Friday, May 31, 2013

Amish Flower Auction

A few weeks ago was the annual flower and plant auction held by the Amish and Mennonites in our area.  It’s something we have been going to for several years now as the prices are really good and the plants are beautiful. 
You know you are getting close to the auction barn when you see all the buggies. 
A different type of ‘parking lot’. 
There are some pretty cool tractors brought in by the Mennonites too.
Unfortunately it wasn’t up to standard this year.  The weather had been cold and wet all week…with that Saturday being no exception.  There were a lot fewer plants brought in, especially bedding plants and bushes.
(Sorry for the big gap...Blogger is acting up again! )
But as usual, what was there was amazing.
My first 2 winning bids… for Sis and Little Bird. 
With things going so slowly it gave us plenty of time for people watching…
…and that is always fun at the auction.
We got what we came for, and like some others there, it was time to hitch up and take off.  All thru the summer they host produce auctions, so I’m going to check those out sometime.  Maybe get some stuff to put up in our freezer.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

AKA Road Trip: All Aboard the Dinner Train!

After leaving St. Joseph’s we headed over to our motel to freshen up and change clothes.  Himself, having no idea what was next, was curious as to why he had to be dressed up. 
He was surprised when we pulled into the parking lot for the “My Old Kentucky Home Dinner Train”.
After waiting a bit in the depot lounge, we boarded the train car for our dinner excursion.
It was lovely.  It felt as though you were in a very nice restaurant.  The servers were excellent too. 
Soon we were rolling thru the Kentucky countryside…
…while nibbling on our appetizer plate.  There was shaved country ham, a fresh biscuit, lacy Swiss cheese, flat bread crackers, and apple butter. 
We rolled past beautiful farms,
through small towns,
and past old depots from the days when train travel was THE way to go. 
Our next course was the salads…
Himself had the Caesar.
I had the “Golden Spike” salad.  It had different lettuces, strawberries, almonds, feta cheese and fresh mint with their signature Golden Spike dressing on the side.  When it came to the table I thought it was a honey mustard.  Instead it was very thick and somewhat sweet. 
After the salad plates were cleared, our entrees arrived.
Himself chose to have their scallops.  “Seared giant sea scallops, local grits with a demi-glace and wilted greens, sugar snap peas and carrots”.  They were fixed perfectly.
And I had the ‘Kentucky Saltimbocca’.   “French cut chicken breast roasted and wrapped with country ham, local grits, asiago-sage cream sauce with sugar snap peas and carrots.”  It was a neat twist on a classic Italian dish.  I’m definitely going to try that cream sauce at home!
As the train returned back to the station, dessert was served.  All the usual were offered; cobbler, pecan pie, apple dumplings, etc.  But we went for something a bit different…

The Chocolate Choo-Choo for Two!    “A chocolate engine filled with Chantilly cream and dark chocolate mousse riding on a chocolate raspberry track.”  How could we resist??
What a perfect evening.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

AKA Road Trip: Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral

Due to getting out late Friday, I had to adjust our sight-seeing schedule.  I decided a visit to the Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral would be just the thing to do.
I found the simplicity of it striking.  Very peaceful and beautiful. 
We arrived just as a docent was starting a tour for a couple of people, so we joined in.  Before too long they slipped out and we had a private tour.  Suited me fine.  We had a great visit and learned quite a bit.
It was started in 1816 and ready for its first Mass in 1819. It was completely done in 1823.  Each column is a yellow popular beam.  It was plastered for shape and faux painted to look like marble. 
The docent said this organ is used for most of the music for services.
The walls have beautiful stained glass windows and masterpiece oil paintings by the likes of Rubens, Murillo, and Van Dyke to name a few.  Unfortunately, most are in desperate need of restoration and have gotten so dark they are hard to see. 
Stained glass detail.
The alter.  The gilded bronze tabernacle was a gift at its dedication.
I love this painting.  What personality it shows!
Lovely still life.
Another view of the interior.
Peaceful glow of candles.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Adventure In Kentucky Americana Road Trip: The Talbott Tavern

