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How To Spend A Day In Elizabethtown, KY

Hey, y’all!

If you’ve been on the blog lately, you are well-aware of the fact that I recently fell in love with the city of Elizabethtown, Kentucky; in fact, my latest post regarding the town was a Culinary Exploration!

Elizabethtown, KY

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Conveniently tucked off of I65 just outside of Louisville, Elizabethtown is a true Kentucky gem. From a downtown brimmin’ and bustlin’ with business, to fantastic food, to boutiques that will keep even the most avid shoppers appeased, to state of the art public parks and facilities — Elizabethtown is chock-full of possibilities!

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The Perfect Day In Elizabethtown:

Start your day by grabbing a drink at Vibe Coffee; afterwards, head over and visit my friends at the Swanky Shoppe. Located downtown, this is the boutique for any southern belle (and a few gifts for the gents in your life, as well!).

From iconic Draper James, to Vineyard Vines, to Julie Brown, to Sail to Sable, to a variety of purses, accessories, and jewelry — you won’t leave the Swanky Shoppe empty-handed.

I left with a needlepoint key fob from Smathers & Branson + a pair of croakies from Fripp & Folly. Needless to say, the ladies at the Swanky Shoppe took good care of this southern boy!

Visit the Swanky Shoppe:

112 Plum Alley, Elizabethtown, KY 42701

The Historic State Theater Complex is an institution in Downtown Elizabethtown. From movies, to concerts, to local events, there are a plethora of ways to catch a show in the historic theater. Having originally opened its doors in 1942, the history perpetuates into the lives of modern day Elizabethtown residents.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Elizabethtown, KY

Elizabethtown, KY

Visit the Historic State Theater Complex:

209 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701

My favorite store that I visited, hands down, was Denizen. Granted, I might be a little biased — my home is filled to the brim with house plants.

Upon walking in, you’ll notice the shop’s hip, urban feel; however, it’s located in cozy Elizabethtown, giving shoppers the best of both worlds.

Denizen is owned and operated by two sisters, Olivia and Catherine, who are passionate about filling homes and communities with beauty.

You’ll leave this shop inspired to fill your home with life — and it should go without saying that I left with a bag or two!

Visit Denizen:

331 E Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701

Another favorite boutique of mine was Rainent + Boon. The space is light, airy, and very easy to navigate. I would define this as the true boutique experience — a great selection, yet limited quantities on the racks. It’s the perfect place to find an outfit that no one else will have, which fits well with their trendy, eclectic aesthetic. Don’t miss this gorgeous boutique — they carry both straight and plus sizes!

Visit Raiment + Boon:

109 E Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY

The athletic type? Don’t skip over the facilities at the Elizabethtown Sports Park. I would argue that this is the nicest sports park facility that I have seen in Kentucky.

In the park, you’ll find 12 soccer/lacrosse/field hockey natural turf fields, 3 quads for baseball/softball/fast pitch, 2 champtionship fields with synthetic turf, 3 expansive pavilions, meeting rooms, stadium lawn seating, and so much more!

Elizabethtown, KY

All communities would greatly benefit from having a facility of this caliber — Elizabethtown is certainly better because of it.

Visit Elizabethtown Sports Park:

1401 West Park Rd., Elizabethtown, KY 42701

Are you looking for a photo opportunity to commemorate your trip? There are so many in Downtown Elizabethtown. Around each corner, you’ll find a new place to strike a pose – and when you do, don’t forget to tag the photo with #TourEtown!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Elizabethtown, KY

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Elizabethtown, KY

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Elizabethtown, KY

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Elizabethtown, KY

Love history? Look no further than the Brown-Pusey House, which was built in 1825 by John Y. Hill. This stately property was – for many years – the Hill House, a boarding house operated by “Aunt Beck” Hill. Among the guests at the Hill House were General George Armstrong Custer and his wife, Elizabeth.

Elizabethtown, KY

The Brown-Pusey House now serves the community in many ways, just as it was envisioned by its grantors. The Georgian mansion houses the Pusey Room Museum, a genealogical library, and meeting rooms for private and public functions. There is also a beautifully maintained garden in the back that is not to be overlooked!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Elizabethtown, KY

Visit The Brown-Pusey House:

128 N. Main St., Elizabethtown, KY 42701

Also in town is beautiful Freeman Lake Park, which is a lakeside park with many activities! The perfect place to walk, it’s also a delight for outdoor sports lovers — you can rent kayaks, rowboats, and peddle boats for $5/hour. I’ve even seen an Alan Jackson concert on the property!

