Louisville, Kentucky — Arriving near midnight from Los Angeles on American Airlines, I walk through the deserted Standiford Field Airport which clearly is uninhabited and not open for business late at night. Thankfully, I do not have checked baggage and can just text my brother to pick me up out front on the top level. No muss. No fuss. No waiting around for luggage to slowly traverse the airport’s baggage carousel at such a late hour when employees appear to be few and far between. Where is everyone????
My brother drinks at a downtown bar when he receives my I’ve Just Landed text and appears curbside within minutes. Moments later, we drive the Interstate 65 South to my homeland of La Rue County, which is about 50 miles away. Predictably, the highway is under construction near our exit so traffic is tricky. Once off the freeway, we turn on the country road toward Hodgenville, my hometown. I am struck by the silence, the complete darkness, the remote feeling of rural America. How wonderful. It’s a far cry from the constant hustle and bustle of overcrowded Los Angeles.
Any trip home begins with a home-cooked country breakfast at my sister’s successful café near the town square: Paula’s Hot Biscuit. Before I can eat my breakfast, I greet and hug the girls, Paula’s terrific wait staff, and meet the newest employees, learn their families, and introduce myself as Paula’s favorite brother in case Paula had failed to mention that fact as she regularly does.
One thing you should know about Kentuckians is that before they have finished eating their breakfast, they have already begun thinking/planning/strategizing what’s for lunch. As I eat my plate of delicious and heart-clogging Biscuits & Gravy, Paula gets a text message from our brother Ben inviting us to lunch in nearby Bardstown at Bottle & Bond, the restaurant at Bardstown Bourbon Company , the newest distillery and tourist destination in Nelson County, a few miles away.
But first, a hike through Pearman Forest because those Biscuits & Gravy aren’t going to work off themselves! Pearman Forest is a series of nature trails created as part of the La Rue County Environmental Experiment where native trees and plants grow. It’s quite beautiful, always uninhabited by humans, and a wonderful place to walk in the woods and feel, sense, and smell the forest.
The drive to Bardstown is one of the loveliest in La Rue County passing not only our family farm, Gypsy Acres, but also my former garden at Groundhog Hill, then moving past the Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home on Knob Creek (yes, the very creek that inspired a tasty bourbon). Rolling hills, the landscape is still green and verdant.
Bottle & Bond will fast become the Jewel of Nelson County and historic Bardstown. It’s that grand, that cool, that well-designed. Lots of stone, wood, and glass make for a spacious dining experience that begins with the classic bourbon cocktail, The Old Fashioned. You will definitely want to have two! Lunch consists of Brisket Sandwiches & Fries, Fish Tacos, Caesar Salads, and a side of crispy Brussel Sprouts. Save room for dessert and split a Boozy Milkshake. Quite tasty. I can’t wait to go back with friends, enjoy the outdoor firepit and more Old Fashioneds.
Once home, it’s time to split some firewood and get the firepit ready for a late afternoon firepit (and a bourbon!) where we can sit around talk about what’s for supper! Supper is usually potluck among the La Rue siblings in attendance, and most importantly, a card game (or three) will likely precede and follow the meal. Of course before the night ends, we will discuss what’s for breakfast (hint: poached eggs). Priorities, People!
N E X T U P:
Day Two. Malibu Catches Fire. Kentucky Catches Cold. A Story of Fire & Ice.