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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

I’ve Got Beef.

[photograph by Brian Leatart at Bon Appétit]

An AP article I spotted in The Washington Post a few weeks ago gave Washington, D.C. the title of a “better burger” capital.  I’ll admit I haven’t sampled enough of the area’s burger offerings, but being a Midwestern transplant, my deepest loyalties lie with the establishments 1300 miles west of here.  I would like to get my hands on a Strasburger though.

Next to the wondrous Andouille and Beef Burgers I’ve feasted on in a particular backyard in Fairway, KS., perhaps my greatest burger eating experience came 120 miles west of there at So Long Saloon.

With a menu boasting everything from a chipotle raspberry black bean dip and deep-fried fish tacos to burgers slapped with fried eggs and whole green chiles and smoky chicken sandwiches laced with tortilla ribbons and guacamole, the corner joint on Moro Street in Manhattan, KS is one spot I’ve missed since my migration out east, much more so than others.

Several years back, a friend and I both took on the Saloon’s Cowboy Challenge and succeeded.  How I managed to gnaw my way through 10 layers of beef, fried eggs, cheese, bacon and Texas Toast – and a double-order of hot, crispy fries – is beyond me.  Maybe it was the PBR that helped wash it down – at the time, that’s all the Saloon had on tap.  But it was all so good.

The only beef I have with the experience is the $16.25 that I still had to, um, fork over for the meal.  A t-shirt is all I had to show for my gluttonous adventure – but fitting into a prize tee after eating that much beef is near impossible.  If you’re looking to try your hand at an upscale burger that you can make in your own backyard, I’d recommend the one pictured at the top of this post, one of my absolute favorites.

Go crazy with andouille sausage, chopped pecans, and okra.

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An alternative weekly (if you can really call it that) from my hometown of Kansas City, INK, reported that Kansas City hip-hop artist Tech N9ne was arrested yesterday in Lee’s Summit.  Full details on the arrest can be found via the link below.  Apparently the charge was failure to appear to face charges for hanging posters in unauthorized areas of Blue Springs.  He was picked up riding in a friend’s new Ferrari while testing its 0-to-70 abilities.

I’ll hand it to him – Tech N9ne has one of the most effective street teams out there,  even thought it may be annoying to see his face omnipresent on the streets when he’s got a new album coming out.  I remember driving around Kansas City last year and seeing posters for his then-to-be-released album, Killer, plastered on every corner – and I mean every corner.  And to take the outdoor advertising a step further – there’s nothing like driving down I-35 outside of downtown Kansas City and seeing this splashed up on a billboard.

So as not to put my toes in my teeth like my last post about Tech N9ne, I ask, what other artists in Kansas City have gone to this length to promote a new record?  Has anyone been arrested for hanging posters before?

Oh – and the way the story ends reminds me of another reason why I love my original stomping grounds in the Midwest: Culver’s ButterBurgers.  Nothing takes your mind off of an arrest like a gooey cheeseburger and custard. Read about Tech N9ne’s arrest here.

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Those of you who know me somewhat well know that my musical tastes don’t often lean towards the hip-hop variety.  But when my older brother tipped me off to new video for “O.G.” from Kansas City-based hip-hop artist Tech N9ne, I couldn’t resist posting it here.  Never in my wildest dreams would I ever think that Gates Bar-B-Q would even get a shout-out in a track, let alone the inspiration for the title and, well, serving as the set for a video.

I beamed when I heard the lyrical nods to M-I-Z / Z-O-U and K-STATE – the former, not because of the school, but for having lived on the east side of State Line Road for a considerable amount of time, and the latter for being my alma mater and a cornerstone of family tradition. [video embedded below.]

Owner and proprietor Ollie Gates will probably be dancing like the Gates Man (what animation!) when the registers at all of the half-dozen locations in Kansas City will be as stuffed as the countless BBQ lovers and patrons’ bellies who come to chow on a Mixed Plate, a Beef-and-a-Half, or some spicy, smoky burnt ends.  This is good stuff right here.

P.S. Whaddya think, Plastic Sax?  Can Kansas City’s jazz artists answer back?

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Claws Out

I’m a Midwestern boy.  I grew up in a suburb of Kansas City and went to college in the Flint Hills, in the midst of some of the greatest farmers in the country.  There’s no ocean, and a good lake trip is hours away.  Growing up, I ate the best beef, chicken and pork in the world, right from the heart of the U.S.A.  Where I come from, the best seafood comes from a chain, albeit a damn fine one.  But in old Kaycee, we don’t pride ourselves on our fresh ocean fare.

The sheer unabashed joy that comes with horking down a Beef-and-a-Half sandwich at Gates or playing the harmonica on a slab of pork ribs from Jack Stack is one of many things I came to love growing up in Kansas City.  Eating Kansas City BBQ is an irreplaceable experience.  I may be separated from my one true culinary love-grub by 1300 miles, but the sweet-n-spicy tomato-based sauce still flows in my veins.  There’s some pretty good beef in Baltimore, but it will never be held in as high regard as my beloved cowtown chow.

I’m not from Maryland.  What might be considered “good” BBQ here could be the most amateur of offerings back home, but of course, we Kansas Citians can’t hold that against them.  Most Marylanders probably haven’t been exposed to the smoky sensations from the Middle.

But they do have a leg up on us elsewhere.  [Ahem.]  Since moving out east nearly nine months ago, I’ve begun a love affair with the greatest offering from the region: the crab.  Crab served as bar food fare out here beats any variety I’ve had back in the Midwest.  The crabcake sandwiches here are revelatory.  And most recently, I found out that there’s only one thing that can make crab even better: stuff it with more crab.

Pictured above is a crab-stuffed soft-shell crab I recently devoured this past weekend.  Presented alongside a creamy, velvety side of whipped garlic potatoes and a seasonal garnish of chickpeas, andouille sausage, crushed tomatoes, onions and spinach, this dish was one of the most delightful meals I’ve had in a long time.  Each crunch of the perfectly fried outer skin was matched by a sweet offering of tender, buttery meat.

The crustacean must have been plucked from the bay only hours earlier; with each bite, I was plucked from the cushy, leathery booth and transported to another realm of sensation, one where only the divine must dine.  I was nearly a half-dozen bites in before I realized that I had neglected to employ the use of the lemon butter in my arsenal, and when I checked it into the game, well, game over man.  Game over.

I’ll hand it to ya, Maryland.  You’ve got me hooked.  But don’t think that you’re going to apprehend my affection.  When it comes to food, particularly that which is close to my heart – perhaps a little too close, KC BBQ doesn’t skimp on the caloric content – I’ve got my claws out.  [Ahem.]

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