El Taco Luchador finds an eager audience in St. Matthews

From Insider Louisville, 9/12/2017

El Taco Luchador St Matt

By Kevin Gibson

The long-anticipated St. Matthews location of El Taco Luchador is open, and the eager crowds have already made it a go-to spot in an already crowded neighborhood, with go-to spots such as Spinelli’s, Mellow Mushroom, Highland Morning and many others within easy walking distance.

I stopped by for lunch on a recent Saturday and found the place buzzing with activity — the patio dining area was full, the two window areas with bar seating were full, and people stood by awaiting their orders.

One family spread a blanket out on the front yard of the small building, which previously was home to Meridian Café, and ate their Mexican fare there as customers walked past, coming and going.

To sum it up, the new location of El Taco Luchador is much like the original in the Highlands, with a familiar menu and the same bright and colorful décor.

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Farewell, Louisville Brewfest… hello, Craft Beer Week

From LEO Weekly, 9/6/2017

By Kevin Gibson

I heard rumors earlier this year that the Louisville Independent Business Alliance might discontinue its long-running Louisville Brewfest, but I chose to wait until I heard something official before I began to mourn. Last week, I heard official word that, indeed, one of the city’s oldest beer festivals is no more.

When the festival began in 2009, craft beer was still just a baby in Louisville, and the event featured all of five local breweries. But as time pressed on and more breweries came into the fold, the festival grew, eventually landing at Slugger Field, first in the event space near the third-base side of the stadium, and then expanding into the concourse and the Overlook Deck in center field.

 

Mi Sueño is the answer in Buechel for Cuban fare and fine value

From Insider Louisville, 9/5/2017

Mi-Sueno-lamb-shank
Lamb shank at Mi Sueno.

By Kevin Gibson

Friends had told us for months if not longer that Mi Sueño near Buechel was a spot my girlfriend Cynthia and I needed to check out. We said we would, and life always had a different plan. We finally went, and now we wish we’d taken a more active approach to making our Mi Sueño trip happen sooner.

Serving Cuban fare cafeteria-style, the restaurant in a former Taco Bell on Bardstown Road not only has wonderful food but great value to boot.

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Craft Beer Throwdown brings special beers, benefits Coalition for Homeless

From Insider Louisville, 9/3/2017

Falls-City-Brian-USellis-Pour

By Kevin Gibson

When the inaugural Craft Beer Throwdown happens at Bowman Field on Thursday, Sept. 7, you’ll get more than just the same old, same old. Six local breweries will compete for attendee votes to see which one is the victor.

Along the way, the event will raise funds for the Coalition for the Homeless, a local organization aimed at ending homelessness in the Louisville area.

A preview tasting held last week at Falls City Brewing Co. unveiled a sneak peek at one of the competitors, a barrel-aged chocolate pecan brown ale. In essence, the beer, which is simply named Y’all, is like a slice of Derby Pie paired with a side of bourbon — Kentucky in a glass.

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I ate a ghost pepper

From LEO Weekly, 8/30/17

By Kevin Gibson

I remember the first time I tried a truly-hot pepper sauce. It was sometime during the late 1990s, at a local store I’ve long since forgotten the name of, a place where I’d previously purchased sauces that remain staples for me today, such as Blair’s Death Sauce and Pain is Good Batch 37 Garlic Sauce. The clerk said they’d just gotten in a new sauce from Blair’s, called After Death.

“It’s just a liiiiitle bit hotter than the Death Sauce,” he said, and then the lying bastard offered me a sample. I eagerly shook a couple of dabs onto a cracker, popped it into my mouth, and quickly descended into a frenzy of hiccups, tears and general misery. It was a miserable experience.

Naturally, I bought a bottle of the stuff.

Years later, I am still fascinated and oddly addicted to hot sauces, but I’ve learned my limits. I can eat a habanero pepper in the process of making my homemade sauces, and I can eat measured amounts of some extremely hot sauces, but I don’t mess with the ever-increasing levels of Scoville units, which is what measures capsaicin in peppers, determining their heat.

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O’Shea’s H.M. Franks offers fine pub food, cozy atmosphere in Jeffersonville

From Insider Louisville, 8/29/17.

