Is it Safe?

I am, in modern parlance, “an old,” so I remember the unsettling scene from 1976’s “The Marathon Man” in which a Nazi war criminal, played by Laurence Olivier, repeatedly asks Dustin Hoffman “Is it safe?” while laying out dental instruments with which to torture him with. Hoffman – terrified, sweating, strapped to a chair – replies “Yes, it’s safe, it’s very safe, it’s so safe you wouldn’t believe it.”  Whenever I see the blue polo shirt of a Metro Health Department inspector slip into my place of employment, my brain coughs up this scene.   Continue reading Is it Safe?

Looking backward: A retrospective progressive dinner

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards,” the great 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said, and Kierkegaard should have known: The founder of existentialism, he coined the word “angst.” He called out for us to live passionately, worrying more about the problem of living life than trying to fit the social order.

What’s more, Kierkegaard came from Denmark, which also gave us the great film Babette’s Feast, that deep dive into human nature that is also perhaps the greatest foodie flick ever.

There has to be a message for us here. I think it’s calling on me to take a late-summer pause in the neverending flow of reports on eateries old and new, just for this week following the philosopher’s counsel to look backward as a way to guide our journey forward. Continue reading Looking backward: A retrospective progressive dinner

Dragon King’s Daughter achieves enlightenment

The dragon king’s daughter, ancient Buddhist tradition tells us, was an eight-year-old female dragon who became the first woman ever to reach enlightenment. Female, young, in the form of an animal? It seemed impossible for such a creature to attain Buddhahood – and yet she did it.

There could be no more appropriate spirit animal for Toki Masabuchi, proprietor of the popular Dragon King’s Daughter restaurants on Bardstown Road and in Southern Indiana. We crossed the river recently to check out its new, larger location on New Albany’s Market Street. Continue reading Dragon King’s Daughter achieves enlightenment

80/20 @ Kaelin’s makes the old tradition new again

Kaelin’s is back, and it’s got cheeseburgers!

Well, let’s parse that a little: Meet the new 80/20@Kaelin’s. It’s not like the old Kaelin’s, but it’s certainly rooted in the mystique of the beloved old eatery at Speed Avenue and Newburg Road.

The original Kaelin’s was a Louisville favorite for most of the past century, family-owned from 1934 until its family owners sold the business in 2004. Owner Carl Kaelin was allegedly inspired to invent the cheeseburger on a brisk October day in 1935. Continue reading 80/20 @ Kaelin’s makes the old tradition new again

I Know the Chef

It’s tempting, isn’t it? You’re out with a bunch of friends, or maybe with a date. A server leads you to a table; menus open. You can’t resist. You lean in and speak the magic sentence: “I know the chef.” In your imagination, this will be met with surprised, quiet gasps of pleasure. Don’t chance it. At this stage of the game, it’s a crap shoot, and so many things could go awry, it’s not worth that one moment of smug satisfaction. Continue reading I Know the Chef

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