Chef David Falk's Sotto* restaurant was recently named one of the "Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants in America" by OpenTable's Diners’ Choice Awards.
According to a press release, the winners were chosen after sorting through more than 5 million reviews of more than 19,000 restaurants in all 50 states. All restaurants with a minimum number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration.
“We are truly honored by this acknowledgment from our OpenTable diners,” Falk says in the release. “The support from our guests at Sotto is humbling and flattering and encourages us to continue creating the food we love in this incredible city.”
Reservations available. 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Sotto, 118 E. Sixth St., Downtown, sottocincinnati.com.
Enroll America, a nonprofit designed to help citizens who are uninsured wade through the insurance process, stopped by Cincinnati on Monday during a four-city Ohio tour meant to educate citizens on their health insurance options ahead of a March 31 deadline to sign up for coverage.
The Get Covered America campaign visited the Word of Deliverance Ministries for the World and WLWT, where it held a phone drive to help people sign up for health coverage.
“We have been particularly reaching out to young folks,” says Trey Daly, Ohio’s director for Enroll America.
Those who are uninsured making more than $16,200 a year or families of four making more than $32,913 have until the end of this month to sign up for coverage or face penalties.
One major source of information locally is the Freestore Foodbank on Liberty Street, which received federal grants to help with outreach and the enrollment process. Many people coming through the Foodbank, however, already qualify for Medicaid — individuals earning less than $16,200 and families of four bringing in less than $32,913 — which doesn't have a set deadline to apply.
Next Tuesday, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College will host a free health insurance workshop. Enroll America's website lists other informational events offering details about the process and an online calculator that provides estimates of how much an insurance premium would cost, along with other insurance-finding tools. Local centers are also offering one-on-one help and can be found at enrollamerica.org or healthcare.gov.
On Wednesday, Ryan Luckie, team leader for the Affordable Care Act at the foodbank, worked from Mercy Hospital in Anderson, where he said there was consistent traffic.
“It’s now picking up as we approach March 31,” Luckie says.
The centers are typically on a first-come first-serve basis, but there is also an option to call ahead to schedule an appointment. Those still seeking health insurance after March 31 will have to wait until Nov. 15 when open enrollment begins, Luckie says. Those people who have experienced what’s known as a “life event," either loss of employment, recently married or recently birthed a child, may have their deadline extended, Luckie says.
People seeking help with their insurance should bring proof of income for the last 30 days and social security numbers and date of birth for everyone seeking coverage within a household.
Louis Langrée is well aware of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's rich history. The CSO's freshly minted music director also knows part of that history includes the nurturing of contemporary composers and their often unconventional works.
Enter MusicNOW, Bryce Dessner's 9-year-old festival of adventurous sounds. (Read our conversation with Dessner here.) This year's sonic extravaganza includes the CSO's take on new pieces by such esteemed composers as Nico Muhly and David Lang, as well as the title work from Dessner's new Classical album, St. Carolyn by the Sea.
CityBeat recently connected with the genial Langrée — who spoke in self-described "primitive" English by phone from Paris — to discuss the CSO's collaboration with MusicNOW.
CityBeat: Before we get into MusicNOW, I'm curious about your initial impressions of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Why were you interested in coming on as music director?
Louis Langrée: The fame the orchestra is really big. Everybody knows it's a major orchestra. But then making music with them was a completely different experience because, yes, they have the qualities of all major American orchestras — precision, clarity of the attack of the situation. But they have also from their heritage, in their DNA, this German conception of sound, that you build the sound from the base of the harmony. That means the density of the sound is something absolutely remarkable, and that's rare in the United States. I think it has to do with the tradition, the roots, of this orchestra and also, of course, about the quality and the spirit of the musicians, which is really wonderful.
CB: Why were you interested in collaborating with MusicNOW and taking on a festival of contemporary music?
LL: One of the strengths of the orchestra is to have supported and commissioned and performed contemporary music from their very early age. Having given the American premiere Mahler Third, Mahler Fifth, Stravinsky coming to Cincinnati before he was considered a giant, having premiered (Aaron Copland's ) "Lincoln Portrait," having commissioned (Copland's) "Fanfare for a Common Man" and many other pieces and many more recent pieces. That's why I wanted to open my tenure as music director with eighth blackbird and Jennifer Higdon concerto piece. It shows that we should support, play, commission and perform contemporary music — and, of course, contemporary American music.