It’s a serene asset for the city — and one that I immensely enjoy visiting!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Elizabethtown, KY

Visit Freeman Lake Park:

Blue Heron Way, Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

Can’t make it to Washington DC, yet have the desire to pay your respects at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial? There is an 80 percent scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall located in Elizabethtown!

On par with the experience of visiting the original, it is very serene and emotional; that said, it is very important to pay respects to those that fought – and lost their lives – for our freedoms.

Elizabethtown, KY

Visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall:

1900 Ring Rd. East, Elizabethtown, KY 42701

I’m sure you’ll work up an appetite while spending a packed day in Elizabethtown. Fill up at one of the restaurants listed in my Culinary Exploration blog post, or if you want to take a step back into time, visit my friends at Reuben’s Deli.

From the checkerboard floors, to the vintage memorabilia, this is not your average deli. You’ll find regional favorites like Ski, delicious sandwiches, and speciality items, such as their crunchy, seasoned pork rinds.

The pasta salad is also delicious!

Elizabethtown, KY

Visit Reuben’s Deli:

311 Cardinal Dr., Elizabethtown, KY 42701

Are you in your car en route to visit Elizabethtown, KY? If you aren’t, what’s holdin’ you back, my friend?

Elizabethtown, KY

There’s so much to do, see, and eat in town — you’ll leave with precious memories, a full stomach, and the desire to come back as soon as possible… I promise you that!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a sponsored post; all expressed opinions, however, are my own.

 

 

Honey Chicken Mac and Cheese from Back Home Restaurant in Elizabethtown, KY

A Culinary Exploration of Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Hey, y’all!

It’s no secret by now that I love to explore the food scene in every nook and cranny of our state. My most recent trip took me to nearby Elizabethtown, Kentucky — an area that I have visited several times, yet one that I wanted to learn more about.

Just a short drive from my home in Louisville, KY, Elizabethtown is a fantastic day-trip location just south of the city on I65. From a very charming downtown, to fabulous boutiques, to southern food, to delicious cocktails — Elizabethtown embodies all that I love about the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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There’s no better place to start off your morning than Vibe Coffee. Appropriately named, you’ll love the atmosphere as soon as you walk in. It’s cozy, welcoming, and the perfect meeting place for friends and colleagues.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) at Vibe Coffee In Elizabethtown KY

After sharing some home-roasted coffee beans with a friend in 2011, the owners were inspired to grow the art of coffee in Elizabethtown. They knew that the community needed a gathering place that featured cutting edge brewing techniques and speciality coffee. Two years later, the opportunity presented itself to put in a shop in a historic building downtown; the building was previously the home of the Town and Country Dress Shop for almost half of a century. I love what the owners have done to the space, yet it was clear that a respect for the historical charm remains – which, in my eyes, is something to celebrate.

I had to try both an iced vanilla latte (my classic ordered) and an iced matcha; both were absolutely delicious!

Feel free to also come to Vibe with an appetite — they serve up waffles, homemade pastries, and delicious açaí bowls (my favorite – and my choice!), all while using as many local and organic ingredients as possible.

Acai Bowl at Vibe Coffee In Elizabethtown KY

Visit Vibe Coffee:

34 Public Square, Elizabethtown, KY 42701

After breakfast and coffee, be sure to check out the many boutiques and shops in downtown Elizabethtown. You’ll be delighted — I know that I was — at the vast selection. Needless to say, I came home with a few (read: several) shopping bags.

When you’re ready for lunch, head on over to visit the Back Home Restaurant. As the name suggests, the food is very reminiscent of back home in the south. Upon seeing the menu, you’ll find Kentucky favorites + a plethora of recipes that celebrate life south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Located in a gorgeous old home, Back Home Restaurant is a bipartite stop: it’s a full-service restaurant with an attached boutique. Their history spans back to almost 30 years ago to Linda and Tommy Fulkerson; the tradition is now being carried on by their daughter, Lori (along with her husband, Steve).

Back Home Restaurant In Elizabethtown, KY

I had to start my meal with the Sweet Onion Soufflé — a homemade Vidalia onion dip, served with tortilla chips. The dip was creamy and rich, quickly becoming a new favorite for me. I’ll definitely try to recreate it here on the blog for y’all!

As for my main course, I couldn’t resist the Honey Chicken Mac-and-Cheese. Chicken tenders tossed in honey, on top of baked mac-and-cheese, loaded with bacon. I mean — how can you go wrong with that, y’all?

Honey Chicken Mac and Cheese from Back Home Restaurant in Elizabethtown, KY

Visit Back Home Restaurant:

251 West Dixie Avenue, Elizabethtown KY, 42701

Post-lunch, feel free to check out many of the other attractions in town: the Brown Pusey House & Gardens, the State Theater, Denizen Plant Shop, the Herb & Olive Market, Freeman Lake Park, or the fabulous Elizabethtown Sports Park — to merely name a few destinations (more on that in a future post).

