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Big Country

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  1. Far from it, The James Beard Foundation is an extremely useful tool and organization with education and food culture. The foundation is responsible for giving thousands of thousands of dollars to young students who may not be able to afford post secondary education and would like to make the best of it. I hardly find it a joke to see many dedicated young people who want to educate their mind in whatever they feel is necessary for there future careers. Also, 99% of the best chefs in the country are involved with the James Beard Foundation. The standards of these chefs exceed much higher than any other organized group of culinarians such as the closed minded ACF. It's no longer just a foundation or "organization" but a community as well. It's not like Strouds won Best of the Midwest or anything anyways. The James Beard Foundation has increased the awareness of quality standards in the food undustry and has given an opportunity of all kinds of chefs to shine when their has come. There's nothing wrong with covering all different kinds of cuisine, restuarants, food, chefs, and ideas. That's why the U.S. is very unique, we are diversed in many ways that has shaped this country's cuisine into being extremely diverse. Sure, it's had some problems behind the scenes but it still carries the same tradition of recognizing chefs and educating people. Even Ferran Adria who doesn't have to do anything for anyone or anything is involved with the James Beard Foundation. Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Jean-George, Grant Achatz, Gary Danko, and I definetly know Charlie Trotter wouldn't put his name on it if he thought it was a joke. By calling this country's best culinary community a joke is extremely humorous and revolting. It's just foolish to think like that. ← You never found it kind of funny that hmmm....I'll give you an example...The American Restaurant before they opened their doors hired this dude name James Beard to consult for them......and Poof low and behold on their 25th anniversy the chefs there recieved an award from the foundation, only after the Halls spent about a million or so to promote the foundation?....The foundtion was great about 15 years ago, now it's just a machine with no tools, other than the ones it so calls invite (if you want to call it an invite). It is what it is! ← M&D put KC on the Map for fine dining and in the national spot light. Bradley Ogden didn't win a beard award while at the American. Chef Tio hasn't . If anyone thinks that the only reason that M&D won the Beard award was cause they were at the American they are dead wrong. They got it from a lot of hard work. They were so far ahead of everyone else in this city at that tume it wasn't funny. And IMO it is amazing that they were able to win a Beard award here in KC. We are in the middle of nowhere and they were the tip of the sword cutting the culinary scene open here.
  2. I'm thrilled to see a recognition of the etnic influences in Kansas and Wichita in particular. I grew up in/around Wichita (I now live in Lawrence) and have long believed the significant immigrant populations (Vietnamese, Hispanic, Lebanese, West African, etc...) to be one Wichitas' greatest assests, culinary or otherwise. I find the fact that thousands of Wichitans have become intimately familiar with fattouch salad & tabbouleh, pho & cafe sua, menudo & stewed goat, to be smile inducing and life affirming. What are the great etnic spots in Wichita these days? Before I moved I made sure to hit N&J, Japan Express, and as many of the Vietnamese places on Broadway as possible. Also, I recall a number of wonderful quick-service Mexican places popping up in abandoned Dairy Queens and the like - there was one on West St. south of Central somewhere, one on either Lincoln or Harry a little west of Oliver. Menudo Rico on Sundays, tongue tacos... awesome. Anyone familiar with the Nigerian Womens' Association dinner which was/is held every fall at The Olive Trees banquet facilities? Is this still going on? I am by no means attempting to disparage anyone's traditions by my asking of these questions, but rather am trying to get to the basic most answer as to 'is there?' and, if so, 'what is?' Kansas Cuisine - Do the occasional mom & pop cafes and diners qualify as a cuisine? Do small, localized Mennonite or Amish culinary traditions qualify as a cuisine? Does the output of the increasingly few home practioners of their European ancestors culinary customs qualify as a cuisine? If a complete stranger from a far away and strange land came up to you tomorrow desperately begging to be fed a meal which would enlighten her/him with an understanding of what it means to live in Kansas - the type of understanding which can only come from experiencing a native cuisine in its native geography - where would you take them? What would you cook for them? I ask because I have had great food in Kansas. But that food has not necessarily been Kansan. Or American for that matter. Also, what individual ingredients would be considered Kansan? What techniques? What indiginous foodstuffs be they animal or vegetable are identifiably Kansan? ← Beef and Bread, Kansas is almost always #1 or #2 in cattle raised in the nation. Alway fighting it out with Texas for the top spot. We are usually at the top in wheat productio also. I would say that the "country cafe" would qualify as much as a Deli in NYC.
