J.R. Tolkien

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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tapas wowed at Artesano Tapas, Vinos Y Mas

I don't think I ever anticipated a restaurant as much as I did Artesano Tapas, Vinos Y Mas.  The teaser photos posted on their Facebook page months before the opening were visually stunning and mouth watering.  I love tapas and was already a fan of its sister restaurants, Mussels and Burgers, El Taco Luchador, Cena Italian Trattoria and Guaca Mole.  So I couldn't get here fast enough after it opened.

We waited 1 hr 30 minutes for a table on a Friday night and wolfed down our food in 30.  The food was so good we didn't mind the wait once we were seated.  The Spanish dishes are different and inventive, the anticipation of what comes next is part of the fun.  Bring friends who are wiling to share, it's a great way to try a lot of dishes without breaking the bank!

The essentials: 1. The portions are big (for tapas) 2. The prices are reasonable for the quality and taste. We paid $81 for 7 dishes. $84 ÷ 4 people= a very reasonable meal. 3. The wait is long on the weekend at dinner time, so make sure to bring a lot of patience.  Come around 6 p.m. and the wait is not so bad.

Keep in mind that these are tapas, so certain portions will be small.  A tip for leaving the restaurant full and satisfied: order cheap and fulling dishes like the batatas bravas ($6), the cocas/flatbreadk (~$12), the albondigas/meatballs $8, etc.

Coca de Pato $12.  Duck flatbread.  Photo: Tam
Patatas Bravas $6. Delicious spicy homemade ketchup
Loved the sauce and meatball for this Albondigas $8
Add a few of the more expensive smaller meat dishes to the selection and you'll leave feeling satisfied !
Chuleta de Cordero $15. Lamp chops, sausage and quinoa salad.
Pincho Moruno $7. Pork loin with yogurt sauce.
Pulpo a la Gallega $12.  A skip for me.
My dinner mates liked the paellas, but I think it's too expensive and a bit soggy to be enjoyable.
Paella Valenciana $18
Exceptional service and beautiful restaurant.  I'm already planning to come back soon!

Outdoor patio with a fire pit
I heard the drinks and cocktails are great as well so check it out.  I don't drink, so you're on your own there :)

My rating: 9/10
Artesano Tapas, Vinos Y Mas 
1321 Herr Lane Suite 130 Louisville
Kentucky 40223
(In the Westport Village Shopping Center)
(502) 708-2196
Monday - Friday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturday: 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday: Closed
No reservation or call ahead accepted.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Eat Well and Do Good at 6 Louisville Restaurants

This holiday season visit 6 local Louisville restaurants where our city two best traits, compassion and good food, are intertwined.  At these restaurants, you'll be treated to delicious cheap food for your stomach and a warm hug for your soul.  

The Table Café
1800 Portland Ave
Monday - Friday
11 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Outside the restaurant, around 18th St. and Portland Ave.
An oasis in a culinary desert, the Table Café, offers healthy home cooked meals in the Portland neighborhood, where fast-food restaurants dominate the landscape.  “The Table is a non-profit, social entrepreneurship that serves locally grown, fresh food and operates under a pay-what-you-can model.”  The concept is simple, you can 1) pay what you can afford or work in the restaurant as payment 2) Pay the full amount 3) Pay the full amount plus a bit extra to “pay it forward” to cover someone else’s meals.  The restaurant is almost entirely staffed by volunteers (you can sign up too!).
A busy Friday inside the restaurant.
Smoke chicken and potato soup
Smoke chicken, root veggies salad, and sweet potato fries
The small menu offers salads, soups, sandwiches, and dessert made from locally grown food.  Nothing on the menu is over $7; you can get a lunch special with any sandwich, side, and drink for $10.  My sides and salads were fresh and delicious.  The main dishes can be tweaked a bit (the chicken was a bit dry and the soup a tad salty) but it still makes for an enjoyable dining experience.  The restaurant itself is chic and modern, with a community room and office space attached. Come check it out, everyone is welcome at the Table.

Waycool Cafe
120 West Broadway
(Corner of Broadway & 2nd)
Monday - Friday: 6 a.m. - 3 p.m.; 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: : 7 a.m. - 2 p.m.; 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.

$4 for 2 meals from Waycool Cafe
The Waycool Cafe is located inside the Hotel Louisville, a transitional housing shelter for men and women as well as a functional hotel for tourists.  What's way cool about this place is that all the staff graduated from or currently enrolled in Wayside Christian Mission recovery and training program. Residents receive on the job hands-on training to prepare them for entry into the work force.  

