J.R. Tolkien

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R. Tolkien

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Anne Marie's Bacon Bar

*Updated 2/19/217: CLOSED*
Bacon lovers, this is for you!  At this J-town restaurant, the pork and bacon take center stage and your diet takes a back seat. It is a lovely addition to the Louisville's food scene offering delicious inventive dishes as well as old favorites.  Expect to see bacon infused in most dishes.

Inside the large but sparsely decorated restaurant
The menu includes 5 types of sandwiches and southern dishes like fried catfish, fried chicken, meatloaf, and pork chop. The prices are reasonable, as most entrees are between $10 - $14.

Order the bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers at your own risk, they're very spicy! The jalapeños were filled with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon then battered and fried. Delicious when dipped in the bacon ranch sauce.

You can build your own BLT, fresh and delicious and it comes with a side of great seasoned fries.

 My pork chop was smokey, tender and juicy, served on top of an apple, asparagus and potato hash. It was light, fresh and made me wonder what other creative flair the chef added to other dishes on the menu.

Smoked bone-in pork chop
The restaurant is a bit dark at night, but look for Moby Dick on Taylorsville Road, a block before Watterson Trail.  The restaurant sits behind the Moby Dick's parking lot. It's busy on the weekend so expect a little wait.

Ann Marie's Bacon Bar
10301 Taylorsville Road
(Turn left onto Jefferson Street, right before Moby Dick)
Louisville, KY 40299
Monday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Friday - Saturday: 11 a.m. - 12 a.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
$10 - $14

Soul Food Tour - Miss Ada's Kitchen and Catering

Miss Ada's Kitchen and Catering feels somewhat like a myth.  I've heard of it, seen brief mentions of it in a few food forums but I can't find much information on it. This unique downtown breakfast and lunch spot is so obscure that I can't even find a phone number online! But no worries, I got a photo tour of this one of a kind family owned and operated institution.

How to get there
The cafeteria style eatery is located inside the American Red Cross Building, at the corner of Chestnut and Jackson.  There's plenty of FREE parking on the back side of the building.

View from the side.
Once you entered the building, sign in with the security guard to your immediate right. You'll get one of these babies:

Proceed to the elevators and go to the second floor.  Walk down the hallway immediately to the left of the elevators and you'll see a small black sign perched on top. Fresh home cooking beckons within.

The Menu
Miss Ada's offers a rotating menu of southern comfort food, changing daily and monthly.  You can expect to see around 2 entrees each day with an array of side dishes.  Favorites like fried chicken, meatloaf, fried fish, smothered pork chop, chicken and dumplings, etc. are on the menu.  They can fax you the month's menu or just call before you come to see what they're offering.

January's menu
There's also a hearty and reasonably priced breakfast menu.

The kitchen takes up a majority of the tiny room, with a small counter and display case of side dishes and desserts.  You order directly with the cook and he makes it fresh right in front of you.

Kitchen and counter
Fried catfish/cod and chicken wings were on the menu the day of my visit.  Sides included mashed potatoes, green beans and cabbage.  The friendly cook asked me if I wanted fried corn bread, then to my delight, proceed to pouring the batter and made it right on the spot.

My fried catfish was large and good but not the best I've had.  It's a little softer than I would've liked and not as fresh. The green beans and cabbage, however, were some of the best I’ve had anywhere.  It was naturally sweet, tender and delicious.  Entree, two sides and a drink came out to be $9.22. Very reasonable for freshly made home cooking right in the heart of downtown.

It's strictly a take out place, so you'll have to take your to go box down the hall to the employee lounge or back to your office.

Though my entree was a bit of a dud, my delicious side dishes spoke volumes about the potential of other menu items here.  I've heard my coworkers raved about the quiche and ribs.  So, I’m reserving judgment for now and am looking forward to trying other items in the future.  If you work in downtown Louisville, I recommend stopping by for a visit.  Friendly staff, reasonably priced hot meals and the appeal of a secret lunch spot make it worth the visit.

Miss Ada's Kitchen and Catering
510 E. Chestnut Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Monday - Tuesday: 7:30 a.m. - 1:30 a.m.
Wednesday - Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 2:30 a.m.
Closed Saturday and Sunday
Free parking on back.  $3 credit card minimum.
Take out only

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday Bike Ride

The sun finally decided to come out to play today so we packed up our bikes and headed to the water front for a nice brisk ride.  We crossed the Big Four pedestrian bridge to Jeffersonville and found a nice surprise!

The Park in Jeffersonville is finished!
The Park at the base of Big Four on Jeffersonville is finally finished and it looks great! Stop by if you haven't been yet.  They also just installed 1,500 "dancing" lights, a $2 million project, on the bridge.  Come check out the supposedly spectacular display, it should start from dusk to around 1 a.m.

