Taxi Appreciation Day in Paristown Pointe

The 140th Kentucky Derby is in the books. The rest of the world has moved on from horse racing to baseball and the NBA finals and current events. Here in Louisville, we just need a little rest. For Louisvillians, Derby isn't just about big hats and mint juleps and bets. It's a week-long festival. No wonder Louisville has declared May as Hometown Tourism Month -- after that big party this weekend, we're all too tired to go anywhere!

Now, the Derby wore us all out, but the folks in the tourism and service industries worked extra hard this weekend. With all the parties, and all the reservations, and all the "can't miss" plans, the city's servers, hotel clerks, and bartenders were swamped. And I can't even imagine what the cab drivers had to put up with.

A specially designed 2014 Derby Cab, sponsored by Early Times and Louisville's Yellow Cab Co.

Tomorrow, May 6th, our favorite businesses in the Paristown Pointe neighborhood, Louisville Stoneware and The Cafe, are hosting a Taxi Appreciation Day to thank all the drivers who have endured bad directions, bad attitudes, and over-served patrons over Derby weekend. From 9 to 11 tomorrow morning, taxi drivers can stop by The Cafe and Stoneware to pick up special gifts.

I love the sense of community that The Cafe and Stoneware lend to Paristown Pointe -- they're adjacent to Downtown, the Highlands, and so many "must-see" Louisville areas; it's great that they're building a commercial identity for that area! As you're recovering from Derby, be sure to stop by The Cafe for their fantastic hot brown, and the newly renovated Stoneware factory for unique art pottery.  

The Berry Cobbler Mint Julep

A couple of weeks ago, on a rare date night with my husband (we have a two-year-old, after all), we were strolling around downtown Lexington all footloose and fancy free when I noticed a "new" mural on an old, familiar wall, only to be informed it has been there for a long time.  Like I said, I don't get out much.

Herekut Mural on Market Street;   2012 Lexington Mural Project

Herekut Mural on Market Street; 2012 Lexington Mural Project

My eyes drifted around the corner, to the front of the building, and straight into Belle's Cocktail House. True to the hip and cool image we were portraying after we ditched the decidedly un-cool mini-van in a parking lot, we decided to go inside and check it out.  I assumed the name had a connection to Lexington's infamous Belle Brezing, on whom the character Belle Watlingin "Gone with the Wind" was modeled.  Much to my delight, the portrait of Belle Brezing hanging in the downstairs bar confirmed this connection.

Gatewood's Manhattan caught my eye.  I loved Gatewood Galbraith and a Manhattan is my favorite drink. The perfect marriage. (Okay...I must confess I asked the bartender to drop most of the liquid smoke since I dislike smoke flavor.  I felt guilty about it, but reassured myself that Gatewood would tell me to do whatever the heck I wanted.)  

Although not on the menu, our bartender told us about Belle's own Josh Naylor's prize winning Berry Cobbler Mint Julep, People’s Choice Winner 2014 Four Roses Mint Julep Competition.  He had me at "berry cobbler."  If you're looking for a new julep recipe or find yourself in Belle's neighborhood, I highly recommend this delicious beauty.  (It may not be on the menu, so be sure to ask for it.)

The Berry Cobbler Mint Julep Recipe

People’s Choice Winner 2014 Four Roses Mint Julep Competition

(Published by The Bourbon Review)

Recipe by Josh Naylor of Belle’s Cocktail House (Lexington, KY)


  • 15-20 mint leaves (depending on size)
  • 8-10 blueberries (depending on size)
  • 1/4 lemon
  • .75 oz blackberry simple syrup
  • .25 oz vanilla cinnamon simple syrup
  • 1.75 oz Four Roses Small Batch
  • Crushed ice
  • Plum bitters
  • Mint sprig (for garnish)
  • Lemon twist (for garnish)


Add mint leaves, blueberries and the juice of a 1/4 of a lemon into the bottom of a double rocks glass. Gently muddle just enough to break up the blueberries and release the oils of the mint. Add the blackberry syrup, vanilla cinnamon syrup and the bourbon directly into the glass. Fill halfway with crushed ice. With a bar spoon stir the contents in order to pull the muddled ingredients up away from the bottom of the glass. Fill the rest of the way with crushed ice mounding it as much as possible. Add 1-2 dashes of plum bitters on top of mounded ice. Garnish with a lemon twist and fresh sprig of mint.

Vanilla Cinnamon Simple Syrup

In a sauce pan add 16 oz. light brown sugar, 16 oz. distilled water, 1 whole vanilla bean split in half, 1 whole cinnamon stick and 1 whole allspice berry. Bring all ingredients to a boil making sure to stir constantly in order to help the sugar completely dissolve and not burn. Once a boil has been reached, reduce heat to a simmer. Let the liquid reduce by half (about 30 minutes) stirring occasionally. Let cool and strain into a resealable container or storm pourer ready for use.

