Duck-at-Room-39

As many of you know, my husband Robert and I are on a road trip adventure. We are introducing the cookbook to retailers in the Midwest and South as we we work our way to New Jersey to pick up our new airstream trailer!

 airstream-exterior

We’ve now been on the road for 5 days; here is a synopsis (I will try to post more often so the posts aren’t as long as this one!):

Day 1 (Wednesday) was all about driving – 10 hours, including stops for gas and lunch – to get from Denver to Kansas City. I posted a few pictures on Facebook yesterday, from Eastern Colorado and mid-Kansas. Both looked pretty much the same – flat, straight road (I-70) with fields as far as the eye can see. In CO, it was fields filled with cattle (and towns with names like Bovina) and in Kansas it was field after field of corn.

We arrived in Kansas City just in time to have dinner at a fabulous restaurant called Room 39. Small space, wonderful atmosphere, excellent service – and outstanding food. We originally wanted to go for BBQ (after all, isn’t that what Kansas City is known for?) but then we stumbled across this place and decided to go for it. First, we had to have a martini –we had read that the GM Andrew made “one of the best”. At Andrew’s recommendation, we chose a local “earth friendly” vodka, 360 (brewed in Missouri) and we weren’t disappointed. Definitely add this one to your list, as it was delicious!

We opted for the 4-course tasting menu, for a whopping $39/person and we could pick what we wanted for each course. Our favorites: the Pan Roasted Duck Breast with wild rice pilaf, sautéed Tuscan kale, and roasted beets (see photo below); and the Alaskan Halibut with spring onion flan, local corn and squash with fine herb beurre blanc (it was so good I consumed it before I could photograph it!).

 Duck-at-Room-39

Day 2 (Thursday) began in Kansas City with a delicious breakfast at Classic Cup Café with good friend Rich Fickle (who was nice enough to let us stay at his apartment for the night). Another great KC restaurant – loved the eggs benedict. The rest of the day was spent calling on retailers. The first place we went was Rainy Day Books – a fabulous independent bookstore that is nationally known as one of the best. The owner, Vivien Jennings, was extremely kind and helpful and provided me with several great promotional ideas – and she is going to carry A Well-Seasoned Kitchen! So if you live in KC – or know someone who does – tell them to go there!

Evening of day 2 we arrived in St. Louis, late and tired so a simple dinner at Chilis in our hotel was all we were up to.

Day 3 (Friday) was spent calling on retailers in St. Louis and the main independent bookstore, Left Bank Books, is going to carry A Well-Seasoned Kitchen. Tell your friends!

That afternoon we drove to Louisville, KY and arrived just in time to have a yummy dinner at our hotel, the Brown – a historic establishment known for creating the Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich. I wrote about this Kentucky delicacy in my column on www.gabbygourmet.com around a year ago and will repost that article again so anyone who missed it can have the recipe! We didn’t opt for Hot Browns for dinner, saving that for lunch the next day. Dinner in the English Grill in the hotel was very good – my favorite was George’s Bank Cod served with sweet potatoes, corn, brussel sprouts and Kentucky ham ragout with a red curry sauce. Delish! Their Derby Pie was just so-so – mom’s is much better (recipe in the book)!

Day 4 (Saturday) was a combination of calling on retailers and touring Louisville. I have to start by mentioning our Kentucky Hot Browns at lunch, which were delicious but oh, so filling. Urp!

Kentucky-Hot-Brown-Sandwich

My mom (and co-author of A Well-Seasoned Kitchen) grew up in Louisville, living there until she was 18. Mom’s childhood friend Doris Southworth (who lives in Denver now) told me where to find the house mom grew up in – and we went there! It’s in a neighborhood called Highlands, which is very similar to the neighborhood of the same name in Denver. Lots of fun and funky boutiques, great restaurants, older pretty homes. Mom grew up on “Ivanhoe Court” where the houses faced onto a double-sidewalk rather than a street. She always talked about how much fun it was as she had her brothers and friends could play all up and down the street without worrying about cars.

Ivanhoe-Court
Walking down the court, just as I found mom’s house a little girl came down the sidewalk on her scooter. She said her name was Eleanor and she was 5. She pointed to my camera and asked if could she be in the photo I was taking. What surprised me was how much she looked like the photos of my mom at that same age – slender, tall, fair skinned and blonde.  She is in the photo below of mom’s house:

Moms-house-in-Louisville

Next we went to Churchill Downs as neither Robert nor I had been there.

Lee-and-Robert-at-Churchill-Downs

While it’s off-season, we were able to tour the track and museum. In one part of the museum we were able to try on jockey’s clothes. Given that jockeys are all 4’11” and weigh around 105 lbs, I was pleasantly surprised that only the hat was too small for me!

Jockey-uniform

After a quick nap we went back to mom’s neighborhood to eat dinner at Lilly’s. I had read about this restaurant in Food & Wine magazine, and opentable.com ranked it as one of the best restaurants in Louisville. We weren’t disappointed! The owner Cathy (Lilly is her daughter) is delightful and focuses her menu on fresh, locally sourced and sustainable foods. My two favorites were the heirloom cherry tomato salad with buffalo mozzarella and basil sauce (photo is 1/2 serving), and the bourbon-pecan ice cream with bacon bits. Too die for!

heirloom-cherry-tomato-salad-at-lillys
Day 5 (Sunday) was spent in Henry County, KY, about 45 minutes north of Louisville where my mother’s family are all from. In fact, my relatives’ presence in the county dates back to the 1700s! I was able to track down my Aunt Frankie and we spent the day with her. She was married to the son of my maternal grandmother’s first cousin – so I have no idea how to describe our relation. She is just my Aunt Frankie!

Lee-and-aunt-frankie
I was interested in learning more about my relatives, so we toured a few cemeteries where they are buried (in New Castle and Campbellsburg), with Aunt Frankie filling us in on what parts of the family history she knew. We had a great, traditional Kentucky lunch at the Science Hill Inn in Shelbyville where they are known for their hot cornbread, cucumber mousse, fried chicken and bread pudding with bourbon sauce. It was all scrumptious! The inn was a girls boarding school for many years, and now in addition to the restaurant houses several antique stores (which unfortunately were closed!).

Science-Hill-Inn-in-Shelbyville

Science-HIll-School

It’s nap time now, then we’re off to the trendy 21c Museum Hotel for dinner at their restaurant, Proof on Main!

 

 

 

 

Lee Clayton Roper

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I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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