After exploring all that Hardin County has to offer, relax with a cold one from Flywheel Brewing. The team at Flywheel believes in the power of high-quality, local craft beers. Upon walking in, you’ll feel right at home in the bar, which is welcoming, open, and bright. You’ll also find a beer on tap that appeals to every palate. I was delighted to find a couple sour beers, which are my current favorites.

Whether you are looking for live music, beer yoga, or a place to relax after work, Flywheel Brewing is the place for you!

Visit Flywheel Brewing:

218 S Mulberry St. Suite 103, Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

Looking for a unique dinner spot? Look no further than the Wicked Eye Woman! With a gastropub feel, the staff at the Wicked Eye Woman brings English Pub food with a southern twist. An oasis of comfort food, the menu is very large and has something for any diner. Come hungry — the food is quite heavy, though as I am sure y’all know by now, there are no complaints here on that end!

To start, I ventured into the lighter side of the menu with the Grilled Tomato, Basil, and Feta salad. Note: it’s quite large and could easy be a meal; that said, I enjoyed snacking on it and it was a great start to the meal.

For my main course, the Brisket Melt was calling my name. The sourdough sandwich has smoked brisket and cheddar, which is beautifully grilled and delightfully composed. The brisket was tender and oh-so-juicy; quite literally, this sandwich was a dream.

As for a side, look no further than the smothered wicked fries, which feature the restaurant’s rarebit cheese, bacon, and sour cream. I’m not going to understate, y’all — this was my favorite thing that I consumed all day. For those that are not familiar, rarebit cheese is a Welsh delicacy.

I also had to sample the shrimp and grits, which pack a slight spicy punch. They were divine!

Shrimp and Grits at The Wicked Eye Woman In Elizabethtown, KY

Visit the Wicked Eye Woman:

133 West Dixie Avenue, Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

After a fabulous day of food, it was time for a nightcap – thus, we headed over to the Bourbon Barrel Tavern, which is conveniently located downtown near the square. Featuring a huge selection of bourbon, there will be a libation to provide a Kentucky Hug that is sure to delight any palate. Not a bourbon drinker? They have a large selection of craft beer — and if you love live music, be sure to check them out on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) at Bourbon Barrel Tavern In Elizabethtown KY

I ended the night with a bourbon + Ale-8-One cocktail. It doesn’t get more Kentucky than that! If you are looking for a mixer for a bourbon cocktail, the ginger profile of Ale-8-One pairs perfectly. Trust me on that one, y’all.

Visit the Bourbon Barrel Tavern:

110 W Dixie Ave, Elizabethtown, KY 42701

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Elizabethtown, Kentucky is a gem of our state — and if you are looking for a perfect getaway in the Commonwealth, look no further!

Adventure awaits — what are you waiting for, y’all?

To keep up with all things in Elizabethtown, visit the website of the Tourism and Convention Bureau and follow them on Instagram!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

The Barrel Room In Shelbyville, KY

Have A Drink In Downtown Shelbyville At The Barrel Room

Hey, y’all!

It should come as no surprise that I love Shelbyville, KY; evidence can be found here, here, here, here, and here!

There’s plenty to do in the American Saddlebred Capital of the World — and apart from the horse farms, many of my favorite things are located on Main Street. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a robust, active, small town downtown has a charm that cannot be beat. That is, to understate, one of my favorite things about Shelby County, Kentucky.

If you’re downtown, you’ll be greeted by a plethora of photo opportunities, Kentucky history, restaurants, shops, and so much more. After a full day on the town, I’m proud to let y’all know about the perfect place to relax afterwards: the Barrel Room!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) At The Barrel Room In Shelbyville, KY

The Barrel Room In Shelbyville, KY

The Barrel Room is the newest addition to the downtown scene; the brainchild and second location of the Old Louisville Brewery, it has brought an even deeper sense of community to Shelbyville.

With very few options like the Barrel Room in Shelby County, the Barrel Room is setting the stage for even more growth and expansion for the county – and as a frequent visitor, that excites me very much! Owner Wade Mattingly understood that there weren’t many pub options in the Central Kentucky oasis, which serves as a meeting point between Lexington and Louisville. Thus, he decided to fill the void!

I believe in our Commonwealth, its people, and of course, our food scene. It takes movers and shakers – along with ambitious counties like Shelby County – to keep the ball rolling for us. That’s why I was especially elated to be invited to the Barrel Room to check out all that they have to offer.