Blackberry Simple Syrup

In a sauce pan add 16 oz. light brown sugar, 16 oz. distilled water, 8 oz. fresh blackberries and 1/4 tsp. of freshly grated nutmeg. Bring all ingredients to a boil making sure to stir constantly in order to help the sugar completely dissolve and not burn. Also use the spoon you are stirring with to help break up the berries and release their juice. Once a boil has been reached, reduce heat to a simmer. Let the liquid reduce by half (about 30 minutes) stirring occasionally. Let cool and strain (making sure to press the berries to get out all the liquid leaving nothing but the seeds and pulp in the strainer) into a resealable container or storm pourer ready for use.

Derby At Belle's

The Bourbon Review is hosting its first annual Bourbon Review Derby Party,  Derby At Belle's. $30 tickets include brunch with Wild Eggs, 3 drinks and giveaways for best Derby Hat and Dapper Dressed Guy.  Proceeds go toward the Friends of the Lexington Mounted Police.  

Designing the Perfect Kentucky Derby Hat

The 140th Kentucky Derby is almost here, y'all.

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

I've already bought a commemorative Derby Glass and sipped a little something minty from it. And, like most Louisvillians, I've already given a lot of thought to my Derby Hat. So, I was thrilled when the folks from Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse asked me to participate in their Derby Hat Trunk Show and Fundraiser!

140th Kentucky Derby Hat Fashion Blog

Off Broadway sent me a hat and asked me to decorate it however I liked and return it to their Shelbyville Road store to be auctioned off to benefit The Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation. Well, who could say no to the opportunity to create a beautiful hat while helping benefit the Derby City?

Of course, the first thing you need for the perfect Derby Hat is flowers. Striking, unique flowers are the key to any well-designed hat. So, I headed to Dee's, Louisville's beloved spot for Derby hat decorations.

Dee's was certainly ready for Derby, with flowers, feathers, and equestrian-themed merchandise everywhere!

It was hard to decide among all the gorgeous feathers and flowers! I wanted to use them all!

Finally, I decided on my favorite flowers -- an assortment of lilies -- and a fun aqua and white color scheme that looked so striking against the red hat. 

Please join Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse at 4600 Shelbyville Road, Suite 201 this Saturday, April 26, for their hat event. Local stylists and hat designer Carole Amper will be there to help you pick out the perfect hat for your Derby ensemble. You'll have the opportunity to bid on my hat, as well as those designed by other community members!

Thanks so much to Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse for letting me take part in this fabulous event! I hope to see y'all there!

The Governor's Downtown Derby Celebration

The Official Derby Celebration Poster
My favorite Derby Day tradition happens during the morning of the first Saturday in May. For many years, the event was dubbed the "Derby Breakfast." It was held at the grounds of the Capitol and breakfast was provided by the Commonwealth to all who wanted to attend, free of charge.

Times have changed, but I think for the better! Due to budget cuts, breakfast is no longer provided. Instead, the Celebration was moved to the Old Capitol and downtown business district of Frankfort - giving local restaurants, food trucks and merchants a chance to shine!

Coordinated in large part by Downtown Frankfort, Inc., the day's activities vary widely. Bands will take the stage in front of the Old Capitol to provide entertainment. Children can participate in stick horse races and the Derby Dash race down Broadway hosted by the Frankfort YMCA. The highlight is a fun bicycle race called the Pedal for the Posies. Local business and civic leaders don ridiculous costumes and race on children's bikes to claim the trophy.

Come enjoy this free event! Bring a little cash to sample traditional breakfast fare from one of the local restaurants or foodtrucks (my favorite is the country ham biscuit from the KY Pork Producers' truck!). Stop by one of the local watering holes for a Bloody Mary or Mimosa.

Start your Derby Day off right!

The HerKentucky Interview with Taste of Derby Chef Stephanie Izard

When Skuna Bay Salmon contacted me about interviewing the chefs that will be representing them at Taste of Derby, I figured it would be a great opportunity to showcase a unique Derby Week event. I didn't realize it would be such a great lesson about realizing your dreams through hard work and dedication. It's been amazing to hear such accomplished chefs share both their passion for cooking and their advice for success. I so adore the message that today's chef has for professional women looking to break the glass ceiling: "It's not about your gender or race or anything like is about your work ethic."

