About Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.


Latest Posts by Renee Blodgett

Reflecting on What Japan Might Be….

October 24, 2014 by  

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Despite my love of the road and exploring all things new and different, Japan has remained off my priority “hit” list for years even though I’ll admit that I have always been intrigued by its allure and mystery.

You see, as far back as I can remember, I had pen pals….in the traditional sense, you know….in the pre-Internet days. I wrote hand written letters to what started out as a few people from far away places to dozens from around the world. My very first pen pal was from Sweden and the second was from Japan. We met them in a hotel restaurant in upstate New York and my grandfather being the man he was, had to proactively interject ourselves into their conversation while they were having a quiet dinner.

It was in his nature to do something like this and I have to admit, we were secretly glad he did since our entire table was in awe over the beautifully elegant traditional clothing that adorned their bodies.

It was rare to see a woman and her daughter from another country alone in the 1970s in the very provincial area where we grew up. And so, off we went to interrupt their dinner and “chat” with them only to learn that the daughter spoke no English at all and the mother could only speak a few basic words and phrases in English. That one encounter led to a few decades of letter exchanges, almost entirely with the mother even though the daughter was much closer to my age at the time.

She would always send me the most decadent cards and photos. The cards had ribbons trailing them, sparkles and icons and the photos were most always of traditional rituals or events her daughter participated in, such as dance and piano recitals. Her English was always broken and spotty but the dialogue continued and even after the Internet took over traditional penmanship, we continued with Christmas cards.

After adding more and more country stamps to my passport, I still had never come across elaborate and beautifully styled cards as the ones from Japan that made it to my mailbox each year. Only in recent years have our annual cards stopped.

After so many long years, I now embark on a trip to Japan, somewhat by accident and somewhat designed.

You see, I have something called a destination intention board in my office and Japan has been on that board for about a year now, together with other countries you’d think a seasoned traveler would have hit by now, like Peru and Argentina. Although I traveled extensively through Southeast Asia in my twenties, hitting Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Macau, Nepal and India, Malaysia and Japan were purposely skipped at the time, largely because the around the world tickets didn’t stop there (at least not easily) and Japan was always known as an expensive destination and as a young traveler, that simply meant that it was off limits.

I had 3 more opportunities to visit Japan over the years, two of which were business related however I was asked “not to come” by our business partner at the time and that they send a man instead. It wasn’t said in precisely in those words, but the translation from my international new business development manager who spoke six languages, alluded as such.

Miffed by this, I somehow wasn’t entirely offended; it actually added to the intrigue. I had heard of stereotypical stories of women in boardrooms only present to serve tea, men with multiple concubines, stories of American male business counterparts who would go out drinking with Japanese partners only to come home with a credit card bills that made their CFO’s skin crawl. The beauty of the Geisha Girls, traditional dance and of course fresh sushi.

A long time fan of sushi, I had secretly dreamed of being sent to Japan with an unlimited expense account and merely asked to entertain a partner by taking them the top ten sushi restaurants in Tokyo and Osaka. I envisioned other scenarios like an assignment to sample the best saki across four cities and write about it.

And yet, as the years went on and the travel continued, I never really found a reason to go to Tokyo and the frequent stories of $300 cab rides, $1,000 dinners and $40 draft beers easily directed my focus to other more affordable destinations and so I let Japan and the alluring city of Tokyo wait it out.

As the few people I know in Tokyo will attest, I was a bit nervous about my arrival. They probably saw the emails as anal, repetitive, uncannily junior in nature for such an avid traveler and perhaps a little overly cautious.

As many people know, I don’t put a lot of planning and research into a trip in advance. While I do cover the basics such as protocols, money, health, visas and where to avoid, I don’t research known activities or sites I’m supposed to visit. Rather, I land and let the experience take me organically.

This is a little easier when the culture is more aligned with your own such as I felt was the case with the Vikings in Iceland last summer. Frankly, it had been a couple of decades since I visited a country whose language was not only a far cry from the English language, but written in a form that is indecipherable by anyone who grows up with the Latin alphabet. When you think the Eastern European languages are hard to grasp and are pulling your hair out, try looking at Japanese for the first time and making any kind of sense of it.

