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Everything posted by Zeemanb

  1. This is going to be awesome....my brain stopped working at the sight of uni-on-toast. That is just shameless, and this is from a guy waiting for someone to invent biscuits and foie gras gravy, .
  2. Thanks for the kind words folks, it will be nice to be back to a "normal" level of food obsession in the morning. And weinoo, the only thing saving me from an espresso machine purchase right now is counter space...so after we take out a wall and expand the kitchen this fall, I will have my list of excuses onhand for when my wife begins with the quizzical looks. Leaving in a few minutes for OUR version of brunch, dim sum! I'll go ahead and share my plan for a proper farewell to the week just so I don't chicken out or get lazy...I'm giving the duck breast roulade with morel sauce and creamed corn from the French Laundry Cookbook a shot. I've never cooked duck before, believe it or not, so win big or lose big.
  3. As they say, it's Sunday SOMEWHERE, so I say go for it! It will help to take any pressure off of me as I try to eek a couple final posts out of my brain, lol. Looking forward to your blog! Yeah, wonderful tongue tacos.......slow braising makes everything perfect....
  4. Tonight we went to dinner at Grunauer, Chef Peter Grunauer's namesake restaurant in the freight house building in between Lidia's and Jack Stack BBQ, down in the Crossroads District. I don't know a whole lot about German, Austrian, or more specifically, Viennese food...or if lumping them together like that could potentially offend a large number of people. I don't have a huge emotional connection to the food, but it is a gorgeous restaurant, the service is extremely professional, and anything I've ever eaten there has been delicious. I have zero complaints, and I don't want anyone to think that because I don't have the same enthusiasm for Grunauer as I do for a little cardboard box full of fried gizzards that you shouldn't go and give the place a try. It was dad's birthday, and since we all just ate at The Rieger two nights ago I didn't want to push my luck throwing out other options. I'm lucky not to have anyone in my family who presses for Applebee's or Olive Garden for birthday outings, but if that were the case, Grunauer would be a very good compromise because the quality is more than high enough to satisfy a real food lover, but it's also meat-and-potato based enough for anyone to find something they'd like. Monster portions too...if that is a selling point. I took a few photos, but some things just didn't translate well enough to include and some of us ordered the same dishes. Nudelsalat mit steak- Steak and noodle salad in a spicy paprika dressing This was my first time trying this dish, and I got it in an attempt to "eat a little lighter" so that I could hit the Port Fonda trailer later. Well, not a light salad. Delicious. Just damn hearty. Oh, way spicier dressing than I was expecting, which is a good thing. Classic Wiener Schnitzel My wife's meal- pretty perfectly done and everyone went crazy for the warm potato salad. Marillen Palatschinkenthin crepes with warm apricot filling We tried this and the cheese strudel, both very good, not overly sweet and again, enough for two people. Meinl Double Espresso I probably talk about the espresso at Grunauer more than anything else. It's the best I've ever had, hands down. The bitterness is something that hits the spot with me. Makes me contemplate buying an espresso machine, but one more kitchen toy may take my kitchen well past the point of saturation. Honestly, I think the main problem tonight wasn't that I'm not excited about the food at Grunauer, it was the fact that I knew lengua tacos would be served two blocks away beginning at 7:30. We had some time to kill between Grunauer and tacos, so went over to sit at the bar at The Rieger. No such thing as too much Rieger Kola. I didn't get pics of these tacos when we had dinner in the trailer last Saturday night, so here you go.... Lengua, beer braised Rancho Gordo hominy, fresh corn kernels and chile verde....I have tried every version of this dish I've been able to find in KC and so far these are way, way, way better than anything I've eaten thus far. Tomorrow we'll either do breakfast/brunch someplace or just hide out eating BLT's, and then I'll attempt one final recipe for the week.....
  5. Funny you mention it, I've had several conversations about the Savoy lately. I haven't been there in about ten years,and at that point it was pretty hit or miss, BUT I did have the best steak of my life there one night. From what people say these days, stick to the basics and you'll be okay. What a beautiful place too, it needs to stay around for another hundred years!
  6. You're going to make a Viennese sandwich between two slices of (from-the-ridiculous-to-the-sublime) tacos? You know, when you put it THAT way, you make it sound so.....so.......FANTASTIC! It will be a while before I top my Happy Hour at Les Halles, Early Dinner at WD-50, Late Dinner at Esca Escapade in NYC....but for what we've got here in KC, tonight is getting damn close
  7. Oh man, here is an impromptu little surprise....here's a place that was on my to-do list but I didn't think there would be time to get to it. Plus it's just scandalously unhealthy. And when I asked my wife to stop by there on her way home from the mechanic's, I didn't think she'd take me seriously. To further reinforce the fact that we are a pretty fat city, I give you....... IN-A-TUB Tacos! In-A-Tub has been around for a long time, but I think there are only 2 locations now. They have loose meat style sandwiches, but the majority of their menu is a selection of deep fried wonderment. Including...their tacos. Just magical stuff, but it's the kind of food you cannot let yourself have more than once or twice per year. The guilt and damage to your body would be overwhelming. The thinnest possible tortilla filled with taco meat (you can add cheese and /or beans, but plain is best), folded shut and deep fried until crispy, then pulled out of the fryer and topped with a few shreds of lettuce, BUT the key ingredient that holds the whole thing together is the neon orange powdered cheese they sprinkle on the top. It soaks up some of the grease and forms a kind of edible glue that keeps the taco from getting too fragile as you eat. You cannot let them sit around or cool off too much because they'll just fall apart, and as they cool, the reality of just how much grease you're eating becomes more obvious and ruins the fun. And they are really small, so you're tempted to just keep eating them. A nice, healthy snack to tide us over before we go have German food! Oh, and Port Fonda just posted on Twitter that they've got those tongue and hominy tacos on the menu tonight...they sit right across the street from where we're having dinner.....this day is apocalyptic healthwise.