CB: What was it like collaborating with Bryce?
LL: Meeting Bryce was a wonderful. His French is perfect. Especially compared to my primitive English. (Laughs). I like his attitude in making music and experimentation. And any strong institution should be also a place of experimentation. Music is not something you put in a museum. It's alive. And then we should perform contemporary music like Classical music and perform Beethoven music, not forgetting that he only composed contemporary music. All the composers — Mozart, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bartok — composed contemporary music, so we have to continue it. He's very focused and concentrated, but on the other hand the spectrum was quite bright. I think we have arrived on wonderful programs — very challenging, but very exciting.
CB: What makes him unique as a composer?
LL: He knows how to make an orchestra sound. It's a very clear and precise writing but at the same time there is so much flexibility in the variations of colors written and the flow of the music. It's always quite exciting to study a piece and hear it. Having the privilege of working with the composer is something wonderful because there are so many questions I would like to ask of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and of course it's impossible. So being able to ask the composer and to hear his answers is just wonderful.
Bryce is someone who has great harmonic taste, and I think for the orchestra it's wonderful because you can express yourself much easier. I think he's very much like his music — a very welcoming man, a very open, very luminous person. I see that in his music, which is not always the case with composers. With him, I get the feeling he's one with his music.
CB: How has the orchestra responded to playing these new, sometimes challenging pieces?
LL: Any new piece you don't know what to expect. What I've found is that these musicians are very open-minded, they are very generous and positive in their attitude and are eager to try any new experience. It's a privilege to perform these two concerts of new music, but it's also very challenging, so you have to be very practical.
CB: And what's the experience been like for you?
LL: It's a great responsibility when you conduct a piece, but it's also a great privilege that today's major American composers are willing to write for us. To be sharing this experiment and experience in concert, to be a part of MusicNOW, is really something beautiful.
MusicNOW's 2014 festival begins tonight and continues tomorrow. Visit musicnowfestival.org for tickets and full programming details.
The three-week run of the tour of Wicked wraps up this Sunday at the Aronoff Center. It's a faithful reproduction of the Broadway hit, with performers who can give you the experience of seeing the original, a kind of prequel to The Wizard of Oz. (Tickets, $38-$188: 513-621-2787, but each performance has a pre-show lottery; if your name is pulled, you can buy a ticket for $25). If you've already seen this one, I suggest you check out one of the great new productions on local stages.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati has offered another powerhouse season this year, but I'll venture to say that The Mountaintop is aptly named: It's at the peak. It's an imagined story about Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the night before he was assassinated. I'll venture to say that you've never seen him in quite this altogether human light, as portrayed — dare I say wholly embodied — by Gavin Lawrence. And then he's visited by Camae, a sassy maid who evolves into something so much more as he contemplates the meaning of his life. The always watchable Torie Wiggins takes on this role, and it might be one of her best performances yet at ETC. The Mountaintop won London's Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2011, and in my opinion, it's one of the best productions we'll see here in Cincinnati this theater season. Through April 6. (Tickets, $25-$43: 513-421-3555).
I caught up with the Cincinnati Playhouse's production of Pride and Prejudice at the Playhouse earlier this week. (It opened a week ago, but I was out of town.) It's a faithful rendition of Jane Austen's beloved novel, gorgeously staged and costumed. It has a big cast, so all the characters, quirky and memorable, are present and accounted for — a few actors need to play more than one role. If you're an Austen fan, I suspect you'll like this one; if not, you might find it kind of uneven, since some characters come across as cartoons (especially Elizabeth Bennet's meddlesome, garrulous mother and the arrogant Lady Catherine de Bourgh) while others are more naturalistic. Kate Cook's Lizzie has all the right notes (she ought to, as she's played the role several times elsewhere) and Loren Dunn's Mr. Darcy, while a bit slow out of the gate, eventually captures the character's aloof charm. Director Blake Robison has done a good job with an interesting adaptation that has scenes that flow swiftly one into the next, sometimes with overlapping elements that recall past moments. Through April 5. (Tickets, $30-$80: 513-421-3888).
