Sunday, July 31, 2011
Most anyone who has picked up a Kentucky tourism book has heard of Whistlestop Cafe, and that reknowned recognition has been rightfully earned, for the destination has been cooking up the tastiest burgers in The Bluegrass, followed by fresh Blueberry Cobbler and mile-high homemade pies. However, what visitors may not know, that the commuters, soccer moms, and coffee-sipping retirees of Elizabethtown know, is that Express is on, and any week day, you can drive past the shopping center off Ring Road and see all of the Illinois, California, Michigan, and Florida license plates, for word-of-mouth travels fast when Whistle Stop Cafe comes rolling in, offering residents their Express version of their popular Gendale eatery.
My daughter, Deanna, and I got up at 7:00 AM, packed with a plan...to get our errands done, the car washed, books mailed out to Canada, and then to finally be one of the first patrons to swipe a table booth at Whistle Stop Express Cafe...but our plan failed us, due to The Martha Layne Collins Parkway being narrowed, due to much needed construction, down to one lane. Deanna and I both exchanged eager looks as we cranked up the latest Third Day CD, took gulps of iced-down soda pop, and hoped to make our deadline.
After three miles of slow traffic, I sighed, "That's OK, we will wait for a table."
Deanna smiled, then asked an interesting question: "You're a food writer, a Home Economist, a Kentuckian, correct?" I giggled, turning down the volume on the CD player. I knew she was right, and I could feel the punch coming toward me, full-centered, for I knew I was guilty on the count of three....not visiting Kentucky's great destinations, not eating enough Graeter's ice cream during this one-hundred degree month, heat index factored in, and not penning a Kentucky travel book. I lowered my brow and let out a sigh, then my self-esteem kicked back in..."but I am finishing the manuscript pitch to turn into Chip ( my agent), and we are headed to destination one: Whistle Stop Express Cafe!" I felt better, that was until Deanna shifted in the seat, grabbed her Five Star Food Mart soda and looked at me. "We aren't going to Glendale."
I smiled and forced back a giggle...for I had already heard that, eventhough we weren't going to Glendale, we were going to Express, and they had the same mile-high homemade pies. I couldn't wait to see Deanna's expression when she would see that 'Express' didn't mean cutting corners; it just meant it was quicker service, for those of us who are out here hitting the work loads in this record-setting summer.
Pulling in, Deanna's expression changed as her eyes traveled to the dotting array of out-of-state license plates. Our eyes met, and we agreed with smile: we were at Whistle Stop, and we both knew it. However, we weren't the first ones to claim a booth, for several couples were already perched on the beautiful laquered table booths, dining on country ham sandwiches, roast beef and mashed potatoes, and hearty-topped salads. My mouth watered. "WOW!" Deanna whispered as she sat down. This place is different. She whipped out her new Blackberry Smartphone, you know those new phones that have Foursquare and Facebook applications installed on them, snapped a photo, and emailed it to her friend, Julie. After our friendly waitress took our drink orders, her phone beeps...Julie says that this place looks like the little diner in Fried Green Tomatoes. I lean back against the booth, grin, and feel like such a good mother, to let my daughter experience the best of life...life in Kentucky.
The waitress returns. Deanna announces that she knows what she wants. I crinkle my brow in astonishment, for unless it is sugary foods, she is a very picky eater. "I am going to let Gail pick!" Smiling, she hands the menu back to the waitress.
"It is Chicken and Dumplings today. Do you like them?" The waitress has a mother-like charm that really sets her apart from the competition. And her home-sewn apron and neatly tucked hair reminds me of The Anderson Grill, a place where my mother worked, and a place that my grandmother owned.
"Yes, I love dumplings. " Deanna's eyes get saucer-like as I give the waitress my order of roast beef and mashed potatoes. When she leaves our table, I inquire," "What do you see?"
"Graeters!" Her eyes are full of zest and anticipation as I remembered my promise to enjoy more of Graeter's Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream, only in a waffle cone, of course.
"They have Graeters here!" She points over my head, getting a startled reaction from me as I turn to look at the menu board behind me. My eyes search in dire need for the wonderful words...Black Raspberry Chip. And I found it, right there atop the pie case, where mile-high homemade pies sat, nestled next to a fresh-baked Blueberry Cobbler. It was over a heaping plate of roast beef and mashed potatoes that I vowed one thing... Whistle Stop Express Cafe would be on page number one of my Kentucky's Treasured Eateries, then Glendale, when we get there, will be on page number two...with Graeters, in Louisville, on page number three.
