Irish Legends and Kentucky Socials

Heritage tasting flight at the Frazier History Museum.

By Janice Carter Levitch

Ireland is a place I’ve often daydreamed about visiting. Traveling to such a faraway destination isn’t always easy, but sometimes a lucky leprechaun comes along and creates a little magic. This is what happened when the Farm to Frazier: Kentucky by Way of Ireland dinner was held at the Frazier History Museum. The brilliant minds who put on this affair included Michael Reidy, owner of the Irish Rover, who joined culinary forces with the president and CEO of the Frazier, Penny Peavler, along with Robert Bleifer, Food Network executive chef and vice president of culinary.

Reidy has the most delightful Irish accent and keeps you engaged with anecdotes and quotes that have great importance. “If you trust someone with the small things, you will trust them with the big things,” Reidy said, quoting a rendition of Luke 16:10 in the Bible.

George Gatewood and fiancé Haley Harris at Longwood Antique Woods.

Lucky me, I was invited to attend this delicious event introducing a “heritage tasting” by Brown-Forman, which included Scotch, Irish whiskey, and bourbon. Presented as a tasting flight (this kind of flight refers to three or more tasting samples; no one is airborne), it was paired with the silkiest smoked salmon and brown soda bread (it’s Irish) you could ever hope to allow your palate to indulge in. As a bourbon newcomer, I needed all the handholding I could get, and Reidy and Bleifer did just that.

As we began the tasting, this dynamic duo knew every nuance that creates the unique differences between Scotch, Irish whiskey, and bourbon. After tasting all three, I have to say that I’m still considered a newbie but will be the first in line to attend the next dinner series to learn more. The entire menu made me feel like I had kissed the Blarney stone and gained the gift of tasting eloquence. My taste buds fell into wanderlust.

Bleifer had this to say about the dinner: “Irish cuisine is becoming more relevant with world-class chefs choosing to set up shop in Ireland. Reidy’s food from Irish Rover for (this) dinner was outstanding.” Needless to say, I proudly cleaned my plate. And then dessert was delivered. A tiny parfait-style cup filled with one of my favorites – whipped cream mixed with fruit and topped with meringue cookies – was served as the waistband on my skirt became increasingly tighter. There will definitely be more cardio on the horizon for this gal.

In the meantime, I made my way over to the first-ever Kentucky Social held at Longwood Antique Woods in Lexington, hosted by modern-day cowboy George Gatewood. Known for reclaiming and recycling old wood from salvaged historic barns, warehouses and cabins, Longwood is highly recognized for their craftsmanship.

“We enjoyed having the best of friends and folks (while) surrounded by many local businesses and artists that made our first Kentucky Social a huge success,” Gatewood said. “We appreciate everyone who took the time to come see what fine applications combined with reclaimed wood are possible. Special thanks to my fiancé, Haley Harris, and Longwood Antique Woods employees Cissy Faulkner and Travis Kitchens.”

Michael Reidy, Penny Peavler and Robert Bleifer at the Frazier History Museum.

What a shindig. There was live music by The Wooks Band; Brett Ratliff & Friends Band featuring Nadia on the banjo; and Local Honeys Band, all of whom got your toes tapping and hands clapping. The taco food truck was right next to the Country Boy Brewing Co., since beer and tacos are simply meant to be together. Several vendors were part of the event and included Worn & Co., Scout Antique and Modern, Laura’s Mercantile, David Schuster Art and Kiptoo Taurus’ Art. The social was a blast. I’m looking forward to attending the next one and hope to once again see Gatewood break out his harmonica and tug at everyone’s heartstrings while he plays songs like “My Old Kentucky Home.” VT