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kentucky food blogger

JCP Eats Visits The Butler County Donut Trail - Holtman’s Donut Shop

Have A Sweet Tooth? Embark On The Butler County Donut Trail!

Hey, y’all!

There are a few foods that permeate the brains of the masses. Pizza. Tacos. Donuts (ps: I am team “doughnuts”; that said, for the sake of this article, “donuts” will be used).

What would you do if I told you that there is an excursion, a trail, dedicated to those of us that appreciate, admire, and lust for donuts? Well, buckle up, my friends – and head on over to visit my friends in Butler County, Ohio!

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Butler County, Ohio is a booming community just north of Cincinnati. Chock-full of art, activities, attractions, and – you guessed it – food, Butler County surpassed all of my expectations upon visiting. Whether you are a family, a solo traveler, a gastronome, or a photographer — there’s something for everyone in the county lines. Take my word for it – it’s my country boy’s honor!

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What You Need To Know Before Embarking On The Donut Trail

Before you embark on the Donut Trail, it is important to first grab your passport. The passport can be downloaded onlinepicked up at the Butler County Visitor’s Bureau, or you can find a copy in any of the donut shops! Finish your passport and get a t-shirt to commemorate the experience. Trust me — all of your friends will be jealous of your new look! Passports can be turned in at the Visitor’s Bureau or can be mailed in at the following address (there is no shipping charge for the shirt!):

Butler County Visitors Bureau

8756 Union Centre Blvd.

West Chester, OH 45069

Another thing to consider upon planning your route is the fact that these shops are small businesses. Be sure to check their Facebook and/or call them for their shop hours/availability. While some shops stay open until the stated times, it is possible that some will close if they sell out (and they will — the product is too delicious not to!). Keep this in mind, plan accordingly, and start early!

The most important thing to remember? Start this journey with a full appetite, a smile, and be prepared to make life-long memories. Food brings us together — I believe that with all of my being.

Donut Stops Along The Trail

(In Random Order – Plan Your Route As It Makes Sense Geographically For You)

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Stan The Donut Man

7967 Cincinnati-Dayton Rd.,West Chester OH 45069

JCP Eats Visits The Butler County Donut Trail - Stan The Donut Man

Stan, Stan, Stan – Stan is the man! At this shop, the Crowe Family has been serving up deliciousness for over 50 years. Known for their cake donuts, be sure to also grab a pineapple fritter!

Martin’s Donuts

4 W. State St., Trenton, OH 45067

JCP Eats Visits The Butler County Donut Trail - Martin’s Donuts

Trust me – the hot pink exterior is 100% an indicator of the experience that you will have at Martin’s. One of the most photogenic buildings on the trail, don’t miss out on snapping a photo outside – while holding your donut! Known for classics, the croissant-style donut was one of my favorites of the entire trail. They also do seasonal specialities, such as a banana pudding donut. Yes, you read that correctly.

JCP Eats Visits The Butler County Donut Trail

Oxford Doughnut Shoppe (optional for the passport)

120 S. Locust St., Oxford, OH 45056

A staple for more than 50 years, Oxford is known for their old-fashioned donuts, which are prepared via kettle frying. Located near Miami University, you won’t want to miss the Red Velvet donut!

The Donut Spot

5148 Pleasant Ave., Fairfield,OH 45014

Open daily at 3 AM (as any donut shop should be, am I right?), this is one of the most popular spots on the Butler County Donut Trail. Be sure to try the cheesecake donuts. I repeat. Cheesecake donuts. You’re welcome.

Jupiter Coffee and Donuts

5353 Dixie Hwy., Fairfield, OH 45014

JCP Eats Visits The Butler County Donut Trail Jupiter Coffee and Donuts

These mouthwatering donuts pair perfectly with their in-house roasted coffees. They are known for their maple donuts (made with real maple syrup from their family farm); I also really enjoyed their pink lemonade donut, which was topped with edible pearls. This is located next to the original Jungle Jim’s – thus, come hungry and ready for adventure!

