Monday, July 25, 2011

Rare & Well Done is getting a face lift!

Hi all! Rare & Well Done has gotten a facelift and it's own website! I'm still putting the finishing touches on it but I couldn't wait to share it with you all.

Please visit the new site and let me know what you think! I posted a new review of Coal's Artisan Pizza, and in about a week I will be automatically forwarding this blog to the new one.

The new site is:

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Garden fresh produce...minus all the work

I'm not sure if you've noticed but I've been slacking off a bit on my posting this summer and there are two main reasons....

One...I'm working on rolling out an updated Rare & Well Done site...complete with my own domain name and everything! Stay posted. It should be up and running soon and I would love your help with it. Do you want more of anything specific...happenings in Louisville...weekend getaway ideas for food centric food trends (p.s. I'm probably going to use all of these so any other ideas would be great!).


Two...All those damn fresh vegetables!!! I want to venture out and blog about new restaurants so badly, but when my garden is filled with fresh vegetables literally falling of the vine with ripeness I simply can't help but rush them into the kitchen and have them for dinner. If you didn't plant a garden this summer and aren't drowning in collard greens and cucumbers (p.s. if anyone has recipes for collard greens and cucumbers together I'd love to hear it...otherwise I'm going to be selling them on a highway off ramp) you might want to check out all of the local farmers markets to and experience the bounty for yourself.

Check out this link:

Did you have any idea we had so many farmers markets in the area???? Enjoy the bounty of the season Louisville.

Oh, and one more thing. If you ARE drowning in cucumbers like me why not make some benedictine or a refreshing cocktail!?

Here's a link to a cucumber cocktail recipe I posted some time back:

And here's a benedictine recipe I got off an index card in the Churchill Downs museum(don't judge until you try it). I made it this past weekend and it was a huge hit. Just be sure to drain the cucumber/onion mixture thoroughly before mixing with the cream cheese and let it set in the fridge for at least 6 hours before serving. I made tea sandwiches out of it...I dipped veggies in guest wanted to spread it on a bagel for breakfast:

Peel one large cucumber and a medium/small onion. Grate them into a pulp. Strain the pulp to remove all liquid. Discard liquid. Add drained cucumbers and onions to one package of cream cheese. Enjoy. The recipe actually calls for green food coloring but please, this isn't St. Patrick's day. If you want to go crazy I would recommend a hint of cayenne and a touch of lemon juice.
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Road Trip - Destination...Nashville!

A few weeks ago the hubby and I were in Knoxville, Tennessee...for about an the airport...after it closed for the night.

Our plane was diverted because of bad weather in Louisville and although I was pissed off about our delay I looked out the windows of the cute little airport and thought, "Hmmm. I don't think I've ever been to Knoxville before. I bet it's nice. I'd like to come back".

Summer, to me, is about taking lots of weekend trips. Living in another region of the US allows Nick and I the opportunity to take a lot of small road trips to destinations that until now would have been out of the question for a weekend trip. After our little stop in Knoxville Tennessee I realized I hadn't written about our fun little road trip to Nashville Tenessee. It's about as close to a New Orleans atmosphere as you can get on a tank of gas.

First tip for a fun and relatively inexpensive Nashville getaway...Priceline your hotel. I know I talk about Priceline like it's the best thing to happen to travel since the invention of the airplane, but it kinda is. Nick and I have stayed in some very classy digs in some very expensive cities for as low as $45 a night. Here's a link to my old tutorial for those of you who haven't read it....

We priceline'd a lovely hotel on the Broadway strip in Nashville. All of the bars and honky tonks line Broadway, so if you want to bar hop, staying near the Broadway strip is your best bet. We got a got a wonderful deal on a room at the Union Station hotel (it's a Wyndham Grand but the hotel used to be Nashville's main train station back in the day). I highly recommend it(picture above). The location was perfect. The staff was wonderful. The ambiance and old school charm was delightful.

Now that you've got a place to stay it's time to plan your itinerary. Here are my hits and misses for Nashville:

Hit: Gaylord Opryland Hotel
Located on the north end of Nashville this isn't your typical hotel, and although I don't recommend staying there due to it's location, I feel it's worth a visit just to look around. The behemoth is filled with botanical gardens, cascading waterfalls and even offers a boat ride through the hotel. When's the last time you took a boat ride through your hotel?

I'm not sure that you're technically "allowed" to wander around the hotel without being a guest, but Nick and I parked in a far away lot (don't park in a pay lot) and just happened to wander through a random unlocked door near the convention center section of the property. Whether it's frowned upon or not to take an unescorted tour of the property I'm not sure. I am sure, however, that this hotel is breathtaking and worth a look.

Miss: The Country Music Hall of Fame
I love me some old country music. I'm not the biggest fan of the new stuff, but play me some old Merle Haggard and I'm a happy girl. Needless to say, I was really excited about visiting this museum. My disappointment set in when we realized that the bare bones basic admission was a a whopping $20, and if you wanted to see some of the old studios where folks like Elvis first recorded their music you had to pay upwards of $30.

We decided that we couldn't visit Nashville without going to this museum so we sucked it up and bought tickets around 3:45pm, only to be told that we had better hurry because the place closes at 5pm...on a the tourist section of Nashville. This isn't some government owned Smithsonian. This is a privately owned museum that's charging $30 per person to show you a bunch of gold records glued to the wall. They might want to re-think their hours.

The museum itself was alright I suppose. There was some nice info about the very early history of country music and a few neat bits of memorabilia, but when all was said and done I almost wished I had saved my $20 and used it to tip the hard working musicians at the honky tonks later that evening.

Hit: Any bar on Broadway with live music and no cover charge...and there are a lot of them
All you have to do is google "no cover charge Nashville" and lists of bars with live music and without a cover charge pop up. We spent ALL night bar hopping and I'm still not sure we hit all of them. I suppose it's the competition amongst all the bars on Broadway that breeds good music with cheap booze. Beer was inexpensive. Mixed drinks were affordable. The musicians were amazing (although I could have done with more country music and less Tom Petty...I mean, when in Rome right?). This bar hopping, live music, rowdy all night long atmosphere is the reason we went to Nashville and I loved every minute of it.

Miss: The Parthenon
I don't know who's bright idea it was to recreate the ancient Parthenon in the middle of Nashville, but it seems like a waste of money to me. It's on the list of must-see tourist spots in Nashville, but I'm telling you now, it's alright if you miss it...I promise.

Hit: The Food!

I emailed the bloggers at Nashvillerestaurants.blogspot before we left to get their take on what the Nashville food scene is all about. If you're heading to Nashville I highly recommend perusing their blog first.

