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Everything posted by mamagotcha

  1. Alas, I can also personally attest to the sad situation over at Café Aponaire in Waldo. I want to like them, really I do, but today was just the last in a series of disappointing encounters. Among other problems ranging from annoying to unhealthy was this little gem: I ordered three cute little cream puffs to share with my family. The server, using a large waxpaper sheet, managed to mangle all three of them so badly that not one of them made it to the plate intact. Their chocolate glaze was smeared all over the plate, and one was smooshed face-down in the mess. The server looked at me sheepishly and said, "Um, is this okay?" What could I say? "How on earth can you, in good conscience, charge me full price for this mess?" "Can I speak with your manager?" "Don't you have any pride in how you present your wares?" "I have to wonder what you do when nobody is watching..." "I'm just sharing with my toddler, and he's going to do worse that that to them." Since I'd already paid, I actually said the last thing, and silently resolved not to return. But even if that hadn't happened, the bitter, burned, strangely soy-sauce-flavored "hash browns" would have done the trick. You know, three years ago I lived within walking distance of an Austrian pastry café. Albert Kutternig would have torn a server like that into little tiny pieces.
  2. I can attest to the quality of the goodies at Murray's, Napoleon's, Pastry Goddess, and Artisan Francais (Saturday morning is NOT the time to show up and expect full trays at those latter two, however). Did you know about Foo's Fabulous Frozen Custard? (which, by the way, is opening a new shop in Leawood).
  3. Somehow I got the same thing into my head, and went up there Friday. Closed doors... had to console myself with an eclair from the Pastry Goddess, oh darn. Place sure looks pretty, but it's still a glorified strip mall.
  4. My thoughts exactly. There just isn't much range with this reviewer, it seems.
  5. Yes, "small plates," but not to an extreme degree... that bowl of soup and a hunk of bread would have been an excellent lunch. They weren't skimping at all, and we were FULL at the end of the meal. The labels were from a MSWord document they sent out to people who had made reservations in advance via email... they had also had a version of the menu up on an easel a few weeks earlier, and they gave out a final version on the night of, that we could keep (I scribbled all my notes on it, too!). I would like to add that the owners were quite gracious about the photos... I know some people aren't so keen on someone shooting in the dining room, and I understand it could be distracting, so I was very careful NOT to flash, and to keep it very low and close to the table.
  6. I keep telling myself I'm only going there to look at prospective holiday gifts... for OTHER people... to give away... yeah, that's it.
  7. Hey, I made it back to Pangea tonight for their monthly beer pairing dinner. Here's the write-up... In short: beautiful food, great value.
  8. Wow, I didn't know about all these great responses to my post (where's the "I'm blushing because of my inability to figure out the eGullet forums" smilie?)... thank you all for your kind words of welcome. You may have noticed me sticking my inexperienced-yet-eager nose into other conversations already... UE asked: Can you describe the tuna tartare more? Was it in a roll? Nope, just a pile in the middle of the plate, IIRC. Well, that doesn't sound very appetizing... it was garnished with the sesame seeds, and had the other ingredients artfully arranged on top and around it. UE asked: The savory butternut squash pudding: was it soft or more like bread pudding? The description sounds wonderful, but I'm having a hard time imagining what it's like? It was like a cake, with squares of the pecan bread studded throughout. I guess, more like bread pudding. UE asked: Also, what's the "slice of chocolate truffle?" It sounds as if you just had a chocolate truffle (bon bon) sliced. It was new to me... before, I'd had small balls when I'd had truffles, so this lovely dark slab of chocolate was tremendously lavish. It looked like it was sliced from a smallish loaf, perhaps? I shudder to imagine the entire confection, unsliced... enough chocolate to power a small city! moosnsqrl said: I wouldn't be too afraid of Big Country - unless he's brandishing a chef's knife I must say that Big Country sent me a very gracious note upon reading my amateur review of his work, and I'm looking forward to meeting him in person someday. I'll keep an eye out for the knife, though... Katie Nell said: ... you've convinced me! I'm so glad! And thanks for the lunches alert... Again, sorry to be so slow on the ball. I'll try to figure this forum out soon and not be such a noob... < / blush >
  9. Have you made it over to Murray's Ice Cream & Cookies yet? I was groovin' on the Grapefruit Sorbet all summer... and the Chocolate Flake Fromage is almost as rich as any gelato. Mmmm... if it wasn't 30-something degrees out right now, I'd be headed over there myself!