With around 17-18 beers on tap, there is a choice for all palates. Want a Horchata Milk Porter? A Cranberry Citrus Cider? Oh, what about a Belgravia Blonde Ale? Surely you’d want a Derby Double Dry Hopped IPA… and don’t get me started on that delicious Dunkel!

Another one of my favorite parts is that you can grab a delicious to-go meal in Downtown Shelbyville (we had Mexican food!) and enjoy it inside the Barrel Room with your drinks; another option is to order for delivery with Bell House Restaurant while there! How convenient is that?

The Barrel Room In Shelbyville, KY

All of these – and so much more – can currently be found on tap at the Barrel Room. With a rotating menu, you can see what is currently being poured here.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) At The Barrel Room In Shelbyville, KY

Not a beer drinker? Well, it is Kentucky after all! Be sure to enjoy their bourbon selection, which is sure to delight all who desire that Kentucky Hug from their libation!

Not planning your next visit to Shelby County, KY? Y’all, what are you waiting for! Adventure awaits — and I know that you’ll be delighted by all there is to see, do, eat, and drink in this community.

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

The Perfect Day in Georgetown, Kentucky

Hey, y’all!

I recently had the privilege of spending the day with my friends at Georgetown Tourism. While I knew that this was one of the loveliest towns in the Commonwealth, I left feeling even more pride in my Kentucky heritage!

Georgetown, at its core, is historic, quaint, and charmingly southern. Near Lexington, it is home of Georgetown College, a world-class Toyota manufacturing plant, Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm, Ward Hall, Country Boy Brewing, and fabulous food. It is a focal point in the midst of both bourbon and horse country; a trip to Georgetown is good for the soul.

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There’s no better way to kick off a morning in Scott County than with breakfast at Fava’s. Originally conceptualized as a confectionary in 1910, it has been a Georgetown staple for many generations. While the ownership and offerings have changed throughout the years, the goal is steadfast: serving good food and facilitating fellowship.

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Located downtown, I knew that Fava’s was the perfect restaurant for breakfast — it’s an old-school diner with southern comfort food. I couldn’t decide between biscuits and gravy and a breakfast croissant sandwich; thus, naturally, I had both! The food at Fava’s will, without question, remind you of your grandma’s cookin’.

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Also, check out this meringue — that’s Write Your MeeMaw worthy by any standard!

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I love diners that still have the old-school bars + stools. It’s very nostalgic and reminds me of my childhood.

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You can visit Fava’s at:

159 E. Main St, Georgetown, KY 40324

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After breakfast at Fava’s, I intended to visit the Old Friend’s Thoroughbred Retirement Farm. A dignified home to over 100 horses who have retired from their racing/breeding careers, it is a place to both pay respect to Kentucky culture and to spoil the horses for their hard work! From past Derby winners, to Little Silver Charm – a favorite in Scott County – their repertoire is sure to please!

The weather did not cooperate for a visit to the farm; that said, I fully intend to revisit!

You can visit Old Friend’s Thoroughbred Retirement Farm at:

1841 Paynes Depot Rd., Georgetown, KY 40324

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With the impending weather, I decided to tour the local Toyota Manufacturing Facility. A driver of huge economic impact in the state, “Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) is Toyota’s largest vehicle manufacturing plant in the world, annually capable of producing 550,000 vehicles and more than 600,000 engines.”

Tours at the plant are conducted on trolleys, which allow you to see the nooks and crannies of the expansive facility. It was very interesting to see the process from beginning to end — so much so, it garnered a new level of respect for the industry on my end. I would recommend anyone to take this tour — adults, families, children — because it has interest points for all. I’m not very interested in automobiles, though I found myself enthralled the entire time.

We are so fortunate to have this industry in our Commonwealth!

You can visit the Toyota Manufacturing Facility at:

1001 Cherry Blossom Way, Georgetown, KY 40324

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After a late morning spent at Toyota, it was only fitting to relax with my friends at Country Boy Brewing.

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Founded by Kentuckians with a passion for craft beer, Country Boy Brewing specializes in minimally-processed, high-quality brews. I was impressed to find out about the ingredients that go into Country Boy Brewing products; for example, the vanilla is extracted from actual vanilla beans, not just vanilla flavoring. While this is not the cheapest route, it does ensure the highest quality, which I appreciate.

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Country Boy Brewing originated in Lexington, though they have now opened a state-of-the-art taproom and production facility in Scott County.

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The best part? They now offer food – and y’all, this is not your average bar food. It’s delicious!

Roast Beef & Beer Cheese Sandwich

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Southwest Turkey Club

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Hot Brown Pizza (yes, please!)

