What I Learned This Week: #216

Monday, October 18 – Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Week in Farewell: One of my favorite downtown spots, Court Street Lobster Bar announced that they were closing this week. The cost of flying fish to Cincinnati, plus staffing in our Pandemic world were two deciding factors. I will miss their lobster mac n’ cheese and their BLT salad. I ordered both in one setting this week, even though I knew I couldn’t finish them both. Such decadence. I hope the owners rest up and try something new soon.

The Week in Pretty Woman, the Musical!: My Broadway Across America series began this week with Pretty Woman, the Musical. The show is a big bowl of mediocrity sprinkled with an outdated plot line, and the sound of ch-ching of the creators just cashing in. True to the movie to a fault, once I realized the songs were written by Bryan Adams, I couldn’t unhear him singing in my head. And while many in the audience seemed very pleased by the similarities to the movies – the appearance of Vivian in the iconic red dress brought a smattering of applause – I was more in the camp of the young woman sitting next to us. At intermission, referring to the plot of the rich white guy saving the poor hooker with a heart of gold, she said, “I thought they were going to fix it.” They didn’t.

Broadway Across America is the biggest crap shoot for my entertainment dollar. Most shows aren’t that great, but occasionally one comes through and is incredible. I haven’t bought the subscription package in years and only did so this year as a “gift” to the arts coming out of having no theater due to the pandemic. I often find that performers are phoning it in. It was hit and miss for Pretty Woman, but I could absolutely see the relief on their faces as they sang the finale. Oh well.

Pretty enough

The Week in Disney Meets Real Life: Walking home from lunch I heard a guy talking on the bar patio and as I got closer, I saw he was talking to a squirrel. “Stop playing with my wire. Go away. Go find something useful to do.” I hope the squirrel took the advice.

The Week in Not a Bodega: I grabbed lunch at a Avril’s butcher shop. They will make a sandwich with any of their deli meat in the counter, but the secret is to ask “what’s for lunch today” and 9 times out of 10 they’ll be cooking something up, fish, or corn dogs, or, like this week, Sloppy Joe’s. I got one, with their excellent coleslaw on it, but, alas, Avril’s only offers Utz’s potato chips. If you hand me a bag of Utz’s, I’ll eat them. If I’m choosing and purchasing my own chips, Utz is out.

In Downtown Cincinnati, we have little stores that very vaguely resemble what New Yorkers would call a bodega. The bodegas I see on TV and in movies are packed with all kinds of merchandise and they often seem to function as a neighborhood hub. The stores here, have a smattering of merchandise, very heavy on chips, sodas, single cans of cheap beer, and lottery tickets. They have cigarettes and you can buy two Tylenol, not the whole bottle. Helpful stuff for the neighborhood. These stores, and they are never referred to bodegas here, are all downtrodden, and run by a United Nations of clerks. They serve a purpose. I wish they had a catchier name.

The Week in Nesting: Last fall I looked ahead to a pandemic tinged winter and thought I would be home more than usual, so I bought some items to make the winter more comfortable. I don’t need a lot of stuff, and hate buying just to be buying, but the kitchen tools I bought have all been well used.

This fall, I’m again looking ahead to what I think the winter, still tinged with COVID, will be like socially. I have many shows and events planned, but I’m still not going out as much as I used to. And, I’ve noticed, a lot of things I do tend to now end earlier, so I’m home earlier. The upshot is, this year’s nesting purchase was focused on making the most of my inside time. I’m the proud own of a new cozy sweater, some candles, and some slippers. I picture myself slipping into that sweater and slippers all winter, in my best Mr. Rogers impression. Gloomy winter ain’t gonna bother me.

The Week in Chains: I tend not to eat at chain restaurants if I can help it. Nothing against chains, I just prefer to support more local endeavors. In the neighborhood I grew up in, and where my Mom still lives, there is a Fricker’s Sports Bar that’s been there 35 years. It’s no surprise that I haven’t been there, buy neither has my Mom. Today she suggested it for our weekly lunch. We went. It looks and smells like a sports bar, and I mean that in the best way. We ate fried food. I had their default 20 oz beer (usually a pint is the default size). Mom got her chardonnay. We got to see the start of the Bengals game and all the customers in their Bengals regalia. It was fun and the food was good. I guess we’ll be going back.


The Week in Really Cooking: A few weeks ago I joined Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Food and recipe site. (Quick review: great recipes, terrible interface.) Tonight I “made” their Pork and Chorizo Stew, and that’s in quotes because at some point, I just started cooking and stopped looking that the directions. My meats don’t match. No where does Milk Street call for paprika. I really have no idea what I made, but it’s a porky, saucy delight. Sometimes you have to listen to the recipe, and sometimes you have to listen to the pork.

I did some of their steps. The chunks of pork in the first pic are coated with a paste of chorizo, garlic, and spices. Then I just kept adding pork, chorizo, as the recipe called for, and a smoked pork chop cause I felt like it. The final product was, surprisingly a little sweet, so I hit it with some pepper and paprika. It turned out great…whatever the hell it is.

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