Best laid plans . . .

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Last night, I went to an hysterical viewing of 1998’s failed attempt at “Godzilla” with Matthew Broderick in Nashville, Tennessee. The movie made hysterical by the gentlemen of Rifftrax who made merry and mirth at the movie’s multitude of sins. Lack of plot, notwithstanding.

Before the movie, we were going to dine somewhere near the Belacourt Theater in the West End, no where of note really, until a local establishment came up in conversation and to Etch we went.

Etch is Chef Deb Paquette’s newest eclectic dining experience–industrial, open kitchen atmosphere. Simple art and concrete pillars decorate the place because it’s not about the decor. The food–playful, yet simple. Attention to detail, texture and taste make Etch a standout from the rest of the barbecue joints, honky tonks, chains and places that feed the masses. Etch feeds the foodie’s crave for taste and pleasure on the palate. The food feeds more than the stomach, Chef Deb feeds a foodie’s senses.

Entrees looked well crafted and created but the appetizers made my meal. We tasted a little and a lot of everything Etch offered on it’s menu:

1st  Plate: Butter. Fresh, flavored BUTTER. prosciutto truffle, smoked parmesan black pepper, ginger cashew, \malt vinegar. Spread on fresh bread and wonder if I need anything else in the world but prosciutto truffle butter?

Butter Tasting

2nd Plate: Pork Belly. Fried. With 3 sauces and kimchi. When rolling the pork belly in the tahini tofu and adding kimchi–the textures and acid bite of the kimchi with the butteryness of the pork belly–all the richness of the fat came together into a perfect bite. Faintly reminisce of old Korean barbecue restaurants in New York with richer ingredients. The blueberry squish in the bite added a sweetness that brought out the acid of the kimchi.

Pork Belly

Plate 3: Roasted Cauliflower with truffle pea pesto and a whole almond bite. Combining those flavors in a forkful just made the roast cauliflower more crunchy and lively.

Roasted Cauliflower

Plate 4: Octopus and Shrimp Bruschetta with arugula, manchengo and bacon. I love octopus. LOVE IT. Pairing it with bacon? I wasn’t sure at first until I tasted that first briny/salty bite. Next bite of roasted tomato, shrimp and manchengo brought Spain back to me–the sheep’s milk cheese from La Mancha, the salty sea air of Sitges. I ate a bite of Spain and it tasted delicious.

Polpo

Plate 5: Charcuterie Salad with Tennessee prosciutto and Etch smoked sausages with smoked-SMOKED!-lima beans with pickled onions and apples and more. I wrapped the prosciutto  around a bite of apple with the dijon vinaigrette and the salty sweet acid just burst onto the back of my tongue. I took a sip of the 2013 NZ Sauvignon Blanc and all the fruit-salt-acid just became a taste of farm earth. Add the fried oyster mushroom with the Etch smoked sausage and dijon and it was another perfect bite of loamy richness of farm and forest.

CharcSalad

Plate 6: Lamb Tartare with mint, cilantro, harissa paste, zucchini, tempura eggplant that reminded me so much of Morocco. The buttery rich lamb just melted into the harissa, mint, cilantro paste I made. The bite of herbed feta with the lamb melded beautifully into a fresh, sweet, spicy rich taste of the souk in Marrakech.

LambTartar

Plates 7 & 8: Rutabaga and Charred Brussel Sprouts: Both veg really made the end of the meal–the slight char of the brussel sprouts with carmelized onions. The rutabaga reminded me of good portabello without the fungi funk they often have when not seared well. The cauliflower/avocado smash on top with the flash charred okra became a veggie sandwich by itself.

Rutabega

CharredBS

In summary, Etch and Chef Deb Paquette fed my foodie travel soul and I thank her for sharing her craft.

ChefDebhttp://www.etchrestaurant.com

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Frankfort Summer Friday Night Lights

Last Friday night of June here in Frankfort and it’s gonna be a hot one. Downtown Frankfort’s throwing another summer concert with the Frontier Band and the Blind Corn Liquor Pickers on the Old Capitol Lawn at 7pm. 

I love these concerts–such a gathering of community to enjoy music, food and company. Watching the different generations mix and dance together amazes me on so many levels. Years ago, the seniors would complain about that “loud music” but here, the seniors are dancing with the younger and enjoying it! I see families sitting together, sharing food, swapping stories, singing along. Visitors come from out of town because they like the bands playing or to see family (maybe both), see what’s going on and join the fun too.

Frankfort comes together on Friday nights throughout the summer. The energy and sense of community throughout the generations infuses the town with life that is a precious rarity in towns like Frankfort today. It’s what draws me here–the art around town and in galleries; the funky vibe of Capital Cellars, Eclectic Mix, Kentucky Coffee Tree and Poor Richard’s Books; the history of Kentucky in the Kentucky Historical Society and Capital City Museum and walking over the Singing Bridge to watch boats leisurely cruise down the Kentucky River. 

I love Frankfort. I’m happy to call it home. 

