2. The volcano roll at Ichiban (half-price sushi, hell yeah!) on Friday night. The roll features a tower of crab meat on top of a deep-fried eel roll. That and a standard spicy tuna roll and I was set. No, it's nothing stellar, but when your bill comes back with $10.57 printed on the bottom, it's hard to resist doing your happy dance.
3. Homemade meatloaf, whipped potatoes and crisp green beans at my dad's house. His meatloaf is essentially a giant, baked meatball made with soaked french bread, fresh garlic, Parmesan and parsley. Dip it in those buttery potatoes and you can just feel your soul relax.
4. Late-night spoonbread at The Eagle OTR. Eagle is fantastic late night. We arrived at 10:41 p.m. and waited 30 seconds for a table for four. Their maple syrup-soaked spoonbread goes GREAT with a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, an on-tap staple at this place.
Hey all, I’m about to run out to cover a story, but here’s a quick little morning news reading list for ya. I’ll update as necessary a little later in the day.
Gov. John Kasich will come to Cincinnati tomorrow to talk about new standards for the state’s social service organizations he has proposed in his budget. Kasich says many agencies providing different services don’t coordinate well enough and don’t help clients move toward self-sufficiency. The specifics of the proposed new standards haven’t been released yet, but failing to meet them will be costly for organizations: Kasich has said the state could pull funding from various county agencies that don’t measure up.
• Is it fair to give valet parking services free parking, especially now that parking rates have risen in the city? Councilman Chris Seelbach says no, and he’s calling on the city to make Cincinnati’s parking arrangements with valet companies serving various restaurants downtown more fair to taxpayers. Currently, valet companies can reserve four spots near the businesses they serve using a permit and so-called “valet bags” that go over parking meters. Other cities charge for thousands for those permits, and even the bags, but Cincinnati gives them away.
• This is wild: A Northern Kentucky couple is in federal court on charges that their company, Valley Forge Composite Technology, sold $37 million in military-grade micro conductors to China. The United States has had a military trade embargo against China since 1990 as a result of what the U.S. government says is an ongoing arms buildup there. If convicted, Louis and Rosemary Brothers could face up to 45 years in prison and fines totaling more than $1.75 million.
• No matter what your feelings are about Cincinnati’s architecture, this opinion piece in the Enquirer is sure to start a conversation at your office or house or classroom or wherever you are right now. Read it aloud to friends and coworkers. Unless you’re in the Great American Tower or the Horseshoe Casino. Then lines like, “The new Horseshoe Casino looks like a temporary colonoscopy supply center with mall entrance” (LOL) will probably just result in really awkward silence. It's hilarious, though I'm not sure I totally agree.
• Speaking of architecture: as we get closer to Presidents Day, here’s a neat story about Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, a grand and eccentric mansion in Virginia that is one of America’s most famous landmarks. The current tourist destination, which today adorns the back of nickels, wasn’t always so revered. At one point, farmers herded cows into its basement and it sat basically derelict, in danger of crumbling completely. Yes, I know Jefferson isn’t one of the presidents whose birthday is commemorated by the national holiday (he was born in April) but he had a much cooler house than Abraham Lincoln, and Washington’s Mount Vernon estate is well, kinda vanilla.
With the news of local musician Jess Lamb competing on the 14th season of American Idol, I’ve been watching and waiting for the initial audition episodes to end so we can really get into the competition and see more Jess. This week was the first half of Hollywood rounds, where some 200 contestants that received golden tickets during the aforementioned auditions before the judges — Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. — converged under one roof. The musicians and singers will perform solo and as groups for the judges, who will gradually dwindle the crowd down to the top 24 finalists.
Unfortunately for locals (Spoiler Alert), we got about 30 seconds of Jess Lamb air time between this week’s two episodes. But on the upside, she’s still in the game!
On Wednesday’s episode, the judges surprised a room full of contestants, telling them a select few would be called onstage to perform right then. For viewers at home, we’ve seen these folks before — they’re the ones we saw audition and receive golden tickets (but keep in mind there were many more than what we saw), the judges’ “most memorable auditions.” But they don’t know that. For those in the crowd, it seems like random contestants were pulled up to perform in front of their competition with no immediate feedback from the panel of mega-stars. And the judges were continuously bewildered as to why these kids were coming up scared shitless.
First up was Jax, who looks like a PG-13 Ke$ha that got puked on by Forever 21, but gave a really cool cover of “Toxic” by Britney Spears.
Walking New York stereotype Sal was also called. According to the show he’s 19, but this man is definitely at least 45 judging by his voice, appearance and penchant for standards (his name is Sal for crying out loud).
Afro’ed Adam — who gave a boisterous performance of “Born to be Wild” in his audition — surprised everyone with a softer side that the judges didn’t seem to like.
Fast-forward through what seemed like a million 15-year-olds that made me feel like a stale prune…
And it was nice to see Garret, the blind cowboy with a voice of a thousand Country angels. He so needs to be in the top 24.