  8. Saturday morning is a big deal for me. Getting up at dawn on a morning I don't really have to is kind of an inside joke. The ritual is followed to the letter, and going to sleep on Friday night knowing it's coming is a great feeling. About once every six weeks or so when the weather is nice I'll switch it up and play golf, but Sunday is golf day for the most part. As much as I love playing, I don't like to interfere with the plan very often. With the bounty of corn and tomatoes right now, market season is reaching its zenith. I'm very loyal to my local farmer's market here in Parkville. It's small but it has everything I need, you get to know the farmers pretty quickly, and it's about three minutes from my house. Right now it's about ninety seconds from my house due to all of the flooding in downtown Parkville. They had to relocate to a parking lot by the City Hall, but at least they have a good spot to use until the flood waters subside. 7am is the "official" time the market opens on Saturday, but only the real amateurs wait until then to get down there. The best stuff sells out fast and by 7:30 it's way too busy to hang out and chat with the farmers. This year is the first that we've ever belonged to a CSA. Crum's Heirlooms is very, very popular among locals and they supply a large number of our best restaurants. I'm thrilled they've chose Parkville to set up shop on a Saturday morning, so knowing I have a big bag full of great stuff waiting for me when I arrive is over the top. Just a few photos....this was the first Saturday that the Crum's tomato supply was BOOMIN', so this was the day I've been thinking about since last October. At the height of summer, the market is always Stop #1 to make sure I at least get a shot at everything before it sells out. When it's not going to be super crowded in early spring or as you get into fall, it can be Stop #2. A trip to Judi's Bakery is as big a part of my Saturday morning as the market...... The Parkville location is pretty new, but I grew up eating Judi's donuts over in the old neighborhood and went to high school with her daughter. I'm not saying they have the very best donuts in Kansas City, but they might have the best danish in the midwest. Their glazed croissant "French donuts" are pretty killer too. Every single Saturday I'm in town and not out on the links, I pick up six rings and a dozen large, then I go and share them with some friends of mine...hanging out, chatting, chowing down on pastry and drinking coffee. It all sounds pretty basic, and it is. But basic is good. Market, donuts, go hang out, and then go see what the rest of the weekend has to offer. Here's what I picked up at the market this week...our CSA plus a few extra things like Crum's pickled beets and salsa. Almost forgot, I was back over by Red-X and I took a picture of one of those weird front window displays. This kind of thing stretches all the way down the front of the building facing the street. Once the mandatory Saturday fun is done, and I don't need to stop by the barber, one of my favorite things to do is visit my butcher. We are really trying to stay away from the megamart factory farmed stuff and use Paradise Locker Meats as our sole supplier, so I try to head up there about twice per month. It is up in Trimble, north of Smithville, and you would never guess that this unassuming little building is where much of the meat we eat in restaurants like The Rieger, Lidia's or Port Fonda originates. The Fantasma's are doing great things up in Trimble. As you may recall they were my dinner guests last Saturday night in the Airstream. Great folks. When you go into Paradise Locker, you are experiencing what a true butchershop should be....incredible selection and a knowledgeable, friendly staff. If you have any question about any of the meat....origins, recipe ideas, how they process everything there onsite...buckle up for one fun and informative conversation. Trimble is about twenty five minutes from my house......Paradise locker is in the COUNTRY! Here's the fresh case....much of their selection is processed and then immediately frozen. Lots of different animals and products....but stuff does not hang around long. The selection constantly changes. One of my favorite things happens to match up very well with the the abundance of tomatoes, their pork shoulder bacon makes the ultimate BLT. If you want fancy, you got it.....when they have Wagyu flatiron available I usually pick up some of that, same with their Akaushi hamburger. I don't think I've ever bought a Wagyu or Akaushi ribeye or strip for myself, usually only as gifts. Cost aside, David Chang's ghetto sous vide technique (and now my SVS) guarantees that you can transform a less glamorous cut of beef. I'll pull the trigger one of these days though.....gotta happen. Now, I don't ever walk out empty handed....what I've started doing is just saying "Hey Nick, one steak, what's the best right now?". His answer this time- a massively thick vintage breed frenched rib chop.... We've got dinner in the Crossroads District again tonight. For his birthday, my dad picked Grunauer. German or Austrian food would not normally be my first pick, but I was very surprised how good the food and service was when I finally got around to visiting. There are six of us going, so it's a major opportunity for photos. Would I have chosen to highlight Grunauer this week if it were up to me? Probably not. Am I as thankful as any human can possibly be that my dad doesn't want a birthday dinner at Outback or Olive Garden??? Big win. Hanging out right now watching Chopped and roasting coffee.....
  9. Shelby- My favortes would be Jersey, OC and then Atlanta. The Jersey folks know how to eat. I've been pretty good about keeping this train on the tracks, and I DO have an actual food-related thought about the housewives/reality phenomenon. It kind of de-mythologizes what I think of as "rich" people when folks who are so status and high end brand name obsessed go out to eat. Mystified by things like simple salmon tartare, or turning up their noses at something new to them in lieu of spinach artichoke dip at their local chain. I just sit there thinking, man, if I had THAT kind of money I'd have Thomas Keller and David Chang on my speed dial, lol! Kim- It hurts my feelings that you wouldn't rather watch a Millionare Matchmaker marathon with us instead of going to eat at El Comedor. Pierogi- Sixteen year old criminals get to take their pick of the finer things, lol. The Go Chicken Go logo is so ingrained that it's funny to get a reaction from someone seeing it for the first time. It is iconic, almost tattoo-worthy. Judy- I absolutely don't watch Extreme Chefs, bad mistake to even joke about such a thing. This is a Chopped household, we'll go that far with Food Network. The latest Rocco trainwreck can be entertaining...you can watch him try to fine tune his persona from episode to episode in an attempt to be watchable. I'm back from my Saturday rituals, more on that in a little while. Hiding out to avoid the heat....