Mimi’s Donuts and Bakery

2267 Millville Ave., Hamilton, OH 45013

JCP Eats Visits The Butler County Donut Trail - Mimi’s Donuts & Bakery

Mimi’s had the most gorgeous, photogenic donuts of the trail. I couldn’t get over the unicorn sprinkles, y’all! After 30 years in law enforcement, Mimi knows a thing or two about donuts – and it shows! She was the kindest, most conversational woman – I left wanting her to be my MiMi!

Kelly’s Bakery

1335 Main St., Hamilton, OH 45013

JCP Eats Visits The Butler County Donut Trail - Kelly’s Bakery

Another one of my favorite stops on the trail, be sure to try one of the buckeye donuts! They are write your MeeMaw good, as I like to say. This shop is also known for other unique flavors such as fruity pebbles, maple bacon, and s’mores!

JCP Eats Visits The Butler County Donut Trail - Mimi’s Donuts & Bakery

Ross Bakery

1051 Eaton Ave., Hamilton, OH 45013; 4421 Hamilton Cleves Rd. Ste. 4, Hamilton,

OH 45013

JCP Eats Visits The Butler County Donut Trail - Ross Bakery

The only bakery on the trail with two locations, Ross Bakery has been serving delicious, fried donuts for over 30 years. Known for their classic glazed, be sure to grab one – however, don’t shy away from more unique offerings, such as the “Klunker”, a local delight.

Holtman’s Donut Shop

9558 Civic Centre Blvd., West Chester, OH 45069

Donuts covered in cereal (Lucky Charms, for example), bacon, and marshmallow crème – be sure to pack your camera for the beautiful creations at Holtman’s! Upon walking in the space, you can always watch the process of making/decorating the donuts through their glass windows, which was a hit for many in the space.

Milton’s Donuts

3533 Rosevelt Blvd., Middletown, OH 45044

JCP Eats Visits The Butler County Donut Trail - Milton’s Donuts

A fan favorite since 1970, prepare yourself for a melt-in-your-mouth classic glazed donut at Milton’s. Or an Oreo donut. You choose. Either way, you’ll be smilin’ from ear to ear.

Central Pastry Shop

1518 Central Ave., Middletown, OH 45044

JCP Eats Visits The Butler County Donut Trail - Central Pastry Shop

Another favorite of mine on the trail, Central Pastry Shop is a full-service bakery. From classic donuts, to fritters, to cookies, to speciality breads, to their famous “uglies”, and the seasonal Paczki — be prepared to fill a box full at this location!

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Adventure awaits in Butler County, Ohio — come hungry for some delicious donuts and don’t forget that passport, y’all!

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

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post on behalf of Butler County Visitor’s Bureau; however, as always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Shelbyville Horse Show Jubilee Breakfast - JCP Eats

A Kentucky Tradition: The 2019 Shelbyville Horse Show Jubilee Breakfast

Hey, y’all!

One of my favorite hobbies is the act of collecting experiences here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. And my, oh my, have I had a new one!

Last week I was invited to attend the 2019 Shelbyville Horse Show Jubilee Kickoff Breakfast. Located at stunning Undulata Farm, this was a celebration — one with food, with music, with community, and with Saddlebreds! It doesn’t get much more Kentucky than that.

It was a first-class event, though I wouldn’t expect anything less from the Saddlebred Capital of the World.

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The breakfast was chock-full of southern specialities: sausage, biscuits, gravy, and quiche; they were served alongside sweets, fresh fruit, and typical breakfast beverages.

My favorite part, however, was that we dined inside of a horse barn and had Saddlebreds going around our tables! It was a beautiful setting and an even more beautiful experience.

Among the crowd were senators, mayors, commissioners, and other dignitaries; however, the most important attendees, in my opinion, were the Shelby County farmers + those in the horse industry.

Those individuals are my kind of people — the hardworking Kentuckians that ensure that we perpetuate our agricultural legacy here in Kentucky.

Whether it’s a horse farm, corn, tobacco, cows, or hemp — we, myself included, are Kentucky Proud. That’s something to celebrate and honor, y’all.

