The 30th Annual Taste of the Bluegrass is a big fundraiser for a local food bank, God's Pantry held at Keenland. Neither of us had ever attended this event, but thought it would be great way to enjoy some local foods and get our "foodie" fix. What we had not planned for was the crowd! WOW! Needless to say, we were probably the only ones wandering around with cameras and much less really there for the food. Many of the attendees were there to be seen and take advantage of the beverages.
So with our cameras aimed and ready, Lori and I spent the evening wandering around looking for special foods to taste and drinks to sip. We started out with my favorite local cupcakery, Baby Cakes. Tricia had the Kentucky Pride, moist mocha, bourbon cupcakes topped with mocha bourbon buttercream. Delicious! She also had her Elvis and Priscilla, banana cupcakes with peanut butter icing and fudge sauce.
We saw lots of beautiful cakes from some local cake shoppes like this one from The Sugar Forest.
Then we moved onto a very interesting liqueur. Alltech's Lexington Brewing Company, which Lori’s husband works for, had something new for me to taste, Bluegrass Sundown. A very smooth coffee concentrated liqueur you blend with hot water and top with cream. Tastes like a Bourbon-y version of an Irish Cream.
Speaking of beverages, there were plenty to chose from: wines from Elk Creek Vineyards, Equus Run and Chrisman Mill Vineyards; bourbons from Four Roses,Buffalo Trace and Maker's Mark Distillery. Kentucky has always been known for our Bourbons, but our vineyards are outstanding too.
It seemed that every corner we turned, or line we joined, was serving sweets. The place was so packed that you had to jump in whatever line was open so there was no chance for planning a well-balanced tour of tasting. Our next stop was with Turf catering which we started with a sweet tangy Key Lime Cheesecake Martini then an amazingly moist Maryland Crabcake with Lemon Aioli and last Seared Ahi Tuna on an Edible Poppyseed Cracker Spoon with Wasabi Cream.
After following the crowd to a separate part of the barn, we finally found some of the local restaurants. You could smell the aroma coming from Giuseppe's Ristorante Italiano booth, a restaurant that has been in town for years but I've never even been there. Lori and I both devoured our sample of their Lobster Gnocchi Gratin. WOW- my husband and I will be eating there this summer.
I was very excited to see that Sullivan University, our local culinary school was there with a group of their students. They had chefs making pasta on site and serving it with three variety of sauces, all local ingredients, spinach, tomato basil and alfredo.
Lori moved on to taste some local lamb and beef from the Good Foods Co-op and more from one the wonderful Holly Hill Inn in Midway Kentucky.
We ended the evening with possibly THE best goat cheese I have ever tasted. Sapori d' Italia Artisan Cheese by Giovanni Capezzuto. They had eight different cheeses to taste. Their cheeses are thoughtfully made using only the finest ingredients. One of my favorites was the Caciotta alle Noci, goat cheese with walnuts. Makes me nuts about this company! Ha! No pun intended.
This was a fun adventure and I thanked Lori for spending her time and money on it with me. For the record, we purchased our tickets from our own pockets and did not receive any compensation for comments or pictures posted for review. Hope you enjoyed a little sample of the Bluegrass tastes yourself. Make sure to check out Lori's post, too! http://www.fakefoodfree.com/2010/05/taste-of-bluegrass.html
Now for the second part of our Go Local weekend! Since this past fall I have had the chance to get to know this great local social media guru, Jim Davis otherwise known as @Espressomedic on Twitter. What some of you might not know is that he is also owner of three very cool coffee houses in the Bluegrass area.
Common Grounds in Lexington, which is where he graciously gave me coffee for our Great American Bake Sale in April. The Hub in Danville, KY and Main and Maple in Nicholasville, KY. All three very important spots to many folks. I had the pleasure of having lunch with Jim last week to brainstorm some cooking ideas and to see where I could possible help, or where he could help with my endeavors. See Jim is all about helping! So, he invited my family and I down for a nice home cooked meal at Main and Maple last Saturday morning. Not only does he own these great joints but he also spends his quality time cooking breakfasts for his customers each Saturday at this location.
He is looking at expanding his menu soon but we had plenty to choose from. Pancakes, all kinds of omelets combinations and even stuffed Strawberry French Toast, which is what the girls and I chose.
A large helping of thick sliced toast soaked in egg and cooked with edges crisp and center moist. Layers of cream cheese and strawberries scattered on top. Oh, and how can I forget the garlic cheese grits---all perfectly paired with a bold fair trade Ethiopian coffee.
If you are in the Bluegrass area make sure to stop by at any of these great local stops. You are sure to be taken care of with love and local flare. Best. MM