On April 3, 2012 Louisville hosted its first ever Guerrilla Cuisine dinner. The concept for Guerrilla Cuisine, created by Jimihatt, caught on like wildfire in Charleston, SC and is slowly moving into other cities around the country. Louisville was the location for the fifth event outside the state of South Carolina. I joined my writer friend Joyce (and her best pal Rhoda) from Friends Drift Inn to check out the scene and sample the surprising culinary creations.
Guerrilla Cuisine makes a unique twist on your standard dinner out on the town. Instead of picking a spot and heading to an ordinary restaurant, you buy a ticket in advance only knowing who the chef will be and what day you’ll be eating. You know you’ll be somewhere in town, but the address isn’t announced until the day it is time to eat. When you arrive you discover the details of the spot and the menu the award-winning chef has prepared. The event was BYOB and the beverages on the table ranged from cheap beer to nicer red wines to a mason jar of apple pie moonshine. The latter was the most popular by far.In Louisville, our dinner was hosted at Matt Jamie’s production warehouse for Bourbon Barrel Foods in Butchertown. The stacks of bourbon barrels made for an interesting industrial back drop for the evening’s events and the live music actively bounced around the barrels.
If you haven’t had the joy of tasting the amazing products that come out of Bourbon Barrel Foods hurry to your local grocer or order them online ASAP. If you’re local to Louisville you can purchase the full line of products at Work the Metal, which sits in the front of the building housing the production warehouse (you can also go back and visit for a tour). Matt has created an amazing line of small batch, local Kentucky products in a few years time and I can only expect given the high quality and outstanding flavors that it will continue to grow. My favorites are the Bourbon Barrel Aged Soy Sauce and Worcestershire, as well as the Bourbon Smoked Paprika, Peppercorns and Sugar. My fridge and cupboards are always stocked accordingly.Our Louisville chef was the remarkable Anthony Lamas from Seviche. His twists on modern Latin cuisine are perfection in his ever-popular restaurant here in town, and the dinner he prepared for Guerrilla Cuisine (with the help of numerous other volunteer chefs from around town) was equally delicious. The spice and style throughout the dishes of the night reflected Anthony’s roots and sense of place.
We started with an Albacore Tuna Tiradito with some Bourbon Barrel Soy Sauce. The additional kick of ginger, lemon and lime made the flavor perfect. It wasn’t an unusual or unexpected dish, but the flavors were simple and well executed. Next, we had a Housemade Chorizo that was accompanied by Manchego Poblano Grits that were to die for. The two combined to make a pure slice of heaven with the perfect kick of fading heat. Marksbury Farm Market provided a whole hog for the event so the Chorizo was the first pork dish of the night. After the kick of the Chorizo and Poblano Grits we were given a homemade Pisco Sour Sorbet to cleanse our palate. Pisco is a popular spirit in Peru similar to a grape brandy, and the sorbet derivative was bright and delightful.
After sorbet, we had a simple salad with complex flavors of Arugula, Endive, Bourbon Barrel Sorghum, Apple Vinegar, Pecans, Green Apple and Kentucky Bleu Cheese from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese. Next up was the main dish of Roasted Pork. The spicy pork was slow roasted and fork tender. The spice’s origin is a popular Peruvian Chile, Aji Rocoto, that is native to the slopes of the Andes mountains. The pork was delectable and crowd-pleasing, aside from a non-pork eater at our table who may have gone home a little hungry that night.But the coup de grâce of the night was the exotic, exquisite and enchanting Avocado Ice Cream with Liquid Nitrogen Sorghum Popcorn. THAT was the dish I couldn’t stop dreaming about for nights to come. If it was a regular offering on a local menu I’d go there for dessert every night. These are the types of dishes that knock Guerrila Cuisine out of the park and off the map in terms of culinary experiences. The avocados were shipped in from a tree at Chef Lamas’s home in Southern California and Steve Rappa, the pastry chef from Seviche, created the amazing ice cream.
Watching Chef Lamas prepare the Sorghum Popcorn in the Liquid Nitrogen was one of the coolest parts of the night. The popcorn was tossed with can fulls of Bourbon Barrel Sorghum then dipped into the Liquid Nitrogen for finishing and effect. The smoke billowed about in a hazy dream while the sweet smelling popcorn made its way onto the plates with the delectable ice cream. It was quickly delivered to our tables and made it into our bellies in no time flat. It was the perfect finish to the night.
I left happy, satisfied and better for the experience. Louisville may see another one of these events in just a few months time so keep an eye out! It is well worth the wait and the cash. I hope to see you there.