Friday, July 24, 2009

Our Kentuckiana Adventure

Last weekend, Joe and I made plans to travel up to the Louisville area to visit his good friend from med school, Angela, and her husband. When they matched at Louisville and we matched in Nashville, we were so excited that we were in the same region of the country and made plans to visit each other all the time. Well, reality set in, and a year passed without us visiting them, though they did make it down to Nashville once.

We arrived at their house (just across the bridge in Southern Indiana) by about 10:30 pm with a time change. We had to make a stop in Bowling Green, KY at Culver's for some Butterburgers and custard. Then we headed down to Bardstown to meet up with some of Angela's friends at a bar. The bar was loud and crowded, and I was a little tired and grumpy, but it was fun.

The next morning, we awoke to unseasonably cool weather around mid-morning. After breakfasting on blueberry muffins and sausage, we just sat around and sipped coffee on their lovely deck. We made plans to go to the Huber winery/orchard/petting farm/pick-your-own farm/restaurant in Starlight, Indiana. Before trying the wine, we thought picking peaches sounded like fun. I think we may have been the oldest people without children on the tractor that pulled us out to the orchard.

If you picked two boxes of peaches to the brim, they were $.79 a pound, so we decided it was a good idea for each couple to pick a box. We ate a few ripe ones in the orchard and marveled at the beauty and amount of peaches.

Joe may have gotten a little carried away. Our box weighed in at 27 pounds. We gave some to my parents, but mostly we've just been eating them! I have plans for some peach muffins this weekend. The peaches are really tasty. In their country store, we bought some wasabi soynuts, recommended by Angela, and some jalapeno cheese bread to have later and moved on to the wine tasting.

One of the things I enjoyed about the Huber property was that all of the vines were labeled so you could tell which grapes were the cabernet franc, etc. They also have a variety of tasting "packages". We decided to do the comparative package, where we would select either dry of sweet/semi-sweet and taste two wines side-by-side comparing for different qualities like minerality, skin contact, etc. It ended up being 12 pretty significant pours. The tasting occurred in the upstairs of a beautifully restored barn. It was busy but not crowded, and we met a few other transplanted Texans.

Without much food in my stomach, I was tipsy pretty quickly. We enjoyed several of the wines and came home with a bottle of their Chardonel and some Blueberry Port. Our server was a lot of fun and was very friendly and helpful. We needed a bit of food, and the jalapeno cheese bread coupled with some summer sausage and cheeses available for purchase did the trick as a complement to the bottle of Vignoles that we all shared.

There was live music out on the patio, and this was the absolute perfect day to enjoy it. The Huber property would make a great trip for a family as well since there are plenty of things for kids to enjoy. We saw many children enjoying picking blueberries and blackberries, as well as feeding llamas and other animals in the petting zoo.

That night we went back to Bardstown in Louisville and ate at Ramsi's Cafe On the World. The menu was so creative and different that I could hardly decide what to eat. I settled on the roasted vegetable masala. Joe got the East Meets South fajitas, fajita meat that you wrapped in Indiana paranatha bread. Cory ordered the Egyptian Kitchen, and then ate it so fast that none of us got to try it. Ramsi's offers many vegetarian and vegan friendly dishes. We returned to Cory and Angela's house and drank port and smoked cigars on their deck.

The next morning, we slept in again and ate some delicious strawberry breakfast bread from Huber's. After relaxing out on the deck, we took Cory and Angela's dog, Gracie, to a nearby monastery that had beautiful trails. Joe and I decided that we wanted to stop at the Maker's Mark distillery on our way home, so we said good-bye to Cory and Angela and hit the road. Joe has liked whisky for a while, but I have only recently began to enjoy it, thanks in large part to The Patterson House.

The Maker's Mark distillery is one of the more difficult distilleries on the Bourbon Trail to get to, as it is located quite a ways outside of Bardstown and about 2 hours from Louisville. But it is a beautiful setting and very quiet. Just outside of Loretto, KY, we began to see big black barrel houses where all of the whisky is aged. We made the last tour of the day at 3:30 pm, and the tour took longer than anticipated because it was a fairly large group that seemingly kept growing. The tours are free, and you get a ticket for the tasting if you are 21 and up.

My favorite part of the tour was the fermenting vats. There were about 9 9600 gallon vats where the yeast was eating up all of the sugars. The mash ferments for 3 days, and our tourguide encouraged us to try the difference in taste between Day 2 and Day 3 (there were no Day 1 vats at the time). So now, if you ever buy Maker's Mark, just imagine all the people dipping their hands into the fermenting vats!

The tour ended with a tasting. One of the glasses contains White Dog, the pre-aging mixture. It's essentially moonshine, and I could feel the burn all the way into my chest. The actual Maker's Mark is on the right and is aged in charred oak barrels for 5-7 years. They bottle by taste rather than aging time. The sweetness in Maker's Mark is due to their use of soft red winter wheat. There are 7 other distilleries on the Bourbon Trail, and Joe and I hope to continue to fill out our "passports"!