Louisville has been on my ‘roadtrip’ list for a while. Yes, I am one of those girls that watches the Kentucky Derby each year and wishes I were there with a big hat and a winning bet. Plus, Louisville is a whiskey town (ok, locals call it bourbon), and when I’m drinking cocktails, the WWG could also stand for the Wandering Whiskey Girl because that typically is my booze of choice. Jameson/Ginger or Jack/Diet, if you please. And my decor these days has been leaning towards the fleur-de-lys, which is on every road sign in Louisville. To say, that Louisville made me feel welcome last weekend is an understatement.
Place to stay: 21c Museum Hotel – About a block from the river, this hotel is the epitome of hip and modern in downtown Louisville. The decor is beautifully sleek and comfortable. Also, the lobby is filled with contemporary art if you want to get your culture on. Other 21c Museum Hotels are located in Bentonville and Cincinnatti if you can’t make it to Louisville soon.
Things to do: Churchill Downs – Get your butt to the races! I’m a huge Kentucky Derby fan so being in this cathedral of racing was amazing. And if you plan your time in Louisville right, you can see some races for a modest price. My travel buddy and I paid $10 a piece in general admission for a Downs After Dark event, which appears to be every Saturday night after the Derby (first Saturday in May) until late June. While the event was nicely attended, we were able to get seats trackside near the finish line (can you imagine what that would cost at the Derby?!), and the Mint Juleps were just as yummy in late June as they would be in early May. Racing comes back in early September. Want to meet me there?
Places to Eat: The WWG ate at two memorable places, one overwhelmingly positive and another mixed. First the mixed:
Hammerheads – this ‘dive’ spot promised great BBQ and fries. The fries were AMAZING! I went with the duck-fat, truffle fries, which were out of the world. So if you love fries, try Hammerheads! The BBQ meat was fantastic, as well, but the BBQ sauce just wasn’t my scene. I’m a thick tomato and molasses-based sauce (more Kansas City style) kind of gal, and this tomato/vinegar-based style sauce underwhelmed me.
Lilly’s – this French bistro rocks! I would return anytime for the phenomenal French fare and excellent wine list. For lunch, I had the trout over cheesy polenta for my main dish. Then, my travel buddy and I tried to share peach melbas (basically, a poached peach over ice cream with raspberry sauce) for dessert, but we wound up needing to order two of them. They were so good! Also, Lilly’s manager appeared excited to let me taste a variety of wines to go with ordered dishes. The highlight for me was the Eola Hills Vin d’Epice’s late harvest Gewurtztraminer (2006 vintage), which was great with the peach melba. Surprisingly, the wine was incredibly elegant and more subtle than expected for a Gewurtz (which can be spicy, oily and overwhelming in table wine form) while still offering beautiful fruit flavors, most notably apricot. Yum, yum, yum! I want to try it with all my peach desserts this summer, including the now classic Grilled Peach dish, which I’ve featured here in the past. The dessert wine is $30 per bottle from the winery if you are looking for a summer dessert wine.