This was my first time attending this breakfast and it certainly won’t be my last. I will also be attending the Shelbyville Horse Show for the first time this weekend – and I’m so excited!

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The Shelbyville Horse Show – located at the Shelbyville Fairgrounds – is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year.

That, my friends, is a legacy – a staple in the community – which is clear upon chatting with any local or industry professional.

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I value tradition; and if you do as well, please join me! Occurring from July 31st – August 3rd at the Shelby County Fairgrounds, from 7-9 PM, the Shelbyville Horse Show is a summer event not to be missed!

Note: I will be attending on Friday, August 2nd!

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Shelby County is a Kentucky treasure. While in town, don’t miss out on the plethora of local shops, boutiques, businesses, and restaurants. There are many guides located here on my website – just search for them.

I just know that y’all will love Shelby County as much as I do!

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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; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

An Evening At Keeneland: The Paddock Dinner Series

Hey, y’all!

I recently had the chance to drive over to Lexington and spend an evening with my friends at Keeneland. Keeneland has been a large part of my life for as long as I can remember – from the time that I lived in Russell County, to college memories while at Centre, to days spent at the races as a twenty-something postgraduate. However, this was my first time attending a dinner on the immaculate grounds — and let me tell you: the Paddock Dinner Series was something to write home to your MeeMaw about!

Founded in 1936, Keeneland’s mission is to continually invest in the equine industry and to preserve the tradition of Thoroughbred racing. To merely say that they have accomplished this would be gross understatement; they are a world-renowned racecourse – a fact that we, as Kentuckians, should be immensely proud of. I would also argue that Keeneland serves as a meeting ground, an oasis of southern culture; there’s no place quite like it in the Commonwealth, or anywhere, as far as I am concerned.

The Paddock Dinner Series is held three times in the summer: once in May, once in June, and once in July. It typically occurs outside in the paddock, as the name would suggest. However, if you have been in Kentucky at any point during this year, you are well-aware of the fact that we have dealt with an immense amount of rain. That was the case on the evening of the dinner — however, it was moved into a gorgeous banquet room overlooking the paddock and it was just as gorgeous!

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

While the dinner was held inside, we were able to have the cocktail hour outside on the paddock, which was a treat.

The evening started off with some Citrus-Braised Carnitas Cones, which featured smashed avocado and a lime emulsion (I loved the presentation!), and Watermelon Ginger Elixirs, which were garnished with cherries and bourbon sugar.

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

The cocktail hour also wouldn’t have been complete without a bourbon + gin-based cocktail. Both were fabulous!

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

Once seated inside, my friend Jackie and I quickly started making new friends at the table. The meal was served family-style, as it was one long table subdivided into groupings of eight. This made the evening very intimate and personal, which I loved. And while family-style dining is casual, this dinner was both elegant and approachable — an intersection that isn’t easy to achieve.

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

Our meal started with Torched Hamachi, which was flown in that day from Hawaii and featured Japanese cucumber, young ginger, and a bourbon shoyu. I wish I could explain, in words, just how decadent this was. Y’all will just have to take my word for it.

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

Next came the Summer Melon, which was accompanied by grilled peaches, garden mint, marinated feta, and a warm cucumber vinaigrette. I could have quite honestly devoured the entire platter. In the same course was the Keeneland Cured Duck Ham, which was duck prepared in the style of country ham with chicory, smoked salt, and a blackberry chardonnay gastrique. All I can say is that it was exquisite — and unlike anything that I have had before. Two thumbs up.

After the Keeneland Cured Duck Ham, my favorite course came to the table: Country Style Slow-Braised Veal Short Ribs, which had a celery root mash, golden oyster mushrooms, and a glace de viande. They were so, so tender — and nearly melted in your mouth. With one bite, I asked a tablemate to pass the platter back to me.

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

It would be erroneous to forgo bragging on the Butler Farms Cherry-Smoked Lemon Chicken course, which had a dill pickle relish, carmelized young leeks, and bacon jam. This was definitely a table favorite.

