Friday Notes

January 17, 2014

You may have heard about the original La Terraza in Peachtree Plaza closing. Turns out the property was recently sold and the new landlord was difficult to deal with. This is unfortunate because Christian and company had put a lot of work into the interior, even recently opening a new section of the restaurant. What you probably haven’t heard is that they will be opening a new restaurant – Mi Tierra – in the former Sky-Hi Grill location on Old Highway 63. I’m told the menu will be largely the same as La Terraza’s and they are hustling to open very soon. Meanwhile, the Forum La Terraza is open for breakfast, so…chilaquiles! Also,

  • There was a great, great review by the NYT’s Pete Wells this week, who you may remember for his demolition of Guy Fieri’s Times Square circusteraunt. So many wonderful lines, like, “Think of everything that’s great about fried chicken. Now take it all away.” Enjoy.
  • People seemed kind of jazzed up about the opening of Lucky’s Market this week. The 597 hits this blog received is an all-time one-day high. That said, I’m still running second to Mike Martin for Inside Columbia’s “Best local blogger” category with one week left in voting. Oh well.
  • Sauce Magazine ran a short rib taco recipe from a St. Louis restaurant and we made it this week – it’s brilliant. Go buy some short ribs from Show Me or Missouri Legacy and get busy.
  • I’m a big fan of kids learning early how to behave in restaurants, but I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me to take mine to Alinea. Yeesh.
  • We’re headed to St. Louis for a weekend soon, so if you’ve hit a place we need to check out, please let me know.

Have a great weekend.

Lucky’s Market Opens

January 14, 2014

After a decade of dormancy and decay, Lucky’s Market officially breathed life into Columbia’s most depressing corner this morning, opening their cheery doors for business at 8:00 am. The Colorado-based, full service grocery store focuses on high quality, organic and, when possible, locally-sourced foods. On a tour last night both beverage manager Marcie Davenport and the marketing manager, Shelly (doh, last name no get!) said that while Lucky’s aims high, they desperately want to remain accessible to the entire community.

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“I really want to put good food in people’s hands,” she said, adding “Lucky’s is a judgement-free zone. We’re not here to preach.” For a store that owes at least a small debt to spendy shops like Whole Foods, Lucky’s may be better equipped to do that than you think. Two pints of strawberries were on special for $.88. Mom’s Best cereals were two for $3. Store-baked* breads were $5…for two loaves. They will run “ridiculous” weekly specials like this to draw customers in for fresh produce. Word is $.19 mangoes are on the way.

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The meat and deli sections will appeal as well. All deli meats are seasoned, cured and smoked in house and meat is sourced locally “as much as possible.” A “Made in Missouri” placard designates local (or at least state-produced items) throughout the store. The butcher section is currently helmed by the head meat manager for Lucky’s corporate office, who is training the staff. Guys, the meat – and especially the fish – looks amazing. In fact, go buy some fish there right now. I’ll wait right here.

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Davenport says the beverage section will be a work in progress. “We’ll have something for everyone, see what people respond to and go from there. We want everyone to be able to shop here.” And so they can. Customers seeking the Bud Lights and Millers of the world will find a cooler labeled “Old Standbys,” while craft beer aficionados will be able to wet their whistle as well. A quick glance revealed some unfamiliar (to me) brews like Goose Island Ten Hills Pale Ale and hard-ish to find stuff like Ska’s Decadent Imperial IPA. Bottles of Urban Chestnut are in the house. There’s a large wine selection too as well; regular tastings will be held.

Lucky’s is also clearly angling to be more than just a grocery store – they want you to hang out. There’s a “liquid lounge” near the front of the store where you can taste and purchase – and then shop with – coffees, beer or wine. The selection last night included an imperial stout from Perennial, which will improve any grocery store experience. Classes and monthly “tasting fairs” are in the works (the first being January 26).

Produce is understandably light on the local stuff right now, but what they do have is gorgeous, reasonably-priced and diverse (four kinds of beets!). There’s a juice bar in the veggie section too.

All in all, it looks to me like Lucky’s came to play. The staff are helpful and eager to please and will work on the (totally understandable) check-out kinks with a smile and a laugh. They’ll tell you how hard they’ve been working to get the place open. They’re proud. Bottom line: you should check it out. And the grand opening “bacon-cutting” tomorrow at 10:00 am would be a perfect opportunity.

Lucky’s Market
7:00 am – 10:00 pm
111 South Providence Rd
Columbia, MO 65203
Phone: (573) 442-2128

* Lucky’s breads are par-baked at a corporate facility and finished in the store. They look really nice either way. And a variety of Uprise Bakery breads are available for purchase as well.

Zaxby’s

January 9, 2014

Zaxby’s, as you may have heard, is a popular southern-based fried chicken joint. They specialize in chicken fingers and sandwiches and people seem to dig their fries and dipping sauces. Two opened in Columbia this past Monday and I happened to be near one while running errands during lunch today. Here are my thoughts.

