EDT Podcast: Jared Matthews on Diamonds, Cafe Lou Lou and Jack’s

Since Carolyn got called out of town, Rick is flying solo at the EatDrinkTalk studio on Episode 73.
The show includes an interesting interview with Jared Matthews, who finds himself in charge of three distinctly different, but geographically aligned, neighborhood establishments.

Matthews originally became a partner in Diamonds Pub and Billiards, then bought Cafe Lou Lou just over a year ago. More recently, he brokered a deal with Chef Dean Corbett to take over the operation of Equus and Jack’s Lounge. And he’s the father of a new baby. All of his operations are close by the studio, so it was easy to come in and talk. Caroline Knop, another St. Matthews regular and a PR powerhouse, joins Rick in the interview.

Rick’s Eat of the Week, in addition to several choice samples at Apron’s Taste of Independents, was a blackened mahi mahi fish taco from LouVino, prepared by last week’s guest, Chef Bill Jennings. We’re looking forward to the August 9 Margarita in the ‘Ville contest at Captain’s Quarters, in which our guest Jared Matthews will have an entry for each of this three restaurants.

And at Fourth Street Live!, this weekend is the exciting Vault in the ‘Ville competition, which features pole vaulters doing their thing on Fourth. Next week is Danny and the Homewreckers, plus the big Nelly show. Thanks for joining us, and check out more at EatDrinkTalk.net.

 

EDT Podcast: Forecastle Sets Sail with Bourbon Lodge in Front

Carolyn and Rick have been keeping a busy schedule eating and drinking around town, all so we can talk about it here on the EatDrinkTalk podcast. We start with Carolyn’s Eat of the Week, which she found in Westport Village at the Artesano Tapas spot. She gives the Ole Restaurant Group spot high marks for some succulent lunch dishes.

Rick went all the way to Nashville to discover that city’s equivalent of the ‘Ville’s own Seafood Lady. It was not fancy, just mouth-watering seafood (lobster, shrimp) served in styrofoam containers.

It’s Forecastle Week in the ‘Ville, and while concert-goers savor the sounds of the likes of Jason Isbell and Arcade Fire, many end up in the air-conditioned comfort of the Bourbon Lodge. Liquor Barn’s Brad Williams traces the evolution of the attraction, which has become a big event in the bourbon world, thanks to the keen interest in the project by founder J.K. McKnight. Williams says the Rarities Bar is a treasure to bourbon aficionados, with plenty of bottles you won’t find elsewhere.

We got an early look at Louisville Magazine’s Best of Louisville awards in restaurants, and have some nits to pick with the choices. And Carolyn had a chance encounter with Mitch McConnell, who has experienced unpleasantness on a few recent trips to local restaurants.

Thanks to our sponsor, Fourth Street Live!, which is gearing up for the Nelly concert August 3 and is welcoming the new Pizza Bar to the Street.

Brad Williams hosts the Bourbon Lodge at Forecastle

Carolyn’s Eat of the Week from Artesano Tapas

We’re all screaming for Bernoulli in latest EDT Podcast

It’s summer, a time when our thoughts turn to . . . ice cream, of course. The founders of Bernoulli Small Batch Ice Cream, Brian and Allyson Comstock, have turned a part-time passion into a phenomenal business success story. Listen to this episode of EatDrinkTalk to see how they did it.

The Comstocks also brought some of their most popular flavors to the studio, taking Rick off his diet in a way that was well worth it. The Comstocks are long-time friends of Carolyn’s, and were happy to answer all our ice cream questions.

Rick stopped in at the new bar in town, The Champagnery on Frankfort, for a look and taste of what this fancy place is like, destined to become a hotspot along with its neighbors – the Red Herring, the Silver Dollar and the Hilltop Tavern. Rick also visited the new trailhead for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail – the Frazier History Museum. Plus we update you on the next big thing at Fourth Street Live!, Family Fun Day.

There’s plenty more in the city’s favorite eating and drinking podcast, EatDrinkTalk.

Find us online at EatDrinkTalk.net, and on Twitter at @EatDrinkTalkLou.

