Oh, that's just Café de Wheels, Cincinnati's mobile burger truck. Tonight, it tweeted that it was at Fries Cafe, which is a hop, skip and a jump from Dan's place in Clifton. We walked less than a block, and suddenly it was as though there were a restaurant there that had never been there before.
Oh man do I love this truck. Between shutting the window to keep the cold out, the @burgerbgood staff talked to me about their business-- the proprietor is from New York, where food carts are, as you might imagine, infinitely more abundant. I asked why they weren't parked at the CAC for the much-lauded Shepard Fairey opening, but apparently there is nowhere to (legally) park a food truck downtown. This is a serious shame, as there are corners of downtown Cincinnati that could sorely use some affordable, late-ish night fare.
Convenience is only half the fun, though-- Café de Wheels' food is fantab. I wanted a burger but the Truck Dude (should have asked for a name) recommended their Lenten fish special... man that was a good choice. Damn good fish sandwich. Dan had the crispy chicken and insists it was, in his words, yummy.
Mobile food trucks might be my favorite use of Twitter. I love the idea of food that travels around and can be tracked online. Our paths will likely cross again, but if not, I plan on hunting down that dreamy burger truck.
The local web has been a bit clogged up with Shepard Fairey whatnot lately, but I need to throw another log on the fire. On Monday night, Dan and some friends of ours headed to the CAC to see the Shepard Fairey: Supply & Demand exhibition.
I had a great time at the CAC-- it had been a few years since I'd been there, and it had been much too long. One of the things I've been chastising myself for has been my lapse in visiting our awesome art resources in the city.
What a great way to hang out with friends, too. We spent an hour or two milling about the museum-- a work of art in itself, of course-- talking about art and sharing our opinions. I need to remember that there's more to do in this city than eat dinner and watch movies.
A side note for Cole: I finally wore my gold shoes! It was a bit too chilly for them, but sometimes you have to suck it up, eh? (Read about Cole's Golden Shoes resource site for women with PCOS, visit GoldenShoes.org.)
If you know me in real life, or follow my twitter you probably know I can be a harsh critic of products or services that don't live up to my expectations. Nobody is safe from my trashing, my scorn, my tongue-in-cheek commentary - even my beloved Apple (cough, Apple TV, cough).
It's even worse when you're a service I rely on for my internet connection that allows me to unleash that scorn upon the twitterverse.
Cincinnati Bell has probably been the target of a lot of that over the past six months - they may see it as an assault - I see it as tough love. The folks who monitor the @CincyBell twitter account probably disagree, but luckily some people higher up see it differently and have chosen to engage with me about my concerns and my previous blog posts, and I get to share with you some of fruits of those conversations.
First - I think we all agree the internet side of FiOptics is a rock star. It is fast, stable and did I mention fast? I think their Westell router is a piece of crap (remember the Cisco 675?) - but I also work in a data center, so my standards for equipment may be too high, and my dreams of Cincinnati Bell just giving me an ethernet hand off for my own router is probably unrealistic.
Second - again, something I think all FiOptics customers universally can agree upon - the DVR GUI is flat out awful. It's like 1992 threw up inside the device.
The good news is that this is not the shape of things to come - they're reading our tweets, our blog posts and improvements are coming.
I've been asked to hold back some details, but Cincinnati Bell FiOptics customers can rest assured that change is coming, and it should all occur in 2010. The first upgrade is an update to the current software - I'm not sure what all it addresses, but it should be a step forward, and really, anything would be an improvement.
The second upgrade is a big one and the one I can't really give many details on - trust me though, it is very cool and is a total replacement of the current DVR software. The functionality is slick and on par with anything else out there, possibly better and should make everyone pretty happy, and they're hoping for a 2010 rollout.
I'm just not good at food. I have a boring palette and I tend to eat the same things when I re-visit restaurants. (I'm not as bad about this as good Sir Daniel, but I'm still not very adventurous.)
