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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.

 

 

 

 

The Cynthiana, Kentucky Experience

Hey, y’all!

I am so excited to bring the next installment of my guides to the Commonwealth of Kentucky to you today!

I recently had the privilege of spending two nights with my friends at Cynthiana Tourism. While I was familiar with Harrison County on a surface level, I was honored to have the chance to get to know the community through the eyes of the locals.

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Home to many notable Kentuckians — such as Joe B. Hall, a famed University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Coach, and Robert Kirkman, co-creator of the Walking Dead — Cynthiana has permanently placed itself on the radar of all Kentuckians. Upon visiting, you will find that the community has every ounce of small town Kentucky charm that one would imagine it would. Maybe even more, y’all.

I arrived to Cynthiana on Sunday evening. Luckily, my Grandmother Jude and I had the privilege of staying at the Ashford Acres Inn. There’s more information coming soon on Ashford Acres (watch out for that post!); however, I’ll say this — it is a first-rate experience. The setting, charm, details, and food were all spectacular. It was my first time staying at a true bed and breakfast; to say that it was a treat would be a hyperbolic understatement.

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You can visit Ashford Acres Inn at 1801 KY-36, Cynthiana, KY 41031.

The Trip, Day 1: 

Upon waking up on Monday morning, my nose was immediately greeted by glorious smells coming from the kitchen. The meal started with scones and fresh-squeezed orange juice – what a treat (one that you don’t see often enough in Kentucky)! Upon finishing the first installment, the chef at Ashford Acres Inn bought out a dreamy plate of chicken and waffles. A southern classic, it is one of my favorites. However, this was an elevated take on the dish. The chicken was prepared via a three-day process – and it was smack your MeeMaw good. The waffles were herb-infused, which was a first for me. It took a simple, often bland food into a new realm of flavor. Two thumbs up!

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After breakfast, I led a two-hour, intensive Social Media course at the Harrison County Extension Office. This class was brought to the county in collaboration with the Harrison County Tourism Commission and the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce. Seeing each seat filled warmed my heart; attendees were, by and large, business owners in town  — I can’t wait to see what all they will do with their social media presence!

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Post-teaching, I had worked up quite an appetite! Enter: Leono’s. This is your classic local, at-home pizza joint from first glance; however the product that is produced is much, much better. Known for their pan crust pizza, diners having been patronizing this institution for years — and for good reason.

Crispy, nearly fried on the bottom; thick and soft in the middle — that’s what makes pan-crust pizza so special.

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You can visit Leono’s at 253 S Church St., Cynthiana, KY 41031.

Directly after leaving Leono’s, I did a portion of the Historic Church Tour. Cynthiana is proud of their religious history – and for good reason. Their churches are stunning and have so much history! From the tour, I learned a lot about architecture from parishioners; furthermore, the churches were especially beautiful this time of year, since they were decorated for Christmas.

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The Methodist Church is located at 302 E. Pike St., Cynthiana, KY 41031.

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The Cynthiana Christian Church is located at 202 N. Main St., Cynthiana, KY 41031.

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The Episcopal Church (my favorite stop – I’m Episcopalian!) is located at 118 N. Walnut St., Cynthiana, KY 41031.

Next was the Cynthiana Museum. An overarching theme of this trip is the devotion that locals have towards Harrison County. That, to me, is what makes small towns so very special. Inside the doors of the museum, visitors are able to see almost 3,000 community artifacts! This includes items from Cynthiana’s religious, educational, and agricultural history. There are also rooms dedicated to childhood in Cynthiana, daily life, local industries, and more. This is an awesome resource for Harrison County!

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The museum can be visited at 124 S Walnut St., Cynthiana, KY 41031.

My final tour stop of the day was the Rohs Opera House – a stop that I was very much looking forward to! Originally built in 1871 as Aeolian Hall, the modern day Rohs Opera House is a weekend theatre + performance venue for shows from the Rohs Theatre Company. However, the best part? It’s haunted! Having been featured on many “Most Haunted” lists, ghost hunting enthusiasts come from all over to experience the paranormal activity inside the doors of Rohs.

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You can visit Rohs Opera House at 133 E Pike St., Cynthiana, KY 41031.

