Category Archives: Columns

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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

Coming & Goings

Well, the restaurant growth in the Louisville area continues apace. Since the last issue in August, Food & Dining this issue is adding 33 new restaurants to its listings, a dozen of which are additional outlets of existing businesses. Only 15 restaurants have closed, or have announced that they will do so; three of those closings are businesses that are folding one of multiple locations. So, polish up those charge cards and get ready to try some new dining spots. Continue reading Coming & Goings

Cooking with Ron— Corn

Although the focus of this issue is Bourbon, it is important to know that corn has other uses besides forming the backbone of a Bourbon’s mash bill. In fact, of all the agricultural benefits ensuing from the European conquest of the Americas – the so-called Columbian Exchange – the most universally successful has been corn. While it is hard to imagine the cuisine of southern Italy, say, without the tomato, or that of India or Thailand without the chile pepper, or half the economy of Switzerland or Belgium without chocolate (all New World foods unknown elsewhere before 1500), corn – or more properly maize – was the most quickly accepted and adapted worldwide. Before the end of the 16th century, corn was a staple crop of central Africa (brought by the Portuguese from Brazil), increasingly grown in India and China and making headway into European cuisines, most eagerly in Italy, where corn meal replaced millet in the cooked mush that gourmets now relish as polenta. Continue reading Cooking with Ron— Corn

Easy Entertaining— Cooking with Bourbon

With the growing emphasis on using local ingredients whenever possible in cooking, it is only natural that restaurant chefs would experiment with uses for Bourbon, a local product with a long and storied history in Kentucky. As Jess Inman, chef at Equus, said, “We might as well embrace what is around us.”

F&D invited Inman, Shawn Ward of Ward 426, and Dean Corbett of Equus and Corbett’s: An American Place to put together a party menu that highlighted the flavor potentials in cooking with Bourbon. And Tim and I added a rich Bourbon-enhanced dessert alongside a seasonal Maple Manhattan cocktail, which plays nicely with flavors born of the charred oak barrel. Continue reading Easy Entertaining— Cooking with Bourbon

Cork 101— The wines of South Africa

South Africa was certainly on my list of wine countries or wine lands, as they say in South Africa, to visit but not at the top of my list. It should have been. I am very happy that I accepted an invitation to speak there and endured the incredibly long flight to this Southern Hemisphere country to find perhaps the most naturally beautiful wine country I have ever visited. Continue reading Cork 101— The wines of South Africa

Hip Hops— Bourbon-barrel-aged Imperial Stouts

You’ll hear one sort of pitch at a sales meeting, and see another thrown during a baseball game, but brewer’s pitch is completely different. Brewer’s pitch is a resinous substance used to line wooden barrels so liquid doesn’t come into contact with the wood. That’s because exposure to a wooden barrel affects the flavor of its contents, and generally over the centuries, brewers have preferred their wooden vessels to be neutral. Brewer’s pitch remains a handy means to this end, and anyway, stainless steel long ago supplanted wood for beer’s storage and serving. Continue reading Hip Hops— Bourbon-barrel-aged Imperial Stouts

Along the Urban Bourbon Trail— Proof on Main

Since it first opened in 2006, the 21C Museum Hotel Louisville has twice been named the Top Hotel in the U.S. by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine. That is because it is more than a place to eat and sleep – it is a bona fide cultural institution. The 21C broadens public access to contemporary art with its rotating collection of paintings, sculptures, photos and video installations. That same creative spirit extends to Proof on Main, the hotel’s celebrated restaurant. This is especially apparent in the way the bartenders and cooks at Proof on Main use Kentucky’s most popular export: Bourbon. Continue reading Along the Urban Bourbon Trail— Proof on Main

HIP HOPS— Goodwood Brewing Co.

It is a deceptively simple notion to modify the flavor of beer by aging it in Bourbon barrels. Just as char and time transform simpler corn-based spirits into a sipper’s elixir, so a barrel’s second use with beer can create a characterful hybrid, balancing the chosen base beer with notes of vanilla and spices.

This principle holds true when using barrels previously filled with other liquors or wine, and to a more subtle extent, by exposing beer to various types of wood (most often oak) through chips or spirals. Continue reading HIP HOPS— Goodwood Brewing Co.