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Aaron Deacon

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Posts posted by Aaron Deacon

  1. Also, a big thanks to Steven for taking on the nearly thankless task of organizing the group dinner, which was really fantastic.  Steven, our meal benefitted greatly with you at the helm.

    I also would like to thank Chris Hennes for not only bringing and sharing some of his amazing chacuterie but also for being an absolute beast on clean-up duty.  We all got to do our cooking things and eat on time because of the great job that he and (his wife) Karen did.  THANK YOU, both!

    Yes, huge second on both counts....in trying to remember all the little thank yous, I omitted two very large ones.

  2. Wow, what a tremendous weekend! Many thanks to all those who made the trip to Kansas City. Sorry to take so long getting this written up.

    Lidia's, Manifesto, bluestem, and the Crums all met or exceeded my expectations, which isn't always the case with these sorts of events, and for that I'm especially appreciative. The weather also cooperated beautifully, especially Sunday morning, when we feared a more typically sweltering late July day.

    The BBQ tour wasn't as logistically problematic as I'd feared, but Arthur Bryant's was off its game, unfortunately. That's becoming the case more frequently, I still really enjoy it when it's on, but our group didn't get one of its best efforts.

    LC's easily puts out my favorite BBQ in town, and while I found it very good last Friday, on its best days, it's even better. The beans in particular, seemed a little sweeter, a little less meaty and spicy than usual.

    OK Joe's was better than I remembered, solid BBQ though still not my favorite. A previous visit caused my wife to describe it as “BBQ for people who don’t like BBQ.” I’m still not completely sold, but you can’t argue its popularity.

    And Woodyard is just a jewel of a place...love that big outdoor smoker, patio, and special thanks to Frank Schloegel for making a special trip (after the guy at the counter called and told him we'd showed up) to come chat for a while, and then giving us all some sauce to take home.

    (An aside…I wish we’d gone to Smokin’ Guns, I’ve been a couple times in recent weeks, and their ribs are worth the trip, different than LC’s, more competition style, but with a great, spicy rub and nice texture.)

    The dinner on Saturday night was my first such event, and what a crazy, madcap, wonderful one it was. Great food and fellowship all around. It was such a pleasure to meet you all and so much fun to cook together.

    I also want to extend some additional thanks to all those who weren't attendees, but helped make the whole weekend possible (some have been mentioned above since I started writing this earlier in the week).

    --All the folks who hosted us throughout the weekend of course—ChefCAG, the Crums, Ryan at Manifesto, Paula at Studio 2131.

    --Extra props to Ryan for swinging by on Saturday to whip up an item from the yet-to-be-released Manifesto menu: the Pisco Spice Trade. This may be my favorite Manifesto drink yet.

    --Also to Alchemist from The Violet Hour for donating some of his summer bitters and sharing the recipe for the Part & Parcel, which I mixed up while Ryan was serving his drink.

    --To the local brew behemoth, Boulevard Brewing Company, which pitched in some Single-Wide Pale Ale and Saison, even though I failed to pick them up on time. Boulevard brews were still well represented throughout the weekend—dividend picked up a good variety for Saturday; there were a few Smokestack series in circulation at Lidia’s; at BBQ and bluestem on Friday; and the stout was featured in Fat Guy and torakris’s tempura batter.

    --The Market Master at City Market who gave us some interesting history prior to our shopping.

    Finally, a huge thank you to moosnsqrl for being such an amenable and complicit partner in this madness. I’m amazed, looking back, at what a compatible planning pair we seemed to be. It’s been a real pleasure.

    Oh, and one other unintended consequence of having people come to your city for this event is how well I’ve been eating since you all left. My brother was served a delightful short rib dinner for his birthday earlier this week; the kids have greatly enjoyed our shrimp curry; white lotus smoked salmon and cream cheese; BLTs with ronnie_suburban smoked bacon; more BBQ than I knew what to do with. It’s been delicious, and finally, I believe, gone.

    Oh, and finally, Saturday recipe. I can’t take credit for any of the good parts of the griddled cornbread/pulled pork dish on Saturday, though I can take credit for taking these two superb pieces and mucking them up a bit.

    Zeemanb produced the delicious smoked pork butt.