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

The sides stood up to the main courses, as the staff quickly brought out Pan Roasted Market Vegetables – rainbow carrots, mustard greens, beets – and Duck Fat Marble Potato Confit, which had a garlic scape pesto & was flavored by port wine salt. Need I say more?

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

Well, actually I want to say more, but just one word: dessert.

Dessert was a Blueberry Madeline Trifle, which was eloquently topped with 18 yr. old balsamic, country créme, and a mint gremolata. Sweet, but not overly so — the perfect ending to a fabulous meal.

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

The Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KYThe Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

Hosted by Executive Chef Marc Therrien, I found the Paddock Dinner Series at Keeneland to be a decadent display of locally-sourced cuisine, elevated concepts, and beautifully-crafted cocktails. Apart from that, it was an evening of socialization — memories were made with old friends, new friends were made, and the accompanying live music was the perfect touch.

The standout aspect, apart from the food, was the setting. It doesn’t get much better than Keeneland – and I do hope that you will take advantage of future events on the grounds. Be sure to keep up with their announcements + act quickly — ticketed events sell out fast!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) at the Paddock Dinner Series, Keeneland, Lexington KY

Until next time, Keeneland — I’ll see y’all at Railbird + at the fall meet!

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

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

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

 

The 502 Bar and Bistro, Norton Commons, Louisville, KY

Louisville Dining: The Summer Menu at The 502 Bar and Bistro

Hey, y’all!

It should come as no secret that I am a fan of Chef Ming Pu of the 502 Bar and Bistro, a fabulous restaurant nestled in the beautiful Norton Commons community in Jefferson County; to read my most recent menu review of the restaurant, click here.

One of my favorite things about Chef Pu is that he rotates the menu seasonally, utilizing and sourcing local meats, produce, and more. The culinary industry is built upon the shoulders of our local farmers — and I appreciate, more than anything, restaurants and chefs that pay homage to that in their menus.

The summer menu at the 502 Bar & Bistro was, as expected, fantastic. I went in with high expectations, because I know what Chef is capable of; however, once again, the depths of the flavor profiles + beautiful plating surpassed all of my preconceived hopes (and more).

My friend Shelby, who joined me for dinner, was equally impressed!

Eating Chef Pu’s food is an experience — the gorgeous setting (and patio, don’t miss it this season!), the cocktails, the transition between menu courses — and one that I greatly respect as a connoisseur of both the Louisville + Kentucky food scenes.

Now, to the best part — my recent dining experience!

The 502 Bar & Bistro

10401 Meeting St, Prospect, KY 40059

There’s no better way to start a meal on the patio than with a cocktail. Whether it’s a classic gin and tonic (my go-to), sangria, or a bourbon concoction — you can’t go wrong.

I started my meal with Asian-influenced short ribs — flavorful, well-prepared, and the perfect portion to kick off the evening.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) at The 502 Bar and Bistro, Norton Commons, Louisville, KY

Next came the mussels, which are always a favorite of mine at the 502 Bar & Bistro. The tomato-based broth was so delicious that I didn’t want to leave a drop behind!

Another highlight? The baguette used for dipping, which is house-made and has small pieces of country ham baked into it. Yes, you read that correctly. Divine.

The 502 Bar and Bistro, Norton Commons, Louisville, KY

The last course before the main entrées came out was arguably my favorite. This beautiful, hand-crafted pasta was tossed in a ramp pesto with snow peas.

As much as I love pasta, it can often be too heavy – especially if it is not the main course. That said, Chef Pu executed this dish expertly: while the pasta was filling, the sauce and nature of the dish made it seem light and fresh. That is a feat in and of itself.

The 502 Bar and Bistro, Norton Commons, Louisville, KY

Now, the main courses!

Don’t even get me started on the glaze on this pork chop, y’all. Simply finger-lickin’ good. Generous in size, it was balanced by the accompanying succotash and grits, which were jam-packed with flavor (and the drippings from the meat – yum!).