  10. Hmmm. I've not really given much thought to the concept that novice diners might be spurred on with a "bridge" establishment like Pangea. Of course, I suppose I should be in that novice catagory, but the idea that high-end restaurants can be intimidating, and that you're risking more of your hard-earned cash on an experience, has actually created a frission of excitement for me as I venture further into the world of cuisine. In fact, I know I will eventually lose that sense of danger as I get more used to eating at these places, and that's a tiny bit sad... I know it will be replaced with more confidence and understanding of these chefs' ideas, which is of course the whole point, but I'm enjoying the slightly naughty feeling I get now when I slip into bluestem and Starker's. ("Eek! Do I belong here? Can they tell that I'm faking it? Will they throw me out if I pick the wrong wine or use the wrong fork? Yikes!") And it's not just the classist money gap (we don't have much extra cash lying around, as a six-member family on one income with two kids in college), although that's certainly slowing the process of assimilation significantly. I felt the same when I first started going to concerts and art galleries... it's the time between the thrill of discovering a new passion and working to gain the knowledge to participate fully within that world. So some might argue that it's a good thing to maintain that gap, and thus the excitement; that by shortening it, you might create more afficianados... but less awe and wonder for those who display mastery (look at what television has done for the world of acting, for an extreme example). This sounds a lot more negative that I meant it to be! I'm certainly glad I found Pangea, and I look forward to sharing her with others (hence, my original post), for that will benefit both us eaters and the owners. Still... I hope they ditch those Pepsi cups soon.
  11. I've been driving past Pangea for several weeks now, wondering what kind of a "cafe and market" would be popping up on this out-of-the-way little strip mall on 39th Street (quite a ways from the Restaurant Row near State Line, closer to Southwest Trafficway). Thursday, I stuck my head in... not much market, mostly cafe. I was warmly greeted by Martin Rudderforth, who tells me he first came to KC five years ago to work at Piropos, where he met the woman who became his wife, Wendy. They decided to open their own place, and this is it. The cafe itself is bright, sunny, welcoming, and comfortable. Most of the food seems to be prepared ahead of time, and you order at the counter (which has a display case full of the goodies available). Along one wall, you see a few shelves of crackers, chocolates, beers and wines, and there's a cooler with some cheeses. After ordering, you take your oddly out-of-place plastic Pepsi cup to the drink dispensers, fill up and go sit down to wait for your food (marked by your little international flag sign). Upon conversation with the server, we found he was a brother of one of the owners... and the young woman who took our order was Wendy's sister. So this is a family venture... My husband and I went there tonight, and thoroughly enjoyed our visit... enough that we decided to sign up for their prix fixe international dinner next month (featuring food and beers from four countries: Canada, Greece, Scotland and (drat, can't remember the fourth, and the website doesn't list it, either... sorry!), $30 per person). The counterwoman and the server both were friendly and knowledgable about the beverages and food. While the server doesn't take your order, he will help out in any other way during the meal. Everything came out quickly, hot and fresh and beautifully plated. The menu featured items from all over the world: a Jamaican Jerk Pork Skewer ($7, spicy jerk-marinated pork skewer, with sweet potato puree and guava jelly), a Beef & Guinness Pie ($10, beef tenderloin simmered in Guinness, baked in a pastry shell, set on colcannon), Pad Thai Noodles ($10, rice noodles cooked with chicken, lap chong sausage and egg, topped with cilantro and peanuts), and Chicken Tandoori ($8, chicken thighs stuffed with Basmati rice served with garbanzos and spiced yogurt sauce), plus an array of paninis, soups, and salads. Tonight we had the lentil soup (a new addition to the menu, I was told), which was full of tiny French green lentils, teeny cubed carrots, and several choice bits of pork. It was gently spiced, hot and filling, perfect for a chilly fall evening. The empanadas were too tempting to pass up, so we shared a Creamy Humita ($2.50, filled with corn, broccoli, potato, and garlic). The shell was crisp and browned and perfect... somebody in that kitchen clearly knows their pastry. The