Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mr NYC in Louisville, KY

One of the reasons why yours truly hasn't been blogging lately is because I was preparing for -- and then recovering from -- a trip to Louisville, Kentucky. The jaunt was for a friend's bachelor party and, needless to say, much about it cannot be revealed ('cause, you know, me and my boys are real wild and crazy guys) but we did do a bunch of stuff that you, dear reader, might find interesting. So here goes:

First, we stayed downtown at the Galt House Hotel. To say it's big is an understatement. It's a massive two building complex by the Ohio river, and lots of conventions are held there. In fact, when we were there last weekend, there was a Fandom Fest going on. It's basically a big horror/sci-fi convention and it was quite a sight to see all the people dressed at various weird characters -- and I don't think I've ever seen more people with tattoos outside a punk rock club. But aside from that, the hotel was very nice and, for a very low price, you can get a ridiculously big suite. Highly recommended.

Since it was a short trip, and since Louisville is not known as a gourmet capital of America, we did not have a lot of fancy meals out. However, our big dinner was at a place called Proof on Main which is also downtown. While not an incredibly fancy restaurant, it's quite elegant and, more importantly, it has really good food. Their food is grown and brought in from their own farm and I had, easily, the best pork chop that I've ever had in my entire life, along with a delicious octopus appetizer. (Farm fresh food is, truly, unbeatable).  What also makes this restaurant a treat are the cocktails. I had a wonderful Sazerac but, best of all, I relished one of their phenomenal in-house cocktails called a Close Call. It was so good that I took a picture of the recipe and post it for you here: 

I would strongly recommend making this if you are a cocktail making kinda person. Another interesting thing about this restaurant is that it's attached to a small modern art museum. On your way to and from the bathroom you can view some actually quite good modern art. Also, the bathroom itself is a trip: in front of the urinal is a one-way mirror covered by a waterfall looking out into the halls. It's definitely one of the more interesting bathroom going experiences you could ever hope to have. 

Later on, we had drinks in the hotel bar of the Seelbach Hotel. It's one of the old, elegant hotels of Louisville and it is actually immortalized in the greatest 20th century American novel -- and that quintessential New York story -- The Great Gatsby. If you don't recall, the characters Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker are from Louisville (Daisy was "by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisvile") and, in the back story of Daisy's relationship with both Gatsby and Tom, we learn that when Tom and Daisy got married there and he "hired a whole floor of the Seelbach Hotel." By the way, the hotel today retains that some old money elegance although the bar is surprisingly small. Still, it's where the beautiful rich people of that town still hang out (so, needless to say, yours truly was a big out of place). 

If Louisville is famous for anything it's probably the following two things: bourbon and horse racing. No trip to Louisville would be complete without visiting either a distillery or Churchill Downs, home of the annual Kentucky Derby and probably the most famous racing track in the whole country. 

Our distillery trip was to a place called Buffalo Trace, located in the state capital of Frankfort about an hour's drive outside Louisville. This distillery is something like two hundred years old and, amazingly, they still make bourbon whiskey in much the same way as they did back then. I learned that the reason Kentucky is the bourbon capital of America is because there is a lot of limestone water available that makes the whiskey good. Also, they still to this day store whiskey in wooden drums in wooden warehouses. In hot weather (and it was ungodly hot last weekend) this is quite risky -- especially since a drum of whiskey contains about $6000 of the product and they have hundreds of thousands of drums. If a fire ever broke out, well ... you do the math. However, I greatly enjoyed the visit since it was my first distillery trip and I picked up delicious cream bourbon that is only available in the state of Kentucky. Unlike Bailey's Irish Cream, this whiskey is made with real cream, let's just say, the taste is vastly superior.  

Finally, Churchill Downs. Ah yes, a day (or two) at the races. The boys and I placed a number of bets and some of us even made money. I won a few bucks (but mostly did not) but I did enjoy seeing what is probably the most beautiful race track anywhere outside Britain. As the name implies, Churchill Downs is very much a re-creation and continuation of the British racing tradition. Here in the American heartland was little piece of England. The horse race announcers were British. Even better, a few minutes before a race, a guy dressed in an elegant red racing outfit would come out and blow his trumpet. It was quite Edwardian. The races took place every half hour and were thrilling. The track was long and winding and these were the best jockeys in the world. This made betting hard -- you would bet on the horses with the best odds and then they'd lose badly. If you ever visit Churchill Downs, get some good betting advice.

 On my last day, shortly before going to the airport, we dipped into the Louisville Visitor's Center. It was very small but they did have this interesting exhibit. 

Yes, besides bourbon and horses, Louisville is the home of Kentucky Fried Chick -- and they're darn proud of it! 

So, all in all, a good trip. Louisville has a very distinct culture and it probably the most under appreciated party town in America. If you go, you can have a really good time. 

1 comment:

  1. Browsing the Net looking for a present for my wife for our wedding anniversary (which I nearly forgot), I came by chance upon this fantastic site called, based probably in Paris. Talk about the Louvre having a big collection of priceless masterpieces, this site has just about everything in Western art, but as digital files.
    What they do is to make good reproduction prints from your choice of work from their archive. I know that the prints are good because I ordered online, a print that was on canvas, like a painting. I specified the size and even chose a frame at their site.
    A bit awkward when the gift was delivered early to my door, luckily while my wife was not home. What did I choose? This glorious nude by the German artist George Grosz: and it's hanging gloriously large above our bed head now. Risqué? Sure. But my wife and I love it.


Please keep it civil, intelligent, and expletive-free. Otherwise, opine away.