The 502 Bar and Bistro, Norton Commons, Louisville, KY

My favorite entrée of the evening was, hands down, the chicken (sourced from Joyce Farms). Perfectly cooked, it was joined by another portion of the ramp pesto, beet gnocchi (the best!), and beautifully roasted carrots.

This is a dish that will wow even the toughest of critics — that I assure y’all.

The 502 Bar and Bistro, Norton Commons, Louisville, KY

Dessert? Yes, please! The summer menu features a new key lime pie, which is an all-time favorite of mine. However, don’t miss out on their high-end, delectable chocolates, which are made each day in-house. They are the best that I’ve had in the city!

The 502 Bar and Bistro, Norton Commons, Louisville, KY

You must visit Chef Pu and indulge in his creations; do tell ’em that I sent ya!

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

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

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

 

 

 

 

Ditto’s Grill in the Highlands, Louisville, KY

Where To Eat In Louisville: Dittos Grill

Hey, y’all!

There are few things that I love more than the Louisville food scene. It’s where I largely got my start as a food writer; that said, it’s still where my heart is, as I still proudly live in Louisville and I don’t have plans to leave.

While I love the scene as a whole, there’s something even more special about finding a new-to-me restaurant. It doesn’t happen that often, as you might imagine, but when it does… it’s special. That recently happened at Dittos Grill.

Dittos has been a staple in the Louisville dining scene for decades; conveniently located on Bardstown Rd, Dittos plates up delicious, globally-inspired dishes in the popular Highlands Neighborhood of the city.

I am often skeptical of menus that feature a wide variety of cuisines; however, without hesitation, I can say that Dittos executes their menu seamlessly. In my opinion, it’s because they share my philosophy on food: simple dishes elevated by excellent ingredients.

Dittos rotates their featured menu on a monthly basis; whenever visiting, I highly recommend that you order off of it! On my recent visit, I started with the street tacos: stir fry chicken, mushrooms + bamboo shoots, rice noodles, diced cucumber, avocado, salsa verde and crispy noodles. Two thumbs up!

Ditto’s Grill in the Highlands, Louisville, KY

Next came the stacked ribs: two pounds of ribs, dry rub, and tobacco onions, served with a loaded baked potato. Disclaimer: I am generally not a fan of ribs, nor do I enjoy eating off of a bone. That said, I devoured these! They were moist and flavorful – oh, and the portion was huge!

Between courses (and, well, before and after, too!), don’t miss out on their cocktail menu. It’s all-encompassing, with an offering for any palate. Dining on the patio, on a beautiful, warm day, I decided to go with the white sangria — and it was so delicious! Definitely one of my favorite summertime drinks, y’all.

Ditto’s Grill in the Highlands, Louisville, KY

My third course? Dittos Sizzling Southwest Fajitas, my favorite course of the meal. The fajitas come with your choice of chicken breast, hanger steak, or shrimp on a bed of Spanish rice with sautéed onions and peppers. On the side, you’ll find shredded lettuce, tomato salsa, guacamole, shredded cheese, and flour tortillas. This is SO much food, y’all – and I love the build-it-yourself concept. 10/10 recommend.

Ditto’s Grill in the Highlands, Louisville, KY

After talking to the chef and one of the owners, the topic of soup somehow surfaced at the table. I was talking about how much I love creamy tomato soup, as it is my favorite comfort food. Immediately, he sent out for a bowl of his tomato soup for me to try. It was, to understate, the best that I’ve ever had. Creamy – and full of lemon and ginger – it was delightful.

Ditto’s Grill in the Highlands, Louisville, KY

Last – but certainly not least – was dessert. Dittos is known for their pies & sweets, and upon tasting them, I understand why. I sampled both the key lime pie (a favorite of mine) + the featured cobbler. As a Southern Kentuckian, I take cobbler very seriously and hold it to a high standard. Their cobbler rivaled any that I’ve sampled out of a cast iron skillet, which is an accolade that I was not planning to give.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) at Ditto’s Grill in the Highlands, Louisville, KY

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) at Ditto’s Grill in the Highlands, Louisville, KY

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Dittos has a large menu, perfect for any diner or dining companion. I’m excited to explore it more myself. That said, everything that I sampled (read: devoured) was top-notch.

