Hi there, welcome to the inaugural post of Tasting Notes and Thoughts, my personal journal (and journey) through the culinary arts. In this blog, I will document what I eat and drink, and where, along with restaurant news from Louisville, Kentucky (often with a somewhat inside-baseball perspective, as I work in a fine dining restaurant here). I’ll try to be fair, descriptive, and honest, but I also expect that my writing will be polite, yet political. I’m not interested in pulling punches towards things I don’t like, though I don’t expect to throw any. Louisville is unique in that, for a city our size, we have a number of fantastic eateries of all stripes, and since I’m more inclined to be positive and optimistic, I don’t expect to be overly negative towards anything, unless being so is appropriate.
So a little bit about me: my name is Joel, I’m 36 years old, and I grew up in Louisville. I work in fine dining as a server and bartender, and have previously worked in everything from gastropubs to dive bars (albeit the latter was one frequented by fancy Manhattan chefs). I’m an avid enthusiast of wines, beers, and spirits, but I also like, say, orange soda. I love fine dining, but I’m also apt to pig out on chips and salsa when at home. My girlfriend has a fantastic garden, and is an amazing cook (not professionally, just yet), so we eat quite well. One of Louisville’s other culinary advantages is its low cost of living relative to other American cities, so it’s definitely possible to eat well on a budget.
So anyway, I envision most of my posts will be something like actual documentation of what interesting things I ate and drank in the recent past, with some smattering of news, opinion, and what-have-you. So here goes…
Well, nothing! I’m a little under-the-weather today, and I had a fair amount of Unibroue at the Nachbar last night, so my palette’s a little bit wrecked. In fact, I can’t quite remember which specialty brew it was, I’m embarassed to say. However, it was great, and a fun time was had by all (except for those friends of mine whose ears I talked off — sorry about that).
For lunch today, I joined my mother and girlfriend at Mojito Tapas, in Holiday Manor. Mojito is one of the most consistent, and consistently good, lunch spots that my mom and I frequent. Today we started with our usual appetizer: their fresh guacamole, served with fried plaintain chips. For my entree, I swerved from my typical choice of a cubano sandwich, and ordered the Masas de Puerco, which turned out to be excellent. Masas de Puerco is a dish consisting of fried pork, tender on the inside, topped with pickled onions and accompanied by rice and beans as well as fried plaintains. Though the pork skin wasn’t quite as crunchy as I anticipated, the dish was tasty and well executed. Oh and I drank a Coke. And needless to say, our service was excellent — attentive yet unobtrusive, friendly yet not sycophantic.
I worked tonight at the restaurant (I won’t say which, though it will probably be obvious at some point), and due to a disco nap earlier in the afternoon, felt pretty groggy. So I stuck with liquids: two double espressos, some Schweppe’s ginger ale (for my ailing throat), some Coca-Cola (caffeine is a restaurant worker’s best friend), and just a tiny nip of a quite delicious Mencia. Unfortunately, I’ve already forgotten the name of the Mencia (damn faulty Unibroue-soaked memory!), but I will update the post when I have it. Mencia is of course a wine native to the Northwest of Spain, in four particular Denominaciones: Bierzo, Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra and Liébana (this particular Mencia is from Bierzo). The nose was quite friendly, and the taste was smooth, silky, but with a flavorful hint of moss. It seemed perfect to drink right away, and I expect I’ll pick up a few bottles when I have some extra cash.
Following work, I went to Zanzabar, one of the best places in town to see live music (and what I saw is described at my sister blog The Other Side of Life here: http://othersideoflife.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/two-good-shows-this-weekend). There I had one Old Forester bourbon on the rocks, served by one of my favorite bartenders in town, Mr. Marc Demichele (who recently married! Congrats!). Despite my occasional reticence towards Brown-Forman products (which is to say that I have nothing against the company by any means, just that I do like variety for variety’s sake, and B-F is obviously one of the most positive, and positively large, spirit purveyors around), I think Old Forester is a generally underrated bourbon. It’s smooth without being cloying, and it’s not too smoky or harsh. And at most bars and restaurants in town, it’s a steal! (Zanzabar sells it for $4.50!) It reminds me of its big brother brand Woodford Reserve, though with a decent quality while obviously not being a small batch. I followed the bourbon with another Coca-Cola to stay awake, which is kicking in now as I write. Hopefully I’ll get to sleep soon!
So anyway, that’s the first post. I hope you liked reading it, and I plan to keep up at least a weekly pace. Thanks for your time, and, as I say to many of my patrons, I hope to see you again here soon.
UPDATE: The Mencia in question is La Muria, by Pago de Valdetruchas.