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Pretzel + Beer Cheese & Mustard

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After spending a few hours (or the entire afternoon) with the fine folk at Country Boy Brewing, there’s no better place to soak in some Georgetown history than at Ward Hall. Easily the grandest Greek Revival residence in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Ward Hall is said to be one of the finest examples of mid-nineteenth century classical building in the United States.

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To quote, “Built for Junius Richard Ward and his wife Matilda Viley Ward, the mansion is attributed to British-born military engineer and Lexington architect, Major Thomas Lewinski. It was constructed by Taylor Buffington with the assistance of James Bailey. The house embodies numerous Minard Lafever design elements from his 1829 and 1835 pattern books.

The more than 12,000 square-foot house rises from a six-foot high brushed and hammered coquina limestone foundation with twenty foot wide heroic scale steps leading up to a portico supported by four 27 foot-high fluted Corinthian columns with cast iron capitals and bases and the façade decorated on all four sides with pilasters and matching cast iron capitals set against Flemish bond brickwork. All window and door enframements on the exterior are cut stone.”

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To say the least, time spent at Ward Hall will take visitors back to a different time in the South. I am so happy to know that the property is being cared for by the Ward Hall Preservation Foundation. They have incessantly worked to better the property since the acquisition in 2004 and have many plans for the future.

Support our state’s history by visiting Ward Hall at:

1782 Frankfort Road (US 460 W), Georgetown, KY 40324 

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No trip to Georgetown would be complete without dinner at Rodney’s on Broadway! Housed in a historic property just outside of Downtown Georgetown, Rodney’s prides itself on serving elegant, southern cuisine. Don’t miss out on the cocktail menu, either!

Seahorses: fresh diver scallops, wrapped in prosciutto, served on a bed of crispy spinach, and drizzled with hollandaise sauce.

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Known for their prime beef, I had to have the filet mignon – an ultimate barrel cut steak that is both slow and naturally aged. It is, to understate, a fork-tender piece of meat.

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Y’all – let me tell you – it was delicious!

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For all of my food lovers, be sure to participate in Georgetown’s #GtownEats Week, which is happening from March 23rd – March 30th, 2019. This event is an eight-day culinary exploration and celebration, highlighting local Georgetown restaurants, bakeries, and drinking establishments. In doing so, businesses offer either multi-course meals or unique menu items at a discounted price. These meals and deals are only available during this time frame; thus, don’t miss out, y’all!

You can find more information here.

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Adventure awaits in the Commonwealth of Kentucky; if you aren’t planning your next trip to Georgetown, Kentucky — get on it! Be sure to come with a hunger for culture, history, and of course, delectable food!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; all opinions, as always, are my own.

 

 

Celebrate March Madness in Kentucky With Ale-8-One

Hey, y’all.

March? Yeah, it’s madness in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The weather? Unpredictable. The desire for spring? Insatiable. Basketball? Pandemonium.

I believe that the combination of the three play into the true definition, as we know it, of March Madness. However, we all know that there is a powerhouse of a contender in the aforementioned trifecta.

Basketball.

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We are proud of many things here in Kentucky. Our bourbon is strong, our grass is blue, our horses are fast — and, simply put, our basketball culture is unrivaled.

Allegiances aside, basketball connects us all. We believe in our teams, we support our teams, and we fight for our teams. That’s one of the most beautiful parts of Kentucky — we are fierce: fiercely loyal, fiercely competitive, and fiercely devoted.

When defining cultural factors – whether they be macro or micro in nature – there are very few things that unanimously unite us. In my opinion, we experience three of those during this time of year: food, tradition, and sports.

Ale-8-One is doing us all a favor by combining all three into one package.

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Kentucky Proud and family-owned since 1902, Ale-8-One is a regional favorite. After poppin’ the top off, with one sip, you’ll be immersed in the sensation of our Commonwealth. Just as they are aware of the quality of our teams, they take pride in the quality of their recipe. A ginger and citrus-based soft drink, the taste immediately transports me back to the farm that I grew up on in Russell County — the exact location that I tuned into many NCAA tournament games with my late father, JC Phelps. Maybe it takes you back to summer evenings spent in the Highlands, fishing out of your grandpa’s pond in Pikeville, betting on horses in Lexington, or working on the farm in Paducah.

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Whether your bracket is pulling for the Wildcats, the Cardinals, or your out-of-state alma mater, know this — Ale-8-One is the drink of basketball country.

When shopping for your viewing parties, tailgates, cookouts, get-togethers — be sure to look for the limited-edition basketball packaging. It can be found in a market near you around the Commonwealth; furthermore, Ale-8-One can be ordered online and shipped domestically to all 50 states!

As you all know, there are few things that I am more proud of than being a Kentuckian; I wouldn’t trade my heritage for anything. Wherever the Ale-8-One is flowin’, that’s where I’m meant to be, y’all.

