June wine dinners at Brasserie Provence and Varanese

It is time again for excellent dining values, introduction to new wines and enjoyment of chefs’ off-the-usual-menu dishes designed to pair with the wines. There are lots of people who know the value and enjoyment these special dinners offer, for they usually sell out quickly. This post is far enough ahead so that those who haven’t tried them yet can reserve a seat.

  • Varanese, 2106 Frankfort Ave., has been staging monthly wine dinners for a number of years now; the latest one will be Tuesday, June 7 at 6:30 p.m. The theme is A Taste of Italy, with selections from Palm Bay International wine importers, who will send Regional Director Ryan Oliver to the dinner to talk about the wines from several Italian producers that he chose to pair with the dinner.

The wines will range from prosecco to pinot grigio to chianti classico to Italian pinot noir. The menu will include grilled clams and artichokes, house-made bucatini with basil pesto and oyster mushroom sauce, crispy porchetta, oxtail bolognese over gnocchi and vanilla panna cotta.

The dinner and wine pairings will be $65. Call (502) 899-9904 or email letsdine@varanese.com. A $25 per seat fee will be charged for reservations not canceled within 24 hours of the event.

  • On Thursday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m.,Brasserie Provence, 150 N. Hurstbourne Pkwy., will host a rosé wine dinner, with wine expert David DuBou of Vintner Select on hand to share his knowledge of the wines he chose for pairing with Chef Laurent Geroli’s menu.

The menu will feature dishes from the cuisine of the south of France: sweet potato and leek soup with lavender crème fraiche, red snapper, tuna caponata and poached peach and goat cheese gelato. The rosé wines likewise will be from the south of France, from the Pays d’Oc and the Côte de Provence, the heart of French rosé production.

The price for the dinner and wine pairings will be $65. Wines presented at the dinner can be ordered with a 15% discount through Westport Whiskey & Wine. Call (502) 883-3153.

Wiltshire at the Speed — talents combine for artful eating

For three years a massive project has been going on at the Speed Art Museum, a transformation of the staid 1927 Neo-classical landmark into a new space that will be a center of education, exploration and appreciation of creativity in all its forms. Along with a modern addition that invites the community in, it is also an institution alive with ideas of reaching out.

Included in the impressive new edifice at 2035 S. Third Street is a modern café, Wiltshire at the Speed, combining the creative vision of owner Susan Hershberg and Executive Chef Coby Ming to complement the museum’s mission to both invite and serve. Continue reading Wiltshire at the Speed — talents combine for artful eating

Wear white to Conrad-Caldwell House picnic

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 28, the historical Conrad-Caldwell mansion on the northwest end of St. James Court will host a fund-raising picnic on the lawn from 6-10 p.m. The event will feature a table decorating competition, jazz by Karan Chavis and the RCW3 band, a silent auction and awards for those party-goers who dress all in white. Continue reading Wear white to Conrad-Caldwell House picnic

3 new pizza joints join the fray

Is Louisville’s pizza jones insatiable? At what point is market saturation a problem? The latest issue of F&D records 59 named listings of pizza purveyors, which does not account for multiple locations of many of those businesses, nor does it include other kinds of restaurants that have pizza on the menu. Clearly pizza is a default option for a lot of diners.

Those diners will soon have three more choices. Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza will open its third area store at 4055 Summit Plaza Drive; the Seattle-area chain MOD Pizza will enter the Louisville market on Breckenridge Lane in the McMahan Plaza shopping center; and Sicilian Pizza & Pasta is opening its second location, in Fern Creek’s Glenmary Plaza. Continue reading 3 new pizza joints join the fray

Joy Luck opens second restaurant in East End

Joy Luck, the popular Highlands restaurant featuring Taiwanese-style Chinese cuisine, is opening its second Louisville location at 9850 Von Allmen Ct., off the Gene Snyder Expressway and Brownsboro Rd. The first Joy Luck is in a shotgun-style building on Bardstown Rd, giving the business a comfortable and homelike feel. The new location is in a suite in a new development built and owned by Louisville developer The McMahan Group. Continue reading Joy Luck opens second restaurant in East End

Brown-Forman adds Scotch to its brand portfolio

I have long been nonplussed by the seemingly blithe transfer of commercial brands from one owner to another, and how mega-corporations own what seem to be independent products. For instance, did you know that Campbell’s Soup also owns Godiva Chocolates, Pepperidge Farm cookies, Oxo kitchen tools and SpaghettiOs, among several other familiar grocery brands?

Brown-Forman, in addition to their iconic Bourbon brands (Old Forester, Early Times, Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve) also owns Finlandia vodka, Chambord liqueur and Korbel sparkling wines. Now B-F is getting into the Scotch market too, with the acquisition early next month of Scotch whiskey maker BenRiach Distillery Co. for about $415 million. Continue reading Brown-Forman adds Scotch to its brand portfolio

Comings & Goings

In this issue we list the arrival of two dozen new restaurants, the expansion of 10 more established businesses into one or more additional locations, and the return to business of two restaurants closed for several months to recover from fires. Against those numbers we note the closing of just 17 restaurants — and several of those locations have already been taken over by the new kids on the block.

Is this 2-to-1 ratio of growth sustainable? We already hear rumblings about the difficulty of staffing of new restaurants in general, much less with experienced help. But Louisvillians continue to find dining out an enjoyable entertainment option, and new concepts continue entering the market. As they say, let the good times roll. Continue reading Comings & Goings