Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cirque du Soleil OVO Tapis Rouge: Enough to make you blush

For a time in high school, I was a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil. Admittedly, that's a weird thing to be a huge fan of, but we all have our weird stuff, right? ...right?

Anyway, during this time, I learned a lot of useless knowledge about Cirque du Soleil. For example, did you know that Cirque is pretty much the NFL of circuses? It's where all jugglers/contortionists/Ukranian children aspire to perform one day. They have 401Ks and dental insurance. It's the big leagues.

Also, there are touring shows, such as OVO. For those a caravan of semi-trucks descends on a vacant parking lot in a major city, assembles the Grand Chapiteau and basically sets up a little Cirque village for the run of the show. There are also permanent shows in theaters across the globe. Vegas has a Cirque show on every quarter mile of the strip.

You can imagine I was excited when my dear friend Darcy Little told us a few months ago that Cirque would be visiting Cincinnati. Not only that, but she was going to be handling PR for this tour stop. She's kind of a badass like that. She was very kind to get me into the OVO preview show last night with Tapis Rouge tickets.

So what is Tapis Rouge? For merely hundreds of dollars you get a premium seat, a sweet parking space, a cocktail hour before the show and desserts during intermission.

The food is a mix of comfortable cocktail party fare (think goat cheese crostini) and more exotic eats, like the edible orchids with chicken salad and - oh yes - sweet and sour chicken on a stick wrapped in cotton candy. This sounds awful. I could have eaten twenty of them.

At intermission Alex and I sprinted back to the Tapis Rouge tent, shouting at all of the friends we saw along the way "Can't talk! Must get cupcakes!" Sorry friends.

If you want to splurge, I highly recommend taking the Tapis Rouge route. Wine and beer is included in the ticket - we brought ours to our seats when it was time for the show. The food is fun and there's more than enough to make a meal. (Vegetarians be warned, your options are slightly limited.) You're guaranteed an awesome seat, though there really isn't a bad one in the place.

Whether or not you go all in on the Tapis Rouge experience, you really shouldn't miss OVO while it's here. It is the NFL of circuses, after all. After two hours of mind-blowing contortion, trapeze-ing, singing, juggling and jumping, you'll be glad you went.

Many thanks to Darcy and Vehr Communications for the tickets! It was a blast.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Yelp Drinks, Cincinnati Edition

Looking for something to celebrate? It's Cincinnati's first ever bar week, sponsored by! Today through Sunday 21 local bars will be featuring specialty cocktails, wine and beer for half price until 9pm. What does that mean exactly? When happy hour rolls around, stroll into a participating bar such as Neon's Unplugged and get a drink like their featured Elderflower Gimlet for $4. Find all of the bars and drink specials here.

You'll find cocktails and other drinks priced somewhere between 3 and 5 dollars. Here are some highlights:

  • Drafts for $2.50 at Lackmann
  • Kentucky Bourbon Ale for $2.50 at Molly Malone's
  • Old Fashioned for $3.75 at Virgil's
In addition to the special prices available all week, Yelp is hosting an official Happy Hour each night at various participating locations around town. These events are open to anyone and include free appetizers. There's a complete list of those events here, starting with Dilly Deli tonight with its famous beer cheese, provided for free. All of these special Happy Hours run from 7 to 9pm.

Full disclosure, our local Yelp Cincinnati Community Manager happens to be my boyfriend. Not that this is a surprise to anyone reading this blog.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

Grandma Johnson, like a lot of other grandparents, lived through the depression. I guess because of this she developed, as anyone might, a reluctance to throw away food. She was sitting at our kitchen table on one of her visits enjoying some baby carrots (our family has a long history with baby carrots) and she dropped one on the floor. She didn’t hesitate, just picked the carrot up – it had rolled onto the living room carpet – and said:

“Waste not, want not,” popping it into her mouth.

Mom pleaded with her to throw it out as she was doing this, arguing that she could actually see cat hairs stuck to the dewy carrot skin, but Grandma Johnson lived by her words. She was an English teacher, after all.

We as a family remember this with mild horror and affection. We still bring it up occasionally when we think of her. “Waste not, want not.”

I’ve talked before about my own struggle to be a frugal yet creative cook. You know that Oatmeal comic about cooking at home? It pretty much sums up my first frustrating experiences going solo in the kitchen. In fact, my dear friend and former roommate Jon just reminded me of the first time I tried to cook chicken and the destruction I caused in our tiny Oxford, Ohio kitchen. We remember it fondly of course, and the photographic evidence lives on in Facebook glory.

I’m trying to evolve into a resourceful home cook with a well-stocked pantry. I want to develop a repertoire of tasty and cost-effective recipes I can fall back on when inspiration fails to strike. I’m not quite there.

I thought of Grandma Johnson and her famous words when I found this mustardy carrot slaw recipe on CHOW. I loaded up a Madison’s shopping basket with about two pounds of carrots (the adult ones) and brought them home to meet my box grater. I figured if I made a few side dishes and tasty spreads at the start of the week, I could work my way through them at lunchtime from Monday to Friday.

Grating two pounds of carrots turned out to be more work than I imagined. I got through it, mixed up the dressing and worked it all together with my bare hands. I didn’t have chives on hand and had to substitute white wine vinegar for red, but the taste is still zingy, sweet and mustardy.

I juiced the orange that I had used for its zest and fished a tiny bottle of bubbly from the back of the refrigerator. Waste not, want not? I can live by that.