filling was also good, earthy and flavorful, and made me want to try the other two soon (ham and cheese; ground beef and green olive). We also tried the pumpkin ravioli ($7, with ricotta and topped with pinenut sage butter). Large and round, the three homemade filled pastas were delicate and satisfying. My husband, who is something of an amateur pastry chef himself, tried the Dulce de Leche Mil Hojas ($5, layers of phyllo dough and dulce de leche topped with toasted meringue). He raved about the crisp layers sandwiching the not-too-sweet caramelly filling that featured a hint of cinnamon. I decided on the flourless chocolate torte ($4), and it almost finished me off, it was so rich and dense. This dish had the only misstep that I saw all evening, and that was a supremed piece of grapefruit alongside the slices of strawberry, leaves of mint and whipped cream that garnished the torte (along with a few drops of raspberry and caramel sauces). It looked glorious, but the grapefruit flavor just did not belong with that chocolate. It was jarring, and while I could have just left it there, I subscribe to the notion that the garnish is there to provide an accent not only visually but via taste as well. That's a pretty minor quibble. We're looking forward to going back for the dinner (November 6, IIRC). I'd love to hear what kind of experiences other folks are having at Pangea...
  12. I went for Sunday Brunch when my sister was visiting at the end of September. I had heard wonderful things, but was quite underwhelmed. Reading the KC Magazine review, I believe the reviewer was fair. The service was pretty much non-existent... we had to go searching for a server to get water and drink refills (on a very hot day). The food was so-so... not particularly memorable, nothing unforgiveable. The menu board did not reflect what was actually offered, and when this was pointed out, a server was incredulous until she saw it herself. I'll try it again at least once, perhaps for dinner...
  13. If you check out the Star's rate card (pdf), they try to make you think they have over 700,000 readers: ... but if you search the small print, their actual run is exactly 350,000... ... which barely qualifies them to stay in the mid-level newspaper catagories (150,001-350,000) for the awards: 2006 Association of Food Journalists Awards (also a pdf). So it's not like Chapin was up against the big boys in that competition. The Star is sort of a big fish in the little newspaper pond, and as such, their writers will gain more awards.
  14. My husband and I celebrated our 7th anniversary last Saturday, and decided to splurge with a visit to Big Country's establishment. So I can tell you what he was cooking up on September 16, 2006: We didn't order a soup this evening, but we got some anyway... a server brought us two tall shotglasses with a lovely corn soup in them, tawny yellow and rich with tiny green snips of chives (he even garnished these tiny amuses!). It was a very sweet gesture and certainly helped us relax... we don't get out much, and when we do, it's very rare that we spend more than $50 for the night. So we were just a little nervous about blowing a big pile on one meal... a totally baseless fear, as it turned out. Our waiter was Jonathan, who immediately put us at ease and helped us figure out our food and wine choices without making us feel like total bumpkins. Big Country, if you have any say at all in the retention of the dining room staff, make sure this guy gets tenure. He's a gem! We started out with the "Ahi tuna tartare with avocado, cucumber, cilantro and spicy lemon vinaigrette." It was also strongly supported by the addition of sesame seeds, and in general brought to mind an excellent sushi roll. We were drinking a half-bottle of white wine with this (an Oregon vineyard whose name escapes me, a Pinot Gris if I'm remembering correctly) and our salads. My husband had the "Hearts of romaine Caesar topped with pecorino shavings and white anchovies." I went with the "Mix lettuce salad with Granny Smith apples, Maytag cheese, spiced walnuts and Pommery mustard vinaigrette." Both were fresh, excellently made, and we didn't rush a bite. My husband in particular was glad to see actual anchovy on his Caesar, instead of just a hint of them in the dressing or wet little bits tossed in. The bread came by, and I asked if it was made in-house. The server told me it was the local Farm to Market Italian bread ("You can get it in grocery stores here"). It was the only time during the entire meal that I felt the tiniest bit of ordinary life had snuck into the dining room, but it was still very good bread. For the second half of our meal, we had a Napa Valley wine, Storybook's Mayacamas Range Zinfandel if I'm recalling