Saturday, August 19, 2017

Lexington, KY Edition: Wild Eggs

Wild EggsAs I began my trek back east, I stopped in Lexington to see one of my closest friends. 

Wild EggsRequirements for this brunch included something quick and near the interstate. She suggested Wild Eggs.
My great grandpa’s kitchen. By the time you came to his breakfast table, you were plenty ready to eat. Maybe you spent the past hour working the fields or gathering eggs from the henhouse. You might have visited your neighbor’s home for fresh milk or butter. 
Everything on your plate would have been made from scratch. And any meal, especially one made by my great grandma, would have included potatoes: home fries, hash browns, mashed potatoes, maybe even potato latkes. You were surrounded by family and friends at the table, sharing your plans for the long day ahead and having one more cup of coffee before heading to town. 
Life for my great grandpa revolved around work and family, making an honest living in a new land. Blessed with pristine streams, and rich soil, he began farming and selling potatoes and produce. He eventually opened the Zel Potato Company, selling his crops at the city’s farmers market. 
As the family grew, breakfast continued to hold its importance, serving as a touchstone between his life in the old country and his new life in America. 
My mother continued this tradition. She brought fresh eggs, stocked our refrigerator with the freshest locally grown produce, and fresh squeezed orange juice. And just like her grandpa’s kitchen, almost every breakfast featured potatoes. 
Wild Eggs believes it can start right where my ancestors left off- serving hard working people and their families with great wholesome food. This legacy will provide the breakfast inspiration for many years to come (Our Story).
Wild Eggs has a few different locations in bordering states to West Virginia, but none in state. The menu features all your breakfast favorites - eggs, waffles, french toast, pancakes, biscuits & gravy, and even salads and sandwiches.

Wild EggsIn typical Candace fashion, I went for the stuffed toast (mmm): Stuffed Thick sliced sourdough, sweetened cream cheese, maple syrup, blueberries and strawberries, powdered sugar, cinnamon and whipped cream. These were good, if not a bit too much. They got a little soggy with all the toppings involved.

Wild EggsAnd, for a side, I got the potato latkes. Good, too! Just wish there was applesauce, as well. All in all, a pretty good meal! Plus, a little bit of everything for everybody.

Grade: B
Wild Eggs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, August 18, 2017

Owensboro, KY Edition: Big Dipper

Owensboro ice creamAfter trying some BBQ mutton for the first time, we walked literally next door to get some dessert at Big Dipper.

Owensboro ice creamYou know I can't help myself when there is ice cream involved.

Owensboro ice cream
So, I ordered a caramel sundae, which came as soft serve in a cup with a ton of caramel syrup overtop. They even gave me a little lid for my to-go order. It was good! The ice cream was oddly a bit thicker than you'd expect, but still good. You can't go wrong with ice cream.

Owensboro ice cream


Grade: B
Big Dipper Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Owensboro, KY Edition: Moonlite Bar-B-Que Inn

MoonLite Bar-B-QYou're probably familiar with the variations of BBQ - beef brisket (no sauce) in Texas, a sweeter BBQ in Kansas City, a vinegar-based sauce with pork in South Carolina. 

MoonLite Bar-B-QBut, did you know about BBQ mutton in Kentucky? Specifically, in Owensboro.

MoonLite Bar-B-Q
Thanks to the tariff of 1816, wool production in the then Western United States became profitable and suddenly people found themselves with a lot of sheep on their hands. Any story of the origin of barbecue starts with a meat that is too tough and undesirable to be sold for a profit. Mutton barbecue is no different. Aging sheep who no longer produced good wool became a virtually unlimited resource, but the meat was too tough and too strong tasting to be worth anything so people turned to the tried and true methods of low and slow cooking. In the early days a whole sheep would be cooked for long hours over a low fire. A mixture of salt water would be mopped over it and it would be served up with a dipping sauce of vinegar and hot peppers and stuck between a couple slices of bread. In Kentucky this "sauce" is called a dip, specifically Mutton Dip or Vinegar Dip (Source).
MoonLite Bar-B-QBecause it's a thing, I wanted to check it out. So, we went to the most famous restaurant for it: Moonlite Bar-B-Que.