Also of note are the affordable prices. Lower than I expected, with portions that were larger than expected, it was a pleasant surprise, given the quality of the food. There’s also another deal that I want to mention: the 2 for $42 deal! The Dittos for Two menu allows guest to share an appetizer, order two entrees, and share a dessert – all for $42! That is one of the best deals that I’ve seen in the city!

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My experience at Dittos could not have been better. Delicious food, great company, and fantastic service. Oh, and if you’re like me and enjoy dining on the patio, you can bring your dog!

Ditto’s Grill in the Highlands, Louisville, KY

Visit Dittos Grill:

1114 Bardstown Rd., Louisville, KY 40204

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.

 

 

Brick + Mortar Coffeehouse in Simpsonville, Shelby County, KY

Coffee in Simpsonville, KY: Brick + Mortar

Hey, y’all!

There’s nothing that I love more than exploring new-to-me places in the Commonwealth; and if you’re a regular around these parts – my nook and cranny of the Internet – you know that my favorite Kentucky road trip destination is nearby Shelby County, KY.

Shelby County is chock-full of activities. It’s hard to beat an afternoon (or the delicious corn!) from Gallrein Farms. Maybe you want to have a cocktail + tour the Jeptha Creed facility. Like antiques? Look no further than Wakefield-Scearce! Love wine? Talon Winery is delicious! If it’s time to shop, there’s no better place than the Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass! Oh, and don’t get me started on the Saddlebred farms — there’s a reason Shelbyville is the Saddlebred Capital of the World!

The commonality between all of those activities? You’ll need an energy boost to get through it all and there’s no better place to get it than with a cup of coffee at Brick + Mortar Coffeehouse!

Brick + Mortar Boutique and Coffeehouse

6999 Shelbyville Rd.

Simpsonville, KY 40067

Brick + Mortar Coffeehouse in Simpsonville, Shelby County, KY

Brick + Mortar Coffeehouse in Simpsonville, Shelby County, KY

Located in picturesque Simpsonville, Brick + Mortar is everything that a small-town coffee shop should be: quaint, quiet, welcoming, and above all else, delicious.

I found the menu to be all-encompassing; there’s truly something for everyone! From hot teas, lattes, mochas, macchiatos, americanos, and espresso to chai tea lattes, cold brew, and frappes – I’m excited to go back and complete my quest of drinking my way through the menu.

Brick + Mortar Coffeehouse in Simpsonville, Shelby County, KY

I implore that you come to Brick + Mortar parched, ready for a drink; however, additionally, come hungry — you’ll love their food offerings!

Start your morning with toast + jam, granola + yogurt, or a power smoothie. Or, if you’re like me, the Elvis Presley — which is a grilled sandwich made with fresh bread, peanut butter, bananas, and local honey. The sandwich is a favorite flavor combination of mine — one that is simplistic, reminiscent of childhood, and one that will always be held near and dear to my heart.

Brick + Mortar Coffeehouse in Simpsonville, Shelby County, KY

In for lunch or later on during the day? Try one of their four signature paninis: ham + cheese, turkey + cheese, pizza, and grilled cheese. Apart from that, you can choose from a  range of sandwiches, such as chicken salad, tuna salad, pimento cheese, and a classic PB&J (with the option to upgrade to almond butter).

Brick + Mortar Coffeehouse in Simpsonville, Shelby County, KY

Oh, and did I mention the cookies, pound cakes, and other various pastries? I’ve never met a carbohydrate that I didn’t adore, y’all.

Brick + Mortar Coffeehouse in Simpsonville, Shelby County, KY

Each table was graced with a vase of fresh flowers, a fabulous touch by my standards. Additionally, the atmosphere of the shop was very conducive to working: it was bright, airy, and comfortable.

