Friday, August 29, 2014

If You Mix It, They Will Come (and Drink This Corny, Championship Cocktail)

Caitlin Corcoran and her award winning cocktail.
Last weekend Port Fonda's Caitlin Corcoran took first place in the annual Paris of the Plains Bartending Competition. I won't feign surprise that a woman won a competition that is overrepresented by men as I've learned that some of the very best bartenders in this city hail from the fairer sex.

While I wouldn't call myself a regular, I have been hanging out at Caitlin's bar for as long as she's been there and have always been a fan. Creativity, consistency, and respect for the drink. A real charmer too.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Recipe: Tomato Pie

When I tell people that I'm eating "Tomato Pie" it often generates a quizzical look. Most people - especially Americans - equate pie with sweetness, with dessert. Tomato pie of course is a savory dish and one that has been a summer staple in my family for many years. A photo of this summer favorite has generated a lot of requests for the recipe and I'm happy to oblige.

I am uncertain of the provenance of this recipe. My mother introduced it to me and my siblings growing up though I doubt I had any interest in it until my late teens. I know for certain that my mother and sister still make it and my wife has become the standard bearer in our house. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

To Embrace Sour Beer, Pair It With Food

When it comes to the craft beer movement I have to admit to a complicated relationship. Philosophically it's a wonderful thing - passionate, artisan brewers creating brews with depth, character, flavor - everything that American beer was not from the mid to late 20th century. My quibble has been with the super trends within the movement. You see, I prefer a malty brew - think stouts, dark and red ales, doppelbocks, and so on. I don't limit myself to them but that's certainly my go to. So I felt more than a little left out when hoppy beers (pale ales are the poster child) began dominating the craft beer universe several years ago. Frankly from where I sit and drink it's been an arms race to see who can make the hoppiest beer without causing the drinker's head to actually split open from an overdose of citrus, pine, and bitterness. (pine is the worst. yuck.).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Art of Eating and Drinking at the Prairie Village Art Fair - 2014 Edition

I may not be able to define art, but I know it when I see it. I also know a good time when it's staring me in the face and the Prairie Village Art Fair is just that. This annual event takes place this weekend and as it's practically in my backyard I thought I'd share some eating and drinking information to help make it worth your while.

Foodwise this art fair has come a long way. Not only do you have nationally acclaimed French bistro Cafe Provence (previous review) right in the middle of the action but add to that Story (2013 James Beard semi-finalist chef; Food & Wine magazine's 2013 winner for The People's Best New Chef: Midwest), Tavern in the Village (locals love this place), and STANDEES (bar/restaurant/movie theater).

This year it looks like sangria may actually outnumber baby strollers. I think everyone is selling their version of this wonderful summer drink. If you try a couple think about posting your favorite in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

Information below was provided by the establishments themselves (with a couple of comments added from me). Unless noted below, restaurants will be cash-only for outside, patio, and tent purchases.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kansas Town - Great Food, Bring Your Own Crowd

UPDATE: 7/7/2014 - Kansas Town is closed.

UPDATE: 6/24/14 - Chef Kasper is no longer at Kansas Town. Look for him at Lulu's Asian Bistro opening later this summer in Westwood, KS

On why he no longer dined at Ruggeri's, a St. Louis restaurant, Yogi Berra famously explained, "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

It might be said of Kansas Town, "Nobody goes there yet. It's always empty."

There are any number of reasons that a restaurant might be empty. The most insidious reason is simply - it's empty because it's empty. Dining at a restaurant is not merely about eating food prepared by others. The whole process is theater. Attentive service, quality food, attractive plating, and buzz. Diners typically crave the company of other diners. There's always a point where too many patrons means slow and inattentive service but ultimately dining out is a social occasion and being surrounded by like minded people is a big part of the fun. So it stands to reason that potential diners walking by Kansas Town might just keep walking when faced with the thin crowd.

And that's a shame because there are some very good reasons to eat here.

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)