This article appears on page 6 of this week’s September 16 annual Best of Lexington issue.
ACE FAVORITE THINGS
The Ace Readers have their say in this week’s Ace Best of Lexington readers’ poll, but the Ace Writers always celebrate a few Ace Favorite Things in this annual issue too — things that are part of what we think makes Lexington special. There may not be voting categories for best tearoom or public transit or …beef jerky, so we like to take this opportunity to share a few of these favorites with the Ace readers.
BY TOM YATES
Michael and I can’t go anywhere without being hypnotized by the aroma of the yellow Bluegrass Kettle Korn stand. It’s a fixture at every event, festival, football game, or street fair. The steaming sweet smell of Kettle Korn wafts through the air, cuts through crowds, and always draws us in. With its salty sweet taste and irresistible crunch, Kettle Korn is ridiculously addictive. What’s our favorite thing about Kettle Korn? If you only want a snack, bite, or taste of it, simply hold out your hand and they’ll fill it up with a fabulous sample, freshly popped.
And Another Favorite Snack
|We eat it in VOLUME at Front Porch Fridays.|
There’s no category for “Best Beef Jerky” but if there were, surely Mingua would win it (pronounce it like this: Bring-y the Ming-y; then do it). A Paris, Kentucky tradition since 1994, if you’ve ever won a Best of Lex category, you know the REAL prize was finding this treat in your swag bag. The Ace writers savor this local treasure frequently on the Front Porch of Freedom at Front Porch Fridays.
Favorite Ladies Who Lunch
by Heather C. Watson
I first visited Greentree Tearoom in the early 2000s. As a twenty-something single gal, I was easily the youngest person at my work luncheon by a decade, and I felt like a little girl playing dress-up in her mama’s clothing. This place is lovely, I thought, but Carrie Bradshaw doesn’t do cucumber sandwiches and neither do I. I didn’t give high tea another thought until this summer, when I was invited to attend a baby shower at Greentree; ironically enough, we were fêting one of my old “Happy Hour at Cheapside” buddies. As I entered the Tearoom, I found myself really noticing the subtle beauty of the antiques displays. I was now an experienced enough cook to appreciate the delicate finger foods, and I quietly analyzed the wonderful pimiento cheese, comparing it to my own recipe. I took my cold soup and tea with neither irony nor an outdated pop culture reference. Maybe I hadn’t quite become a Lady Who Lunches, but I found myself fitting in. That’s the beautiful thing about living in a town like Lexington – the kind of place that reveres its history while maintaining a modern sensibility: Sometimes you find Lexington evolving to fit your tastes and whims. And sometimes, if you’re quite lucky, you find yourself evolving because of the local places and things that you love.
Ace events are famous for incurring positively biblical weather patterns in the bluegrass, from the very first Bluegrass Bachelor Auction in the 90s, which pelted the Loudon House with a mix of freezing rain, ice, sleet, and snow (along with a just-over capacity crowd, if you listen to the fire marshall) to our very first inland hurricane at a Front Porch Friday a few summers back, we really do seem to bring out the worst in Mother Nature.
When the Readers voted Columbia’s downtown Lexington’s best veteran restaurant in the 2010 poll, we began to drop by regularly for the famed Nighthawk Special. And when manager Flo Cowley posted this photo requesting naming input for this cocktail (formerly known as the Daily Double), “the Ace” was born. It tastes a bit like an old-fashioned New Orleans Hurricane…but inland. Chase it with another Ace Favorite Thing: Flo’s homemade pies (we recommend the key lime and The Arthur.)
Also, we had nothing to do with the recent rained-in roof at the downtown location! (We were busy moving our office to our new, nearby Constitution Street home at Shelby Cottage…. though that might have been enough to stir up a smallish hurricane.) [Editor's Update: The roof is all fixed up; they were only closed for a couple days.]