HM-Franks-exterior

H.M. Franks opened its doors in Jeffersonville last spring, and to be honest, I never felt much motivation to go. I was always neutral about the food at other O’Shea’s-related restaurants and didn’t figure there would be a big difference.

My friend Sara suggested more than once that I check it out, and she double downed by inviting me to lunch there. I walked away impressed with the cozy vibe and the quality food. I really should listen to my friends more when they make restaurant suggestions.

Chunky bison chili | Photo by Kevin Gibson

The restaurant’s full name is H.M. Franks, an O’Shea’s Public House, but it takes a bit of a different approach than the Highlands and downtown locations, with a smaller space and more of a laid-back vibe.

Plenty of exposed brick and reclaimed wood set the scene, and the décor is pretty spare, with a single Guinness mirror on a wall by the bar, and a number of photos of downtown Jeffersonville establishments of yesteryear.

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Gone in a flash: Saying goodbye to a canine friend

From Insider Louisville, 8/24/2017

Darby IL 3

By Kevin Gibson

He was there, and then he wasn’t. The whole thing was like a wisp of a breeze brushing past me on a frisky, spring day. Yet the relationship lasted nearly 12 years.

That’s what it felt like when Darby, my sweet-beyond-words Lhasa Apso, passed from life in my arms last week. How could he be gone so soon? I only just adopted him. Didn’t I?

He came to me by way of a rescue league website based in Tennessee. Someone found this little dog with no tags or chip, wandering the back roads of Knoxville. He was starving, dehydrated, matted and battling heartworms. And yet he was impossibly filled with joy and brightness.

Most dogs with heartworms are euthanized immediately in public shelters, but someone had the foresight to know this one was special.

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El Tropico Restaurant & Bar is a nice find for Mexican fare and more in Okolona

From Insider Louisville, 8/23/2017

El Tropico Tacos

by Kevin Gibson

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I set out to try a Mexican restaurant I had hoped to write about. When we arrived, we found the place empty, permanently closed. Dejected, we started driving and found another Mexican place. Our bellies set on guacamole and tacos, we decided to try it.

It was terrible.

Recently, we set our sights on Barry’s Cheese Steaks and More in Okolona, and when we arrived we were told there would be a 45-minute wait for food. We were meeting friends in just over an hour. So, we again searched blindly, finding a place called El Tropico Restaurant & Bar.

It didn’t look all that promising, but I’m always ready to give a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place a shot, so we held our breaths and went inside.

And it was really good. Talk about a pleasant surprise, or maybe a happy accident. Maybe both.

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Bluegrass VegFest 2017 expands, moves to Tim Faulkner Gallery

From Insider Louisville, 8/21/2017

By Kevin Gibson

VegFest 2nd Annual Bluegrass Veg Fest PosterKristina Addington recalls the last time she ate meat, nearly a dozen years ago. It was a meal from KFC.

And then she happened upon some information about commercial food production, and her life changed.

“It was just shocking the first time I learned where food comes from and what the animals go through,” she says.

She’s been a vegan ever since, not falling off the wagon once since her “last supper.” Addington doesn’t take animal welfare lightly, and she also believes a plant-based diet is essential to general wellness.

This is why she and partner Jeff Hennis created Bluegrass VegFest, which in its first year in 2016 drew such a turnout that this year’s follow-up, which takes place Saturday, was moved to a bigger venue.

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Hamachi kama: Fish neck like grandma made

From LEO Weekly, 8/16/2017

HamachiKama

By Kevin Gibson

While enjoying some sushi recently at BARcode 1758 in Clifton, I was perusing the menu just for fun and ran across something called hamachi kama. I’ve eaten at a lot of sushi joints in my day, and I couldn’t recall having heard of it.

So I grabbed my phone, Googled it and found a Huffington Post story describing it as a delicacy that usually is saved by the chef, or offered only to special guests. Why? Apparently, it’s the best part of the yellowtail tuna.

I knew I had to try it, so I returned sometime later and ordered this hamachi kama, which in English translates roughly to “yellowtail collar.” You know, fish neck, because the collar refers to the portion of the fish directly behind the head and gills.

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Writer / Author from Louisville KY