    My wife cooked the cornbread on Thursday, and came up with the simple genius of griddling leftover cornbread in butter with salt and pepper. Such an obvious use, I hesitate to even say “came up with” because I’ve no doubt this has been done for ages, but I’d never seen it in all my cornbread-eating years.

    We now eat it frequently for breakfast with maple syrup and maybe some sausage. And it can make a great savory course too.

    I added a little tomato sauce to Zeemanb’s pork (tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper, Mexican oregano). Atop the pork were fresh green zebra tomatoes and fresh corn from the market, a little cilantro. Also cooked some purple hulls with some of Ronnie’s bacon and some market onions. A little okra crumble on the side, okra (unrinsed, soaked in buttermilk, Tabasco, salt, and pepper) tossed with corn meal and fried in the leftover tempura oil.

    The griddle corn bread was what I really wanted to highlight here, but I got caught up in market fresh adornment. Oh well. The pork was wonderful.



    ETA: There's a little of this upthread, but I'd love to hear more about what else those who came early or stayed late ate while they were here.

  3. It would be hard to overstate the extent to which using made-to-order tortillas improved every taco. The tortillas at most taquerias are cardboard by comparison.

    Of the tacos I tried I think my favorite may have been the picadillo. I liked it as much as or more than the al pastor.

    Longaniza was the other unnamed sausage--I didn't try it but it looked terrific.

    And yes, the picadillo, what a pleasant surprise. I find it so hard to order anything but the pastor here, I really haven't plumbed the depths of the menu (though one time they were prepping some bacon-wrapped shrimp that looked delicious).

    But the picadillo...often just a serving of lightly seasoned ground beef, here was a real picadillo, like you might use for stuffing peppers of something, gently seasoned with garlic and spice, but more of the flavor coming from the finely diced carrots and potatoes, all coming together in a rich, velvety sauce. Sort of like tacos de bolognese Mexicano, or some such bastardization. They were delicious.

    Appreciate all the thank yous, it was really a blast to put together and enjoy the weekend, and meet so many interesting and enjoyable people. I've got part of a more comprehensive post written that I'll post as time allows.

  4. Anybody got dirt on where I can get some green walnuts?  I'm itching to make some nocino.

    Al-Habashi had a big bag a month or two ago, you might be a bit late in the year though now, no?

    [Edit: Scratch that, those were green almonds, sorry.]

  5. I'm really sorry to be missing out on most of the gathering, but its for good reason - I'll be in NY helping Big Country with his Beard dinner.  I will be back in time for the brunch though and helping Dave with the cooking.  The mention of "Berkshire goodness" above reminds me that I'm two months into a lardo cure that should be ready to debut at the brunch.  But the mention of Berkshire pork also brings up something that has been troubling me and I'd like to hear what you all think about it...

    Why do so many of us who support sustainable local and regional food systems and oppose factory farms look the other way when it comes to barbecue?  I love KC barbecue passionately; I think it is a defining characteristic of our city's culture and who we are as a people, and I think it needs to be a feature of the Heartland Gathering.  But I'm also increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of recommending CAFO pork to out of town visitors when it is something I would never serve them myself.  At Lydia's, Bluestem, the farmers markets you visit saturday, and certainly at the Crum's farm you will be eating humanely raised, hormone and anti-biotic free meats and locally grown, mostly organic vegetables, so why do we expect (and accept) less of barbecue joints?  Why do we give them a pass?

    First of all, I'm incredibly pleased to hear about the lardo cure!

    Second, ChefCAG, not sure if you're worried about throwing the planners or the local BBQers under the bus, but if it's the former, please don't worry at all, I'd love to hear what you've got to say and have spent plenty of time gazing at the underside of a bus.

    Finally, to the question at hand, I take the point, but I freely admit I enjoy a pretty broad food chain. I would (and do) serve CAFO pork to out-of-town (and in-town) visitors. Along with a few racks of ribs, I smoked two chickens today I bought at Hen House. One at $1.69/lb, regular chicken; the other Good Natured Family Farms, $3.29/lb. I planned on reflecting on the comparison in more detail but regardless, I'm just not going to cook very many $16 chickens.

    I am moved by Michael Pollan's account of hand-processing chickens at Joel Salatin's farm. And I understand his plea to go meatless more often so the meat you buy can be better. I'm not there yet.

