Recently, I've been involved in organizing a Kentucky Food Bloggers Association along with several other bloggers. It all started when I met Lori at Fake Food Free while she was living in Brazil and I in France. When we moved back to the States, we found that we lived about 15 minutes from each other in Central Kentucky! We started hearing about other Kentucky food bloggers, and the group was born. We have a Facebook fan page and will have a website soon, but we're still in our infancy.
We were lucky enough, though, to have our first event in my little city of Danville, which is 45 minutes away from the center of Lexington and is a great place to live. It's safe and affordable and, as of a little over a year ago, we can buy alcohol. This sounds a little crazy (especially to my friends and family in California), but before May 2010, we didn't have liquor stores, and alcohol could only be bought by the glass at restaurants serving over 100 people. Today we can buy it in several shops, and as a result of the change in law, we have several new restaurants and stores that have opened. I love to frequent small, locally owned businesses, so this change really made a difference in my life here.
When Adam at the Danville/Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau heard about our fledgling Kentucky bloggers group, he quickly invited us to come tour downtown and what it had to offer. We had a group of nine bloggers attend, and we all had a great time! As one of the two locals in the group, I was lucky enough to have visited all of the establishments before. So, as an "insider," I'm going to give you my "Best-in-Danville List." (***Fair warning: This is a long post, but worth the read!)
Favorite Place to Stock Your Wine Cellar or Buy Goodies for a Party: V-the Market
V-the Market is a beautiful little shop stocked to the gills with wines, hard-to-find beers, bourbon, liqueurs, cheese, prosciutto and artisan chocolates. I just ordered a case of one of my favorite French rosés to start what I'm calling my wine cellar (but is actually a corner of my basement!). Besides stocking my delusional cellar, I frequent V whenever I need to bring drinks or cheeses to a party. Mary Robin, the owner, has never steered me wrong, and I trust her taste in wines. She also special orders German and Austrian beer for my German-professor husband.
The group was treated to tastings of beer, cheese and prosciutto. We tasted the Harbourne Blue, a goat blue cheese. Now, I'm not usually a fan of blue cheese, but this was delicious! We also tried the Lincolnshire Poacher, which is similar to a hard cheddar (but much, much tastier, in my opinion). Mary Robin talked to us about the products she stocks, how she sources her products and about beer, cheeses, and prosciutto in general. If you need something special for your next party, this is the place to go!
Favorite Place for Drinks and Dessert: Mermaids
When we arrived at Mermaids, we were handed a glass of "Mermaid Punch," and when we were finished with that, the glass was replaced with another of "Porch Punch." I love to meet my friends for drinks here--it's a classy, yet laid-back restaurant with touches of the modern mixed with the traditional. The last two times I've been to Mermaids, I haven't been able to resist their homemade ice cream sandwiches, although I've heard great things about the tableside s'mores.
To stave off complete tipsiness, we were served a sampler plate of local filet, shrimp wrapped in prosciutto, and an Ahi tuna wrapped with greens in a slice of cucumber--all delicious!
And when possible, Mermaids serves Kentucky Proud ingredients:
Here are some of the Kentucky bloggers enjoying themselves at the blue-lit bar:
Kelly is one of the owners and spent some time with us talking about the restaurant--he is hilarious, and you'll always leave Mermaids with a smile.
Best Place to Play Pool and Drink with your Friends: 303W
303W is one of those beautiful spaces that just makes you feel comfortable. There's plenty of space to dine, to hang out, and to play pool. The lovely brick and warm colors always makes you feel warm and cozy.
The food is tasty too! We were treated to plates and plates of their appetizers. Now, I often skip appetizers, but I have to tell you that my favorite was their barbeque wings, and I'll definitely be ordering them next time I go to play pool!
Best Pizza in Town (and Most Family-Friendly): Bluegrass Pizza & Pub
Bluegrass Pizza & Pub is my go-to restaurant in town. The pizza is delicious with its homemade crust, homemade sauce and quality toppings. My family has a favorite--the "Wilson Special"--pepperoni, pepperoncini and garlic. (Just FYI, we are the Wilsons, so you won't find this on the menu!) But during the blogger event, we were served the Mediterranean Pizza with chicken, red onions, artichoke hearts, basil, green olives and feta. I'm not usually crazy about chicken on pizza, but I absolutely loved this one! We were also served bread sticks and cheese sticks (my daughter's favorite). I love bringing my family here because of the laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere. They even remember that my daughter loves to have Ranch dressing with her cheese sticks...now, that's service!
Best Place to Hang Out after a Concert: Beer Engine
Beer Engine is one of those small bars where everyone really does know your name. I walked in and was immediately distracted by a friend sitting there having a drink. Once I finally rejoined the bloggers, we were served plenty of beer samples. I'm not a huge fan of beer, so I didn't sample those, but I found out that they had Woodpecker Cider on tap, and they were generous enough to allow me a sample (or two) of that. This is the only place in Danville that serves cider at all, so I was ecstatic! I've been to Beer Engine before--the most memorable time was after the Girl Talk concert back in the spring. It's a great place to go for craft and locally-brewed beers!
Best Place for Coffee and a Chat: The Hub Coffee House & Cafe
We ended our whirlwind tour at The Hub Coffee House & Cafe. They were closing down, but were generous enough to let us wind down and talk to Adam, our host from the CVB. The Hub is where I go for work and lunch meetings. It's a comfortable place to have lunch and be able to chat--they offer coffees, teas, sandwiches and even crepes.
Best Candy: Karamel Kreations
At The Hub, we were presented with goodie bags from a couple of places, including Karamel Kreations, Danville's newest candy shop. We got to take the caramel candies home to sample, and my family loved it! My favorite was the little caramel square, which was buttery and flavorful, but if you have kids, they'll love the little Karamel Klubs--my daughter couldn't get over the fact that they looked like little chicken drumsticks!
Best Bakery: Burke's Bakery and Delicatessen
Now everyone in Danville knows about Burke's Bakery--the little bakery that sells doughnuts, cookies, cakes, pies and more! It's a quaint little shop that doesn't fuss over its delicious desserts, and they were nice enough to give us a sampler as well. The cookies are bite-sized, and the pies are like the ones your grandmother made. And the prices are about what your grandmother paid, too! We love to take our daughter on Saturday mornings for some doughnuts...and when she's lucky, they throw in a handful of doughnut holes, her favorites, just to make a little girl happy.
Best Cupcakes: The Twisted Sifter
We rounded out our evening with lovely cupcakes from The Twisted Sifter (as if we needed more food at this point!). We were treated to champagne and pumpkin spice cupcakes. The Twisted Sifter is only a couple of years old, but everyone in town knows that this is the place to go for fancy cupcakes and lovely special occasion cakes. They have daily specials, and if you'll be in town and you'd like to find out what those are, you can join their group on Facebook.
All in all, this was a fabulous first event for the Kentucky Food Bloggers Association. We had a great time, and truly learned that it really is "Better in Danville!"
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