But it's impossible to explore a city without remarking about the food. I was joking with @foodhussy today about how I can't wait for it to warm up so I can stop writing about food-- I feel like the cold weather has trapped me inside and the only blog-worthy thing I do is eat.
It should mean nothing to you that I love Teak Thai. Why? Because I order pad Thai at a level 1 spiciness, and if I eat sushi it's probably an avocado roll. Not exactly the Thai experience, now is it?
But I love this place. The pad Thai is the best I've ever had-- they don't skimp on the egg or peanuts, and this mainstay dish manages to be full of flavor even at a wimpy 1. The service is quick and friendly, the sushi boats are beautiful (and from what I hear, delicious), and the building itself is adorable, airy and bright.
Teak was a great way to send of a beloved coworker, as he begins a new endeavor at a new workplace. I'll miss you, Russ... but if your quitting is what it takes to get us to lunch at Teak, mazel tov.
We've become amateur architecture buffs over the last few months. I've always been a bit of one, but our recent visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater really cemented it for Erica.
Cincinnati is a treasure trove of architectural gems, both famous and not-so. Frank Lloyd Wright has three residences here that he designed for various people, and the University of Cincinnati is a veritable who's who of contemporary architecture.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't include the CAC building downtown by Zaha Hadid and César Pelli's Aronoff Center. While those are all rather modern additions to our collection, I think our historical collection is even more impressive. Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine area is one of the nation's largest intact historic districts, comprised of 943 buildings of various architectural styles, and we're lucky enough to have purchased a condo in the emerging Gateway Quarter that we'll move into this spring.
Throughout Cincinnati you'll find impressive architecture, and as we journey we plan on writing up more of these, but first up I want to talk about our current home base, the Parkside building in Clifton. Designed in 1897 by Joseph G. Steinkamp, and built by Thomas Emery's sons, the building was added the National Register of Historic Places on 2008 February 29 after undergoing a full renovation and rebirth in 2006. The building had deteriorated to the point of being a health hazard, but has now been remodeled to be clean, modern and ready for another 100 years.
One thing that I've found interesting and rather refreshing since moving in here is the dedication and love the other tenants have for the building. It's an old and rather ornery building, and requires a lot of upkeep - however, everyone who lives here seems to value it and it's been a nice place to live. Cincinnati could use some more people who are as dedicated to preserving our historic structures as those living here at the Parkside.
I thought the 5chw4r7zs deserved a post of their own. Voila!
In case (somehow) you don't know these two, they are Bob & Erin Marie Schwartz, and they are Mr. and Mrs. Downtown. I hope one day to be half as connected to the city as these two are!
Oh, and there's also Dan. (Hi Dan.) Dan is holding a poster tube... Bob, in his infinite generosity, picked up a limited edition, signed and numbered Shepard Fairey print at the CAC opening. There were 450 and they were sold out by 10pm that night, and Dan and I couldn't make it to the event. We were really hoping to have that piece of art for our condo, and definitely couldn't have scored one without the help of 5chw4r7z. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
So we lunched together at Ingredients, and had a grand old time talking about the city. Can't wait to bump into the Downtowns again soon!
I thought we had them all, but I've since learned that I missed a small one at Shake It Records. No big loss, as I look forward to any opportunity to head back over there.
I've also heard that there will be 30 murals in total, when Shepard Fairey is all finished... though these 6 (7) may be all for this particular installation. Word on the street (I literally heard this from a person on 14th Street) is that Fairey will be back in May with more murals.
Dan and I have driven past High Street a hundred thousand times and never stopped in. This time was different-- they'd just had a Shepard Fairey mural installed, and we were curious to stop by and see it. And since we're suddenly in the market for awesome furniture anyway, might as well pop in before they close, yes?
I was warmly greeted as soon as I stepped inside. I was offered tea and we talked about the new mural. The salespeople were so kind and so helpful and so not in my way. I can't stress this enough... they were there when I wanted someone, and when I didn't they were nowhere in sight.
