Taste of the Bluegrass, the annual fundraiser for God’s Pantry Food Bank, is one of the best places to sample great food and drink from Lexington and the surrounding area. On May 20, more than 60 local restaurants, breweries and wineries will let you taste some of their best appetizers, drinks, entrees and desserts.
Ever wondered about Han Cook In, the Korean food truck that’s now a restaurant off Broadway? Here’s your chance to see what the chatter is about. Want to try Joella’s Hot Chicken and see if it’s really that hot? You can. Like to see what the local craft breweries are up to these days? They will be there.
This year there will be some new faces, including Herbe Café, which will have cheddar herb focaccia, spicy relish, blueberry basil burgers with sharp cheddar and caramelized onions, basil pork meatball with tomato-ginger chutney and fresh herb cream, and fresh orange cake with fresh orange buttercream and raspberry couli, topped with candied almond crumble.
That cake could give perennial People’s Choice best dessert winner JW’s Steakhouse at the Marriott Griffin Gate a run for the money.
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But JW’s isn’t going down without a fight: This year it’s back with a Kentucky bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce, made with its Maker’s Mark Private Select. “That’s pretty much everybody’s favorite sauce,” said Shae Lee, JW’s chef.
Another dessert item bridges two categories: JB’s Pr%f Alcohol Ice Cream will have frozen treats that are a “full 7 percent alcohol by volume for each 4-ounce serving,” according to the company’s website. Flavors include tequila, peach rum, strawberry moonshine, caramel moonshine, chocolate bourbon, vanilla rum, chocolate mocha moonshine, vanilla bourbon and coconut rum.
Lots of favorite eateries are back this year, including Dad’s Favorites Cheese Spreads, which is bringing a shrimp and green pea pasta dressed with its asiago sun-dried tomato spread; Mi Pequeña Hacienda, with a marinated, slow-cooked pork served with pork and beans, and sangria; and Bluegrass Hospitality Group, serving roasted pork on sweet potato mash with apple bourbon glaze, hanger steak on cabernet onion marmalade topped with a dollop of bearnaise, and smoked pork and beef brisket sliders.
God’s Pantry Food Bank CEO Marian Guinn called Taste of the Bluegrass “truly one of the best events in Central and Eastern Kentucky.”
About 1,200 people are expected to attend the event, held at Keeneland’s Keene Barn and Entertainment Center, that kicks off summer with a party.
“Just a fun, fun night,” Guinn said. “It’s a huge party. ... There is far more food and drink than you can possibly try.”
Most of the 60 food and beverage purveyors will have multiple items to try.
Taste of the Bluegrass gives restaurants a chance to show off their goodies to potential new customers and win awards, but the event serves a serious purpose: raising money to feed people who might otherwise go hungry. Last year’s event generated $148,000 for the food bank; every $1 given will enable the food bank to distribute eight meals, so the 2015 event paid for more than 1 million meals for families in need in 50 counties in Central and Eastern Kentucky.
“That money is so important as we move into the summer and work to make sure kids and families have the food that they need to have and lead healthy lives,” Guinn said.
If you go
Taste of the Bluegrass, 7 p.m. May 20 at Keeneland’s Keene Barn and Entertainment Center, benefits God’s Pantry Food Bank. Tickets are $85, with $50 of the price tax deductible. Available online at Godspantry.org or at the door.
Participating businesses include Alltech’s Lexington Brewing Company, Black Barn Winery, Blue Stallion Brewing Co., Bluegrass Hospitality Group, Bottles & Barrels, Brasabana, BRU Burger Bar, Buffalo Trace Distillery, City BBQ, Clark Distributing, Coca-Cola, Cork & Barrel, Country Boy Brewing, Crank & Boom Ice Cream Lounge, Creative Table & Catering, Dad’s Favorites Cheese Spreads & Deli, Dickey’s BBQ Pit, Elizabeth Lowry Cakes, Equus Run Vineyards, Ethereal Brewing, Fazoli’s Italian for the People, Four Roses Bourbon, Guiseppe’s Ristorante Italiano, Han Cook In, Herbe Cafe, Howard’s Creek Beer Cheese, Hunt Brothers Pizza, JB’s Pr%f Alcohol Ice Cream, Joella’s Hot Chicken, john conti Gourmet Coffee, JW’s Steakhouse at Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa, Keeneland Hospitality, Kentucky Eagle, Lexington Diner, Lexington Pasta, Louisiana Passion Catering, Lover’s Leap Vineyards & Winery, Mi Pequena Hacienda, Moo Shine Beer Cheese, Murray’s Cheese Shoppes, Newk’s Eatery, Noodles & Company, North Lime Donuts, Old 502 Winery, Papa John’s Pizza, Rooster Brewing, Shakespeare & Co., Southern Wine & Spirits, Strategic Brands Marketing, Sullivan University, Ted’s Montana Grill, Tinker’s Cake Shop, Travinia Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, West Sixth Brewing and Zen Sushi & Sake Bar.