I was most intrigued by a type of fried chicken called "hot chicken". Basically it's a spicy fried chicken that's sauced with a blend of spices, heavy on the cayenne. We tried to hit up Prince's, a local favorite, but they were closed(when they were supposed to be open), and so we tried out another shack called Pepperfire. Although the preparation took what seemed like forever, and the seating at Pepperfire was less than comfortable(3 plastic tables next to a very busy road) the end result was pretty amazing. The chicken was moist and delicious. It was spicy...very, very spicy. And the texture of the breading and subsequent saucing was unlike anything I've ever eaten before.

Give it a shot if you're in town. The name certainly doesn't lie.

I searched and searched for an amazing (but not amazingly expensive) restaurant within walking distance of Broadway for a pre-bar hopping meal, but kept finding bad reviews, or worse, tourist trap restaurants. Finally I broke down and we tried this place called Merchants that was given a "pretty good considering it's in tourist central" review. I have to say, regardless of Merchants' address, it was fantastic.

We ate at the bar because the place was packed. We ordered some signature cocktails from a very knowledgeable and pleasant bartender. I told him I liked gin (liked is an understatement), and that Nick liked bourbon (a gross understatement), and he hooked us up with some great drinks. I wrote down the name of both on a napkin but after dinner we went bar hopping so you can imagine that I have no idea where that cocktail napkin is now. I wish I could remember the names because you simply must try my gin cocktail if you go(just ask for the gin cocktail with Chartreuse in it).

We skipped appetizers and went straight for the main course. I ordered a pork pot roast over a sweet potato puree and Nick had braised lamb over a smashed potato. Both seemed somewhat boring on the menu, but hearty enough to keep us going throughout the night. We could not have been more wrong about the boring part. My pork pot roast was sublime. I have no idea what cut they used but it stood up to the braising without falling apart, and it stayed moist at the same time. Pork magic. The sweet potato puree must have had something else in it because it layered with flavor. I licked my bowl clean.

Nick's lamb was no slouch either, and I wish I could have gone around the restaurant telling people to put down their burgers (it seemed like everyone there ordered a burger that night) and try one of these amazing entrees instead. Our meal was inexpensive and delicious. How could anyone not like this place.

The rest........

Nashville locals seem to love their "meat and three" , and although we didn't get a chance to dine ant one, you might give it a shot. They're basically cafeteria type places that serve, you guessed it, a meat and three sides (although I'm sure you can have more or less than three if you desire). Next time we visit we'll be sure to hit one up.

We missed out on touring Yazoo, a local brewery, because I didn't do my homework to see when their tours were offered. But we made sure we didn't miss out on their beer. We grabbed a six pack for some hotel drinking and were very happy with the quality. I highly recommend it.

While we were touring (or trespassing) the Gaylord Opryland, we stopped by Cooter's Place, yes, Cooter's, to get our pictures taken in front of the General Lee. This place was a tourist trap if there ever was one, but it's also a good laugh, so stop in if you're near the Opryland hotel.

The Nashville Farmers Market is one of the best I've seen in recent years and is a must see if you're in town. We picked up some local artisan cheese, a few blueberry bushes, some ham hocks and a boat load of collard greens.

The Grand Ole Opry is one place we didn't check out. My parents caught a show last time they were in Nashville and loved it, but Nick and I were only in town for one night and you can only do so much.

Nick and I don't often visit the same place twice, but of course, there are some exceptions, and Nashville might just be one. Sometimes you just get a hankering for good live music, and lots of it...for cheap booze, and lots of it...and a good 'ol fashioned night of dancing, bar hopping and good times...Nashville certainly has lots of all of it.
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Food Truckus Ruckus

An anonymous birdie told me that all of the Louisville food trucks (and boy are there a lot all of the sudden) will be gathering for the first ever Food Truckus Ruckus this Saturday. That means for the first time since this whole Louisville food truck scene has started, you'll be able to find them all together in one place!

It looks like the trucks in attendance will be:

"Lil Cheezers Gourmet Grilled Cheesemobile, Morels Vegan Cuisine, Mozzapi, San Diego Sandwich Works, and more."

They'll be meeting this Saturday, June 18th, from 11am to 3pm at Fresh Start Growers' Supply in the back lot.

There will be plenty of mobile food to choose from (duh) as well as live music and door prizes. I like live music. I like door prizes. And you all know I like or otherwise.

So head on out this Saturday and see what all the fuss is about. And if you go, please shoot me an email with your thoughts on the budding food truck movement here in Louisville. It has a lot of people talking, and I'd love to hear YOUR take on it!

Image courtesy:
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Harvest - Meet your dinner

I recently finished reading a book called In Defense Of Food, by Michael Pollan. Among many other messages in the book the one that stood out in my mind was that of eating "food". I know you're all thinking, "Uhhh, Jessica. We don't eat anything other than food. What kind of epiphany is this?". What Michael was really saying by things like "eat food" or even basing his book on defending food is that we've recently been eating things that may not really qualify as, well, food.

I'm not on a soapbox here. I don't spend boatloads of money on certified organic things. I won't even walk into places like Whole Foods (more like hole in your wallet). I try to buy local if it's affordable, though I admit I typically choose cheap over local. But when all is said and done, I really do like being able to recognize my food.

In Pollan's book he says something like, if your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, maybe you shouldn't either (I guess if you're 15 and reading this you should add another "great" to the equation...but you get his drift). I like cooking. I like following food traditions. My grandmom's pierogies are made with potato, egg, sour cream, butter, flour, salt and pepper. I would chose them over a bag of Cheetos any day of the week.

I'm not sure if Ivor Chodkowski and Peter Kuhl, the owners of Harvest, know what their great grandmothers used to cook. I'm not sure if they know Michael Pollan. But I am sure that they know their ingredients, and even know the farmers that grew them. Pictures of those farmers are displayed on Harvest's walls. A map of those farms hangs prominently in the middle of the restaurant. And aside from giving you their cell phone numbers, all the farmers' info is right there for you to see.

Sometimes I'm wary of places that boast "farm to table" eats. Often I find the price tags to be outrageous. I know they're saying, "Shouldn't you pay more to support local farms?". Maybe I should, but sometimes I don't. Harvest didn't make me choose. All of the entrees, with the exception of their steak, were under $20.

We started with some cocktails. I had the Kentucky Champagne ($7). Nick had a glass of Pappy Van Winkle 15 year ($12). My Kentucky Champagne was, and I don't use this word often, whimsical. It was Old Forrester, Tuaca, Ale 8 and lemon peel, mixed together and served in a champagne glass...but of course. I thought it was delicious. Nick thought it was, and I quote, "dreadful". I would, and will, try and make it for my next party. Nick can drink the Old Forrester on the he often does anyway.

