I try hard to be open-minded. I really do.
Consider the evidence: I’m a U of L grad, but I’m willing to root for UK or even IU, assuming that they aren’t playing the home team. I’m male yet feminist, straight yet affirming. And even as a card-carrying liberal, I voted for at least one Republican on last month’s ballot. Hey, it’s something!
But all this tolerance stops when we talk about the seasons.
Okay, let’s just lay this out there as a true confession: I’ve reviewed a few national corporate franchise chain eateries lately, and I’m not sorry. Well, not very sorry.
It’s hard to believe that it has been more than 20 years since we moved back to Louisville after a sojourn in New York City. This town has changed a lot in the past two decades, and certainly the Frankfort Avenue restaurant row has evolved almost beyond recognition.
“You’ll like Frankfort Avenue,” a friend told us as we packed the moving van to head west from Gotham. “There’s a great new place called the Irish Rover!” And she was right. Along with Deitrich’s, which had been a pioneer in the neighborhood, and more recent arrivals Porcini and a local coffee shop that preceded Heine Bros’ Crescent Hill branch, the avenue was looking pretty exciting.
And then in 1995 came El Mundo, and the “new” Frankfort Avenue was on its way. Continue reading
Folks in our Crescent Hill neighborhood have been watching with considerable anticipation as a crew associated with Louisville’s Bluegrass Brewing Co. sped through a major “gut rehab” of the old Darkstar tavern, converting what had been frankly a rather grim saloon into an airy, inviting temple to all things local beer and food.
Frankfort Avenue – or just plain “The Avenue,” as its neighborhood business association likes to call it – has come a mighty long way in the generation since the late, lamented Deitrich’s started serving creative cuisine in an upscale environment in the old Crescent Theater, a place that at the time had seen considerably better days.
“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” Once a popular ditty of the “Roaring Twenties,” this folk wisdom has grown into a simple truth.
Who doesn’t like ice cream? As Mary’s father used to say, even after an ample meal, “There is always room for ice cream.” And with Spring belatedly breaking after one of the most relentless Winters in recent memory, the signs of the season include, in addition to green buds, bright flowers and insane allergy-pollen levels, long lines of hungry supplicants forming around just about every ice-cream shop in town. Even the perennial ice cream trucks have brought their clangy rendition of “Camptown Races” back to the streets of our fair city. Continue reading
I’ll never forget my first and only visit to Ireland. We spent a week or two driving around the country, learning wrong-side driving and stopping at every pub we could find to enjoy a pint of Guinness. Damn, it was hard to find traditional Irish music, though. Pub after pub after pub, the food and the mood were Irish, but the music was international rock. When I finally found a crew with a harp singing “Danny Boy” in a tiny pub in Killarney, it was jammed with American tourists, of course. Continue reading
Quick! Where’s Morocco? Can you point to it on a map? Tell us something about its history! What do you know about its culture and cuisine?
Stumped? Sorry! But if you’re not comfortable with these questions, don’t feel too bad. You’re hardly alone in the geographical illiteracy that researchers say afflicts a majority of Americans, particularly the younger set. Continue reading
This may seem a topic better suited for Halloween than the dead of icy winter coming up on Fat Tuesday, but hey, let’s talk about “haunted” restaurant locations. Local foodies quickly learn about these venues that seem to labor under a curse, housing one short-lived restaurant failure after another. Continue reading
Ahh, it finally feels like autumn, and I’m thinking of comfort food.
This nostalgic meme rarely attaches itself to the light, low-calorie and cooling dishes of summer. “Comfort” means stews and hearty soups, spaghetti and meatballs or maybe a thick pan of lasagna – the kinds of warming, stick-to-your-ribs dishes that Mom used to make, or at least you wish she had. Nor need comfort food be complicated or hard to cook.
North End Cafe has just about become a Louisville institution, and it didn’t take all that long to do so. Co-owner and Chef Christopher Seckman celebrated the 10th anniversary of the original North End Cafe on lower Frankfort Avenue last spring – it’s a place of enduring popularity. Now the second North End Cafe, located at the Douglass Loop in the former Club Grotto location, appears to be going strong after a year and a half.
I learned in grade school that America was a melting pot, a vast cultural amalgam made up of gifts from national and ethnic groups around the world, molten into sturdy steel to which every group contributed its special strength and character. I thought that was pretty cool back then, and I still do.
But upon more mature reflection, living and dining in a modern Louisville that’s far more diverse than the white-bread city where I grew up, I think maybe it’s even more accurate to describe us as a cooking pot, into which each generation of new immigrants has added appetizing ingredients to build an amazing national stew.