Brian and Allyson Comstock help Carolyn with some prodcut

Sippin’ Forever in Blue Jeans, with Jason Smith and Paul Tuell

There’s plenty of eatin’ and drinkin’ to talk about in Louisville, and Washington, so let’s get right to it. Carolyn traveled to our nation’s Capitol on business, and feasted at Succotash, owned and operated by our own Edward Lee. At another stop, she came face to eye with a fish, she ordered the catch of the day, and was a bit uncomfortable with its presentation.

Around here we noticed that the new version of the old Kaelin’s on Newburg Road is now hiring, the last step before the new 80/20 Kaelin’s opens there. Flavour is the new restaurant in the Highlands, a Caribbean/Creole spot, taking the place of Asiatique, which closed just a few weeks ago. Rick visited a one-year-old restaurant on West Broadway, Angie’s Home Cooking, which is where you would go if you were looking for good meat loaf.

Our guests made us a succulent sipper – the “Forever in Blue Jeans” special in honor of the Denim & Diamonds fundraiser, coming June 1. Paul Tuell used his Boubon Ball Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey, with a blueberry sauce and ginger beer, to make the special concoction. Jason Smith, the GM at Gordon Biersch, explains how his work for the Parkinson’s Support Center is a chance to give back to the organization that helps those with Parkinson’s. Jason, who has Parkinson’s himself, recruits some of the city’s top chefs to donate their time for the event.

Paul Tuell, Jason Smith, Carolyn McLean and Rick Redding

How Derby 144 Went Down with Kent Taylor, plus a Knock-Knock Joke with Emerson

We’ve finally dried out from Saturday’s wettest Derby ever, and have plenty to talk about. Rick and Carolyn broke even with an across-the-board bet on Audible, which is, well, better than losing.

Our guest, Kent Taylor, sports director at WAVE 3, spent much of the day in the paddock, and gives us some of the insider story from that vantage point, including an explanation why highly-regarded Mendelssohn, Carolyn’s pick, struggled to finish dead last in the 20-horse field. And Kent brought along his daughter Emerson, who dazzles us with her repertoire of knock-knock jokes.

In the news, we found some stories about things that were supposed to happen by Derby Day, but didn’t. That includes the promising Barret bar spot that was the Monkey Wrench, which was supposed to be a new vegan restaurant and brewery. And then there’s the much-delayed old Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, which the Martin’s Barbecue chain finally has under construction. We also go through the list of the city’s largest breweries, and tell you about a new one under construction.

Carolyn shared a great story about meeting a Derby horse owner, the man behind Vino Rosso. Meanwhile Rick found himself drenched despite having access to covered portions of the track. It was also a big and successful week for our sponsor, Fourth Street Live!, which had patrons dancing in the street for three straight nights. They have a Farmers Market opening this week.

Join us for an engaging and appetizing show with Kent Taylor, and please tell your friends to listen. You can rate us on iTunes, and check out our web site, EatDrinkTalk.net, or our Twitter feed, #eatdrinktalklou.

Kent Taylor, with Emerson

Deep details on upcoming Bourbon & Beyond announced today

The following press release providing details on September’s Bourbon & Beyond event, was made available today by Danny Wimmer Presents. It is the longest news release I’ve ever seen, bar none. It’s so stuffed with details about this combo-bourbon-food-and-music festival that I’ve left it largely intact to ensure the key details remain. So here goes, read on. It appears to be taking shape nicely.

In honor of National Bourbon Day, Danny Wimmer Presents is ecstatic to announce its highly anticipated Food & Beverage Partners for BOURBON & BEYOND, an incredible all-in-one bourbon, food, and music festival that celebrates the craftsmanship, soul and spirit of Louisville, Kentucky.  Taking place for the first time on Saturday, September 23 and Sunday, September 24, glasses are being raised across the country to toast the exceptional talent that is making this festival unlike any other.