The store... is incredible. Everything I love, under one roof. Exquisite design, unique and so totally how I want our condo to look! (Some day, perhaps...)
One hangup: this chair is clearly supposed to be mine, so where does High Street get off stealing it from me?
There are many typical Cincinnati places that I've never visited. I'd say the one I'm hounded about the most would be Terry's Turf Club.
Oh Erica! I can't believe you've never been there! How long have you lived here? The burgers, Erica, the burgers!
(This kind of attitude, by the way, is a huge deterrent to me. It makes me want to never go to that place out of sheer spite. Just tell me you like the damn burgers and let's move on.)
After church one day, Dan and I were in the mood for something out of our normal routine. I suggested Terry's, which was a bit of a gamble as Dan doesn't like hamburgers. (I know, right? And I hate bacon. Which of us is less American?)
And so, in case there are any other Terry's Turf Club n00bs left in the Queen City, a few things I learned during our visit:
1. Sunday at the stroke of noon is a fantastic time to visit. You'll be seated promptly and served right away. By the time you leave, there will be an actual line out the door.
2. Order the burger. Yes, it's as delicious as you've heard. Plan to eat half. You'll have delicious leftovers and your internal organs will thank you.
3. You are seated at a table with strangers. For me, this is a blessing-- it reminds me of the one-and-only cruise I've taken in my life. At dinner every night, they with you with another couple or family, and you make conversation throughout the meal. However, odds are good that you're going to be seated next to people who see this as some kind of torture. They will avoid eye contact, scoot their chair as far from you as possible, and sit with a pained look on their face. This happened to us... twice.
4. The place gets packed... and I mean packed. One woman waiting for a table ended up standing next to ours-- she was actually much, much friendlier than our table-mates. I enjoy this kind of vibe. Not everyone does.
5. No iced tea. What... the what.
Overall we loved our experience. Now if I can just visit Zips, maybe y'all can get off my back for a while? Yes? ;)
There's been some recent backlash about a Vanity Fair article, wherein they mention that Cincinnatians have "meager pickings" to boast about. I first heard about this through Kate the Great's snappy retort, and shortly thereafter, WineMeDineMe suggested that other Cincinnati bloggers take up the charge.
Kate touched on food and art. A few points of my Cincinnati pride, from a historical perspective:
The Cincinnati Zoo is the second-oldest in the country, with the oldest existing zoo building (the Reptile House). It mates Sumatran rhinos. It's home to white tigers and record-breaking cheetahs. It is one of the best zoos in the country, and I can walk there from our current home in Clifton.
The Cincinnati Reds were the first professional baseball team. Our mayor may not be able to throw a ball, but you must respect the heritage of our original Red Stockings.
The Cincinnati Opera is the second-oldest in the country, trailing only behind the New York Met. Music Hall is one of the most beautiful buildings in Cincinnati and boasts a rich history of its own, including playing host to the 1880 Democratic National Convention.
And Union Terminal (Cincinnati Museum Center) is my personal favorite landmark and stunning example of Art Deco style (not to mention the inspiration for the Halls of Justice).
Cincinnati is much more than the living museum I'm making it out to be, but as I delve deeper and deeper into the history of this city, I become more and more proud of its heritage and its roots. There is art, there is architecture, there is history, and I am proud to boast about the Queen City.
Yes!! An update to the Bengals content on our blog! I love this post (written, as always, by my little brother Bradley) and I've put my favorite paragraph in bold. Even if you're not a football fan, give 'er a skim. Thank you Bradley!
As excepted, Shayne Graham's pair of missed goals during the Bengals' 24-14 wild card playoff loss to the New York Jets had a significant backlash-- one that will cost him his job.
But it's been all but subtle, as the Bengals have brought on two new place-kickers to match up against the veteran's impressive seven year stint with the Bengals, who brings with him one pro-bowl invitation, All-Pro honors, a franchise leader in field goals, and a laundry list of other highlights. But as for Graham, the hefty three-million price tag he carries around might be the most important detail to his departure.
