04 May 2012

Top Five Friday: A Derby of a Day!

And it's run for the roses / As fast as you can
Your fate is delivered / Your moment's at hand
It's the chance of a lifetime / In a lifetime of chance
And it's high time you joined / In the dance.
~ Dan Fogelberg, Run for the Roses

 D
erby Day.  Tomorrow’s race in Louisville, Kentucky marks the 138th year of what is known as the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.  For the owners and trainers and jockeys, it really is all about the horses.  For some of the fans, it is all about the betting.  But for most of us, it is all about the party.  And by that I mean the hats and the booze.

Tomorrow I will be attending a Derby soiree that a couple of my friends throw every May.  I learned my lesson last year and arranged to spend the night this year with a friend who lives only a mile away.  My host makes the best (read: potent) mint juleps EVER.

Can’t make it to Louisville for the May madness?  No worries ~ throw your own Derby 'do!  Here are the top five things you will need.  Come on ~ it’s high time you joined in the dance!

The Hat
Come on Dover!
Think Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. (One of these years, I am so getting a Derby costume made modeled on her black and white get up!)  Whether it costs $30 or $300, all women at the party must wear a hat!  The bigger the better.  I have seen some hats that cost as much as a small car.  But you don’t have to spend like  an oil magnet. I bought my tres chic black with white polka dots and feathers for only $30 and it is huge.


And you, Miss, are no lady!

Gents ~ you can wear a hat as well ~ aka Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind.  But only if you are outside!  If you go inside, even if it is only to mix your lady friend another julep, you should remove your chapeau.

The Edibles
If you are a Derby purist, then you already know what to serve: Kentucky Hot Browns, chicken or crab salad, cheese grits, and pecan pie.  Pretty much, if it’s Southern, it’s acceptable.  You will need run for the roses yourself after eating such richness, but hey, it’s only one day in May!  I’ve picked some of favorite recipes for you.  Kind of like a top five within a top five! 
          Kentucky Bourbon Burgoo
           Delmarva Crab Cakes
           Hominy Grits Soufflé
           Chocolate Pecan Chess Pie
           Butterscotch Pecan Tart (because you can never have too many desserts!)

The List
Well, you are throwing this party because of the Derby.  So you really need a list of all the horses.  You can find them all here. 

Running for the Roses!

Make it fun: have all your guests who would like to participate put in $5, $10, or $20; whoever picks the top three gets the pot.  If someone picks two out of three, give them a really nice bottle of bourbon.  One out of three might get you a cookbook of Derby recipes or a set of shot glasses. (I get mine at Marshall’s ~ a set of 6 for $4!)

The Music
Before the race begins and after the thrill of it is gone (so to speak), you should have a great playlist playing in the background.  Your favorite metal bands or rap artists will simply not do!  Of course, no Derby Party is complete without Dan Fogelberg’s Run for the Roses – half country, half folk.  But you can’t play one song on repeat the entire party!

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “She’s going to say bluegrass ~ oh no!”

First of all, what the hay-bale is wrong with bluegrass?  Seems appropriate, considering the grass in Kentucky is blue.  Anyway, listen to Alison Krauss or the Avett Brothers, and then tell me you don’t like bluegrass. 

If it were my party, however, I would be playing zippy classical music (Ode to Joy, etc).  I know ~ classical music should be imbibed on its own, not relegated to background noise.  Trust me, you will be too snookered excited for that type of concentration.  Plus, think how especially appropriate it will be when one of your elegantly dressed guests shouts rather raucously: “Come on, Dovah! Move yah bloomin’ ahss!”   

The real winner and
crowning glory of the Derby!

And you thought the Derby was an American invention!

The Beverage
Last but definitely not least ~ the mint julep.  It is my theory that people who claim to hate mint juleps have never had a proper one.  While everyone and his brother have a fiercely held opinion as to when to add the mint, the best way I have imbibed it is when the mint is crushed to almost a pulp to release the mint oil.  Also, use crushed ice ~ not cubed.  A simple sugar syrup (a Southern beverage staple).  And of course, copious amounts of Kentucky Bourbon (I prefer Maker’s Mark).  There are many recipes online ~ here is one of then, with a little history to boot.  I don’t know how my friend Stephen makes his, but as I mentioned, they kick like a Derby winner!

Here’s to fast horses, smooth bourbon, and really big hats!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Are you throwing a Derby party or attending one?  Share recipes, experiences, or your picks in the comment section or on your Facebook page!
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