  10. We Were Hoodlums Once...and Young Kansas City, Kansas is located in Wyandotte County...the ‘dotte as it is known can be an object of ridicule for those who grew up in the vast expanses of suburban strip malls. I was born and raised in the part that could lovingly be referred to as the ‘hood, and I love nothing more than meeting someone from the area and playing the game of “name that ‘dotte landmark” oneupsmanship. There’s a Cabela’s, a Nascar track and Schlitterbahn water park way out in the western part of the county now along with every chain restaurant you can name, but as everyone knows...if you grew up west of about 55th street or so you missed out on the real richness that ‘dotte culture had to offer. In my lifetime it has always been on the southern end of rustic, and none of that new tourist money manages to trickle its way down to my old neighborhood. To give you some perspective, on the roughness scale it is now in that evolutionary phase where credibility-seeking hipsters are moving in to the eastern edges. When the hipster/artist enclaves begin to evolve, you know that the high water mark of trouble and blight has been reached and they are able to claim some ground as the urban landscape is in the middle of one big exhale. I should mention as well that between the time I left for Minnesota in about 1992 and when I began to pay it more attention about seven or eight years ago, an amazing Hispanic community with gloriously wonderful food has grown and thrived all around downtown KCK. It was a real Sophie’s Choice moment when I had to decide how to represent the old ‘hood in this blog...but much respect to Bonito Michoacan, Laura’s, Ninfa’s...Fritz’s Hamburgers...Bichelmeyer’s Meats...Krizman’s Sausages...povitica...a week just doesn’t cut it. I had to travel down an old and time tested road in order to think of THE place to take you people... FIRST, the greatest thing about being a teenager in Wyandotte County from about 1984 to 1987 was the fact that Homeland Security hadn’t been invented yet. Looking back, the culture was a lot like “the yard” in a prison movie. I attended an arts and science magnet school, and for MY school I was the worst of the worst type of punk. At a REAL ‘dotte high school...not so much. So I surrounded myself with a tightly knit crew...made up primarily of ex-pats from deep in the hills of Virginia, as well as various childhood friends who did not make the magnet school cut. The roughest possible trade. Nightmarishly stupid. And we had many adventures. These were the days of heavy metal, where your credibility was measured by the tour t-shirt that you wore (and if you were not actually AT that concert, there was nothing to save you from a swift and brutal punishment). There were guys whose uniforms were simply NO shirt, jeans, and motorcycle boots. They were not to be trifled with. You wouldn’t even TRY calling “shotgun” before getting into a car with them. I was an Ozzy guy...Ronnie James Dio...Iron Maiden put on a good show...Metallica was still a rock band back then...and my preferred method of transportation was my best friend’s yellow 1970 Camaro with all of the hot rod stuff packed in it vs. my 1974 Ford LTD (with a stereo worth twice as much as the car). The introduction of a CAR into a young man’s life has great significance in relation to food. Up to that point, you were at the mercy of an adult when it came to dining out. My family ate out a lot, and for the tiny speck of the country we had at our disposal, we managed to try enough foods to set the stage for my lifelong search for great meals. As for me and MY crew...fast food dollar menus had not been invented yet, so on a weekend you’d find us cruising Peter’s Drive-in, getting carryout from Taco Kid, eating horrible concession stand food at State Drive-in...we didn’t have part-time jobs like a lot of the SUCKERS we went to school with, but we were as industrious as the Vikings. And what plunder would we enjoy??? What food was so iconic that we’d even get a “oh man, that looks good” out of the shirtless guys, who would then respect our choice enough to NOT just knock us down and steal it from us? Though it predates the custom, it was the equivalent of a rap artist “makin’ it rain” when you popped the lid on that beautiful red and white box from......GO CHICKEN GO! GO CHICKEN! GO CHICKEN! GO CHICKEN! GO CHICKEN! GO CHICKEN! Before I left work today I was trying to decide which of the four (?) locations would be the most convenient. Instead of looking at it THAT way I figured, what the heck...go to original location back in the 'dotte. No sense in being inauthentic this late in the week. If I recall my website research correctly, Go Chicken Go originally opened in 1969 and moved to the 7th Street location in KCK in 1973. When all of us young toughs were eating there, it was still in an old gas station. They've upgraded it quite a bit, but at least they didn't go and put in a drive-thru like all of the other locations. It forces you to get out of the car in a bad neighborhood! Not really too bad. These days the army convoys run interference for the hipsters crossing the river to bring in all of their remodeling gear. I’ve only eaten the chicken a few times in my life and it’s okay, the livers are excellent, but I cannot count the number of people throughout my life who first said “Oh, GROSS!”, and then after one bite said something like “I am literally going to name my first child Gizzard”. They really are the best in the world. THE WORLD! And their G-Sauce...oh my dear lord it is the perfect addition to those crispy and tender (gizzardly-speaking) morsels. I don't know how they make them so tender, and if you ever ask you are either talking to someone who gives you the finger for being dumb enough to ask or they just go "whuh?". Now, I know that a primer on midwestern liver and gizzard etiquette will never be as interesting or involved as the Babylonian Talmud OR discussions about "chopstick or finger usage" in relation to sushi eating....BUT after a lifetime of doing this I can tell you there is a certain protocol. The following is for a liver/gizzard combo...the rules can vary slightly if it's a single-source order. First, when you pop open the box, if the little packet of salt hasn't soaked through with fryer grease yet, get all of that sprinkled on there. You'll be tempted to just start chowing down, but you have to do a couple of things first. Grab a liver first, and a roll. Make a little sandwich. Burn that sucker down. That initial hit to the system will relieve the anticipation, then you pick out a gizzard and dip it in the G-Sauce. Speaking of the G-Sauce, I always try to have a bottle in the house. Unlke most BBQ sauces, it has a ton of applications. The flavor and texture is kind of like a medium-hot salsa combined with cocktail sauce and several tears harvested from grown men who are paid to sit in the back of a Go Chicken Go and watch "Brian's Song". I don't even remember the last time I was down at the original spot, it was nice to get back down there. If it weren't 100 degrees, I would have done some impromptu stops at a few places....there's a great restaurant supply store just a couple of blocks from where I was, and 7th Street intersects two of the best avenues for Mexican food in the 'dotte. Oh man, it is getting late. I always do this too. Up late, then up early. Nothing too groundbreaking tomorrow, but it's my biggest and most favorite ritual of the entire week. If you guessed that I just sit here all day watching a constant loop of "Extreme Chefs" on Food Network, you really have gotten to know me this week.
