J.R. Tolkien

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Great Vietnamese Food at Tet

If you're looking for a great Vietnamese food weekend, come to the annual Tet celebration hosted by the Vietnamese Community of Louisville.

You can expect to see a lot of fun entertainment and awesome homemade food that you will not find at other restaurants around town.

Hot items on the menu include: pho, rice porridge, bun bo Hue (Hue beef noodles).  You can also try favorites like egg rolls, lotus salad, banh mi sandwiches, roasted pork, puddings and other Vietnamese sweets.

Here are the details:

Date: Saturday, 2/28/2015
Time: 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Location:  St. John Vianey Church
4839 Southside Drive (Hall at the back of the church)

Look for me and I'll give you a food tour!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Name Brands for Cheap @ $20 Grab Bag

My ongoing love affair with food and the constant lust to travel necessitate spending cuts in other areas of my life.  In my case, it usually means clothing.  I haven't been to the mall in over a year and I can't remember the last time I paid full price for clothes.  Expensive designer clothes do not rock my world so it works out okay for me.

I recently discovered Clothes Mentor $20 Grab Bag, my life...and fashion was forever changed.  Clothes Mentor sells gentle used designer and name brand clothes, accessories, and shoes for a discounted rate.  At the Grab Bag event, held twice a year, whatever you can fit into the provided grocery bag costs only $20!  I got more than 20 items in my bag last time, making it less than $1/piece.

Not all items in the store will be on sale as the the store will designate an area for this.  It's a very popular event so be prepared to fight the crowd!  It'll look something like this:

Clothes Mentor Taylorsville Road - Fall 
Clothes Mentor St. Matthews - Fall Sale
Treasure hunting!
I used to not like the idea of wearing used clothes, but after finding good quality clothes in great condition for less than $1, I'm having a hard time now buying clothes the traditional way.  My sister found a Vera Wang dress for $1 and I got an almost new cashmere sweater.  It makes sense economically and environmentally!

Want to give it a try? Here are the details for the Grab Bag event this weekend:

  • Saturday 2/28/2015: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
    Clothes Mentor - Taylorsville
    4064 Taylorsville Road
  • Sunday 3/1/2015: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. 
    Clothes Mentor - St. Matthews
    291 North Hubbards Lane
Quick tips: Come right at opening to get the best pick, St. Matthews has a better selection.  Sign up for their newsletter to get updates on special sales. 
Also, both stores currently has a Dollar Days deal in which selected items are only $1.  Happy shopping! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lent Means Great Fish Fries Around Louisville

*Update 2/12/2016*
Click here for 2017 list

It’s Lent season again, a period of penance and prayer for Catholics between Ash Wednesday and Easter (2/18/2015 – 4/4/2015).  But for me, it means spending Fridays looking for the best and most unique places to try great homemade food at Catholic and Episcopal fish fries around town.  You can expect to find the traditional fried fish, rolled oysters, crab cakes, shrimps and other non-meat items at these festive events.   Entrees  usually come with two sides or drinks, homemade desserts and live entertainment. I love the communal atmosphere, cheap homemade food and that the money goes to local churches.      

I’ve discovered some great places last year and am picking  up right where I left off.  So join me again this year on my fish fry journey.

This is usually how it works:
1)  Look for the menu, usually posted on the wall or in a small flyer
2) Place your order with a volunteer, at a table or standing in the hallway
3) Pay, cash only!
4) Bring your order form to the food line to get your food.
5) Share a table with other guests, enjoy your delicious meal and good fellowship

You can find the complete list of 2015 Lent Fish Fry here.  Here are my favorites from last year:

St. Bernard's Catholic Church: 
7500 Tangelo Drive, 40228
5 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Twisty winding roads will lead you to this hidden gem.  The specialty here is the fish taco, $10 for three large fish tacos, 2 sides and a drink.  One bite and my husband was immediately in love.  The place was crowded and there was even a band playing.

