Monday, May 7, 2012

Win. Place. Show.

This past Saturday morning as dawn broke, a trifecta was aligned long before a single horse took to the track. Cinco De Mayo, the Kentucky Derby, and a super moon were all pushed into one day on the calendar. With little or no hesitation, my fiance and I knew we needed to leave town to avoid the masses of inebriated out-of-towners, long lines at restaurants and the thick traffic that covers every stretch of road for miles. As if we had sent out some bat signal, friends invited us to their family's farm just north of the city. So, early Saturday morning, my fiance headed out on his bike with the boys to trek some 70-miles while I loaded the fully air conditioned car with all of our overnight needs.

The track on Saturday was likely adorned with ladies parading in their designer hats, dresses and high heeled sandals. By the eve of the super moon, I found myself covered in thick mud, wearing soaking wet shoes and feeling a salty crust in my hair. My forearms were slightly reddened from the hours I spent jockeying a four-wheeler through some of the most undisturbed countryside you can imagine. With dogs in tow, we rolled through mile after mile of scenic rolling hills and tree lined creeks. However, like riding a mountain bike, my four wheeler skills are rusty and I kissed a tree ever so gently. No injuries, no fouls, we headed back for gun shooting in a quiet valley. My gun skills out perform my ATV skills.

Iggy herds and rides four-wheelers. If he had thumbs, he would drive one too.

Arguably, the culmination of the evening was an outdoor foodie feast. Although over 80-miles from any city skyline or fine four star restaurant, this crew laid out an epic meal of Greek God proportions. Grilled burgers sizzling with flavors, accompanied by two inch thick salmon burgers, country ham wrapped shrimp and steamed vegetables swirled together on everyone's plates. As if that were not enough, we pilfered a crock pot filled with homemade smoky pulled pork barbecue so tasty and perfect that sauce was only an after thought. The never ending moaning, groaning sounds bounced around the table until most of us reached a "meat coma" of sorts where we talked ourselves into cleaning off our plates even if it meant for an uncomfortable feeling around our waists.

As if the dinner feast weren't enough, the buffet was changed over from dinner to dessert in minutes and the table over flowed with cupcakes, bread pudding, and an ice cream cake that would make your toes curl with delight. The meal was only enhanced by one of the best mint juleps I've ever drank in my entire life. Forget the infield powdered sugar slushie version that is labeled and sold as a "mint julep". This Kentucky cocktail was a smooth perfectly balanced mix of ice, syrup, bourbon, and fresh mint, all muddled together to release the flavors at their peak. As conversation died down from our full distended abdomens, someone finally noticed the full super moon carefully cradled in our backdrop. Indeed, it was super.

One of the many desserts we consumed
I could only best describe this weekend as a Kentucky post card. We awoke on Sunday morning in a small country farm home, a fresh breeze blowing through the windows, with the sounds of crickets and horses playing just a few yards away. I am fairly certain most Louisvillians were still in bed waving off the hours of clotted debauchery from the night before. Then, as I poured a cup of coffee from the french press (we take it everywhere), I could not help but notice the rolling mist across fields glistening with sunshine. The view literally looked like a post card that I would buy to send my friends who no longer call Kentucky home.

There are moments where you are truly thankful and acutely aware of the good things around you. As we sat outside on the deck Saturday night, eating and laughing at all jokes, I had that moment where I felt like I was in a commercial. People came together from all over our city just to enjoy an amazing meal and good company. The jokes, like the bourbon and food, were abundant and as well crafted as each dish we sampled.

On Sunday morning only my fiance and I remained with our generous hosts. We mounted again on four-wheelers taking an even longer ride pointing out every beautiful Kentucky scenery piece we could. This time, he drove and at times I caught us giggling. We rarely get to do "couple" things because we always have other projects going on. On this Sunday, we ditched the cell phones, the deadlines and work clothes. We rode around one-thousand acres, examined hand dug wells and carefully avoided small turtles headed for the creeks. After a little gun lesson, we returned home tired and satisfied at the same time.

JC doing a little target practice.

My limo for Derby.

I love my hometown but like many locals, I do not attend Derby. The crowds, the chaos, and general mayhem are too much for me and my fiance. I've been on both sides of the track (infield and Millionaire's Row). I feel most comfortable when I can see good friends, eat amazing food, and get away from the day to day grind that takes over so often. I do not need a garland of roses or to see a Hollywood star. I need a shower, a french press, and one more mint julep.