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Bourbon+Rye+Food=Happening Now

The idea of pairing bourbons with specific foods, doing bourbon dinners: I've been a skeptic. It all strikes me as too much alcohol, not enough liquid, and most likely not a keeper notion. 

I'm probably wrong. On November 13, a mere $200 will secure you one seat at the Pappy Van Winkle Dinner at Lilly's with Special Guest Julian Van Winkle III. The good news is that this one meal may be worth it. Given the richness of the foods to be served with each of five bourbons, you can do all your holiday eating and drinking in one evening, and be done (for) until 2014. A bargain, and quite a time-saver as well.

I'm a bourbon beginner, and I'm struck by how many Kentuckians, including food and drink authorities, say they are, too. Until recently, bourbon stuck in my sense memory as the fastest way for underage students to become extremely ill at fraternity parties. Even I, though, enjoyed meeting a new bourbon last week: Jefferson's Chef's Collaboration, a bourbon spiced with a bit of food-friendly rye whiskey, invented in Louisville by the super tastebuds of Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia and noted Jefferson's Bourbon curator/blender Trey Zoeller.   

Matt Frassica of the Courier-Journal describes the intention and results of the collaboration nicely. Bourbon Babe  gives a fine account of the tasting event.

The New York Times took note of Jefferson's Chef's Collaboration in a story about the growing popularity of bourbon-rye blends.

Chef Edward Lee, says Matt Frassica, "has built a national reputation for pairing the flavors of his Korean-American upbringing in Brooklyn with Southern food staples like country ham, greens and sorghum." Chef Lee wins my heart, even before I taste his "adventurous cuisine," with his enthusiasm for sorghum and its Kentucky producers.  

That, and the innards of his little ham-y sandwiches and other scrumptious bites, which did taste plenty fine with the smooth and spicy new Chef's Collaboration. Louisville, as it has for decades in the worlds of food, arts, and culture, leads us forward. 

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