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Report: 2009 Heartland Gathering in Kansas City


Chris Hennes
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In what is surely a first for the Best Western Inn & Conference Center, Tino27 and I are now weighing out flour and yeast for a preferment, to be transformed into focaccia dough tomorrow (aka later this morning) in the hotel room while the rest of the group is out shopping at the market.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Dinner at Bluestem was terrific. I'll leave it to others to post photos and details, as I need to help make dough now.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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In what is surely a first for the Best Western Inn & Conference Center, Tino27 and I are now weighing out flour and yeast for a preferment, to be transformed into focaccia dough tomorrow (aka later this morning) in the hotel room while the rest of the group is out shopping at the market.

Lest you think Fat Guy is joking, I give you more than likely the first poolish ever created at a Best Western:

gallery_42520_6709_12559.jpg

Fat Guy measured out the bread flour while I measured out the active dried yeast.

gallery_42520_6709_37197.jpg

Add an equal amount of water (by weight) to the flour and yeast.

gallery_42520_6709_86454.jpg

Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon to incorporate it all. Cover and let sit in a nice draft-free corner.

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In what is surely a first for the Best Western Inn & Conference Center, Tino27 and I are now weighing out flour and yeast for a preferment, to be transformed into focaccia dough tomorrow (aka later this morning) in the hotel room while the rest of the group is out shopping at the market.

Lest you think Fat Guy is joking, I give you more than likely the first poolish ever created at a Best Western:

gallery_42520_6709_12559.jpg

Fat Guy measured out the bread flour while I measured out the active dried yeast.

gallery_42520_6709_37197.jpg

Add an equal amount of water (by weight) to the flour and yeast.

gallery_42520_6709_86454.jpg

Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon to incorporate it all. Cover and let sit in a nice draft-free corner.

I'm sure all of the other guests will awaken with a strange, inexplicable yearning for freshly baked bread.

I don't know if there's ever been a thread on hotel room cooking, but there should be. I've done some pretty bizarre things using a/c or heat registers, in-room coffee makers, honor bar fridges emptied of their pricey contents (to be replaced later) and an odd array of Dopp kit items adapted for uses far from their original intent. Throw in a vending machine down the hall and you've got a "Next Food Network Star" challenge.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Sad I can't be there -- I'm in the western Chicago burbs at another sort of Heartland gathering (more later).

After the first (sample) round, we selected a second round from the menu. I chose the Brothers Perryman, which is a Negroni variant with a touch of Saint Germain in addition to the gin and Campari. Very nice.

gallery_12922_6707_132076.jpg

Edsel, do you know the ratios? I've fiddled around with St. G in that and found that you could go with four equal parts. Curious to hear.

My favorite drink from Manifesto was the Smoke 'n Choke.  They smoke their own bourbon - gotta try that when I get home, if I can't talk someone here into trying it first.

Kerry, they fat-wash their bourbon there, I'm quite sure. Simple technique here. Not sure you can pull it off in a hotel fridge, though!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Sad I can't be there -- I'm in the western Chicago burbs at another sort of Heartland gathering (more later).
After the first (sample) round, we selected a second round from the menu. I chose the Brothers Perryman, which is a Negroni variant with a touch of Saint Germain in addition to the gin and Campari. Very nice.

gallery_12922_6707_132076.jpg

Edsel, do you know the ratios? I've fiddled around with St. G in that and found that you could go with four equal parts. Curious to hear.

My favorite drink from Manifesto was the Smoke 'n Choke.  They smoke their own bourbon - gotta try that when I get home, if I can't talk someone here into trying it first.

Kerry, they fat-wash their bourbon there, I'm quite sure. Simple technique here. Not sure you can pull it off in a hotel fridge, though!

Thanks for the info Chris. Ihave got a freezer in my hotel room - actually last night my hotel room was a freezer. I could get a mickey bottle of bourbon, get the bacon fat we render from Ronnie's bacon this afternoon for the bacon bark, slip that into the freezer overnight - Bob's your uncle!

The negroni variation was also a favorite drink and I think I'll use that combination in a Pates de Fruit and also try it in a chocolate center when I get home. Campari is awesome with white chocolate.

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I've been enjoying the feed vicariously from my Blackberry. I'm glad to hear that moosnsqrl, Aaron Deacon, and ChefCAG have all worked to welcome you to our humble home in the middlelands.

