Photo by Steve Coomes
Photo by Steve Coomes

Dinner served long past 9 at Over the 9: I turned 51 this week and, for once, enjoyed the rarely seen friendly side of Facebook. Not surprisingly, some sarcastic (and hilarious) remarks were sprinkled among the well wishes, and the most interesting came from Griffin Paulin, executive chef at Over the 9 restaurant and a man at least 20 years my junior.

Gigging me about my impending dotage and recognizing a good chance to get a little press, he sent me a private message of encouragement “to stay up past my bedtime” and be the guest of him, chef Ming Hsuan Pu and mixologist Jeremy Johnson at their After Midnight dinner this Sunday, Sept. 6, at 12:30 a.m. at Over the 9.

Gauntlet (not cane) thrown down, I and my wife accepted their challenge to tie into the five-course, beverage-paired dinner (click here to see the menu) served many hours after “The Lawrence Welk Show” ends. Should you join us (click here to get tickets) for the post-midnight munching, no need to leave a space by the front doors so the senior bus can drop us off. We’re still driving ourselves.

Chefs Pu and Paulin, I ask that you don’t puree my courses as my teeth aren’t removable — yet. And Mr. Johnson, no mocktails. I can still taste the difference, I think.

This is the second in an ongoing series of After Midnight dinners Paulin is creating to serve restaurant workers searching for a good meal after their shifts end. The next is Sept. 12.

How Cook EverythingMark Bittman to speak at Locust Grove: Mark Bittman, New York Times food writer and the author of the best-selling book cookbook, “How to Cook Everything,” will speak at Locust Grove on Wednesday, Sept. 9. Cocktail hour begins at 5:30 p.m., Bittman speaks at 6:45, and attendees will enjoy endless hors d’oeuvre from La Peche.

So why is Bittman important? His is a sage and sound voice when it comes to food in America. He’s wise when it comes to how we eat, what we eat and why we should, when possible, buy local foods. In this election season, it’s nice to hear at least one human speak reasonably about important issues such as this.

Tickets are $125 per person (it’s a fundraiser for The Berry Center and Locust Grove, so don’t be shocked, and $75 is tax deductible), and you can get them here.

FWIW, “How to Cook Everything” may be the simplest cookbook ever written. I love it (and found the $35 tome on Amazon for $2 used) and consult it more than any other cookbook on my shelf.

Varanese hosting rye whiskey dinner Sept. 10: Had to post this because I’m a big fan of rye whiskey, and heaven knows we’ll see a barrage of bourbon dinners in September, which is Bourbon Heritage Month.

Varanese is hosting a four-course dinner paired with rye whiskies and cocktails on Thursday, Sept. 10. A cocktail reception begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7. Cost is $55 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and reservations can be made by calling 899-9904 or emailing [email protected].

Bourbon Ball Flight | Photo by Megan Breier
Bourbon Ball Flight | Photo by Megan Breier

I won’t list the whole menu, but the booze choices are noteworthy: Apple of Your Rye cocktail; flight of Jim Beam Rye, Russell’s Reserve 6-year Rye, Bulleit Rye and Knob Creek Rye; Italian Rye Manhattan cocktail; and Grilled Peach Sazarac cocktail. Click here to see the food menu as well.

Bourbon ball flight at Sidebar on Whiskey Row: And speaking of flights, check out this bit of food porn sent by Megan Breier, Kentucky brand ambassador at Jim Beam. The restaurant made a bourbon ball flight using (from top to bottom) Jim Beam Black, Basil Hayden’s, Booker’s and Knob Creek.

You could also let these warm to room temp and then ask the bartender there to blend all four into one of Sidebar’s incredible adult milkshakes.

Loui Loui’s launches Highlands walk-up spot: Loui Loui’s, the Detroit-style pizza restaurant in J-Town, recently opened a walk-up location at 960 Baxter Ave., right in the heart of that street’s food and bar scene. Dubbed Loui Loui’s Highlands Up All Night, the to-go only spot serves pizza, Coney Island hotdogs with tons of toppings, tacos and several appetizers.

Anyone reading this and thinking a walk-up dogs spot is long overdue? Dogs are the only drinking food equal to pizza, I say.

Only a few days left to chomp chiles at Chuy’s! Sunday, Sept. 6, marks the end of this year’s Chuy’s annual Hatch Chile festival, a three-week event that includes a special menu chock full of some of the finest green chiles produced in the United States. Grown in Hatch, N.M., these chiles are super flavorful, earthy and spicy without being fiery. Sorry, you won’t see them on grocers’ shelves, so if you’re an ingredient freak, hustle over to Chuy’s to see what you’re missing.

Veggie Fajita
Veggie Fajita

This year’s menu features six new dishes including Bang Bang Burrito (my fave), Fat Daddy Enchiladas, Green Chile Pork Tamales, Bacon Wrapped Pork Rellenos and Veggie Fajitas (the grill-blackened portabellas on this were incredible) and the VIP Combo. And the Spicy Cucumber Texas Martini, which is made with Hatch chile-infused tequila, is fantastic.

Chain restaurants don’t get much love from Insider Louisville, but as I’ve written before, if the restaurant’s praiseworthy, it doesn’t matter whether it’s an indie or a chain. Chuy’s is an excellent spot for Tex-Mex in this town. No wonder it’s also one of the highest-grossing restaurants in Louisville.

History of American Brandy seminar at Copper & Kings: Good gosh, lots of non-bourbon news this week. On Wednesday, Sept. 16, bourbon historian Michael Veach will lead a seminar on American brandy at Copper & Kings in Butchertown (1121 E. Washington St.). Veach will share the results of a study conducted by him and colleague Renae Price, info that marks the first in-depth archival analysis of the subject. The event will run from 4-8 p.m.

If you’re a bourbon wonk, you know Veach’s work and book, “Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey,” and you’ve likely heard him teach. The guy always shares super-interesting stuff.

And because the event will be held at a distillery, expect small bites and brandy cocktails served in Copper & Kings’ art gallery and skydeck. Who thought learnin’ could be so fun?

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Steve Coomes
Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.