After a long day of touring, I had to visit my friends at Maiden City Brewing for a beer (or two!). Brewed in Downtown Cynthiana, Maiden City Brewing is a newer addition to the local scene, yet a very special one. Established in 2016, this is the craft beer destination for all beer aficionados. Do not miss it!

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You can visit Maiden City Brewing at 123 E. Pike St., Cynthiana, KY 41031.

Dinner was at Biancke’s, arguably the most known restaurant in the county. Serving up family-style meals for over a decade, Biancke’s is one of Cynthiana’s most beloved, historic businesses. Established in 1894 by Italian immigrants, this is the spot to go to if you want to interact with locals. And, trust me on this – get the fried green tomatoes and a pie topped with their famous meringue!

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Biancke’s is located at 102 S. Main St., Cynthiana, KY 41031.

The Trip, Day 2: 

Breakfast was, once again, held at Ashford Acres Inn. The chef had mentioned the day before that he was going to be pulling out some tricks to make the meal extra special, since it was my last there. What he brought out exceeded any form of preconceived notion that I had. In all honesty, it’s one of the best breakfasts that I have ever had in my life.

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Jude and I started with an open-face omelette with foie gras and truffles. It was as decadent, luxurious, and rich as it sounds – I assure you. A showstopper!

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Next was Eggs Benedict – but, with a twist. Instead of the traditional bacon or ham, the chef used Alaskan King Crab meat. It was gorgeous and finger-lickin’ good, y’all.

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Post-breakfast, my social media tour continued at WCYN. I spent thirty minuets on air with the mayor talking about my class, all things JCP Eats, Kentucky culture, and more. It was my first time doing a live radio show and it was a blast!

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To fuel up for the rest of the day, I then visited the Main Cup. A new coffee shop in town, it has a fantastic mission tied to the neighboring Presbyterian Church. Previously used as their parsonage, I love what they did to the building. It’s quirky, yet cozy – and they are serving up some delicious coffee and treats.

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Be sure to check out the Main Cup at 105 N. Main St., Cynthiana, Kentucky 4103.

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Though it was chilly, I quickly headed off to the Quiet Trails State Nature Preserve. Quiet Trails is a 165 acre area of ridges and ravines – and it’s absolutely stunning. Full of birds, trees, and wildlife, one can truly experience the fauna and flora of the Commonwealth of Kentucky here. For nature enthusiasts, this is a must-see!

Directions:

From Cynthiana, take U.S. 27 north approximately 10 miles. Turn right onto KY 1284, which leads into Sunrise. Continue on Pugh’s Ferry Road after crossing the four-way intersection. The preserve is located on the right, 1.8 miles from the intersection.

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After a morning in nature, I decided to spend the afternoon shopping. The thing that impressed me most with Cynthiana was the robust downtown scene they have. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — there’s nothing like a small town downtown; Cynthiana executes this with high precision. Full of eateries and boutiques, it’s easy to spend an entire afternoon visiting all of the stores.

I used this opportunity to do a lot of my Christmas shopping. This holiday season, do not forget to shop local, y’all. It’s so important!

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Abstract Distractions, 129 E. Pike St., Cynthiana, KY 41031. (Love my new copper bracelet, y’all!)

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Inspired Designs, 134 E. Pike St., Cynthiana, KY 41031.

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Emerson Steel Boutique, 135 E. Pike St., Cynthiana, KY 41031.

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Molly B’s Boutique, 208 E. Pike St., Cynthiana, KY 41031.

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I love to gift Candleberry candles during the holiday (Hot Maple Toddy is my favorite); furthermore, local honey makes a great holiday hostess gift!

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Flower Depot, 208 S. Main St, Cynthiana, KY 41031.

Last, but certainly not least, I had to finish my time in Cynthiana with the Mural Tour. They are plentiful around town, though some of the highlights include the Joe B. Hall Mural, the Mural of Distillery History, and, of course, the Walking Dead Mural.

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These are fantastic photo opportunities to commemorate your trip to Harrison County, y’all.

I cannot thank my friends at Cynthiana Tourism enough for a fabulous trip. If you haven’t been to Cynthiana, or if you aren’t currently planning you’re next trip there, what are you waiting for? Adventure awaits!

