Stephanie Smittle
BEET TARTARE: At South on Main.

I should have known by the eldritch charge the light had several Wednesdays ago around sunset: The storm that blew in would be a swift kick in the pants. It would, at first, make the lights at South on Main flicker while Jon Auer of The Posies and Big Star wove his gorgeous singing voice with clement takes and coy quips on his too-often-pigeonholed work (“Grunge,” he said, describing the ’90s Seattle scene in which he thrived. “Let’s just say it. It’s important to get these things out there. You give it too much power when you don’t talk about it.”)

Next, the storm would graze chimneys and eaves in my neighborhood and many others, toppling recycle bins and fanning out their private contents on the pavement. It would down trees on Capitol Ave., Rice Street, 3rd Street and Coates Street, the aftermath of which had chainsaws and work trucks humming and buzzing in the area two days later. It would send cinder block debris toppling across Woodrow, just where it meets the Wilbur D. Mills Freeway. It would rip the electric meter box from the side of a friend’s house, leaving it dangling and ominous. It would send a neighbor with a 6-day-old baby loading up the car and seeking respite elsewhere while a giant oak advanced on the roof shingles above their bedroom.

And, maybe because both my brain and my palate were a little addled by two muggy nights of sleep without the creature comforts I’ve grown pretty fond of (air-conditioning, ceiling fans), I spent a good 10 minutes of the wee hours of a subsequent night trying to figure out what the hell Matt Bell and his crew are putting in the beet tartare dish I had at the Jon Auer concert the night the storm came in. It’s quite possibly the best local dish we’re all ignoring right now (because beets?).

Ordering it will produce from the kitchen a scarlet disc of shredded beetroot, marinated with lemon and topped with slivers of celery, radish and shaved, crimson beet slivers. It’s cool, decadent and visually arresting — a playful twist on its beef-based cousin — and mentally reverse engineering it is high on my to-do list.


Stephanie Smittle

If you enjoy podcasts that remind you of the tangled web we humans weave, check out “The Pope’s Long Con.” This isn’t about Pope Francis running a long game from his chambers in Vatican City, though I’d listen to that, too. “The Pope’s Long Con” is a five-episode deep dive into the lies, misdeeds and massive ego of Danny Ray Johnson, a preacher and former Kentucky state representative. Produced and reported by R.G. Dunlop and Jacob Ryan for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, the podcast and accompanying story is a thoroughly researched, increasingly baffling look into Johnson’s bizarre antics, which include lying about being an ambassador to the United Nations, selling alcohol out of his biker church — aptly called “Heart of Fire” — owning a pet alligator and toting him around on a motorcycle, and getting elected to the House of Representatives after posting racist memes to his public Facebook page. The episodes are about 20 minutes long, so you’ll make short work of them. For a dude who seemed larger than life — as most men who go by all three of their names tend to be — Dunlop and Ryan do an incredible job of cutting him down to size.

Rebekah Hall

Social media is bad for our brains and general well-being and providing avenues for Russians and other bad actors to undermine our democracy, BUT I do like to kill time on Instagram, and I’ve been enjoying Instagram considerably more since I was turned onto two of the best Instagram aggregators of Internet ephemera: Puppycodes and Lil Jupiter. The former comes from Alice Barker, a hacker with a smartly attuned eye for web ephemera, especially involving animals and sexuality. Sadly, I think some of her posts on the latter led to some of her posts being flagged, which led to her quitting Instagram and promising a new site soon. Until then: Enjoy the archive. Lil Jupiter’s account is less weird, but only relative to Puppycodes. It’s sort of urban coolhunting with a sense of humor: lots of shoes, rappers and viral videos.

Lindsey Millar


We’re now almost through the eighth month of the year, which means time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Negroni is slipping through your cocktail hoisting fingers. The drink — one ounce of Campari, one ounce of gin and one ounce of sweet vermouth, and a bit of orange peel thrown in — is one The Pantry Crest excels at. The Pantry Crest bottles the pretty, red Italian cocktail, apparently named for a Florentine count, for individual servings. That way, you can order one drink but have two.

Leslie Newell Peacock