  11. Thanks you all, and happy Friday night! Went to the old 'hood to pick up dinner earlier ths afternoon, and the plan tonight is to do nothing but sit in the basement with our gigantic Sonic drinks, catching up on what we have DVR'd. If our viewing habits were a shopping destination, it would make RedX look like Dean & Deluca. If we ever have a kid we'll have to name it Bravo!. Soo.... between now and Sunday night when I can retreat back to my Applebee's riblets and whatever seafood and cheese sauce covered sausage dish Olive Garden has on special, I know for sure I've got- Tonight's dinner, which I'll give the nostalgia treatment later. Saturday morning is my religion- donuts, farmer's market, butcher shop Viennese dinner with the parents and their friends for my dad's bday tomorrow night. On Sunday, maybe some brunch or lunch, but for SURE I'll at least attempt a new recipe that will either be really successful or totally miserable. Either way- an entertaining way to end the week! I guess it's hard to strike a good balance between a real-life week and showcasing your town. Normally we'd be eating at home a lot more, but the blog is a great excuse to eat too much....kind of like a vacation. At least none of it is as complicated as figuring out which Real Housewives show is my favorite.
  12. You know, I’ve been pretty darn lucky when it comes to dining. Whenever I travel, I do the restaurant research in full prior to even looking at hotels or flights. And it is nice to know that I’m on a message board where that behavior is not only normal, it is expected. Ate at Gary Danko sitting eight feet from George Lucas, got trashed on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC sitting next to Liam Neeson and his friends, first date with my wife was at minibar, watched Mario Batali try to kick the bathroom door in on my mother...I’ve got some big city memories, man. And more than a few half-memories. If you ever get the chance to hang out with Kim Shook, I highly recommend it. Get that on the calendar. It is beyond fun and engaging. She and I talk a lot about the “country mouse” aspect of dining in foreign towns. When you’re in New York or San Francisco there is this weird, almost apologetic, feeling you can get that stems from the perception that being smaller makes YOUR town and food in some way inferior. A New Yorker who has the ability to take a specific REGION of a country into consideration when choosing between thirty different options somehow makes them Obi Wan Kenobi. Complete envy of having such a dilemma on a Friday night aside, you live where you live, you work with what you have, and when you have the opportunity to eat at the Per Se’s and Manresa’s of the world it makes it THAT much more exciting for the country mouse. THEN, when you are back in flyover country eating your squirrel or possum off of a Civil War era pewter plate, or applying a poultice to a water moccasin bite, you can always look back and say “wow, that sure was some good duck”. This is the spot where a Fodderwing joke would go, but I cannot think of one. But the obscure reference alone is going to be enough to slay at least one of you. So as far as REGIONAL eating goes, the Missouri-Kansas corridor has its own particular spirit, and with the focus on seasonal, local, sustainable foods being what it is these days, we do have chefs who are very successful at leveraging what is available to them from our community of farmers and producers. One fantastic example is where we ate last night- The Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange; a beautifully redone “business traveler” hotel from the early 20th century. I love The Rieger. I want everyone I love to love The Rieger. If I don’t like you, I hope you never see The Rieger. It opened last November and it took my wife and I one meal to decide that it is one of our favorite spots ever. We found “our server” on the first visit. An exceptionally rare thing to have happen on a maiden voyage. If you know ME, the “MY whatever” is like a religion...I keep a very tight circle...MY butcher, MY mechanic, MY tree guy, etc...my network is formed by word of mouth. Like DeNiro’s “circle of trust” in Meet the Parents...The Rieger went right into the circle. And the thing about it is, chef and co-owner Howard Hanna hit the bullseye dead-on when he pulled the trigger on his vision. Beautiful space, exceptional service with that “pride of ownership” spirit that is at the HEART of what makes me love a restaurant, upscale but feels like home, and food that is executed with a dedication to what our local people can provide. You get food that is familiar to you, prepared well enough to nudge you out of your comfort zone so that you can try the unfamiliar. Howard provides that little bridge with his cooking...you learn to trust him pretty quickly, and you can trust your server to tell you what is good. I can take my wife there on Saturday date night, I can go there with my parents for a relaxing dinner, my dad can take all of his buddies from the gas company and chow down at lunch, no worries when my friend had to bring his 2 year old one day. If I wanted to deserve a big punch in the face I’d say something like “It’s hip AND it’s homey! I’m Sandra Lee’s nephew Brycer!”...but I don’t. So I’ll just say, way to hit the mark, folks. Dead solid. I would be doing a great disservice if I did not also mention the other “half” of The Rieger. It is Manifesto, a speakeasy type bar located downstairs and run by another of our local geniuses- Ryan Maybee. It gets a ton of press, I hear nothing but good things about their prohibition-era inspired style of drinks, but alas, I’m a total square. Sucks to be you if you’re reading this and fine cocktails are your thing. Because man, they’ve got it going on. Now, I will say that their housemade cola is one of the greatest liquid inventions in history, and the new version of their housemade ginger beer that utilizes green tea is delicious. Back in the day I’d come across the table at you if I saw you mixing anything into a fine bourbon, and I think I feel the same way about the Rieger Kola...you do not mess with something that is already perfect. Okay, on to the goods, I have punished you enough- We were extremely excited about dinner because this was our first trip through the new menu.... Bread! House salad with mixed greens, sherry vinaigrette, chicharrones Melon Salad with pistachio vinaigrette, Green Dirt Farm fresh sheep’s milk cheese, olives, red onion The addition of olives sounded a little weird, but what's weirder is....totally works. Chilled Watermelon and Strawberry Soup The epitome of a dish to eat on a hot day. Accompanied by a battered and fried