We shared the daily bread board to start($6). Five hog jowl scones shared the bread board with some sorghum butter. The scones were amazing. The hog jowl added some texture and just enough meaty flavor. The scone batter itself was near perfection. The scones melted in your mouth like a true southern biscuit should. The butter was good enough. Slightly sweet and creamy. I thought it should have been served a bit cooler (it was a little oozy) but all in all a good accompaniment.

For our mains the hubby ordered the fried chicken ($19) and I ordered the pulled pork ($17). Nick's fried chicken was delicious. It was served atop a hoecake with a mound of greens. The chicken was smothered in a white gravy. His only complaint was that $19 seemed a bit steep for fried chicken. "The seasoning is wonderful. I still can't put my finger on that one spice that makes it different. The chicken is moist. The dish is a success, but they aren't exactly reinventing the wheel." said Nick.

My pulled pork was to die for. It was served with a side of savory bread pudding (forgive me for this but OMG was that bread pudding good) and topped with strands of dark greens in a slaw of sorts. The dish was also drizzled with a very yummy and light herb oil. The pork wasn't doused in sauce as too often is the case and the smokey, sweet flavor that pork naturally has shone through. The slaw added a crisp respite from the rich pork and pudding. I was a happy girl.

We almost caved in and ordered dessert. There were 3 or 4 options along with some desert cocktails that all looked delicious, but our full bellies got the best of us and we called it a night.

The wait staff and service in general was top notch. Everyone was attentive and extremely nice. It was very full at 7pm on a Saturday so I recommend reservations.

The decor was a bit sparse. I liked the portraits of the local farmers. I like the idea of the map but honestly it was a bit of an eyesore. The rustic wooden tables were nice and the layout was fine. I never really give much thought to decor but even I noticed the place could use a splash of color.

I think that Harvest will enjoy many years of success. In my opinion the cuisine was honest, delicious, fresh, and best of all, it was, as Michael Pollan might put it, real food.

I have to add one more thing before I go. The cuisine at Harvest seemed VERY reminiscent of the cuisine at Hillbilly Tea. If you're reading this post because you're thinking of going to Harvest but still haven't tried Hillbilly Tea I highly recommend it as well. Their service isn't as fantastic as Harvest's, but the cuisine is amazing and the prices are almost ridiculously low for the high quality.

Harvest on Urbanspoon
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Swiss Chard & White Beans

It's been one heck of a wet spring here in Louisville. I'm not a big fan. Nick's not a big fan. And even the dog looks outside on the 5th rainy day in a row and seems to be thinking, "really?". Our garden, however, seems to be shouting, "Thank you!".

I have to rephrase that. It's not really "our" garden. Nick has done the majority of work in it this spring and we're already reaping the benefits of his backbreaking labor.

So far we've dined on things like sweet, sweet spring peas, delicious broccoli, crisp boston lettuce and just about the most beautiful vegetable I've ever seen...rainbow swiss chard.

Look at this vegetable! Just look at it! It's beautiful isn't it? Some people take pictures of their rose bushes. Some folks snap photos of their tulips. I, personally, can't stop photographing this damn chard.

I haven't posted a recipe in a while but I couldn't resist sharing this with you. It's not even a recipe. It's 4 ingredients, a little salt, a little pepper, a whole lot of flavor, and a great way to cook any leafy green you've got.

Swiss Chard & White Beans

-1/2 cup dried white beans
-1 bunch fresh swiss chard
-2 cups stock(chicken, pork, veg., whatever)
-2 or 3 strips bacon

You have to start this recipe the night before, unless you want to use canned beans(which I do often as well). I, however, prefer dried beans if possible.

The night before, soak a handful or two of beans in water. The beans will soak up a lot of water during the night so be sure you cover them with plenty of it. Just stick the soaking beans in the fridge and forget about them until the next day.

About an hour before dinner drain the beans and throw them in a pot of simmering stock. Simmer slowly for about 45 mins. If the stock level gets low just add some water. Meanwhile, render a few strips of bacon, low and slow in a pan. When the bacon is done remove from the pan but don't drain the fat from the pan. When the beans are tender throw them in the bacon fat along with some roughly chopped swiss chard. Toss quickly, add a smidge of the stock into the pan to loosen the pieces of bacon stuck to the bottom of the pan, salt and pepper to taste, and you're done!

You can crumble the bacon on top at the end or save it for breakfast the next morning. You can wilt the chard slightly or completely. You can use a ratio of more beans to chard or more chard to beans. You can tweak it to your liking. It's good in the summer, winter, spring and fall. It's my go-to dish when I need to use up any greens. It's delicious.

My vegan brother can even omit the bacon and boil the beans in vegetable stock. It won't have that smokey finish but it will still be yummy.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bourbon Guilt - The new Bulleit Rye is delicious

My husband often experiences what I call "bourbon guilt". He'll see a bottle of, let's say, Dickel in the liquor store, begin to reach for it and inevitably stop short. Since moving to Kentucky he finds it hard to buy brown liquor that isn't bourbon. This is a bitter sweet dilemma. Bourbon IS good, bourbon IS great, but there are still a heck of a lot of yummy non-bourbon spirits out there.

Recently, Nick worked through his bourbon guilt and purchased a bottle of the new Bulleit Rye.

Nick is a loyal Bulleit bourbon drinker and he wasn't disappointed in their new rye. It's made with a 95% rye mash, aged between 4 and 7 years and weighs in at 90 proof.

I find it to be sweet and smooth. A nice departure from some of the more woody bourbons.

Nick says, " A tasty and worthwhile departure from even the most fine bourbons made. Bulliet uses its proven ability to make spirits to craft a one off that is very enjoyable."

I think I need to quote him more often, because honestly, I couldn't have said it better myself.

In true Bulleit form it's a reasonably priced, middle of the road spirit. A 750ml bottle
is going for a little over $20.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

There's Mutton Better Than Some Good BBQ

My husband asked what was on the agenda for this weekend and I immediately screamed, "BBQ!!!!!".

Owensboro, KY is hosting the International Barbecue Festival this weekend and I hear mutton is the meat of choice. Taking this into consideration I told the hubby, "There's mutton better to do this weekend". I stood there giggling at myself...he rolled his eyes and walked away. Personally, I thought it was hilarious.

That's right folks...we've got a barbecue festival on our hands (and probably our faces) this weekend. So dig up those handi-wipes you swiped last time you were at KFC and I'll see you there. I'll be the one with mutton on. Ha!
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Food Trucks - Is Louisville Ready?

Dear Louisville,

Word on the street is that your foodies are interested in food trucks. I've read comments ranging from "If NYC can do it why can't we?" to "They can't be hygienic", and everything in between.

The food truck issue weaves a tangled web if you ask me. Wanna chat about it?

Love and mobile food,

To anyone that reads the Louisville food related message boards the topic of food trucks should be old news by now.