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Cheers!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

Downtown Dining in Bowling Green, KY

Hey, y’all!

Bowling Green, Kentucky — the land of Corvettes, the inspiration for the hit by The Everly Brothers, home of Lost River Cave, and, of course, Western Kentucky University. Go, Tops!

However, I implore that Bowling Green is also both a culinary destination and a foodie hotspot for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The epicenter? Downtown, of course!

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Fun fact: Did you know that I did my MBA at Western Kentucky University’s Gordon Ford College of Business? Living, working, and studying in Bowling Green was one of the best times of my life. It was during this period that I fell in love with the local food scene.

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Mariah’s

360 E 8th Ave. Bowling Green, KY 42101

If you were to talk with a local, or with someone that has ties to the area, I guarantee you that they will talk about experiences that they have had at Mariah’s. For over thirty years, it has been a mainstay of Downtown Bowling Green. The food is approachable, while also being comforting and flavorful. The menu is large and has options for all diners: foodies with wide-ranging palates, casual dinners, families, and children.

Located in close proximity to the Bowling Green Ball Park, which is where you must catch a Bowling Green Hot Rods game, Mariah’s prides itself on being a destination: a meeting place for socializing, food, and libations.

To start, don’t miss the Bleu Cheese Chips — thinly sliced kettle chips featuring a hybrid Bleu Cheese-Alfredo sauce. They’re as flavorful as one would imagine – and perfect for sharing.

For an entrée, enjoy a classic — bourbon-glazed salmon, prime rib, a Kentucky sirloin, or even a bacon-wrapped filet mignon. Expect large portions at a very fair price point. For your sides, don’t miss the side salad – which, very uniquely, is topped with roasted black eyed peas. If you are feeling adventurous, ask for an order of the A1-Ranch on the side. It’s divine, y’all.

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440 Main

440 Main St. Bowling Green, KY 42101

It doesn’t get more Kentucky than 440 Main. Kentucky dining to me is, at its core, casual. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t divine; rather, it’s unpretentious. 440 Main executes this tradition with style.

The building features two restaurants and two menus housed under the same roof. Micki’s on Main features live music and a casual bar + grill menu; 440, on the other hand, is an upscale dining room — one without a dress code. The best part? You can order from either menu, regardless of where you choose to sit/what atmosphere you desire that evening.

My meal started with appetizers that would rival any restaurant — gorgeous, full oysters on the half-shell, imported Italian burrata cheese, and bacon-wrapped dates, stuffed with gorgonzola and finished with a balsamic reduction.

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For the main course, I chose the Grouper Louisiana, a favorite of mine for years. Plated is an oversized piece of fried grouper, served over jalapeño cheese grits and topped with crawfish étouffée. My dining companions had two of the listed specials that evening — one being seafood and the other being a full-bodied pasta. Both were delicious and we all left with empty plates.

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Gerard’s 1907 Tavern

935 College St. Bowling Green, KY 42101

Whether you are visiting for lunch or dinner, make sure that Gerard’s 1907 Tavern is on your dining list when you visit Bowling Green. Located adjacent to Fountain Square Park on College St., Gerard’s is a small, cozy, intimate dining experience — perfect for a date night, meeting up with friends/family, or your colleagues from the Hill.

Something that stuck out to me is their partnership with Rian’s Fatted Calf Meat Shoppe, a local favorite from which they source fresh produce and collaborate on unique, mouthwatering burger blends. There’s something special about local businesses supporting other local businesses — community over collaboration, always.

For lunch, I started with one of the richest, most delectable cups of French onion soup that I have ever had. Topped with gruyere cheese, this soup packed a flavor worth writing home about. I also had the wedge salad, which was uniquely finished with pumpkin seeds, bacon,  and bleu cheese, and the Nashville Hot Chicken sliders — a regional favorite.

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If you dine at Gerard’s 1907 Tavern, you will most likely hear about their burgers — and with good reason. My favorite is the GT Burger, which boasts Henry Bain Sauce, smoked gouda, house cole slaw, tobacco onions, and a brioche bun.

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I love any dish served with Henry Bain Sauce, which is a classic Kentucky condiment created by Mr. Bain, a past maître d’ at Louisville’s exclusive Pendennis Club.

The Bistro

1129 College St, Bowling Green, KY 42101

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There’s no better place to finish a culinary tour de Bowling Green than at the Bistro, another favorite of mine. A couple of blocks down from Fountain Square Park is a Kentucky food oasis — a one-of-a-kind dining experience in the historic, restored 1893 Fletcher House. Locally-inspired, high-end, yet very comfortable — the Bistro is a shining star of the 270 region.