bay leaf you pull through your teeth like a stuffed artichoke. Farm Salad with organic greens, local vegetables, buttermilk-herb dressing What makes this particular salad so great is that it never has exactly the same produce twice. Charcuterie Plate- foie gras au torchon, rabbit and pork rillette , sweetbread and bacon terrine Well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out I chose the charcuterie. The sweetbread and bacon terrine is crazy delicious. Punchline for the larger city dwellers....it's ten bucks! Rabbit Tagliatelle with poached garlic , prune, parmesan, swiss chard Sometimes when you don't "order right", Howard will correct you by spontaneously bringing over a dish you need to try immediately. I have an extreme allegiance to the bolognese dish from the LAST menu, so I wont' agree with my wife that this was the best pasta dish EVER, but man it was pretty damn good. The mellowness of the poached garlic and prune mixed in there made it work on a few levels. Gnocchi à la Parisienne, zucchini cream, grana padano These are made with flour instead of potato, so they have a totally different lightness and mouthfeel. Very addictive, the zucchini cream brings in a kind of pesto flavor and texture. Seafood Risottoscallops, shrimp, heirloom cherry tomatoes, basil A very light and summery version of risotto with a focus on the tomato flavor and making the whole thing a little "looser". Tournedos Alexander- sauce Figaro, heirloom tomatoes, onion rings, basil-mashed potatoes This is the dish you tell the "fearful of new things" meat and potato eater in the group to order. Scallops and Sweetbreads with local polenta, oyster mushrooms, swiss chard This was MY dish...and you know I'm serious about my offal if I'm chowing down on this level of richness when it's 100 degrees outside. This protein pairing worked surprisingly well because the deeper sear on the seafood combined with how (relatively speaking) light in body he keeps the sweetbreads helps them to match up. Throw in the grits, greens and heavily caramelized mushrooms and you have a big winner. "Family Meal" Bread Pudding Inspired by the need to use up the leftover bread...sorry about these horrible dessert photos, we began losing the natural light and I DON'T use a flash in restaurants because I don't want to have to answer to God for it later. Chocolate Bombe A single serving Baked Alaska with a brownie base and very, very potent mint ice cream (inspired by the need to use up all of the mint stems and scraps from Manifesto). Polenta Cake with Blueberry Ice Cream (if my memory is any good at all) Think of the corniest, densest and sweet-but-not-TOO-sweetest cornbread you've ever had.... So that's about it for last night. And whenever I do one of these restaurant blog entries I generally come down here at the end and talk about how I hate food reviews where they feel the need to wrap it up with some smarmy, quippy sentence that ties it all back to the theme at the beginning. Or even worse, tie it back in to the title. I just do one of these numbers....glad that it's Friday but the drive home is going to suck in this heat. Hope there's some good TV or Netflix tonight.
  13. Wow, having actual work expected of you on a Friday just isn't Christian.... No breakfast photo, but I DID have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Farm to Market "Grains Galore" bread. That bread is practically a meat substitute it is so dense and good. Genkinaonna- Oh, I might be ready for another week in a year or two, lol. Don't get me wrong, this has been a BLAST and there is more to come....I will depart on a high note. But I'm assuming I can get a big AMEN from anyone who has done one of these when I say...it's like an extra part time job. A fun job where you get to do cool things, but my OCD mind will not let me slide on ANYTHING...I'm a slave to delivering the goods! Mysstwalker- It is always cool to talk to others who have had surgery but have a true love for food...which I guess you'd HAVE to love food a whole lot to need surgery, lol. I went through phases of eating the same thing until I'd get sick of it and move to something else. A cheese phase, a canned meat phase (seriously), etc. After a while I guess I started to think BIG but cook SMALL. Enjoying the research and planning, the shopping, prepping, serving...and put the old "must gorge, must gorge" energy into all of THAT stuff. It's still tough though, so easy to be lazy... Be sure to update eG as you go along...it's fun to look back at your culinary growth!
  14. mike- If I don't make it to KCK Mexican food, it will be because of a larger plan. heidih- Not sure if diorama is the right descripton, but bascally the entire front side of the building has several giant picture windows spanning the length. Behind each individual window is some sort of dining room or kitchen setup...non-functional, lots of antiques and knick-knacks displayed nicely BUT nothng is for sale...it's just there. And there is no way to approach any of them from the inside, you can only view them from outdoors. Kind of bizarre when you get up next to them. eldereno- whatever you've seen so far, there's PLENTY more of the same type of thing! Except for Red-X.... Okey dokey...should come as no huge surprise that there won't be a Rieger writeup until tomorrow.....we're still comatose.....
  15. WOW, I really have gotten rusty when it comes to the refined hootch culture in this town....I forgot all about those tastings! For the benefit of everyone else- I think they do wine tastings every couple of months, and they don't just limit it to wine, they do different cordials and mixes like Sour Apple Pucker and that type of thing. The building is huge, the parking lot is gigantic, and you cannot get anywhere NEAR the place on a Thursday night when they're doing the tasting. Buy your cigarettes elsewhere THAT night. People parking up on the tops of the flood walls, it is just nuts. And to Judy's point, Riverside is a little bit rustic, I'm not making fun of the place, people are people, but BOY HOWDY do you get a combo running around there. The Silver Oak wine and Silver Wolf vodka crowds do create quite the melange.
  16. The pictures don't really come close to capturing the true vibe, or the booming crowds when it's busy since that was shortly after 7am. I also left out the city's largest collection of bells and the antique furniture and kitchen dioramas that line all of the windows along the front of the building. It's one of those places where I'm there so often I forget how different it may be to some people....when my sister in law was in town last summer, she confirmed through word and priceless expression- Red-X is one of a kind!