Yesterday, we talked with Denver-based chef Jennifer Jasinski. Today's interview is with Stephanie Izard, Executive Chef and co-owner of Chicago's Girl & The Goat and Little Goat restaurants. Stephanie, a Connecticut native, is a James Beard Award nominee, Food & Wine's "Top New Chef" and the winner of Season Four (and the first female winner!) of Bravo's Top Chef. Stephanie was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

HerKentucky: When did you know you wanted to become a chef? 
Stephanie Izard: I always loved to cook but did not really see being a chef as a career until I was in college at the University of Michigan. I was a sociology major and never really found anything I loved. My dad was the one that recommended I try culinary school. So I migrated south to the Scottsdale Culinary Institute for some warmer weather and to give cooking a shot. I loved everything about kitchens and restaurants. It was when I was working at La Tache for Dale Levitski that I really decided to open my own restaurant. I ran a special that sold out the same night and when another cook told me I should just open my own restaurant, I thought, Why not? So I quit and began the process of opening Scylla

HK: What flavors/ types of cuisine are your main inspiration?
SI: I really love trying different countries cuisine and trying to incorporate global flavors into my dishes. Traveling through Asia really influenced my cooking and some Asian ingredients top my list. Since it is hard to leave the restaurant to go and travel the world, I do a lot of exploration through cookbooks. 

HK: What advice do you have for women who want to become chefs?
SI: I think it is very important to just put your head down and work. A lot of people talk about kitchens being a "boys-club" but there are also a lot of women. It's not about your gender or race or anything like is about your work ethic. 

HK: Tell us a little about what you'll be cooking in Louisville this week.
SI: I know I'm making salmon, but honestly as I am trying to get packed up, my mind keeps racing and now I think goat will be added to the dish!

Stephanie graciously provided us with a recipe as well -- I'm fascinated by the flavor profile in this one!

Salmon Tartare with Piri Piri

Serves 16 as an appetizer

½ cup lime juice
Skuna Bay Salmon
½ fresh Thai chili
½ bunch cilantro, thick bottom stems discarded
2 sprigs mint, picked
¼ cup canola oil
1 pound skinless salmon fillet, cut to a ¼in dice
2/3 cup hoisin sauce
3 spears white asparagus, thinly sliced on a bias
1 cup blueberries
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
¼ cup micro sorrell

Place 16 miso spoons in the refrigerator.

Place lime juice, Thai chili, cilantro, and mint in a mini food processor. Process on high until the chili and herbs are pureed. With the processer running, add the oil. Season with salt.
In a glass bowl, toss the diced salmon with the hoisin sauce. In another glass bowl, toss the asparagus, blueberries, and almonds with the piri piri dressing. Place 1 oz of diced salmon on each miso spoon. Top with a teaspoon of asparagus salad. Garnish with the micro sorrel, serve immediately.

Thanks so much to Stephanie, Jennifer, and Skuna Bay for taking time to talk to us. Here's hoping Taste of Derby is an amazing event!!

{No member of the HerKentucky writing staff was compensated in any way for this post.}

The HerKentucky Interview with Taste of Derby Chef Jennifer Jasinski

One of the things I love most about Louisville at Derby Time is that there is always something fun to do. As Cristina told us earlier this week, there truly is something for everyone on every budget. You can watch the fireworks for free, or you can head out to the track in style. You don't even have to like racing to enjoy the steamboats and balloons, or to stop by the Chow Wagon or Taste of Derby.
I was recently contacted by the folks at Skuna Bay Salmon about  spreading the word Thursday's Taste of Derby event to HerKentucky readers. Now in its fourth year, Taste of Derby is a tasting event that brings some of Louisville's top chefs together with award-winning chefs from across the country. Skuna, an environmentally-conscious brand of Vancouver Island craft-raised salmon (and the "Salmon of Choice" for the Kentucky Derby), is showcasing chefs Jennifer Jasinski and Stephanie Izard at this event. 

Jennifer, a California native, runs three restaurants in Denver, CO -- RiojaBistro Vendôme, and Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen -- along with her business partner Beth Gruitch. She was a James Beard Award finalist in 2012 and 2013, and is the author of the cookbook The Perfect Bite. I had the pleasure of speaking with Jennifer about food, business and inspiration this week.

HerKentucky: When did you know you wanted to become a chef?
Jennifer: Growing up in California, I loved cooking for my family. I just always knew that I wanted to be a chef.

HK: What flavors/ types of cuisine are your main inspiration?

JJ: Our flagship restaurant, Rioja, is inspired by Mediterranean flavors. Bistro Vendome is a fusion of French, Spanish and Italian influences. It's really "California cuisine", but I don't really call it that in Denver. Euclid Hall is a craft beer hall that serves food. It's so much more than a gastropub -- we make our own sausage, we serve poutine. I'd say that the first two restaurants are more "girl" menus, and Euclid Hall is a "boy" menu.

HK: What advice do you have for women who want to become chefs?
JJ: It's really the same advice I'd give anyone: Love the Business. Love working when others aren't. Get allies, because it's hard to do on your own. 

HK: Tell us a little more about what you'll be doing in Louisville this week.
JJ: We'll be cooking Skuna Bay Salmon, which is delicious. Stephanie and I will be mentoring a couple of other chefs. And I'll be attending the Derby on Saturday. I'm really excited; I love horses and I have my hat and a pretty dress! 