That said, I quickly learned that Japanese a beautiful language that just rolls, which more familiar languages like German and Russian have never done for me. That introduction started on the plane and continued at Tokyo’s Narita airport upon arrival.

I love the feeling I get when I first land in a foreign destination for the first time – the butterflies go off in a rather addictive way, not unlike the kind I get when I meet an attractive man with a mysterious allure. Those familiar butterflies happily went off as the plane smoothly landed on Tokyo’s soil, albeit over four hours late, so late that I was concerned about catching the very last Limousine bus into the center of Tokyo, which apparently stopped immediately in front of my hotel.

I didn’t sleep on the plane and I’m not sure if it was due to the few cups of green tea, the not so pleasant smells coming from the seats in front of me, or the fact that I was somewhat tightly wound by having all my ducks on a row (SO not the case) when I landed.

I realized as I went through Immigration and then customs, that I didn’t actually have the address of the hotel, but surely there was only one Hotel Otani. Actually no…..in fact, there are three Otani Hotels, two of which the Limousine Bus stop at – this is one of the downfalls of not preparing for a trip as extensively as some travelers do, where every detail is confirmed three times before they leave the country.

Luckily we (the ticket agent and I) figured it out through process of elimination. What I did know:

I knew that Japan had changed dramatically from the days where women were not found in board rooms or became engineers.

I knew that Japan would have beautiful temples, gardens, mountains and views. I knew I could eat like a king and smile ear-to-ear at every meal.

Iknew about Tokyo’s efficiency and formal culture, such as bowing, being courteous and polite rather than forward and assuming, something I was looking forward to coming from a culture who just does and asks for forgiveness later. It’s an American quality I admire and respect, but also find grating at times, even in myself. I knew there was much to learn from Japanese culture and yet I feared it at the same time.

Someone asked me at the Travel + Leisure Smitty Awards event I recently attended in New York what was the most “foreign” place I ever visited? “What do you mean by foreign”, I asked him. He pondered and then shook his head and added, “where was the one place you felt more out of sorts than anywhere else, where you felt more confused, more out of alignment with who you were and knew, than any other place?”

Great great question. I thought about arriving in Bucharest and Prague in the mid-eighties and my exchanges with security and police officers, or the absurdity of banned objects in Russia, Malawi and Tanzania around the same time and the constant warning of my hotel phone being tapped. I thought about taking the third class train with the goats and the snakes through Egypt and nearly being sold in Somalia to a family. I thought about China the first year it had opened to the western world, where I was spat on at a ticket counter and later, nearly died in hostel in the north.

And yet, at the tip of my tongue, I wanted to say, it very well may be Japan where I knew I would be in a week’s time.

Sure, westerners travel to Tokyo on business all the time and have been for years. The city attracts mainstream tourists and has international hotels and chains just like other global cities do.

And yet……

I am writing this on the Limousine bus from Narita to the New Otani Hotel, something I try to do before I actually experience a place. Why? Because doing so before you meet a new city, allows all the stereotypes, preconceived ideas (some truthful, some not) and images in your mind to escape freely and openly before a culture actually touches your soul.

Currently I write impressions that aren’t really impressions at all (yet), but illusions of a place I have only discovered from books, photos, blog posts, movies, stories and cartoons.

As I make my way on the long one hour and a forty minute journey to my hotel, the suburbs and high rised buildings of the outskirts zip past me in the darkness. The bus is air conditioned, offers wifi and has reclining chairs and its efficiency very well may be unparalleled.  Sorry Singapore.

As I sit in comfort, I am aware of my excitement about my first sushi experience in Tokyo while simultaneously I take in my sore muscles and tired body. I think of how cold it was at JFK before we left, the air conditioning blasting through the vents and coating us with icy air as we digested all the lame reasons for yet another flight delay.

Then, And a warm smile crossed my face as I thought of the Japanese woman in her early fifties who took her shawl and wrapped it around my shoulders as she saw me shivering. Later, the same woman gave me her seat so I had no one sitting next to me for the 13+ hour flight. Ahhh, her dramatic eyes with the ever so precise black eyeliner which would have looked hideous on my eyes, yet made hers glow and sparkle.

