Issue March 26, 2010

Nibbles

Don’t card me, bro!

Proposed changes in Kentucky’s legal drinking age remain under discussion in the state legislature as House and Senate members work to compromise the chambers’ differing bills. Rep. Homer Dawkins, R-Waddy, leads the effort to reduce the legal age to 18, arguing, “If they can fight in Eye-rack, they can have a PBR, by gum!” Sen. Roger Smith, a doctor from Lexington, wants the minimum age raised to 30. “My son is 27, and he acts stupid when he’s sober,” Smith said. One possible compromise: a sliding scale.

You want fried nguma worms with that?

The city’s growing refugee community continues to pay off in good eats for the rest of us. We’ve enjoyed being fed by our new neighbors from Mexico, Vietnam, Bosnia and Senegal. Coming soon, we’re told, are immigrant eateries from Tonga and Kazakhstan. Will camel meat be the new bison?

C-J goes to all-volunteer dining reviews

As a result of continuing budget cuts, Gannett has begun all-volunteer food and drink coverage in Velocity and the Scene. Local restaurateurs and public relations firms have rushed to fill the gap with news releases and promotional articles. To facilitate the new vocabulary, The Courier-Journal’s restaurant-rating system now runs from 5 to 9 stars.

Wine for the rest of us

Demonstrating that wine need not be made from grapes, a Harlan, Ky., winery has begun producing a made-in-Kentucky bourbon wine fashioned from local corn. It comes in many flavors — the most popular is tobacco — and goes great with pulled pork barbecue.

Eat or dare

In the spirit of today’s adventurous food movement, we’ve heard about a new NuLu eatery called “We Dare You,” where you can sample scary dishes from around the world. Recent specials have included Filipino balut, a warm duck egg containing a fully formed embryo, and that translucent and curiously aromatic Norwegian winter treat, lutefisk.

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Crushed by the recent announcement that iconic Barcelona chef Ferran Adria is closing his cutting-edge restaurant El Bulli and quitting the food business forever, a local chef who had been deeply influenced by Adria’s style has drowned himself in a vat of beef foam.

What grows in Clifton stays in Clifton

The locavore movement has kicked itself up another notch, as hard-core adherents now declare themselves “Neighbavores,” pledging to eat only food and drink produced in their own neighborhoods. “Winters can be tough,” admitted one, surveying dead plants in a muddy garden off Frankfort Avenue as he rubbed his grumbling belly.

Hard times come a knockin’ …

Because of the ongoing recession, the recommended tipping percentage — destabilized when the long-traditional 15 percent gratuity was increased to a recommended 20 percent in 2004 — has now increased to 47.5 percent. Handy table cards help diners calculate the toll with precision. In a related development, standard restaurant wine list markup has increased from 200 percent to 800 percent of retail, pushing Yellowtail Shiraz beyond the $50 mark.

Kentucky fried WHAT?

KFC — reeling from bad publicity because of backroom lobbying to keep PETA’s Wounded Chicken statue out of downtown — is seeking to make amends by creating a new Healthy Menu aimed at those who prefer to avoid fatty fried chicken. Topping the new bill of fare is chicken-fried, free-range turkey bacon with a side of gravy. Want dessert? Have a deep-fried Fun-Size Snickers bar!