Today let us celebrate the noble hamburger, an iconic confection that’s easier to eat than it is to research.
Aka “hamburg steak,” this ubiquitous ground-meat patty on a bun has been known by that name only since around the 1890s, the usually reliable Online Etymology Dictionary tells us. The hamburger’s historic connection to Hamburg, Germany, is also asserted but unproven, but that’s not important right now.
This time it was special. A birthday, an anniversary, and I wanted to treat my bride to the city’s best. So who’s No. 1? It’s gotta be Seviche.
We all know that this city is blessed with a grand buffet of great restaurants, with 20 or more that can dominate on any given day. But Chef Anthony Lamas’ pan-Latino gastronomic temple on Bardstown Road rings my chimes consistently loud and clear.
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.
“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.
Let’s touch down for a couple of quick hits on the metro dining scene this week. Uptown Café has been a Bardstown Road landmark for 20 years, serving always reliable fare in a friendly setting that keeps bringing people back for more.
Shandaar Indian is so new that its well-crafted Facebook page still has that new-page smell. So far out in the East End that it feels closer to downtown Shelbyville than downtown Louisville, it proved to be well worth the trek.
Warmed by the delights of four big bowls of steaming ramen at Rumplings in five day’s time, I asked my baby boomer pals on Facebook a simple question this week: When did you first encounter instant ramen? What did you think of it when you did?
What’s a gastropub, anyway? This culinary neologism has been floating around since the middle of the last decade, and some say it cries out for mockery. “Gastropub”? It sounds, a bit unnervingly, like some kind of medical condition afflicting the digestive system.
What’s more, plenty of the more pompous food scribes decry the term. I still remember an odd analysis by one local food reviewer, who dismissed “gastropub” as an annoying label, misused and meaningless, reserved for bars that wanted to serve house-made ketchup.
Who’d like to get in on a caper? I’m not talking about a hilariously wacky criminal plot. Even if it were victimless and presumably foolproof, I’m naturally nervous about activities that could land me behind bars. Nor an ancient Celtic jumping and bounding dance, either. I’ll take my exercise in milder doses, thanks!
No, I’m mentally munching into an edible caper, those little green BB-shaped things made from the pickled bud of a Mediterranean lily-like flower, an item that most of us buy in little briny jars from Lotsa Pasta and stash on a refrigerator shelf, never to be seen again.
We stepped into the high-ceilinged room that had housed De La Torre’s for so many years. It looks … different. And very cool. There’s wood all around, and glass and some brass, too, and a bar so long it goes back to there, backed by an awe-inspiring wall of wines housed in high-tech argon gas dispensers that keep the vino fresh.
Also, it’s loud, and by “loud,” I mean LOUD! as in “I can’t hear a frappin’ word you’re saying!”
What? The food guy is going Mexican again? Three weeks running, he’s ricocheted from Argentine beef to taqueria offal to fancified Chicano fare in the surfer tradition? ¿Qué pasa? Or, in the Queen’s English, what’s up with that?
Hmm. I suppose I could claim that I’m dining Latino-style out of solidarity with the flood of kids from Central America who are piling up at our border. I could say I’m doing it to take a stand in a national debate that prompts some Americans to yell that Lady Liberty lifts her lamp beside the golden door only for immigrants who look like us.
And those things could be true.
But to be honest, I mainly went to El Camino this week to check out the Sunday brunch Continue reading
When I was a child, country-style chicken and dumplings wasn’t a thing in my citified family, but I wanted them to be. I would read about dumplings in children’s books and dream of tasting these succulent-sounding goodies.
“You wouldn’t like them,” my mother said, declining to make some for the family table.
Eventually I got to try some, and sure enough, Mom was right as usual. Thick rectangles of flabby dough, floating in chicken stew? Meh.
But that was before most folks in these parts knew of Chinese dumplings. Continue reading