A few notes:

1. I'm hoping to hear more about Lidia's.

2. I'm glad someone got the Smoke n' Choke at Manifesto. Of the drinks I've had there, it's my favorite. (But I am partial to whiskey.)

3. If any of your flew Southwest Airlines and will be returning home by that carrier, there's an article about cocktails inside with recipes. One of them involves the fat washing method mentioned above by Chris Amirault. (There's also a recipe for Ramos Gin Fizz marshmallow that I'm mildly curious to try at home.)

4. Fat Guy and tino27: You do carbs proud.

5. moosnsqrl: Forget "The Food Network Star," try "Top Chef Masters!" :lol:

6. Burnt ends at LC's are the best. It is my favorite of the BBQ joints in KC (though I have a special place in my heart for the pulled pork and slaw sandwich at Oklahoma Joe's).

ETA: Is there nothing more to say about bluestem?

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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A quick stop by Bichelmeyer Meats to pick up the short ribs. Joe Bichelmeyer (second generation owner) gave us a tour of "Rocky's Locker", the aging cooler with lots of hanging beef and pork.

gallery_12922_6707_8836.jpg

(We didn't buy all of it, though the box of ribs looks pretty substantial.)

gallery_12922_6707_126340.jpg

Unwrapping a tamal made by Bichelmeyer's daughter in law. We also tried the chicharonnes. Tasty!

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6. Burnt ends at LC's are the best.  It is my favorite of the BBQ joints in KC (though I have a special place in my heart for the pulled pork and slaw sandwich at Oklahoma Joe's).

Another thank y'all for posting such great info and terrific pictures about the gathering.

And also to add another vote for LC's. It's my favorite as well. When I'm in Missouri, as I often am, I drive from Springfield for LC's.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I'm a little surprised nobody else has posted photos or anything from bluestem... there were certainly enough cameras going off all over the room! I took no notes or pictures, so I'll use the menu to share the meal... others who were there, please chime in with your own memories!

We got there a little early, to indulge in one of their cocktails. The gazpacho martini Judy ordered sounded perfect for a hot evening, and it was... you almost felt virtuous, drinking something that obviously was so good for you.

Right on time, we were ushered into the dining room, which had been set with two long tables in a sort of T arrangement. A third long table was filled with wine and glassware, and there was a lovely sense of anticipation and excitement in the room.

Soon we each were given a little spoon with a cube of compressed watermelon topped with a Crum cherry tomato, Murray River flake salt, and a little fennel blossom (at first I thought it was dill). A very refreshing and delightful bite of summery flavors!

Next up was a tender and sweet bay scallop, with a few of Crum's heirloom beets, Prairie Birthday arugula, and coriander champagne vinaigrette. The smear of beet juice on the long white plate was especially dramatic. Jeremy paired this with Folomari pinot grigio (2007 Venezie, Italy).

This was followed by a chilled tomato gazpacho (deja vu!) with cucumber, onion, and white gazpacho emulsion. (Do I remember some white grapes in there? Did anyone else notice something crunchy... perhaps a few soynuts?) This was paired with a very subtle Coy sake from Japan, which was, as described, very "light & fruity."

Walu (a Hawaiian butterfish) was served with some really wonderful Rancho Gordo vaquero beans, bits of artichoke, and bortarga (described as fish innards that were dried and shaved) with a light and delicate lemon verbena broth. This was paired with Les Domaniers rosé (2008 Cotes de Provence, France).

Then we had what to me was the apex of the evening: Peidmontese beef with rapini, white asparagus, wild local chanterelles, and thin slice of laquercia coppa, with mashed potato foam (seemed a little more substantial than a foam to me), a little dot of reduced wine/balsamic sauce, and a pour of a veal-red wine jus (did I remember that right, fellow diners? Please correct me if I goobered it up). This was perfectly paired with a Banfi Rosso di Montalcino (2006, Tuscany, Italy).

The sous vide peaches with oatmeal struesel cake, cream fraiche, ginger gelee, caramel peach foam and a flavorful gingersnap wafer was definitely improved with the pour of Casali rossa di Banca (Malvasia Dell'emilia, Italy). The peaches were a little disappointing... at least, mine had very little peach flavor, and cooking them didn't improve them any. There was too much cake and it was too dry, making me wish I could have about twice as much of the sweet Casali, which was light and fruity and fizzy. Bill thought it tasted like lychees.