While there, I spent a couple of hours catching up on email, working on blog posts, and reading over contracts. After glancing at the clock, I realized that time had passed faster than I could’ve imagined; that, to me, was a sign that I was working in the right space.

Last but not least, Brick + Mortar has an attached boutique! Don’t miss out on their inventory, y’all — there were so many things that needed to come home with me!

Eat, work, shop — that’s the trifecta in my world.

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Adventure awaits in Shelby County, KY — 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 Itinerary For A Visit To Hart County, KY

Hey, y’all!

It’s no secret that I adore Central Kentucky. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Call me biased, sure — but, I believe it with my entire being. One of the best places to visit? Well, with my friends in Hart County, of course!

I hope y’all enjoy this guide that I’ve crafted; from sunrise to sundown, there’s so much fun to be had on this Kentucky Getaway!

 

 

Doughnuts at R&S Salvage Grocery & Bakery

235 Irvin Cemetery Rd., Horse Cave, KY 42749

There’s no better place to start your day than at R&S Salvage Grocery and Bakery. First and foremost, a warning: this place is HUGE! You could spend a good chunk of your morning wandering up and down the aisles — and if you have time, I recommend it. Among the inventory, you’ll see familiar brands and items; however, without hesitation, I can say that you will find many items that you didn’t know you wanted to try, but you will be so glad that you did.

 

 

While the groceries are great, the highlight is the bakery. Owned and operated by the local Amish community, these sweets are the real deal, y’all. Steps away from the case, one can see the young women working hard to make each treat — and, if I do say so myself, the smell is intoxicating. Both the doughnuts and the fried pies are glorious, all while being extremely inexpensive. My best tip? Come early — they sell out fast!

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Hart County (Horse Cave), KY

Side note: All small towns have a local watering hole where people hang out. In Horse Cave, that’s the bookstore — and I was lucky enough to take some doughnuts and fried pies to share with the morning crowd. These men, quite literally, solved the world’s problems around that wood table. That, to me, is Kentucky. Kind, genuine people — it was very reminiscent of my hometown. I am so appreciative that they allowed me to be their guest.

Explore Hidden River Cave

119 W. Main St., Horse Cave, KY 42749

Amazingly located in downtown Horse Cave (I couldn’t believe the location – it’s literally in the middle of town!), Hidden River Cave is a gem of our state. This was my first time visiting and I left in disbelief that I hadn’t been sooner! From the American Cave Museum, to an amazing zipline, to rappelling — adventure awaits at Hidden River Cave!

Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Oh, and it’s a fantastic photo opportunity!

Shop Locally

Downtown Horse Cave, KY 42749

After exploring Hidden River Cave, don’t miss out on the plethora of shops that downtown Horse Cave has to offer.

Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

From A Walk Through Time, to Geega’s, to Nana’s (love her!), to Caveland Antiques, to All Things By Mel, to Sims Studio and Art Shop — you’re sure to leave with a shopping bag or three (trust me on that one!).

Shopping in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Have Lunch At A Local Eatery

I couldn’t just choose one lunch in Horse Cave (and, if you’re like me, you’ll hit them both up!). That said, hear me out — they are two totally different experiences and I know you’ll be pleased by choosing either.

5 Broke Girls

904 E. Main St., Horse Cave, KY 42749

5 Broke Girls is self-described as homestyle cookin’ with a Texas twist — and with one bite, you might just be yee-hawin’!

From the southern hospitality, to the mason jars, to the chive biscuits, you’re in for a treat at 5 Broke Girls. But, don’t take your eyes off of the prize — the food. Chicken fried chicken (Praise the Lord, Hallelujah!), chicken fried steak, ham, fried okra… need I say more?

Food at 5 Broke Girls in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Food at 5 Broke Girls in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Food at 5 Broke Girls in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Oh, and don’t forget about dessert!

Food at 5 Broke Girls in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

WigWam General Store

7015 S Jackson Hwy., Horse Cave, KY 42749

This is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Kentucky cuisine. Fine dining is great — and as y’all know, I enjoy it regularly. That said, the culinary scene of Kentucky should be defined by what the people eat. The average Kentuckian. What I grew up eating. And what is that, you ask?