Favorite Public Transit: the Farmers’ Market Trolley
This past summer, LexTran’s Colt Trolley began running an occasional Saturday extender into Chevy Chase, where riders could hop on anywhere in the Starbucks on Ashland block and ride the trolley to and from Farmers’ Market downtown, for FREE. This fantastic idea deserves a regular Saturday route, every Saturday, so shoppers can work this into the habit of their weekly routines. It doesn’t even have to be free (though that’s a nice touch). Because even though walking to Farmers’ Market from east or west downtown is a lovely stroll, the walk home hauling a week’s worth of groceries isn’t nearly as appealing. We’ll try the Keeneland trolleys in October. (Maybe they’ll be an Ace favorite thing next year.)
Favorite Student-Run Radio Station
by Kakie Urch
I love WRFL-FM best when I am driving through Central Kentucky – whether of an early weekend morning to Bluegrass or Americana or of a sweltering, steamy summer night to handpicked post-punk, hip hop or Indian music. When all that electrical eclecticism comes tumbling out, curated live by a person in our community, a Christmas morning full of surprise with each half-hour of programming. What I love about this student-run, alternative radio station that’s been on-air 24-7-365 since 1988 with volunteer air talent is the way it evolves, brings the best to the fore from genres that are still being created. And then connects that to what has come before. Catty-corner. I love it almost as much when I get to, every other Friday night from 6-8 p.m., be part of that electricity, doing a show from the Lexington studio that reaches now Stamping Ground, Waddy-Peytona and Bald Knob. My favorite caller: “What IS this?” (any age, any gender, any geography) – the same moment I still have when I myself am on the listening end. With the transmitter upgrade to 7900 watts, I can drive farther under the influence of Christmas morning musical surprise. And so can you.
by David Schankula
Outside Kentucky, I always try to convince people the grass really is blue here — “That’s why it’s called the Bluegrass State!” I tell them like they’re idiots, “It’s the damnedest thing.” And sure, the grass isn’t blue, but one of the Best parts of Lexington is this land surrounding us. Whether it’s Woodland Park or the underutilized hillocks of the Arboreteum (Seriously folks… great place to walk, but you could also lie out and get sun, throw a frisbee, play croquet, have a picnic… it’s huge! Bigger cities around the country would kill for that type of space.). Our urban fabric — which has far, far too many parking lots — is punctuated by a series of wonderful green oases. And then there’s the land beyond the suburbs, where the horse country rolls down to the river, between streams and cricks.Lexington’s the best and its Bluegrass may be its best part.
Favorite Metaphor in the Middle of Town
by Raj Ranade
I moved to Lexington about a year ago, and I remember being mesmerized by the empty patch of nothing sitting squarely in the middle of an otherwise lively downtown. I would come to learn, of course, that most people justifiably viewed this void as a monument to tone-deaf urban developers and bureaucratic incompetence, but if you’re willing to look on the bright side, there’s at least a nice metaphor to be had. Lexington has always maintained a unique balance between the urban and the pastoral (thanks to the urban growth boundary), and that grassy nothingness almost feels like nature asserting its own central role in affairs alongside other Lexington landmarks. And there’s a kind of soothing Zen feel to that placid green blankness (which pairs nicely with the overstimulation of the downtown bar scene). I realize that this will not convince anybody using to having, you know, things there, but you have to admit that as far as vacant lots go, this is one of the more memorable types.
Favorite Sport (after basketball)
Best thing about Lexington: Youth Soccer. If you are a fan of the beautiful game there is no shortage of action on the pitch, Fall or Spring. There’s a wealth of opportunity for kids to learn the intricacies but there’s also plenty opportunity to feed your jones for just taking a gander of the game. You don’t have to be a parent, there are games almost every weekend at either of Lexington’s two premier clubs; Commonwealth Soccer Club or Lexington Football Club, just head over to LCA on Reynolds Road or out to Masterson and have a look around. You will no doubt find real fans nestled between the juice box and orange slices who occasionally share a beer or three over real matches on the tube at Pazzo’s or Mellow Mushroom. Take it from a guy who has been nearly thrown off of some of the best pitches in the Bluegrass, under the veneer of everything basketball there lies a subculture just waiting to be cultivated. Play on.
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