    And I don't think it's fair to single out BBQ. The fact is, most restaurants are served by the industrial food chain. I'm not about to give up all the Thai, Chinese, Mexican,

    German, etc. restaurants that aren't committed to the principals of sustainable agriculture. There are multiple ways of preserving worthwhile foodways, and I think farming and animal husbandry are among them but not definitive.

    There are cultural aspects of food preparation that are worthy of preservation and advocacy, and I'm willing to support those, even when they use factory chicken or pork.

    But, I do really appreciate the call to action here, in that I like the idea of being more proactive in encouraging KC BBQ restaurants, for example, to branch out a little. Some friends ordered a whole bunch of wagyu briskets from Arrowhead Meats several years back, and I know at least one made its way to the smoker of one of Chicago's better commercial pitmasters.

    I think the idea of talking to some of our local joints about cooking some heritage-type meat is a terrific one, and time allowing, it's something I'll look into. (Or if anyone else wants to take up this cause, please, let me know.)

  6. Stopped in at the lounge tonight with my sister, a very nice fish tartare duo new to me on the menu, and a couple new frites sauces (green goddess which I liked, "BBQ sauce" not so much).

    Also note, though, a pricing change, only martinis (and I believe vodkatinis) are $7 now, rest of the cocktails are priced as listed. I certainly don't mind drinking $7 martinis, though I'll miss the $7 negroni.

  7. I believe Three Floyd's is about 45 minutes driving. There's a thread on LTHForum, I think, about a trip to their brewpub (though I can't seem to access right now) with attendant site-seeing or eating if you're up for that.

    I might suggest Flossmoor Station, a brewpub in a suburb south of Chicago that has some stuff bottled too and gets high marks from beer connoisseurs.

    Jolly Pumpkin, I could always find that stuff at Uncorkit! in Streeterville, though it's been several years. It's an odd little shop, if it's still there (and it's right across from Fox & Obel if you're interested), it's not worth a special trip nor is the selection mindblowing, but they tended to keep a few unusual things around....like the Jolly Pumpkin. You can also get that in the KC area, by the way, at least on the Kansas side at the Mission Batson's (Bam Biere and Bam Noire have been stocked for a while).

    For Binny's, I'd hit the Ivanhoe branch for the best beer selection. The south loop branch is good too, and they have a tasting bar to boot, usually with a couple interesting handles. There's a new local brewer called Metropolitan that I've heard encouraging things about, all lagers, I believe.

    They also sell a lot of Lagunitas in Chicago, which I don't see around here...Brown Shugga is a terrific beer.

    New Glarus is also worth seeking out, though I can't right now recall which are their standouts (though they're all good).

  8. Pangea is closed. I guess that was announced in the Pitch already, but I just noticed it the other day.

    I hope Martin and Wendy are doing okay.

    I feel awful... we've been so broke, and eating out is really not happening for us these days, but I know these talented folks need our patronage. At least we're moving back into the city (Hyde Park) from the boonies (south-east KC... the only decent grub I've found out here is an amazing Middle Eastern deli, behind the 7-Eleven at the corner of Bannister and James A. Reed).

    I'm intrigued by the Middle Eastern deli. Does it have seating, or is it carry out only?

    I'm guessing it may be Olive Cafe & Bakery. Never made it out there myself, but I've been advised by a couple of local cabbies that they make the best pita in the area, and they said it was out toward Bannister. The owners of Olive opened the Gyro House or whatever it's called just across from Costco, so you can taste their food without in town without the long hike, thought the Linwood menu is pretty limited. Tasty though.

    I'm also a fan of the Yummy's Choice guy who operates a lunchtime gyro and falafel stand at the new downtown Cosentino's market.

  9. I have eaten at the Flatiron and it was very good, but it wasn't a Bluestem.

    It's been at least 5 years since I've eaten at Flatiron, and even though I'd heard accolades back when...I didn't even think it was "very good." Doesn't necessarily reflect what it is currently, but I've never thought of it like bluestem.

    (In other Omaha news, though, I heard a good report on the newly opened Boiler Room.)

  10. Thank you guys for the nice words.....

    Aaron, no one is supposed to see the semi 25 list. It has just leaked out the last few years. It's always been around.

    Yeah, that's kind of what I mean...now it's showing up on mainstream blogs in what seems to me a misleading way, for example:


    February 13, 2009

    Jean Joho, Paul Kahan, Rich Melman head list of James Beard nominees

    Posted by Phil Vettel at 12:00 p.m. CT

    [Edit: Or Omaha chef gets James Beard nod. Isn't that overstating the case just a little?]

