from 20% to as much as 60% off. Unfortunately, you will have to spend of your Thanksgiving on a long line with total strangers, freezing your butt off. In some cases, you might even have to fight with someone to take that special stuffed Elmo you needed so badly.  All of this seems so cliché, yet the temptation of savings is very great.

I’m a woman who can’t say no to great deals. I worked very hard all year, saved as much as I could for this very specific day and kind of prepared myself for all of the insanity. Unfortunately, this year, I got the flu and it was impossible for me to get out of the house with a fever to line up for hours in freezing weather. I admire those people for their patience, courage and tenacity, but I personally had to pass on it.

This year, I went shopping online (I’m so thankful for the internet), and was able to get almost everything that was on my list. I got a backpack for my husband that was worth 130$ and paid 50$ which I consider one of my biggest shopping success this year. I also bought a dog bed worth 120$ and paid 60$ and a winter coat that was worth 150$ for 80$ to name just a few… Needless to say that this shopping addict was feeling pretty good. After a little research I realized that the online sales were not as good as on site sales. Obviously retailers are trying to inspire people to come to their stores instead of shopping online.. Is there a big difference?

Over the last few years, the growing trend as been toward shopping online. The overall convenience combines with the saving as made it hard to resist. However, with the brick and mortar stores facing real threats from this, the retailers are now trying very hard to lure their customers back. For me personally, I could not go to my shopping mission this year. However, the fact that I was sick in bed, and was still able to get everything I needed without leaving my bedroom at significant savings speaks for itself.

Balck Friday mania doesn’t only happen in the U.S. Countries like Canada, France, United Kingdom and Mexico… to name just a few.

In 2010, Small Business Saturday, was founded to help promote local businesses and communities. The idea is dedicated to promoting and supporting community businesses.  Also, the following Monday, there is something called « Cyber Monday ». Which is like black friday but online. You’ll probably find kind of the same deals than during black Friday.

Did you ever experience Black Friday in NYC? what was the craziest deal you found?