I was wined (or julep-ed?) and dined and got some serious playtime on state-of-the-art cooking devices, all while enjoying the company of fabulous food bloggers from across the US.
Have you ever been to Louisville? It is utterly charming. With sprawling victorian homes, drawling local articulation, golden sunshine, warm hospitality, and drool-worthy southern food, it completely stole my heart.
I spent hours meandering through the neighbourhoods of the old part of town, snapping pictures of mansions and dreaming of owning one of those gorgeous porches. And dreaming of the fancy hats I would wear on it while sipping on a strong mint julep on said porch.
I was a measly one week late for the Kentucky derby, but at least I got to poke around the racetrack and meet one of the beautiful thoroughbreds.
Notice earlier I referred to a strong mint julep? Strong is really the operative word. In Kentucky, they know how to mix a drink. I only drank one (which is really all I could manage and not fall off my chair), but it was perfection. So ice cold it was like the ice cubes were magical. Perfectly sweet, and minty but not overly so. I was immediately hooked.
I brought a bit of the South home with me – in amber liquid form – and promptly got to work recreating this bewitching Kentucky libation in my own kitchen.
I regret not asking the hotel for their recipe. My own rendition starts with a mint simple syrup – equal parts sugar and water, heated just until the latter dissolves, and then infused with bruised mint leaves. Poured over ice with a healthy slosh of bourbon and a few mint sprigs for garnish, I closed my eyes and could practically hear bluegrass music.
I am a bit of a lightweight when it comes to hard liquor, so I prefer to let my julep stand for 10 minutes or so, to let some ice melt into it and let the whole thing get glacial cold. Feel free to adjust the bourbon to your taste – many recipes call for two ounces per serving.
Pictured in the Monogram test kitchen, from left to right, are Chef Joe Castro of All in Good Food; me, hi there!; Sandy of the Reluctant Entertainer; Cindy of The Daily Basics; and Brenda, of A Farmgirl’s Dabbles. Photo courtesy of the lovely aforementioned Sandy.
My favourite appliance to take for a test run was the Advantium. It’s a speed-cooking oven, and they don’t use the word “speed” lightly. This baby can perfectly bake a potato in 8 minutes. It kinda blew my mind.
Then there was the induction cooktop. It uses technology that allows the food to heat from the inside of the pot, without heating any element. You can put ice on half the element and have water boiling on the other half… whaaaa? Again, mind blown.
We also visited the development team and talked about the future. And people, it is intense. The technology that’s coming down the pipes for the next generation of appliance is seriously amazing…
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves + mint sprigs for garnish
- 1 1/2 oz (45 mL) bourbon
- 2 tbsp mint simple syrup
- Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves completely. Stir in mint leaves, bruising them a bit with a wooden spoon or a muddler. Let stand one hour (or up to overnight – if keeping longer, remove and discard mint leaves).
- Fill a glass (5 oz/300 mL or larger) with ice. Add 1-2 mint sprigs. Pour bourbon and 2 tablespoons of the mint syrup over the ice and stir.
- Adjust strength and sweetness to taste.