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.

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The Southland Neighborhood, Lexington, KY Experience

Hey, y’all!

I recently visited my friends at Visit Lex to check out all that the Southland Neighborhood has to offer. This was a region of Lexington that I was not very familiar with; thus, it was truly an honor and a privilege to dive head-first into the culture.

About Southland:

Largely a residential section of the city, Southland boasts a charm and a devotion that is unique to areas of its nature. The restaurants were full of locals. That, to me, says it all; when in Southland, you are having a truly authentic Lexington experience.

Now, the best part — the food!

Winchell’s

348 Southland Dr., Lexington, KY 40503

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Winchell’s is, without question, an icon of the neighborhood. Having been a part of the Southland community for over 25 years, they have proven to be a casual go-to for Lexingtonians. From grabbing a drink, to boasting well-rounded breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, you should not – if seeking an authentic experience in Fayette County – miss Winchell’s.

Also, biscuits and gravy.

Enough said.

Those are the three words to this country boy’s heart. Winchell’s gravy is smack-your-MeeMaw good – savory, heavy, and beyond flavorful. It’s that old-fashioned gravy that you grew up on – and it doesn’t get much better than that.

Also, might I add: the jalapeño cheese grits are everything that I’ve ever wanted and more.

The Ketch Seafood Grill

2012 Regency Rd., Lexington, KY 40503

Much like Winchell’s, I very much noticed the local devotion to the Ketch when dining. Many of the diners were regulars – that was clear. Conversations were shared between the staff and the patrons; they seemed as if they were friends. In fact, I have no doubt that they were. That is an accolade that cannot and will not, in my book, be overvalued.

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Plus, anywhere that puts Old Bay on their fries is a place for me.

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Willie’s Locally Known

286 Southland Dr., Lexington, KY 40503

*Edited (November 25th, 2018): Willie’s has, unfortunately, closed. I am proud to have dined there!

Willie’s served up some of my favorite food of the day. I have three words for you: pork belly tacos. Enough said, am I right?

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Apart from the trio of tacos that I tasted, The Original Willy’s Pork Burger was a standout. Featuring a pork and beef blend, it boasts a house seasoning, smoked cheddar, pickled onions, house-made pickles, and a Carolina Mustard Sauce. Sound familiar? You’ve likely seen it on the Food Network’s Burgers, Brew, & ‘Que!

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Pietana

210 Rosemont Garden, Lexington, KY 40503

Proudly claiming themselves as Southland’s hole-in-the-wall pizza joint, Pietana is just that. I found the space to be aesthetically pleasing, modern, yet cozy – a balance that is not the easiest to obtain. They use fresh, local ingredients: West 6th’s Amber Ale goes in the dough, the brisket is from the Blue Door, the sausage is from Marksbury Farm (one of my favorites), several meats are from Critchfield, and Winchell’s sausage gravy makes an appearance on the breakfast pizza pies.

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I chose to special order a pizza with prosciutto and arugula. Two thumbs up — a solid choice. The pairing of the two + Pietana’s great base ingredients = magic.

Marikka’s Bier Stube

411 Southland Dr, Lexington, KY 40503

If you ask a Lexingtonian about the institutions that they have great memories connected to, chances are you will commonly hear “Marikkas”.

Marikkas first opened in 1991; given the popularity and size of the original location, the owners knew that they had to expand. The new location is here and it is quite the sight for the eyes! Approximately 22,000 sq. ft., Marikkas has six volleyball courts, a 10,000 sq. ft beer hall, Kentucky’s largest beer selection, a restaurant, and a private party space.

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As one of the region’s only German eateries, Marikkas proudly serves native delicacies such as homemade sausages, wursts, wienerschnitzel, and more. Whether you are venturing into Marikkas to socialize with friends over drinks, spike on your opponent, or to satiate your appetite, take it from me – you won’t regret your visit!

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I cannot thank my friends at Visit Lex enough for this fabulous day. If you haven’t explored the culinary scene in Lexington’s Southland Neighborhood, what are you waiting for? Adventure awaits!

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Morehead, Kentucky Experience

Hey, y’all!

I am so excited to bring the next installment of my guides to the Commonwealth of Kentucky to you today!

