Derby Time Podcast #1: Juleps with Kerri Richardson; Hats with Jana Metcalfe

Finally, Derby Season is officially underway, and here at EatDrinkTalk, we’re on it. Do you have questions about the Mint Julep? We asked Kerri Richardson, president of the Bourbon Women Association, to come to the studio and demonstrate the proper way to make one. Hint: the key is the simple syrup.

Kerri made us two – one with Evan Williams, the other with the higher proof Knob Creek Single Barrel. She even brought pewter mugs, the best container of all. We asked Kerri about the history of the Julep and a little bit about the Bourbon Women Association.

At Derby time, the essential question for women is: Which comes first, the hat or the dress? For Jana Metcalfe, an extraordinary hatmaker, it’s the chapeau that makes the outfit. Metcalfe used to work as a clocker at the track, so she’s also got some advice on how to pick a winner.

Which brings us to Saturday, opening night at Churchill Downs, and you should listen up for some parking advice. There’s some interesting news as well — the opening of Griff’s (actually it’s a move from Cardinal Town) in the old O’Malley’s Corner is set for June, but before all that a new performance venue, Bourbon Hall, is set to open Derby Week on the same block.

And finally, we’re both excited to try the newest healthy-food restaurant – Naive, located on Washington Street near NuLu and Butchertown. Plus, we speculate about hot spots that should be in Kevin Gibson’s new book about local eateries, and congratulate Linda Ruffenach on the publication of her new book, How to Be a Bourbon Badass.

Thanks for joining us for this special Pre-Derby episode. Follow us on Twitter @EatDrinkTalkLou, and check out the EatDrinkTalk.net web site for more.

Bourbon Women Association President Kerri Richardson and Carolyn McLean

Hat Model Carolyn McLean with Jana Metcalfe

Heine’s Move West Injects Energy Into Growing Company

When Mike Mays consolidated the Heine Brothers coffee operation in Portland last year, he realized he didn’t know a lot about the neighborhood. He felt that he had some positive ideas, and a goal of improving the blocks around the new HQ at 13th and Main.

But it wasn’t until he received advice from Metro Council member Barbara Sexton Smith that he realized it wasn’t always about what he would do there, that he should learn a little bit about the people who regularly walk the streets and do business there.

Mike Mays at the new Hikes Point shop.

Mike Mays at the new Hikes Point shop.

“She stopped me and said ‘Mike, I think maybe you should slow down,'” Mays recalled. Sexton Smith went on, “‘Why don’t you meet people and listen for a few months. Ask a lot of questions, find out what is going on down there, because there are a lot of people in that neighborhood who have been working very hard for a long time to make a difference and there are a lot of good things happening.’ ”

Mays said he spent the next four months scheduling meetings, many at the Portland lunch spot The Table, to learn about the area around his new HQ, roastery and training center. The ideas gained in those meetings made the transition that much more successful, he said. He spent his time finding out about people like Pam Rice at the Neighborhood House, and the Louisville Central Community Center’s Kevin Fields. He said he was surprised at the number and quality of people doing good work.

Now he feels he’s part of the neighborhood, where in addition to developer Gill Holland’s plans to bring new business and residences, the city recently announced its plans to extend Waterfront Park to the back door of his building, and not far away it was just announced that a new YMCA and the Passport Health Plan headquarters will be built.

“It’s been unbelievably exciting for our company,” Mays said of the move. “In fact, I underestimated the energy injection it would give our company.  Prior to moving in and centralizing everything in Portland, we operated the admin side of our business in a small, humble space above our shop in Crescent Hill. We had a 4,000 square-foot roastery and warehouse down in the Clifton neighborhood, and then we did training wherever we could find room for it. That was difficult a lot of times.”