Fried bologna. Pimento Cheese. Country Ham. Soup Beans. Cornbread. Garden-fresh produce. Wilted Lettuce. Sweet Tea.

WigWam General Store, Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Upon opening the door to the WigWam General Store, I knew that I was in the right place. A place reminiscent of my childhood. Sweet tea out of a plastic pitcher (and it’s damn good, y’all). Seats at the counter, much like those at my favorite Main St. eatery growing up. Having lunch at the WigWam General Store should be on your Kentucky Bucket List — trust me, y’all.

 

 

Visit Dennison’s Roadside Market

5824 S. Jackson Hwy (US 31E), Horse Cave, KY 42749

Sweet strawberries, fresh produce, Kentucky Proud goods, a family-owned farm — need I say more?

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Hart County (Horse Cave), KY

I wrote an entire post about how much I love Dennison’s. You can read that post here.

 

 

The synopsis? If Dennison’s isn’t on your itinerary, brainstorm again, my sisters and brothers!

Pet a Kangaroo at Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo

3700 L&N Turnpike Rd., Horse Cave, KY 42749

Yes, we have kangaroos in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. And Sloths. And Lorries. And Camels. And a plethora of other beautiful, extremely fascinating creatures — all of which can be found at the Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo.

 

 

I can’t ignore a favorite childhood story of mine here. My grandmother, the late Linda Sullivan, was a very crafty woman. One Halloween, most likely to appease her animal-obsessed grandson, she made me a kangaroo costume. It was a full-body suit — complete with a pouch (in which I carried a Beanie Baby kangaroo!).

I’ve always had a fascination with kangaroos — and that costume was one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received. I wore it multiple times/week after Halloween (much to the chagrin of my family, I’m sure)… I only stopped wearing it when I outgrew the costume.

JC Phelps (JCP Eats) in Hart County (Horse Cave), KY

Seeing live kangaroos for the first time at the Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo was, simply put, amazing. It took me straight back to that moment — to those precious memories with my Nanny — and for that, I will always be thankful. From petting a joey (with the guided assistance of the fabulous zookeeper), to feeding the ‘roos, to posing for photos… it was an unforgettable experience.

 

 

There’s so much to do at Kentucky Down Under — come ready to allocate appropriate time to see it all. You’ll be amazed, just as I was. Oh, and if you’re hungry for a snack (no judgement here!), their on-site eatery serves up some delicious, inexpensive comfort food. Sloppy joes, quesadillas, burgers, fresh fruit — it was all delicious.

There’s also a fudge counter in the gift shop!

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At this point, I know y’all will want to freshen up. If staying overnight, which I recommend, a convenient hotel is the Holiday Inn Express. I loved how close it was to downtown — and it’s right across the road from Kentucky Down Under!

Holiday Inn Express

750 Flint Ridge Rd., Horse Cave, KY 42749

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Another trip tip? If you need to stop at a rest stop, don’t miss out on the two in Horse Cave. As odd as it sounds, they are some of the nicest that I have ever visited. They see major foot traffic each year — seven digits — and upon stopping, you’ll see why.

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Enjoy Dinner At Turtlelini’s Pizza and Pasta

103 S Dixie St., Horse Cave, KY 42749

Turtlelini’s is a local favorite. The staff is friendly, the restaurant is homey, and dinner crowd was well-attended. While I don’t know this to be certain, I’d be willing to bet that the people that I saw inside were regulars. Always go where the locals go.

Turtlelini’s in Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

Pizza at Turtlelini’s is comprised of fresh, house-made dough + a seasoned sauce that is blended in the kitchen. It’s SO delicious — as are the cheese sticks! Don’t miss those. I’m drooling at the memory…

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As I always say, adventure awaits in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Even more true is that adventure awaits in beautiful Hart County!

Horse Cave, Hart County, KY

What are you waitin’ for? Go out and explore, y’all!

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 expressed are my own.

 

 

 

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