I recently had the privilege of spending two days with my friends at Morehead Tourism. My exposure to this small community in Eastern Kentucky was very limited; I was thus honored to have the chance to get to know the community on a deeper level.

Home to Morehead State University, beautiful hills and mountains, a plethora of local businesses, and that Eastern Kentucky charm that I love and is unrivaled — Morehead packs quite the punch. As I have said before, I’m biased towards rural Kentucky; however, when you experience it for yourself, all is understood.

The Trip: 

The moment I arrived to town, I started eating. Name a more iconic start to a trip — I’ll wait.

Now hear me out. I fully contend that an essential part of our culinary scene in Kentucky exists in gas stations. Country ham and biscuit trail, anyone? While hibachi certainly isn’t the norm in this situation, I heard that it was a local favorite. Given the convenience and price point, I can see why!

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You can visit Hibachi Express at 408 Flemingsburg Rd, Morehead, KY 40351.

We then headed to Main St. in Downtown Morehead. Morehead State University runs perpendicular to the street, which certainly boasts a charm. University towns are special – I love seeing the devotion, the pride, and the school colors everywhere.

Our first stop on Main St. was Pasquales — the #1 place that was recommended to me in the community.

Small, quaint, and friendly — that’s how I’d describe it. You order at the counter and the food is brought out to you. It’s a popular spot for pizza and sandwiches; however, the key item on the menu = the cheese fries.

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Y’all, let me tell you. Those cheese fries don’t come to play – they come to conquer. They are huge and perfect to share with a friend!

Also, any restaurant that has Ale-8-One on the fountain is a restaurant for me. God bless Eastern KY!

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 You can visit Pasquales at 182 East Main Street, Morehead, KY 40351.

After a food-packed start, I wanted to sit down with a hot cup of coffee, read the news, and relax with Jude. I always try to seek out a local coffee shop wherever I am. In Morehead, that just so happened to be The Fuzzy Duck. The best coffee in town is here – that’s for certain! I loved the atmosphere – there were professors grading papers, students working in groups, and friends enjoying an afternoon on the town. It was diverse, yet symbiotic – exactly what a small town should be! The Fuzzy Duck has a multitude of sweets to choose from to accompany your coffee; also be sure to visit the bookstore in the back of the building (Coffeetree Books).

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The Fuzzy Duck is located at 159 E Main St, Morehead, KY 40351.

It was a beautiful day in Morehead. The leaves were astoundingly beautiful and the air was crisp, yet not too cold. We decided to walk up to Eagle Lake at the top of Morehead State University’s campus. I’m not going to lie – my jaw dropped a little. To have this lake, especially with the fall backdrop, on campus was so amazing! If I had attended MSU, I’m sure I would have spent many hours reading and studying up there.

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Oceans, ponds, lakes, rivers — you name it. I love being around water. Being at Eagle Lake prompted the next logical visit, Cave Run Lake. But, more on that in a future post… stay tuned!

It was then time to check into the Hampton Inn & Suites; I was greeted at the door, shown to my room, and immediately started getting ready for the next task at hand — dinner!

Jude and I dined at Melini Cucina that evening. The Director of Tourism recommended the manicotti – and for good reason. It was delicious! I also had the mussels, which were a highlight of the trip. One of my favorite foods!

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Melini Cucina is located at 608 E Main St, Morehead, KY 40351.

The next morning started bright and early at Root-A-Bakers, which was the other hotspot that was recommended to me in town. Upon walking in, I understood why.

First and foremost, if it is your first time in the shop, you get a free iced sugar cookie! This is one of their specialities and they are absolutely delicious.

However, my cravings upon seeing the offerings did not stop there. I proceeded to order a muffin, an apple fritter, a sticky bun, Danish Wedding Cookies, their homemade croissants, and spinach dip! They don’t call me JCP Eats for no reason, y’all. Ha!

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The most delicious thing that I consumed in Morehead was the spinach dip. Now, hear me out. I love delicatessen food; it is my favorite! This spinach dip was, arguably, the best that I have ever had. I’m craving it as I type! 

Root-A-Bakers is located at 313 Flemingsburg Rd, Morehead, KY 40351.

