For a too-short, brilliant seven months, the glory that was Rumplings blazed like a comet soaring across the sky of Louisville’s dining scene.
Then, just like that, one night in early June, Rumplings went dark, accompanied by a chorus of wails from despairing fans.
Okay. I admit it. That’s kind of dramatic. But dammit, that’s how I felt, and judging from the anguished voices I heard, I don’t think I was alone.
My friend Bob has a vowel on the end of his name, and he proudly hails from New Jersey, so when he told me to check out Bistro 42 in Prospect for its great Italian* food, I figure he knows what he’s talking about.
Um, what’s with that asterisk on “Italian*”?
There we were, Mary and I, sitting and chatting as we waited for our apps in the comfortably cozy confines of Tea Station Chinese Bistro. We sipped Tsing Tao beers and gazed out at the main drag of Norton Commons, the new subdivision with the old-time look, trying to figure out why this village somehow feels both appealing and a little creepy all at the same time.
Norton Commons was Louisville’s first large venture into the “New Urbanism” (or at least the first since St. James Court was developed in 1887). Hey, New Urbanism is cool! Something new, made to look old, compact and walkable, retro in style, quaint but, um, “safe.”
So what’s not to like?
“On the road again” … “En la carretera nuevamente …” Hmm. Willie Nelson’s classic ballad doesn’t translate very well, rhythmically speaking. You just can’t make the syllables fit the notes. But that’s not important right now. What’s important right now is Mexican food, because it’s filling and spicy and delicious.
I like Mexican food, and I like languages, and I’ve still got a lot to learn about both things. But there’s always room for more learning, both in the food department and the linguistic department. Like most Americans — er, Norteamericanos, that is — my language skills are weak.
“Eureka,” I said, an exclamation that works in English, Spanish and Greek. “Why don’t I go eat at some Mexican restaurants? I can practice my Spanish on the servers!”
I was going through some random “not-very-important” kitchen boxes in the basement when I came across a brown box, roughly the size of a (single-sleeve) box of Girl Scout cookies. Valtrompia Bread Tube-Star, it says. Also: The (Name of the Company) and The Kitchen Store that Comes to your Door.
“With rue my heart is laden,
for golden friends I had,
For many a rose-lipt maiden
And many a lightfoot lad.”
There! It’s not often that an English major actually gets to bring the fruits of his seldom-used bachelor’s degree into the real world. So how, I ask, could I possibly resist dragging the poet A.E. Housman into a “Roux/rue” pun to celebrate our first visit to Roux, a hot newish spot on Bardstown Road?
India! To Western eyes, it is one of the most exotic of lands. India seems very far away, and yet it is strangely familiar in ways that draw us in. In your mind’s eye, think about the Taj Mahal in moonlight: Those shimmering white marble domes look like nothing you’d ever expect to see in Louisville, yet its strangely compelling beauty transcends time and space.
First, let’s get one thing perfectly clear: No matter how much I think I might dislike a place, I bring an open mind to the dinner table.
Sometimes this isn’t easy. Even if a restaurateur has responded to a review with veiled death threats or even mere front-yard TPing, it’s the critic’s job to swallow that bile and return someday, prepared to deal out judgment that’s honest and fair.
It’s a good thing, too, because I had a load of baggage in tow — much of it not particularly fair, but hey — when our friends Kathy and Rick joined Mary and me for a recent dinner at Mesh.
Like a duck: calm and serene on the surface of the lake, but paddling furiously underneath. When things go well, that’s what banquet service (think a plated dinner at a wedding) is like.
“Hey, let’s go over to the new Feast BBQ in NuLu and get some delicious brisket!”
A slice of gently smoked, tender brisket sounded good, or at least it did until I settled down at a long table in the back of the room and glanced up. There on the wall was a buffalo head, mounted like a game trophy. Was he real or fake? I’m not sure, but he looked pretty real to me. His fur was kind of scruffy, but his black glass eyes were soulful. They seemed to look right into my heart.
“Um, maybe not the brisket.”
We live in the era of gourmet-style ballpark food. New York Mets fans can dine on sushi or summon a $17 lobster roll while they take in a game at Citi Field. San Francisco Giants fans also have sushi options and a wondrous array of other good things at AT&T Park. (Unlimited anytime minutes are extra.)
Louisville’s creative Food Literacy Project wants to put Truck Farm Louisville on the road. This traveling, edible learning garden for schools and communities will be planted in the back of a pickup truck.