1310 W. Broadway
Fridays 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
The 30-40 minute wait during lunch hour is a sign of this West Louisville church's popularity.  This place has the most extensive menu, with four different fish options (buffalo, whole catfish, baked white fish & whole whiting), a lot of southern side dishes and sweets (cobblers!).  For $10, you get a choice of fish cornbread and 2 sides.  The place is organized chaos, a line to order, one to pay and one to pick up the food.  The fried corn bread is amazing.
St. Agnes:1920 Newburg Road
Fridays 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Located in the Highlands, this place has a cheaper menu, $4 for fish, and $1-$2 for side dishes.  The fish is fresh and large, my favorites sides are the poppers (fried cheesy jalapeño) and the coleslaw.

502 N. 5th Ave, LaGrange, KY
Fridays 4:30 - 7:30 p.m.
They have the best tasting fish out of all the fish fries, but it’s a long drive out.  The fish is smaller but it’s lightly battered, flaky, juicy and made fresh by the people of Stan's Fish (closed now).   $7 for a small dinner and $9 for large, includes two sides, a drink and hush puppies. Kids under 6 eat free. I recommend getting a large.

St. Martin de Porres new review!
3146 W. Broadway (Catholic Enrichment Center)
Louisville, KY 40211
11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
If you’re downtown and not up for the lines at St. Augustine, come over to St. Martin de Porres for some great fish.  Fish dinner, 2 sides and a drink come out to be $10.  It’s in the basement of the Catholic Enrichment Center.  Enter on the side door, hit the bell to be buzzed in and take the elevators to the basement.   There’s plenty of parking on the lot. I heard the bread pudding is divine.

I did a little research and these highly recommended places are on my radar this year (I link their Facebook page because it has the most updated information):
  • St. Aloysius in Crestwood has the largest selection
  • St. Gabriel was featured on the news
  • St. Martin de Porres has soul food!
  • St. Luke has fancier/healthier options, such as saute tilapia with white wine sauce over wild rice.  There’s also boil shrimps, beers and wine. 
  • St. James in the Highlands has great baked fish, oyster shooters and a large selection of microbrews.  They are considering adding portobello sandwiches and seafood gumbo.
  • St. Francis of Assisi also has crab cakes, shrimps and rolled oysters
  • Suburban Fish Fry has blue cheese slaw on real Jewish Rye
  • Good Shepherd
  • St. Mark on Frankfort Ave. A friend recently told me this is not as good
  • St. Patrick around the Lake Forest area
I'll update weekly with my findings, so check back often! What are some of your favorite fish fries?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Brasserie Provence for Cheap

Brasserie Provence samples at Taste of Innovation
Want to try French food, for cheap?  Okay, so French and cheap are usually mutually exclusive, they rarely go together in Louisville.  But I just came across this great deal on Groupon today that will make cheap French fare possible.  I've been wanting to try this place for a while, now I have the perfect reason to!

Brasserie Provence, a new French restaurant on Hurstbourne Parkway (the old Romano’s Italian location) is offering a $40 deal for $25.  Pretty good right?  But wait….it gets better.  Groupon is currently having a special, if you use the code SWEET10, you’ll get an additional $10 off.  In the end, you’re paying only $15 for $40 worth of food, that’s a nice lunch  for two and a great dinner for one. Brasserie Provence also offers ½ off bottle of wine on Mondays, pair this with the Groupon and it’ll be a Monday worth celebrating.

There are some limitations:
$25/$40 Mon – Thursday; $28/$40 Fri – Sunday
Coupon expires 2/19/2015, promotional value ends on 5/20/2015
Reservation required, limit 1 per person, per visit, per table.

