Monday, July 27, 2009

Kansas City

I spent the weekend in Kansas City, eating my way across town. I arrived Thursday and had just enough time to freshen up and hop in a cab to meet the eGullet group at Lidia's. We were kind of crammed into the bar area, but were seated soon after I arrived. Our group took up almost the entire back section of the restaurant. It's a beautiful, open space. I especially liked the huge glass light fixtures. (click on pic for a closer look). I had the frico with sausage for a starter, followed by lasagne bolognese and the dessert from the seasonal corn menu - Copa di Mais (from the menu)
"A sundae made with sweet corn ice cream and black cherry ice cream, with double cherry topping, conrmeal crumble and fresh caramel corn." The table, or at least my end of it, shared a couple of bottles of Cantele Salice Salentino. This was a delicious wine that retails for about $10.

After Lidia's, we walked a couple of blocks to Manifesto, a speakeasy-ish cocktail lounge. We had a sampling of drinks to share for the first round, then a second round where we could choose our drink. We simply asked for another round to share. Everything was good, though some I liked less than others. My favorite was the Smoke 'n Choke, which had applewood smoked bourbon and Cynar, an artichoke based liqueur, hence the "choke" in the name. I really liked Manifesto, in some ways more than the Violet Hour. The drinks were of high quality, the bartenders and servers just as enthusiastic, educational, and entertaining as the Violet Hour (although I have never sat at the bar there), but the setting felt more casual, more drop-in-able, less like a destination or occasion place, which is how the Violet Hour feels to me. Neither is better than the other, just different. And since dropping into Wicker Park is a hell of a lot easier than dropping into Kansas City, the Violet Hour has the edge. If they were in the same city, well, that's a choice I'm glad I don't have to make.

Friday, we visited four (4) bbq joints: Arthur Bryant's, LC's, Oklahoma Joes, and a fourth one whose name escapes me. Smokehouse, Woodshack, something like that. I think it was pretty unanimous that LC's was the best. KC is known for it's beef bbq, especially brisket, and especially burnt ends, which are the crispy, slightly to very charred ends of the brisket. Mike said that they are so popular that "fake" burnt ends are common. It all tasted good to me! I do wish LC's had focused a bit more on the cleaning. Bryants, too.

Saturday night, Bluestem hosted us for a special eGullet dinner. This was really the first tasting menu type dinner I have had, and I really enjoyed it. The food was amazing, the wines were delicious. I ate everything, including the bay scallops and the walu fish. Yep. All of it.

Saturday morning, the group went to City Market to shop for the dinner. I went to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. I only toured the "old" building which has a nice collection of European, American, and Asian art. Later this year they will open a significant permanent collection of Native American art. Only later did I realize I should have started in the other building, which houses the Modern Art collection, which I would have preferred. There is also a large lawn with the shuttlecock sculpture on it, and a nice shady path around the lawn with many other sculptures, including many by Henry Moore.

The rear entrance from the lawn and sculpture garden

The front entrance and the building that houses the Modern collection

One of the 4 shuttlecock sculptures

Close up of another shuttlecock sculpture

After my trip to the museum, I walked back to our hotel through the swanky shopping area. I stopped in two or three shops, mostly to soak in some free air conditioning, and did a little browsing. I didn't buy a single thing Saturday morning except a latte. Even the museum has free admission. I learned I had a ride to the dinner, so I freshened up and headed downstairs to be picked up. We headed over to Christopher Elbow, a chocolatier, and I bought a 21 piece box that we are working our way through after dinner. I'll post tasting notes in another post. This is the kind of stuff I am working towards, though. Everything has been interesting and delicious.

Dinner Saturday is prepared by the group. Our organizers this year found a great space at a food photography studio. My pics of the food didn't come out very well, so I'll redirect you to eGullet, where there are details and photos of all the food we prepared. I do have a good pic of my favorite dish, the pulled pork on cornbread.

I also really loved trying all the cheeses, something I didn't really do last year. I didn't cook anything, so I washed dishes between courses and helped clean up afterward.

More to come. . . can you believe there's more?!?

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