  17. Good morning! And here is my delicious breakfast...one of Meredith’s zucchini muffins and a plum. Very fancy. Okay, tonight you’re going to get a real treat. We’re going with my parents to The Rieger (Hotel Grill and Exchange, to be exact). Much more about that once I’ve got the food porn, but it only took one visit for us to put it into very heavy rotation along with our three other favorite “date night/out of town guests” restaurants...Bluestem, Justus Drugstore and Lidia’s. I wish there was time and money aplenty to visit all of them this week, but we chose The Rieger...because it is AWESOME, and we haven’t had the new summer menu yet. Plus, my parents love it and that will allow me to maximize the food porn effect. That’s tonight. I know that if I took you from Jim’s Family Restaurant straight to The Rieger, I may run the risk of forcing some of you to surface too quickly and give you the bends. So I’ll soften the transition a tiny bit. Or make it even freakier. Who knows. Anyway, I do love seeing the different markets when people do their eG blogs. I’m going to my butcher tomorrow and the farmer’s market on Saturday. Other than that we’ve got Trader Joe’s as of last Friday, Whole Foods, tons of Hispanic grocers, huge Asian markets...all of the usual suspects. As far as “unique to Kansas City” food and assorted goods shopping, we DO have one place worth mentioning. It predates the Walmart Superstore concept, but has sort-of that type of one stop shopping appeal. And I guarantee someone from Kansas City has figured out where I’m headed with this, and in their mind they have said...”Dear God, he’s going THERE?...Is he TRYING to make us look like hillbillies?”. Yes, I’m going THERE. And you ARE a hillbilly. RED-X IN RIVERSIDE MISSOURI! THEY’VE GOT IT ALL! COME ON INSIDE! (I think they rebuilt faster than the Fire Department after the flood of ’93) Open at 7am 8 days a week! They’ve got groceries! And an impressively thorough supply of all things Mexican food related! Need a stogie to enjoy after that stressful board meeting or during a nice round of golf? Step inside the humidor, it is STOCKED TO THE RAFTERS! Missouri has the lowest taxes on cigarettes in the nation, and Red-X passes those savings on to you! Faygo is for suburban dandies, in these parts we drink Vess…so many flavors, so sugary sweet, so affordable you can literally drink it like water. I am torn between the orange and the fruit punch. If I’m eating Mexican food, I go with the strawberry, but I am assuming everyone already knows that is what goes best with Mexican food. Red-X was the first place to get scratcher tickets back when the lottery was introduced to Missouri, and now they have this big department dedicated to your gambling needs… Need engine coolant? Mole killer? Toilet seat? Done, done and done. While you’re waiting for them to make your key over in hardware, step a few aisles over and choose from a variety of dollar goods…or perhaps you’re a high roller and would prefer to shop for workwear from Dickies or Carhart…… Okay, all screwing around aside, Red X does have an incredible selection of wine and liquor. Some of the best prices in town, and a level of knowledge and service one would not expect over in little Riverside. I was always amazed at the trouble they’d go to in order to find what you want if they don’t have it in stock, and more than once I’d be looking for a specific wine and was more than willing to spend the money only to have them recommend basically the exact same wine for far, far less. So there you have it....when I'm not out procuring the finest heirloom tomatoes or Wagyu beef, I'm down at Red X buying charcoal and chipotles. THEIR version of "seasonal goods" is....FIREWORKS!
  18. Thanks! Yeah, I know Spring Hill...down towards Louisburg or in the general area...I don't make it to that area much but I do make a yearly journey down to the cider mill. The way Overland Park has grown since you live here, Spring Hill is practically 95th and Metcalf at this point, lol. I'm pretty sure KC was an early adopter of the potato skin, that is our type of goodness.
  19. Man, Bamboo Hut ended up closing last year. Never got to take Meredith there either. Total bummer. It may have beat out Jim's this week if it were open. (FYI for those not from KC- Bamboo Hut was the second oldest restaurant in Kansas City. It was an old roadhouse, all apps were fried stuff, entrees were cheap..garlic steak, fried shrimp, etc., no dessert...if you wanted dessert you'd have another highball.)
  20. Yeah, he did a pretty good sanitized and viewer-friendly look into the outskirts of that culture, but I guess it IS the Travel Channel. I'd like to pick his fixer next time. WHOLE different show. The one part of that episode I really liked, pretty bittersweet now, was his night in that Joplin bar. That was some good, fun Missouri.