It’ll only work for people who received this in their email, so check your email to see if you got this deal .  If you’re currently not signed up with Groupon, it’s worth it to sign up for their email.  Occasionally you’ll get these $10 coupons.  It’s a great way for me to try new expensive restaurants without breaking the bank.  Even without the additional $10 off, many times I find great 50% off on restaurants that I want to try anyway. Groupon also has a referral program that’ll give you $10 for every friend you referred (they have to make a purchase), for up to $100. If you use this link to sign up, I’ll treat you to dessert :)

So what’s Brasserie Provence like? The restaurant serves southern provincial French food in an upscale casual atmosphere. Lunch prices are in the mid-teens, dinner in the the mid-twenties with an extensive wine list.  I had a taste of their chocolate dipped pork with a honey lavender Bourbon glaze, cabbage bleu d’auvergne and potato gaufrette at Taste of Innovation last year.  It was delicious and the only booth I actually came back to twice.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Louisville Snow Days

Yay to finally getting some snow in Louisville!  Yes, it's a little hectic driving to work and to places around in general but it brings such a lovely change to the landscape.  While my husband worked, I took a little hiking expedition of the woods behind our house.  Got a few scrapes but also found some pretty little things along the way.  I hope you're staying warm and enjoying your snow day.

Hiking in the woods behind our house
The most accumulation we had in a while
Creek
Firewood
Frozen rocks and streams
Pretty crystallized water

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Perfect Anti-Valentine’s Day

If Valentine’s Day give you no reason to celebrate or you’re just over the expensive pink/red frivolities and the overpriced dinners characterizing this day, try this cheap and fun alternative. For those without a date, grab a friend.  It’ll give “friends with benefit” a whole new meaning.

Free Burrito
On February 14, 2015 only, Qdoba is offering a buy one get one free smothered burrito, for the price of a kiss.  You don’t need coupons, just order and give your partner a kiss to get this great deal, a peck on the cheek is perfectly okay! If you’re rocking it solo on Valentine’s day, surprise an unsuspecting stranger in line or the cute cashier, then grab an empty table to enjoy those two delicious beauties.

Free Movie
Instead of heading to the movies with other couples, spend an intimate movie night at home with your sweet heart or the friend you just used to get that free burrito.  The Redbox at Kroger is offering a free movie rental when you use the code: LOVE (valid until 2/15/2015).  Or use these other codes:NDNQM3QK, 5DKH9WZQ, 29T7MWGX, 92494TK3 or VXHTNG54 (valid until 2/16/2015), anywhere.  There are some awesome new releases out, like the ass kicking John Wick, the psychological thriller Gone Girl and romantic the Fault in Our Stars.  (You’ll have to use it at the kiosk, not online)

Whatever clever ideas you come up with to celebrate this day, enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Valentine's Date Ideas

Love is in the air and in the pressure is on to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day date.  A swanky dine and wine experience in Louisville’s many delicious restaurants is the easiest and quickest way to satisfy many valentine’s expectation. But if low lighting and expensive meals are not really your thing, there are fun and stress-free alternatives.

These unique Valentine's Day activities could easily be done with friends, families or just by your own awesome self. If you still want to go to that fancy dinner, combine the two!  Valentine’s on a Saturday means you can have cheap fun in the day and a fancy dinner at night or vice versa.

Regardless of where you end up, have fun celebrating your love (as you should every day of the year).

Dine at the Castle 
If you're not one to take Valentine's Day seriously, White Castle is the place to be.  You’ll find fresh cut flowers, romantic candles, white table clothes, and five star table service at White Castle on Vday.  The best part is you can stuff yourself silly with cheap and well-loved menu items without breaking the bank.  This was by far my husband’s favorite Valentine’s spot and a fun experience for me.  It’s also a great place for a family dinner date with the kids.

Zip Line Under Louisville 
The money saved at a cheap dinner can go towards a one of a kind adventurous date at the world’s only underground zip line course.  Spend the next 2.5 hours flying high and fast through the six zip lines and two challenge bridges at Louisville Mega Cavern.  It’s currently rated as the #1 attraction in Louisville by visitors on Tripadvisor.  Photo source. 