Back in the early 1980s, the musical A … My Name is Alice had a long run at New York City's The Village Gate. Northern Kentucky University is producing its version of this collection of songs focused on the paradoxes women face — beauty, strength and heart. The show, created by an array of comedians, lyricists and composers, has 20 songs. It's being staged by Corrie Daniely, the newest faculty member in NKU's theater and dance department. Through April 30. (Tickets, $8-$14: 859-572-5464).
Cincinnati is now a temporary home for Cate Blanchett (this year’s winner of the Best Actress Oscar for Blue Jasmine), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Side Effects, Her), Sarah Paulson (The American Horror Story anthology, 12 Years a Slave) and Kyle Chandler (The Wolf of Wall Street, Zero Dark Thirty, the Friday Night Lights series) as filming for Todd Haynes’ upcoming movie Carol is in full swing! Some of the stars (and a giant movie crew) were spotted filming at their first location, Eden Park, as well as along US 52 in New Richmond and Spare Time Grill in Alexandria, Ky. The Enquirer’s Glenn Hartong was able to catch a glimpse at Mara and Paulson looking straight out of the '50s filming a scene at the now-closed diner.
Photo: The Enquirer/Glenn Harton. See more photos here.
The film is based on is based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel (published as both Carol and The Price of Salt) about Carol (Blanchett), a wife in a loveless marriage on the brink of divorce who falls in love with a young woman, Therese (Mara). The book was revolutionary at the time for portraying a lesbian relationship, and doing so in a non-stereotypical light. Chandler will portray the titular character’s husband while Paulson plays Abby, Carol’s best friend.
Filming continues this week at a home on Grandin Avenue in Hyde Park. Retro Westside institution Maury’s Tiny Cove will be closed April 1 for a day of filming Blanchett and Mara’s characters’ first date. Cincy Magazine tweeted that the Cincinnati Club, where the mag’s office is located, will also be used to shoot the film at an unspecified date. We’ll keep an eye out — the building is right across the street from CityBeat’s HQ. Search #carolmovie on Twitter for the latest dish on the movie and its local filming and tweet us if you have a run-in with any of the stars!
Even if Carol wasn’t filmed exclusively in Cincinnati, the adaptation sounds like a great premise for a film. Unfortunately the same can’t be said about most of the recent movies based on books and other, previous movies. This week in remake fuckery, we have Rosemary’s Baby and The Birds — two classic ‘60s horror films undergoing contemporary reworkings. Zoe Saldana will take on Mia Farrow’s iconic role in a made-for-TV version of Rosemary coming to NBC; Transformers director Michael Bay is apparently producing the remake of Hitchcock’s feathery flick. We can only guess that Bay will replace said birds with laser-shooting Velociraptors.
Now and forever:
Speaking of dinosaurs, paleontologists in Alaska last week discovered a miniature species of tyrannosaurs about half the size of its close relative, the T. rex — essentially, what the prehistoric Paris Hiltons were carrying around in their designer mammoth skin handbags. Teacup-Rex!
A post I found recently on Imgur (because Reddit still confuses/scares me) recalls the story of when the United Way decided to release 1.5 million helium balloons into the air in Cleveland in 1986, breaking the world record. The photos of the event are stunning, but — as anyone with a tiny bit of foresight could tell you — the mega-balloon launch totally backfired. Not only did this result in more than 1.5 million pieces of plastic trash around the region and as north as Ontario, but also reportedly hindered a missing person search on Lake Erie.
Peep this less dismal, totally ‘80s news segment about the event:
Kermit the Frog rang in the New York Stock Exchange Monday. Muppets Most Wanted opens in theaters Friday.
Everyone’s talking about “Strangers Kissing,” a viral video of 20 strangers making out for the first time that’s actually (somehow) an ad for women’s clothing label Wren. A bit contrived, I suppose, but definitely intriguing and pretty hot.
Jimmy Fallon put his own twist on the vid…with puppies and kitties.