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inside the spacious Hikes Point location

Heine Brothers began in 1994, with a shop on Longest near Bardstown Road, opened with a $50,000 bank loan and $30,000 from friends and family. In late April, it opened its 14th location, a 3,000 square-foot store in Hikes Point. Mays said the investment was north of $400,000. The staff expansion required pushed the brand’s employee total to 250.

This newest Heine Bros. is located directly across the street from a Starbucks, which wasn’t exactly intentional. Mays joked about the fact that on the day we met, a negative earnings report came out about Starbucks, saying that his new store is already affecting business there.

“We have been committed to growing and the Hikes Point neighborhood has been on our radar for a long time,” he said.  “We’ve been quietly looking for a spot and haven’t been able to find the right place. Well, this building here at the corner of Taylorsville, Browns, Hunsinger, Hikes, came available late last summer. It’s a great corner. We said, ‘We’ve got to take it.'”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

A Year of Eats – plus Haymarket’s Matthew Landan and Mike Mays of Heine Bros

The finest restaurant and bar podcast in the ‘Ville wraps up its first year with a celebration of all things Derby. Steve was ultra-impressed with the new Red Herring, now open on Frankfort Avenue in a gorgeous space. Also new to town is ROC in the Highlands, boasting of Italian specialties the way an Italian grandma would make it. There’s a new look to the 2nd Floor clubhouse at Churchill Downs, where Rick got a chance to visit with executive chef Dave Danielson and sample some of the new track staples. Steve tried the new Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen on Hurstbourne, and has a new appreciation for the Morris Deli on Taylorsville Road. Also, we drove by St. Matthews Saturday night and saw the new Sullivan’s is open for partying.

Our first guest, the Haymarket Whiskey Bar’s Matthew Landan, has concocted an amazing new Old Rip Van Winkle Package with a dreamy price tag of $25,000 — which happens to be a good value when you see what it includes. Mike Mays opened the 14th and largest Heine Brothers coffee shop last week in Hikes Point, a part of town he’s been eyeing for years. With close to 250 employees, Mays has a keen eye for the coffee shop business.

This week’s Copper & Kings faves come from the aforementioned clubhouse at Churchill Downs, where Rick found the Hot Brown Pizza to be a cool new twist on a favorite taste. Steve’s Maki Shrimp salad was his top bite at Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen. Steve sampled a Sazerac at the Red Herring, while Rick tried a Chocolate Mint Jill-up at the Jill’s Wish charity event at Bowman Field.

Thanks for sticking with us for a full year, and here’s a shout-out to our great sponsors: Harvest Restaurant, the Eye Care Institute and Copper & Kings.

Matthew Landan

Matthew Landan

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Mike Mays at the new Heine Bros. in Hikes Point

Churchill’s Remodeled 2nd Floor is Ready for the Masses

When you go to the track this week, you may be tempted to bring a box lunch, which many local restaurants are marketing to track-goers. But the advice here is that you shouldn’t do it out of fear that the grub at the track won’t satisfy you.

Dave Danielson

Dave Danielson

Executive Chef David Danielson is focused on the quality of cuisine at Churchill Downs, from the buffets on the expensive upper floors to the hot dogs you can buy in the paddock. Last week, he unveiled the newly remodeled 2nd Floor Clubhouse, which requires a relatively inexpensive ticket to enter, and where you can now choose from barbecue, pizza, Mexican, chicken and burgers, plus dessert.

Danielson, who appeared on the EatDrinkTalk podcast last fall, said that he’s been building relationships with local farmers to provide fresh produce. For instance, he showed me photos from a Mt. Washington farm producing lettuce and strawberries shipped directly to the track the day before they’re served.

Churchill Downs invited media to sample some of the new staples last Friday. I tried the Hot Brown Pizza, which did have the distinct flavor of the famed dish’s Mornay sauce, along with bacon and turkey. I also tried a chicken burrito at the Central Avenue Cantina. I could easily imagine ordering both for a treat while focusing on the horses.

spendabuckIn previous years, this second floor area was a self-serve circle where you picked up your own food and paid on the way out. Ready-to-please servers at the seven storefronts in the new configuration seem ready to go, though I’m sure they will be challenged to keep the lines short during Derby Week.