So with the official signing of Redskins's Dave Rayner to the team, it seems that Graham's loyalty is being called into question. His dedication had been undisputed for several years, as Graham as brought an excellent work ethic and valuable skills to the table.
But has that gone to his head?
Earlier in the season, deadlines for new contracts meant no new ink for Graham, causing an uncharacteristic spout of anger toward the Cincinnati Bengals via his Facebook. Graham even went as far as ducking out of Cincinnati's locker room after his AFC Wild Card performance, and leaving early during the next day's departures.
But it's not hard to predict Graham's future. We're signing new blood left-and-right, and with examples like rookie Kevin Huber it's hard not to fantasize where that extra few million could be redistributed throughout the team. But what's also important to consider are two areas often undervalued in a player's position on the team.
Unfortunately for Graham, his most recent years have put him in a position to be hated among Bengals fans. Without his performance at the wild card game, Shayne was racking up a bad wrap for his performances. A missed goal against the Steelers, Bengals bashing and constant injuries made him a constant target by fans for dead weight. And with the current lack of depth at the receiving corp, it's easy to see fat in need of a trim.
But what's so strange about Graham's place with the fans-- which can have devastating effects-- is that he's also considered to be one of the most charitable members of the Cincinnati Bengals, and of Cincinnati as a city.
With the current economic recession, more and more charities are scaling back. Money is harder to give, and winning teams can give a fledgling city a small but well-earned edge for capital. But with Shayne Graham's departure from Cincinnati, we can kiss goodbye all of the good fortune he's brought the underprivileged kids of the Kicks For Kids program. Tack on charity dinners, his work with Goodwill, the Freestore FoodBank, collaborations with the Westin, IHOP's Read Across America, Cincinnati Veterans Administration Hospital, the YMCA, the Fraternal Order of Police and countless others, cutting Graham might be more detrimental to the City of Cincinnati than just one of its teams.
So while there's little doubt in my head that Graham's colors will remain orange and black during the 2010 season, I'm hard-pressed to imagine that his selfless acts and charitable donations will continue to occur in a city he no longer occupies. We've put our own players between a rock and a hard place with the city of Cincinnati, a problem that if isn't fixed sometime soon, will come at a much higher price than we can imagine.
With the pending purchase of our new condo in OTR we've been spending a lot of time studying the interior and figuring out how we want to use the space, and what of our current furniture collection will, or will not, be moving with us.
For help I turned to Apartment Therapy and they were kind enough to post my question on their site - we got a lot of great feedback, including some from Cincinnati's own VisuaLingual.
So if you're in a design bind I highly recommend you check out Apartment Therapy, and even submit a question. Lots of readers there who have great ideas.
Yarr. Every time I post directly from my iPhone, this is the quality I get. My apologies. I'll start carrying the real camera more often!
My coworker Jeff and I are both budget-conscious these days, but we were anxious to give Local 127 another spin. After all, our first visit was on their opening day (of the lunch menu, I mean) and we weren't sure we'd gotten an authentic experience.
And so, Jeff's stroke of genius: eat lunch at the office, swing by Local 127 for dessert. We hadn't had much of a chance for dessert last time because we were so full form our lunch fare, so this would be a new experience altogether.
It was a good call. The service was much more relaxed-- Mike, our waiter, was knowledgeable and friendly but not all up in our faces.
And our desserts were fab. I was a little envious of Jeff's-- he had cheesecake served in a Mason jar, with dried fruit and homemade whipped cream on it. He also ordered a coffee, which came with semi-sweet chocolate, cane sugar and more of that fantastic whipped cream. He was jittering by the end, to say the least.