Kasich has proposed to cut income tax 8.5 percent across the board by 2016, which would help drive Ohio’s top tax rate below 5 percent. The governor claims single mothers making $30,000 would save an extra few hundred dollars on taxes every year as part of his proposed tax cut, a claim Neuhardt called “despicable and wrong.”
During the press conference, Neuhardt said Kasich is using the plight of single mothers to propagate a tax cut that would disproportionately benefit Ohio’s upper echelon.
“I want to really emphasize pay equality is always an important issue,” Neuhardt said.
doesn’t have a plan to square the $11,600 pay disparity between genders in 2012
that she cites, but she did say that her administration would need to reverse
everything Kasich’s administration has done in order to get Ohio’s economy
moving forward, should she and her running mate, gubernatorial candidate Ed
Fitzgerald, win office in November.
“We need Ohio’s working class to have money in their pocket,” Neuhardt said.
Kasich’s previous budget took the first steps toward pushing the state’s top tax rate below 5 percent by lowering income tax across the board and raising sales tax, a combination that disproportionately favors the wealthy. CityBeat covered that plan here and Kasich’s early 2013 budget proposals here and here.
Council members P.G. Sittenfield and Yvette Simpson spoke about pay disparity before Neurhardt took the podium on Tuesday.
Simpson stated women on average are earning 27 percent less than men in Ohio and Latin American women are earning 57 percent less.
“In the year 2014, that’s unacceptable,” Simpson said.
She also stated that Cincinnati has a 50-percent single mother rate and that 53 percent of children are living in poverty.
Sittenfield said the way toward eliminating pay disparity is through “meaningful reforms,” not tax cuts.
“Wage equality is not just a women’s issue — it’s a family issue and it’s an Ohio issue,” Sittenfield said.
Kasich proposed the cuts as part of a mid-biennium review intended to lay out administrative goals for next year.
Cincinnati may be known as a German city, what with our legendary Oktoberfest and love for pork and sausages, but Irish heritage is also strong here, as we’ll see this weekend. St. Patrick’s Day is officially Monday, March 17, but the green beer starts flowing early in anticipation.
The 48th annual Cincinnati St. Patrick’s Day Parade steps off Saturday at noon downtown. The route begins at Eggleston Avenue and Reedy Street, wrapping around Central Avenue, crossing over Sycamore Street and back down Fifth Street. Hang out on Fountain Square during the parade, where festivities run from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. with live music, Irish grub and plenty of beer. Fun on the square continues Monday starting at 11 a.m. — for those playing hooky.
For those looking to take a more culturally rich approach to the holiday, Cincinnati actually has its own Irish Heritage Center located in the East End. Read our story on the center and its founders, Kent Covey and Maureen Kennedy, here.
Doors open at the center at 2 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday; events include Irish music and dance, art exhibitions, children’s events and food and drink for purchase. They host an Irish mass at 1:30 p.m. Monday, followed by more celebrating. Find the full schedule here.
The Cincinnati Museum Center also gets in on the St. Paddy’s fun with its Celtic Lands Culture Fest Saturday-Sunday. Get your fill of folklore, performances and art from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Kids will enjoy workshops, games and crafts throughout the weekend. Activities in the rotunda are free; access to the museum requires admission. Go here for tickets and more details.
Movie lovers will want to check out Cincinnati World Cinema’s annual Oscar Shorts screening this weekend; a mix of the Academy Award-nominated flicks in the Short Film – Animated and Short Film – Live Action categories will be shown in two programs Saturday and Sunday. Each program contains a mix of five live action and animated shorts — be sure to check out both programs to see the winners from both categories. Find program details and schedules here.
It’s a Macy’s Arts Sampler
Weekend, with free art events across the Tristate all day Saturday. This
month’s sampler includes a special “Catch the Spirit” concert featuring the
collaboration of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati
Opera, May Festival Chorus, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and other local arts
organizations. The performance takes place at 1 p.m. at Music Hall. Additional
performances, classes, exhibits and other exciting activities for all ages will
be offered at Elementz downtown, Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington, Ky., Fairfield
Community Arts Center, Hamilton’s Fitton Center for Creative Arts and more. Go
here for more locations with a lineup of events.