Food trucks seem to be taking the nation by storm. There are tv shows about them and contests involving them. Everyone seems to be talking about them, and with good reason.

If you have a few bucks and limited time for lunch, walking outside of your office building and grabbing a quick bit to eat is more than convenient, it's often necessary. They've long been a daily staple for people in big cities like New York, but have recently been embraced by cities both large and small across the country.

This widespread national embrace confuses me a bit. When I lived in Philadelphia and walked everywhere, everyday, grabbing a tasty bite as I passed by a food cart made sense. And the hubby simply couldn't live without them. If he was booked all day in back to back meetings his only option for sustenance came in the form of one of many food carts within a block of his building. Lucky for both of us, there was a lot of good food being sold off carts all over the city (Halal King...Nick misses you!).

So why are people in Louisville so desperate for food trucks? The Louisville metro area is pretty spread out. It's an entirely drive-able city. It doesn't seem like a necessity. The more I read, the more I realize that Louisville foodies don't really need them. Louisville foodies want them.

With the media frenzy surrounding these meal on wheel mobiles I can understand people's curiosity. I can also understand why Louisville doesn't want to be left out. What I can't understand is the method. The few food trucks that exist in town are seemingly always on the move. Some use twitter or facebook or google maps to tell people where they will be what day and at what time, but to me, that's an awful lot of work to go through for some grub.

I've been looking for the El Rumbon food truck in the Oxmoor area car dealerships on and off for some time now. Morels, the all vegan food truck in town has a line of question marks on their restaurant hours page. And as I write this post Li'l Cheezers, Louisville's "gourmet grilled cheesemobile" posted on it's site that it's serving it's grilled cheese sandwiches at "Jeff Exit 1 from 11-2". I know I didn't grow up here in Louisville, but what does that mean? I would like to check it out without having to ask a bunch of people or showing up in an empty parking lot.

To be fair I haven't tried any of their food yet, and I would really like to. I have the utmost respect for anyone with the gusto to follow their dreams and open a restaurant or food truck. And they seem to have a good following. If the price is right and the food is good I'll be more apt to seek them out, but there has to be a better way.

I hear through the grapevine (and have actually done some research myself) that the food truck laws in Louisville are hazy at best. Apparently the trucks have to move every so often and there are some unorthodox food safety rules that may or may not apply to these trucks. It sounds like a mess. So I DO understand why these trucks have to move around. I'm just not sold on the whole package at the moment.

I'm anxious to see where this whole food truck wave will take the Louisville food scene. I'm always looking for quality food at reasonable prices, and I adore supporting local businesses. I guess I just feel like eating good food shouldn't be hard.
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

La Tapatia - "Real Mexican Food"

The sign outside says "Real Mexican Food". The atmosphere inside says "the sign is probably right".

I have driven by this sign countless times, and every time I pass it I lick my lips. I love "real" Mexican food. Alright, I'll admit that the "real" part can be a hard distinction to make. There is indigenous pre-Spanish Mexican food. There is regional Mexican food. There are a lot of different types of Mexican food. I suppose the best way I can describe what I mean by "real" is a complete and utter lack of neon yellow cheese whiz. That, I promise you, is not even real food...Mexican or not.

The interior was bright and cheery. Modelo banners hung overhead and a soccer game was on the tube. The place was packed at lunch on Sunday, and although I didn't take a poll, I can pretty safely assume that Nick and I were the only people there that weren't fluent in Spanish.

As I perused my menu, which was entirely in Spanish, I patted myself on the back for recognizing beef tongue, and then glanced at my hubby expecting to see him with a furrowed brow, deciphering the menu along with me. But there was no furrowed brow. Instead he had made his decision and was sipping he beer and watching the soccer game on the tv above my head. His menu was in English. I swiftly switched menus and made my decision.

The hubby ordered a beef tongue taco, a pork taco and a tamale. I also ordered a tamale and a roast pork tostada.

I adore tamales, and I adored these tamales. They were topped with crema and oaxaca cheese. They were rich in flavor yet light in texture. It's tough to make a tamale that isn't overly dense, so when I sink my teeth into a tender, moist tamale that isn't gummy, I'm happy.

Nick's tacos were fantastic as well. His beef tongue taco (a favorite of his) was melt in your mouth tender. It was topped simply with chopped onion, cilantro and perhaps a bit of lime and was served atop two warm corn tortillas. The rich tongue contrasted with the bright cilantro wonderfully...I guess that's why it's such a tried and true preparation.

The pork on my tostada stole the whole show. It was amazing. There were flecks of crispy skin amidst hunks of just fatty enough roast pork. The pork was roll your eyes back in your head good...serious porky goodness.

The price was right. The bill totaled $15 with the addition of a few Modelos. The service was punctual and friendly.

This is the type of place I love finding. The building itself isn't flashy...honestly, it's anything but. The prices aren't high. The food is amazing. And there is even a small grocery store attached that sells things like dried corn husks for tamales.

I think that all too often people overlook little gems like La Tapatia. I'm glad we didn't.

P.S. Next time I go (and there WILL be a next time) I'm going to try one of their tortas and perhaps a bowl of whatever sopa they have that day. Mexican soup and sandwich lunch!

La Tapatia on Urbanspoon
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Mint Juleps or Morels? This weekend...Morels

Dear Louisville, This will be my first Derby and Derby Fest...and I'm excited about it...but my heart lies with another festival this weekend. I hope we can still be friends. Love and mint juleps, Jessica

Yes. This will be my first Derby. Nick and I moved into town mid summer of last year, and although we've enjoyed a few fun filled races at Churchill Downs, we have yet to experience the magic and mayhem that I hear comes hand in hand with that famous weekend.

Although there are plenty of local derby related events around town that I should be excited about this weekend, for some reason, the only thing I can think of is an event clear across the state of KY. It's the Irvine Mountain Mushroom Festival, and I can almost taste the umami from here.

Typically I wouldn't be quite so excited about a fungus festival, but (yes, there is a is featuring the event on it's site and there will be morel mushroom hunting at the festival, so morels should be in abundance.

If you're asking yourself, "what's the big deal about morels", then you probably have never eaten one.

Wild morels are only available fresh once a year. In Kentucky, they happen to show themselves in spring.

Morels are, in my opinion, the king of all mushrooms. The flavor, the texture, the earthy and musty aroma of a morel makes it an amazing natural wonder. They're bursting with umami flavor. They can compliment any spring dish with ease. They are...mouthwatering. They are also...expensive.

Since they're only available fresh once a year I tend to splurge. While I don't recommend heading off to the woods and scavenging for them yourself, I do recommend scavenging the local farmers' markets and produce stands in search of them.

I'll keep y'all posted on my morel sightings and please keep me posted if you find any as well.