  3. I agree that Kansas Cuisine is who you grew up around. For the most part the food that I grew to love going up in KS, was survival food. Pickles, Home made Sauerkraut, anything that took the bounty of the summer that you could survive throught the winter. I think that the people in KS are more in touch with the seasons and seasonality of food than most. I know a lot has changed in the past 20-25 years but when I was a child that is all that my mother and aunt did all summer. Garden, Can fruits and vegetables, pickle vegetables and put fresh food on the table everyday for our family, while my father and uncle and all of the boy were out in the fields and pastures tending to the crops and livestock. KS is not an easy place to live. I didn't realize how hard I worked while growing up on a farm. That is what everybody does where I am from, WORK. To work is to live and that is the way it has been for 150 years. I am not sure if there is a thing as KS cuisine but I do now that there is some great food in KS. Almost every little town has a diner or cafe of some sort. There are some good ones and some bad one, but for the most part you can get a good hot roast beef sandwich, fried chicken and a great piece of pie at all of them. You can not say that about many places in KC or any other place
  4. It's going to get harder for independent restaurants to make it, It's seems like the bulk of the cities in the kansas city area are going after the taxes that the the big guys can bring to the board. I know they bring alot to the areas as far as jobs and taxes. I just hate to see a small guy drop that much into a place and have it go under in less that 10 months, but I've seen the big guy go under just as fast. I guess all is fair in food and love. ← I toatally agree with you. I 99.99% of the time only go to local independant restaurants. I support the KC Origanals and other locally own places. It just breaks my heart to see all of the chains moving in. My sister just got a house in Piper, and she thinks that the Legends is just the greatest thing ever. I just look around and think, "Where is the local places out here?" Then oh that right they can not afford to move into these spaces.
  5. I would say that the biggest issue is the amount of flour. Recipes can change. If the humidity is high and so on. I would add a tablespoon or so of extra flour and it should help with the spreading. I have a cookie plate on my menu. They are all of my Mothers and Grandmothers recipes so when I tried to make them in bulk I had to change them slightly. Try a little extra flour not much and see if that helps.
  6. I grew up in the middle of Kansas and my father is a cattle rancher. When I was a kid we would split a steer between our family and my uncle and his. I thought that everyone had a freezer full of beef. When I left home and had to eat beef that came from the grocery store I had a rude awakening. I didn't realize that there was such a difference in the quality of meat that was out there. There are a few things that are important when it comes to raising cattle to produce great meat: 1.) Husbandry, You have to take care of your animals. Don't abuse them, happy cattle make happy people when they eat them. All of my father's cattle are in pastures and run around eating grass doing what they want. In the winter months the are fed Alfalfa and grain pellets for protein and they would alway have straw to eat. The straw is more of a filler. It has some nutritional value but mostly it keeps the cattle digesting and raises their body temp keeping them warmer in the cold. 2.) Breeding, I will be the first to tell you that CAB (Certified Angus Beef) is a lot of BS, because there are a lot of cattle that are considered CAB that are not even agus cattle. All they have to have is a Black Hide on them. Our cattle herd is Angus cross breed. We have had different breeds over the years but there has always been some sort of Angus in our herd. 3.) Finishing, Finishing cattle on grain is how you get that marbled tender, juicey, mouthwatering steak. We would finish them on grain for 120 days. One of the reasons that grain fininshed meat is more tender than grass is that the age of the cattle. Grass feeding takes a lot longer to get to kill weight than grain. The other is Fat. Marbling is what makes steaks tender and juicy. You can not get that when grass feeding. I have only had grass fed beef once and that was in Austrailia. It was ok, but by no means anything as good as grain finished Kansas Beef.
