Like a scene out of a movie, the long table was set underneath a string of lights, surrounded by the historic stone rickhouses where Kentucky's native spirit quietly rests. A trio of musicians played soft jazz as guests mixed and mingled, sharing stories of where they were from and what had brought them to this little corner of the world. The weather, simply delightful. The food and drink...perfect. It was the convergence of all of these things that made for a magical night at the Woodford Reserve Distillery last Saturday for one of their Dinner Series events, and it's something you should experience for yourself.
Woodford Reserve Distillery, located in Versailles, Kentucky, is a treasure. It is one of our oldest and smallest distilleries, but that is its charm and what makes it unique. Nestled among some of the prettiest horse farms in the state, it is the quintessential place to show off KY's most well-known products, horses and bourbon. And while you can visit, take a tour of their distillery and pick up some Woodford Reserve products in their beautiful gift shop, we would encourage you to come and enjoy one of their culinary events put on by their chief-in-residence Ouita Michel. And if you don't know who she is, you don't know much about the food scene in and around central Kentucky. She is the owner of 7 restaurants, including the Glenn's Creek Café located at Woodford Reserve Distillery. She believes in using locally sourced ingredients to concoct mouthwatering dishes. You know it's a Ouita Michel dish when the food is fresh, esthetically appealing and makes your taste buds do a happy dance.
Our event started off with a tour of their facilities by a very knowledgeable tour guide who took us through the process from start to finish. Leigh and I just started learning about bourbon a year or so ago and we are still blown away by all that goes in to making the amber liquid and the passion with which those who produce it have for it. We enjoyed taking a break from social media, our phones and the business of life to focus on each stage of the distillation process, hearing the history, smelling the mash as it cooked in the large fermenters and seeing the barrels get filled, plugged and rolled out the door. We knew our sense of taste would also be invoked at the end of the tour with the bourbon and the fantastic dinner.
Afterwards, we were ushered outside to the long table with white tablecloth, navy runner, blue and white china, and flickering candles. Single-stemmed pink, orange, white and yellow roses in crystal vases stood sentinel down the length of the table. It was breathtaking. And then there was the food. What better way to start off the meal than with country ham biscuits with the Woodford Reserve fig jam and classic deviled eggs? This was paired with a refreshing Woodford Reserve Sour. We were then served tender local lettuces that came to life with preserved lemon and charred spring onion buttermilk dressing and topped with fresh herbs and toasted bread crumbs (so much better than those big croutons, in my opinion). The entrée was a braised bone-in beef shank from Black Hawk Farms that, I'm not kidding, was the size of my head. It sat atop grilled Kentucky veggies and a mouthwatering risotto made from the Woodford Reserve grain bill, and the flavor enhancer with the entrée was a Woodford Reserve Rye Manhattan. The beef was fork tender and I don't know that I've ever tasted anything so good. And, of course, I had to make room for my favorite...dessert. A bourbon flavor wheel cake was the best choice with which to finish this intoxicating meal. The Decadent Double Oaked it was served with sealed the deal.
As Leigh and I thanked our host, the hostess with the mostest, Jenny Hurst, who had invited us to come and experience this amazing Dinner Series event, we were practically giddy, and it wasn't from too much bourbon. It was from being a part of a magical night where everything came together in one small window of time that touched us on every level and reminded us, once again, of how lucky we are to live in the beautiful Bluegrass state.
To have this same magical night, check out the other culinary events at Woodford Reserve Distillery. Also, be sure to follow Paper Moon https://www.facebook.com/papermoonlex to see where they're playing next or to book them to play at your next event.
P.S. I almost forgot about the Kendra Scott swag that each lady received as part of their ongoing campaign to make women feel and look beautiful. Thanks, Kendra Scott, for the gorgeous jewelry!