As a budding cynic in the 1970s, I remember sneering gleefully at those who listened to “the oldies.” I couldn’t grasp why anyone would want to listen to any of that musty crap from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s.
Every year for the past decade, we here at Cincinnati Magazine have taken it upon ourselves to gather up some shining examples of stupid behavior by local citizens and package it (with a wink and a snort) as the Pork Roast.
It’s tough to like the month of January, that dark, cold, gloomy time a friend of mine once called “the Sunday night of the year.” But come on, it’s also a time of hope, a clean slate.
I’m drawn to the culture of bars for much the same reason I’m attracted to restaurants: to collect the stories of why and how we gather. Perhaps it’s because misery has an audience, but bar stories do seem to be more interesting. Or if Homer Simpson is to be believed, alcohol is both the cause of and solution to most of life’s problems.
First there was The Caspian, a full-service Middle Eastern restaurant in the tangle of strip malls north of Fields Ertel Road. Then came this streamlined lunch-only downtown version, which features inexpensive Persian style wraps, soups, and sides in a small shotgun café tucked along Court Street.
Jersey-style pizza? Whazzup wit dat? New York–style, Chicago-style, California-style: It’s all so confusing to the feeble Midwestern mind. The Jersey-style pizza that Tony Aponte hand tosses is a lot like Queens-style pizza: a big, crisp, microfine crust under a thin layer of sauce with extra tang, topped with a delicate layer of a potent whole-milk cheese.
Chef Jared Whalen does not like to be held hostage by an ingredient. I heard him say as much during Pho Paris’s final feast on New Year’s Eve 2007. He and manager/sommelier Bryant Phillips were working the restaurant’s back room, answering questions about the dissolution of the three-year-old French-Vietnamese restaurant, and the genesis of Chalk Food + Wine.