Friday, February 28, 2014

Sofa King Hearty - Italian Sausage Soup at Cucina della Ragazza

Looks like we're in for a wintry weekend Kansas City. Snow, sleet, cold. Yuck. You can't make the weather go away but you can make the best of it by eating well. Hearty soups are my go to favorite way to stare down old man winter and my newest discovery - Italian Sausage Soup at Cucina della Ragazza in Westport - it the perfect prescription for the bone chilling cold. Big chunks of very Italian sausage swimming in clear broth with tomato, artichoke, and spices. Nice.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Italian Sausage Soup at Cucina della Ragazza

Friday, February 21, 2014

Eight Reasons Chef Howard Hanna and The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange Should Be Your Next KC Dining Destination

This week Chef Howard Hanna of The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange was named a semifinalist for a James Beard Award - Best Chef: Midwest Category. Here in Kansas City he is joined by the very talented Ted Habiger of Room 39 (also Best Chef: Midwest) and Nick Wesemann of The American Restaurant (Outstanding Pastry Chef Category). Hearty congratulations to all three.

Chef Howard Hanna 

Seeing Howard Hanna on the James Beard semifinalist list reminded me that I've never properly and publicly appreciated his terrific Crossroads restaurant. I'm not sure why I've never written about Howard or The Rieger but this occasion seems like all the reason in the world to share my 8 reasons that this chef and his restaurant are among my very favorites.

If you've never been, let me start by telling you that there's no hotel. There was a hotel but that was nearly a century ago. However, much of the original architecture, details, and fixtures remain in this shotgun-style space lending the restaurant a great deal of it's charm.

Eight Reasons (In No Particular Order)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Try This at Home - Ancho Chile & Cilantro Short Rib with Sweet Corn Purée

My wife Shelly made this for dinner recently and I have to tell you it is one of the best, new home-cooked meals we've had in along time.

Credit for the original recipe is hereWe made one small adaptation, noted in yellow below.  The meat will be much more tender if allowed to cook for longer than the originally suggested 3-45 minutes.

Ancho Chile & Cilantro Short Rib with Sweet Corn Purée by Bren

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Did This Really Just Happen In My House?

Food Fight Judges from left to right: Debbie Gold,
Katie Van Luchene, Doug Frost, and me.
(Debbie appears super interested in my story)
Apparently not all home-cooked meals are created equally. We regularly attend an annual fundraiser for the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI). The event, known as Food Fight, includes an "Iron Chef-style" cooking competition between several local chefs. I have been fortunate enough to sit at the judges' table at this competition for the last two years. The fundraiser also includes a live auction of some really incredible experiences one of which this year was a dinner for eight cooked in your home by Chef Jennifer Maloney of Cafe Sebastienne at The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art here in Kansas City. Our good friends (and CCVI patrons) Bill & Laura agreed to team up with us to win this particular auction item. And win we did.
Chefs Linda Duerr and Jennifer Maloney showing me what's actually possible in mu suburban kitchen.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Start Your Sunday With Brunch at Story

Sometimes you find restaurants (even the obvious ones) the strangest ways. Last Saturday I had the pleasure of running the half-Marathon portion of the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon and unexpectedly found myself in a pace group with my friends Andy and Laurie. We were cold (temperature at start was 34º F) but working hard, burning calories and talk eventually gravitated toward food in general and KC restaurants in particular. We compared favorites (too many to list), bemoaned the dogs (not going there) and tried to come up with a recommendation that one of us hadn't tried. Eventually Andy asked, "Have you tried brunch at Story?" I had not.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Six Reasons to Toast Duvel's Purchase of Boulevard Brewing Company

It's been less than one week since the big announcement that Boulevard Brewing Company was being sold to Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat (the first part is pronounced DOO-Vell, in conversation I suggest just dropping that second bit). Much of the on-line reaction that immediately followed the news was decidedly negative with Facebook and Twitter flaring up with cries of "Sellout!", "You can't do this!", and varying versions of, "I'll never drink Boulevard again!". No one should be surprised by the knee-jerk reactions and the ensuing hyperbole. After all it's like your best friend walks into the room and announces, "Guess what? I'm getting married!" and you're all like, "Wut? I didn't even know you were dating!" But you know what? I think everything is going to be A-OK. I'm an optimist at heart anyway but having given the whole thing a lot of thought here are the reasons that I think everyone in Kansas City should embrace John McDonald's decision to sell his beloved brewery:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Beyond Cocktails: Beertails vs. Winetails

I recently posted about the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival held in Kansas City a couple of weeks ago. One of the highlights of this five-day event was a very special dinner held at The American Restaurant. The theme was "Beertails vs. Winetails" and I was pretty intrigued by the invite (see below).

First of all, I had been looking for a good excuse to visit The American and try out new Executive Chef Michael Corvino's craftwork. Corvino is the latest in an impressive list of executive chef's at this storied Kansas City icon that includes James Beard Award winners Debbie Gold, Michael Smith, and Celina Tio. Corvino's menu for this event was a hybrid of items from his new dinner menu as well as a few courses designed specifically for this meal. Seeing items from the standard dinner menu was a nice surprise as it's not unusual for restaurants to simplify menu items when hosting a banquet-style event. A copy of our menu is below. None of the courses disappointed and the Cold Poached Lobster and Slow Roasted Pig were (IMHO) stellar.