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Report: 2009 Heartland Gathering in Kansas City

Chris Hennes

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Judy and Aaron did a fantastic job organizing this gathering. Many thanks to them and everyone else who made this such a fun event.

I've been uploading photos to imagegullet and Flickr. I'll post some of them here, but others will probably have better pics than I.

Here are a few from today's brunch at Crum Farm at Redbud Hill.

Check out this menu:


What a spread!


Here are some of the gorgeous tomatoes, served with a mayonnaise dressing made with bacon fat. Sort of a sauce gribiche variant, only porky. :smile: You can tell just looking at the tomatoes that they're something special.


We also enjoyed some outstanding pastries. Here is a platter of kouign amann. (The wild blackberry - peach syrup was for the French toast). There was a lovely loaf of challah as well.


The chefs really made an impression here. Every dish was absolutely terrific.

The produce grown on the farm is exceptional. They supply heirloom tomatoes and vegetables to some of the top restaurants in the area. The farm itself is a beautiful setting for a casual meal like this.


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As God is my witness, I'll start a Heartland Gathering Fund, and never miss another. Bluestem, BBQ tour, the Main Event, the brunch: kudos to the organizers.

Another thought for next year's locale: Toronto. It's central and I can beg a room from my rich foodie cousin. And there's a lot shakin' in TO.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel


A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites


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Wow. Just wow. So sorry I couldn't make it to this. It's too close to Tales of the Cocktail to take that much time off from work in the same month. Make the next one in late August or early September and I'll be there with bells on. And I'll happliy bartend to earn my keep. Looks like a blast. Those heirloom tomato salads are so beautiful they took my breath away. Nothing more lovely than good summer tomatoes...

Party on y'all. Let's see/hear some more!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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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:


It doesn't surprise me that your photos are much better than mine. :wink:

I have a couple shots of the desserts.

Some yummy pies (who made those?) and Kerry's incredible Bacon Bark, made with Ron's home-cured and -smoked bacon.


In the foreground are two delicious cobblers served with Shatto Dairy cream. I believe that these were made by nyokie6. As if the cheese course she contributed weren't enough!


I didn't get any pics of Kerry's chocolate cups filled with strawberry-rhubarb mousse. Hopefully someone can post some photos of those - they were very pretty. And tasty!

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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?

Joiei, you were sorely missed!

The tomatoes were what was left at the Brookside Farmers Market Tomato Festival, once we finally staggered down that direction (maybe 11 or so?). Judy may have a better idea of what was actually purchased; she did the selecting, I was merely the sherpa. I do know the yellow tomato with the reddish stripes on the skin was called a pineapple tomato. When she wakes from her food coma, she might chime in with some more info...

Come visit my virtual kitchen.

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Looks like you all had an amazing time! I am definitely sad to have missed it (and to have lost my perfect attendance record). I kept myself busy cooking a 9 course dinner for 8 people (link), so I was kind of with you in spirit, at least!

Looking forward to reading the rest of the reports. And happy to bring it back to Ann Arbor in 2010 if folks would like that, but also happy to have it to be elsewhere (and hopefully be able to attend this time!)

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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What a fantastic weekend! Hats off to Judy and Aaron - you guys did such a great job highlighting what Kansas City has to offer for everyone, and I love excuses to cram it all into a few days. Although, I think I'm just now coming out of a pork-fat induced coma. :laugh:

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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Just got home after a grueling air-transit adventure. While sitting on the tarmac at O'Hare (for nearly 3 hours) I remembered a few things that have yet to be acknowledged:

1 - The Manifesto dude came and not only poured drinks but also dressed really well.

2 - Aaron Deacon wrecked a whole bunch of the chocolate cups but Kerry made so many that it didn't matter.

3 - Edsel was the grand-prize winner for getting a course out late but it was worth the wait.

4 - The prize for coolest individual at the gathering surely goes to Lora's dad, who takes the do-it-yourself ethic to the extreme and smokes a mean trout.

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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The libation dudes.


Aaron (on the left) made a Part and Parcel. I don't remember what Ryan made, but I think it contained some bitters sent down by Toby from TVH in Chicago who was unable to attend himself.

In the foreground is a big jug of iced tea with lemonade made by White Lotus. She and Dance also held a tea tasting of an interesting variety of green teas. I somehow managed not to take a picture of their setup.