  21. You could land a jumbo jet at night just using the neon as your guide. Very swanky.
  22. Okay, I'm going to veer off the reservation a bit, but will bring it back on home pretty quickly. I shortened my work hours somewhat this week to accommodate some of the dining and reporting...so it may help you to imagine me relaxed in an old leather chair, with the intensity of Marco Pierre White, minus the accent and huge index finger, focused like someone under hypnosis telling a story as a montage of days gone by plays on the screen...you know, the camera pans upwards from where Forrest Gump sits as he remembers his dear Jenny... Independence, Missouri - departure point for the California, Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, home of Harry Truman, and depending upon your religious upbringing it may also be the actual location of the Garden of Eden. The juicier, more recent history and infamy of Independence is way too non-food related to get into, but I’ll just say that Hollywood could parlay “Winter’s Bone” into a Harry Potter level franchise if they wanted to. But for ME, in the PRESENT, that part of the city is all about Independence Avenue- the stretch of 24 Hwy that takes you from downtown Kansas City aallll the way out west of town where migrant farm workers pack the weekly-rate motels. I literally debated whether or not to make this week’s blog specific to food along the avenue. Most of it isn’t that pretty, sections of it can be very unpredictable and randomly violent. If you visit, bring a reformed thug like me along so you don’t exit the vehicle to take your blog photos in the wrong place. I didn’t grow up there. I discovered it in the early 90’s when a friend first took me to eat, and in the years that followed another buddy and I would seek out the scariest possible bars to enter on a dare and have adventures. But I love this part of Kansas City. I genuinely do. And not in that “NPR junkies Biff and Bunny go slumming” kind of way...it’s in my guts. If you know anything about this town and that avenue, it can be very beautiful to drive through and discern all of the stories the architecture can tell you and how much of it has stayed the same as generations have passed through. Old drugstores that are now cell phone shops, banks into taquerias, hardware stores morphed into Asian markets...imagining the crowds strolling down the avenue back when that ancient McDonald’s arch was new or Mayfair Cleaners had just opened. That ghost town of a steel plant. It’s hard to describe. The place just has character. I feel like the pot dealer in American Beauty trying to express his feelings about the empty trashbag swirling in the wind. The space in my heart that I reserve for Independence Avenue is huge. And one of the greatest things about Independence Avenue is that it takes you to Jim’s. It used to be located a little farther east, by the Truman library, and it was called “Jim and Sue’s” for a long time. But from what I was told they got divorced. So now it’s just “Jim’s Family Restaurant”, and it has since moved to an old Captain D’s building in Sugar Creek. Sugar Creek is a wee little place that borders Independence...it began as a Slavic community and if you stay on the avenue you just kind of blow through without knowing you’re in a different town. Its significance in the folklore of Jim’s is the rumor that he moved his restaurant because Sugar Creek was soon to be one of the last places in the area with no smoking ordinance (the other rumor I know of involves gambling debt). Love it or hate it, I guarantee one of the last places you’ll be able to smoke in a restaurant in the United States will be in some pocket of Missouri. Prohibition never happened in these parts, btw. That’s how we roll. When it comes to the stubborn Missouri spirit I am totally convinced that it would have been an abolitionist state, but at some point some Kansan...probably from Johnson County...pointed a finger at someone and said “you HAVE to do this”...and that kicked off what SHOULD be the Missouri motto instead of the Show-Me State: “We WILL cut off our nose to spite our face!”...or “Eventually we’ll do the right thing if you just leave us the hell alone about it”. Both too big for a license plate I guess... ANYWAY, if you go to Jim’s with ME...I must not only love you, but I also trust you to be someone who can appreciate exactly why it is so great and show the proper respect. Is it the best version of home cooking you will find anywhere? Absolutely not...but any fool can go to The Corner or Stroud’s. Is it too far gone to be a contender for “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”? Why yes it is. In fact, Guy Fieri’s haste to get the hell away from there would be so fast that he’d total his Freudian jalopy while exiting the parking lot. Could it benefit from a good “Kitchen Nightmares” treatment? My suspicion is that if Jim and Gordon walk into the back together, only Jim returns, and you may not want to order the chili for a while. Could the décor use a little updating? No...duct tape for repair AND upholstery in the booths is timeless, as are Sugar Creek themed hand painted murals. It’s a little rough around the edges, but good manners are important. If someone tried something heinously rude or was going to attempt a dine and dash...I am not joking when I say I do NOT know how that would end. If any of y'all are familiar with old school country types, small town law enforcement or good ol’ hills justice (not unlike the Swayze classic ‘Next of Kin’)...you understand that simple politeness and basic respect are all you need to make loyal friends for life. This is a place that will never be “popular”, but the parking lot is always full, if that makes any sense. If I lived to be a hundred and went there twice a week until I died I’d still probably never be considered a “regular”, but the service is always friendly and efficient. Very sweet people, a true family-run place. The non-smoking section is three booths by the front door, and the dessert case is...kind of like peeking in the window of the local haunted house when you were a kid. There are at least a dozen “home cooking” places in the area I could have chose to represent my town. And though I joke around, my love for Jim’s has no smartass irony. I adore it- the food is good and it is just a little untouched snapshot in time where you can relax and take it all in. My WIFE loves it, so I know I’m not alone. I painted an even longer, more detailed picture for her before I ever took her, and in the end she had to admit “Nothing you said to me was in any way exaggerated. It was completely as-described”. Even the caricature of Jim on the building and menu is a testimony to my truth. We pulled up, I pointed at the sign and said “Jim looks EXACTLY like that”. And sure enough, shortly after we were seated, my wife’s eyes got big and she said “Oh wow, THERE’S Jim!” before I even had a chance to spot him. This afternoon we were actually greeted and seated by the man himself... Sorry to have only two photos of actual food after so much yammering, but there were only two of us and the portions are HEARTY. The menu is huge, from biscuits and gravy to fried chicken, omelettes, tenderloins, BLT’s, monster sized burgers, you’d have to have a roving gang to make a dent in that thing. We have dubbed the smallest burger at Jim's "The Ron Swanson". For any fans of the tv show Parks and Recreation, you may remember the episode where Ron Swanson and (enter Rob Lowe's character's name here) had a contest to see if Ron's plain Jane, cheapest possible hamburger held a candle against a very high-end turkey burger. Everyone loved the saffron-laden mega-fancy turkey patty until ripping into the "Ron Swanson"...proving the point that no matter how cheap and how plain a beef patty may be, it is still light years beyond any other meat. The burger at Jim's is exactly like the burger any one of the millions of midwestern moms on a budget serve their families....except bigger. And if you order The Big Jim triple patty version and Jim is around, you can COUNT ON him coming over to bring you an extra bun. I usually stick with another trusted classic- the open faced sandwich. Specifically, the open faced chicken fried steak sandwich. It. Is. Awesome. Not the cheapo crumbly or gristly cube steak you get a lot of places, but definitely tenderized. And perfectly breaded. The key to the whole thing is the combination of the cream gravy and the cheap white bread. They meld into a totally different substance when combined and have that stick to the roof of your mouth effect. And of course you can get a side of gravy with anything, a side of mayo is a literal bowl of mayo, and you know if you ever DO become a regular because your waitress will stand right at your table and smoke while she chats with you. It's kind of funny to see how differently you are treated than a "regular". It's kind of cute, they joke around completely differently and Jim is all anxious to make sure you like your food. Inside the wonderful time capsule. It is probably painfully obvious that this place is a non-guilty pleasure of mine and that you can decide pretty quickly whether you'd love it or hate it. I don't think a lot of locals even know about this place, much less eat there. I don't take many people there either. I'd hate to smack someone if they complained about the bus tub full of dirty dishes two feet from their head. Making a scene because one of my favorite chefs refuses to make you a meat-free beef tartare is one thing, but you can't go messing with Jim's. My endless rambling about this wallflower surely communicates my sincerity.
