Forget recaps. Here are 10 ways I will rock my foodie life in 2014.

Is 2013 already over? 

There’s so much food I didn’t get to. So many recipes I didn’t try. So many things I didn’t write about.

As this blog post title indicates, I’m not going to spend my time recapping. I like to take the occasion of a New Year to look forward, not back. I like having things to look forward to — new goals, new adventures, new restaurants.

Here’s a collection of some of the things I’d like to accomplish in life and on this blog in 2014. Let’s not call this a list of “resolutions” — I’m allergic to that word because it sets me up for failure by March. How about this handy dandy headline:

10 Ways I Will Rock the Glasses off 2014

1. I will not be such a beast before I’ve had my first cup of coffee. 

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...
My life blood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To those mighty giants who can operate without a hot splash of caffeine, I salute you. I have an addiction, and I can be pretty mean if coffee doesn’t hit my lips before 9 a.m.

2. I will finally complete my $10 Challenge on Simply Thai

Short rib nachos.
Short rib nachos at Mussel & Burger Bar. Now if only I can get to Simply Thai…

Remember when I had the reader’s choice Challenge? I sampled one restaurant, Mussel & Burger Bar, that you guys selected. The other, Simply Thai, has been outside my grasp lately, because of a busy schedule and long waits. That ends in 2014, friends. I’m going to make this happen.

3. I will make an edible batch of biscuits. 

One of my unsuccessful batches of biscuits that was transformed into stuffing.
One of my unsuccessful batches of biscuits that was transformed into stuffing.

I consider myself a pretty good cook and a decent baker. I can’t, however, make biscuits if my life depended on it.

4. I will accept the fact that pizza, no matter how many vegetables I pile on top, does not count as a well-rounded meal.

The Chicken Peppadew pizza at Boombozz in Westport Village.
The Chicken Peppadew pizza at Boombozz in Westport Village.

This is going to be a tough one. I will, however, eat pizza at Loui Loui’s Authentic Detroit Style Pizza, Bonnie & Clyde’s Pizza Parlor and Angilo’s Pizza. These places need some more love and attention, and I’m the lady to give it.

5. I will become more efficient at using chopsticks.

I'm this close to eating these with my hands.
I’m this close to eating these with my hands.

Also, I will eat more sushi because IT IS DELICIOUS.

6. I will stop giving my dog, Roscoe, so many table scraps.

He's very food motivated, especially when it comes to Moby Dick.
He’s very food motivated, especially when it comes to Moby Dick.

I know, I know, this is bad news bears, and I don’t recommend it. But if you see these puppy eyes looking up at you, it’s hard to resist sliding Roscoe a bit of pork chop.

7. I will wait to eat long enough to post more pictures on Instagram and Facebook.

Ahh, the wonders of Instagram. Doesn't the app make this corn dog look delicious?
Ahh, the wonders of Instagram. Doesn’t the app make this corn dog look delicious?

This feels counterintuitive. I know that most people make fun of folks like me who take pictures of my meal and plaster them all over social media. But I’m a food blogger, darn it. I gotta show you what I’m eating. I just have to pause long enough to snap a pic. When a full plate is put before me, I lose my mind and dig in.

8. I will take pictures using my good camera, not the crappy one on my phone.

Taquitos and sweet potato fries at Mussel & Burger Bar.
Taquitos and sweet potato fries at Mussel & Burger Bar.

Let this picture speak 1,000 words.

9. I will eat correct portion sizes.

The meatloaf special at The Irish Rover.
The meatloaf special at The Irish Rover.

For example, not eating all of the plate above in one sitting.

10. I will keep my commitment to exploring good, inexpensive food in Louisville.

Cheers to a New Year.
Cheers to a New Year.

Happy New Year, y’all.

My two pennies on the Louisville food truck fiasco

Spotted on Main Street in Louisville.
Traveling Kitchen, one of many Louisville food trucks.

I hesitated to dip my toe in the recent conversation that has dominated Louisville social media about the cleanliness of food trucks.

In case you missed it, WAVE 3 aired a story recently by reporter Eric Flack about the sanitation and safety of food trucks, mobile eateries that park on the street or at events and serve dishes out of the sides of the vehicles. Eric reported that Metro Health and Wellness inspections “reveal trucks that were cited for food on the floor, dirty kitchens, cheese sauce at potentially hazardous temperatures, mislabeled toxic items and cooks without hair nets.” He went on to interview the chief health inspector with Metro Health and Wellness, who said she never eats at food trucks because of sanitation concerns. You can read and watch the full story here.

This feature lit up on the Twitter feeds and Facebook pages of food trucks and customers. The overall feeling was that WAVE 3 at best, got the story wrong, or, at worst, sensationalized a non-issue.

Cheese makes everything better.
Lil’ Cheezers, another food truck.

I used to be a journalist in a former life. I know what it’s like to catch a lot of criticism for a story that captures a subject in a harsh light. But this story ignited so many feelings because it just wasn’t fair.

  • In his story, Eric highlighted a food stand with some questionable cleanliness. As I understand it, food stands and food trucks are different and held to different standards. An apples to apples comparison isn’t appropriate.
  • If there is an issue with the cleanliness of food trucks, the story should have included some basic facts to support that claim. How many trucks have been shut down because of health concerns?
  • I would’ve liked to see a comparison of percentage of food trucks that have violated health guidelines versus the percentage of brick-and-mortar restaurants that have made the same violations. This story gives the impression that food trucks are not as safe as restaurants in stationary locations, but fails to use statistics to back up that assumption. I watch a lot of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares — traditional restaurants can be disgusting and unsafe, even if they serve food in buildings rather than from trucks.
  • Food truck operators said they didn’t feel like Eric made an effort to reach out to them. There are a couple of united groups of food trucks, the Louisville Street Food Alliance and Louisville Food Truck Association, that would have been good sources to include in this story to provide an overall perspective of health and safety in the trucks.
  • I’ve eaten at a lot of food trucks since they hit the Louisville landscape a couple of years ago. I’ve never had any concerns about my health after eating at these trucks. I’ve never gotten sick. I’ve never seen unsafe practices. I’m only one person, but a lot of people share my views (search Twitter for Louisville food trucks).

Eric did a follow-up story in which a metro councilman said there could be guidelines in the future that mandate the display of health inspection grades in food truck windows. Here are some other blog posts you should read, too:

Mary, one of my Moth StorySLAM buddies, getting a burger from Grind back in October.
Mary, one of my Moth StorySLAM buddies, getting a burger from Grind back in October.

UPDATED: The pros and cons of a Dishcrawl Louisville evening (and a giveaway)

Updated April 25: Congratulations to Anne, the winner of the $20 Dishcrawl discount! Check your email for more information about how to redeem your prize.

Blogger’s note: Interested in a $20 discount for the next Dishcrawl Louisville event (a bourbon-themed, Derby-centric crawl through Fourth Street)? Leave a comment on this post that answers the following question: “What is your favorite part of Derby?” For two extra chances to win, like Dishcrawl Louisville on Facebook and follow Dishcrawl Louisville on Twitter, then come back and tell me you did all that. You have until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, April 24. I’ll announce the winner on Thursday, April 25.

Quail egg toast, pork and pistachio galantine and grilled fennel from Rye.
Quail egg toast, pork and pistachio galantine and grilled fennel from Rye.

A new organization has arrived in Louisville to showcase some of the best food the city has to offer. 

Dishcrawl organizes events across the country that turns food lovers into tourists in their own town. For $45 per ticket, participants are guided to four restaurants within walking distance of one another to sample dishes from the businesses. The participating locations (with the exception of the starting point) are kept secret until the Dishcrawl is underway. It’s like a dinner party, social gathering and scavenger hunt all in one.

Louisville is the latest addition to the participating Dishcrawl cities. Dishcrawl Louisville’s inaugural event, a NuLu/East Market Street-based evening, took place this week, and a bourbon-themed Derby crawl will take place along 4th Street on May 1.

I got a chance to tag along for the Nulu crawl. Here is an outline of some pros and cons of the experience.

Pros

  • You will eat food and visit restaurants you might not have experienced on your own. The four stops on the Nulu crawl were Against the Grain Brewery, Taco Punk, Rye and Ghyslain, places that several of the participants told me they had never visited. Though I’d visited these restaurants before, I got to eat food I had never tried, such as Against the Grain’s seitan “chicken” wings (it did taste like chicken!) and Rye’s pork and pistachio galantine (it’s like fancy bologna!).
  • The food is tasty. Some of my favorites were the aforementioned seitan, the chorizo and potato taco from Taco Punk, and the dessert trio from Ghyslain, a bistro and chocolatier. That chocolate changed my whole world view.
  • The food will fill your belly by the end of the night. Taco Punk provided the most generous portions of the evening. All of the crawlers received three tacos and a side of chips. That, on top of the other restaurant samples, made for a filling dinner.
  • A Dishcrawl = fun date night. There were several couples at the event, and they seemed like they were having a blast. But the Dishcrawl was also fun for the groups of friends and solo attendees. Everyone mingled and got to know new people. Good times.
  • You walk off some of those calories you eat. I had walked about a mile by the time I made it back to my car. My pedometer was pleased.

Cons

  • The price is in “Treat Yo’ Self” territory. Tickets to join a Dishcrawl event are $45 per person. This is a lot of money for regular, working people.
  • Some portions are tiny. With the exception of Taco Punk, the restaurants provided food that was more amuse-bouche (thanks, Top Chef) than appetizer-sized, which was disappointing to a big-dish American like me.
  • The crawl goes on rain or shine. We managed to avoid the big torrents of rain during the Nulu crawl, but I packed an umbrella just in case. But I wasn’t looking forward to crawling in the rain, which would have made my experience soggy.

The next Dishcrawl Louisville event is Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. If you have a spare $45 and are looking for something new to do around Louisville, I say go for it. If you have a spare $25 and you’d like to win a discount on the next Dishcrawl Louisville event, leave a comment, like Dishcrawl Louisville on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

Event: Grind’s first birthday party at the Old 502 Winery, 4.5.13

The food truck Grind has grown from a Kickstarter project to one of the most popular places in the area to get a burger.

Liz and Jesse Huot, the couple behind the burgers, will celebrate their first anniversary with a party from 6-10 p.m. Friday, April 5, at the Old 502 Winery (formerly River Bend Winery) in downtown Louisville. This also coincides with the First Friday Trolley Hop, so the good times and wine will indeed roll.

Word on Grind’s Facebook page is that there will be an extra special burger for the evening called The Anniversary, “our delicious 1/3# custom-blended burger topped with seared Stone Cross Farms pork belly, sauteed kale, Boone Creek Creamery gruyere cheese with a Spanish paprika aioli.” I don’t even know where to begin with that description.

Grind’s First Anniversary Party

When: 6-10 p.m. Friday, April 5 (food served from 6-8 p.m. only)

Where: Old 502 Winery, 120 S. 10th Street, Louisville

More information: Facebook event page

AP Crafters closes, and I weep into my wine glass

Bad things happen when I leave my phone in the car.

First, I find out that I missed out on a sweet Craigslist deal for a set of nightstands ($75! All wood!) because I didn’t text the seller back fast enough. Then, I missed immediately seeing cute pictures of my niece (She’s cuter every day! I might miss a particularly cute moment!). But a handful of mentions on Twitter is what really cut me deep:

How I received some bad news.
How I received some bad news.

AP Crafters Kitchen and Bar is closed?

*Darth Vader voice* NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Eater Louisville had the scoop, and AP Crafters’ website just confirms this sad news.

I saw the signs, but maybe I just couldn’t admit that one of my favorite restaurants was heading for that dusty trail to Restaurant Heaven. The last time I ate there (oh, my gosh, how was I supposed to know it would be my last time?), there was only one other couple in the place, and it was a game night, so the restaurant should’ve been packed. I even saw moving trucks in the parking lot yesterday, but I thought, “Oh, look, they’re getting new furniture.”

I can’t believe AP Crafters is gone. No more pretzel breadsticks. No more gummy bears on the way out. NO MORE BEER CHEESE BURGER.

*Shakes fist toward the heavens*

If anyone has any answers for this loss or remembrances, please take it to the comments. I need to drink this wine and hold Roscoe tight. And remember, keep your phone on you at all times, or your favorite restaurant gets it.

Bits and Pieces: Maker’s Mark (again), The Next Great Baker and other Louisville food news from the web, 2.18.13

Blogger’s note: I’ve managed to pick up the pieces after last night’s devastating Downton Abbey season finale to write this post — barely.

Closings

News

Openings

Down One Bourbon Bar at 321 W. Main Street.
Down One Bourbon Bar at 321 W. Main Street.

Wild Eggs has all-you-can-eat pancakes this month. Challenge accepted.

Pancakes from Wild Eggs.
Pancakes from Wild Eggs.

February is National Pancake Month. I’m not one to shrug off seemingly unnecessary proclamations such as this, and neither is Wild Eggs.

In honor of this glorious month, the breakfast/lunch/brunch restaurant will offer all-you-can-eat pancakes $4.99 through February.

Heck. Yeah.

I’m a frequent Wild Eggs patron on lazy Sunday afternoons. I tried their pancakes for the first time a few weeks ago, and I was smitten. I’ve been on a pancake kick ever since. I’ll even order a pancake as a side dish — I’m not ashamed. Wild Eggs serves their hot cakes big, buttery and fluffy. I agree with Michelle at Consuming Louisville — it’s hard to finish a regular order, let alone an unlimited supply.

That doesn’t mean I won’t try.

Check out Wild Eggs’ Facebook page or website for more details. In the meantime, I’ll be practicing some pancake-eatin’ for my next visit.

The baby fist pump meme plus pancakes equals triumph.
The baby fist pump meme plus pancakes equals triumph.

[Giveaway] Celebrate an Ashlee Eats Facebook milestone with a chance to win a burger from Grind

Mary, one of my Moth StorySLAM buddies, getting a burger from Grind back in October.
Mary, one of my Moth StorySLAM buddies, getting a burger from Grind back in October. This could be you.

**This giveaway is closed. Thanks for commenting!**

 

Sometime around the new year, the Ashlee Eats Facebook page hit a great milestone — 100 fans, baby.

I think that calls for a giveaway.

Liz and Jesse, the couple behind the Grind gourmet burger truck and favorite of Ashlee Eats readers, have offered up two vouchers for a blog giveaway, each worth one burger from the Grind truck. These would be great to use at Truckin’ Ain’t Easy, a food truck gathering at Apocalypse Brew Works on Friday, Jan. 25 (click here for more details).

It’s easy to win. Just answer this question:

What’s your favorite burger from Grind? If you haven’t had one, what kind of Grind burger would you like to taste?

For a chance to win one of the vouchers, leave a comment on this blog post or the Ashlee Eats Facebook page. Just one comment per person, please.

Post your comment by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16. I will randomly choose two winners (one voucher each) on Thursday and post about it.

And thanks for reading and liking the Facebook page!

Bits and Pieces: Lynn’s, Girl Scouts and other Louisville food news from the web, 1.14.13

Closings

  • In case you took a break from the internets this weekend, Louisville staple Lynn’s Paradise Café closed a little more than a week after a former employee took to Facebook to talk about new policy changes at the restaurant. I put together a timeline on Ashlee Eats and at WFPL.org, and hop over to Eater Louisville to see a full rundown.

Events

News

  • Green BEAN Delivery, an organic food delivery service, has expanded its territory around Louisville to include Goshen in Oldham County, Mt. Washington in Bullitt County and Georgetown in Floyd County. Read my review of Green BEAN here. (Business First of Louisville)

Openings

Did media attention and public outcry lead to the closing of Lynn’s Paradise Cafe?

I don’t know if you heard, but something has hit the fan on the Louisville food scene.

Lynn’s Paradise Café has closed less than two weeks after a uproar began when a former employee aired her grievances about some of the restaurant’s new policies on WLKY’s Facebook page. The biggest point of contention is Lynn’s requirement for wait staff to carry $100 cash on them during each shift (read more here).

The Facebook comments opened the window for other Lynn’s employees to air their dirty laundry and speak out about their negative experiences at the restaurants. Other folks started stepping in to what was quickly transforming from one employee’s story to a labor dispute. There were even questions of legality about Lynn’s new guidelines.

Then, early Saturday morning, cafe owner Lynn Winter announced that she would close Lynn’s after a 22-year run.

Here is a rundown of the events that proceeded the closing (you can also find my story on WFPL.org):

Jan. 3: A former Lynn’s Paradise Café waitress writes on the WLKY Facebook wall that she was fired for violating a new policy at the restaurant. Leila DiFazio writes that the policy requires all food servers “to carry $100 cash for each shift to use to tip out support staff (bussers and food runners).” From DiFazio’s post:

First of all, the new policy is absolutely unrealistic. Anyone who can afford to have one hundred dollars cash on them at any given time probably doesn’t need to work as a server. …

There were memos placed around the restaurant for two weeks before (the new policy) took place and yes, we were allowed to talk to management about it, but no one would because of fear of losing their job. I am walking proof of losing my job because I questioned the new policy and could not adhere to it. Please, please, PLEASE join me in making this right and/or exposing the madness within “Paradise”.

Jan. 4: The dining website Eater Louisville picks up the story and writes about DiFazio’s Facebook post. Lynn Winter, the owner of the café, confirms the policy change to the website later that day. She tells Eater Louisville that the restaurant enacted the rule to ensure that the wait staff have “enough cash on hand to be able to tip the secondarily tipped people (buses, bartenders, foodrunners and expos) because I didn’t want them to say ‘I have no cash, I can’t tip you today…. What I’ve been hearing from them is that they were very very worried that they were going to get stiffed by the waitstaff because they wouldn’t have any cash at the end of the day because they got so many credit card tips.”

Jan. 9: Eater Louisville publishes a post that questions the legality of Lynn’s policy. From the website:

As an anonymous Eater commenter pointed out, however, this policy appears to violate two sections of KRS 337.065:

·(1) No employer shall require an employee to remit to the employer any gratuity, or any portion thereof, except for the purpose of withholding amounts required by federal or state law. ·(3)No employer shall require an employee to participate in a tip pool whereby the employee is required to remit to the pool any gratuity, or any portion thereof, for distribution among employees of the employer.

Jan. 10: The blog Insider Louisville disagrees with the Eater Louisville commenter that the practices at Lynn’s violate state law. Steve Coomes writes:

Problem is, the post points only to sections 1 and 3 of the law, not to section 4, which lays out the terms under which such tip sharing programs can be operated as voluntary arrangements between restaurants and their employees.

I am not familiar with the exact specifics of how Winters established her “bank” program, or with DiFazio’s firing, for that matter. But the fact is EVERYONE in this business plays by section 4. It’s simply the way it’s done: Servers get tipped, and they are expected to be honest in how they tip their assistants and bartenders. It’s a long-established and happy relationship based on the trickledown effect.

Jan. 11: Five alleged former Lynn’s employees write negative accounts of their time at the restaurant under the heading, “Far from Paradise: the Story Behind Lynn’s Café,” on the website for Service Workers for Justice. Statements include:

“My time at LPC was the most Kafkaesque experience under a Machiavellian reign of terror.”
“I feel like the hard work I put in for the company for almost a year has not been accounted for and I feel like I have been presented with a great injustice.”
“It took me months to become financially stable again and I’m still trying to deal emotionally and psychologically with everything I experienced there.”

According to the website, the group is composed of current and former Lynn’s employees who demand, among other requests, a reversal of the “$100 bank” policy and the job restoration of employees who were fired for speaking out against the policy.

Eater Louisville reports that the Service Workers for Justice website is backed by Kentucky Jobs with Justice, a coalition intended to “promote, protect and improve the quality of life of all workers by empowering individuals and organizations to engage in collective action for economic and social justice.”

WAVE 3 also begins to cover the ongoing dispute at the restaurant. Lynn’s chief operating officer Patty Schnatter tells the station that the restaurant would review the policy and poll current employees about how they wanted to proceed. Schattner can’t comment on specific employees, but gives a general statement about the restaurant:

“For 22 years Lynn’s Paradise Cafe has been committed to working with our employees to create a positive working environment through the challenges of an ever-changing economy. We are disappointed to learn that a few former employees and third-party agitators have some disagreements with us at this time. The issues raised arise from personnel matters that we cannot and will not discuss publicly. We are reviewing all of the issues raised, we are listening to the concerns and we will respond at an appropriate time and in an appropriate manner.”

Jan. 11: Lynn’s serves what will be the restaurant’s last meal.

Jan. 12: WAVE 3 reports that Lynn’s has closed, and Winter releases the following statement:

 “Thank you to all of our loyal customers and faithful employees for making it possible to a run a 22-year business. It’s been a great run and we’ve had a ton of fun. The time has come to move on to new creative ventures.”

The restaurant also posts the following message on its Facebook page:

“We are touched to hear from so many of our loyal customers this morning. We’ll post an additional statement this afternoon. Thank you again for your continued support!”