    Whatever. Good luck to you, Chef, in any case, hope you make the next 2 cuts!

  11. These are semifinalists.  From these, five will be chosen to move on to the finalist list.  That list is supposed to be announced sometime in March.

    This is sort of a new wrinkle though, right? Not to take any credit away from these fine chefs, but I don't recall ever seeing the list before the five finalists (which were always called the nominees, if memory serves) until last year, when a sort of informal, and lengthy, list of "potential nominees" was circulated.

    I'm not sure if this is a deliberate or happenstance way of expanding those honored, but the list of "nominees" seems a bit of overkill. (One web site suggested this is mostly a way of the Beard Foundation "owning" information that was leaked last year. Seem a reasonable explanation.)

    Any idea what the methodology is for selecting this list of semifinalists?

    Ah, answered my own question, kind of:

    Anyone can submit a chef or restaurant for consideration during the online open call for entries in the fall. (There is no entry fee.) Entries are tabulated by the independent accounting firm Lutz & Carr, and based on the results, the Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee produces a nominating ballot with up to 20 semifinalists in each category. This ballot is distributed online to more than 400 judges, who select the five official nominees in each category. The same judges then vote on these five nominees to choose the winners.
  12. 2009 James Beard Award Nominees from Kansas City:

    Outstanding Chef - Michael Smith, Michael Smith Restaurant

    Outstanding Chef Midwest - Colby Garrelts, bluestem

    Outstanding Service - The American Restaurant

    We're lucky to have all of you - keep up the good work!

    Are these actual nominees, or sort of, nominees to be nominees?

  13. I hadn't been to Souperman in months and just ran down there to grab working lunch for a few colleagues.  I really tried to get something different this time but we were on the late side and my first choice was sold out so I went with my old standby bbq brisket w/bleu cheese & carmelized onions and it was the best one ever.  They've perfected the balance of flavors - or, I should say, attuned them to my personal taste.  The sanditto (there, I "said" it) was so good I finished it and saved the soup for dinner.

    I heard somewhere, can't vouch for certain, that Yummo sells Souperman soups during the winter.

  14. Anyway, visited again last night for one last fix before I head out east for the holidays,

    I saw you perched at the end of the bar, but you ducked out before I could stop by and say hello...

    I had the cassoulet, which was satisfying, if a little undersalted (or maybe just underhammed). And a nice plate of smoked salmon.

    And most importantly, a Sazerac and a Negroni. I don't make it here often enough, but it remains my favorite spot in town for a drink.

  15. I'm a big fan of their Negroni's.  Over the summer, Vann introduced me to a drink that, as a bourbon lover, I can't believe I haven't tried before.....the "Perfect" Manhattan.  Basically just a regular Manhattan w/dry instead of sweet vermouth.  With a mellower, smoother bourbon like Basil Hayden or Woodford Reserve, it is one fantastic little brain fogger.

    Geez, what is this, the walk in each others shoes thread?

    I had a terrific Negroni this past not-sure-when, followed by a Van-recommended Perfect Manhattan as well, though I thought what made it "perfect" is equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.

    Anyway, concur on both. And with that, I'm off for a drink.

  16. About eight months ago, I sat down at the bar and asked if they could make me a Sazerac.  They couldn't.  In part, it was because the 'tender didn't know what Peychaud bitters were.  That's all been rectified.  The real Sazerac is now on the cocktail menu.  It is a fine specimen. 

    That's great news. I had tried to order one of these two, probably about the same time frame. I think at that time the problem was that they didn't have any rye.

    Classic or no, I've found bluestem to have the best cocktails in town.

  17. There's a pretty swanky-looking bar that has no name as of yet, but it all set up in the space immediately south of the renovated Midland Theater on the corner of 13th and Main.  Does anyone know what that's all about?

    The Indie. It is a pretty cool space, but everything is served in plastic cups. Somehow my $8 Maker's on the rocks was a bit less satisfying that way.

  18. I don't think they’re taking reso’s

    You may be right. My in-laws tried to make one a few weeks back, and they wouldn't take it. They ended up at the Leawood Room 39 (to mixed reviews) and noticed a lot of empty tables in North when they walked by.

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