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I will post pictures tonight. I just wanted to jump in and thank Judy and Aaron for doing such an incredible job! Later in the week, when they wake up from their well-deserved rests, I hope they'll understand how much the rest of us appreciate their efforts.

I returned to learn that last week, not one, but actually two of the three attorneys I work with, had their cars stolen because since 1963, they've parked their cars in back of the building, unlocked, with keys inside. (I can't figure out why it took so long.) Which is proof that two out of three attorneys have no good sense whatsoever. I've always joked with one of them (who likes to try to fix things around the office) that "if you were the kind of guy who can fix things, you wouldn't have had to go to law school." Guess I will have to change that to "if you had any common sense, at all, you wouldn't have had to go to law school."

Fortunately, both wives are making sure their husbands understand the breadth and depth of their utter stupidity. One car has been found, stripped and trashed. We haven't heard anything about the second.

My co-workers just love the bacon chocolate, Kerry!


Edited by jgm (log)
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Is there a good place to post the recipes from Saturday Night's main event? I have the risotto recipe ready to go. Some of those dishes were really good and I'd like to give them a shot.

That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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OK, I'll start

Roasted Green Chile Risotto

1.5 Boxes Arborio Rice

5 Poblano Chiles

5 Anaheim Chiles

1 Jalapeno Chiles

1 Onion

2-3 Cloves Garlic

6-8 Tomatillos

Ground Cumin

Dried Whole Leaf Oregano

Ground Coriander

Olive Oil



Chicken Stock

Roast chiles on a grill until all of the skin is blackened. Place in a covered plastic container until cool. Peel off the skin, slit them open and scrape out the seeds. I do not rinse.

Dice the chiles

Peel the paper off of the tomatillos and quarter

Peel the garlic and smash

Add tomatillos and garlic to blender and blend until smooth

Heat stock season with salt, you want the stock simmering but not boiling

Heat heavy Dutch oven over medium heat

Add olive oil to coat bottom of pan

Add diced onion with a little salt

Once onion is translucent (about 15 minutes on med-low) add spices

Stir for 1 minute

Add tomatillo/garlic mixture and continue stirring until most of the liquid has cooked out.

Add diced green chiles

Add rice and stir

Begin to add stock 1 ladle at a time and stir constantly

Stir until liquid has been absorbed

Add another ladle of stock and continue to stir


At about the 10 minute mark, taste the rice and adjust the stock for salt. Rice will not be done, but you’re just checking for salt.

Continue to add stock and stir until rice is tender. About 20 minutes in all.

You may add butter or cheese to complete. Cilantro may be added at the end as well.

Edited by chileheadmike (log)

That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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I'll add my thanks to Judy and Aaron for their superior scouting and organizing skills. I really appreciate all their hard work in putting everything together. I loved Bluestem and the BBQ tour, and the space for Saturday's dinner was fantastic. Brunch at Crum Farm was a wonderful experience. I really enjoyed seeing their place. I might have to post over in the dream jobs thread now. (Since my thumb is not particularly green, it's definitely a dream). I enjoyed Kansas City and would definitely like to take a trip back for some of the interesting shops we drove by and to see the rest of the fantastic art museum. I only made it 1/2 way through on Saturday.

My food pics definitely don't meet the quality of those with better cameras, but I'll post some general shots.

Lidia's interior shot


Prasantrin, her mom and I went to Christopher Elbow on the way to dinner Saturday.







Case close up




The production room, taken from the shop. The whole wall is window so you can see. Nothing going on on Sat, though.


From Saturday's dinner


Aaron and Edsel



Crum Farm

Root Cellar




Challah for French toast




Describing the menu


The Crum's gave us all a bag of granola to take with. I had mine this morning on some Greek yogurt.


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Here's the first of the short rib dishes I made. (Yes, I made two different dishes with beef short ribs. :rolleyes: )

Pastrami-Brined Short Ribs


After seeing Ruhlman's blog post about making pastrami from short ribs, I posted a link on Facebook. Judy spotted my link and dropped some hints (ahem!) that those would be awfully nice to have at the Gathering. :raz:

The cross-cut ribs (flanken) came from Hickory Acres in Oberlin, Ohio, just a few miles from my home. Ruhlman used regular-cut short ribs for his recipe, so I had to adjust the method, particularly the spicing.

