Thursday, January 26, 2017

Arriving in Kentucky

This past October, one of my life long dreams came true, I took a trip to see the one and only Nashville, Tennessee! I had been dying to go there for years, it was the the number one item on my life bucket list! But it gets better, our trip wasn't just to Tennessee, we also got to explore Kentucky and a little bit of North Carolina, two beautiful states I also hadn't ever been too before. It was an amazing trip full of learning about the cultures of these different states.

Our adventure began in Louisville, Kentucky. I admit, I knew very little about Kentucky before this trip and I had no idea what to expect. After visiting for only three days, I now know Kentucky is FUN! I loved this part of our trip, they have a very rich and fun culture and personality down there in Kentucky. During our time in Louisville, we were extremely lucky to be able to stay at the gorgeous and historic Brown Hotel. The hotel opened in 1923 and managed to stay open even through the depression in the 1930s.

We arrived at The Brown just before dinner time, so we dropped off our bags in our rooms, freshened up a bit then headed down to The English Grill. I ordered the pork chops and it was probably one of my favorites meals of my life, it was so delicious. The pork chops were cocoa crusted and came atop warm, spiced apple butter with a bourbon, blueberry, coffee dipping sauce on the side. The chops were accompanied by bourbon maple glazed baby heirloom carrots and Brussels sprouts in bacon brown sugar noisette. There were so many flavors, and they were all so rich and blended perfectly.

For dessert I ordered the chocolate strip tease, so scandalous! When it was placed before me, the server lighted the chocolate ball on top of the dessert with a match and we all watched as the chocolate walls slowly fell, or were stripped away ....

Then it was time for bed in this wonderfully comfortable room.

We had a day to ourselves before we met up with the rest of the tour so we began our free day with breakfast at the hotel, we all couldn't resist ordering the extremely famous Hot Brown sandwich. This open faced turkey sandwich was created at the Brown Hotel in 1926 by chef Fred Schmidt and it has become Louisville's culinary legend. Hot Browns are served all over the city, but nothing beats eating one at the Brown Hotel, everyone says they are by far the best.

This meal has been featured on numerous cooking and food network shows, and it really is as delicious as all the hype suggests. All three of us were blown away! It's comprised of thick Texas toast and roasted turkey, topped with a special mornay sauce (butter, heavy cream and cheese) and two slices of crispy bacon. It was heaven in my mouth!

Then we were off to explore the city! This statue stands outside our hotel, it's of J. Graham Brown, the wealthy business man that built this historic hotel and his loyal dog, Woozem.

We decided to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, about a block away from the museum we started seeing these plaques about famous Baseball players with a bronze statue of the kind of bat they used.

We first went on a tour of the factory and learned all about how the bats are made as well as interesting facts, like how many bats each player orders for a season, it's a lot. Pictures aren't allowed on the factory tour, so I found some on the internet, there aren't a lot of pictures out there of the factory.

The tour was fascinating, I learned so much about baseball and all the different styles of bats, I had no idea there were so many kinds of bats. At the end of the tour, everyone got to pick out their own, mini, Louisville Slugger, it was the perfect memento.

After the tour, we explored the museum for a bit

There was a large Ripley's Believe it or Not exhibit that had some interesting things. I especially loved learning the origin of Babe Ruth's nickname, The Sultan of Swat, after growing up watching The Sandlot. "The Sultan of Swat?!"

This was Mom's favorite, a baseball stadium built entirely out of toothpicks.

A bear made out of pine needles

A peacock made out of straws

After we had covered the museum and the gift shop, we slowly strolled back to the hotel, exploring a few shops on our way. Horses are a big emblem of this city, for obvious reasons, so there are horse statues everywhere. This was one of my favorites.

We stopped in the cutest boutique store that had an eclectic collection of whimsical treasures. I ended up with a couple of prints of victorian dressed animals on pages from books. I also really loved these plates

Our next stop was at one of the best candy shops in the city, Art Eatables. We had been told we needed to try Kentucky's famous Bourbon Balls while in Louisville and this shop was the best place to get them. The gal running the store made a batch of Bourbon Balls fresh for us! We found a few other treats we wanted to try as well.

We got a box of Maker's Mark Mint Julip truffles since mint julips are the unofficial official speciality drink of Kentucky ;)

That night we had cocktails and dinner with our new tour director and the other members of our Bluegrass and Blue Mountains tour. We made sure to have a sweet treat before heading to bed, we had quite a few to choose from.

 Our first stop on our tour was Churchill Downs! Pics from that adventure up next.

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