Danny Wimmer Presents newest venture, the inaugural Bourbon & Beyond, is a showcase featuring the best bourbons, master distillers, national and local chefs, bartenders, musicians, and many other artisans. Along with nationally celebrated Louisville chef, Edward Lee and best-selling author and acclaimed bourbon authority, Fred Minnick, this talented trio has brought these partners together to blend the best elements of a bourbon festival, a food festival, and a music festival into one all-encompassing celebration.

THE FOOD PROGRAM RUNDOWN:
Attendees of the Bourbon & Beyond Festival are sure to be blown away by the overwhelming group of talented chefs, famed restaurants, interactive demos, panels, outstanding dishes and exciting epicurean events taking over Louisville this September.

  • Chef & Restaurant Partners: BOURBON & BEYOND’s Chef Partners include renowned local and national chefs and beloved Louisville restaurants to deliver one-of-a-kind delectable creations. National Chefs to make appearances throughout the weekend are Tom Colicchio, Carla Hall, Edward Lee, Chris Cosentino, Amanda Freitag, Jose Salazar, Cosmo Goss & Erling Wu-Bower, Kevin Ashworth, Anthony Lamas and Anthony Falco, just to name a few. Local restaurants include Baxter’s 942 Bar & Grill, Boss Hog’s BBQ, Doc Crow’s, Gospel Bird, Seviche, The Manhattan Exchange, Whiskey Dry and many more.
  • PARTIES: A ticket to Bourbon & Beyond grants access to all the parties throughout the festival.
    • The Big Easy Boil presented by Southern Comfort: Chef Anthony Lamas hosts the Big Easy Crawfish Boil where guests can choose between Chef Lamas’ Latin Flavor or the NoLa Crawfish King’s traditional recipe. Featuring New Orleans inspired tunes from DJ Johnny Sidell.
    • Tiki Barrel Bar:In addition to serving up outstanding tiki libations, renowned bartenders and cocktail book authors Jane Danger & Alla Lapuschik demonstrate how Bourbon is taking over Tiki. Featuring tunes by Coat Check Pool Party DJs.
    • Southern Soul BBQ: Chef Kevin Ashworth & Stacie Stewart of 610 Magnolia & Milkwood demonstrates the art of southern cooking & Maker’s Mark cocktails at this soulful inspired party. Featuring tunes by Derby City Soul Club.
  • LIVE Cooking Demos and Inspiring Panels:
    • Unfiltered & Uncut:Chef Tom Colicchio + special guest:  Unfiltered & Uncut
    • B&B Talks:“Break The Bootlegger featuring Julian P. Van Winkle III & Edward Lee”: Join Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery president Julian P. Van Winkle III and Chef Edward Lee for a discussion of identifying authenticity and the real cost of counterfeiting in bourbon, and beyond.
    • Love & Fried Chicken with Carla Hall
    • Why Rye?: Anthony Falco + guest discuss the journey of ancient grains and what they mean to the art of pizza and distilling.
    • Taste Trifecta:  Chris Cosentino, Edward Lee & Mathew Landan (of Haymarket)
    • Young Guns: Erling Wu-Bower & Cosmo Goss, move over Jon & Vinny! (I know we can’t print that but you get my drift)
    • B&B Talks: “The Wonder Women of Whiskey”: From distilling to distributing, branding to bartending meet a few of the women who are leading calling the shots in the bourbon business.
      • Marianne Barnes, Master Distiller, Castle & Key Distillery
      • Jane Bowie, maturation specialist, Maker’s Mark
      • Jane Danger & Alla Lapuschik, authors, “From Rhum to Whiskey”
      • Allisa Henley, Master Distiller, Sazerac Tennesse
      • Andrea Wilson, GM & VP, Michter’s Distillery
      • Moderator: Susan Reigler, author, “Kentucky Bourbon Country”
    • OVER THE TOP FEASTS:
      • The B&B Supper Club featuring Edward Lee & Chris Cosentino, Hosted by Jefferson’s Bourbon: Following in the footsteps of the completely sold-out B&B Supper Club hosted by Angel’s Envy featuring Tom Colicchio , we are proud to announce The B&B Supper Club featuring Chris Cosentino & Edward Lee. This 30-person ultra-exclusive dinner on Sunday gives you a stellar view of the stage.
      • The Chicks & Champs Gospel Brunch: Traditional, Hot or Karaage, attendees to choose their favorite fried chicken style and sip sparkling wine with Cosmo Goss & Erling Wu-Bower on Saturday and Carla Hall on Sunday.