IF YOU GO: Whistle Stop Express Cafe is located at 2407 Ring Road Cool Springs Center in Elzabethtown, Kentucky. They can be reached by calling 270-766-1119, or visit their website at: http://www.whistlestoprestaurant.net/. They are open Monday thru Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Other than Amazon.fr, Amazon.uk, and Amazon.com, I had thought that the first novel that I wrote, under another name, was out of print, totally. However, Joseph Beth Booksellers kept the book stocked. Although I loved writing my first novel, there were things, like using the correct format ( NOT Windows 98), that made a book go straight to pre-flight with no typos or changes, like changing a comma to a period. After all of the ridicule during those years, I stood strong and learned from my mistakes. And that is what I believe separates achievers and super-achievers...the perseverance. If those typos hadn't been there, then a whole group of cult members, in Arizona, would not have found Christ and gotten saved. It is directions like these that we may never know, until later, that is, why things occur. I wouldn't trade anything for that 'Leaving Lancaster County' novel, now, because it changed the path for a whole group of teenagers.
And I hope my blogging changes your path too, if even in little ways, like getting you out of the house and into that cozy plush bath robe at Calo Spa, in beautiful bustling Louisville, Kentucky. Or perhaps you and your family can sneak off to a weekend visit to some of the destinations that I feature, here on this blog. Enriching lives is why I entered nursing school, many years ago, and I still have that in my blood. Please enjoy the photo of an eager customer, visiting The Bluegrass from Georgia, who was fixing to purchase the last copy of 'Leaving Lancaster County', and truly remember one thing....there is a reason for everything, so please come back and learn about healing yourself through pampering and relaxation for my 'Spa Month', of August. This week, I will visit Calo Spa and talk with Carrie about how they are providing an exceptional getaway for both women and men in Louisville, Kentucky.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Last week was a work-packed week of writing, editing, doing sales calls, and arranging health inspections; however, I was able to cap the extra busy week off with a wonderful lunch at Mojitos Tapas, one of Louisville's hottest restaurants. What are Tapas? Unless you have been to Madrid, you might be curious to what they are and where they originated. Tapas are small dishes of entrees. I like to share food with my family and friends, so we all get accustomed to different textures, blends, and tastes, so Tapas are perfect for me. And they are perfect for entertaining that business client.
Tapas originated in Medieval Spain, and the robust idea of enjoying lots of 'little' entrees has span across the Atlantic to Louisville, Kentucky, where General Manager Marcos Lorenzo and Chef Pedro Hernandez are the owners. They also run the very popular, Havana Rumba Cuban Restaurant.
I had the guacamole with plantain chips as a starter. The fresh, creamy flavor of the homemade guacamole really complemented the plantain chips. Unlike tortilla chips, the plantain chips offered a bit more crunch, followed by a sweet taste. For my entree, I chose one of the daily specials, the Grilled White Fish with cilantro, parsley, garlic and spice rub, served with rice, black bean, and fried plantains. The fish was perfect- flaky, moist, with infused juices and spices. The rice was tender and tasty. The fried plantains were outrageously delicious. I have never eaten a better meal than at this restaurant. They have this lunch special every weekday for lunch. Please, do go try them out.
IF YOU GO: Mojitos Tapas is located off Brownsboro Road in the Holiday Manor Shopping Center, next to Kroger. Their website is: http://mojitotapas.com/. They can be reached at 1-(502)-425-0949.
And to wrap the week up, we had a concert at church on Saturday. David Pitt, who sings Contemporary Christian was there, and Deanna got her CD signed by him. WE had to hunt down a Sharpie ink pen, and I, being an author, had always thought they were plentiful. We ended up getting one from Jana, although it was purple, it did just fine. Deanna said it smelled like grapes. We got one fo his CDs, and his new CD will be out soon. We had a potluck of spaghetti, garlic bread, fresh salad with zuchinni and early squash, and carmel cake. Therefore, the week turned out just fine.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I had the advantage of visiting Napa River Grill in the quaint Westport Village Shops. The atmosphere was relaxing, and the lighting was perfect as I looked over a very varied menu selection. I could choose from their famous salads, made with local ingredients, or amazing seafood and homemade pasta selections. The Baked Squash Ratatouille sounded to die for: spaghetti squash, stuffed with roasted vegetables and a zesty tomato sauce, with Parmesan cheese, grilled tomato, and a balsamic reduction. However, being that this was my first visit, I decided on their 'Custom Combinations', where I could choose any two items, from a list of half sandwiches, soups, or salads for only $8.95. They also offer three for only $10.95. I chose the Mozzarella and Tomato Panini and California Spinach Salad, as I have been on a Mozzarella and tomato in olive oil kick. It was beyond words, as it topped the number one spot on my Panini List. The large slices of fresh Mozzarella really complimented the juicy homegrown-tasting tomatoes, and the bread was grilled to perfection. It came with a side of Chef Dave's Slaw, which really surprised me, with julienne-style cabbage, a creamy sweet dressing, plump raisins, and crisp-diced apples.
