Louisville Magazine

AUG 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.16 111 THE SPREAD A few weeks ago I went to ValuMarket at Mid City Mall on a quiet weeknight and noticed that the summer breeze smelled like … fried chicken. Maybe you've smelled it, too: Louisville has had a Southern-scented waft lately. e new restaurant Somewhere, next to Nowhere bar on Bardstown Road, serves buttermilk fried chicken and fried green to- matoes. ere's Gospel Bird in New Albany, which has a whole menu section dedicat- ed to biscuits. Red Barn Kitchen, local restaurant mogul Fernando Martinez's first Southern/barbecue joint, just opened in Lyndon in what used to be Joe's Older an Dirt — if you have any reservations about trying the place, just look at the video of bubbling mac and cheese with fried cheese curds on its Facebook page. is resurgence of Southern food isn't just happening in Louisville. ere's a place in San Francisco called Brenda's Meat & ree, a place in Portland, Oregon, called Screen Door. When I talk to 610 Mag- nolia and MilkWood owner Edward Lee, he mentions a woman making really good fried chicken up in New York. Why it's so popular likely has to do with the shift back to prioritizing local food. But one thing's clear: Today's definition of Southern food is murky as gravy. e core of Southern food is a blend of these elements: the convergence of Europe- an, African and Native American ingredi- ents and traditions, and a long crop season with an abundance of local products. "To me, if you say 'Southern food,' I'm gonna say, 'Which Southern?'" says Karter Louis, part-owner of Hillbilly Tea, which recently reopened on Main Street. "I'm thinking of New Orleans. I'm thinking of Mississippi. I'm thinking of Memphis. I'm thinking of Mouthfuls of South By Mary Chellis Austin / Photos by Chris Witzke Expanding the boundaries of a stereotyped cuisine. those types of cuisines that are influenced by many things." Lee, a Brooklyn native, says that Southern food has always had Asian influences. "Black pepper doesn't come from the South. e basis of a spice rub for barbecue comes from the Far East spice trade." He mentions Southern food's dormant period, when it was dumbed down to a "Paula Deen-esque sort of greatest hits. People commercialized Southern food and turned it into Cracker Barrel, and for a while it was ignored. Chefs all over the South are understanding that if Southern food comes out of the dark ages, it needs to be something people want to eat, not just biscuits and gravy." Finn's Southern Kitchen opened in Ger- mantown this spring. While it doesn't have quilts hanging from the walls or checkered tablecloths — its clean white walls and round stools are more New York than Pikeville — it serves the classics: chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, the peas- and-rice dish called hoppin' John. Don't expect to hear Dwight Yoakam because it's more of a Jack Johnson/John Mayer/Dave Matthews kind of place. "Do you think we're Southern?" owner Steve Clements says almost defensively when I meet with him one morning. He points up at a large black- and-white photo of a rolling pin that hangs on the wall in a white frame. "Our decor is Southern. Our brand is Southern. Even our drinks — did you see our drink list?" ere's a Kentucky Mule made with Old Forester; a vodka-tea-lemonade drink called Summer in the South; and a bourbon-gin- ger drink called Shoo-Fly Punch. Clements says that his interpretation of Southern food gets down to high-quality ingredients. "Most people's conception of Southern food is that it's heavy, calorie-loaded and not good for ya. at's really not true," he says. Of course collard greens are on the menu, but there's also a "detox" salad, with kale, quinoa, cranberries, carrots, cucumber and Southern fried chicken with collard greens, mashed potatoes and gravy at Sway.

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