The tiny letdown of the dessert was lifted somewhat by the petit fours: a cute little "burger" of malted buttercream between two tiny chewy chocolate cookies, a crisp little triangle of coconut cookie that tasted a little like shortbread to me, and a super-intense and tangy cube of sugared, jellied passionfruit, far and away my favorite bit of the entire dessert course.

Colby came out to say hi to us, and seemed pleased by the torrential ovation he received. When we stopped by to thank him and say goodnight in the bar, we heard that he and Megan had just found out that the Garralts family will increase to four sometime early next year. Congratulations!

Edited by mamagotcha (log)

Come visit my virtual kitchen.

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mamgotcha: Thanks for the terrific review.

To all my Heartland Posse, party on and tell all. I can't tell you how much I wanted to be there. (Lookin' good, Kerry!)

Heartland Rules.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Here's a link to my Flickr photoset from the Gathering dinner.

My apologies for the poor image quality and lack of knowledge of eG names. Also, I didn't take notes on the courses... please, help!

But I just wanted to get some pix up for those who are playing along at home...

Mamagotcha, thanks. Even though I had the opportunity to judge some great BBQ at the Whitehorn Cove BBQ Bash yesterday I was supposed to be with you all. sigh. Maybe next year I will be able to join in the fun if schedules permit. And the dinner at Bluestem, I just can't talk anymore.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Mamagotcha got it exactly right in my opinion: Bluestem really threw down, radically exceeding my expectations and serving a meal on par with what the better restaurants are doing in the much bigger cities -- where a meal of this caliber would still be quite noteworthy. And the place is deceptive: you wouldn't think from walking in that it would be a Very Serious Restaurant. It feels more like a relaxed neighborhood spot. Not that it's a huge surprise in this day and age to find this juxtaposition of excellent food and casual unpretentiousness, but still it was unexpected.

I agree that the dessert was kind of weak. Can't think of any other real faults, though.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Here's a link to my Flickr photoset from the Gathering dinner.

My apologies for the poor image quality and lack of knowledge of eG names. Also, I didn't take notes on the courses... please, help!

But I just wanted to get some pix up for those who are playing along at home...

Mamagotcha, thanks. Even though I had the opportunity to judge some great BBQ at the Whitehorn Cove BBQ Bash yesterday I was supposed to be with you all. sigh. Maybe next year I will be able to join in the fun if schedules permit. And the dinner at Bluestem, I just can't talk anymore.

You guys definitely do NOT have enough food! Any talk yet of where the next gathering will be?

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Last night's communally cooked dinner was a meal for the ages. Here's a rundown of what we had, and I hope we'll get lots of additional photographic support eventually. There weren't really any "live-blogging" opportunities because we all worked hard and ate hard, but I assume the information flow will get turned back on later today as people start returning home and slowly recovering.

We had so many items on the hors d'ouevres table that it wasn't truly necessary, or even particularly desirable, to have a meal afterward. I don't have enough fingers, toes and other appendages and protrusions to count up the number of cheeses that nyokie6 provided, no less the condiments and such. The Chris Hennes salami turned out to be quite serious. White Lotus and Dance provided a dizzying array of teas and mamagotcha and co. provided full-on barista services from the get-go. Tino27's focaccia redefined the standard for focaccia. Zeemanb's comparative pork-butt tasting presented little contest -- the real pork was so much better. I imagine that most of the top barbecue places in the country could be significantly improved by switching to better product. (They'd also have to triple their prices). Edsel, who appears to have a profoundly deep relationship with short ribs, started us off with approximately 20 pounds of pastrami-cured short ribs before he headed off to replicate the Gray Kunz short ribs for the final course of the dinner. Kerry made bacon-chocolate bark. There was other stuff as well: some smoked oysters from Lora's dad, a few other things . . . I can't keep track. It was obscene.

We sat down to a welcome smoked-trout canapé and cucumber crudite (Lora and dad).

