March Madness is in full swing and while some of us here at I’m In The Kitchen are following it for the sports, most of us are just thinking about food. We conversed one afternoon on which team we believed would win and our only rationales stemmed from the goodness of the foods indigenous to the colleges’ hometown. We thought on it more and realized, everyone else seems to share their predictions, why shouldn’t we? So we may not know the difference between the point guards or why there are so many guards on a basketball team to begin with, but we do know a thing or two about food. Since this could get pretty lengthy, we’ve decided to carry it over two days dividing it by national semifinalist contenders. We’re taking on the final four and challenging them to a food fight, at the end of part two you will be able to cast a vote in the Final Four food fight. Let’s begin.
We hate to be biased from the start but overarchingly, the Kentucky contenders lead off at an unfair advantage thanks to a little thing called Kentucky Bourbon [mint julep anyone?]. Well 3 little things: bourbon, derby pie and beer cheese. But, since they’re playing against each other for a spot in the championship game on March 31st (at 6:09 mind you, who comes up with these times?), these commonalities become moot and we’re forced to move on. Both cities in Kentucky are known for their typical southern fare: fried catfish, country fried steak, fried green tomatoes… really just throw anything at them and they’ll fry it, so what begs to differ? Surprisingly, a lot. Let’s start with Louisville.
If you talk to anyone- a Louisville native, Adam Richman of Man vs. Food or even Chef Bobby Flay- about the delicious and unique food in Louisville, without a doubt they will mention: 1. The Hot Brown Sandwich at J. Grahams at the Brown Hotel 2. Rolled Oysters 3. Benedictine and 4. Lynn’s Paradise Cafe. Dating back to the 20’s, originally created by Chef Fred Schmidt, the infamous Hot Brown is an open-faced turkey sandwich topped with cheese, bacon and a Mornay sauce, yes that’s just fancy for cheese sauce. It’s legendary. The rolled oyster is baseball sized seafood dish that you will only find in and around Louisville. A rolled oyster is comprised of three raw oysters dipped in an egg-milk cornmeal batter (called pastinga), then rolled in cracker crumbs and deep-fried. Benedictine is most likely the “healthiest” thing to come out of Louisville- traditionally a dip or spread on a sandwich, it consists of mayo, cream cheese, cucumbers, parsley or spinach and occasionally colored with green food dye. Lastly, comes Lynn’s Paradise Cafe- arguably home to the most fun and delicious breakfast in America, some even dare to say “epic”. Her Triple B French toast, which includes homemade buttermilk, black walnut bread with homemade blackberry sauce and bourbon meringue earned her spot in the Throw Down winners circle against Bobby Flay. Honestly, it all sounds pretty good to us.
Lexington is a little less food focused but with Ashley Judd as one of the team’s biggest fans, we’re not sure it really matters. This city really loves it’s bluegrass but also boasts about their famous burgoo, frickles and pepper sauced barbecue. Burgoo is a stew generally made with any meats and vegetables they’ve got “lyin’ ” around. Back in the day it was typically comprised of squirrel, venison, opposum, raccoon and game birds, giving it it’s mocking name of roadkill soup [insert ew here]. But now, it’s pretty much just chicken, pork and mutton. They say it’s ready when your spoon can stand straight up in the stew and they seem to know what they’re talking about so we wont argue. Then there are the “frickles”, or “dill”ckles, as they call them at Billy’s bar-b-q, a Lexington staple where they serve battered and deep-fried pickle chips alongside horseradish sauce as an appeteaser. In Lexington and western Kentucky where barbecue is king, the fellas behind Billy’s have perfected it. Their barbecue sauce is peppery and bold, which definitely adds a kick to the pulled and chopped Mutton they call true bar-b-q.
That’s all for the Kentuckys, and in our professional opinion we think Louisville is off to a good start, but tune in tomorrow to find out what’s being brewed in Kansas and Ohio’s sweet secret weapon. We’re not sure how it’ll stack up against the beignets at Cafe Du Monde but they’re definitely bringing them down to Nola.
Photo Credits: The Brown Hotel, Travel Channel (Man vs. Food), The Very Best Baking, and Southern Living.