 

Time to Run for the Roses, Pedal for the Posies so Beef up your Bows and Dress in Best Clothes

That’s right, it’s DERBY WEEK! Here in the Bluegrass, we’re creating hats that make a statement, muddling a new twist on a mint julep, cross referencing the probabilities on lines of the horses running in the field of eight or watching everyone else do this because that’s more amusing.

I’m a watcher usually, but this year I’m participating in the Governor’s Downtown Derby Celebration on Saturday morning at 8am. It’s a wonderful celebration for young and old, singles and families, lushes and sobers alike. I’ll dine along Broadway, taking in Capital Cellars and Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe’s Derby inspired noshems. Admire the historically dressed and equine themed tables along the Old Capital Lawn along with the Kentucky artisans on display. 

For a good laugh, later in the morning after a few cocktails (or not), there’s Pedal for the Posies–the 2nd most exciting 2 minutes in sports, so dubbed by Stuart Harrod at FolkBike Recycling in Frankfort. Imagine adults on tricked out kids’ bikes with high knees in the air for 1.25 miles in flamboyant Derby finery.

Oh yes, it’s a good time. You’ll find me somewhere between the Old Capitol and Capital Cellars with a bevvy in hand. 

All Pics Courtesy and with Permission of Downtown Frankfort, Inc. Brittain Skinner, Exec. Director. Check out Downtown Frankfort on Facebook and see all the really cool stuff we do here year ’round.

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Apples: The Herald of Autumn

When September comes around, I start planning my apple schedule for prime picking of golden delicious, McIntosh, Jonathan, Jonagold, red delicious, winesap, and Rome. Each peaks at different points in the season and I want the apples at the peak of perfection for whatever I happen to be inspired to make.

This time last year, I discovered a hidden jewel for my apple wants in Owen County, on a hilltop overlooking the Kentucky River: Ayres Orchard.

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Last year, I took my first bite of an Ayres Orchard Jonagold and I was hooked. No other apple orchard would do, so when Larry Ayres, owner of Ayres Orchard, told me it was almost time to pick a few weeks ago, I began my plan of apple action.

The McIntosh started ripening a week or so ago, so they’re huge and ready for apple sauces and puréed, especially for cakes. Today’s visit revealed apple trees laden with fruit so heavy with sugar and juice that boughs bend under that delicious weight.

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Larry tells me the golden and red delicious will be perfect next week so I will wait with baited breath to get my eating apple fix. He also said red delicious are one of the healthiest eating apples because of their thicker skin. The red delicious glows ruby on the bough and shines in the sun, almost too beautiful to eat but no. I took a bite into a sparkling ruby and the sweetness burst across my tongue.

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I can’t remember a more perfect apple than the ones I pick from Ayres Orchard. This season’s harvest is delicious and I can’t wait to pick more.

http://www.ayresfamilyorchard.com

Cooking Kentucky Proud with LRGoesLocal

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I woke up early this morning on a mission–to get Kentucky farmed freshwater prawns from the Franklin County Farmers Market. I missed the prawns last year and I wasn’t going to this year. When I got there, Angela Caporelli from the KY Ag Department, along with Dan Moreland, our farmer of said prawns, plus KSU representatives cooked up some delicious samples of the prawns with a little cajun spicing and local Kentucky Proud veggies that made for my breakfast.

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I could eat prawns, shrimp, and other crustaceans everyday–low in fat, low in cholesterol. Freshwater varieties are even more so, which is why this Kentucky-raised prawn adventure excites me.

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I brought my prawns home and contemplated how and what to prepare. I love ceviche and I have lime, stressed jalapenos, cilantro, fresh pepper, a little EVOO–shake and bake, I thought!

6 hours later . . . I’m hungry. The lime juice worked but not as fast as my impatient taste buds wanted so into the sauce pan my dinner went.Image

And they came out beautifully! The lime, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, marinade just sweetened the tender meat of the prawns, elevating the lobster-like meat into a sweet and spicy entree enhanced with fresh lime, cucumber, and tomato. Image

This first foray into freshwater prawns farmed here in Kentucky, I consider a success. Not only is it very healthy-tasty, it’s sustainable–It’s genius for Kentucky farmers!

And I want more. Prawn season just started here in central Kentucky with farmers harvesting in September. Today’s prawns brought to you by Dan Moreland up in Butler, Kentucky: http://www.kyagr.com/KDAPage.aspx?id=3509

I’m feeling even more adventurous in my cooking. I think I’ll make Kentucky proud paella next.

 

5th Course: Recourse of the Evening

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I’m not a fine dining aficionado by any stretch, but I do love good food. Chef Edward Lee made a very good and memorable meal that changed my palate considerably and I appreciate his art in food very much. His plates came beautifully prepared with complex flavors that aren’t complicated. I  enjoyed the meal, the company, and the atmosphere of the evening. I didn’t toast the evening at the time, but here’s my toast:

To old friends who’ve just met over good food and good wine–L’chaim!