FOR THE LOVE OF BOURBON – THE STELLAR BOURBON, DISTILLERY & MASTER DISTILLERS LINEUP:
Curated by Fred Minnick, Edward Lee, and Chris Cosentino, Bourbon & Beyond has partnered with some of the best Kentucky bourbon distilleries to offer a rich taste of Kentucky and Bourbon with unique tasting experiences directly with the Master Distillers and their exceptionally crafted spirits.

  • BOURBON DISTILLERY PARTNERS:These acclaimed associations and distilleries will all be featured and showcased during the festival: Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, Angels Envy, Barton 1792, Jim Beam, Bulleit, Boone County Distilling Company, Four Roses, Maker’s Mark Distillery, MB Roland Distillery, Michters Distillery, New Riff, Brown-Foreman, Woodford Reserve Distillery, Kentucky Peerless, Rabbit Hole, Smooth Ambler and Limestone Branch Distillery. Other spirits and beverages to be featured include Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort and more to be announced soon.
  • Master Distiller and Bourbon Celebrity Appearances:Appearances from Bourbon Celebrities include:  Julian P. Van Winkle III of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley and Master Blender Drew Mayville of Buffalo Trace Distillery, Master Distiller John Hargrove of Barton 1792 Distillery, Distiller Allisa Henley of Sazerac of Tennessee, Kaveh Zamanian of Rabbit Hole Distillery, Master Distiller Marianne Barnes of Castle & Key Distillery, Jane Bowie of  Maker’s Mark, Andrea Wilson of Michter’s, The Henderson Family (Wes, Andrew, Kyle) of Angel’s Envy, Trey Zoeller of Jefferson’s Bourbon.

EXPERIENCES & SPEAKEASIES:
Attendees will also get the opportunity to immerse themselves within the Kentucky bourbon world even further, from hidden speakeasies to immersive events such as:

  • The Big Bourbon Bar: Presented by the Louisville Courier-Journal, this larger than life activation will include a 20,000- sq. ft bar serving expertly crafted bourbon cocktails featuring the following, exclusive Bourbon partners: 1792, Angel’s Envy, Barrell, Basil Hayden’s, Blade and Bow, Bloody Butcher’s Creed, Buffalo Trace, Bulleit, Coopers’ Craft, Eagle Rare, Eighteen 33, Four Roses, Hartfield & Co., Jefferson’s, Jim Beam, Kentucky Peerless, Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, MB Roland, Michter’s, O.K.I., Old Forester, Rabbit Hole, Smooth Ambler, W. L. Weller, Woodford Reserve, and Yellowstone.
  • The Haymarket Hunter’s Club:A bourbon hound’s dream come true with experimental, rare, and hard-to-find bourbons.
  • The Brown-Forman Cooperage:Brown-Forman is the only major spirits company in the entire world to make its own new barrels, and Bourbon & Beyond is very excited to partner with The Brown-Forman Cooperage to offer festivalgoers the experience of witnessing the historic art of barrel raising and featuring Old Forrester, Woodford Reserve, Coopers’ Craft and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole Speakeasy: Rabbit Hole invites you to go Down The Rabbit Hole into an exclusive bar hidden off the beaten path featuring cocktails by Proprietors LLC, the team behind Death & Co. That’s all we can say for now – figuring out how to get in will be entirely up to you!
  • Booker Noe’s Small Batch Bar:Booker Noe was a sixth-generation master distiller who grew up at a distillery in the heart of Kentucky. He was born to bourbon. He actually coined the term “small batch.” And if you can find Booker Noe’s Small Batch Bar, you’ll be one of the lucky guests to taste and experience what Booker believed in: Like bourbon, life is best enjoyed in slower, smaller batches. Head here and enjoy some Basil Hayden, Knob Creek and Baker’s.
  • The Smooth Ambler Saloon:Hidden somewhere on the grounds of Bourbon & Beyond is The Smooth Ambler Saloon, a speakeasy featuring Old Scout bourbon cocktails. Stay tuned for details on how to get in!
  • Bourbon Workshops:Access to bourbon’s best and brightest in a series of free and intimate distilling, bartending, pairing, and cooking workshops.