MoonLite Bar-B-Q
Moonlite is probably the more famous of the pair and has been cooking delicious two-year-old ewes for three generations. Moonlite cooks on a large scale with a very successful catering operation and a dining room that seats 350. While mutton and burgoo are the specialties of the house, most diners take advantage of the 40 foot-long buffet that also features barbecued pork, beef and chicken, ribs, a variety of Southern vegetable specialties and numerous decadent desserts. If you leave Moonlite hungry, it’s your own darned fault.
MoonLite Bar-B-Q
Moonlite purchases their mutton already quartered and cooks them in four custom-designed smokers for up to 18 hours. Trained pitmasters mop the meat with their special vinegar dip, to flavor and help break down the fibrous sinews of the sheep. True to their Highlands heritage, the closest flavor profile to Moonlite’s dip is Worcestershire sauce. Unfortunately, as the restaurant grew, patrons with allergy issues forced Moonlite to remove the anchovy-paste based Worcestershire from their mix and recreate the flavors using other ingredients.
MoonLite Bar-B-Q
Traditionally, barbecued mutton is served unsauced at the table with the option to add your own amount of dip to your plate, although the table sauce is usually less concentrated and contains a little bit more tomato in the mixture than the cooking dip.
MoonLite Bar-B-Q


Mutton is sheep, and it's a staple on Moonlite's buffet menu. So, that made for an easy choice.

MoonLite Bar-B-QThe buffet had mutton in a few different ways, none of which I became a big fan of. It has a particular flavor to it - not quite gamey, maybe a little old?

MoonLite Bar-B-QBut that didn't stop me from getting my plate full of other goodies, like dressing, mac & cheese and I even got to try sorghum syrup.

MoonLite Bar-B-QLots of other things were on the buffet - like catfish, burgoo and liver. Different from my typical comfort food choices.

MoonLite Bar-B-Q
So, definitely cool that they have their own version of BBQ.

MoonLite Bar-B-QBut, for me, personally, I might stick to pulled pork or brisket.

MoonLite Bar-B-Q

Grade: B
Moonlite Bar-B-Que Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Indianapolis, IN Edition: Bluebeard

BluebeardFor our last meal in Indianapolis, we checked out Bluebeard - named after a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

BluebeardThis trendy restaurant has a little bit of it all, as described in the article above: Farm-to-table ingredients and handcrafted cocktails served in glass jars. A courtyard communal table made from a single slab of timber. Exposed-brick decor layered with vintage typewriters and architectural fragments from the building’s 1920s past.

Bluebeard
The restaurant's menu changes daily, which is pretty impressive, and they source their meat locally: Big City Farms, Butler Campus Farms, Crossroad Vintners, FarmIndy, Fischer Farm, Full Hand Farm, Growing Places Indy, Gunthorp Farms, Harvestland, Josh Horrigan, Smoking Goose Meatery, South Circle Farm, Traders Point Creamery, and Viking Lamb.

Bluebeard

Bluebeard is a restaurant and bar located in the historic Holy Rosary Neighborhood on the southeast edge of downtown Indianapolis.  Abbi Merriss has joined up with longtime friends Tom and Eddie Battista to create a unique food-focused experience.  The menu offers contemporary American cuisine featuring the best local produce and meat our farms have to offer.  The space, a renovated 1924 factory warehouse, features a family dining room, a bar room, a private dining room and a courtyard (Our Story).
Bluebeard
We were here just before they opened, which was perfect timing. The outdoor space is very cool, and the indoor is even better - a cozy converted warehouse with hipster touches like books and typewriters.

BluebeardThe menu features really cool local, seasonal ingredients in various serving sizes, as well as touches from Amelia's Bakery.