Va Va Vixens Sexy Burlesque Show 
For a sexy fun time, take your date or all your single girl friends to see Va Va Vixen, a modern day burlesque variety show with a bit of vaudevillian flair. The talented 25 (men and women) member troupe will perform dances, acrobats, aerial acts, strip tease and singing at Headliners most weekends in February. Va Va Valentine Fairie’s Tail will definitely beat the boring dinner and movie routine.  Purchase tickets online or at the door.  The VIP tickets are sold out. Photo source. 

Museums, Crafts and Love Letters
For a more innocent and family friendly experience, spend a day on Museum Row browsing presidential love letters at Frazier or make valentine crafts at the KMAC MakersSpace.  As an added bonus, for the entire month of February, Kentucky and Indiana residents can visit Frazier History Museum, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Muhammad Ali Center for only $5 (a nice saving from the $9 - $13 normal admission). Photo Source.

Schimpff’s for Candy Lovers
For your sweethearts with a bit of a sweet tooth, why give them a meager box of chocolate when you can give them the entire store worth of sweets at Schimpff’s Confectionery. This living museum is Jeffersonville’s best kept secret, selling and making candies for 123 years. Browse the nostalgia-induced candy museum in the back, watch people make candy the old fashion way, and treat your valentine(s) to hundreds of candy variety.  This is a great place to take your tiny valentines.

Cupid’s Undie Run
For your athletic valentine, go naked! Uh..I mean half naked at the Cupid’s Undie Run, a 5k charity run benefiting the Children’s Tumor Foundation.  What better way to show love than raising money to a worthy cause while running half naked in your flashiest underwear with your valentine or in a team of your craziest friends. Photo Source.

Jefferson Memorial Forest Candlelit Hike
Combine nature and romance by taking your date on a romantic candlelit hike (1/2 mile) at Jefferson Memorial Forest that ends with a beautiful view of Louisville night lights from the county's second highest point.  The night will continue with hors d'oeuvres, desserts, warm beverage, board games inside the Forest Manor’s House, complete with two crackling fire places.  If weather permitting, bonfire and star gazing outside.  Call the welcome Center at 368-5404 to make reservation by 2/9/2015.

Solve A Murder Mystery
Add a bit of mystery and murder to your Valentine’s dinner at the Dinner Detective interactive and improvised comedic show. Throughout the duration of the four course sit down meal, you’ll be actively involved in solving a murder mystery using clues and help from detectives.  Saturday show is sold out but Friday is still available.

An Old Fashioned Romance 
Who says romance is Old Fashioned?  Come celebrate romance at Copper and King American Brandy's cocktail party. Make your own Old Fashioned cocktail to go with the hors d'oeuvres from Rye and desserts from Art Eatables, visit the new art exhibit while enjoying live music by Dane Waters and French Lounge.

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If Valentine's Day is inducing your gag reflex, you're definitely not alone! But there are ways to celebrate that too.  Join the Anti-Valentine's Day rebellion at Garage Bar Anti-Valentine's Day Tap Takeover with an anti-Vday themed beer list and small bites, both on Friday 2/13 and Saturday 2/14. Come laugh about love with Raanan Hersherb  Bitter Valentine's Day Comedy Show at the Bard's Town.  Or join the the a Peabody Award-winning Moth StorySLAM at Headliners to listen to "Love Hurts" stories told live and unrehearsed by audience members just like you on Tuesday 2/10/215. Photo source.

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Goat cheese frito from Cena
If you're still looking for a place to eat, here are 25 restaurants offering special menus on love day. These are nicer restaurants, so expect to pay a pretty price and to fight for a reservation.  I recommend Louis Le Francais for its cute French atmosphere (food is just okay for me), Gary's on Spring for an off the beaten track feel with a delicious and inventive menu, and Cena Italian Trattoria for amazing Italian with a twist (it also feels like an exclusive secret hideaway).