P.S. In related news I just got off the phone with Creation Gardens (searching for those yummy shrooms) and was told that their old retail warehouse in the NuLu area is closing down and they're moving to a much larger warehouse that, sadly, won't be open to non-restaurant owning customers.

I was told that they will be implementing an online shopping site for regular joes like you and me who still want amazing produce that you can't find anywhere else, but there will be no strolling the aisles yourself. You will have to place an order online and pick it up.

Good news though...prices will be listed on the site! No more filling your basket with amazing produce, price unseen, and sweating at the register hoping it won't break the bank.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lee's Korean

I was recently planning a trip for someone interested in visiting L.A.

While discussing the details of the trip, my client stated that they wanted to stay in the part of Los Angeles that is "near everything". I closed my eyes for a moment and pictured the city and all of it's parts, then I opened my eyes and said, "Maybe we can narrow that down a bit".

For those of you who have never been to LA it can be hard to picture it's size, but it's sprawling.

Being an enormous city has it's ups and it's downs. Obviously, nobody walks in LA(a catchy lyric but also true), and the public transportation system is lacking. But if you don't mind driving clear across the city for dinner every night, your dining options are unbelievably varied and almost endless. And if you're looking for Korean food, boy are you in luck.

Los Angeles is home to Koreatown, which, in turn, is home to the largest population of Koreans in the US (and I've read outside of Korea but don't quote me on that). You can't swing a dead cat without finding some amazing Korean food in that town.

Of course we don't all live in LA. So when Nick and I were reminiscing about Los Angeles and it's amazing Korean fare, but were here in good 'ol Louisville, we headed to Lee's Korean hoping to feed our craving. I read that Lee's has been in operation for almost 30 years, so Nick and I were excited to try such a longstanding "ethnic" Louisville restaurant.

Lee's location is quite unexpected. The first floor of a large office building might be the last place you would expect to find this restaurant. But the minute you spot it, you feel like you're in on a secret.

The atmosphere inside was nice. It was clean and sparse with soft lighting. We were seated in a booth near a very cute faux paper wall.

We perused the menu and ordered some excellently priced Korean beer.

The menu offered many greatest hits. And as Nick and I perused the varieties of Bim Bop we ultimately decided to share a dish....a big dish.

We chose to share the Hae Mul Chon Gol...a seafood stew. It was presented table side, bubbling atop a hot plate, overflowing with octopus, shrimp, tofu, crab and fish. Also in the mix were deliciously plump noodles and a variety of veggies, all swimming in a spicy(ish) broth. Just before digging in our waitress kindly cut the long octopus tentacles into more manageable bites, and then we dug in.

The broth was rich and flavorful. When asked how spicy we wanted it, we basically told the waitress to "bring it on". We could have done with a bit more spice for our liking but the flavors were just delicate enough and the seafood sung.

The balance between soft seafood, crisp veggies and chewy noodles was wonderful and the ingredients were cooked well.

Between rich, seafood bites we munched on an array of banchan that was brought to the table. Probably the most commonly known type of banchan is kimchi, but there are dozens if not hundreds of varieties of banchan that can accompany a meal. Lee's banchan certainly weren't the best I've ever had but they were very good, nicely varied and offered a palate cleansing respite from the rich main course.

Service, unfortunately, seemed like it should be part of some horrible politically incorrect joke like, "How many Koreans does it take to run a restaurant". Table after table of people could wait no longer for their checks and had to hunt an employee down at the cash register. We had so much of our main course leftover that we asked for take away containers and almost didn't have the patience to wait the 20 mins to receive them.

Lee's prices were good. $30 for a two person bowl of seafood stew that could feed 4 is one heck of a deal if you ask me. The cuisine was yummy...not mind blowing but very yummy. And the atmosphere was nice. But the quickest way to have a meal leave a bad taste in your mouth is to end your dining experience with poor service and a long wait for the check.

As always I'm going to give Lee's the benefit of the doubt and suggest that they might have been understaffed that evening. And although I'm going to seek out a different Korean restaurant in town next time I've got a craving, I would recommend giving Lee's a try. If you've got some time to kill you and your date can take a yummy trip to Korea for under $50 and under the time it would take to fly there (maybe just).

Lee's Korean on Urbanspoon
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Long time no post

A big HI to all my loyal readers who probably thought I've fallen off the side of a cliff. The good news is...I haven't!

I'm sorry for the lack of post lately but starting next week all shall be back on track. I've got a file full of things to post about and have been receiving plenty of "Hey, if you're not dead, you should check -blank- out" emails from many of my readers.

So enjoy your Easter weekend...gorge on some ham...stuff enough hard boiled eggs into your mouth to raise your cholesterol a point or two...and I'll see you next week.

P.S. I always get a little food sentimental around Easter. My Polish Grandmom always made a big picnic type spread for the holiday. Locally made Kielbasa and her famous potato salad are on my mind today.

What dishes were/are a staple at your family's Easter celebration?
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Smarty Pants

I'll admit it...sometimes I think I'm a culinary smarty pants.

I can identify exotic fruits and vegetables, cuts of meat(though that's more Nick's forte) and rattle off cooking techniques until you can stand it no more.

Unfortunately, as good as I think I am, I'm constantly reminded that I'm a mere rookie in the vast land that is the world of food. Truthfully, I've got a lot to learn.

Of course half the fun of, well, pretty much everything in life is learning as you go, and so my brain(and my stomach) is always ready to be filled with new things.

Want to test your knowledge about knives(cooking knives...we're not going to play the Crocodile Dundee knife game today)? Give this quiz a shot:

Want to test your knowledge about American wine? Give this quiz a shot: (I just realized I'm more of a fan than a connoisseur)

Want to see just how exotic your food knowledge is? Give this quiz a shot:
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

There might be a new kid on the block. It looks like Trader Joe's is coming to town!

I have never lived in a city with a Trader Joe's that actually had a liquor license, so stocking up on Two Buck Chuck has been tough.

Luckily, it looks like those days are behind me, because word on the street is that Trader Joe's has applied for a liquor license in town. I still may stockpile some cheap wine, but at least now I can replenish my supply whenever I like:::::::::::::::
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sweet, sweet, sweetbreads

I've never really been a "regular" anywhere. I suppose there's been a watering hole or two that I've frequented weekly(ok, maybe more), but when it comes to restaurants I have a wandering eye.

Although Louisville isn't necessarily a big city, it's residents are lucky to have so many dining options. From highfalutin to down home cooking, this town has a lot of independently owned restaurants, and the hubby and I try to visit a new one every week. That being said, we don't subject out of town guests to our hit and miss dining adventures, and tend to return to our favorites when they're visiting.

Friday before last we returned to the Germantown eatery, Eiderdown(previous post), and were happy we did.