There is limited seating, so the idea here is to grab something and head back to your seat or out to the paddock.

I did appreciate the smart marketing folks who named the bars at two corners of the space, using aptly named past Derby winners — Spend a Buck and I’ll Have Another.

 

 

“Bourbon District” Will Guide Walkers on Downtown Bourbon Tour

And for Louisville’s next attempt at capitalizing on bourbon tourism, Metro Government brings you a bourbon walk.

At a press conference this week, the city announced plans for its Bourbon District, a four-phase plan to introduce “historic site signs, destination signs, banners and a pop-up event scape” to create a walking path guiding tourists to bourbon attractions. It will be located in an area along Main Street from 10th Street to Jackson, and along Fourth from Main to Broadway.

In an interview, Mayor Greg Fischer said he takes satisfaction and pride in the 24 million tourist visits to Louisville last year, a number he said was not thought to be possible five years ago.

“Bourbon tourism is something some folks snickered at when we started talking about this, when I was running my first campaign,” he said. “But it is authentic to our city.

“People go to Napa for wine, they come to Louisville and Kentucky for bourbon tourism.  I think we are really early in that game right now. It allows us to punch above our weight, especially in the restaurant category.”

Mayor Fischer with Solid Light CEO Cynthia Torp unveiling the first marker at Sixth and Main.

Mayor Fischer with Solid Light CEO Cynthia Torp unveiling the first marker at Sixth and Main.

The Bourbon District Project is being led by the Louisville Downtown Partnership, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and local government. The Kentucky Distillers Association is also involved in the project’s creation.

Fischer said the idea of creating a walking tour sets the city apart. He said there are plans for nine downtown bourbon experiences, with four already open. He unveiled the first historical marker on Main Street this week.

“It’s a walking district, if you will,” he said. “You can’t walk Napa Valley because it’s so spread apart. You can actually walk our Bourbon District. Back in the day of course, the bourbon would come down to the River, Whiskey Row, and be loaded on to the boats and off it went. So it just adds to our heritage and authenticity.”

The goal is to create a self-guided bourbon history experience on a path that will highlight the city’s other attractions, such as its restaurants. Fischer said that $9-10 billion in current capital construction is underway, and that 20 new hotel projects have been announced since the start of construction at the Omni Hotel.

The design of the District is being completed by Solid Light, a local company in the business of building visitor experiences.

 

Local Takes with Damaris Phillips; Talking Hogs with Barry Yates

We’re in the home stretch headed toward the beginning of Derby Week, so as the city’s best restaurant and bar podcasters, we’re here to fill you in on how restaurateurs here are preparing to host thousands of out-of-town guests. We start with Steve’s explanation of why so many operators are offering prix fixe menus, and as you might guess, part of the answer is staffing.

What new places are planning to open before the big day? Roc in the Highlands has made it, and it appears that the new Red Herring on Frankfort might welcome guests as early as this week. Across the street, we’re glad to see the Hilltop Tavern is back after some plumbing issues forced a weeks-long shutdown. Among Derby events to look forward to, the Jill’s Wish bash at Bowman Field is a deal at $65. But we’re not all about the fancy — we tell you about some excellent food at great prices in neighborhood spots the Back Door and Kern’s Korner. We also fill you in with more details on the big Bourbon & Beyond event, which has started a billboard campaign around town.

In the Copper & Kings Favorites segment, Steve picked a Kentucky Cuban sandwich at Monnik Brewing in Germantown, while Rick opted for the Hung Jury, a tasty burger at Sidebar during the post-Neil Diamond concert rush. At the Back Door, Steve selected an Old Forrester barrel pick, a bargain at $5.50 a pour. While at the Pints and Parkinson’s event at Fourth Street Live!, Rick sampled a Birra Sour at Birracibo, featuring Bulleit Bourbon, a Shock Top brew, lemon juice and orange bitters.