Mad Tree Brewing Beer Dinner at Mecklenburg Gardens: Mecklenburg Gardens hosts local brewery Mad Tree Brewing for a bier dinner on Saturday, March 22. The evening starts at 6:30 p.m. with a Mad Tree keg tapping at 7 p.m. and continues with a German buffet featuring German sausages, sides, salad and dessert. There will also be live music from Alpen Echoes. 6:30 p.m. $20. Mecklenburg Gardens, 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, reservations at 513-221-5353.
The Wines of Jean Luc Columbo at 20 Brix: Ryan Oliver joins to discuss finer points of this South American producer. Pairings by Chef Paul. 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 22. $50. 20 Brix, 101 Main St., Milford, 513-831-2749, 20brix.com.
I had a glimpse of Broadway's future last night on campus at UC. I attended Not Yet Famous, the 22nd edition of CCM's musical theater showcase, featuring the about-to-graduate senior class. The 19 vibrant performers presented a 45-minute program that they'll take to New York City on April 7 to present to casting agents, producers and others. It's how they begin to land contracts and establish relationships that will give them solid professional careers. With accompanist Julie Spangler at the piano, the singers worked as a large ensemble and smaller sets, but each one had multiple chances to show off her or his strengths as a singer, dancer and actor — they're all trained to be "triple threats" with a polished arsenal of vocal and movement skills. They were warmly received by the Friends of CCM, the support group that helps keep various programs at the conservatory going; the evening was a benefit. You have a chance to see the showcase for free if you act quickly: There will be performances on Saturday at 5 and 8 p.m. at Patricia Corbett Theater. No charge, but you need to call CCM's box office to reserve a seat (limit of two per order). I suspect tickets will be snapped up, so call right away: 513-556-4183.
Wicked is in the midst of its three-week run at the Aronoff Center. This is one of the most popular Broadway shows of the 21st century (it's been running for a decade, as well as spawning productions around the world plus two national tours, one of which is in our midst). It's here through April 23, but tickets are expensive (cheap seats are $38 and anything else is more), so you might want to try your chances in the daily lottery for a $25 orchestra seats. Grab your valid ID and show up in person 2.5 hours before the curtain time to enter; if your name is chosen, you can purchase one or two tickets. Of course, if you're flush you can guarantee seats by buying what you need at 513-621-2787.
The Playhouse just opened Pride and Prejudice, a theatrical adaptation of Jane Austen's most popular 200-year-old novel. I won't see it until next week (busy schedule), but if you're a fan — and it seems that everyone loves her novels of manners and romance — you probably need to line up to see this one. Director Blake Robison calls his production "epic," adding, "The story is a satire of the marriage market and an exploration of true love. What could be more fun than that?" It's onstage through April 5. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
What with St. Patrick’s Day coming on Monday, this might be the perfect weekend to see Clifton Players’ production of The Irish Curse (at Clifton Performance Theatre, 404 Ludlow Ave.). Lots of folks have told me they enjoyed this tale about a group of Irish-American men who meet weekly in a self-help group in a Catholic church basement to discuss a sad “shortcoming” — let’s call it “small equipment,” a curse they believe has ruined their lives. It gets its final performance on Sunday, right before you line up for your first green beer. Tickets: 513-861-7469.
Instead, Cincinnati will continue using 100-percent renewable-backed energy from First Energy Solutions.
The city signed on with First Energy in 2012, making Cincinnati the largest metropolitan are in the country to use 100-percent renewable energy.
Stiles was expected to sign the three-year contract with First Energy Solutions today, according to city spokeswoman Meg Olberding.
Sellbach and other council members convinced Stiles to change his mind about the contract, Olberding says.
She also added that First Energy told Stiles it would allow any customer who wants to save the additional $5.63 annual savings of conventional energy to opt-out of the green energy agreement.
The green energy plan is estimated to save customers $43.58 compared Duke’s standard service.
About 65,000 households and small businesses will continue using First Energy unless they choose to retain another energy supplier.
Stiles will also institute a green energy fee of $.006 on each electric bill as part of a program he’s developing that will help local business owners and residents equip their homes or offices with energy-saving solutions. The program will be run by the Office of Environment and Sustainability.