Food Finds is a new series of articles focusing on off-the-beaten-path food and restaurant experiences.
Beer cheese may be one of mankind’s perfect food inventions. Cheese? Good. Beer? Arguably better.
But now Liquor Barn has given us something else to ponder: bourbon cheese.
That’s right, the Liquor Barn and Party Mart chain, which is well-known for stocking gourmet foods as well as plenty of tasty beverages, quietly rolled out Flatboat Kentucky Straight Bourbon Cheese Spread late last summer. Essentially, it looks like beer cheese, has the same consistency, but the subtle flavor of bourbon peeks through.
It isn’t overpowering, but it’s there. And it’s pretty darn tasty.
A friend mentioned the product to me and told me it was being made by Shuckman’s Fish Co. & Smokery, so I headed down to Portland to talk to the man who helped bring it to life. Owner Lewis Shuckman told me he and his wife, Vicki, had worked with Liquor Barn owner Jonathan Blue for about three months to get the flavor just right.
“He wanted to be able to taste the bourbon,” Shuckman said.
Blue visited Shuckman at the smokery and talked with him about doing the collaboration, and asked Shuckman if he thought he could make the concept of bourbon cheese work.
“He thought about it, then called me back the next day and said he could do it,” Blue said. “He pulled it off.”
Flatboard Kentucky Straight Bourbon was the choice because it is a house brand and top seller for Liquor Barn at $25.99, sourced from Very Old Barton and packaged with labels depicting someone cruising down the Ohio River on a flatboat.
The cheese, which is $5.99 for an 8-ounce package, bears the same logo, tying the two together not just from a flavor aspect, but from a branding aspect.
“It’s not just any bourbon,” Blue said. “It’s Flatboat. We love Flatboat.”
Asked his favorite way to eat the cheese spread, Blue didn’t hesitate before saying, “With pretzel sticks.”
Shuckman had another suggestion: “Try it on a hamburger and see what that does.”
Monster carnitas at Taco Choza
I’m a taco fiend, and I’m not afraid to admit it. Like, I should be in a 12-step program or something. It’s that bad.
So on a recent Sunday afternoon, I stopped by MexA Tacos in St. Matthews (which is close to opening a new location downtown), only to learn they close at 2:30 that day. Tacos denied. But then I remembered that just a few blocks away, Taco Choza could — if open — cover my cravings.
I was in luck, and one of my selections was a carnitas taco. Moments later, it arrived at my table, and all I can say is that taco was a monstrosity. On top of that, it was one of the best carnitas tacos I’ve ever had.
It literally was packed with enough pork to easily have made two tacos, and the meat was so juicy and flavorful that it really wasn’t even necessary to add any of the house salsas.
I used a couple of dashes of roja tomatillo, but not much — cilantro, onion and a squirt or two of lime was plenty. Heck, I barely had room for my barbacoa taco.
Taco Choza is located at 3922 Westport Road.
Spicy sausage at the Hall on Washington
German food isn’t particularly common in Louisville, which is why Chip Herchert decided on a German-style restaurant and beer hall for his concept The Hall on Washington Street. The restaurant opened in late March.
He told me one of his favorite wurst options on the menu is the Polish jalapeno sausage. Herchert said it was spicy, so I had to try one because, well, spicy is my thing, too.
But I wasn’t even quite prepared for the robust spice in that sausage. No, it didn’t overpower me, but it packed a lot more heat than I had anticipated.
Big chunks of bright green jalapeno in a coarsely ground pork and beef sausage with a snappy case, paired with spicy mustard, means you’d better have a nice, cold lager handy if you order one of these. Or maybe two.
The Hall is located at 108 W. Washington St.
Oskar’s plans to open patio
Fans of Oskar’s Slider Bar will be happy to learn that the restaurant, located at 3799 Poplar Level Road, plans to open a patio. The patio will be a poured-concrete addition that will be accessible only through the restaurant. Both food and drink will be available on the patio, which will have trees and plants around the perimeter.
The restaurant has secured a lease on the space next door, formerly a bakery, for the expansion. Applications haven’t been filed yet with the city, but a public hearing is scheduled for April 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Cyril Allgeier Community Center to detail plans to the neighborhood.