I typically don't double up on reviews but I simply had to tell y'all about the sweetbreads we had at Eiderdown. Their menu changes often so I'm not sure how long they'll be available, but in my opinion they should give them a regular place next to Homer's Daydream.

These were the best sweetbreads I've had in a long time. They were mild and completely void of the organ meat flavor they can sometimes have. They were sauteed perfectly resulting in a great external texture and internal tenderness. They were sitting on some sort of amazing meat juice reduction. And they were accompanied by their signature cauliflower biscuits.

If you don't think you're a sweetbreads fan these might just convert you. And if you have some unadventurous eaters in your group order them anyway and tell them they're chicken. By the time they realize it's not chicken and you tell them it's the thymus gland of a calf, they'll be too far gone into flavor heaven to be mad at you.
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Friday, March 4, 2011

New posts

I've never been to Eddie Merlot's, but this could really be a good deal. If Nick and I drink water, and just pick at our salad and potatoes, we could really get our $39.95 worth out of some lobsters.
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why should peas and carrots have all the fun? Fried green tomatoes and bacon deserve some respect.

Peas and carrots are a good pair. I'll admit they go together well. Toss them in some butter...sprinkle with salt and've got a great flavor combination. But who decided that they were going to be the poster children for "they go together like..."? I know I wasn't consulted.

Personally, I think there are many far superior flavor mixtures out there. Perhaps roasted beets and goat cheese doesn't have the right ring to it. And smoked salmon and egg salad might sound just plain gross(but soooo yummy). Did you know that honey, ricotta cheese and pine nuts create a veritable symphony in your mouth? They do. Slap that mixture on a toast point and you've got a dish worthy of oohs and aahs. I think these, along with hundreds of other food pairings deserve some much needed recognition.

Recently I've added a new pairing to my list and I just can't seem to get enough of it. Fried green tomato and bacon anyone?

Yes, tomato and bacon have long been friends, but fried green tomatoes don't resemble the juicy red globes they'll eventually become at all. Green tomatoes are tart and acidic. They're firm enough to hold up to frying and I, personally, think they have notes of lemon. Fried up and stuck on a biscuit or toast with some thick cut bacon and you're in food combination heaven.

So far in Louisville I've found this pair at:

Our Best Restaurant(they do it up simply...fried green tomato, bacon, biscuit and a spicy $2.99 this one is certainly the best deal in town).

Goose Creek Diner(they put a spin on a breakfast blt and add a cheese topped egg to a stack of fried green tomatoes, bacon and lettuce)(pic...tell me that is not sexy...looks soooo tasty)(p.s. they also offer one heck of a breakfast/brunch buffet on weekends)

Lynn's Paradise Cafe(theirs is a fried green tomato blt on buttermilk bread with a Parmesan garlic mayo)

Browning's Cafe(they serve a fried green tomato blt on foccacia...I haven't had this one yet but I'm sure I will)

I'm still on the lookout for more, more, more! Do you know of any other places in Louisville that serve up fried green tomatoes and any form or fashion??? I'd LOVE to hear about it!
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

This just in from my field correspondent - Mr. Pollo doesn't disappoint

This just in from my field correspondent...aka, The Hubby.

"Just had an awesome chicken lunch at this Peruvian place". "The chicken was perfectly spiced and super flavorful".

Apparently Mr. Pollo knows his chicken. Nick had a quarter chicken, fries, salad and a drink for $6.99. The chicken had a semi-spicy rub on it and was roasted to perfection.

Need a break from the daily burger lunch? Perhaps looking for a quick trip to Peru? Nick recommends Mr. Pollo.

Mr. Pollo on Urbanspoon
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As if they're not busy enough on a typical weekend...........

But if you're patient and only have a buck it might be worth waiting in line!
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Wild Ginger - You might come for the sushi but you'll stay for the spicy squid

A quick Google Map search for "sushi" along Bardstown Rd. in the Highlands reveals a line of red markers dotting what seems like every block from E Broadway to Trevillian. Who would have guessed that another sushi joint was needed?

I guess you can never have too many sushi joints because when Nick and I walked into the (somewhat) recently opened Wild Ginger a few weeks back, it was packed.

The interior was warm and inviting mixed with some modern touches especially around the bar and sushi bar.

The menu runs the Asian gamut from Japanese to Thai...from Korean to Chinese...there's A LOT to choose from.

When trying to order off a menu of that magnitude we decided to stick to the basics...sashimi, tempura, a "special" roll or two and something off the pan part of the pan Asian menu.

We ordered a literal boatload of sashimi and it arrived in a quirky and cute presentation. All of the usual players were accounted for in the mix and the fish was cut well. The problem we ran into was the temperature. The sashimi was partially frozen when it arrived. All of it, in fact, suffered from being too cold. I'm not sure if it was pre-frozen and not thawed properly or if they simply chilled it too much, but the tiny ice granules that dotted the fish were unfortunate.

Another sushi "special" that we had(uggg...I should have written it down because I forget what it was) was fine, and didn't suffer from the temperature issue. It wasn't all that noteworthy but it was tasty.

After the too cold sashimi we decided to order something deep fried. The tempura was of the shrimp and vegetable variety and was executed well. No problems there.

We decided on one more dish to share...something hearty to help soak up the Sapporos and Kirins we were knocking back. We decided to venture away from Japan and head over to Korea for some Korean Spicy Squid.

This dish was awesome. It was spicy, but not so much that it overpowered the squid. It was cooked well, packed with flavor and best of all, boasted a wonderful mix of textures. It made me wish we had ordered all our dishes that evening off the "Asian Entrees" section of the menu.

As for the rest of it.........service was friendly and plentiful. Empty dishes practically flew off our table the second they were completed. I really enjoyed the atmosphere as well. It was bustling enough to feel inviting but not so much that people were bumping into you all night.

In the end I guess my opinion would be that Bardstown Rd doesn't really need another sushi joint...or perhaps one isn't needed when it serves semi-frozen fish. What might be needed and welcome, however, is a joint that serves up Pan Asian food like that Korean Spicy Squid. If the rest of the hot dishes are as good as that squid, Wild Ginger will be a welcome addition to the Bardstown Rd Asian restaurant scene.

P.S. They seem to have some decent weekly specials that might be worth checking out.

Wild Ginger on Urbanspoon
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Facebook - Bringing the chalkboard menu into the 21st century

My latest post::::::::

P.S. About the Charcutepalooza mentioned in the post...I read this term seems to be the year of the hare AND the cured meat...Nick and I will be trying our hand at making homemade charcuterie...Stay tuned...It's sure to be entertaining!!
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hi folks!