I had the pudding, which was delicious, rich, and far too large. I can't imagine finishing it after a full meal. The sample size we were given on their opening day was a much better size-- enough to taste, enjoy and move on. This this was a full commitment. Again, I think I would have preferred the cheesecake-- I tried Jeff's and it was light, whipped, and delicious.
These were the only two desserts on the menu-- it's not really their focus, and they will change with the seasons of course.
Local 127 still has a pretty low rating on UrbanSpoon-- I think the lunch experience must be a lot different from the dinner experience. If you have a nice business lunch coming up or you're just tired of the same old 4th street lunch options, try this place. Maybe give dinner here a second thought?
The other day, my friend Evan (www.wtfcincy.com) pinged me to let me know he'd found a piggy. It's been a while since we featured one, so I was thrilled when Evan said he'd write it up for us!
After dropping off my in-laws at the airport, Sara and I went to the Florence area to hit up a Best Buy and see about finding a cheap laptop to replace our old one that just died. After giving Big Blue $500, we realized neither of us had eaten yet and decided to give Karlo's Bistro Italia a try. When we walked in, I noticed one of the Flying Pigs in the entry way. I asked our waitress if they had any information about the pig, but all she knew was that the restaurant bought it from the city of Cincinnati. There was no plaque attached to the pig... The only piece of information was a painting of the pig with the name "Sow-vatore Pastavino".
According to the Big Pig Gig site, this is number 279, done by Mary Beth Dowlin. It was originally slated to be in Sawyer Point.
It's been very guest-bloggy up in here lately, as I've been doing some business travel. Also, when the posts floating your way are this good, it's impossible to turn them down. My brother Bradley wrote this post... he is quickly becoming my sports writer, as that's one area of Cincinnati heritage that I can't begin to cover with any competence!
Did you ever see that scene in Vegas Vacation, when Clark Griswold is at the Hoover Dam and tries to plug the holes with his gum? I've always felt the Bengals to be in a similar situation, where the moment our running game takes off, the passing game breaks down. And as soon as our passing game tightens up, our long-snapper goes kaput. Then it's our tight ends, then it's our defensive backs, then it's this, then it's that.
Now most of that can be chalked up to the game of football. Generally, when guys collide at three hundred miles an hour, sixteen days a week for forty-two million, things aren't going to work well every time. But damnit, if it's not one thing it's another with the Cincinnati Bengals. So let's take a look at some of the holes that need to be filled in the organization, and what can realistically be hastily taped up until next year.
Arguably, the tight end is the most important position to be filled by the Bengals right now. Banter has gone back and forth about the resigning of Reggie Kelly, who was lost to a season-ending injury, but no final word has been made on a return. The Bengals then lost Ben Utecht to injury, and are finally releasing him to the free agency. Chase Coffman, same story, and I hope you're seeing a pattern here. So the position was finally given to a combination of the Daniel Coats and JP Foschi. Coats quickly earned my status as "the next Brad St. Louis," because of his inability to perform.
So, with the position in question and clearly no easy solution in sight, the Bengals have to focus this season on pursuing a tight end. This means a number of things, like further pursuing Reggie Kelly, a tested tight end who knows the team, knows the plays, and knows how much he should earn; or do we continue the Bengals' streak of finding talent in youth: spending precious draft picks on an untested college kid, or (uncharacteristically) anchor down a big name from another team, in exchange for what I can only assume would be talent from our own field.
But the bigger problem I have with the tight end position is the role the tight end plays in the line. Every site I've read so far has demanded the player be active enough to catch pass-after-pass from Palmer, and planting on the field as a security blanket for our passing game. However, after watching an often-times fearful Carson Palmer make throws off his back foot in fear of being tackled, I'd like to think a credible argument could be made that a blocking tight end could be more valuable overall. With the roster full of wide-out options, it seems silly to me to add one more to the mix, especially with the short routes that Coles can handle, and the amount of times another blocker could have prevented turnovers, or given Palmer that extra second he needed. The way I see it, Palmer needs time, not options: so let's give him just that.