My first encounter with a Japanese angel and somehow I knew I would encounter many more angels and magical moments on this overdue trip. As the bus driver shot me the same warm smile she had given me so many hours before, and helped me with my heavy camera bag down the stairs, I made my way through the rolling doors of my first Tokyo hotel, ready to let a new experience begin.

The Ever So Spiritual Nezu Jinja Shrine in Tokyo

October 23, 2014 by  

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One of my favorite afternoons in Tokyo was spent at the Nezu-jinja Shrine in the north, which is located off the beaten path on the Chiyoda line in a tiny little suburb called Nezu. It is said to have been established over 1,900 years ago by the legendary priest Yamato Takeru no Mikoto in Sendagi with Susanoo no Mikoto as the chief deity.

The shrine itself was completely empty when I arrived and by the time I left a few hours later, there was only one man walking his dog and a teenage student in her school uniform wandering about. The place was so serene, so tranquil that it would be easy to sit amidst its spiritual presence for hours if not days.

It has an incredibly rich and old past and boasts a number of fascinating factoids, largely related to the shrine’s age. In the Edo Period (1600-1867), the 5th shogun Tsunayoshi relocated it from Sendagi to Nezu to commemorate the adoption of Ienobu as his successor and the 6th shogun Ienobu chose it as the guardian deity. The Gongen-style architectures (typical of modern shrines) of Honden (main sanctuary), Haiden (worship hall), Heiden (offering hall), Karamon (Chinese-style gate), Romon (two-story gate) and Sukibei (lattice-windowed wall) are designated as nationally Important Cultural Properties.

The best way for you experience this place is to go on a visual and audio journey with me. Have a look below a the video I shot as I not only walked through the Nezu Jinja Shrine but also through the neighborhood of Nezu (the subway has the same name and where you get off on the green Chiyoda line to get there).

Details:

1 Chrome 28-9

Nezu, Bunkyo

Tokyo 113-0031

Japan

Take the Green/Chiyoda Line north from the center of Tokyo and get off at NEZU, which is also an old residential neighborhood and one worth walking around if you’re into architecture and real local cultural life.

Photo credits: Japan Travel and Japan Web Magazine.

For more posts on Japan, see our Japan section and on Tokyo, visit our Tokyo Japan / top things to do in Tokyo section.

Food Porn From the Latin Quarter of Paris

October 23, 2014 by  

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Below are some fun dishes that I had at three different Latin Quarter restaurants in Paris in the last few months. Enjoy!

Also be sure to see our extensive write-up on other Paris restaurants we love. (top Paris restaurants).


Tarrytown House Estate Combines Recreational Variety With Historical Charm

October 23, 2014 by  

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For those who have never heard of Tarrytown, it’s an all American town in Westchester County New York, which is a stone’s throw from the legendary Sleepy Hollow and roughly 25 miles from New York City. I discovered the Tarrytown House Estate & Conference Center in July and had an opportunity to stay in one of their 212 luxurious guest rooms this fall. 

The hotel is a wonderful blend of historical charm with modern conveniences, making it a great stay for families as well as business people who are tired of the chain hotel but need reliable wifi and a gym.

The property sits on 26-acres overlooking the Hudson River Valley and if the hotel itself isn’t enough to boast about, there are two impressive 19th-century mansions on site as well: King Mansion and Biddle Mansion as well: a carriage house and a cottage. For business execs and planners, there’s also a contemporary atrium-style building that houses conference facilities and guest rooms. It also seems like it would be an ideal place for a wedding party, especially in the early fall. Three different views below…

The grounds are well manicured and naturally beautiful, so providing the weather is warm enough, I’d recommend having breakfast at one of the outside tables at Biddle Mansion, where you’ll be presented with great views of the entire grounds, including the swimming pool and tennis courts.

Why I think it’s a great choice for families? The entire property is contained and inside the grounds, there are plenty of leisure and recreational facilities both inside and out, so regardless of what time of year it is, the kids won’t be bored. There’s an incredible fitness club (we played racket ball — they also have a sizable gym for a hotel), indoor and outdoor swimming pools and tennis courts. They even provide rackets and balls for those who didn’t bring them along.