Our first guest, Damaris Phillips, has a bunch of TV projects in the works with the Food Network, but loves the restaurants and coffee shops in her hometown. Steve’s guest is Franklin County hog farmer Barry Yates, who will be providing the pig at this week’s Chef’s Table at Harvest.

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Barry Yates

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Damaris Phillips. Photo by Bill Brymer

Collaborative Kitchen Concept MESA Coming to New Albany in June

Bobby Bass says that in his new MESA collaborative kitchen in New Albany, he’s trying to eliminate the gap between the kitchen and the dining room.

“Customers don’t often connect a face to their food, and we’re creating an experience in which chefs engage and customers can ask questions,” said Bass, who plans to open the space at 216 Pearl Street in mid-June.

Ysha and Bobby Bass of MESA

Ysha and Bobby Bass of MESA

He said the venue will play host to up to five events per week, featuring chefs he’s personally recruited, plus three to five in-house chefs. That way he can enjoy some of the positives about running a restaurant without the pressures involved in being tied to full-time hours. Bass is a real estate professional, and is opening the business with his wife, Ysha.

Talking about his first venture into the industry, he said he had never been so busy ironing out details and taking care of business issues.

While the space will have room to seat 20, it will also feature space for educational sessions, so that customers can connect with the chefs who prepare their food and see the action as it takes place. Among the chefs already on board for guest appearances at MESA are Scott Dickinson of The Exchange Pub + Kitchen, Darnell Ferguson of SuperChefs, Josh Moore of Volare and Eric Morris of the Gospel Bird.

Bass said the experience will rival that of Chef’s Tables, the popular private affairs that sometimes take place in a small section of the kitchen at high-end restaurants.

In addition, there’s a retail boutique pantry, so that customers can select some of the accessories and ingredients used by the chefs to prepare their meals. He said the space will be equipped with high-end equipment, thanks to special arrangements he’s made with suppliers like Dine Company, Chefs Supply and Bonnycastle Appliances.

For now, MESA’s web site lacks details on scheduling, but that will change soon. For now, those interested can sign up there for a mailing list.

Mixing it Up at Copper & Kings with Brandon O’Daniel; Pam Stallings Makes a Wish

The city’s best restaurant and bar podcast welcomes spring with some exciting news at several local hotspots. Let’s start with Steve’s visit to Fork & Barrel in the former Basa spot on Frankfort Ave. Steve says regular visitors to the former establishment won’t recognize the new one, and the elevated Southern cuisine is fantastic. We learned that the former Tom + Chee spot on Bardstown Road will become the home of Pho Café in June and we’re also reporting positive vibes at Chik’ N Me on Frankfort, where the bonito fries are a visual stunner.

Finally, we react to the initial lineup for September’s Bourbon & Beyond Festival, a music, bourbon and food festival featuring numerous big name bands, local chefs Edward Lee and Dean Corbett among others, as well as Tom Colicchio and other celeb chefs. We discuss concerns over the fact that distilleries have yet to sign on to the new show.

In our Favorites segment, Rick’s Quesorito at Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina drew praise for the volume of queso, while Steve selected the charred octopus at Fork & Barrel. Not only love the Depretador cocktail at Copper & Kings’s Mala Idea event, he indulged in a gin-based Emily’s Garden at Fork & Barrel as well.

Brandon O’Daniel, head distiller at Copper & Kings, discusses two new gins coming from the distillery. Pam Stallings, a franchisee of two local Salsarita’s, talks about the time and food she provides to local charities, including a very special event in late April.

Thanks to our sponsors — the Eye Care Institute, Harvest Restaurant and Copper & Kings for helping us make it to this, our 50th show.

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Brandon O’Daniel at Copper & Kings

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Pam Stallings at Salsarita’s