J.R. Tolkien

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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kentucky State Fair 2015

The Kentucky State Fair is once again upon us.  Here you’ll find  a plethora of delicious heart attack inducing fried goodies, free nightly concerts, cute farm animals, a variety of sideshows, and of course Farmer Fred greeting you from high above.  We all hate the ridiculously long lines, the traffic jams, the overly expensive food and the heat.  But it’s so ingrained in our tradition that somehow August is not complete until we step foot into the madness that is the annual State Fair.

If you haven’t been yet, you still have 3 more days to visit.  Here’s a Cliff's Notes version of what you need to know

  • Date and HoursMonday 8/20/2015 – Sunday 8/30/2015
    Gates open at 7 a.m. – Midnight

    9 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Sunday – Thursday)
    9 a.m. – 10 p.m. (Friday – Saturday)

    Midway RidesMonday – Thursday: 2 p.m. – Midnight
    Friday- Sunday: 12 p.m. - Midnight

  • PricesAdult $10
    Child (6-12) $6
    Senior (55+) $6 (Only $1 on Senior Day)
    Infants & Toddlers (5 and under) Free
    Parking is $8 per vehicle per entry
  • Great DealsThursday: $20-per-carload until 5 p.m.  Parking Included.

    Passengers on a TARC bus will pay a flat $5 Fair admission fee. Buses headed to the Fair will depart from the TARC stop at Fifth and Market streets every 60 – 70 minutes from 6:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. The last bus from the fairgrounds to downtown Louisville leaves at 11:58 p.m. daily.

    Free Parking at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Friday 9/28/2015 – Sunday 9/30/2015.  The shuttle runs continuously, they go on a special route so you can bypass a lot of the traffic.
  • Free concerts:List 
    All shows begin at 8 p.m. in Cardinal Stadium

  • Midway Rides
    Midway wristbands are good ALL DAY, ANY ONE DAY and can be purchased in advanced or on-site during the Fair.

    Children (ages 12 and younger with maximum height of 56”) – $12 on-site

    Adults – $25 on-site purchase of wristband
  • Food
Philly Cheese Steak Donut

Donut burger
  • Philly Cheese Steak Donut Burger.  Fans of the donut burger, there’s a new addition this year for you to try.  This monstrosity is $12, which includes a beef patty and all the cheesy steak goodness that makes up the Philly cheese steak.  My verdict, skip it and grab the burger.

    Donut Burger. Sweet and savory, This $9 weirdo is worth a try and now a fair favorite

    Grab the pineapple swirl.  It’s my new favorite discovery.  It’s slightly sweet and so very refreshing.

    Get the funnel cake from the vendors near the rides.  It’s fluffier and larger.

    Corn on the cob
    Corn on the cob is my thing.  Get extra butter, dress it with lemon pepper and some paprika and it's bliss.

    Other new things to try this year: fried Derby pie and Hot Brown on a stick.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Great BBQ From the "Redneck Jew" and Shack in the Back

I wasn't a big fan of bbq but I recently discovered two great bbq places that changed my mind.  And I can't wait to share it with everyone!

Smoketown USA

Social medial is abuzz with news of an upcoming Food Network's feature of Smoketown USA, to be air next Monday, August 10 at 9 p.m..  With savory briskets, tender ribs and big personality, it's easy to see why this lovely Smoketown joint is getting the spotlight.

I went here 6 or 7 years ago and thought the only thing memorable was the eccentric owner.  But I came back again last Friday for another go and was glad I did.  The owner, nicknamed himself the "Redneck Jew", was welcoming, funny and as eccentric as ever.  He lives above the restaurant and really is part of the neighborhood.  Here he is below on the right cracking jokes with us.  

But the food, oh the food, was probably what drew the Food Network and the customers here every Thursday, Friday and Saturday (11 a.m. - 10 p.m.).  My ribs were perfectly seasoned and tender, not swimming in sauce like other places.  If you do want more sauce, add your own from the homemade bbq bottle on the table.  It has a nice kick to it.  The soul greens was delicious so were the the tangy and refreshing cucumbers & onions side that's only available in the summertime.

My coworker, born and raised in the country, raved about the brisket as well.

The booben sandwich, a kind of chicken Rueben made with shredded chicken and slaw, will be featured on Monday's show.  It was not what my coworker expected but she thoroughly enjoyed it.

Skip fish, though large and crispy, the meat was  a bit soft.  So stick with the bbq.

If you have a big appetite, grab the Flintstone.  I saw it from across the room and those beef ribs were as big as the ribs from the cartoon show.

Smoketown USA is only open 3 days a week.  I imagine the lines will be long after Monday's show but head over anyway, it's worth the wait.

Smoketown USA $$
1153 Logan Street
Louisville, KY 40204
Th, Fri, & Sat: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Shack in the Back BBQ

The tv cameras didn't make it out to this second place.  They missed out but you don't have to!  Take Fairdale Road all the way south until you can’t go anymore, at the intersection take a left (right will take you to Jefferson Memorial) and you'll find Shack in the Back BBQ.

Fairdale is not glamorous and Shack and the Back BBQ fits its surrounding.  It's a clean well kept place consisting of two connecting buildings.  The back is a 1896 log cabin.  It fits around 6 tables, enough for 20-30 people at the most.  You order at the counter and grab a number.  The front is a covered patio with larger tables and chairs; heat lamp in the winter and fans in the summer.  On the weekends, you'll be serenaded with local bands and singers while you eat.

Outside Shack in the Back BBQ
Inside the log cabin where you order.
The patio in the front.  Hot in the summer.
On our first visit, we waited over 45 minutes for our order.  We were hot and frustrated but after a bite of the sweet and smokey wings, we agreed it was worth the wait.  Mark's Feed Store wings might have some competition! (On my second visit, we only waited 15 minutes.)

Delicious wings.
If you can't decide what to order, get the platter.  My platter consisted of the ribs, wings, chicken & brisket sandwich.  The star of the plate were the ribs, smokey, well seasoned and felt right off the bones. I recommend skipping the sandwiches and get your hands on the ribs.

For something completely different, try the turkey ribs or turkey collar bones.  Surprisingly meaty, the ribs were slightly crispy and tasted great with several choices of bbq sauces or the white lightin' sauce. I think this is the only place in the city where you can find this special treat.

Turkey ribs, a Shack in the Back speciality

I eyed the the Hump from across the restaurant on my last visit and can't wait to get it next time.  It was a huge pile of homemade chips topped with your choice of pork, brisket or bacon, tomatoes, onions, cheese, green peppers, jalapenos,sweet bbq sauce, hot bbq sauce, sour cream or White Lightnin' Sauce.
Shack in the Back BBQ
406 Mt. Holly Road
Fairdale, KY 40118
M - Th: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Vacation Mode

Taking a quick blogging break. My view today....

Quick tip: if you ever want a relatively cheap trip with a bit of international flavor, consider a trip to Puerto Rico. You can fly here for the price of tickets to Florida ($339 If you look at the right time.) A majority of the people speak English, no need to exchange money and the beaches are beautiful. Flamenco Beach in Culebra is often on many top 10 beaches in the world lists.  Since it's also a U.S. territory, you can leave your passport at home!