Next to the gym, there’s a hot tub, which we graciously used (my only regret is that we got there late so didn’t have enough time to fully use the facilities as we had hoped), and a sauna. Note that the gym faces the beautiful grounds and has lots of windows, so it’s light and airy, so often not the case with many hotel gyms as frequent travelers know.

The rooms themselves are fairly standard and not the #1 reason to stay here — it’s the facilities, the access to the mansions, the incredible Cellar 49 restaurant and fun adjoining bar, the hospitality, the service and the recreational features.

That said, the rooms are lovely! Each room, including the suites, are well appointed and have all the features you’d hope for and need at a four star property — the service is fabulous btw! The other great thing about the rooms is that they’re spacious, making it useful for family stays. Some rooms have spectacular views as well so when you book, be sure to ask for one that is facing the natural beauty.

The other reason to stay here is its location. I can’t think of another hotel that can touch its historical charm in the area as well as its features and facilities. It’s so close to to the activities that Westchester County has to offer, such as antiquing, boating, hiking and sightseeing. Famous sites in the area include Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, Philipsburg Manor and the spectacular Rockefeller estate, Kykuit.

Other nearby attractions include Hudson Park, Neuberger Museum of Art, Grand Prix New York Racing, and the Cortlandt Heritage Museum. The hotel is also located only 5 miles away from Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture where guests can enjoy various dishes made from locally grown produce and ingredients at the center’s restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

It is also near the United States Military Academy at West Point and, again, only 25 miles from New York City. If you don’t want to deal with the traffic, there’s a train nearby that can take you in and out of Manhattan easily and there are countless options throughout the day.

Two thumbs up! Be sure to check out our Cellar 49 review, the restaurant on-site in the Biddle Mansion. We LOVED IT!!

Details:

Tarrytown House Estate

49 East Sunnyside Lane | 

Tarrytown, NY 10591 |

800-553-8118 

Note: I was hosted but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Modern Meets Charm at Boeuf Couronne Hotel, In the Heart of Chartres

October 23, 2014 by  

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Run by the Sami family for nearly a century, the Boeuf Couronne Hotel is in the heart of Chartres, France, the famous Normandy city that draws over a million visitors a year.

There are 17 very individualized rooms, all decorated in a contemporary style with a warm, but modern atmosphere. A few steps from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, the downtown shops, and heritage buildings along an ancient medieval streets, the hotel is an ideal location to stay. There is also an adjoining restaurant where you can dine for dinner or breakfast.

Details:

Boeuf Couronne Hotel

15 Place Châtelet, 28000

Chartres, France
+33 2 37 18 06 06

Be sure to check out our Brittany/Normandy food & wine section (and posts), as well as our general section on Brittany/Normandy. And, of course for the passionate about all things France, we have quite a bit of content in our France section as well as Paris.

Note: My trip was hosted by the French Tourism Board, however all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

 

Sprawling Shubuya For My Earliest Impressions of Tokyo

October 23, 2014 by  

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Shubuya Square in Tokyo — its the wild massive busy place where they shot the movie Lost in Translation.

Despite the fact that while they say many things are also in English, you have to dig hard to find them. They don’t even have the word EXIT in English in the subway. The only thing that is in English is the train stops next to the Japanese, everything else is in Japanese.  It’s very confusing, yet everything is efficient and the people are so friendly, they’ll go out of their way to help you regardless of what they’re doing. Everything is so foreign and it is most evidenced in Shubuya’s main square. Some of the cultural differences are so unique that you almost have to pinch yourself and ask “is this real?”