The brine recipe is from Ruhlman & Polcyn's Charcuterie. I slightly misread the recipe as I was measuring out ingredients on the scale, so I'll summarize it as executed. It should be a mix of white and brown sugars skewed toward the white, but I accidentally swapped them. The spices and seasonings were also tinkered with.

I quartered the recipe because I use vacuum-sealed bags for brining and don't need as much volume.

1 L water

85 g kosher salt

55 g brown sugar (would be white sugar in the original)

11 g pink salt

8 g pickling spice

22 g sugar (would be dark brown sugar in the original)

15 ml honey (from Ohio Honey, a local producer)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small shallot, minced

Brine the meat for a couple of days, or longer if you have thicker cuts.

Remove from brine and sprinkle with dry spices. I used a mix of coriander and black pepper, toasted a bit before grinding. Traditional pastrami is covered in coarse-cracked spices, but I ground mine finer because I thought coarse spices would be too much on the thin cuts.

Smoke at relatively low temperatures (~ 112 ° C / 235 ° F) for a couple of hours. The picture above is after smoking but before steaming for service.

To serve, wrap the smoked ribs moistened with a bit of water in foil and place in a low oven (135 ° C / 275 ° F) for about an hour or until the meat has reached the degree of tenderness you like.

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I'll essentially echo what Steven wrote above about bluestem. Our meal there was excellent. Ingredients were of superior quality, the manner in which they were combined was innovative and risky (and mostly successful), and the technique was deft and precise. I can't say that it exceeded my expecations because -- based on what I already knew about chef Garrelts before our meal -- they were pretty high, but the experience was completely in line with them.


bluestem is located at 900 Westport Rd. in Kansas City, MO


Amuse of Compressed Watermelon with Crum's cherry tomatoes and Murray River flake salt

Great components throughout but the fennel blossom and stem were, in my mind, the signature elements of this dish, flavor-wise. They delivered a distinctive, aromatic note.


Bay Scallop with Crum's heirloom beets, prairie birthday arugula and coriander-champagne vinaigrette

This is the one combination that didn't work for me, for a couple of reasons. Even though I enjoyed the bay scallops and the beets individually, I personally couldn't appreciate the flavors together. The combo was more discordant for me than complementary. Also, even though the onion element on this plate was relatively small, it was a bit overwhelming.


Chilled Tomato Gazpacho with cucumber, onion and white gazpacho emulsion

The inner workings . . .


Chilled Tomato Gazpacho with cucumber, onion and white gazpacho emulsion

Gazpacho being decanted at the table. In addition to the ingredients listed above, there were also bits of toasted nuts (almond?) and grapes in this explosively-flavored, yet balanced dish. This may have been my favorite dish of the night because the chef's manipulation took me to a totally new place. It was still gazpacho but I was tasting it in a way that I never had before. The elements were distinctive individually but came together as gazpacho with every spoonful.


Walu with Rancho Gordo vaquero beans, artichokes, lemon-verbena broth and botarga

This shot was taken right before the broth was added at the table. A great dish, with immaculately cooked fish and a sensational broth, which provided an acidic counterpoint to the fish's fattiness. The firm but creamy vaquero beans added a wonderful textural element.


Piedmontese Beef with rapini, white asparagus, wild local chanterelles and La Quercia coppa

This dish was sauced at the table. It was very flavorful and minerally, and something on the plate -- either the white asparagus or the (potato?) puree beneath the beef -- carried a subtle hint of truffle.


Sous Vide Peaches with oatmeal streusel cake, cream fraiche, ginger gelee, caramel-peach foam and gingersnap wafer

Here, the cake, the peaches and the wafer were all delicious without being overly sweet but I had trouble picking up the flavor notes in the foam. Still, I'd count this dish as a success.


Chef Colby Garrelts

After dessert, chef Garrelts came out to the dining room and said hello to the group.


Petit Fours

Not sure exactly what these were because I was away from the table when they were served but I think they were shortbread, passionfruit gelee and a very buttery-licious sandwich cookie. As full as I was, I really enjoyed these mini sweets.

This was a distinctive, memorable and enjoyable meal and one that I'm so happy to have finally experienced. Nearly every chef I talk to in Chicago has nothing but positive things to say about chef Garrelts. It's clear to me that those who've worked with him like and respect him immensely. Those who haven't tell me they would love to experience eating at bluestem. After this meal, I would certainly recommend it . . . and you can definitely count me as a fan.


