Thinking about your vacation plans? Well, VisitLex has rolled out a set of staycation itineraries for those who live in Lexington.
And “The Bourbon Buff,” which starts with brunch at Distilled at Gratz Park, 120 West Second Street, winds through lunch at Stella’s, 143 Jefferson Street, and tour of Barrel House Distillery, 1200 Manchester, to end at Blue Heron, OBC Kitchen or Bluegrass Tavern.
Or if beer is more your thing, “The Beer Enthusiast” suggests starting at Doodles, 262 North Limestone, before heading to Lexington Beerworks, 213 North Limestone, or Country Boy, 436 Chair Avenue, work your way to West Sixth Brewing and Smithtown, 501 West Sixth Street, for lunch, then to Kentucky Native Cafe’s beer garden, 417 East Maxwell Street, and Ethereal Brewing, 1224 Manchester Street, and the Break Room at Pepper, 1178 Manchester Street, for the evening before wrapping up at Arcadium, 574 North Limestone.
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And “The Carnivore” goes meat-heavy, with high spots including Joella’s Hot Chicken, 101 Cochran; Blue Door Smokehouse, 226 Walton Ave.; The Merrick Inn, 1074 Merrick Drive; and Wagon Bones Grill, 591 West Short Street. The agendas are online at VisitLex.com.
▪ Speaking of tourism, VisitLex, Bluegrass Hospitality Association and the Bluegrass Tourism Marketing Association hosted the Inaugural Lexington Hospitality Awards on Monday, honoring front-line workers and volunteers.
Winners were Keith Allen, Hyatt Regency Lexington bell captain; Martha Bersot, Kentucky Horse Park office support assistant; Ed Brand, Blue Grass Airport guest services assistant and receptionist; Dianna DeLara, Marriott Griffin Gate Resort & Spa front desk clerk; Iverson Griffin, OBC Kitchen server; Mary Jo Holland, Lexington Opera House floor captain/usher; Tina Kohrs, Embassy Suites sales coordinator; Julie Mora, Dudley’s on Short bartender; Charlie Muntz, Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate volunteer docent; Peggy Prang, Holiday Inn Express, breakfast attendant; Sandy Ritchie, Josie’s, server; and Cordell Weatherford, Town Branch Distillery, tour guide.
“We are incredibly pleased to honor this group of outstanding individuals. It is the people working in Lexington’s tourism industry that truly make our destination memorable for visitors and create life-long fans of our city,” Mary Quinn Ramer, VisitLex president, said in a news release.
▪ Voting for the 10th annual Herald-Leader Readers’ Choice Awards is now under way. You can vote for your favorite people, places and businesses in Central Kentucky at Kentucky.com/readerschoice.
Winners will be announced July 31 in a special publication. Food and drink categories include bakery, BBQ restaurant, bourbon, burger joint, Italian restaurant, Kentucky-made food product, local coffee, local food truck, Mexican restaurant, new restaurant, non-chain meal less than $10, patio dining, pizza place, place for happy hour, place for ice cream or fro-yo, place to buy doughnuts, place to eat breakfast/brunch, romantic restaurant, sports bar, and steakhouse.
▪ For May, Greentree Tea Room, 521 West Short Street, has strawberry soup; cream scone with lemon curd and Fayette cream; asparagus crepe with Mornay sauce; egg salad, cucumber dill and shrimp tea sandwiches; dark chocolate mousse, Greentree filled French wafers and coconut cupcakes; and Darjeeling tea. Reservations are required; call 859-455-9660.
▪ The Berea Farmers Market May Second Saturday event on May 14 will be on gardening. The market is open at 416 Chestnut St. from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There also will be a whole foods plant-based cooking demonstration by Katya Trent. Call 859-868-8965.
▪ The Lexington Farmers Market is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays (or until vendors sell out) at Maxwell and Broadway. Soon there will be food trucks there, too. The market is inviting a limited number of food trucks to set up for the weekday market. So it will be a great place to get lunch and pick up something for dinner, too.
▪ Kyle Wilson of Hardin won this year’s Kentucky Monthly original recipe contest with his bison with bourbon bacon butter and pickled onions. Wilson and his family own the Brass Lantern Restaurant in Marshall County, serving Western Kentucky since 1972.
Judges said the recipe “exemplifies two of Kentucky’s finest products: bourbon, and bison raised by Marcus Cope and son Lyle at Benton Bottoms Bison. Bison is an all-natural product that comes from their experience of over 20 years managing the Land Between the Lakes bison herd.”
▪ For International Night on May 11, Alfalfa, 141 East Main Street, will feature Indian cuisine. From 5:30 to 9 p.m., you can get Bengali shrimp or tofu in a coconut milk sauce; butter chicken; aloo gabi matar; vada pav; or gatta curry. Call 859-253-0014 for more information. Next Wednesday: Cuban night.
Bison with bourbon bacon butter and pickled onions
Kentucky-grown 24-ounce bison T-bone steak
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed
1 clove garlic, chopped
Bourbon bacon butter (recipe below)
Pickled onions (recipe below)
Remove the steak from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before grilling to allow it to come to room temperature. Heat the grill to medium high.
Once the grill is hot, season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper, and place on the grill. For medium-rare, cook steak 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and allow to rest uncovered for 10 minutes.
While the steak is resting, heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the pan is hot, add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the garlic to the pan and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add drained pickled onions and season to taste.
To serve, place the steak and green beans on a large plate. Top the steak with a few tablespoons of the bourbon bacon butter and allow it to melt to create a buttery sauce. This dish that can be passed around the table family style.
Bourbon bacon butter
3 strips hickory-smoked bacon
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark bourbon
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook bacon in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, about 6 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Chop finely when cool. Reserve 1 teaspoon of bacon drippings and use to sauté the shallots and garlic just until softened. Remove from the heat, deglaze the pan with the bourbon, and allow mixture to cool.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the butter, shallot/garlic mixture, thyme, salt and pepper, and mix until well-combined. Place mixture in the refrigerator and allow to harden.
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spice
1 medium red onion, julienned
Place the vinegar, water, sugar and spice in a small saucepan and allow mixture to come to a boil. Add the red onion and turn off the heat.
Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. This can be done a day in advance and it can be stored in the refrigerator.