Course 1 consisted of two interpretations of corn and avocado. Corn was a major ingredient that emerged at the market. It found its way into several dishes. So we had the cold interpretation: corn & avocado soup with cilantro oil (moosnsqrl & jgm). And the hot interpretation: a tempura corn fritter topped with the White Lotus/Dance smoked salmon and an avocado-lemon dressing (Torakris assisted by Chris Hennes, with distant involvement by me). Accompanied by rosemary focaccia (Tino27).

Course 2 was green-chile risotto (Chileheadmike) and platters of cabbage with bacon and roasted vegetables (ronnie_suburban).

Course 3 was strips of griddled cornbread topped with pulled pork, purple-hull beans, green-zebra tomatoes, creme fraiche and cilantro (Aaron Deacon). Accompanied by family-style platters of tomato salad (moosnsqrl & S.O. & jgm).

Course 4 was chicken curry with jasmine rice (Kerry Beal, prasantrin on rice)

Course 5 was Gray Kunz short ribs with Heston Blumenthal mashed potatoes (Edsel, tino27) and patty-pan squash with sesame oil and rice-wine vinegar (mamagotcha).

For dessert we had pie (Lora), peach and blueberry cobblers (nyokie6), chocolate cups and more bacon bark (Kerry Beal).

I'm sure I missed some things and people. Those who provided equipment, logistical support and cleanup services will, as per standard procedure in culinary circles, receive no acknowledgment and remain largely unappreciated, even though the undertaking would not have been possible without them.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Deeply wishing I had the time and money available to have been there, too! Mamagotcha, that heirloom tomato salad was a thing of beauty; thanks for the pictures :wub: !

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I'd like a little more info on what appears to be a cold green soup.

Avocado? Broccoli? Celery? Asparagus?

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Here's a link to my Flickr photoset from the Gathering dinner.

My apologies for the poor image quality and lack of knowledge of eG names. Also, I didn't take notes on the courses... please, help!

But I just wanted to get some pix up for those who are playing along at home...

Thanks for the first glimpses. Those of us who had to miss the weekend are waiting with baited breath!

BTW - I'd be glad to help return the gathering to Cleveland next year, or to visit a new city.

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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I'd like a little more info on what appears to be a cold green soup.

Avocado?  Broccoli?  Celery?  Asparagus?

Corn and Avocado with Cilantro Oil, perhaps?

:biggrin:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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From looking at Mamagotcha's photos, Judy and Jen the soup looks so good, the focaccia and everything, what was the variety of tomatoes in the salad?

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I'm back in Cleveland now and just didn't want leave! This was the most incredible weekend. We can't thank Judy and Aaron enough for all of their hardwork. The BBQ blew me away and I could happily eat those burnt ends from LC's everyday for the rest of my life. I can't believe I grew up thinking that Tony Roma's was BBQ....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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It really was a great meal last night -- probably the best Gathering meal I can remember. I think the extra effort that went into planning the menu here beforehand really paid dividends.

Below are shots of the the savory courses. Because the desserts were not brought to the tables (and I'd had quite a bit of bourbon :wink:), I somehow managed to not get shots of the desserts. :sad:

eghg09.01.trout.jpg

Smoked Trout Canape

eghg09.02.soup.jpg

Corn & Avocado Soup

eghg09.03.focaccia.jpg

Focaccia & Fritter with Hot-Smoked Salmon

eghg09.04.risotto.jpg

Risotto (others at the table tore into this before I could get the shot)

eghg09.05.cabbage.jpg

Cabbage with Bacon and Charcoal-Roasted Veggies

eghg09.06.tomatoes.jpg

Tomatoes

eghg09.07.minitomato.jpg

The "jelly bean" Tomato

eghg09.08.cornbread.jpg

Cornbread, Okra and Purple-Hull Beans with Pulled Pork

eghg09.09.curry.jpg

Shrimp Curry (we got shrimp because we had a non-chicken eater at our table)

eghg09.10.shortrib.jpg

Short Ribs (potatoes and veggies are somewhere behind there)

=R=

Edited by ronnie_suburban (log)

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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It was truly a pleasure meeting everyone at the gathering, and I'm sorry to have missed those who couldn't attend this year: thanks especially to Aaron and Judy for arranging everything so well.

I can't wait to see Ron's photos of this morning's brunch, which was also excellent, and certainly the best brunch I've ever had in my life. The Crums were incredibly gracious hosts, and it was wonderful to see the operation they've got growing there (I wish my tomatoes looked as good as theirs!).

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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