If you knew sushi …

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes: Raw, Sapporo, Maido

Eat'n'Blog
Illustration by Gina Moeller

Like so many great culinary masterpieces, sushi traces its origin to the most prosaic of sources, according to sushi expert Dave Lowry, author of the useful pocket-size handbook, “The Connoisseur’s Guide to Sushi.”

“Legend credits the invention of sushi to an old woman who was worried that bandits might steal a pot of her rice,” Lowry writes. “She shinnied up a tree and stashed the rice in an osprey nest until the threat passed. When she retrieved the rice, it had begun to ferment. She also discovered that some of the ospreys’ fish scraps, which had fallen into the rice, were not only edible, but also, as far as comestibles left exposed to the elements in the living quarters of messy birds of prey go, rather tasty.”

Well, isn’t that appetizing?
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Tips on dining out during Derby

LEO’s Eat’n’Blog, May 3, 2006

Eat'n'Blog
Illustration by Gina Moeller

You’ve probably figured out by now that if you didn’t make your reservations around this time last year, you’re pretty much out of luck if you were planning to see or be seen at any of Louisville’s top tables on Oaks or Derby night – or for that matter, any night this week.

Like Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Super Bowl Sunday whatever town it’s in, Louisville’s great cultural and religious festival turns into the nation’s biggest party for the duration, attracting visitors from all over and, for at least this one week of the year, providing some credibility to our odd claim that the merged metro really is the 16th largest city in the nation.

And just about all of the gazillion locals and tourists, it seems, think they’re going to get in to Jack Fry’s on Saturday night. Well, here’s our Derby tip: It ain’t going to happen. No matter how well you tip your hotel’s concierge to make a connection for you.
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Derby time!

Voice-Tribune
This article first appeared in The Voice-Tribune, Louisville’s suburban weekly newspaper. LouisvilleHotBytes publishes monthly restaurant reviews and wine-tasting reports in The Voice, which is available on East End news stands and by subscription.

Every year around this time, I face one of the most difficult chores a food critic encounters: Explaining to scores of hopeful Derby visitors that they are probably not going to be able to walk into the city’s top restaurants on Kentucky Oaks or Derby evening and secure a table without a reservation. In fact, the chances are that it’s already too late to get a reservation for most of the city’s popular eateries during Louisville’s biggest party of the year.

“I’ve been booked since Derby night last year,” Melillo’s manager Ashley Chesman said with a laugh. “Sometimes it’s best to make the reservation WAY in advance.”

Here are a few dining survival tips for getting the most out of this and future Derbies, based on my own experience and advice from the food-savvy participants on the LouisvilleHotBytes online forum:
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About those smokin’ Arawaks

Eat'n'Blog
Illustration by Gina Moeller

LEO’s Eat’n’Blog, April 26, 2006

When Columbus first visited American shores (which weren’t then called “American,” but that’s a whole ‘nother story), he encountered the Arawak Indians (who weren’t really Indian, but let’s call a halt to all these digressions), and was reportedly amazed to find them doing two unusual things with fire. First, they stuck lighted cylinders of rolled, dried leaves in their mouths, inhaling the smoke. Second, they put chunks of raw meat on a rack of wooden sticks over hot coals and left the meat to roast ever so slowly until it became smoky and delicious.

The first practice didn’t turn out to be all that good an idea, although it was literally addictive. But the second concept has yielded one of nature’s most noble foods. The Arawaks called it “barbacoa.” We call it “barbecue,” and now that I think about it, it’s mighty addictive, too.
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Dining out at the ball game, dining out at the park

Opening Day at Slugger Field

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out to the park.
Buy me some peanuts
($3) and Cracker Jack ($2.50) …

Hold on just a minute! We’re only three lines into the song, we’ve already spent more than five bucks, and all we’ve had is salty and sweet snacks?

You’ve got that right, Bubba … concession pricing at Louisville Slugger Field may not be quite up into major-league territory (but then, neither are the Triple-A International League Louisville Bats), but an evening at the ball park isn’t a cheap dinner. By the time you pack in a bag of peanuts and a box of Cracker Jack, not to mention a 1/3-pound burger ($4), an all-beef hot dog ($3) or the irresistible joys of a fried bologna sandwich ($2.75), not to mention a soft drink ($2) or a 20-ounce plastic cup of cold beer ($4.25), you’re looking at a tab for dinner that wouldn’t be out of place in some of the lower-end Bardstown Road bistros. And frankly, your dinner won’t be nearly as good.
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Food, wine star at Avalon

Eat'n'Blog
Avalon’s patio is one of the hottest spots in Louisville.
LEO Photo by Brian Bohannon

LEO’s Eat’n’Blog, April 19, 2006

By Robin Garr

Writer STEVE COOMES takes a turn in LEO’s pulpit today, choosing the chapter of Avalon from the book of Good Eats. This popular Bardstown Road bistro, he says, offers one of the most approachable dining rooms on the strip, an understated venue that lays back so the bill of fare can strut its stuff without distraction on an unadorned stage. Here’s his report:

Avalon’s split-level space bears a simple black, tan and pale-yellow color theme, straightforward tables and chairs, soft lighting and wide, uninterrupted sight lines … perfect for people-watching. The second level’s soaring ceiling is indirectly lighted, with an abstract metal sculpture adding a touch of elegance to an otherwise understated space.
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