We ended our ride with a beautiful sunset.  A Saturday definitely well spent!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Soul Food Tour - Dasha Barbours Southern Bistro

Venture off the well-worn path to Bardstown Road and the NuLu District and you’ll be rewarded with a delicious surprise at Dasha Barbours Southern Bistro.  This off the beaten path restaurant is a perfect example of the gems hidden all over the city waiting to be discovered.

The address is listed as 3825 Bardstown Road but the restaurant is actually on Bradford Drive, one block before the intersection of Bardstown and Six Mile (if you’re heading south).  Turn left onto Bradford Drive from Bardstown Road and it’s at the end of a small shopping strip on the left, right next door to a Mediterranean & a Middle Eastern grocery store.  The restaurant is small but clean and inviting.

In front of the restaurant
Owner Aaron, a Hart County native, said he wants to cook the type of food he grew up eating in the country.  That simple philosophy is reflected in the small menu of roughly 11 items.  This is what you can expect to see, with some variations.  Sorry in advance my menu photo is not that great!

Fried mushrooms
Fried green tomatoes ($4.65)

Chicken & Waffles ($8.50)
Chop and Waff ($8.50)
Chicken Dinner/2 sides ($6.99 + many size options)
Pork Chops w/ 2 sides (~$11.50)
Cheese Burger w/ Fresh Cut Fries ($8.80)
Boneless Chicken Breast w/2 sides
Fish Dinner (Catch of the day) ($10.25)
Hot Wings, Sweet & Spicy, Ranch, Lemon Pepper (several prices)
Salmon Croquets w/ 2 sides ($9.90)
Shrimps and sides

Sides ($3.75/each): 
Collard Greens; Mac & Cheese; Sweet Potato Casserole; Fried Corn on the Cob; Fresh Cut Fries; Hash Brown Casserole; Cole Slaw

Drinks include can sodas, bottled water ($1) and homemade sweet ice tea ($1.99).  I highly recommend this as you get unlimited refills and it’s delicious!

On my first visit, I got the chop and waff (pork chop and waffles), especially after Aaron said his restaurant is the only one in the city with this dish. My husband went for the burger and fries (yeah, he’s pretty boring).

Everything here is made fresh to order but the wait is not too bad.  My fried pork chop came out piping hot and glistened with fat, just the way fried food should be.  I love that it’s a thick cut, battered and seasoned on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside. I can still see the clear juice and steam oozing out of it as I type this.  It was delicious!  My husband really liked his juicy burger; the fries were different as they were seasoned with a batter much like the one you find on Indi’s wedges.

Burger and fries ($9.80 w/bacon)
Chop and Waff ($8.50)
On our second visit, we got the fried green tomatoes. They packed a lot of heat, temperature and taste wise, so take your time.  That ranch and pepper sauce wa amazing, creamy and spicy.  I would buy jars of that stuff if available.  
Fried green tomatoes ($4.65)
They didn't skim on the salmon and it was spicy.  My husband raved about the cheesy hash brown casserole and mac & cheese.
Salmon Croquet, hash brown casserole, mac & cheese ($9.90)
All reviews swear by the fried chicken here so I had to order some.  The batter is thicker than what I normally prefer but it was crunchy and the meat was moist and tender.

Chicken and waffles ($8.50)
2 piece chicken dinner, collard greens, fried corn ($6.99)
Subtle signs reveal that Aaron and his wife haven’t been in the restaurant business for long and that this place is a labor of love.  Aaron works in the front and his wife cooks in the back, he knows his customers by name and made an effort to get to know us.  He’s young and genuinely excited to share his food with customers.  You won’t find that anymore in other overcrowded and established restaurants.

Discovering great food and meeting new people at restaurants like Dasha Barbour’s made my food adventure in Louisville so rewarding.  Come here for lunch or dinner one day and you’ll also be tempted to stray off the beaten path more often.

Dasha Barbours Southern Bistro | Rating: 8/10 
3825 Bardstown Road (the restaurant actually faces Bradford Dr.)
Louisville, KY 40218
Monday – Wednesday, Sunday: 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday – Saturday: 12 a.m.. – 8 p.m.
Sunday: 12:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
(They close at 8 p.m. everyday, but call to see when they open, above is from memory)
average $5 - $15
Park in the front 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bizarre Foods, Louisville Edition

In honor of the New Year, why not resolve to be bold, adventurous and bizarre with your foods? The affable and fearless Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods has long enticed, grossed and intrigued us all with his adventures in exotic and bizarre foods from around the world.  But you don’t need the budget of a big television network to jet set around the world for a taste.  Louisville’s food scene offers some of its own bizarre and disgustingly intriguing dishes. You just need to know where to look.

Here's my list of 12 interesting and bizarre foods in Louisville you should try.  Don't judge the food by its cover, you might be in for a few fun delicious surprises!

1.  Tongue and Brain Tacos.  Take your tacos to the next level by stuffing it with meaty/chewy tongue and creamy/buttery brain.  For only $1.75 each at Taqeria La Mexicana, you can sample these unique tacos and brag to your friends about it.  Need an incentive to help gulp it down?  Per my momma, it’s a no brainer that eating brain will make you smart.