To start, I had one of the best appetizers of my dining career: fried green tomatoes, topped with pimento cheese and a burnt end. It doesn’t get more southern – or delectable – than that.

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Yet again, I couldn’t resist the bacon-wrapped dates — a favorite of mine. The rich, soft dates are stuffed with a smooth, gorgonzola cream cheese filling. They were only made better by the addition of salty, crunchy bacon. Don’t miss these, y’all!

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The specials at the Bistro are different than most restaurants; they are included on the menu as staples, such as the filet mignon and the scallops, but they vary on a daily basis. This is a culinary move that I deeply respect – and one that makes me excited to dine there time and time again.

I chose the filet mignon, which is my usual choice when dining at the Bistro. That night, it was resting on delicious asparagus and Yukon Gold potatoes; better yet, it was topped with gorgonzola butter.

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After such a fabulous meal, I had to finish with dessert — a peanut butter crème brûlée. It was as amazing as it sounds, I assure y’all.

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The Bistro offers southern flair, high-end dishes, all served up in that comfortable Bowling Green atmosphere that all will come to love.

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Culinary adventure awaits in the Commonwealth of Kentucky; if your plans do not include a stop in Bowling Green’s Downtown area, your palate will be missing out. From casual favorites to high-end selections, all diners will come to Bowling Green excited and leave elated, full, and eager to return.

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; all opinions, however, are my own.

Experiencing Locality in Shelby County, Kentucky

Hey, y’all!

If you follow me on Instagram or read my Kentucky travel series, you will know that I am no stranger to Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Some might argue as to what is the best part about this Kentucky town. The food? The kind, generous people? The fact that it’s the Saddlebred Capital of the World? The local shops? All of those are, of course, great – however, I would like to add one to the mix: the location.

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Conveniently located between Lexington and Louisville, Shelbyville is a true meeting ground of the state. It serves as a central location for all Kentuckians, let alone the city dwellers wishing to escape for a day or weekend trip.

Over the course of the last year, it has turned into one of my favorite destinations (and one of Jude’s, my grandmother + travel partner, favorites, too!). On our most recent trip, I wanted to dive deeper into the small businesses, restaurants, events, and farms that make Shelbyville special. I went in with high expectations – but, y’all, let me tell you… they were greatly surpassed.

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Upon arriving and checking into my hotel (I always stay at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, which is located at 110 Clubhouse Dr. Shelbyville, KY 40065), I joined Chenelle for dinner at the Old Stone Inn.

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Stay tuned for an upcoming post to learn more about the Old Stone Inn; but, I’ll say this now: it’s a historic dining experience not to miss. Recently reopened by Chef David Danielson of Churchill Downs, the food and atmosphere is a true highlight for the region.

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Also, side note: any restaurant that serves their butter in the shape of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is a restaurant that will get my repeat business.

The following morning started bright and early with the first of my Dine & Discover classes, which was held at Citizens Union Bank. Dine & Discover is a fantastic series put on by the ShelbyKY Tourism Commission & Visitors Bureau; both of these classes catered to small businesses and I discussed how one can leverage social media to be a driving factor in their success. It was an honor to be a guest speaker; if you are looking for educational classes in the area, I highly recommend this series!

Between classes, I had to do my due diligence as a food writer and check out a new-to-me local eatery, right? At least that was my justification.

McKinley’s Bread Shop & Deli (615 Main St. Shelbyville, KY 40065)

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I stumbled into McKinley’s via Chenelle’s recommendation – and it didn’t let me down. I love casual, local eateries. It was clear that the clientele is predominantly locals — patrons that have dined there for years & will continue to do so. That’s when you know you’re in for a treat, y’all.

The bread is made in-house and is cut via a bread machine that is nearly a century old. If something, or a method, isn’t broken — why fix it? I love that they have maintained their methods; there’s something special about doing so that cannot be ignored.

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I chose the Tuscany, which featured Caesar dressing, grated parmesan, black pepper, turkey breast, and romaine lettuce, served on focaccia (my favorite bread). At less than $8, this sandwich is a fantastic value for the budget diner.

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Oh, and don’t miss out on their cookies — they are, arguably, the best part. Large, moist, and ringing in at around $1, you can’t go wrong, y’all.

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After my second Dine & Discover class, I went and visited my new friends at Lettleiki Icelandics (6105 Eminence Pike, Shelbyville, KY 40065). Now I — and any true Kentuckian — would be amiss to not love the equine industry. However, I must confess: prior to this trip, I was not well-versed in Icelandic horses, a very historic breed.