Random first observations and first impressions:

  • There is a great deal of order and respect in Japan. Its almost like one big playground really and you don’t need to stress about anything (theft, etc).
  • People  smile a lot so it really doesn’t feel stressful despite its confusion because of the language barrier.
  • Many places have smoking, so you have to bear that in mind before going in. 
  • No one locks their bikes up in the middle of the city.
  • There are loads of small unattended children roaming around.
  • It’s not as expensive as everyone says. My first meal came to $14 including tip tonight for six mini sushi plates, a beer and a green tea and one way on the subway is only $1.70.
  • Friendliness is through the roof. When I left the hotel, there were five people who escorted me into a taxi, told me no taxi driver would rip me off because of honor and then as the taxi drove off, all 5 of them waved to me as if I were leaving my cousin’s house, not some random hotel in the middle of a big city.
  • Follow through – after working out in the gym of my hotel, a woman custodian brought me two towels and hung them up for me and followed me around afterwards to make sure I had everything I needed.
  • If you have confident issues, the Japanese will take you out of it because they’re so caring that you somehow feel worthy because even strangers take time to make sure you’re okay.
  • Haircuts are half the cost as they are in the states.
  • Surprised – 20 year olds were wearing pixie skirts with dock marten like pumps and wedges. They seem to love bling and cutsy, very pink or very baby blue hair clips and accessories.
  • Men are attentive – at my hotel pool, all the grown women were floating around inside those goofy looking inflatable tubes and their boyfriends and/or husbands were pushing them around as if they were children. If they weren’t using an inflatable, the girl was hanging onto her partner’s back as he would push her around the pool. It was romantic.
  • Then there’s the umbrellas. Because it’s hot, most of the women carry around these beautiful umbrellas to keep the sun off their face – they all seem to wear hats as well to cover their very white, pure skin.
  • Soda and juice machines EVERYWHERE, on every corner it appears – dispenser machines so for about $1.00-2.50, you can get something to drink just about anywhere.
  • They still have cigarette dispensing machines on the streets.

First photo credit: Japan Guide.com.

Wifi in Your Pocket For Your Trip to France With Travel Wifi

October 22, 2014 by  

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Travel Wifi rents personal Wifi hotspots (also called Mifi) giving up to 4G speed connection on the Bouygues Télécom network for coverage in selected parts of France. It is a small device that fits in your pocket with automatic connectivity and English speaking support services.

To rent your mobile hotspot, log onto their website and book it with a few clicks. The hotspot is delivered via standard mail in France or courier services inside of Paris to any French address (hotel, rental flat or house…). Once you have received your hotspot, the connection is absolutely unlimited in up to 4G speed! The Wifi signal can be shared with up to 10 devices at the same time. Returning it before you leave France is easy — simply pop it in a provided prepaid envelope that you just drop in any mailbox which is what I did from the airport.

They charge according to the rental duration: For 3 days, the price is 10€/day. A week is 8€/day going down to 7€/day for 20 days, 6€/day for 30 days or longer.

Disclosure: we were given a device to use for my trip to France with the French Tourism Board so I had a chance to use it for the week. It worked flawlessly wherever we were and connected quickly. Photo credit from the travel wifi website.

Basa & Rye-on-Market, 2 Louisville Gems For the Ultimate Foodie

October 22, 2014 by  

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Each year in the fall, I traditionally do a few restaurant reviews in Louisville Kentucky and they typically fall the week after their annual Taste of Innovation, a foodie event which draws a few dozen restaurants, vendors, bourbon makers and more.

Basa Restaurant, one of our picks for this year, wasn’t at Taste of Innovation however I heard about it from a local friend who is in love with food — and she’s a vegetarian. In other words, they have enough delicious options for vegetarians as well, although that isn’t their specialty – Vietnamese fusion is.

Below is their organic tofu dish with crisp egg noodle, mushroom, bok choy, watercress, bean sprouts, red cabbage, eggplant and yellow curry sauce. The dish is served over noodles with a soy ginger sauce and cilantro.

 

They feature local ingredients while infusing modern cooking techniques and the menu is eclectic as is their list of cocktails. I tried the Basa Signature for hoots, which is made with Finlandia Vodka and natural aloe vera. Yum! Their presentation is stunning as well and it’s clear that this brother tag team put a lot of effort and time into the details. They also tout a list of eclectic teas and premium wine labels, all of which are driven by the food that they serve.

Originally from South Vietnam, chef Michael Ton and brother Steven Ton have been running Basa since 2007, a reflection of their lifelong passion. Steven wanted me to try the tuna tartare with cherry tomato, mixed lettuce, micro green, cilantro avocado cream, sesame oil, wonton crisp and soy vinaigrette and so I did. Who am I to argue with an owner about what he thinks is delicious? This is always a wise choice and let’s say that I’ve never been disappointed.