  23. annabelle- That's funny, my wife has worked in healthcare for a while and has some pretty funny stories about looks of horror from co-workers at her last job when she'd do something like suggest Vietnamese for lunch while they chowed down on a lunch of Mountain Dew and Doritos. The most recent, funniest thing where I work has to do with a couple of people who are shocked that I don't think to bring them my leftovers when I have a great meal on the weekend. Same ones who automatically expect authentic bbq every month, obviously.... onrushpam- It's awesome to hear from people who have ever had to look to KANSAS CITY for their destination dining! My ex-girlfriend's family lived in Butler, Mo.,so when we'd stay down there the closest place to eat was an Applebee's about twenty miles down the highway. The American and Peppercorn Duck Club were the end all be all here for a very long time for sure. I still hear good things about The American but haven't been forever. I don't think I've ever had dinner at the PDC, just that huge chocolate dessert bar when I was out on a date. Ah memories.....
  24. Wow, I guess things are about the same wherever you go....complainers, ungrateful, slackers, and the rare appreciative and motivated teammates. One additional dynamic reading all of your responses made me think of has to do with the difference between my previous team at this job and my current one.....my last team only did a potluck every 2 months and we would all eat together in a big conference room. It went way smoother and more people put in real effort. My current team does a potluck every freakin' month and you go and grab food and head back to your desk...so less accountability when you and your food aren't on display. Man, people are predictable. Oh well, lesson learned. Oh, here is a mindblower...the company I contract with is taking my team out to lunch next week to a very unlikely restaurant. Usually, it's an entirely other type of drama that results in picking a place nobody really likes in order to accomodate everyone. But next week, SOMEHOW, a Thai restaurant got the nod. I'm predicting a serious Lord of the Flies moment within fifteen minutes.
  25. Bleh. Now that I let it into my brain I can’t get rid of the “don’t be a poser…the chicken wasn’t enough…cook something you’ve never tried before that will make you want to kill yourself” broken down carnival music that is blasting at full volume. The good news is, the thing stuck in my brain can’t be done on Friday night because I need stuff from the market Saturday morning. The bad news is, the potential for total meltdown and backup BLT’s on Sunday night is very high. With meats that are new to me, I work backwards the majority of the time…I choose a Mt. Everest (for me) of a recipe so that if it is successful anything from that point forward will be really easy. Full glory or nothing….which goes back to the whole “my wife is the REAL cook” dynamic. I will probably just encourage Meredith to go and enjoy herself at the local cinema. I love to plan and I love the end result, but when I’m in the middle of one of these things and doing the actual cooking…I’m not someone you want to be near. Danny isn’t here, Mrs. Torrance. Gotta hit the road in about an hour, will be back around in the early evening with a full belly. Meredith might showcase one of our favorite veggie burger recipes at some point. Speaking of the wife, we had some zucchini left over from our CSA this week, so she made some of these muffins. And of all places, Whole Foods had a $4.99/lb sale on Rainier cherries this week. Here is lunch from earlier- I wish I had more time to talk about lunch. This is a rant, it may make me sound angrier than I actually am. The monthly potluck at the office is just...it is hard to think of the word...annoying, a little depressing maybe. I would never ding someone on the quality of their food if they put forth any effort, and I’m willing to put the definition of “effort” on a very, very forgiving sliding scale. Let’s say on a scale of 1 to 10, I’ll give Jello a five for effort. Fair enough. When it saves me from cooking for myself, I will eat anything. But what we have here is a situation where about five out of fifteen people do any actual cooking each time, and the bozos who bring in a pack of Oreos, hot dog buns, or a 2 liter of Best Choice soda reap the benefit month after month. Which would still be fine, BUT they are the first ones to do recon to make sure someone is planning to make something they want to eat. AND they are the first ones to get in line and end up going back three or four times to fill their plates at least twice as full as my picture. No exaggeration. And of course, it just goes without saying, they probably also brought sandwich bags and/or Ziploc containers in which they can pack stuff to take home. Minimum effort, maximum return, and a heaping helping of entitlement drizzled throughout. It’s the “I don’t know how to cook or I just don’t want to, so the joke is on you! You have to feed me!” philosophy. Like a gullible fool, I learned about the entitlement the hard way when I first came onto the team. I was doing a bbq the Sunday before my first monthly luncheon, so I thought it would be a cool thing to bring in a big container of pulled pork. Well it WAS a cool thing. People who are used to regular restaurant bbq lost their damn minds. What I failed to realize, silly me, was that in THEIR minds, the people who either cannot or will not actually cook real food have you hostage...until the end of time it is your responsibility to put forth the same level of effort every month so that they can look forward to it, load their plates, take it home, etc. etc. No exaggeration, that’s the mindset. And once I realized it was a trap and blew it up with a tactical nuke, as is my custom, there was actual agitation and head scratching as to why I wasn’t going to keep that effort and expense in the rotation, for people I don’t even really know. Not even sure how to approach that one, don’t expect any answers, I’m simply stymied. I bring delicious pie from the Corner Café now. Absolutely excellent pie, total overachievement for anyone who wasn’t stupid enough right out of the chute to bring in thirty dollars worth of meat that took sixteen hours to prepare. I try making inroads into the mindset when I talk to people, and ranting aside I can be pretty diplomatic. But it’s like that movie “Nell” with Jodie Foster. We just don’t speak the same language. But the problem is- who is Nell in this scenario? If I’m going against status quo maybe it’s ME going “shikka shikka may way”. Anyway, a hard earned couple of pieces of brisket today...off to have a REAL meal.
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