Starting today I'm going to be contributing a bit to the food&dining section of

I'm doing my best to seek out noteworthy happenings in the Louisville dining scene but I can always use more help from some die hard Louisville foodies.

If you've got anything cool going on at your local watering hole or hear something through the grape vine I'd love to share it with the town. Found a cool locally made product or just excited about something? Same goes!

So please feel free to e-mail, comment, whatever.

I always love hearing from y'all!!!

P.S. I'll be linking my posts to this blog
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Monday, February 14, 2011


The hubby and I don't really "do" Valentine's Day.

I mean sure, sometimes we'll cook a nice meal together and open a decent bottle of wine, but truth be told, that happens a few times a week anyway.

Sure, we could go out to dinner, but we do that once a week as well.

Jewelry? I have one birthday a year, a wedding anniversary and Christmas.

Flowers? Ok...I kind of like them...but I'm happy with the ones from the grocery store.

Basically my theory is that you should tell the one you love that you love them more than once a overpriced card necessary.

But that doesn't mean that a nice gesture won't be appreciated on a day as over-hyped as this. My recommendation? Make your loved one something homemade...something sweet(literally)...and something easy enough that it allows you to spend a little quality time together. Make them these molten chocolate cakes(the way to ANYONE'S heart is through their stomach).

I've kept this recipe a secret for some time now. Ok, it's not exactly "mine" to keep. I ripped it out of a very well known cooking magazine, but I'm the only one I know who makes it, and if I found it first then "finder's keepers" right?

It is, honestly, the best dessert I've ever made...and quite possibly the easiest. I've served it at many a dinner party to rave reviews...I guarantee success.

Molten Spiced Chocolate Cabernet Cakes


4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 tablespoon Cabernet Sauvignon or other red wine
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter 4 (6-ounce) custard cups or soufflĂ© dishes(I've made these in coffee mugs when I didn't have custard cups). Place on baking sheet.

2. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwavable bowl on HIGH 1 minute or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in wine, vanilla and confectioners' sugar until well blended. Stir in eggs and yolk. Stir in flour, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Pour batter evenly into prepared custard cups.

3. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 minute. Carefully loosen edges with small knife. Invert cakes onto serving plates. Sprinkle with additional confectioners' sugar. Serve immediately.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Holy Grale - The beer was heavenly...the food wasn't

It was our last Friday night at our house off Bardstown Rd. We would be moving the next Wednesday(aka the day before yesterday) to a place where stepping out your back door and into the front door of a bar wasn't going to be feasible. We decided to find a walkable place to dine that evening, and finish off our Highlands stay with some good 'ol fashioned bar hopping.

I was looking for a fun place to eat. I was looking for quirky and interesting food. Having just bought a house, the hubby was looking for cheap. Holy Grale looked to be a good choice. The website boasted a good beer selection and unique(and inexpensive) bar bites.

We arrived at an extremely nondescript location. It was a building like many on Bardstown, and I would not have known it was a dining/bar establishment had I not street-viewed it on Google-maps earlier that day.

Inside, the place was bustling. Every bar stool was filled. Every two top was taken. We ordered two beers from the "order here" section of the bar and although we feared we might have to start bar hopping on empty stomachs, we were able to swoop in and grab some seats. Note: there are no reservations and tables are first come first serve

The beer selection was, as I stated in the title, quite heavenly. The variety was wonderful. The prices were fair. Each beer was served in it's appropriate glass.

We perused the menu while we enjoyed our beer.

I shouldn't go any further without mentioning that there really isn't wait service "proper" here. If you want to order anything(beer, food) you have to do so at that "order here" section of the bar. So every time you want a new beer or snack you have to get up and wait in line. Then you sit down and wait for them to bring it to you. Perhaps in theory this was a good idea, but in practice all you get is a group of people standing in the middle of the restaurant waiting in "line" to order. From what I could tell, many others shared my dislike for this process.

For the food....First things first...we had to order the poutine. Nick and I have had some damn good poutine in our day. In Montreal poutine is a celebrated dish, and let me tell you, good poutine is certainly something worth celebrating. Perfectly crispy fries topped with a mound of cheese curd and bathed in brown gravy. The texture/flavor combo is amazing........if done right that is.

At Holy Grale the poutine($6) was simply not done right. The fries were disappointingly un-crispy. The "gravy" was alright, certainly not traditional, but alright, if not a bit overpowering. The thing that really killed the dish was the cheese. Shredded Mozzarella? Really Holy Grale? It made the dish feel like something that was created out of leftovers. Poutine is made with cheese curd for a reason. I mean, I typically have no problem with artistic license if it works, but taking the cheese curd out of this dish and replacing it with flavorless shredded cheese(that didn't even melt properly) did not work.

Next we tried the Fiedler Farm Beer Brat($5). It was served with sauerkraut and mustard on a pretzel bun. The brat itself was tasty. Putting it on an over-salted pretzel bun is where they went wrong. The salt just killed the dish. And this time it's not just my opinion. While waiting in line to pay I saw two other people at separate tables scraping the salt off their pretzel bun. Over-salting something sounds minor, but it can ruin a dish.

Last AND certainly least we ordered a daily special. Chorizo, beef and goat cheese meatballs($4) in a spicy sauce. In my experience you can almost never go wrong by ordering the special...almost.

The meatballs were over-seasoned to the point of almost being inedible. Nick and I went back and forth trying to figure out where it all went wrong. We came to the conclusion that they were 1.) Too greasy from the chorizo, and so, unable to stay together without crumbling 2.) Over-seasoned with clashing flavors 3.) Spicy for the sake of being spicy...basically the spice didn't add flavor, it just burned your mouth.

At this point we threw in the towel. Though we would have loved to keep eating we weren't about to do it there.

The beer was a different story.

I have to say that each and every beer we had was amazing. I even took notes on them because they were, well, literally noteworthy.

I had a Bells Lager of the Lake($5.50) and a Chateau Rogue Dirtoir black lager($6). Both were excellent...the Bells lager was light and refreshing...the black lager was my, nutty, almost chocolate like.

Nick had the Monks Cafe Flemish red($6.75) and the Blaugies Moneuse($6.75). Both were excellent as well...the red was sour, as many Flemish reds are, with a refreshing bite...the Blaugies was a strong Belgian ale and was packed with flavor

To me, Holy Grale looks good on paper but fails to execute. The idea of a great beer-centric bar with inventive and affordable bar snacks is a great one. But when the place is packed and the only chef is also the waiter, you're going to have some issues. When the bartenders(2 of them) are also working the "order here" station, pouring beer, delivering beer, trying to answer questions about beer, ringing up tabs, hopping on one foot, patting their heads and rubbing their're going to have some issues.

I'd like to believe that the chef could deliver better food if he had some help. The menu looked interesting and beer friendly.

