Nicolette Spears used to think green tea tasted like bad, stale grass-clippings. So when she began studying the importance of brewing temperature, it was a revelation. “Green tea is like a vegetable: if you burn the leaves, it tastes really bitter. That was sort of an eye-opener to me.”
Now, at Louisville Tea Company, Ms. Spears brews more than a hundred tea varieties according to strict standards, paying attention to each brew’s optimal brewing temperature, steep time, and leaf-to-water ratio. She also considers her tea’s origins: she sources Japanese green tea directly from a small tea farm in Japan, and the Kenyan Ajiri Tea employs Kenyan women and funds orphan education in West Kenya.
Additionally, Ms. Spears strives to educate newbies about tea. At the tasting bar, she brews fresh pots of the shop’s tea of the day. During the shop’s classes and tea tastings, tea experts delve not only into tea origins and flavors, but the positive effects on human health and boring water.
The owners of North End Café don't just purchase local produce: they also grow vegetables and herbs in their own garden in Simpsonville. Since April, 2003, their chefs have championed this focus on local, seasonal ingredients with a healthy approach to cooking. North End Café's menu features traditional meals from around the world, ranging from grass-fed beef burgers and flatiron steaks to grilled fish and scallops to vegetarian lasagnas, stir-fry, and cakes. For sharing, chefs build eclectic small plates such as crab cakes, fried goat-cheese ravioli, and almond-crusted brie. They also prepare a range of vegan and gluten-free dishes, taking care to avoid the pyrotechnics that result when steak and tofu touch.
To accompany these meals, bartenders pour American and international wines, and blend cocktails from fruit and old-fashioned ingredients. At the Highlands location, a brand-new tap system spouts 23 craft beers, including imperial IPAs and peppery black porters. In warmer months, the aromas of cooking and laughter of clientele also fill the Highlands location's new outdoor patio, an expansive wooden deck surrounded by leafy plants and tall, wispy trees.
Whipping up handcrafted flavors with sugary virtuosity, Coco’s Chocolate Café provides patrons a tasty-treat abode that won’t melt into a puddle of pudding in the hot sun. Coco’s is a top-notch spot for picking up chocolaty delicacies. Made from the finest ingredients available, specialties such as turtles with Madagascar vanilla bean ($2 each), hazelnut pralines ($2), and butter truffles ($1.50) provide smile-inducing sampling. Beverages like cappuccino ($3.49) and dark hot chocolate ($2.99) offer savory sips, while a small fondue with strawberries, marshmallows, pound cake, or crispy treats gives rogue dippers the chance to indulge ($11.99). Additionally, patrons will be able to kick back and relax in a welcoming atmosphere featuring striking lighting and lustrous wood accents.
The aromas of warming butter and sugar have called to mind the Heitzman legacy since 1891, when Jacob Heitzman baked and iced his first cake. It didn't take long for his airy desserts to build a fan base, one that grew each time the bakery added to the menu with new items, such as butter kuchen and strawberry whipped-cream cake.
Today, a full-scale deli joins the original baked goods at the Heitzman Traditional Bakery and Deli. On the sweet side of the shop, spice cakes burst with raisins, pecans, and fresh jam, protected from poking fingers by a caramel coating. Fresh-made pies, signature butter kuchens, and loaf cakes teem with fruits and nuts, and specialty cakes come in classic variations such as german chocolate and red velvet. The deli satisfies savory teeth with kettle-boiled bagels from Dooley's Bagels, as well as a selection of fresh soups and sandwiches. Salads bring together morsels of chicken, tuna, and fruit cut by hand, and catering trays carry turkey and ham dinners, box lunches, and casseroles to family meetings and business sing-alongs.
When the Perry and Burke families joined forces to open Sweet n Swirly, they shared a vision of promoting a healthier alternative to ice cream. Neither family could have predicted, however, how quickly that vision would catch on.
Today, visitors stream into a trio of cheery, welcoming locations in Kentucky and Indiana, eagerly sidling up to self-serve stations that protrude from walls painted in vibrant pinks and purples. These stations pump out 10 creamy flavors at any given time, including no-sugar-added options and nondairy sorbets.
The ever-changing lineup of flavors runs the gamut from refreshing to decadent. On one side of the spectrum are tart, summery variations such as blueberry, ginger lemonade, and non-dairy sorbet, whereas choices inspired by more traditional desserts include peanut butter and root-beer float. A candy wall proffers toppings such as jellybeans and chocolate sunflower seeds.