The Sanders clan decided to take a trip to Nashville this past week to visit friends on a short trip. When we landed, it was bright and sunny with 60 degree temps. It was fantastic. Then a storm rolled in and lasted the entire rest of the trip. No snow thankfully, but lots and lots of rain. So much so even the locals were wondering when it was going to end.
Nashville is a cool place. I’m not much of a country music person, but one can’t help but be sucked into the majesty of it all. Bright neon lights lining the streets and people carrying guitars everywhere; there is really nowhere else like it.
After we said our goodbyes to our host, we took a quick drive up to Kentucky. If trees, friendly people and rolling hills are your thing, I would suggest visiting.
In Sheridan, you can go up Red Grade and see for miles on a clear day. That’s something I grew up with and something I still love to this day. In Kentucky, you can be on top of the highest hill around still be staring straight into dense forest. It seems almost impossible after growing up in Wyoming that there are places in our country where trees just don’t end.
When I travel — especially since I have been writing this column — I like to ask around for what food item I must try. Everyone, without hesitation, suggested the same thing — Kentucky Hot Brown.
Being the good-ol’ Story boy I am, I had never heard of a Hot Brown. I went online and found a place that supposedly had “the best hot brown in the entire city of Lexington. Whenever I come home to visit my grandparents we always go here and get a hot brown.” — Internet Stacy.
Without looking up what a Hot Brown actually was — to preserve the mystery — we decided to give it a try. The place was a four minute drive from our hotel room and the review had me sold. We loaded up and headed out.
Now maybe its because I’m used to things a certain way, being from Wyoming and all, but it was nothing like I had imagined. The version set in front of me — and this could be different depending on where you go, judging by the pictures online — was a bubbling plate of cheese that had obviously been sitting under a salamander broiler for a hot minute.
After I cracked the cap of lava cheddar, there was what I later found out to be a pool of Mornay Sauce. I’m assuming the cap of cheese took away from this sauce because the description is actually quite lovely. According to Wikipedia, Mornay sauce is a béchamel sauce (white sauce) with shredded or grated Gruyère cheese added.
But under the cheese shower curtain, it was pretty bland and lost. Swimming in the sauce were two pieces of toast, Canadian bacon, sliced turkey, sliced tomato and topped with two strips of bacon.
What. The. Heck.
Now, not knowing what I was getting into was probably not the best idea. Odds are I just received some weird mutant version of Hot Brown not even a diehard Hot Brown fan would enjoy. But Stacy from the internet said it was the best in Lexington.
Why Stacy? Why would you get my hopes up and then run me straight into a wood chipper like some common thief from Fargo?
Most of the versions I see online and see recipes for look like pleasant breakfast dishes that would take place of eggs Benedict. That I understand. That’s an Appalachian twist on a classic breakfast item that could gain regional popularity. But serving a cheese-capped sauce pool on your dinner menu? I don’t get it.
But more power to you Stacy from the internet. Your five-star review is driving in out-of-towners to meet their first encounter with a Hot Brown, and it is massively disappointing. I just hope to try a good version in the future and see what the fuss is about.
Until next time, Kentucky!