There’s always a party in LA. This week the guys invite a guest to talk about parties they’ve been to (CicLAvia) and parties they’d like to attend (The Kentucky Derby).
Their guest is Whitney who you know from her podcastThe Crush (Wine Talk Unfiltered). She’s here to prove she knows a thing or two and not all of it’s wine related. She’s from Kentucky. Known for Blue Grass, Bourbon and Horse Races. So strap on your hat (or fascinator) and get ready for the Derby ride of your life.
Speaking of rides, the business of CicLAvia needs to be attended to. From the hoards of pedalers to a bikeable feast, Andy’s an avid cycler and he has a story or two to tell about this year’s event. It stretched from downtown Los Angeles all the way to the beach. Andy’s not the only person at the table to partake in the bicycling festivities. Greg and Whitney participated– each in their own way. Greg’s involved an automobile. Maybe he’s lived in Los Angeles too darn long. Nathan meant to attend but he’s still working on his Grog Log!
The Grog Log may be old news from a previous episode. But it may also be where Nathan formed the question that led to tonight’s episode, “What’s up with those big hats?” He’s talking about The Kentucky Derby, or just The Derby to those in the know. The guys at The Table Set would like to be “in the know” so they invited Whitney to the table. She’s from Louisville and before we get this Derby Party started she’d like you to know it’s Louisville. That’s LOO-ah-vuhl with the ah practically swallowed. LOO-ah-vuhl. Now you say it. LOO-ah-vuhl.
So what is up with those big hats? The question is fascinating. From the biggest hat to the smallest facsinator, one size does not fit all. Because The Derby is not just a hat for the dapper gent to don. It’s the super bowl of horse racing and the star of Churchill Downs.
Sure the hats are iconic. But so is the bourbon. Traditionally it’s served in that other icon of The Derby, The Mint Julep. The lore about Juleps goes well beyond horse racing however. To muddle or not to muddle? That is the question. The vessel is not without its controversy either. Greg likes a modern glass. But purists insist on a metal cup– be it traditional sterling or pewter. Nathan knows a thing or two about Juleps too and serves his in post-modern enameled cups. If the controversy is just too much for you, do as Whitney does– strap a flask to your leg with Saran Wrap and (maybe?) duct tape. It’s oh so chic and certain to keep you far away from the hoards in line for the official Derby endorsed Early Times Mint Julep. Which may or may not contain mint in its liquid form (depending who you ask).
The Derby is a race, sure. But its its also a show. Whether it’s that big hat or all that bourbon, there’s tradition behind the showmanship. From the seats in millionaires row for the A-listers and B-grade celebrities, to the betting and the parties we all have at home. A good time is just waiting to be had. When it comes to entertaining Derby-style, it’s important to know What to Wear Where. The choices for gentlemen include: Seersucker, Bow-Ties, Linen and Gingham. Ladies can wear hats of course, and cute, “springy” dresses. Maybe even a parasol. Pink, it seems, is favored by both boys and girls.
A party needs more than proper attire. Especially a Derby party. The race may be the main event. But don’t forget it only lasts two minutes. A good host should be prepared to entertain his or her guests all afternoon. Party games and costume contests can be fun. A hand-picked and appropriate playlist is a must. Nathan made one he calls At The Derby. But these guys think it all starts with the food. Southern classics are expected. Try Corn Pudding and Grits. In the South they count as vegetables. As do Pole Beans. When they’re young and fresh pole beans can be cooked and eaten right in the pods– a lot like green beans. They’re often stewed with ham hocks and maybe a bit of spice. They sit nicely next to fried chicken (of course). You could also try serving Hot Brown, a kind of low brow gravy plopped on a plate (yes that’s the proper terminology). Hot Brown is sometimes served with turkey but it’s always with (white) bread.
Speaking of white bread, Andy likes biscuits. They’re a natural part of the Southern diet. Andy makes his with chicken fat and hyper-bleached flour. Which may not sound like Andy. But if you could taste those biscuits with a bit of honey and jam you’d forgive him his trespass. Andy’s not the only one breaking a few rules. When it comes to Slaw, another Southern classic, Greg prefers kale. Proving once again that maybe he’s lived in Southern California too long.
Dessert is a given. It’sDerby Pie. Imagine Pecan Pie with chocolate chips and you’ll know why it’s the only pie to suit the day. We also know you’ll be serving bourbon. Mint Juleps are expected, but bourbon tastes good in many different ways. Try a splash in an Arnold Palmer (black tea and lemonade). Better yet, Whitney serves a vanilla-infused Pecan Milk Punch (it’s raw and vegan… well, the bourbon’s cooked). For something a bit bolder try her original creation the Old Smashioned. It’s a blackberry hybrid. Somewhere between an old fashioned, Old Fashioned and a new fashioned Julep.
So Where’s the Derby Party in your life going to be? Even if you can’t be at the track. It’s easy to get in the spirit. Greg lives next door to the artist Laura Smith who did the art for the The Kentucky Derby poster one year. Greg remembers showing up to the party to celebrate in style. Because that’s what’s up with that big hat.