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Lettleiki is the Icelandic word for “lightness”; interestingly enough, each Icelandic horse that is born must have an Icelandic name given to it. Furthermore, in reference to their homeland, Icelandic horses cannot return to Iceland after they leave; this is largely due to the fact that Iceland does not experience vast equine diseases, unlike other countries. As for personal history, the breed’s ancestors are often traced back to Viking-Age Scandinavians that came to the region.

Upon visiting the farm, you will find world-class facilities; seriously, y’all — their barns are the most gorgeous that I have ever seen! Apart from that, they have a gorgeous arena on site, and they offer a wide array of services (breeding, training, clinics, etc).

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One of our tour guides was the farm dog — what a sweetie!

I left a big, big fan of Lettleiki Icelandics — be sure to check them out!

While I was in the spirit of the horse industry, I hopped over to Shelby Horse Supply (7022 Shelbyville Rd, Simpsonville, KY 40067) to learn more about their business. The man behind the shop, Vance Riester, very well might be the nicest guy around. He welcomed Jude and I into his shop, walked us through some of his processes, and even made a custom gift for Jude to take home!

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A full-service tack shop, Shelby Horse Supply is – and should be – your one-stop shop for all of your equine leather good needs. But, their offerings do not stop there! You can find many personal leather goods in the store, whether it be wallets, key fobs, or a plethora of other items. They custom-made a piece for me a couple of months ago – and y’all, it is truly one of my prized possessions.

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The best part? The leather goods are customizable! Many of the belts, fobs, and equine goods can have engraved plates attached to them. A true southerner, I love a good personalization service! If it walks, talks, or moves — monogram it. Am I right?

The quality of their goods is unmatched; be sure to keep them in mind!

After spending the afternoon on the farm and shopping, we decided that we needed a sweet treat. For that, I wanted to try out Serendipity Kandy Kitchen (519 Main St, Shelbyville, KY 40065), a newcomer to Downtown Shelbyville. A mainstay in La Grange for several years, the new shop in Shelby County is a very welcomed addition to the community.

Their best-selling item? Bourbon-infused, chocolate dipped Twinkies. Yes, you read that correctly. That is, simply put, my Kentucky dream. I knew that I had to try one when I visited; however, I was pleasantly surprised that the owner wanted to let me make some of my own!

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While the process is self-explanatory, I’ll omit some of the strict details for proprietary purposes. However, believe me when I say that you MUST try one of these. You’ll keep going back for more — thank me later.

Post-refreshing at the hotel, I knew that no trip to Shelby County is complete without a stop at Jeptha Creed Distillery (500 Gordon Ln, Shelbyville, KY 40065). Jeptha Creed’s property is stunning & it is a kick ass, woman-owned business — one of my favorite’s in the Commonwealth.

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Luckily for Jude and I, we were there for one of their Farm To Table dinners, which features four courses from Chef Josh Moore of Volare Italian Restaurant in Louisville, KY. What’s even better is that fact that each course is paired with a cocktail! Now that’s the Kentucky way of dining, y’all.

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The first course was a stunning salad, which featured Aqua Fresh Farms red oak leaf lettuce, roasted Italian sausage, pepperoncini peppers, Capriole Farms goat cheese, and crispy potatoes, finished with a balsamic & Jeptha Creed blueberry vodka vinaigrette. It was paired with a cranberry-spiced Negroni, which was my favorite cocktail of the evening.

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The pasta course was next, which boasted house-made Garganelli pasta in a rich mushroom ragout of Sheltowee Farm mushrooms, Jeptha Creed original moonshine, cream, sage, and ricotta salata cheese. It was simply divine! The pairing was a bay leaf limoncello.

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Our main course was a Stone Cross Farm pork loin scallopini (fra diavolo style) in a spicy tomato and pepper sauce with onion, rosemary and Jeptha Creed Hot Pepper Vodka. It was accompanied by Tuscan white beans (two thumbs up from me!) and braised, bitter greens. The cocktail? A honey raspberry sgroppino, which was fabulous!

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Last, but certainly not least (trust!), was the dessert course: zeppole. Plated were three  house-made Italian doughnuts tossed in cinnamon and sugar, joined by cherry preserves & Jeptha Creed apple pie moonshine apple butter. This was a standout, y’all. To wash it down, we were given a coffee & lavender affogato. The lavender was a fantastic touch!

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To say the least, it was a night to remember – fabulous food and even more fabulous company. Better yet, as per usual, it was a trip to write home about (or, in my case, to blog about!).

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A special thank you to ShelbyKY Tourism for two fabulous days; it is truly a privilege that y’all share your slice of Kentucky heaven with all of us!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a sponsored post; all opinions, however, are my own.

 

 

 

 

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