For a sweet taste of Kentucky, try one of my favorite desserts: a Nonesuch Kiss.
While most people go green for St. Patrick's Day, I find myself feeling blue each year longing to visit one of my favorite sites in the Bluegrass, Irish Acres Gallery of Antiques. When Joe was in law school at the University of Kentucky, I travelled the winding, scenic back roads from Lexington to nearby Nonesuch many times to visit this antiques emporium. My cares would gradually slip away during the 20-minute drive as I admired the rolling acres of lush green farmland, dotted with horses and lined with white fences and rock walls.
My best girlfriend, Vonda, introduced me to Irish Acres. I still remember that first visit. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and it felt so good to breathe the clear country air when we stepped out of the car in Nonesuch. Irish Acres is a 32,000 square foot gallery housed in an abandoned schoolhouse. Eying the nondescript red brick building, I was a little confused when Vonda stepped ahead of me and insisted that she open the door. "I want to see your face," she said with a grin.
I gasped as the heavy white door swung open. On a later visit when I took my mother for the first time, stepping inside she said, "This must be what heaven is like."
Visitors to Irish Acres are invited to step into a different world. Twinkling lights glimmer in the dimly lit lobby, casting reflections on delicate crystal and polished silver. Soft music and a warm, spicy fragrance beckon friends to come in and explore the two-story emporium. With an eye for detail, the proprietors of Irish Acres have filled room after room with antiques and gift ware.
When it is time for lunch, Irish Acres offers a full-service luncheon at the Glitz. Housed in the basement, this unique restaurant has been featured in Southern Living. The three-course menu changes every two weeks, with entrees including the likes of artichoke pancetta tart, seafood crepes or chicken Florentine with smoked Gouda sauce.
Featured desserts rotate on the menu, but I always encourage first-time visitors to the Glitz to try the restaurant's signature dessert: the Nonesuch kiss, a delicate meringue shell topped with mocha ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, sliced almonds and a cherry. Oh, my! If it is true that Irish Acres looks like heaven, then I am quite certain the Nonesuch Kiss will be served inside the Pearly Gates.
Irish Acres closes each year after the holiday season and opens again on St. Patrick's Day. My heart always feels drawn back to the Bluegrass this time of year, knowing there are new treasures to be discovered in the antique gallery. Since I was feeling a little blue last week, I made my own version of the Nonesuch Kiss for St. Patrick's Day. Now living in Alabama, I rarely make it back to Irish Acres, but each bite of this special dessert takes me back down winding, scenic paths in my memory to visit the Bluegrass -- a sweet kiss from my old Kentucky home.
My attempt at recreating the Nonesuch Kiss, the signature dessert served at The Glitz, a full-service restaurant in the basement of Irish Acres Gallery of Antiques in Nonesuch, Ky.
6 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
Mocha or coffee flavored ice cream (I used an Edie's light coffee ice cream)
Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a drinking glass or round cookie cutter, trace twelve 3 1/2- to 4-inch circles onto the paper. In a mixing bowl, with an electric mixer beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add almond extract. With the beater running, gradually add sugar, and beat until stiff and glossy. Gently spoon the mixture into a decorator icing bag. Pipe shells onto the parchment, and bake for 2 1/2 hours or until hard. Meringue shells can be made a couple days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container. To make a Nonesuch Kiss, top a room temperature meringue shell with coffee- or mocha-flavored ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, sliced almonds and a cherry.