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Bluegrass, General Travel, Kentucky, Lexington, Restaurants

The Kentucky Series: Volume 1

From the inception of this blog, I knew I wanted to write a series of articles about Kentucky. I’m a Kentucky girl to the core. I love how the terrain changes as you drive across the state, from the mountains, to the rolling hills, to the bluegrass. I love the heritage and culture in the mountains. I love the fact that, while we are at the northern border of the Mason Dixon line, we hold fast to southern manners and traditions. I love the mix of southern and Appalachian cuisine, and there is nothing like a central Kentucky sunset over the rolling meadows of a horse farm. I’m not sure how many articles I will write in this series, but I’m thinking it will be open-ended, because there is just so much of Kentucky I want to share!

Photography by Jason Justice

In the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region is Lexington, my second home. Lexington is unique in that it’s a small town that lives like a big city. I love the diversity of the city itself, because whether you are in the mood for a rural Sunday drive, a suburban neighborhood, or an urban cityscape with lofts and unique shopping and dining, you’ll find it in Lexington.

I love the variety of locally owned and operated restaurants in Lexington. Some of my favorites have been around for decades, while others are relatively new. One of the old standards is Winchell’s on Southland Drive. Decorated with movies and sports memorabilia and televisions showing a large variety of sporting events, it’s a great place to eat with friends while watching a game!

Now, as a born and bred Kentucky girl, I’m a bit of a Hot Brown snob. For those of you who are not familiar with the dish, it is a culinary delight that originated at The Brown Hotel in Louisville and features roasted turkey (sometimes paired with ham) on toast points, covered in a Mornay cheese sauce and topped with tomatoes and bacon. As a self-proclaimed Hot Brown connoisseur, I feel that if a restaurant has a Hot Brown on the menu, I am duty-bound to order it, or at least convince someone else at my table to order it so I can try it. Many restaurants have their own versions of the Hot Brown, but not all are created equal. Winchell’s Hot Brown, however, passed with flying colors! The Mornay sauce was perfect and everything was layered in the right proportions. Delicious!

If you have a palate that can tolerate spicy foods, try Winchell’s Hot Chicken! When the server placed it in front of me, the golden chicken was placed on two pieces of white bread. My immediate thought was, “What’s up with the bread?” After the first taste, I fully understood the purpose of the bread – it was there to buffer the heat of the chicken! The chicken was tender, tasty, and HOT! I would describe it as Kentucky meets the Bayou. I ordered the chicken with a side of mac and cheese and a cup of tomato basil soup. It was all delicious! We also had a potato soup connoisseur among us who said they will be making another trip to Winchell’s to get another bowl. The next time you’re in Lexington, stop by Winchell’s. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

 

General Travel, Restaurants, Road Trips, Shopping

Waynesville – A hidden gem in the outskirts of Asheville, North Carolina!

Not so long ago, a good friend mentioned that we should visit this quaint little town she ran across in North Carolina. She spoke of Waynesville and its quaint shops and wonderful restaurants with great fondness, and knowing that she has impeccable taste, I stored it away in my mental file of places to visit.

A month or two later, we were making the trek along Interstate 40 between Knoxville, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina and the memory of what our friend had shared with me came rushing back, so after a short discussion of whether we should stop in Waynesville for lunch, we called our friend to see if she would suggest a restaurant. That’s where the adventure began…

We found Waynesville to be a quaint little village straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. As we drove down the street looking for our chosen restaurant, The Sweet Onion, we were mesmerized by the beautiful street, full of enticing boutiques, bakeries, antique shops and more. We took a few minutes to pop into the Mast General Store, an old favorite from previous adventures, and found it to be as enchanting as always – a step back in time to the mom and pop stores like my great grandparents used to own – with clothes, toys, gardening supplies, household items, and barrels of candy loved by kids of all ages.mastgeneralstoresign2

Lunch at The Sweet Onion was scrumptious! The restaurant was charming and the food was tastefully presented. The fare is a contemporary take on southern cuisine and it does not disappoint! Among us, we ordered the crab cake, macaroni and cheese, mashed sweet potatoes, blackberry barbecue chicken, mashed potatoes, pecan chicken salad melt, broccoli and cheese grits, and the marinated cucumber tomato salad. The sign of good food with our family is a quiet table, and other than the occasional “This is wonderful!”, our table was silent!

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As we were in the midst of a road trip and had a long drive ahead of us before we stopped for the night, we had to leave without being able to visit more of this intriguing town. But, Lord willing, we will be back! Waynesville, you have piqued our interest!