Category Archives: Columns

Here is where all our regular columnist words move from print to screen

Comings & Goings — Winter 2017

[Originally Published in the Winter 2017 issue of Food & Dining Magazine.]

Now here’s something we found interesting as we were reflecting on Food & Dining’s coverage of the local restaurant industry: in the over 14 years or so and 58 issues of the magazine, this column has noted that restaurant business closings have outnumbered openings only five times. This column in this issue continues to mark this remarkable growth. In the last three months, restaurants that have opened (brand new businesses and expansions into new locations of existing businesses) have outnumbered restaurant closings 28 to 13. Continue reading Comings & Goings — Winter 2017

Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey celebrates National Chocolate Day – and APRON

Saturday, Oct. 28, from 3-6 p.m., Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey is sponsoring a special chocolate tasting event in Louisville and Lexington at the Springhurst Liquor Barn, 4301 Town Center Drive, and the Hamburg Liquor Barn in Lexington. Ballotin has invited West 6th Brewing, Old 502 Winery, Rabbit Hole Distilling, Cellar Door Chocolates, Hi-Five Doughnuts, Steel City Pops, Chateau Bourbon and Bourbon Women to showcase the many ways chocolate influences, flavors, and defines some favorite local products and brands. Continue reading Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey celebrates National Chocolate Day – and APRON

Easy Entertaining — Farmers’ Market Inspired Elegant but Easy Summer Party

[Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Food & Dining Magazine]

We like what late summer here in the Ohio Valley provides us for parties — long, lazy afternoons and evenings; patios and decks ideal for grilling and eating al fresco; sitting in the dark listening to the crickets. And, of course, the bounty at the farmers markets’ that provide the freshest foods to feed guests. Continue reading Easy Entertaining — Farmers’ Market Inspired Elegant but Easy Summer Party

Cooking with Ron: Home cooking — Then and Now

[Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Food & Dining Magazine]

Recently, a neighbor stopped by to give me a little gift, just something she had found while going through her files that she was sure I would be interested in. She presented me with a rare and curious document indeed: an intact copy of “Cissy Gregg’s Cookbook and Guide to Gracious Living.” Continue reading Cooking with Ron: Home cooking — Then and Now

Comings & Goings — A comprehensive update on the local restaurant scene

[Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Food & Dining Magazine]

The past three months have seen much activity in the local restaurant world but not at the higher end of the economic range. All of the fine dining establishments seem to be holding their own with no newcomers to that market and no casualties. Of the 27 restaurants that have opened since the last issue of F&D in May, at least 8 serve ethnic cuisine ranging from Turkish to Somali to Vietnamese. Another nine serve familiar American cuisine — or 12, if you include pizza along with burgers, wings and BBQ as quintessentially American food. A few outliers complete the list of new food businesses — a vegan café, a cereal restaurant, and a chef’s performance/demonstration space. Fifteen restaurants have closed for good, and two other businesses — Louis’s the Ton and Me Gusta Latin Kitchen — didn’t so much close as change their identities in mid stride, to The Butchertown Social and El Barrio Tequila & Whiskey Bar, respectively. And eight multi-outlet businesses closed one or more locations, but they are still serving elsewhere. Continue reading Comings & Goings — A comprehensive update on the local restaurant scene

Humor— Tips and Pointers for Opening Your Own Restaurant

As hard as it might be to believe, a career spent writing humor columns did not prepare me for the rigors of restaurant ownership. Shocking, I know, but true. Yet restaurant ownership remains the dream of many a deluded soul out there in the world. So as the owner of Gracious Bakery + Café and its subsidiaries here in New Orleans, I would like to share with such interested parties my keen insights gleaned from the past three years of proprietorship. Learn from my mistakes so that you in turn do not make them. Or better yet, open up a traveling cat circus. That would be the safer bet. Continue reading Humor— Tips and Pointers for Opening Your Own Restaurant

Humor — Our First Mardi Gras

Earlier this year my wife and I decided that, since we didn’t already have enough problems, we should open yet another bakery. But, unlike our other locations, this one would have a secret ingredient to boost the bottom line — booze! We lucked into a prime location in the Garden District on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans. Being the only writer on the Food & Dining staff not actually based in Louisville, some context might be helpful. Down here we have this thing called Mardi Gras, which is sort of like our version of the Derby. And as the Derby has its buildup of events like Thunder Over Louisville, Pegasus Parade, etc., Mardi Gras builds to a similar crescendo over the three-week period leading up to Fat Tuesday. Continue reading Humor — Our First Mardi Gras

Cooking with Ron—Stews to Chase the Winter Blues

When winter winds nip at the nose, when the clouds spit snow and puddles freeze – that is the time for comforting meals of stew in steaming bowls accompanied by chunks of crusty bread.

Stews are an elemental food, harkening back to dim times when a single earthen pot simmered over a fire, the repository for whatever was hunted and gathered that day. Most cultures that eventually coalesced from our first ancestors kept this primordial food memory, and at the heart of most cuisines are many and varied stews, whether they are called pot au feu, goulash or râgout, boeuf bourguignon, bigos or burgoo, cassoulet, cholent or cioppino, feijoada, hasenpfeffer or hot pot.

The practical value of the stew concept is neatly summarized by The Oxford Companion To Food, with a description that cuts to the heart of the ubiquity of stew in so many cultures: “The mixture of ingredients in a thick and opaque sauce casts a veil of uncertainty over the proportions of expensive ingredients to cheap ones.” Stews stretch what is available to sate many stomachs; the flexibility of the concept allows for the satisfying of varying tastes; and the use of available native ingredients permits endless variations on a theme.

Continue reading Cooking with Ron—Stews to Chase the Winter Blues

HopCat is the Craft Beer Lover’s Meow

HopCat is a beer bar like the Rolling Stones are a rock band and LeBron James is a basketball player. Simple descriptions don’t always tell the whole story.

In fact, HopCat is a craft beer conundrum. It’s a growing Midwestern company boasting 12 regional locations, with more to come, and yet each one generally has more locally brewed beers on tap than nearby “indie” craft beer bars.

Uniquely tailored to their chosen neighborhoods, HopCat locations consciously seek to be as much a part of their community as the mom-and-pop joint right down the street.

HopCat garners national praise, but it soft-pedals superlatives, modestly describing itself as “a home for craft beer lovers,” as well as promoting recycling and sustainability, engaging with local breweries and beer geeks, and serving food “like mom would make if she loved craft beer.” That is, if your mom had room for an eye-popping 132 draft beers, which is HopCat’s signature.

Continue reading HopCat is the Craft Beer Lover’s Meow

Easy Entertaining—Tailgating in the Comfort of Your Own Home

Tailgating is always a fun occasion to get friends together to cheer on your favorite teams. In the winter months football is still in season with the Big Game coming in February, and basketball is just getting started. We thought we’d invite some of our favorite chefs over to share what they like to serve when they’re “homegating.”

Continue reading Easy Entertaining—Tailgating in the Comfort of Your Own Home