The food here is not gourmet, but it's of good quality and fresh.  You'll find favorites such as burgers, fries, fried chicken, fish, chicken wings, etc. The most expensive item on there is $9 and you can easily have a complete meal with a sandwich, a side dish and desert for $3! They also have a buffet for $5 (one trip) with lots of sides, salads, and main entrees.   I always feel like a million bucks coming here because the staff treat me well and I can eat to my heart's desire without worrying about the final bill.
Pretty good wings.
There's a huge free parking lot, a big bonus for downtown. The hotel is older but clean and well kept. It's a humbling experience to be dining in a place where staff and clients are working so hard to make a positive change in their lives.

Common Table 
Catholic Charities
2234 Market Street
502-873-2560 ext. 256
Tuesday & Thursday: 11:30 p.m. - 1 p.m.

Chef Hank and food samples.
For a one of a kind lunch experience, check out Common Table.  Located inside Catholic Charities gym, Common Table serves lunch every Tuesday and Thursday (11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.).  Entrees are $5/$4 vegetarian, $2 desserts, $1 drinks (sample menu). Sign up with chef Hank to receive the menu weekly.  The food is prepared from the Common Earth Garden in West Louisville at St. Anthony's.  Portions are on the small side, but for such a great cause and great deal, order two!
Chicken and rice and a vegetarian option. 
Common Table is a social entrepreneurship program that offers Culinary Arts training to refugees, former inmates, and other job seekers.  Participants learn basic culinary skills, nutrition, food safety, as well as resume writing and interviewing skills.

Communal table, great for striking up a conversation with new friends.
Customer Appreciation Day, November 25, 2015
Roots and Heart & Soy
1216 Bardstown Road
502- 452-6678 (Heart & Soy)
502-452-6688 (Roots)
11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Four Sisters
2206 Frankfort Ave
(502) 384-4262
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Every Thanksgiving Eve, local business guru Huong "Coco" Tran offers free meals to the community at the Customer Appreciation Day at her restaurants.  Though the meals are free, donations are except and distributed to local charities.  In recent years, the lovely sisters at Four Sisters also participated in this great cause.  Heart & Soy and Roots offer delicious Vietnamese inspired vegetarian food while Four Sisters serves coffee, tea, crepes and sandwiches.  They serve the kind of food that warms the heart and the soul.
Coco and FREE food. Photo: Roots/Heart & Soy

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Morning at Turkey Run Park

Pretty Sunday mornings are best spent outdoors, so we grabbed our walking shoes (my husband, his long board) and headed to the newly opened Turkey Run Park.   This 800+ acre park is the 3rd addition to the 5 parks of the Parklands of Floyds Fork park system.

Some photos from this morning’s adventure:
At the entrance
Hockensmith Barn
A hunter's perch (?)
On the way up!
Silo Lookout
View from the top
I’ve been a fan ever since it opened back in 2012.  The Parklands, once completed in Spring 2016, will stretch from Shelbyville Road to Bardstown Road, encompassing 5 parks: Beckley Creek Park, Pope Lick Park, Turkey Run, the Strand and Broad Run Park.  Three parks are currently opened to the public, with the Strand and Broad Run Park scheduled to open in the Spring of 2016.   The parks hug the Floyds Fork Creek, providing scenic hiking and biking paths as well as 19 miles of canoe/kayaking trail.

Expect to see: 100 miles of trails for hiking and biking, canoe launches, event venues, bark park, children’s playgrounds, recreational fields, fishing holes and other outdoor spaces.  They also have regularly scheduled events so check their website for details.   For example, Wednesday Wonders are interactive science experiments for children under 7 ($5 to attend, free to members).

The parks are brand new, so the facilities are spotless; the biking paths and hiking paths are well maintained.  In the spring and summer, come for the display of colors from wild flower fields and carefully planned greeneries.  In the Fall, get a bird’s eye view of fall foliage from the surrounding hills atop the Silo Overlook at Turkey Run Park.
Spring at Beckley Creek Park
Summer at Pope Lick
For the bet overview of the parks, I recommend bringing your bike. Start at the parking at the entrance of Beckley Creek Park (across from Valhalla Golf Course) and follow the biking path all the way to Pope Lick Park.  It’s around 15 miles round trip and take around 2 – 3 hours to complete.  Some hills can be slow going, but take your time and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful sceneries and a fast downhill.
Biking trail
On the way to Pope Lick
Biking trail