Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Birthday Cirque

Cirque de Soleil, dowtown Cincinnati

My sister gave me an early birthday present this year - a ticket to Quidam, the Cirque de Soleil running in Cincinnati. This was my first Cirque in person, although I've seen others on DVD. I can't even describe it, if you've seen one you completely understand. This is a thick assault on the senses, it was absolutely the most entertaining three hours I've spent seated. The talent of these performers completely defies logic; how can someone, anyone, be so strong, coordinated, flexible and responsive. I ran right out and bought the CD for Quidam. The music, all created for this specific show, is incredible; interesting blend of tempos and leaning often to French language and Middle Eastern beats. Its been on repeat in the car since I returned last Monday.

Thanks sis!

Since my bro in law's birthday is the week before mine we were joint celebrating. First night we did a casa-based night. My sister, who has become the best vegetarian chef ever, made dinner, which was awesome. We the adults caught up over dinner and Rose, while my nieces feverishly tried on their new press-on tattoos from their uncle :)

The rest of the weekend was frisbee, eating out, drinking, exploring and going to my favorite place in Cincinnati, Jungle Jim's.

Highlights beside Quidam:

350 Ludlow Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45220
(513) 281-7000

I love me some Indian food; its one of the best vegetarian options around. Ambar is typical Indian restaurant atmosphere - casual, quick, friendly and family oriented. My ruler dish for Indian, Saag Paneer, was excellent. When the server asked me for spicy-ness, from 1-6, I decided on 4 since Indian spice ratings are a little different than white boy spice ratings. 4 was perfect, anymore would have induced spontaneous self-combustion.

906 Nassau St.
Cincinnati, OH 45206

Andy's is a great casual Middle Eastern in a funky transitional area of town. We drove to Andy's from the north, it was a very scary drive, like Harlem in the 80's kinda scary. But Andy's itself is in a quaint fringe area where you feel totally safe. You can see the gentrification pushing past Andy's to the scary area.

I liked the interior of Andy's; its small and shotgun but the dining space is split between 3 different levels, making each level seem more private. Get the table for 8 in the front, its on its own level with no other tables and looks out through a big window onto Nassau St.

Food is awesome; kabobs, hummous, dolmas and some kick-ass thickened yogurt that was spiked with garlic and parsley.

2724 Erie Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45208

Red actually belongs in Mahattan instead of the quaint upscale village area of Hyde Park. Its funky from the inside out. We decided we would try Hyde Park in a progressive manner. Red for drinks, Teller for dinner, Graeters for dessert.

Drinks at Red are perfect, that's all we need to say. I've turned into a Manhattan person, the version at Red was dead center of the spectrum; not too strong, not too sweet.

In a drink haze we decided to order some apps too. Tuna Carpaccio was flawless; smooth, cool, paper-thing slices of tuna with the appropriate accessories. The shrimp and fire-roasted salsa app was also good but it needed some heat. That could just be the midwestern version of salsa, I suppose.

We made it to dinner at Teller, which is the brewpub restaurant housed in a old bank building next door to Red, but afterwards we passed on Graeters, too full.

One afternoon we walked around the Clifton neighborhood. I love this neighborhood. If I had to move to Cincinnati, this is where I would live. The architecture, detail and care given these homes is extraordinary.

There are a lot of pics of Clifton :)

Jungle Jim's
This place is like a foodie overload. Its a grocery about the size of 3 Home Depots. The first time I went, it took me 2 hours just to get through the wine section, which is bigger than our local Krogers. Sis and I make a stop here each time I visit.

The history of Jungle Jim's is interesting. It started out as a small, ethnic, corner grocery in a small, blue-collar, ethnic neighborhood. Then, over the years, it grew in popularity, as it was the only source of diverse ethnic food in the area. Now, it is so large and so popular that people drive in from Indiana, Kentucky and elsewhere to do their shopping. You can always stay at the hotel next door and make a full weekend of it :)

I have to say my sister and her family, through relocations, have introduced me to some cities that I probably would not have explored of my own intent: Portland OR, Madison WI, Memphis TN and now Cincinnati OH. I really grew to like all of them and that is definitely true for Cincinnati. I hope they will be in OH for a couple more years at least :)

You can see the rest of the Cincinnati pics here Cincinnati 9/2006


Blogger steve'swhirlyworld said...

Hey Jim

Happy early birthday. Cirque is awesome. I've seen "O", Love, and Zumanity - they're all so different, and the music is always pretty unique, with the exception of LOVE, which is Beatles music... a must see!

6:44 PM

Blogger Ur-spo said...

I remember that tent, when it came to Chicago. I was mesmerized.
But I made the fatal error to yawn, and the clowns spotted me. They were merciless.....

9:00 PM

Blogger The Persian said...

I've wanted to see a cirque show for ages now. Now reading this post I am going to make a point of seeking one out locally.


1:10 AM

Blogger purpletwinkie said...

Living in the "Land 'O Permanent Cirque Shows", I miss the travelin' kind.

2:19 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Thanks Steve :)

I know LV, is the land of Cirques, you were lucky to see two in one trip. I have to see if LV connections can get me in at student prices :)

9:01 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Right Ur-spo, the clowns are vicious. The paraded one lady who came in late around the tent, then up on stage, then around the tent again. Of course they picked the wrong lady since she went off on her own dance routine on stage :) lol

9:11 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Jim, you must seee one! I think your boys would love it too. If I remember there is one coming to NYC, Madison Square sometime in Oct, just dont ask me where they are putting up the tent :)

9:18 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Thats right Scott, living in LV must make the Cirque thing seem old hat.

9:30 AM

Blogger Jason said...

Um..I'm in Cincinnati right now!
I got here early Sunday and leaving Monday evening.
We could have totally met up. Damn.

Matt talks a lot about Jungle Jims. We were going to head over there and make some sushi, but time was running out and went for Thai instead.

Have a Happy Birthday!!

9:55 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Jason, And you neither you nor Matt called me?? Thats it, I'm faux mad now :)

Actually, I was there over Labor Day, my post usually run about a week after the event :)

Definitely check out J-Jim's next time, its truly wonderful!

8:06 PM


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