  7. I go to the Lounge often. I am so glad that there is a place that I can go when I get off of work. It is the only place in town that I know that has good food late. Their mussels are great. Mussels and fries you just can't go wrong. I think that I'm going to have to go in this week and have some.
  8. I have been in for dinner a couple of times. It is great. Like lunch it is simple and straight forward and perfectly executed.
  9. Christopher Elbow in Kansas City. We are so fortunate to have such a world class chocotatier here in KC. Beautiful creations only matched by their taste.
  10. I love this............ ← Thanks, I have an overwelming amount of passion for good fresh food. I love your quote
  11. I completely disagree!!!! The thing that makes truffle so special is the SEASON. I use fresh truffle and shell out the money to pay for them. As do my customers. White truffle oil is an ok at best product. Nothing can compare to the real thing. I think Chefs in general need to take a step back and get the hell out of the lab and into the kitchen or farmers market!!! People these days have a hard enough time know where their food comes from. They don't have a clue when it come to farms, animal husbantry and growing seasons. Creating artificial flavors or additives is the last thing that the public needs. What they should be doing is going out and tasting seasonally artisanal product!!! Ok I will get off of my soapbox.
  12. When I was attending the CIA in Hyde Park NY there was a class and the instructor asked the class to descibe you favorite meal or food. I thought about this for a long time. At the time I had not experianced a lot of fine dining. I had lived in Japan for the past three years (where I had sushi for the first time) while in the Navy but my answer still holds true. I am just a farm boy at heart. I grew up on a farm in the middle of Kansas and we always had a garden. I can remember going out at about 8:30 at night, when it had started to cool and my father would turn the potatoes with the tractor. My brother, sister, cousins and myself would run behind the tractor and grab all of the potatoes that we could and put them into big baskets. Big ones, little ones, soft dirt in between your toes and underneath your finger nails. We would be covered in dirt by the time we were done and we all had smiles on our faces. Mom would wash the potatoes and cook them with ham hocks, onions and fresh snap beans from the garden. Smash the potatoes lots of butter and S&P. A big pan of cornbread with butter and honey on it. It is one of the strongest memories from childhood. Still bringing a smile to my face wishing for days past. Potatoes should taste like dirt. Fresh dirt. Of the earth where they have come from and the love that it took to cook them. It is still my favorite summer dish to have when I visit my parents, along with the home grown tomatoes and corn.
  13. Big Country


    I love white gazpacho in the summer. It get really hot here in KC. I just use green grapes, cucumbers, raw almonds (green alonds if availible), a little garlic, and sourdough that has been soaked in cold water. Don't toast the almonds or it will over power the soup. There is protein in the almonds and it is a refreshing dish to sip on. I hope that she is feeling better soon.
  14. I have had their Biscuts and Gravy. I liked them the gravy was very good and the flavor combo is right on, must have a couple over easy with them. The biscuts are good but not great. I am a picky biscut eater though. They aren't my mamma's biscuts growing up on the farm. But I do like 39's. Spanish Omlette is a must. Brioche french toast is really good. Friday and Saturday they do a Steak and Eggs Benedict that is to die for.
  15. Good to see you today Joe. I had a quick bit for lunch at 39 today. It is my favorite place to have lunch in KC. I have not had a bad meal there. Always Fresh, Tasty and In Season. I eat there regularly and would probly say that more Chefs eat there for lunch than any other restaurant in KC. I shared the fried green tomato app with fresh crab salad, poached shrimp and creole remoulade, then their veggie burger with a side of kale instead of fries. everything was very good. My friend had the Pork Sandwich which is one of my favorites. He loved it. It is very busy most of the time, but well worth the wait if you have to.
