Have you ever watched that show on the Food Network? Have you ever considered the question for yourself? Have you eaten something that you can’t stop thinking about…craving to enjoy it again? I certainly have! There are a few meals that stand out to me, food I still daydream about, flavors I can still conjure up in my mind.
Before I get to my Louisville choices, I’d like to tell you about some other places. You never know when you might be traveling near one of these joints and these tips will come in handy.
Doc Ford’s, Sanibel FL – I was just sure that this place was going to be a tourist trap with a capital T. The cocktails were kinda lame but after I tasted the shrimp and grits, I was in love with a capital L. A grilled vegetable sofrito saucce made this dish unforgettable. I shouldn’t feel guilty about eating it because that sauce must contain 300% of the recommended daily allowances of veggies – it includes onion, mushroom, bell pepper, tomato, zucchini…all grilled and pureed with chicken stock. Kids, this is the way to get your vitamins and minerals! On a fluke, we asked about how the sauce was made and our server came back with a photocopy of the recipe. We have made it at home several times. If you’re in Sanibel, there are two things you must do: gather more perfectly beautiful seashells than you can carry and eat the shrimp and grits at Doc Ford’s.
Stardust Café, Lewisburg WV – In one of the coolest small towns in the USA is one of the coolest little cafes I’ve ever visited. The atmosphere and décor are unique and cozy. The curried chicken is to die for. I ate this dish, oh…I don’t know…at least four years ago, and I can still taste the creamy curry sauce when I concentrate on the memory. The complex spices give exotic flavor to the sauce which covers a perfectly cooked chicken breast. It’s served over basmati with mango chutney. Plan a road trip to see the New River Gorge Bridge, the Greenbrier Resort and spend some time in Lewisburg admiring the grand old homes and this fabulous meal.
South Hills Market and Café, Charleston WV – I’ll just go ahead and admit that I have a crush on Chef Richard Arbaugh. He has served many outstanding dishes in this quaint space in the upscale South Hills neighborhood. But the one that I think about when I want something really, really good is the seafood risotto. Large chunks of flaky white fish, sea scallops, and jumbo shrimp are served in a perfectly creamy al dente risotto with shaved strips of Meyer lemon running throughout. If you’re in the Charleston area, visit this place. Whether it’s for a casual lunch, an intimate fine dinner, or to pick up some of the ready-made items to take home, you won’t be disappointed. Oh, and don’t forget to get a cookie as big as your head.
I’ve lived in Louisville for two years now and was traveling here nearly every weekend for about a year leading up to the move. That has granted me the opportunity to eat my way around this city and I’ve chosen five of the best things I’ve eaten in Louisville. so far, at least. Is your favorite listed?
Chicken fried rice at Hiko-a-mon – Located in Westport Village, Hiko-a-mon is the go-to place for my daughters and me when we want a nice meal without the boys. Their chicken fried rice is the very best fried rice I’ve ever tasted. Perhaps they pour liquid umami in it? You receive a generous portion with plenty of protein and veggies. I can’t get it in my mouth fast enough cause I suck at using chopsticks.
Duck fat truffle fries at Hammerheads – If I was stuck on a deserted island and could only have one thing to eat, it would be French fries. I love fries. The very best fries ever to cross my lips are the duck fat truffle fries at Hammerheads. (They surpassed the parmesan truffle fries at the Capitol Grille in Baltimore for the top spot.) The smoked pork tacos I ordered were also fantastic but I couldn’t eat all my fries after eating part of the tacos. I enacted a policy right then and there that upon future visits I would order only the fries. If you haven’t tried fries fried in duck fat, don’t worry…they don’t taste “ducky” but they are very crispy. The truffle rocks my world. And it keeps my husband’s fingers out of my fries ‘cause he hates that flavor.
Cornmeal pancakes at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe – I still think about Lynn’s pancakes nearly every Saturday morning when the pancake craving washes over me. The addition of the cornmeal made these something special. Dense, flavorful, and filling. We have tried many, many recipes to mimic hers and got one that’s pretty close. It will have to do since Lynn has left us without her kooky restaurant and those amazing dishes she served.
Everything I’ve tasted at Guaca Mole – I love Guaca Mole. Love it. I can’t pick one dish because everything I tasted, including the margarita, was exceptional. And not only does the food taste amazing, the presentation is artful and inviting. The carnita sopes are a synergistic combination of flavors that make the dish so much more than the sum of its parts. The shrimp ceviche is outstanding. Whatever my husband ordered was so delicious (the sauce!!) he had to construct a barrier out of table accoutrements to keep my fork out of his area. Just go here and order something. You can’t go wrong.
Cappesante at Volare - Volare is one of my favorite places in Louisville…the place where I take guests from out of town. The scallops are my absolute favorite thing on the menu and one of the most delicious dishes in the history of cooking. (The risotto with rock shrimp is also amazing.) Chef Josh serves up three U-10 sea scallops, seared with crispy prosciutto, sweet English pea puree and white truffle oil. Thanks to my surgeon-like fork and knife skills, I carefully allocate the prosciutto garnish so I can enjoy a bit with every bite of melt-in-your-mouth tender scallop goodness. The sweet English pea puree is the (with a French accent, please) piece de resistance (thank you) on this plate. First of all, the vibrant green of the pea puree makes for a beautiful, colorful, artistic presentation. Then there’s the flavor. Ahhhhhh….it has to contain a tablespoon of heaven. To top it all off (no pun intended (who am I kidding? of course I intended to include this lame pun)) Chef Josh garnishes each scallop with tender pea tendrils. Freshness, color, texture, and visual impact. The white truffle oil is the crowning glory of the composition. Genius! Warning: they will cause moans of pleasure and delight as you eat them.
Tell me the best thing you’ve ever eaten in the comments!