Louisville, Kentucky: Hot Brown, Derby Pie, and Chocolate!

On my bucket list has always been to head to Louisville (significantly pronounced Loo-a-vul, yes that's correct folks) for the Kentucky Derby, but it didn't happen on my first trip to this fun city. I was there for work, so not much free time to explore, but I managed to see a few noteworthy spots. 

First stop was of course, KFC!  We couldn't resist sending our co-workers back home this hilarious picture. Jenny, Laura and I knew it would get a few laughs. Little did they know I was going to drag them on a little adventure.

We stayed in the very upbeat area of Louisville called 4th Street Live!  In historic downtown, this area is thriving with entertainment, shops and endless places to dine. It is a great area to walk around during the day or at night. Great ambience and it was easy access from our hotel. We didn't stay long in the 4th Street Live! area, because we were headed on my "must do" adventure to The Brown Hotel.  The Brown Hotel is a Louisville legend and is on the National Register of Historic Places. But most importantly, it is the place where my favorite sandwich was created.  The Brown Hotel is the home to fabulous dining options and this particular night, we were going to treat ourselves to dinner.

We made our voyage into the hotel and immediately, we were in awe of the beauty of the hotel and it's grandeur. As we walked upstairs to The English Grill, the experience was first class from the time we were seated, to when we left. I will be honest, I was not expecting this dining experience, but was so glad we did. The décor of The English Grill was pure Louisville. Leather, paintings of horses and rich wood with English style windows.

We started off dinner with salads and of course cocktails. I myself had to indulge in their Old Fashioned made with Old Forester Bourbon. One of the best ones I have ever had.

And then it was time to open the menu for the true reason of my choosing to dine here. The legendary, the one and only, Hot Brown Sandwich. I will let the description do all the talking.

The very first Hot Brown sandwich I had was with my dad when I was in my early teens. We had a special Dad and daughters day and he took us to a restaurant called "Doodles." We were seated outside on the warm summer day and our table was draped in a paper "tablecloth" with a container full of crayons and markers so we could doodle while waiting for our food. The Hot Brown sandwich is special to me because of that wonderful day with my Dad and sister, as well as tickling every one of my taste buds. 

Here is the history behind this now legendary dish from The Brown Hotel website and can be found here.

"In the 1920's, the Brown Hotel drew over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. By the wee hours of the morning, guests would grow weary of dancing and make their way to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Sensing their desire for something more glamorous than traditional ham and eggs, Chef Fred Schmidt set out to create something new to tempt his guests' palates. His unique dish? An open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce. The Hot Brown was born!
Available in our restaurants, bar and through in-room dining, the Hot Brown continues to exemplify our unending dedication to serving our guests. Such culinary prowess and commitment, of course, doesn’t go unnoticed. The Hot Brown—a Louisville tradition with worldwide appeal—has been featured in Southern Living, The Los Angeles Times, NBC's Today Show, ABC News with Diane Sawyer, Travel Channel's Man v. Food, and The Wall Street Journal, and is a regular entry in many of the world’s finest cookbooks."

CHECK. THIS. OUT!  How delicious does this look?  It tasted even better. All my dreams came true with the first bite. The Brown Hotel so graciously gives out the recipe for this tasty treat.

The Legendary Hot Brown
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 14 oz. sliced roasted turkey breast, slice thick
  • 4 slices of Texas toast (crusts trimmed)
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined to form a thick paste or roux. Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino-Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 oz. turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and two toast points and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Pour half of the sauce over the dish, completely covering it. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove and cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley and serve immediately.

After training on the second day, Laura made the request to have another Louisville tradition, Derby Pie. Again, it lead us back to The Brown Hotel and hang out in their lobby bar, that also serves food. We indulged in Lobster Mac and Cheese and then this masterpiece. We all should have shared a piece, but ended up each having our own. Needless to say, this dessert was worth every calorie of chocolate, walnut and sugar bliss and having to unbutton my pants upon my return to the hotel. As we waddled back to the hotel, we stopped in this adorable chocolate shop and found out it was so much more.

Art Eatables has only been in this world since 2011 and this family-owned business creates hand-crafted (yes, that's right, everything is done by hand) bourbon truffles and other confectionery delights. The shop is cozy and full of love. You can tell by the different candies and truffles, the passion put into each piece. We each had a sweet sample and I was hooked. This is the worlds FIRST Bourbon-Certified Chocolatier. Please check out their story and make sure to look at their online store for treats for a special someone.

Since I was full of Derby Pie, I ended purchasing some as gifts for friends and family. I also purchased a Louisville must have candy, the Modjeska. These caramel covered homemade marshmallows were amazing and named after the infatuation of a confectioner and a Shakespearean actress.  I wish I would have bought 5 bags. Check out the history of the Modjeska here.

This corner of the store featured all the different bourbons and truffles made with them. I purchased  mint julep truffles, signature bourbon truffles and the Old Forester truffles because of my Old Fashioned experience.

Louisville, I will return!  We did not get to spend a lot of time together, but you have a lot to offer than just a horse race. The Derby will just have to wait... I will save that for a May trip in my future. I will also stay a few extra days to enjoy more of the great history and great food you have to offer. Until we meet again!