ADDITIONAL CAN’T BE MISSED MUSIC PERFORMANCES:
Along with the world-class musical performances happening throughout the weekend and on the two main music stages, Bourbon & Beyond’s BIG BOURBON BAR will also include bluegrass music all weekend long curated by The Bluegrass Situation and featuring The Steel Wheels, Mipso, Town Mountain, Love Canon, NewTown, The Tillers and Reva Dawn Salon. Bourbon & Beyond’s Resident DJ’s also join the mix with Coat Check Pool Party DJ’s, Craig Pfunder, Derby City Soul Club and, Johnny Siegel spinning all weekend long at the parties.

They join the headliners of the weekend Stevie Nicks, Eddie Vedder, Steve Miller Band, Band of Horses, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Clark Jr., Paul Rodgers, Amos Lee, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jonny Lang, G. Love & Special Sauce, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, ZZ Ward, Nikki Lane, Shawn James & The Shapeshifters, Fantastic Negrito, Kiefer Sutherland, Dave Cavalier, bluegrass favorites curated by The Bluegrass Situation, and more.

The Bourbon & Beyond Festival is sure to be the most unforgettable and inspiring experience of music, food and bourbon yet. Like the flames that char the barrels, the hearth that nourishes our appetites, or the heart of an incredible beat, soul and passion will radiate throughout the Bourbon & Beyond festival.

For tickets and more details on the full line up of Food & Beverage Partners, please visit BourbonandBeyond.com.

 

Local Chefs Join in on National Blended Burger Project

Judging by the number of the city’s top chefs in attendance, expect to see plenty of “blended burgers” popping up on local restaurant menus beginning May 31.

The event was the kickoff of the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project, held in NuLu at Harvest Restaurant, attended by at least a dozen local chefs and several media members. Chefs Patrick Roney of Harvest, Michael Crouch of Bistro 1860, Jon Sanning of Lexington’s Smithtown Seafood, and Dallas McGarity of the Fat Lamb offered up their versions of blended burgers — defined as patties with a blend of at least 25 percent finely chopped mushrooms, along with meat.

Eric Davis, representing the Mushroom Council, stressed the sustainability of mushrooms vs. meat.

“The blend is an idea, not a product,” he said. He added that growing a pound of mushrooms requires just 1.8 gallons of water, and a million pounds can be produced from a single acre.

“A ‘Blended Burger’ is a much more sustainable and plant-forward opportunity for chefs to menu the iconic burger,” said the James Beard Foundation’s Kris Moon. “Producing one pound of mushrooms requires less than two gallons of water, making them one of the most sustainably produced foods.”

Any chef can enter the contest by creating a blended burger, adding it to their menu and persuading diners to vote for it online at this site. The hashtag #BlendedBurgerProject was created so that restaurateurs can promote the contest online. The five chefs who receive the most votes will be invited to New York’s James Beard House, where they will prepare their burger at an event next January.

Last year, 350 restaurants participated, and Davis said the goal for this year is 500. The voting ends July 31.

Among the Harvest event attendees were Butchertown Grocery’s Bobby Benjamin, Ward 426’s Shawn Ward, Anoosh Bistro’s Anoosh Shariat and the Red Herring’s Jacob Coronado.

Local restaurant supplier Superior Meats is also participating in the project by creating its own blend and offering it to local restaurants.

Here are the blends presented at Harvest:

Harvest Louisville
Chef Patrick Roney
2017-05-16 12.30.43

Harvest’s Blended Burger with rabbit

Rivercrest Rabbit and Sysbee Farms Lions Mane Mushroom Slider. Country Ham and Cottage Cheese Biscuit. Red Eye Aioli. Broccoli stem and Black Eyed Pea slaw.