HK: What wine pairings do you suggest for Skuna Bay Salmon?
JJ: I'd suggest a non-oaked chardonnay, preferably French.

Jennifer was also kind enough to provide us with a salmon recipe to try at home.

Roasted Skuna Bay Salmon, Romesco, Pine Nut Butter serves 8*

The romesco sauce always piques our guests’ interest; some are not familiar while others want to taste our take on the Spanish classic. The quality of the sweet smoked paprika is key. We source our spices from a Denver spice vendor, Savory Spice Shop.

Romesco Sauce
(yields 1 quart)

1 red bell pepper, halved, seeds and stems removed
1 yellow bell pepper, halved, seeds and stems removed
2 Fresno chile peppers
7 Roma tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves
1/2 cup quartered red onion
1/4 cup pure olive oil
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Pine Nut Butter
1/2 pound softened butter
1 cup pine nuts, toasted and cooled
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Assembly and Plating
Canola oil, as needed
8 Skuna Bay salmon fillet portions (about 6 ounces each)
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup speck ham (preferred) or prosciutto cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
2 cups marinated artichoke hearts, cut into quarters
3 cups asparagus batons cut on a bias (1-2 inches long), blanched
Zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

*This recipe yields 8 entrée portions. If you are serving the dish as part of a tasting menu, cut the ingredient amounts in half.

Romesco Sauce:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a roasting pan, toss the first 6 ingredients (peppers, chiles, tomatoes, garlic, onion) with the pure olive oil and place in the 350-degree oven. Roast until tender and slightly charred. Use the garlic as a gauge for how the roasting is going. When it is golden brown, pull the veggies out of the oven.

Put the roasted vegetables and almonds through a meat grinder or pulse in a food processor (you want it chunky) and then stir in the other ingredients (extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika), seasoning to taste. Hold the sauce at room temperature if you are serving it soon; refrigerate if not.

Blend the butter and 1/2 cup of the pine nuts in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Fold in the remaining 1/2 cup pine nuts.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 2 large oven-safe sauté pans and 1 large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place 2 tablespoons canola oil into each of the pans. Season both sides of the salmon with salt and pepper and place 4 pieces into each of the oven-safe sauté pans. Cook on high heat for 3 minutes or until a golden crust forms before flipping and placing them in the 400-degree oven to roast. They may only take 2-5 minutes to finish cooking. Test doneness by pressing gently; if the fish gives slightly, it’s done. Do not overcook.

Meanwhile, add the speck strips to the third pan and cook until crispy, stirring often (2-3 minutes).

Add the artichoke hearts and asparagus to the speck. When all of the ingredients are hot, add the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from heat.

While the salmon is roasting, place 1/4 cup of the romesco sauce in the bottom of each of 8 entrée-sized bowls. Drizzle each portion with extra-virgin olive oil. Place equal portions of the artichoke/asparagus/speck mixture on top of the romesco.

When the salmon is done roasting, place in the center of the bowl. Garnish each portion with a 1/2 tablespoon of the soft pine nut butter and serve.

Chef’s Notes: The romesco sauce and pine nut butter can be made a day in advance. 

Thanks so much to Skuna Bay Salmon and Chef Jennifer Jasinski for taking time to talk to us. Check back tomorrow for an interview with Chef Stephanie Izard!

{No member of the HerKentucky writing staff was compensated in any way for this post.}

A Decadent and Depraved Derby Present

So, I've been thinking. I believe Derby Presents should become a thing.

Why not? The Kentucky Derby is the greatest day of the year. It's a (usually) beautiful day in May, when people wear their prettiest clothes, drink bourbon, and watch a horse race. It's the day when every major English-speaking news outlet turns a collective eye toward Louisville. And, it comes ready-made with plenty of accoutrements. There are souvenirs to purchase, and keepsakes to treasure. There's a new logo every year. There's... well, a lot of stuff. Why not give a gift on The First Saturday in May?

Now, the Holy Grail of Derby Presents for 2013 (the inaugural year of the Derby Present) is going to be this "Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" poster, designed by Rachel Sinclair for the brilliant guys over at Kentucky for Kentucky. (Yep, the kick-ass guys.)
It's a visual representation of Hunter S. Thompson's 1970 essay "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved", reimagined as silks. It's a visual reminder of the greatest sports essay ever written. You can hang it in your office or den, and constantly be reminded “that almost everybody you talk to from now on will be drunk. People who seem very pleasant at first might suddenly swing at you for no reason at all.”

The references are all there, if you've read closely enough. But, whether you back Colonel Sanders or Chemical Billy, you should act fast. The limited-edition poster has been featured on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. It's already sold out online; follow Kentucky for Kentucky's Facebook page for info on pop-up shop availability.