And not as a direct contradiction to what I just said, but beefing up the wide-out options is the second priority of the Bengals in the off-season. With the departure of TJ Houshmandzadeh, it was quickly realized that no one man could step up to do his job: that it would take the entire receiving corp to provide the depth and openings that TJ himself provided for the Bengals. But with the unfortunate passing of Chris Henry, and the less-than-exemplary display by Coles, it's clear that the options Palmer once had need to return to what they once were, and not what "should be" by fans.
A lot of armchair writers have discussed the importance of adding more receivers to the mix, to give Palmer more hands to throw to. But is that really where we need to spend time and money, when the tight end problem is still here, and the receivers we have are still developing? And what do we expect from our passing game, to overshadow what it once was in 2005? Let's try and be realistic about what can happen in just one year. Similar to the tight end, we're left with drafting a rookie, paying big bucks for a big name, or trading away pre-existing strengths.
The solution isn't simple, and is also a matter of coaching. Where does Marvin Lewis want to take us? Where does Bob Bratkowski fit into the picture? And do we want to return to the old dynamic of two great receivers on both ends of the field, or a rotating mixture of rookies to fill the void? Do we stay the course and run the ball? And are the wideout options really the most important areas to focus on? We have young players to cultivate, and we have the team as a whole to look at, not just one side of the ball, one set of hands, or one player's attitude. Locker room chemistry can't be bought, and healthy players can go at any minute.
Yesterday I mentioned that I really enjoyed Green Dog Cafe, and I am committed to supporting places like Green Dog whenever I can. I love their mission to use locally-grown ingredients and ecologically sensitive practices.
Also their food is delish, so.
I'm going to give away a gift card, and here's my twist: the more comments I get, the more the gift card will be worth. If I can get 5 "votes," I'll buy a $5 gift card. 10 votes, $10. I saw you guys crawl out of the woodwork on Jennifer's awesome guest post, so I know you're out there.
All you need to do it leave a comment on this post, mentioning any local restaurant that you love. I don't care if you duplicate someone else. Each individual who "votes" will bump up the gift card, for a max of $25. (I'm not made of money, people. Green Dog is not sponsoring this, I just love you that much.) I'll have someone besides myself choose a winner, and I'll let you know in a week who will take home the $x gift card!
Back story: Dan has slept for about 4 hours out of the past 40 or so. There were some big issues at the data center where he works, and he's been workin' 'round the clock.
On my way home, I told him I was going to pick him up and take him to dinner. Because he had no capacity to do things like "choose" or "think," I surprised him by driving to a cafe we'd passed a hundred times and always mentioned that we would visit.
I am so glad that we did. I LOVED Green Dog Cafe! Green Dog was created by the same pair who made Brown Dog (where I've also never been), but it's GREEN Dog because of the ecological focus. The cafe itself is eco-friendly in a multitude of ways, and all of their food is organic and created with locally-grown foods. They even have a separate brochure that lists where they get each ingredient.
Oh, and tons of gluten-free and/or vegetarian options. EVERYTHING on the menu looked delicious. I chose the turkey burger with salsa and avocado with wild rice on the side. Dan had a massive hot dog with bacon wrapped around it. (This dish was not vegetarian-friendly, I'm afraid.) We also has an edamame appetizer.
We both loved our food. (Dan said he would have ordered his hot dog without the spicy mustard, had he thought of it. But he was otherwise pleased as punch.)
We also had some Jeni's ice cream, which I'd only had in Columbus before, at their version of Findlay Market (North Market). We had half dark chocolate, half peanut brittle, and they were both PHENOMENAL. Jeni's ice cream is something you simply must try once in your life (more if you're able!) For me, it's the only ice cream that rivals Graeter's-- I like the flavors of Jeni's better, but the textures of Graeter's.
(And for what it's worth, I consider gelato to be in a class of its own.)
In conclusion: PLEASE EAT THERE. There may even be a contest starting tomorrow to help you out with that...