The CSO has finally found someone feisty enough and fun and talented enough to fill the shoes of the late, great Eric Kunzel. A chat with the new owner of the red dinner jacket on the eve of his debut as permanent maestro of the Cincinnati Pops.
His first restaurant (Jean-Robert at Pigall’s) was a virtual gift to the city and he helped save a beloved Cincinnati icon (Rookwood Pottery) from oblivion. So how come Martin Wade isn’t feeling the love?
With The Banks blooming and Riverfront Park coming to life, the mighty, muddy, beautiful Ohio is finally claiming its place as our great liquid asset.
I was at the first WEBN show in 1977. It was exciting to be associated with a radio station. It made fireworks cool. We’re proud to be a part of the WEBN fireworks. It’s an honor.
With Next to Normal, the ETC takes on a musical that matters—again.
And Cincinnati has a great community of sand players, too. One of the things I’m impressed with, when I’ve visited Cincinnati before, is how popular sand volleyball venues are. Every evening they seem to be maxed out. There are just hundreds of people who can’t get enough beach volleyball. What a great combination of having the sand, having your friends, having a little dinner, enjoying some libations. You’re also combining it with a healthy lifestyle because beach volleyball is such great exercise.
A number of years ago I had the good fortune to meet the author Ian Frazier. In addition to being an enormously talented writer with a tremendous sense of humor, he also happens to be an avid fisherman. Fvrazier hails from northern Ohio and when he found out I was from Cincinnati, he told me a story about the last time he’d passed through town. It was in the midst of a book tour sometime back. After reading from and signing copies of his book at a store downtown, he needed to clear his head and decided to take a stroll down by the river. There he ran across a few guys with lines in the water. He asked if they’d caught anything and they shook their heads—bass and carp, mostly. He hung around for a little while, shooting the breeze and taking in the sights, and one of the guys volunteered that he’d landed a monster blue catfish recently. When Frazier asked what he’d used for bait, the man said he’d caught it with half of a White Castle french fry. That anecdote later ended up in a book of essays that Frazier wrote on fishing and the outdoors called The Fish’s Eye.
Esma’s kitchen had very little in common with ours. Where our pantry shelves held long square loaves of sliced bread from the grocery store waiting to be layered with cheeses, meats, and peanut butter for sandwiches, the shelves in Esma’s pantry were stacked with thin rounds of yeast-raised flatbread, handmade by her mother, to wrap around warm salty grilled meats and smoky pureed eggplant.
The restaurant is small, but the crowds have been colossal for Pho Lang Thang in the 10 months since they’ve opened, spilling into the single lane that runs between it and the market house of Findlay Market. There, a half dozen or so people sit on five-gallon buckets around a sheet of plywood stretched across sawhorses. They’re slurping bowls of pho and wrapping jaws around hefty Vietnamese-style deli sandwiches known as bánh mì. It may be the best seat not in the house—the under-ventilated restaurant is heavily incensed with oil (your clothes, hair, and skin will be wearing the same pungent smell) from frying crisp cha gio, batons of rice wrappers stuffed with glass noodles, minced pork, mushrooms, and carrots.
Before barbecue became trendy and people had a clue there was a difference between Memphis, St. Louis, and Texas, Cincinnati had its own style of barbecue. Places like Ike’s and Ruby’s used old Southern recipes, grilled their ribs on a charcoal pit and northernized the sauce for a little extra sweetness. And they always had the best peach cobbler around. I remember standing in line at Ike’s when they’d yell “Cobbler’s up!” and—well, don’t get me started. Not like the big chains today, with their $20,000 industrial smokers and an ambiance manufactured to look like somebody’s garage.
New Orleans To Go might be hard to find, but if you’re patient enough, you can reap the benefits.