For lunch, I had a craving for sushi – thus, we headed to Yamato. Jude tried her first bite of sushi, which was hilarious. Isn’t that what culinary exploration is all about? Finding new towns, new cities, new dishes, new chefs. I was proud to witness the moment!

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Yamato is located at 125 Flemingsburg Rd, Morehead, KY 40351.

After lunch we headed to the Kentucky Folk Art Center. Folk art is one of my favorite things; for those unfamiliar, it is largely art produced by an indigenous culture and/or group of individuals. Eastern Kentucky has some of the best, if I do say so myself – and the Kentucky Folk Art Center is not to be missed. Located in the historic Union Grocery, the FAC hosts a permanent collection of 1,400 pieces; however, the first floor gallery features rotating exhibits.

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The Kentucky Folk Art Center is located at 102 W 1st St, Morehead, KY 40351.

I then hopped over to visit my friends at New Frontier Outfitters. I only recently learned about this KY business; however, let me tell you – they are pushing out amazing products and content. They create clothing gear for your travels and their clothing line truly embodies what I believe in: living well and traveling often. I’m so proud of these young entrepreneurs – people like them make Kentucky the great Commonwealth that it is!

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New Frontier Outfitters is located at 139 E Main St, Morehead, KY 40351 and their collection can be shopped online here.

While on Main St, we stumbled into Holbrook Drug – a highlight of the trip. Bob Holbrook and J.B. Calvert founded the business in 1950 and it has been a mainstay in Morehead ever since. While it is a working pharmacy, they also have a Soda and Fountain Shop located inside. They pride themselves on being a part of Morehead history: they “served ice cream to your parents, your grandparents, and maybe even your great-grandparents from the original soda fountain! With over 32 milkshake flavors, a one-of-a-kind orangeade, and enough homemade fudge flavors to make you want to try each, Holbrook Drug is a one-stop shop for anyone’s sweet tooth!”

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I couldn’t agree more with the above sentiment. It reminded me of the Soda Shop at Grider Drug in Russell Springs, KY – my home. My family owned a couple of businesses on Main St during my childhood; I visited the Soda Shop almost daily and, oh, how I remember those orangeades and those sandwiches! I miss it so very much. Holbrook took me back to my childhood – and for that, I thank them.

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Holbrook Drug is located at 208 E Main St, Morehead, KY 40351.

I cannot thank my friends at Morehead Tourism enough for a fabulous trip. If you haven’t been to Morehead, or if you aren’t currently planning you’re next trip there, what are you waiting for? Adventure awaits!

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.

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The Murray, Kentucky Experience

Hey, y’all!

I am so excited to bring the next installment of my guides to the Commonwealth of Kentucky to you today!

I recently had the privilege of spending two nights with the team at Murray Tourism. It was my first time in this small community in Western Kentucky – however, trust me when I say that there’s a lot of soul and culture packed into Calloway County.

About Murray:

Home to Murray State University, a plethora of restaurants, and the nicest people that you’ve ever met – Murray, KY deserves all of the many accolades that it has received.

Did you know that Rand McNally and USA Today named Murray the Friendliest Small Town In America in 2012? Murray claims to know no strangers – and while I always view statements like that to be superficial, I found it to be a reality.

Being a boy from small town Kentucky, I might be biased. However, while small towns might not have the same amount of activities as cities, there’s something that’s unparalleled about them. There’s a sense of community, a deep friendship, a sense of belonging to something intimate. I thank the people of Murray for inviting me in to experience their version of this experience.

The Trip:

My time in Murray started with a round of golf at Miller Memorial Golf Course. I really enjoyed my round — and it’s not just because I birdied three of the first seven holes. Ha!

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We then headed to Hazel, Kentucky — a magical little town also in Calloway County. It’s a great destination for an afternoon trip, only made better by having lunch at the Blue and White Grill. The street that runs through town is chock-full of antique shops. Don’t miss these! They are full of treasures.

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I then checked into the Hampton Inn and Suites, which is located across from the Murray State Football Stadium. I was welcomed by the manager, shown to my room, and walked in to find a very special, curated basket of goodies to commemorate my trip to Murray.

Southern hospitality was an overarching theme throughout the week, y’all.