Bistro 1860
Chef Michael Crouch
The Lambda Lambda Omega Moo Burger- 40% lamb-40% cow,20% Frondosa Farms blue oyster mushroom- pickled mustard seed-pickle, harissa mayo-tri onion mix-poppyseed brioche.
2017-05-16 12.51.35

Jon Sanning’s blended burger

Chef Jon Sanning
Smithtown Seafood

Huit-a-burger: Chorizo-spiced blended KYP beef patty on lime cabbage with huitlacoche-queso fresco, avocado cream, crispy potatoes, cilantro & onions on a Dutch’s Bake Shop Cuban bun.
Fat Lamb Louisville
Chef Dallas McGarity
Dallas McGarity's entry

Dallas McGarity’s entry

Local Black Hawk Farms beef double cheeseburger blended with 40% local crimini mushrooms. It is on a poppy seed brioche bun with Dukes mayo and a horseradish pickle served with a Tuscan kale and pickled beet salad with goat cheese and toasted pistachios.

Jim McArthur’s Downtown Vision; Jason Smith’s Fight Against Parkinson’s

The best bar and restaurant podcast in the ‘Ville is back with more news and conversations sure to tingle your taste buds. We’ve got a report on the new Cuvee Wine Bar, a great new spot in the East End opened by one of the few Master Sommeliers in the region.

And remember that you heard it here first — Tony Palombino will convert the Boombozz Tap House in St. Matthews to a new concept called Waylon’s Feed and Firewater, a close cousin to his Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen downtown. We’re also seeing signs, including one that reads “Now Hiring” at the Mission Barbecue in St. Matthews, one of a projected 50 new restaurants scheduled to open in the city in 2017.

We’re looking forward to the Highlands Beer Fest behind the Mid-City Mall on Saturday. (Did you know it was the first modern-day brewfest in the city?) On Sunday, two of our favorite chefs — Harvest’s Patrick Roney and Jacob Coronado of the Red Herring — will face off in an Iron Chef-like competition at the Louisville Independent Business Association’s Buy Local Fair at the Water Tower.

Steve’s guest this week is Harvest Restaurant co-owner Jim McArthur, who has some unique insight into downtown’s changes, and how good it will be for business, when the Convention Center and other construction projects are complete in 2018. Rick sat down with veteran restaurant operator Jason Smith at Gordon Biersch to talk about one of Jason’s pet projects — the Denim & Diamonds fundraiser for Parkinson’s disease. Smith has early onset Parkinson’s, and talks about how he’s affected by the disease and why he’s so passionate about raising money for treatment.

In our Copper & Kings favorites segment, Steve chose to sample fried oysters at La Chasse, while Rick picked the eggplant Parmesan from the menu at Ciao, where he also enjoyed a memorable Old Fashioned. With many to choose from, Steve selected the Chateau de Puligny he tried during a press event at the new Cuvee Wine Table.

EDT54JasonSmith

Jason Smith at Gordon Biersch

EDT54JimMcArthur

 

 

The Post-Derby Blues, Plus Valu Market’s John Bizzell and Drinks with Jared Schubert

We begin the second year of EatDrinkTalk podcasts with a show sure to get you motivated to sample some of the city’s finest cuisine and cocktails. Steve and Rick are, of course, in recovery mode after an event-filled Derby Week. We review Rick’s experience at the first Culinary Kickoff at the Ali Center, where three nationally recognized chefs offered up their best. The highlight for Steve was a trip aboard the Belle of Louisville, where he sampled special bottles from Four Roses. Later, he enjoyed more bourbon sampling at the Stitzel-Weller Affair on Derby Eve.

For our Copper & Kings favorites, both Rick and Steve went back to basics. Steve’s was a pizza on Derby night from The Post in Germantown. Rick took in a Derby tradition by having a hearty breakfast at Wagner’s Pharmacy. Drink-wise, both of us stuck to bourbon. Steve chose the Belle of Louisville version of Four Roses specialties, and complained that the experiment he tried — a whiskey and pickleback, was a huge fail. Rick picked an Old Fashioned off the Derby menu at the Village Anchor.