"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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Kansas City was wonderful. We had a lovely time, even if my clothes all feel tighter than they did last Monday. Thank you Judy and Aaron for all your work, Fat Guy for the well planned menu, and everybody who cooked, prepped, and cleaned.

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Ronnie, thanks for the Bluestem pictures.

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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Bay Scallop with Crum's heirloom beets, prairie birthday arugula and coriander-champagne vinaigrette

This is the one combination that didn't work for me, for a couple of reasons.  Even though I enjoyed the bay scallops and the beets individually, I personally couldn't appreciate the flavors together.  The combo was more discordant for me than complementary.  Also, even though the onion element on this plate was relatively small, it was a bit overwhelming.

See I thought this dish was a home run. It was my favorite of the evening. I think this was just one of those risk-taking dishes that people are going to love or hate. But to me it was brilliant.

Sous Vide Peaches with oatmeal streusel cake, cream fraiche, ginger gelee, caramel-peach foam and gingersnap wafer

Here, the cake, the peaches and the wafer were all delicious without being overly sweet but I had trouble picking up the flavor notes in the foam.  Still, I'd count this dish as a success.

I also couldn't really taste the flavors and I thought the cake was dry. This dessert just didn't work for me.

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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Others' pictures of the food are much better than mine. I'm still undecided as to which I enjoyed more: the people or the food.


Tino27 sprinkling salt on foccacia dough

Note: catching the salt in midair is more a function of serendipity than expertise on the part of the photographer.


Kerry's bacon chocolate probably should be illegal, and just might be one day.


When nyokie6 and Lora started posting about having some cheese, etc. during the day, I thought "Oh good. That'll be nice to nibble on while we're working." The appetizers alone probably would have feed the entire group for a week, but no one complained. Incredible, opulent, wonderful.


See what I mean?

A reporter and photographer with the Kansas City Star were "embedded" :biggrin: with us for the weekend, and I do believe we impressed them in several ways.


When talking to them, I found myself struggling to find words when trying to describe how eGulleters tend to develop a fondness, respect, and attachment to each other, despite the fact most of us have never met. I tried - and didn't really succeed - to describe what it's like to belong to this group, and how on fortunately rare occasions that we lose a member and find ourselves grieving deeply for someone we've never laid eyes on. We share each others' joys, failures, and accomplishments, and we get to know each other in ways that people in other online communities often don't. We learn from each other, challenge each other, and share the misery of various culinary disasters and frustrations. But I just couldn't find a way to describe how all this really works. I guess what it boils down to, is that eGullet isn't about food. It's about people who love food. We understand that food is more than fuel for the body; it's also nourishment for the soul, and we connect with each other on that level.

I probably should just leave it at that. :rolleyes:


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      I had dinner at Gunther’s in the same week as my meal at Les Amis. On purpose, I ordered carte-blanche here with similar budget to the Les Amis’ degustation menu. I wondered how these 2 elite gastronomy restaurants (cooking nouvelle cuisine without any molecular element) would fare against each other. A short comparison in a glance,
      Les Amis = 7 courses including one dessert. 2 courses with caviar and 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, lobster and wagyu beef
      Gunther’s = 8 courses with a dessert. 1 dish with caviar and also 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, gambas and wagyu beef
      Anyway, I ate and enjoyed very much the following stuffs at Gunther’s (my top 3 dishes):
      1st: cold angel hair pasta with Oscietra caviar - the restaurant’s most well-known dish and Chef Hubrechsen should be proud of it. It’s the 3rd time I savor this dish; it’s still very delicious – the flavor, the smells, the texture and all other elements were spot on. High degree of consistency...
      5th: carabinero gambas with tomato rice – given how far Spain from Singapore is, the kitchen did a good job in preparing this prawn. I tasted the gambas’ freshness and sweet flavor; it’s well-seasoned too. The Japanese rice cooked with the prawn’s stock and tomato was pleasant except I prefer rice with firmer texture (like in risotto or paella)
      6th: grilled scallop with black truffle – the main highlight of my meal. The Hokkaido scallop was juicy and tender though not as tasty as the one I had at Les Amis. However, it’s well-enhanced by the sublime and sweet caramelized onion below as well as the pungent winter truffle aroma and flavor on top of it. I liked the onion very much here – a good example how Gunther brought out the essence of its ingredient; possibly the closest one (in terms of ‘deliciousness’) to the Passard’s perfect onion gratin with parmesan that looks deceptively simple
      What makes Gunther’s special is that the talented Belgian chef-owner is capable of generating many different kind of ‘unassuming’ dishes and elevating them to higher level using no more than 3 fresh produce on each plate. It seems modest at times, but actually quite sophisticated. Let me describe a few more dishes I had,
      4th: roasted garlic with onion essence – if I had to pick one dish I like the least, it’s probably the one. The roasted garlic had smooth texture and good smell, well-integrated with mascarpone sauce. However, I found the (garlic) portion was too big. After consuming 2/3 of them, I just swallowed the rest (almost no chewing) so that I wouldn’t be too stuffed and/or dilute my palate for the next dishes
      7th: Char grilled wagyu beef in bordelaise sauce – this was the main course served in a nice portion with a right amount of “fat”. Delicate Japanese beef was generally a safe choice; the chef didn’t do too much and just allowed the natural flavor of high quality wagyu to shine. The sauce and the grilled corn were precisely executed. Nothing wow but it’s hard not to like Japanese beef J
      8th: Truffle parfait – dessert. It’s a soft and light vanilla ice cream served with rich chocolate brownie and topped with aromatic smell induced by the Perigord truffle (having slight peppery taste). I hardly eat dessert with truffle in it. This one was sweet and rather delicious
      There were a couple more dishes I had and you can see/read them on the picture link below. For the meal, I drank 2 glasses of wine. The first glass was 2010 Vincent girardin chassagne-Montrachet; it’s rich and creamy with buttery aromas. The second one was 2009 Black quail Pinot noir; it’s medium bodied with dark berries delicate fragrance and dry finish in slight acidity – a quite refined pinot noir that surprisingly went along nicely with my scallop dish (of course, better with the beef). Oh before I forget, this place only offers one type of bread and butter – to be exact warm mini baguette and salted butter served at room temperature – simple but good; I ate 3 baguettes if not mistaken. The meal ended with a petit four consisting of a green tea macaron and canele – both were fine.
      It was a quiet evening, about half of the restaurant’s capacity was filled. Probably most people were still busy to attend reunion dinner with their friends and colleagues. The dining room decoration was minimalist dominated by dark grey color for the walls (some paintings were hung on them) and medium lighting. This way guests would not feel overwhelmed and the food took center stage. The staffs were polite and helpful without being intrusive. Besides the sommelier, one friendly “Indian” maitre d’ and the greeter, most of restaurants’ FOH staffs were relatively new. Chef Hubrechsen, usually visiting the dining room to greet guests, explained that the staffs turnover at Singapore restaurants were still very high; he even did not have any permanent sous chef assisting him in the kitchen. So the good thing is that it’s almost guaranteed Gunther himself would always be in the kitchen daily to ensure food quality.
      I gave my overall meal experience at Gunther’s nearly 94 pts (a good 2 ¼* by Michelin standard) and it meant about the same level as Shinji by Kanesaka Singapore and Eric Frechon’s Le Bristol, seriously. Another lovely meal, and overall it ranked as the most memorable one I’ve ever had here. Well, there was no bad meal experience at Gunther’s. Hope I can return again sometimes next year, even better if not on my own expenses. Lastly, I prefer this place over Les Amis by a small margin. Check here for pictures, https://picasaweb.google.com/118237905546308956881/GuntherSRestaurantSingapore#
    • By Kerry Beal
      Today we started out with a trip to the college to start getting ourselves set up for tomorrow. Then at 10 am we met at ChocolateFX and started our tour. Of course hair nets are obligatory if you are going to go into a food manufacturing facility!

      Wilma and Art had the small pan set up so that we could pan some raisins.

      Here's Pat (psantucc), with beard appropriately netted, applying some chocolate to the raisins.

      Ava (FrogPrincesse's little one) preparing to add more chocolate, Kyle helping and FrogPrincesse awaiting her turn.

      The fancy packing machine.

      Listening with rapt attention to Wilma explaining the making of ganache truffles in the round silicone molds.
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