Morgan Murphy does what he loves.
He drives throughout the South looking for out-of-the-way restaurants, and writes about what he eats and sees along the way.
With a copy of his new book, Southern Living Off the Eaten Path, in hand, you too, can go along on Murphy's road trips.
The book, published in May, is a collection of 70 of his favorite restaurants and 150 of their best recipes.
Now he's on the road filming for Southernliving.com. He and his crew were in Central Kentucky last week, visiting Megan and Mike Smith at The Homestead. The restaurant is at 150 Combs Ferry Road in Clark County, in a 100-year-old post office that has been restored. The Smiths serve breakfast and lunch.
"We normally don't do restaurants that haven't been in business more than a year," Murphy said. But because The Homestead came highly recommended by a close friend, it will be included in the video, and perhaps the next book.
Murphy, former travel writer for Southern Living, has eaten at "hundreds or maybe thousands" of restaurants during the past eight years. His "10,000-mile" road trip was done mostly in his '55 Cadillac.
Although Murphy's book includes recipes, "I really don't cook," he said. "That's why I'm having a lot of restaurants show me how to make some of their signature dishes."
Murphy particularly loves telling people stories. "Restaurateurs are people I just really love. They adore food, and I'm passionate about Southern food and I love the people behind it. Often the business is multigenerational. I see parents, children and grandchildren working Saturday nights and Friday nights, and times when most of us are on vacation. The whole family is in there working, and they are passionate about the business."
Murphy has found plenty of restaurants that might not be typical, but they have what it takes to be a good place to visit: "Number one is always the food. Second is service, and third is the ambiance. A truly great restaurant has all three, and those are rare. It's a lot about theater, too. They are welcoming people, making them comfortable and putting on a bit of a show. That's the part I like best. It's nice to celebrate hardworking entrepreneurs."
Pollotate pie among nation's best
Food Network Magazine's editors set out six months ago to find the best pizzas in America and now, in the September issue, they reveal the winners. Among the 50 best is the pollotate at Louisville's Boombozz Pizza & Taphouse.
Boombozz's pollotate pie has a crust brushed with rosemary-garlic olive oil, then topped with chicken breast, red onions, roasted potatoes, and lots of asiago and mozzarella cheeses.
The winning picks are listed in Food Network Magazine's "50 States, 50 Pizzas" issue on newsstands now. You can see the list at Foodnetwork.com/50bestpizzas.
A taste of Havana
Havana Nights is the theme of this year's Picnic With the Pops, and caterer Selma Owens has created a menu to complement the evening.
Entrée choices are grilled chicken with a sweet pepper, garlic and fresh corn sauté; garlic and herb-marinated beef tenderloin with chimichurri sauce, and grilled salmon filet topped with lime drizzled shrimp. To order a picnic from Selma's Catering, call (859) 971-2763 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lexington Philharmonic's two Pops performances will be at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 19 and 20 at The Meadow at Keene Barn, Keeneland. Tables are $200 and $240, and general admission is $15. Call the Lexington Center ticket office at (859) 233-3535 or go to Lexpops.com.
'Kimchi Chronicles' coming to KET2
Next week, Kentucky Educational Television will begin airing Kimchi Chronicles featuring acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his wife Marja, a native of Korea. The program will air at 4 p.m. Wednesdays on KET2.
The Vongerichtens explore and celebrate Korea's cuisine and culture in the company of chefs and home cooks. In each episode, the couple visit restaurants and home kitchens to experience authentic Korean cooking. Then, they return to their country kitchen in Westchester, N.Y., to re-create some of their favorite recipes.
Each episode is categorized and named according to a specific food, such as "The Beef Chronicles," "The Noodle and Dumpling Chronicles" and "The Street Food Chronicles." Each segment introduces viewers to farms, home kitchens, restaurants, markets, temples and even theme parks that best represent a specific dish and culture.