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Dinner was at the Keg — a local provider of flavorful meals, inspired by New Orleans cuisine. From steak, to gumbo, to seafood… this is a restaurant not to miss.

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The next morning (well, both mornings!) started bright and early at Rudy’s On The Square. This is your classic, small town diner. However, it’s more than that. It’s historic – and they serve up some delicious eats.

Having originally opened its doors in 1940, Rudy’s is the namesake of Rudy Allbritten, a Murray resident. The iconic restaurant closed, but reopened its doors in 2017 under the same name. They did a fantastic job in keeping the charm and the ambiance.

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One of the most memorable conversations of the trip happened at Rudy’s.

The person that was paying in front of me thanked the cashier. The cashier then responded, “I’ll see you at lunch!”

If that isn’t the epitome of Murray, I don’t know what is.

Jude and I then spent the morning perusing the square – which is SO charming – along with exploring Murray State University.

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Clara M. Eagle Art Exhibit, Murray State University

We needed a mid-morning treat, so we had baked goods from Sammons’ Bakery and coffee from Shaffer Coffee Company! Both were delicious. Sammons’ is a classic in Murray and Shaffer is new to town.

I was impressed by the price point and deliciousness at Sammons’ – we got two treats for $2.50!

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Shaffer was modern and simply stunning. Their beans are locally sourced and they brew each and every cup on a customer-by-customer basis. I could have sipped on coffee all day in there!

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Lunch was at HRH Dumplins, which served arguably my favorite food item of the trip: their rolls! Those homemade yeast rolls are decadent.

Delicious.

Mouthwatering.

I have had incessant dreams about them since I left Murray.

Excuse the dramatization, but they are, simply put, iconic.

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As for the rest of the menu, it boasts comfort food and delicatessen specialities. We tried the specials of the day – Keanu Pasta (yes, named after – and originally served in the Murray location for – Keanu Reeves) and the enchilada soup. Both were delicious. We also had the chicken and dumplings and the chicken tarragon sandwich (one of the best that I have ever had).

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A trip to Dumplins is not complete without their delicious, made in-house cakes and a glass of the fruit tea. Some of the best that I have ever had!

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Dinner was at the Alley, which is an upscale eatery located on top of a bowling alley. It is open only on Friday and Saturday evenings — and they are serving up some serious deliciousness! Don’t miss the filet mignon topped with a bleu cheese butter. Wow!

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They had a fabulous pianist, featuring classics from Sinatra to Fitzgerald, along with some jazz adaptions, such as “Bare Necessities” from the Jungle Book. It really made the evening special!

After dinner, Jude and I attended a Playhouse in the Park show: The Penguin Project Presents “Shrek Jr.” This was the most special part of the trip. This theater project features actors and actresses with disabilities. Y’all – these kids were TALENTED. I was in awe of the production!

Murray is one of only 72 communities in the United States with this project. To say the least, all communities would benefit from the Penguin Project. It changes the lives of these children forever! I’m tearful just reflecting on the experience.

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Full disclosure: we had a second dinner at Murray Country Club after the show – ha! You only live each day once, right?

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Pork belly — divine!

Chef Bradley Thornton invited me in; a local to Murray, he has been a part of many acclaimed culinary scenes. He was the sous chef in Nashville for the opening of Husk, while also earning tenure in Asheville. The food that he is serving out of Murray Country Club isn’t to be missed. It was simply delicious!

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The main activity of my last morning was the Downtown Murray Farmers Market. While it was raining and not all vendors were there due to the weather, it was such a lovely experience!

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At the market, I had many conversations about my love for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, met some amazing farmers, and came back to Louisville with some fantastic produce + extra goodies. If you are in the area, this is the best way to spend your Saturday morning. Don’t miss it!

More on the Farmers Market in a coming post… it was pretty special!

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We couldn’t leave Murray without visiting the famous Dairy Queen – yes, Dairy Queen! It’s unlike most around the world, due to the fact that it is a walk-up! I felt like we were going back in time, which certainly had a nostalgic feeling for my grandmother. We loved it!

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I cannot thank my friends at Murray Tourism enough for a fabulous trip. If you haven’t been to Murray, or if you aren’t currently planning your next trip there, what are you waiting for? This is a small town with a big punch — you won’t regret your trip!

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.

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