correctly, another half-bottle. Then, our entrees arrived: I had the "Grilled rack of lamb with savory butternut squash and pecan bread pudding, Beau Solais Farms oyster mushrooms, and sage demi glace", and my husband had "Pan roasted veal chop with fall squash risotto, roasted pumpkin, wilted Swiss chard, toasted pepitas and pumpkin seed vinaigrette." We savored every single morsel on those plates. It was quite an exciting thing for us, to enjoy food that has been prepared with the care of an artist creating a painting. We felt like we were witnessing some incredible harmonies in these meals, things that we have only heard of and glimpsed in our past culinary adventures. The only thing we could compare it to in our past was a visit to Zuni Cafe in San Francisco about five years ago. Every detail was attended to: the portions of each item were an appropriate size, the colors and shapes were arranged in an attractive manner, nothing was over- or under-cooked, no flavors were bizarre or out of place. My dessert of a slice of decadent chocolate truffle, and my husband's glass of fresh raspberries with a Grand Marnier/white chocolate sauce were lovely, fresh, not-too-sweet ways to round off the meal (along with the excellent house blend coffee... even the decaf was wonderful). This meal was worth every single penny we paid, and my only regret is that we're not in a position to do this every month! Big Country, I saw you come into the dining room a couple of times during the evening, and I wish I'd had the guts to tell you that a fellow (albeit newbie) eGulleter was visiting. I hope to return soon, and when I do, I'll try to work up the nerve to say hello! I do have to admit to taking a verrrry long time to traverse the hallway outside your kitchen, so I could gawp at your wonderful toys and tools... Thank you, Big Country and Starker's Reserve, for a memorable celebration.
  15. Oh! I am so thrilled to find this thread! I've been on a Thai curry kick ever since I grew my own lemongrass, basil and Thai chilis this summer. I got David Thompson's book, have read through Kasma's website (and am heartbroken that her books are out of print... $70 for the pair, my husband would kill me!), delved through many pages of Temple of Thai, invested in a granite mortar-and-pestle, discovered a great little Asian market in the middle of the Midwest, and am thinking about splurging for the Cracking the Coconut book... Well, I will definitely come back and finish reading this thread, and Pim's intro to Thai cooking class... but I wanted to humbly invite any of you to visit my blog, which mostly features my forays into Thai cooking so far (including Nam Prik Pao!). I just posted my first recipe today, and would love any feedback you have to offer. (the link is in my sig below) Many thanks, Katje
  16. hee hee... I've already put in an eBay bid for a VHS copy of "Grande Bouffe!" Great minds and all that... Thanks!
  17. Me too... the chocolate craving hits about a week before, but right when the fit is about to hit the shan, it's comfort food: fresh hot popcorn with lots of butter, mashed potatoes, chips and guac (those Kettle pepper chips are good, too!)... you get the idea. So nice to find this thread! Don't need it right now, but I know I'll be baaaaack...
  18. I'm a juggler, so a trip to the market is always a temptation. I do, however, purchase anything I juggle. I've never done bar flair (juggling and manipulation with liquor bottles) but I love watching it, and someday I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to learn... And, of course, there are dozens of things from this handy little tome that I haven't quite gathered the gumption to try... yet!
  19. We just watched "Eat Drink Man Woman" last night, and it inspired me to come search for this thread. You folks did not disappoint! I've added quite a number of your recommendations to my Netflix queue... thanks! I've read this whole thread, and you all have come up with pretty much all the cool food-related films I've seen and loved ("Like Water for Chocolate," "Mostly Martha," "Chocolat," "Tampopo" chief amongst them). "Big Night" is sitting on the DVD player, waiting its turn! Sadly, I cannot find "La Grande Bouffe" or "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover" on Netflix... will try to track them down at the vintage VHS rental store here. So I had a question about "EDMW"... that scene that panned over his (HOME!) collection of knives... would a chef seriously need that many? I have about four that I use constantly, but then again I'm not butchering my own meat. Has anyone seen a real Chinese chef's kitchen? Was this for real? Thanks... my first post here, so please be gentle!
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