And if you are a sweet cornbread-lover, you have got to try The Grill, as they serve fresh-cooked sweet cornbread in small cast-iron skillets, like grandma used to do, so book your reservations now, by calling (502)-423-5822, or swing on over to their website, where you can view their savory menu at http://www.napariverlouisville.com/.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Deanna and I celebrated my fourty-second birthday at BRAVOs, in the St. Matthews area in Louisville. We dined on wonderfully fresh salads and homemade bread, with herb-laced olive oil for dipping. Dessert was on the house...wonderful gelato- the best that I have had here in The States. Our Executive Chef started his career cooking for the creator of Garfield, and I am not making that up. He has worked at the Indianapolis BRAVOs branch, and is now in Louisville. According to him, innovation and creativity in the kitchen can make anyone, even the mircrowave-suited housewife, a gourmet chef, one whom truly enjoys the sights, sounds, and tastes of the whole cooking excperience. Their website is: http://www.bravoitalian.com/, and you can take part in their current $7.95 lunch specials, where you can enjoy three different features daily including sandwiches, pasta, pizzas and salads. Available Monday-Friday until 4 pm. Check them out! Tell them Sicily sent you!
Monday, May 23, 2011
I had the opportunity to dine at BD Mongolian Grill in Louisville, Kentucky today. I had received a nice birthday coupon from them, for a free lunch. I had a hard time choosing what selections to give the chef, as they had such a vast variety of fresh seafood, New York Strip, Italian-seasoned chicken breast, veggies, and spices. Since I enjoy a sweet-sour taste, with a punch of spice, I mixed their house Mongolian Ginger Sauce, Sweet & Sour Sauce, and a dash of tangy Lemon Sauce, to soak up some of that spiced-mix. I had a fresh ice-cold glass of water, with a hint of lime and lemon, to wash it all down. Josh kept my tall glass refilled, plus offered suggestions for creative mixing for the sauce bar. He also brought me fried rice and warm flour tortillas. I decided on sour cream to blend in some extra calcium and taste to the monster tortillas that I hand-crafted.
I ran into another May birthday girl: Isabella turned five years-old today. Donned in a silver tiara and silver-pink jeweled necklace, Isabella celebrated her birthday with her parents and baby brother. Plans for cake and ice cream were scheduled for later tonight. The BD Mongolian Grill staff handcrafted Isabella's own tin hat, and they didn't just announce her special day...they gonged it! So if you want to have a big bang for your birthday, and your buck, head on out to BD Mongolian Grill. And be prepared to eat!
IF YOU GO: BD Mongolian Grill is located at 1890 South Hurstbourne Parkway. Their phone number is (502)-499-4406.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I had the Chinese Chicken Salad at The Cheesecake Factory in Louisville, Kentucky, compliments of a friend for my upcoming birthday. It was delicious, with crisp silvery noodles, juicy orange mandarins, and lots of seasoned grilled chicken. And, as usual, I ate all of the French and Oat Bread. I regretted that I had no room for dessert...I've been eating way too many homemade pretzels, with my required mustard.
Head on out to The Cheesecake Factory, enjoy a relaxing night out....then head home, roll your sleeves up, and start proofing some pretzel dough!
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Like frozen yogurt? Adventurous side to you? And do you like strolling down historic Bardstown Road in Derby City, hand-in-hand with your hero ( again, being a romance author, I have to add some spice) or children? And what about your mother? When was the last time you promised to take her out to get a yogurt? Probably not often, as selections are quite slim. However, a lady from the Nashville area has set out to change things- for the better for the Louisville locals and regular tourists, and the timing couldn't have been better- a ninety-five degree day, factoring in the heat humidity.
Bill and Betsy Scanlan feel in love with the Nashville-based Sweet CeCe's because of the tasty iced treat and vast variation. Looking to move from a career in real estate to the food business wasn't new to Betsy's husband, Bill, for he had been in the restaurant business for twenty years and vowed not to go back into it. However, when opportunity hit, they searched for a good location to relocate and to serve the locals a high-quality yogurt at a very good price. After searching down the East Coast, they finally chose Kentucky, and The Scanlans are glad that they did, for the shop's quaintness, even at 7:00 PM, their busiest time, and their closeness to the shop- they live right down the street, has offered them a great new career start with lots of perks.