Bluebeard

Amelia’s is a production bakery that specializes in hearth baked bread in the Italian tradition. We bake fresh bread every morning for use in our restaurant Bluebeard and for sale at our lunch counter. After we bake our orders for the day we mix, divide, and then handshape each of our loaves and allow them to undergo a long, cool fermentation overnight in order to develop a depth of flavor unlike a commercially yeasted bread.
BluebeardBecause of the restaurant's influence with the bread, I decided to get that as an appetizer, which came with bacon fat and cheddar butter, anchovy butter and roasted garlic oil. This was all good - so good!

BluebeardFor my entree, I wanted to try something that's on the menu often: the pappardelle butchershop bolognese with tomato sauce, parmesan and herb oil.

Bluebeard

Man, this was good. Hearty, perfectly cooked and topped with finely shredded cheese. Perfectly seasoned. Very filling and hit that Italian spot in my tummy I was looking for.

Bluebeard

Everything was so good up until this point, I couldn't not get dessert too.

BluebeardAnd, of course, all those options sounded amazing. I went with the vanilla bean chess pie, with caramel sauce, candied walnuts and whipped cream.

BluebeardMaggie went with the cheesecake, and BJ got the brownie.

BluebeardNot to brag, but I loved mine best. The chess pie alone - which I love because it's southern - was sweet, creamy, amazing. Those dollops of caramel? Amazing. And, candied walnuts and whipped cream? I think I could just live in this dessert forever.

Bluebeard

Grade: A
Bluebeard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Indianapolis, IN Edition: The Workingman's Friend Restaurant & Bar

Workingmans FriendThere's a sort-of regional specialty in the midwest known as a smashed burger.

Workingmans Friend
Cooks start with] a four-ounce-or-so ball of fresh beef, [let] it cook a bit on a hot, hot griddle, and then [give] it a good WHACK with the back of a spatula.... The technique leads to a crisp-crunchy crust with an artfully irregular shape, and best of all, creates more surface area for a Maillard-like reaction to occur (Serious Eats).
Workingmans Friend

So, it's definitely different than the thick, juicy patties I'm accustomed to. Rather, they prioritize that crispy edge.

Workingmans Friend
And, one of the places known for doing it best is Workingman's Friend in Indianapolis. Spoon UniversityBusiness InsiderHuffington Post and Thrillist all named this restaurant the best burger in the state through various "Best Burger in Every State" lists.  

Workingmans Friend
Workingman's Friend has been in the same family for since it was founded in 1918 as Belmont Lunch by Louie Stamatkin, a 25-year-old immigrant from Macedonia. In addition to selling food to local railroad workers, Louie also made money by making and selling bootleg whiskey. According to family lore, he earned the nickname Workingman's Friend because he let his customers run a tab until they got paid. I suspect they might have been more happy with his homemade whiskey, but I'm happy to buy the family line. When Louie died in 1946, his sons Carl and Earl took over. A few years later, they built a new building at the same site and changed the name as a tribute to their father. Today, the no-frills place looks much as it did when Carl and Earl built it and Carl's daughter, Becky Stamatkin, now runs it. The original grill is still used and it does a great job putting out some perfectly cooked smashed burgers made out of hand-formed patties made every day from fresh ground chuck (Serious Eats).
Workingmans Friend
First things first, it's cash only. And you have to be 21 to enter - I guess because it's also part bar? Either way, service is not a priority here. There was one waitress who cut to the chase to get what you wanted. But, that was easy because I already knew I wanted a cheeseburger ($5!). I got it with mayo, mustard and onion. Ketchup on the table.

Workingmans FriendIt's a different kind of burger. It's flatter - but crisper, saltier perhaps on the edges. Less juicy, but more texture. It's also quite literally smashed, so pieces were kinda falling off the side making it a little tougher to eat. But, as far as the flavor goes? On point.
 Bluebeard

Grade: B
Working Man's Friend Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato