Sunday, December 16, 2007

Finals are over...back to blogging! First up...Louisville

Last weekend I took a road trip to see my friend Caren. We taught in Scotland together this past summer. It was hard to believe it had been six months since we hung out, so I took a much needed break from the chaos of the end-of-the-semester to see what Louisville, Kentucky, has to offer.
Our first stop was a store that supplies all manner of foodstuffs to local restaurants, but lucky for us, sells to the public as well. Many items come in bulk size quantities or are packaged into smaller (i.e., 1 lb) bags. Here I am posing with the largest bar of chocolate I have ever seen (or held!). No, I did not buy one -- I can show restraint! I did however buy two types of couscous (Israeli and Lebanese), kosher salt, peppercorns, tarragon mustard, red and white speckled beans, and maybe a few other things I cannot remember!

From there we did a little thrifting -- at some great charity shops -- and made a visit to the legendary Baer's fabric store -- with its three floors of all things sewing. All of this shopping gave me (and Caren!) an appetite. She took me to a local fave -- the Zen Garden -- a completely vegetarian asian restaurant that gives all proceeds to charity. It was so nice to peruse the menu and know that I could choose ANYthing, and not have to ask if there were any hidden animal products in it. Here is a review of the restaurant and they have the picture of the orange tofu, too!
Caren and her friend Julie ordered a cucumber salad to start -- I don't really remember too much about it, other than that it was delicious! We all ordered egg rolls -- so yummy!

Caren ordered her tofu (or a name similar to that). Wow! Next time I go there I am definitely ordering that. The tofu was just the way I like it: crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, with a perfect coating of orange sauce -- not too sweet either. This is definitely a dish that could sway the staunchest of tofu-avoiders.

Now, I do not mean to diss my selection...for it was an unusual choice for me, and really yummy. I ordered the lunch special of the day, Lemongrass Soy Satay (or something similar to that!). This was a bowl full of warm rice noodles, marinated tofu, glazed tempeh, mushrooms, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers. A lemongrass dressing was served on the side (which I poured all over the bowl). It was more food than I could eat, and has inspired me to branch out in my menu selections.

Caren and I did some more thrifting in the afternoon then met back up with Julie to walk to the local coffee shop, Heine Brothers Coffee -- the Frankfort Ave. location.
We made stops at a really cool and well-stocked consignment shop, local bookstore (Carmichael's), and a fair trade store (Just Creations). I bought a gift for John (which I did was in the one bag I didn't check!), and a really pretty wool hat from Nepal for myself!

That night we went to the First Friday Gallery many good galleries, not nearly enough time! Our first stop was to purchase calendars from Sarah Lyon, a local photographer and friend of Caren's. She has published a 2008 calendar of all Female Mechanics from across the US (that is Sarah on the cover). She rode her motorcycle out west and back taking pictures and documenting her journey. The Atomic Saucer (or maybe that is its former name) hosted a calender party...and even Ms. September was there! I bought one for my mechanic hubby and had it autographed. It was great to meet the artist in person and tell her how cool her work is.

Dinner was at a Middle Eastern restaurant...grape leaves, hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel...all the goodies! I went to bed that night tired and full and ready for sleep.

Saturday morning was spent shopping and eating (of course!). We went to a Louisville establishment -- Lynn's Paradise Cafe. This is Cracker Barrell meets Eccentric Art Lover with yummy food. After a bit of a wait we were seated in the very eclectic dining room (with our own "Ugliest Lamp Contest" winner). The biscuits are amazing as are the potatoes.

From that point we headed back to Caren's and I packed up ALL my stuff (we calculated that I brought more for 2 days in L-ville than I did for 5 weeks in Europe!) and headed home ready to face the last week of the semester.

Thanks Caren and Julie for showing me your favorite spots! I am looking forward to bringing John back to all of these haunts.

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