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First, they’ve done a nice job (a la Applebee’s, I suppose) of tying in some local flavor to the decor. Lots of Mizzou and SEC memorabilia. That’s nice. And the service was understandably (and suffocatingly) chipper for day four. The food came out before I’d even been handed my change, so there’s that too. But we’re here for the chicken, right? Right. Anyway, it’s not that great. The chicken tenders do indeed appear to come from an actual chicken, and I they had a little more pull to them than some, which sort of disintegrate when you bite into them (a good thing to me). They were cooked perfectly. Other than that, well… The breading is lightly applied, pretty salty. “Salty” is what I got out of it. The fries are what we all enjoyed out of Ore-Ida bags growing up. The coleslaw and Texas toast were just utterly pointless. And the sauce, blech. It’s basically remoulade mayonnaise. Or maybe it’s mayonnaise remoulade. Either way it’s mayo with a dash of heat and tartness. The whole collection is pretty dull, if inoffensive.

The ultimate test came with a to-go order for Mrs. SMEs. She had identical thoughts: Zaxby’s is fine. Not as good as Lee’s, not as good as Chick-fil-A. So, give Zaxby’s a shot for yourself, but you might want to dial the expectations back.

Dish of the Year

January 9, 2014

Malaysian Curry Chicken in Hot Pot – Bamboo Terrace

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It’s hard to imagine the same people behind the late, not-so-great Great Wall Chinese Restaurant over by the mall are also responsible for Bamboo Terrace, which opened by the Walmart on West Broadway in 2012 and has been made into – arguably – Columbia’s best Asian restaurant. Tasting the freshness of the ingredients they now work with and the pride they clearly take in every dish, one can only guess how much it must have hurt to serve crappy steam-table “Chinese” food. Having trained in China and worked in kitchens from New York City to Las Vegas, they knew how to make the good stuff. They just weren’t sure Columbia was ready. A year and a half later, I think it’s safe to say that we were. It’s also safe to to say that Celeste Chen, John Jiang, Ming Lu and Xiu Lu finally have something to be very proud of indeed.

Traditionally Americanized goodies like House Special Lo Mein, fried rices and Mongolian beef will satisfy the less adventurous. The wonton soup will delight all comers. But there’s more – lots more. Chicken with Basil Leaf is a Thai-style stir-fry that’ll keep you reaching for the bowl of rice (and, even with soup and egg roll, will set you back just $7.25 at lunch). Japanese-style udon noodles are thick and comforting and my son’s favorite. Stir-Fried Sole Fish pairs bright, fresh-tasting fish with crunchy sugar snap peas and pickles, a surprising addition that gives the dish a fun, sour kick. The lettuce wraps are wonderful. Finally, Bamboo Terrace’s specials and the no-longer-secret Chinese menu give executive chef John Jiang free rein to serve stir-fried duck with tofu and a steak and beef lung dish, served cold, that blew me away and won over even a squeamish Mrs. SMEs. Something for everybody here.

But the dish I kept coming back for again and again last year, a dish that offers the highest ceiling and general appeal, is the Malaysian Curry Chicken in Hot Pot. Tender cubes of chicken thigh and chunks of potato are simmered in a spicy, basil-scented coconut curry broth. I haven’t been to Malaysia, so for me it’s southern Thailand in a bowl – a very large, very hot clay bowl with a lid. Everything cooked just right, balanced and composed, order after order. It even works as takeout, though I recommend you eat in – the attentive staff and charming matriarch of the operation being part of the fun. Plus, they (finally) have a liquor license, so you can beat back the heat in anything you order with a couple of Tsing Taos (they’re also more than happy to dial down the heat – just ask).

Bamboo Terrace
3101 W Broadway, Suite 101
Columbia, MO 65203
(573) 886-5555

Best Chinese Restaurant In An Unfortunate Location

December 27, 2013

ABC Chinese Cuisine
3510 Interstate 70 Dr SE
Columbia, MO 65201
http://abcchinesecuisine.com/

This one isn’t too tough. ABC Chinese is tucked away on the far side of the traffic snakepit that is the I-70/I-63 intersection. Plenty of people have found the place though, and whether the people in the booths are medical staff from one of the many health care facilities nearby or are actually making the conceptual leap over the highway, ABC is rewarding them with solid Americanized Chinese food and a whole lot more of the real stuff than anyone else in town.

Dim sum, a sort of Chinese tapas, is available at all times and offers diners a few dozen choices ranging from entry level to grad school. There’s something for everybody at ABC (I like the spicy noodle soup, pork shu mai and any of their “Homestyle Dishes”). Naturally, there’s karaoke at night. The service is earnest but everything can come off a tad awkward at first. You may be asked if everything is fine every three or four minutes. You may have to chase your server down for the check. And do you pay at the table or at the hostess stand? Never mind, ABC is worth the trek and any oddities of service will be more than compensated-for by the food. And while you’re out there, be sure to stop in at Hong Kong Market for the best Asian produce and products in town.

