In which I eat my way across Louisville

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I’m not a fan of buffets -- I’d trade quantity for quality most any day. But a buffet by another name? Sure, we can talk about that! Call it a food and spirits networking event, roll it into the Idea Festival going on now, and I’ll line up with the rest of the crowd waiting hungrily outside the ballroom doors at the Galt House for Taste of Innovation. A whiff of Indian food reached me, along with some thumping bass, before I’d made it across the threshold. I got my bearings – food and drinks around the perimeter, silent auction table set up in the middle, small tables to stand and enjoy your treats scattered throughout. A buffet person I may not be but I know eating with a crowd takes strategy. I wended my way throughout the room, scoping out the smells and appearance of the nearly two dozen restaurant and drinks tables. I alighted here and there for a lima bean fritter from Mayan Café, some smoked fig chutney with herbed goat cheese from Maker’s Mark Lounge and shrimp bruschetta from Vincenzo’s. Especially fun was the curious creation of Z’s Fusion duo chef Dallas McGarity and mixologist Stephen Dennison. The two masterminded a rosemary-orange panna cotta crowned with a margarita-infused grape – and showered with green pop rocks. Entirely silly and fun, but tasty enough that it was the only table I visited for seconds. Chefs from around town take this chance to highlight some of their favorite or interesting dishes, giving even us non-buffet people a chance to sample a smorgasbord of Louisville’s independent restaurants. Not everything was stellar. The flaccid little fried avocado made me sad. But I made myself a tidy little dinner of bits and bobs – including a plate loaded with the source of the Indian smell, Shalimar. While other tables doled out bite-size portion, Shalimar served the long line of people snaking their way down their table a heap of steaming hot Indian food, complete with choice of three sauces. Flushed from my tot of Dumante liquer, I plowed in with abandon. It seems I can dig buffets after all.