They offer, both the regular and the no-sugar-added frozen yogurt, and unlike most mediocre shops, you serve yourself from the yogurt wall, then top with cereals, fresh-cut fruit, or gummy bears, for the young at heart. And what I liked most about the shop, was that you can combine any of the flavors and fill your cup as high as it will go...come on, you creative block builders, lets see how much Sweet Southern Velvet, Cupcake Batter, and Cheesecake Bliss that you can pack in one of their bowls...but don't forget about the gummy bears! OK, for those of you who are guessing, I did not have the gummy bears, but I will next time. I had the Sweet Southern Velvet, which really did have the taste and smoothness of the cake, Cupcake Batter, which I could have eaten a whole container of, and Peach Tree Tart, which tasted like my Amish peaches that I sell every summer at my Tractor Supply produce stand. And I topped it all off with fresh-cut strawberries, kiwis and whipped cream. Have I got your mouth watering? Head on down to Sweet CeCe's...the weathermen are predicting another hot day tomorrow...
IF YOU GO: Sweet CeCe's is located at 1501 Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky. They can be reached via telephone at (502)-458-2322. And you can like them on Facebook at Sweet CeCe's.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Gigi's, in Louisville, enticed people's sweet-tooth this week. Both, the locals and Derby celebrities, swarmed the South Hurstbourne Lane location. They featured a Mint Julep Cupcake and Kentucky Bourbon Pie Cupcake. Being that I am addicted to their Wedding Cake Cupcake ( I know, the rich buttercream gets me every time), I had to devour one of delicious cakes before I pulled out of the parking lot. Gigi's Cupcakes is the official cupcake of The Kentucky Derby.
Gigi's is located at 1977 South Hurstbourne Lane in Louisville, Kentucky. Their home on the web is: http//www.gigiscupcakesusa.com/louisvillekentucky.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Bella's is open in Richmond, Kentucky. They offer made-from-scratch cupcake delights, with daily specials. Flavors change daily. I had the Pink Champagne Cupcake, washed down with a complimentary glass of cool Pink Lemonade. The icing was fluffy and the rich butter-cream texture made my mouth yearn for more, so i hit them up again...wish they were near my house! Head on out to visit Eastern Kentucky University's planetarium, then head down the road, next to Sherman Williams and Home Best, to grab a dozen of the great treats! GO COLONELS!!! I am a proud graduate from Eastern Kentucky University's Nursing Division, class of '92, and now a huge fan of Bella's! And I know my friend, K. Melissa Burton will be the next in line...
Friday, February 25, 2011
The tenth annual Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival is going on this weekend at South Beach. Not only will food lovers get to sample some of the best fare in the world, but they will also get to catch snapshots of their favorite Food Network chefs. The festival is hosted by Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida and Florida International University. Over the years, the Festival has raised over $12 million dollars for the University's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Teaching Restaurant.
Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, and Rufino Rengifo will be presenting at the Festival, and Bank Of America is sponsoring several wine pairing and tasting seminars. Tomorrow, Whole Foods will have their Grand Tasting Village. I love to sample all of their natural and healthy foods, and I have cooked a lot of their recipes, with great satisfaction. And to have the kids satisfied during such an event is a must for most parents, and the Festival will not disappoint, as Kohl's Fun and Fit as a Family is featuring Kellogg's Kidz Kitchen.
And if your a chef or trade professional, the Festival and Bullfrog & Baum are featuring two trade-only panels. Bullfrog and Baum represents famous clients like Allen Brothers, who is the leader in providing top quality steaks and a killer Hummingbird Cake ( they are actually featured in the current novel that goes to press in May.) Therefore, this is a rare treat for anyone who is serious about the trade.
So drop that book ( and this is one of the few times my loyal readers will here me say this), and head on down to South Beach for an exclusive atmosphere of entertainment, creativity, and great food and fun!
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Deanna and I enjoyed spending time together in Lexington, Kentucky. She picked out the Top Hatcupcake, and I chose the Wedding Cake cupcake. They have a new incentive there, too: if you buy a dozen cupcake, you get one free! I can eat my weight in sweets, so it is a dream destination, as Deanna thought it was, too. Deanna will be attending Eastern Kentucky University next year, majoring in prelaw. She is going to be an attorney. I am so proud oh her, and my other nieces and nephews, too.
Well, I have got to get back to editing manuscripts. Have a wonderfully sweet day!