You know, sometimes I make such an effort to explain how I don’t use bacon-scented hygiene products and sleep on a bed stuffed with salt pork, that I feel like I am overcompensating.
I caught myself doing this several times at the Cincinnati Imports event on Thursday night Oakley Pub.
The premise of the event resonated with me. People who move to Cincinnati invariably discover how difficult it is to establish a meaningful social circle here. Most natives I’ve met, regardless of education or socio-economic level, still seem to gravitate toward people they grew up with or went to high school with. Either that or they focus on raising a family.
Now, I’m tempted to argue that, in some ways, the close-knit nature of the native Cincinnati community helps maintain the city’s overall vitality. There is still a small, yet thriving middle class presence within the city limits. There are neighborhood hardware stores and independent booksellers (my favorite still being “Book Store” on McMicken) and shopping districts that cater to people that live in the immediate area. It is even possible and viable, where I live, to take a bus to work and never ever have to step foot inside a car or a chain establishment.
This is why I moved to Cincinnati in the first place. Beautiful geography, historic neighborhoods, cultural resources well beyond many Midwestern cities of this size, And a balanced, relatively healthy economy. As a native Michigander, it really does break my heart sometimes when I read about what’s happening up there.
My eyes are wide open about this place. Public transportation is good at shuttling people in and out of downtown, and that’s all. Most people’s idea of “community development” is the opening of a new Target. And, forgive me if I offend, but there is waaaaay too much “God” for a heathen like me.
And lastly, really, it’s near impossible to make a group of friends.
Putting all of that aside, it was a blast to put faces with names. I already knew Liz and 5chw4r7z, and Kate from the blogo-tweeto-sphere, I chatted for a second with Allison, whose food blog I love, The WestEnder, Sidd Finch, and a had a long rambling conversation with Laura about iphones, career paths, the necessity of maintaining a tidy kitchen while blogging, the and the film Dark City (Roger Ebert’s Best film of 1997, in my opinion, a work of cinematographical genius). Funny, I also met Heather and realized she was an old friend. Funny how that works sometimes.
I was also invited out several times, most notably for pork belly at Slims. And Evidently I am being taken on a Geotta tour next Saturday. Having never tried this, I am both excited and fearful.
Oh, and there’s one other thing. I might be given access to a You-Know-What. It’s a secret for now, but I’m quite giddy about it.
I also have to offer this shoutout to this dude I met, Reggie. I feel sorry for the guy in that someone had defaced his name tag and everyone kept calling him “Veggie” and “Wedgie” but, Reggie, if you happen to be reading this, I highly recommend you start a blog about your experiences as an airline pilot, a lot of people, myself included would love to hear what you have to say.
Anyway, it made me think a little bit about the fifteen-odd years I’ve lived here. Aside from the obvious things, that I need to loose some weight and wouldn’t mind discovering a shoebox full of twenties out back, Cincinnati has been a place where I’ve generally prospered, and, on balance, finds me content.
At the same time, I feel like I’ve been here long enough to do this:
Five Cincinnati Restuarants I really Miss.
1. Jeckyll’s in Hyde Park. The scallop fricasee was sublime. I’m trying to remember it. A beautiful sauce that coated without smothering, there might have even been puff pastry. Yum.
2. The Blue Gibbon. This place was never the same after it burned down.
3. Mallorca. I remember two large front windows and how it made this small Spanish reasturant feel so open and bright. And those potatoes I make? You know.
4. The Silver Moon Cafe. One of these little places that you associate with a certain point in your life. It’s where the video game store in Corryville is now, and it used to be a hole-in-the-wall Middle Eastern Dive, where you could get a gyro, fries and a coke for $5 and eat well on a friday night with your roomate before watching the X-files or walking to Sudsy’s with a laundry basket.
5 Kona Bistro’s Southwestern Crab and Corn Chowder. This only closed recently, but this was one of the few resturants outside of Clifton that I’ve frequented regularly over the last few years. LOVED that soup.
All right, gotta go. Meeting up with Julie at Findlay Market and then some errands.