A couple years ago I “kidnapped” Himself and we headed out on a 4 day ‘Southern Adventure’ that he had no idea where we were going or what we would be doing.  We had so much fun I decided to do it again. 
I plotted and schemed for months to plan an “Adventure in Americana” to be done over Memorial Weekend.  Because of my timing, reservations needed to be made and tickets purchased well in advance.  Last time we headed southwest… this time northeast. 
We were up and out early since we had the 3 hour drive ahead of us…and we were crossing into Eastern time zone so we’d lose an hour on the way. 
Our first destination?  Bardstown, Kentucky… aka “My Old Kentucky Home” …also aka “Bourbon Capital of the World”. 
By the time we arrived it was lunch and the GPS was programmed to take us straight to The Old Talbott Tavern.  
This tavern has been in operation since 1779!! 
It was a stagecoach stop and Daniel Boone stayed here when in 1792 he was summoned to give a court deposition. 
It’s fantastic looking with the stone walls and open beams. 
But we weren’t there for the history and architecture.  We were there for lunch… a very specific “Kentucky” meal.
That is a “Hot Brown”. 
"A Hot Brown Sandwich is a hot sandwich originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, by Fred K. Schmidt in 1926. It is a variation of traditional Welsh rarebit and was one of two signature sandwiches created by chefs at the Brown Hotel shortly after its founding in 1923. It was created to serve as an alternative to ham and egg late-night suppers. 
The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon, covered in Mornay sauce and baked or broiled until the bread is crisp and the sauce begins to brown. Many Hot Browns also include ham with the turkey, and either pimentos or tomatoes over the sauce. 
The dish is a local specialty and favorite of the Louisville area, and is popular throughout Kentucky."   ~~Wikipedia~~
I also came for the Kentucky Burgoo.
"Traditional burgoo was made using whatever meats and vegetables were available—typically, venison, squirrel, opossum, raccoon or game birds," and was often associated with autumn and the harvest season. Today, local Kentucky barbecue restaurants use a specific meat in their recipes, usually pork, chicken, or mutton, which, along with the spices used, creates a distinct flavor unique to each restaurant. 
A typical burgoo is a combination of at least three ingredients: a combination of beef, pork, chicken, and mutton, often hickory-smoked, but other meats are seen occasionally; vegetables, such as lima beans, corn, okra, and potatoes; and a thickening agent, such as cornmeal, ground beans, whole wheat, or potato starch. Traditionally, soup bones were added for taste and thickening. 
The ingredients are combined in order of cooking time required, with meat first, vegetables next, and thickening agents as necessary. A good burgoo is said to be able to have a spoon stand up in it."  ~~Wikipedia~~
Himself opted for the pot roast… but he did try the Hot Brown and burgoo. 
It was all very good, with good service too.  My only negative is that they charge you .80c to have a very normal biscuit to go with your meal.  It should come with the meal!  (Corn bread was offered free but seriously… even Cracker Barrel gives a choice of breads!)
Then it was on to our next stop…

Monday, May 27, 2013

Caffe Nonna in Nashville

I’ve written about the culinary classes Himself and I have taken with Nashville chef Dan Maggipinto.  I was finally able to take Himself for the treat of eating at Dan’s restaurant “Caffe Nonna” ( ).
It’s a small restaurant with incredible personal service.  Unless you are getting there right at opening, reservations are your best bet for getting a seat.  We booked early and by the time we finished our meal the place was packed!
An open kitchen adds to the atmosphere. 
I had the ‘Lasagna Nonna’ – “Layers of butternut squash, spinach, pasta, and ricotta on sautéed Swiss chard with two sauces”.  Excellent!
Himself enjoyed the ‘Seafood Angelina’ – “Fresh mussels, scallops, shrimp, and baby clams sautéed with tomatoes, garlic, saffron, chilies, pancetta, and cream then tossed with fettuccine.
It was a great evening.
Dan also has a pizzeria right next door for a more casual dinner.