My veggie friend Holly and I then tried the sweet lemongrass yellow curry marinated rib eye stirfried over udon noodles with mushrooms, onions, brussel sprouts and two tempura tiger prawns. They serve with a sweet soy ginger sauce, apparently one of Michael’s specialties. It includes cilantro, lime and crispy shallots. She skipped the meat.

While everything was amazing, my favorite had to be their seared scallop, served with Hawaiian purple sweet potatoes (gotta love the South for these varietals), Imperial rice, shrimp, goat cheese mixed mushrooms and a deep fried ravioli with sherry porcini mushroom. OMG!

 

Apparently a favorite with locals is the mussels with yellow curry, although you can also get them in a coconut or lemongrass sauce and they’re served with a French baguette.

Every year, I hear a lot of the same restaurant names over and over again and frankly, while I have tried all of the recommendations from that list except for one, and had incredible meals, some of the less talked about gems don’t get enough credit. Basa is a notch above most of the classic favorites of locals – they’re fresh, their menu is unique, they offer a wide variety of light dishes and their cocktail and wine menu is diverse.

The other thing to note which doesn’t get said often enough, but it matters, is “Attitude!” I love Michael and Steven’s attitude. I genuinely felt that they weren’t there to “impress,” but just dish up what they love because they were so eager to share their special kitchen creations. Sous chef Blake Pascua who we spoke to on more than one occasion, was also genuine, warm and passionate about the menu.

From tenderloin and green papaya salads, crispy shrimp and pork rolls, to deep fried jumbo oysters, salt and pepper prawns, pan seared ahi tuna with coconut and a carmamelized catfish claypot with smoked bacon and tamarind broth (yum!!), there’s enough variety to come back countless times and never be bored with the menu.

Food talent and passion extends through the family I learn as I chatted with Steven about their history, their family and how they got started.  Apparently, their aunt runs a place called Roots, which is her answer to the lack of upscale vegetarian dining in Louisville. Her tagline is mindful, compassionate cooking, and if her approach is anything like Michael and Steve’s, then it’s definitely worth a try.

They also run and manage La Coop Bistro, Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse and Rawbar in the historic Whiskey Row of downtown Louisville on Main Street and Union Common Steakhouse, a social concept steakhouse featuring shared plates paired with an extensive wine & whiskey selection in downtown Nashville.  

We love these guys — two thumbs up!

Details:

Basa Restaurant

2244 Frankfort Avenue

Louisville, KY 40206

Our second pick this year is Rye on Market, which has been getting rave reviews by local friends for a couple of years now. Like I did at Basa, I opted to sit at the bar, largely because I always learn more than I do at a table. It’s also great for picking up on what others think of a place, seeing the dishes and drinks others are ordering and feeling the pulse.

A little different than the Vietnamese fusion spectrum above, Rye has a lot more traditional dishes, many of which have southern flavors and style. For small eats, you can get a meat plate (house smoked bacon, pork rillette, broadbent country ham and duck liver mousse), a cheese plate (Beemster XO, Bucheron, Kenny’s KY Rose and Kenny’s KY Bleu) or oysters, which of course I had to try. While they may not have had the variety that our friends in Massachusetts did over the summer, they did offer Wellfleet oysters from Cape Cod with the other choice being Misty Point from Pope’s Bay in Virginia, which I had never tried before.

Oh so delicious was the Roasted Delica Squash, which they served with fig, spiced yogurt, walnut, sage, brown butter vinaigrette. The flavors were incredible — would have loved a dollop more of the spiced yogurt however as it was a bit on the dry side. Head chef Andrew McCabe and I chatted about the flavorful yogurt later in the evening — he uses szechuan pepper, corn and a touch of cinnamon.

Out of this world and a must try if you go to the restaurant, is their Squid Ink Fettuccine. Sadly, the photo we took of this delicious gem is a bit blurry, but suffice to say, don’t let that deter you — just order the dish. It is served with frog legs, black garlic and parsley and will have any foodie in culinary heaven for hours.