I'd also like to believe that they can iron out the front of house issues and start running like a well oiled machine. The decor was inviting and the staff was as friendly as could be expected considering they were in the weeds for what seemed like the entire night.

I'm not, however, going to return to see if either of these things can be fixed. Dining out shouldn't be exhausting. Standing in a packed line every time you want a bite to eat or a beer isn't my idea of a good time.

Louisville diners might disagree with me. I can see how the place could be charming to some. It's new and different. But for me, personally, that just doesn't cut it.

Holy Grale on Urbanspoon
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Super bowl...of matzo ball soup - Stevens & Stevens Deli - The sandwiches are amazing too

"I could go for a sandwich", I say to my husband, when he asks what I'm in the mood for.

"You can always go for a sandwich", Nick says, eyes rolling, as he realizes how ridiculous it was for him to even ask.

The answer for me, is almost always, "a sandwich".

It doesn't really matter what the question is either.

"What's the best cure for a hangover?".......A sandwich(turkey)
"What do you want for Christmas?".............A sandwich(roast beef with horseradish)
"What should I do when I'm in Philly?".......(eat)A sandwich(roast pork with broccoli rabe)

I'm no Nobel Peace prize winner but I'm pretty sure strategic distribution of the right kind of sandwiches between waring nations could do some real good.

That being said I'm sure it goes without saying that I like me a good sandwich. Are you looking for a good sandwich? How about a really good bowl of matzo ball soup on the side? My recommendation would be to head to Stevens & Stevens. Good sandwiches? Yup. They got 'em.

Sandwiches are engineering marvels of the culinary world. They're built level by level from the ground up, combining texture and flavor in a fantastic hand held package. And as any good architect will tell you...a good foundation is key. Enter...the bread.

Stevens & Stevens makes their own rye bread in-house. I really don't need to say more.

Now for the guts of sandwich.......

If you're typically an indecisive person you may want to just close your eyes and point to something on the menu because the choices here are staggering. They run the gamut from traditional NY style deli sandwiches to French inspired creations.

And if you can't decide whether you want a sandwich, soup or a salad do what I did and order half of two. At $6.25 you really can't go wrong.

On this particular day I chose a bowl of matzo ball soup(a favorite of mine for sure) and The French Connection sandwich. The sandwich was hot roast beef with melted brie, dijon, greens and onions...all on a foccacia roll.

The sandwich was good, but the star of the show for me was the matzo ball soup. A bowl of rich, flavorful chicken broth caressing a fist-size matzo ball. The matzo ball was fantastic. It was moist and tender yet firm enough to stand up to being submerged in broth. Great flavor and texture rounded out this ball. Sometimes on a cold day I think of making a big 'ol batch of matzo ball soup...but why go through the hassle if you can get a really good quality soup here?

The winning sandwich that day has to go to Nick's. He ordered the Phantom of the Opera and I was jealous. This puppy had hot corned beef and pastrami WITH chopped liver, Russian slaw and some Jarlsburg cheese to add a layer of gooey goodness. He got it on the house made rye(but of course), and it was delicious.

When in a NY deli I can never decide between pastrami and chopped liver. Here they don't make you decide. You can have your pastrami and liver too.

I didn't try any of the salads, although I've heard good things about the Isabella Tortellini.

I would have loved to see a smoked white fish option on the menu but was happy to see a bagel and lox option.

The service was prompt and friendly. The prices were reasonable for what they were offering. I mean, pastrami, corned beef AND chopped liver? $7.95 seems about right.

The best part for me was that Stevens & Stevens offers a little taste of the Tri-State area, here in Louisville. I have yet to find a truly good bagel in town, and I'm still searching for that perfect piece of pizza...but at least I know where I can get some damn good pastrami on rye with a side of matzo ball soup.

Stevens & Stevens Deli on Urbanspoon
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Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy (chinese) New Year!

Just when you thought you were done celebrating the arrival of a new year, February 3rd rolls around and out walks the lion, in hops the hare...and the festivities begin once more.

That's right. The Chinese New Years begins on February 3rd this year. Just a few days away!

If you're lucky enough to live in a big city with a Chinatown during the Chinese New Year you're in for a treat. There is plenty of food, festivities, firecrackers and dancing dragons.

People hang food outside of their doors as an offering to a mythical beast called Nien, who legend says would destroy livestock and crops, in hopes that he would enjoy the food offered and leave the crops and such be. Colorful red lanterns and firecrackers are also hung and lit in doorways to scare off the new year beast.

The "dragon" dances up and down the Chinatown streets, all the while firecrackers are set off and dancers fight against the dragon. It's a wonderful sight to behold.

And each new year brings influence of a different animal. Last year was the tiger...this year it's the hare (what is your Chinese zodiac sign?).

There is so, so, so much more to the history and tradition of the Chinese New year that I'm not familiar with. There is, however, one part of the celebration and tradition that I'm all about...that's right...the food!!!

Cakes filled with lotus bean paste. Long noodles. Spring rolls. Whole fish. Tangerines. All are considered good luck or are symbolic of wealth, long life and good fortune for the coming new year.

Long noodles represent long life. Spring rolls resemble gold bouillon. The word for fish sounds like the words for wish and abundance. And if served whole, head and tail attached, a fish for dinner symbolizes a good beginning and end of the coming year.

Even if you're firecrackers and red lanterns are in storage. Even if your dragon costume is at the dry cleaners. Even if you don't participate in any other festivities to ring in the Chinese New can always eat your way into the year of the hare...and here's how to do it............

Visit Viet Hoa Food Market right here in Louisville. This place has everything you need for your Chinese New Year feast...and much, much more.

If you're not confident in your cooking skills they have aisle after aisle of traditional Chinese pre-made frozen goods...many of which you would find on a dim sum menu. Be adventurous! Grab a cart and fill it up! All you'll have to do is re-heat it all when you get home.

Try a new noodle...they have dozens of varieties. Be brave and roast a whole fish for dinner...they have plenty.

And don't forget dessert! If you can't find anything with lotus paste, red bean paste filled treats are always yummy.

Nick and I visited Viet Hoa a few weeks ago and filled our cart with dozens of our favorite things...Chinese sausage, fish balls, our favorite type of red chili paste, dried mushrooms of every variety, noodles, sauces...the list goes on.

And don't worry about the language barrier. Viet Hoa marks just about every item with an English description. If it isn't in English on the package simply look at the shelf tag for an idea of what it is.

So ring in the Chinese New Year with traditional Chinese fare. Leave the General Tso Chicken for another time and partake in some truly delicious (and perhaps lucky) food.

Viet Hoa Food Market
7100 Preston Hwy #107
Louisville, KY 40219

P.S. They don't JUST have Chinese goods. They carry food from all across Asia...if not all across the globe.
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