Kentucky is blessed with an abundance of good, independently owned restaurants. Not all are as famous as Boone Tavern or highly publicized as Moonlite BBQ. Mostly they are in out-of-the-way places and often known only to the locals.
Unless you have a guide such as David Dominé's 111 Fabulous Food Finds (McClanahan Publishing, $24.95), you won't know that Ferrell's Hamburgers in Hopkinsville has been serving burgers since 1929, or that the Rusty Fork Café in Elkhorn City serves soup beans pie.
In his latest book, food and travel writer Dominé lists places that "best represent the culinary traditions of the region." Food is a priority, but Dominé also considers the establishment's location and history, overall atmosphere, proximity to points of local interest, and the people.
You might want to keep a copy of Dominé's book in your car, so if you're traveling near Munfordville, you can have lunch at Big Bubba Buck's Belly Bustin' BBQ Bliss. Billy Ray's in Prestonsburg is the place to stop between meals for a plate of apple dumplings. Doe Run Inn in Brandenburg is a destination for chicken that is fried in a 200-year-old cast-iron skillet.
If you are near Rush, just off Interstate 64 at the West Virginia line, you can visit Rosie's Restaurant any time of day or night. It's in a converted gas station, and the food is served "with attitude."
A smash hit
Lexington's third Smashing Tomato restaurant has been certified by the world organization Verace Pizza Napolitano. "This makes Lexington the only city outside of Seattle to have this many certified pizzerias belonging to one company," Kevin Toyoda said. Toyoda is executive chef at Tomato Express, which owns Smashing Tomato. Locations are at 3801 Mall Road, (859) 273-0184; 2200 War Admiral Way, (859) 264-1500; and 573 Richmond Road, (859) 523-3222. Go to Smashingtomato.com.
Buy bourbon for a good cause
Sweet Blessings is auctioning a limited edition bottle of Buffalo Trace Millennium Barrel bourbon to raise money for birthday cakes.
The non-profit group creates specialty cakes for children ages 5 to 14 who are facing a life-threatening illness or live in poverty. The cakes are handcrafted in a special shape or design made especially for each child.
The auction will be 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 22 at bd's Mongolian Grill on Sir Barton Way in Hamburg. The restaurant will feature celebrity guest grillers, and bd's will donate a portion of the evening's proceeds to Sweet Blessings. Go to SweetBlessingsCakes.org.
Take Martha White's muffin challenge
Open a pouch of muffin mix, add a few of your favorite ingredients, and your creation might be worth $5,000.
The Martha White Muffin Mix Challenge is looking for original recipes that start with Martha White muffin mix. The contest ends Nov. 30. Entry rules are at Marthawhite.com.
The best of vegetarian products
If you're a vegetarian or a wannabe, Vegetarian Times has researched products that offer the best taste and value.
More than 100 products in 26 categories, ranging from condiments to olive oils to gluten-free beers, were selected, and the staff asked readers to choose their favorites. The results are in the October issue and online at Vegetariantimes.com/2011foodieawardswinners.
New 'Five & Dine' Web videos
MyRecipes.com has a new Web video series about cooking with five ingredients or fewer. Five & Dine is hosted by Adrien Sharp, a season three finalist of The Next Food Network Star. The first three episodes, featuring chicken tortilla pie, maple-grilled salmon and balsamic roasted asparagus, are available at MyRecipes.com/fiveanddine.
Recipes from the Five & Dine series are from MyRecipes.com's collection of more than 2,500 five-ingredient recipes from the Cooking Light, Southern Living, Real Simple, Sunset, Coastal Living, Health and Oxmoor House books.