2.  Black Eggs (Century Eggs). Want a little color in your eggs? Try it in black.  The egg is preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls for several weeks to months to give it a slightly salty taste and soft chewy texture.  At Oriental House, the egg is chopped into smaller pieces and cooked in a delicious thick congee (rice soup) and pork.  It’s perfect for a cold day.

3.  Oxtail.  The bony and gelatin rich meat from the tail of the cattle tastes extra special when slow cooked in authentic Jamaican herbs and spices at Roof Top Grill (the owner is Jamaican).  You’ll have to work to get the soft flavorful meat from the large piece of bone in the center, but the reward is oh so delicious.

4.  Durian.  This spiky monstrosity of a fruit is one of the most loved/hated fruits in all of Asia for its unique pungent aroma.  In Singapore, durian is banned in hotels, airports and public transits.  Those who hate it compare it to gym socks or even raw sewage.  Those who enjoy it, as I do, can only smell its pleasantly sweet aroma enhancing the taste of its custardy sweet flesh.  To see and taste what all the buzz is about, stop by any Asian grocery stores (especially the Vietnamese ones).  All the durians in the stores are frozen so the smell is dramatically reduced.  You can also find it in ice cream or candy form at Viet Hoa. Photo: vietbao.vn.
5.  Snail Sausage.  If you’re bored with the French-ified buttered laden escargot from fancy and expensive restaurants, stop by DaLat's Gateaux and Cafe for a more Asian and flavorful version.  The small sausage tube contains pieces of snail cooked with ground pork, black pepper, ginger and lemongrass, all for less than $2 each.
6.  Game Meat.  Bored with chicken and beef?  Stop by Game on Lexington Road for some wild time with their kangaroo, elk, antelope, wild boar, duck or bison burger.  Then head over to Mayan Café to give your taste buds an extra hop with their tasty oven roasted rabbit, dressed with pumpkin seed mole and a side of grilled cactus.  If you want your meal a little more exotic, try the fried gator or the blackened creole pasta from newcomer Roux.  It tastes like a cross between chewy frog leg, chicken and meaty fish.
7.  Balut or Duck Embryos.  Balut is a fertilized duck egg containing a developing embryo, usually on the 18th – 20th day of its 28 days development phase.  You can buy uncooked Balut at the local Vietnamese grocery stores and boil the egg for 20 – 30 minutes, eat while warm with a dash of salt and pepper. The entire contents of the egg is edible.  You'll get crunchy tender pieces of yolk, developing beak, bones, claws and all parts of the duck.  Whatever you do, don't do a Google image search!
8.  Bone Marrow.  Game, Proof and Veranese.  This fatty buttery beef flavored treat can now be found in many of Louisville’s trendiest restaurants.  Sounds gross but it’s basically just delicious fat that’s been eaten since before ancient times.  The fatty acid found in bone marrow actually played an important role in our early evolutionary past.  Look it up, I promise it’s not complete B.S.!
9.  Sweetbreads.  Don’t be fool by its innocuous name, sweetbreads has nothing to do with desserts or bread.  It’s the culinary name of the thymus gland.  You can order it a la carte at Palermo or as part of the La Parilla, a plate of mixed grilled meat. I haven’t had it myself, but have heard it described as having an intense veal flavor with a solid heavy cream texture (Robin Garr). Photo: Shal V. - Yelp.

10.  Chicken and Pork Feet.  If you got a thing for feet, you can do it three ways.  At Shirley Mae’s Cafe, the pork foot is cooked until the skin, gelatinous meat and fat falls off the bones.  Douse with a little hot sauce and it’s delicious with a side of cold water cornbread, greens and cabbage.  At Cafe Thuy Van, the pork foot is firm and chewy and served in a savory pork based soup (Banh canh gio heo) with udon noodles, liver, blood sausage and pork.  At Jade Palace, you’ll find chicken feet slowed cook in aromatic Chinese seasoning and served as a dim sum item.

11.  Intestines.  No bizarre food list could be complete without mentioning innards.  Come to Jade Palace for Sunday dim sum and you’ll find white, crunchy and chewy steamed tripe, or cow stomach, on the menu.  At Shirley Mae’s, Big Momma’s, Southern Express, give the chitterlings (nicknamed the Kentucky oyster or pig intestines) a chance.  At Jasmine, they have intestines cooked 5 ways, including an intestine hotpot. Photo: foodspotting.com.

12.  Fish Liver.  You can find this bizarre food on CNN's list of 50 most delicious foods in the world and also in the appetizer menu at Hiko-a-mon.  Ankimo, or monkfish liver, is steamed and served with ponzu sauce, a citrusy soy based sauce.  I haven’t had it yet but can’t wait for a taste. Photo: Paul W. - foodspotting.com.