Andrew is beyond a little passionate about his cooking – it’s something you can see in a chef’s eyes when you talk to them. You know…that fire! He has it. According to the bartender, executive chef Tyler Morris is big on garlic, big on salt (black volcanic sea salt that is) and simplifying things. I did notice volcanic sea salt in many of the dishes and have to admit, I love it! They even use it in the butter.

Andrew wanted us to try a duck dish, which wasn’t on the menu. Your mouth is sure to water as you think about a tobacco roasted duck breast with Weisenberg grits, beer pickled pear, chestnuts, smoked duck jus and black lava salt. Oh so southern and oh so delicious!

My favorites? Besides the fettucini which had me at hello, two others stood out! Their Kale & Heirloom Pumpkin (it was seasonal, so they may not have it on the menu depending on when you go), which is served with Buttermilk Cheese, Pepita, Mint and a Champagne Vinaigrette and the Pastrami Spiced Beets with horseradish cream, pumpernickel, mustard greens and chives, a dish that was still on my mind two days later. Note how fabulous their presentation is below.

Another southern-infused style preparation is their Saltwater Catfish, served with Gooseberry, Bacon Butter, Dandelion and Braised Cabbage. Freshly and uniquely prepared, we loved this dish!

Since I played around with both fish and meat dishes, I tasted the Charles & Charles Chardonnay from Columbia Valley in Washington and the Domaine Vocoret & Fils Chardonnay/Chablis, the latter went perfectly with the oysters. Then, I danced with the Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Oregon and while I’m not a huge Pinot fan, this one had lovely body, although it still felt a little flat. Favorites on the list (although they didn’t pair well with all the dishes I tried), were the Hayes Valley Cabernet from Central Valley (2012) and the Leesefitch Zinfandel from Sonoma (2011).

If you’re not into wines, they have a great cocktail list. The ones that jumped for me are the Skeleton Key (served with Reposado Tequilla, Fig (yes eally :-), Rosemary, Orange, Lime, Tiki Bitters and Ginger Beer. The women to my left raved about the Bonfire (Mezcal, Allspice Dream, Grapefruit, Lime, Demerara and Bitters) and the couple to my right tried a very unusual drink they liked called “How Do You Like Them Apples?” It is made from peanut rum, apple caramel, apple juice, spiced apple shrub and baked apple bitters. Also sounds like an incredibly seasonal drink given that it was early October.

They also have a couple of brandy focused drinks on the menu, which is fitting given that Rye is in the heart of Louisville. Their Schnitzelburg is made with Bourbon, cardamaro, Fernet and Maraschino (and no I didn’t try it but it sounds delicious) and a Kentucky Coffee drink, which they make with Bourbon, Sunergos coffee, sorghum, vanilla cream and bitters.

We love this restaurant and I love Andrew’s passion. Kudos to the Rye on Market culinary team for giving me culinary orgasms on my last night in Louisville.

Details: 

Rye-on-Market

900 East Market Street

Louisville, KY 40206

502.749.6200

All photos credit to Renee Blodgett.

See our write up on Taste of Innovation in Louisville Kentucky, an event I go to as part of the Idea Festival which I’ve been going to now for around five years now. And, each year, I pick some of my favorite foodie experiences in this gem of a southern city, which is usually a mishmash of top picks from Taste of Innovation and restaurant reviews. Be sure to see my top five picks from last year (Top Restaurants in Louisville), our write up on last year’s Taste of Innovation, from 2012 Taste of Innovation and 2011. 

Other restaurants we’ve taken a look at include Proof on Main at the well renowned 21c Museum Hotel, where I stayed this year, Seviche Restaurant (loved their seafood bisque – hats off to chef Anthony Lamas, Lilly’s (I love Kathy’s approach to cooking, her sweet potato gnocchi with country ham, kale and bourbon mustard cream sauce from a previous year was to die for as was this year’s portobello mushroom soup, although we have yet to review Lilly’s), MilkwoodDeccaGame (for every kind of game imaginable), La Coop Bistro, Mayan CafeHarvest, and Jack Frys.

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