Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kentucky Cuisine

Earlier this month I had the exciting opportunity to visit Louisville, Kentucky for a professional conference.  I spent most of my time in the hotel and at conference sessions, but this blog isn't about work, it's about food and fun, so I figured I'd share the delicious (and silly) highlights.

I must say that I knew nothing about Kentucky outside of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Kentucky Derby Pie prior to my visit.  However, I must say that Louisville is very proud of its famous natives, particularly: Colonel Sanders and Muhammad Ali.   This place wasn't all horse racing and fried chicken!

When I got off the plane I told my colleagues that I had to have two culinary experiences during my trip:  Kentucky Derby Pie and a Kentucky Hot Brown.  Guess what?  I found and enjoyed both!

I also had the best cheese grits I've ever tasted at the Maker's Mark Lounge.  Actually, I ate grits every day in Kentucky.  I was in such a grits mood that I made cheese grits with dinner when I got back to Delaware, but I digress...

At Maker's Mark I enjoyed pork tenderloin with a peach sauce and balsamic reduction accompanied by collard greens and sweet potato hash:

And since I could decide between this dish and shrimp and grits, I requested a side of cheese grits.  It was so worth it!

The decor in Maker's Mark was pretty cool.  Obviously bourbon was a big theme...

I don't even know if I like bourbon, but it showed up in a few of my sauces, drinks, and desserts during the trip and it was fine.  I'll have to do more research on that one.

I ended up getting my Kentucky Derby Pie in Indiana.  Yes, as in the state of Indiana.  Louisville is right across the Ohio River from Indiana (and I've never been to Indiana), so we took a cab across the river to get a slice of pie.  Random?  Yes.  Fun?  Yes.

Kentucky Derby Pie reminds me of a huge chocolate chip cookie baked into a pie crust.  It has nuts and chocolate and that soft chewy center that you'd expect in a fresh baked cookie.  I've always had it topped with fresh whipped cream and/or ice cream.  Good eats.

I'll admit that I've had Kentucky Derby Pie at Fager's Island in Ocean City, Maryland.  I'll also admit that Fager's Island had a better pie (homemade rather than previously frozen).  But who cares, I got to go to Indiana!  I'll be attempting to bake a Kentucky Derby Pie at home, so stay tuned.

 I also had the opportunity to walk around town for a few minutes.  I had to work off all that food!

I saw the Muhammad Ali Center (which promptly closed as soon as we got there)!  It seems everything closes early in Kentucky.

A random colorful building...

I even visited the gift shop at the Louisville Slugger Factory and purchased an Oriole's mini-bat for my hubby...

I was only in town for two days and I was content at lunchtime on my last day.  I hadn't tried a Kentucky Hot Brown (I only knew about this sandwich because it was recently featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay), but I knew I had a great time.

Our little group had some open time for lunch and we passed a random cafe.  We were in a hurry, so we went in to grab a quick meal.  Guess what they had?

French bread covered with sliced turkey topped with a creamy, cheesy sauce and fresh tomatoes... baked in the oven and topped with... bacon!  A Kentucky Hot Brown!  Not only did I immediately order one, but I pulled out my Blackberry and learned that the hotel that invented the Kentucky Hot Brown was right down the street.  Needless to say, this was a great sandwich that kept me full for the rest of the day, including flying to New York en route to Philadelphia and then arriving home at 11:30 pm.  It was that filling.  And no, I don't ever need to eat one again.  It was one of those things I had to experience, but I know it had way too many calories. 

It doesn't even look like a sandwich, right?

Anyway, Kentucky had surprisingly good food.  It was semi-southern, but it also had it's own flavor.  I didn't know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.


  1. Fantastic post. The pictures are stunning. Great information about Kentucky and their cuisine. Thanks for sharing. I am a new follower of your posts. Keep up the good work!

    ~MONA C

  2. delicious post! I've never been to kentucky, but i do LOVE me some bourbon, and I'm adding it to my list of culinary tourism musts! that pork loin looked delicious, and even though I can literally feel my arteries clogging just looking at that Hot Brown sandwich, it has bacon on it, therefore i must eat it! and mmm grits...i think I know what im making having for dinner on this mild spring day, lol...

  3. No it doesn't look like a sandwich- it looks like a cheesy greasy delicious breakfast that I'd be all over! ha ha!

    My husband LOVES Makers Mark so I think we're going to have to get there one day.

    I've made Derby Pie before but I got the recipe from Martha's website and I think she calls it Run For The Roses Pie or something like that. It was really good and the bourbon taste really came through if you know what i mean :-)

  4. There is drool on my laptop- that food looked amazing!

  5. Yum, derby pie! My family loves it! Even though I grew up in the south (Virginia), I never had grits until I moved to Charleston, S.C. as an adult. In Charleston, too, I was amazed to find fifty pound bags of rice in the grocery store. The only time we had rice was in pudding. Our staple was potatoes. Your photos on this post are absolutely amazing!


  6. Hi, I'm a new reader and had to comment when I saw that you visited my city!!!

    (I live in Indiana- where you visited too, though. lol)

    I am not a fan of the Derby pie and have never had a Kentucky hot brown. It's crazy what you take for granted when you live in the city!

    I am glad you enjoyed your visit!

  7. Hi Sunny! Thanks for reading!


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