Fall 2018 (Vol. 61)

Page 34

BY JESSICA MATHIS I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so “Kentucky” as I have after following the Taste of the Bluegrass Culinary Trail this summer. From sipping bottled Ale 8 One and wearing denim shorts with a sunhat over lake-wet hair while wandering barefoot in the country near waterfalls to learning about elk before jumping in a swimmin’ hole, I’ve broadened my home state horizons in ways I never expected. I’ve made new friends, tasted new-tome old Kentucky dishes, absorbed cool history and legends and seen more awe-inspiring sites than I knew existed in our beautiful state. My tour of the parks has given me a whole new level of understanding of the phrase “Kentucky Proud.” 32 Fall 2018 www.foodanddine.com

The Taste of the Bluegrass Culinary Trail represents the history, ingredients and culture of nine different Kentucky regions with a different meal at nine different state resort parks. Since I’ve spent most of my Kentucky time in the bigger cities and most of my travels in other states or countries, I felt like this would be the perfect opportunity to learn about my roots. I found something different and unique at each of the five parks I’ve been to so far, but what I found at all of them was delicious food, a sense of pride and pure southern hospitality from the people. I’ve still got four parks left, but here are some highlights from the trail so far. Kentucky Dam Village: (Best Meal Value, Best Dam) We were reminded of the summer vacation in the movie “Dirty Dancing” as we arrived to this retro sixties-era lodge, and a short drive across the dam revealed a futuristic hydro-electric plant power house that reminded us of the Imperial walker vehicles in “Star Wars.” There was so much food for $15.99 - a Kentucky Dam Iced Tea (lemon tea with peach whiskey), a piece of fried catfish, three

hushpuppies, a slice of Kentucky Ham, and bowls of green beans, sweet corn, white beans with ham hock and a bowl of banana pudding. Asking for to-go boxes became habit, but it still wins largest meal. We did our best to counter all those calories with a walk around the lake and dam. Natural Bridge: (Best Views, Best Accessibility) I knew Red River Gorge is a favorite spot for many Louisvillians, but I wasn’t privy to the wealth of good eats and drinks available at the lodge’s Sandstone Arches restaurant under Chef Stephen C. Rose, whose beer cheese recipe is still one of my favorites. The rest of the meal included limestone bibb salad with sorghum vinaigrette, steak, grits, spoonbread, a bourbon brownie, and an Ale 8 One (bourbon optional).You don’t have to be in tip-top shape to enjoy this park. The lodge deck offers a breathtaking view of their swimming pool in the valley, or you can take the


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