Our first guest has worked for the same company since he was 16. Maybe that’s why John Bizzell is so good at his job as manager of the Highlands ValuMarket, where he’s preparing for the Highlands Beer Fest on May 20. Steve’s guest, Jared Schubert, is an expert on Louisville’s cocktail scene as partner in the newly created Bauhaus, a beverage consultancy.

EDT53JaredSchubert EDT53JohnBizzell

My Derby Week Favorites — the Backside’s Morning Rituals and Breakfast at Wagner’s

The magic of Derby Week is best exemplified in the pre-dawn mist any morning on the backside at Churchill Downs. Walk in from Longfield, and you see the effort it takes to stage the sport’s premier event.

Photo by Bill Brymer

Photo by Bill Brymer

The beautiful beasts you encounter in the few hundred yards walking are bigger than you’d expect. They’re lively, too, heads bobbing through their stables, neighs heard from near and far away. You see exercise riders atop their steeds, guiding the stars of the show back and forth to the racing surface. Grooms pace around barns leading thoroughbreds by their bridles. You see the famous names on the barn walls — Lukas, Whiting, Stewart — and trainers who think that maybe, just maybe, this will be their year.

For horses, the morning is the opportunity to get out on the track, enjoy a bath, and maybe get a carrot or peppermint, and enjoy the attention. As the sun rises, more horses put in their morning workouts, and the crowd grows along radio row. TV crews have their spots along the rail, and there are several radio broadcasts going on simultaneously. Those of us fortunate enough to have media credentials dip inside for a doughnut. We saw Derby princesses here, and the captains of the steamboats that will race later in the day on the Ohio.

Once the sun’s up, you start spotting local celebrities and politicians, all smiles because the most challenging question is this one — who do you like in the Derby? On the track, suddenly, the pink and green saddlecloths appear, signaling the entrance of Derby and Oaks contenders. You squeeze in along the rail to see them up close, hoping to remember the moment you first saw the eventual champion.

Still, it’s quiet enough that you can hear the workouts, horses breathing heavily, shoes beating on the turf.

Breakfast at Wagner's

Breakfast at Wagner’s

The perfect Derby Week morning isn’t complete without a trip to Wagner’s Pharmacy across the street. The smart move is to arrive early (they open at 7, and at 6 on Friday and Saturday) so you don’t have to wait. On Wednesday, a WAVE-TV crew was there, with reporter Kayla Vanover standing behind the counter doing the umpteenth feature on the appeal of the place. It’s obvious the staff is used to this, working around the reporter at the counter in order to get orders to tables.

It’s not fancy — you’ll be eating off styrofoam plates with plastic forks, while sitting on chairs that may have been here when they opened in 1922. Don’t ask for an omelette – the menu is a limited choice of bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits, toast and gravy. It’s $9.99 for a breakfast plate, but the portions are generous, and filling.

WAVEWagner

TV stations have been reporting on the ambiance at Wagner’s for years.

And other than the chance you’ll spot D. Wayne Lukas, Bob Baffert or some other racing luminary, the attraction here is the photos on the walls, celebrating Derby winners through the decades. If you are celebrity stalking, your waitress will be more than happy to tell you who’s been in recently.

In back, where you have to go to pay, you are reminded this is a pharmacy, with a selection of over-the-counter remedies. There’s also Derby t-shirts, umbrellas and souvenirs.

It’s the only place I’ve seen Bigeloil for sale. It’s a liniment that soothes sore muscles in horses. I remember that my Dad, a pari-mutuel clerk, always had some in the cabinet at home for his own muscle relief.

This part of the Derby experience does not involve fancy hats or exquisite cuisine, and you better wear comfortable shoes that are likely to get mud on them. There’s no ticket to get in, and if you get there early enough you can park free nearby. And the best thing about it may be that nothing about it ever changes.