  16. I had Fried Pickles for the first time in Mississippi. They were awsome!! It was at a little seaside restaurant outside of Gulf Shores. They served them with their fried platter items. I had them with fried crawfish tails and they were served with spicey creole remoulade. True they MUST be served right out of the fryer. I will say sitting on the Gulf Coast and eating fried pickles and a cold Abita Amber beer is a great way to spend an afternoon.
  17. While I appreciate your vote of confidence, I fear it is misplaced. I am a rather recent transplant and don't actually live there, although it is my mailing address. I'll do my best not to let you down, though ← Sorry Judy I thought that Dave had told me that you were in Bonner. I lived in WyCo for 3 years, although I have recently moved to the Plaza. So I guess that I don't have any room to talk.
  18. Bring it on, 'Wench(es)! You'd better hope for my safe return, now that you're on record as having issued a threat. ← It'll take more than two JoCo Ladies To bring it to a Woman from Bonner!!! Go WYCO!!!!!!
  19. Sorry to hear that. I take it you no longer have the upstairs space. There is a very good restaurant here in Center City Philadelphia called Zanzibar Blue that is also one of the city's premier jazz clubs, and it's all on one level. This is the place where the legends play when they swing through Philly. The jazz, however, is as big a draw as the food, if not bigger, and the stage is on the restaurant side of the house. The bar is separated from the restaurant by a glass partition, which lets you see the performers if you like. This is actually a very good arrangement, for it allows patrons who can't (or don't want to) swing the cover charge for a big act to experience it anyway for the price of drinks; the music is piped into the bar over the restaurant's speaker system. I heard Gato Barbieri perform in just this fashion back in March. I don't know if the space you have now is configurable in this manner, or whether your restaurant patrons would be annoyed or not by the presence of the musicians. I only post this by way of offering an example of how great dining and great jazz can coexist in a single space. ← We are on the second floor but on the other side of the building from where the bar/lounge was located. The private dining rooms are still in the same location. They were built in 1986, in '96/'97 Cliff (the owner) closed the downstairs and bar/lounge on the second story. He then remodeled and re opened the restaurant on the second story also. We now have a 40 seat restaurant and the private dining room that can hold up to 80. I have been here for a year and a half and love it. It has been a great experiance for me. I have worked under some great Chefs in my career and now I am able to work with man that has owned a restaurant on the Plaza for 35 years. He has been working down here for over 40 years. Cliff was on the opening staff of the Plaza III when it opened as a manager.
  20. Speaking of jazz, is that still on the menu as well? I have this vague recollection of having gone to Starker's when I brought my partner to KC to "meet the folks" back in 1984. The place was on the second floor of the building housing the Plaza Theatre, Nichols Road side. There was a fairly decent combo performing--and I ran into a neighbor girl who lived across from my Grandma's house (5400 block of Agnes) and with whom I played all the time growing up, who was also there that night with her boyfriend. ← We do not have live Jazz at Starker's currently. When the restaurant was down stairs and Bar/Lounge was upstairs they had live jazz nightly.
  21. What's there to be sorry about? That sounds like a fine set-up! I wish all restaurants had that policy! u.e. ← The hardest thing as a Chef is to get the food you want into your guests mouth. Now I love all of the dishes on my menu but, just like different song on a great jazz album I like some better than others. so if they don't order it I give it to them. Even if it is some cookie to go that they can have in the morning with coffee.
  22. I thought we had all agreed that it wasn't necessary to mention we went out for a second dessert after we were forcibly fed snickerdoodles and ice creams I won't need anything sweet for roughly six months. ← Sorry no one leave with out some ice cream and/or cookies if I am in the dining room
  23. All of Trotter's book have great pic's in them.
  24. When I write my menu up daily, I try to make it so that the menu is as clean as possible. I look to see how the descriptions look on the menu and how long it is. I can not stand the .99 or .95 or .25. I think that is make a menu to busy. I do not put $$$ in front of my prices but I do put .00 after. I think that most customers realize that they are expected to pay in $$$'s.
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