EATING: ASTORIA, QUEENS

First stop: Artopolis Bakery for strong coffee and breakfast pastry. I tried asking the lady at the counter what was in each little savory pie and she just started heating them up for us. We got spinach and two ham and cheese — both were very good. I'm not generally a dessert-y person so was surprised when I got super into the galaktoboureko — syrup-soaked phyllo dough pastries with custard inside.

On the way to lunch, we passed a coffee shop called To Laiko and watched a guy unload a bunch of hot pies from a van. Old men were hanging out in front snacking and chatting. I took that as a good sign and went in for a leek pie. It was the best thing I ate all day. Next, we skipped on down the street to Gregory's 26 Corner for grilled octopus with tomatoes, cucumbers and lemon. The waitress and regulars were chatty and the octopus was tender — a solid choice.

We did some quick grocery shopping on the way out of town: goat feta and olives from Titan Foods, cured mackerel from Mediterranean Foods, and a stop at this insane meat store called Muncan Foods. When I cruised in, they offered me some home cured goose and started telling me all about the many varieties of bacon on offer. I got double-smoked bacon, goulash paste and some jalapeño and pork sausage.

It was a perfect, sunny wander through Astoria and I drove home stuffed and happy with bags of leftovers to share and a desire to become an old dude who hangs out in front of my neighborhood coffee shop. 

EATINGSarah Keough