Black Eyed Pea Soup

December 27, 2013

Originally posted in January of 2012. It’s well worth a revisit.

This is one of our favorite soups, and one we don’t just relegate to January 1 or thereabouts. It’s a hearty, warming soup perfect for any cold day. It’s adapted from a recipe by Chef G. Garvin. We usually don’t use all the sausage, preferring a thinner soup. I also stirred in some cooked lacinato kale this time around, just because. It was awesome. Feel free to tinker; this one’s a forgiving test subject.

Black-Eyed Pea Soup

3 T olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped shallot
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 lb. andouille sausage
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 t red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper to taste
2 15-oz. cans black-eyed peas
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 T hot sauce
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Thinly sliced green onions, for garnish

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onion, celery, shallot and garlic. While this cooks for a minute or two, dice the uncooked sausage. Add half of the sausage to the pot and stir.

In a saute pan heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Brown the remaining sausage. Once brown, use a paper towel to soak up excess oil in the pan. Set sausage aside.

Add butter, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste to the onion mixture in the pot. Let cook for 3 or 4 minutes.

Add black-eyed peas to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes. Add chicken stock. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes, then stir in cream and hot sauce.

To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and top with green onions*, browned sausage and cilantro.

* – The original recipe called for fried leeks. Feel free to go that route. We go with green onions because it’s easier and lighter.

Best New Space

December 26, 2013

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Günter Hans
7 Hitt St
Columbia, MO 65201
(573) 256-1205
gunterhans.com

Some might find $10 for a (maaaybe) 3-oz. pour of basic Portuguese red a bit steep. The cheese plate, allegedly an “Assortment of Europe’s Finest Cheese,” is a middlebrow assemblage of Edam, Havarti, Swiss and so on – nothing smelly or funky or runny. Cotswald is the lone interesting inclusion. So I’m not sold on Günter Hans from a food standpoint yet – though the “bretzels” are indeed very good and I haven’t had a waffle – but as a place to grab a beer or gelato, it’s drop-dead gorgeous. The patio will be a stunner come warmer weather.

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Best New Place to Watch a Game, Work, Drink a Beer, Drink a Beer While Working, etc.

December 26, 2013

International Taphouse
308 9th Street
Columbia, MO
http://www.internationaltaphouse.com/columbia/

We always knew International Taphouse opening in Columbia was going to mean an staggering expansion in the amount of beers available in Columbia. They backed that promise up with some serious delivery. An ever-evolving selection of 50-some beers on tap and hundreds more by the can and bottle. If you’ve been to any of their other locations, you figured you’d get that. What we didn’t know was just how amazing the space was going to be. It’s phenomenal. From the two dozen or so HD TVs to the comfortable seating to the lightning-quick wi-fi, this is the place to be. I want to move in. They don’t serve food? Who cares? The place is a temple to beer and television. Order some Shakespeare’s.

Best of Columbia: SMEs Edition

December 18, 2013

You may have heard rumblings about a certain “Best of Columbia” contest that is underway. If not, go vote for your favorite restaurants, musicians and – ahem – bloggers soon. I beg you, for it cannot be said that there is any justice in a world where Lonnie Ray’s is tied with Bandana BBQ and is getting lapped by Buckingham’s and Lutz’ for “Best barbecue restaurant.” Evil is afoot, and only right-thinking food lovers stand in the way. Hop to it.

In the meantime, I’m going to make a few choices of my own. No voting save my own dining experiences over the year. The categories will be slapdash and entirely made up by yours truly (and are subject to change). They may include:

  • Best Restaurant You’re Not Going To
  • Best Chinese Restaurant In An Unfortunate Location
  • Dish of the Year
  • Best Cheap Eats
  • Restaurant of the Year

Maybe a few others I haven’t thought of. Feel free to send ideas. In the meantime, the…

Best Restaurant You’re Not Going To

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Tico time

December 9, 2013

Costa Rica pan2

Well, we’re back from two weeks in Costa Rica, a nation of astonishingly diverse landscapes and wildlife, proud and hospitable people and even some pretty decent food here and there. There is quite a bit of work and family stuff to catch up on so a full write-up will be a few days coming, but to tide you over, some quick notes:

  • Patric Chocolate got some well-deserved pub from the Tribune last week. I will say that we visited a coffee and chocolate producer in Costa Rica and while theirs was good, it simply paled in comparison to Alan’s products. The depth of flavor he achieves just blows everything else I’ve had away.
  • The SEC Championship game ended in disappointment, but we still have a local champion in Sporting KC, who won the MLS Cup for the second time Saturday (and in an epic series of penalty kicks, no less). The bad soccer news is the the Unites States got grouped with Ghana, Portugal and Germany for the first round of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
  • I’ll be doing a bit of work for Columbia Home magazine in the coming months. My first piece for them, on CoMo restaurants pairing desserts and drinks, is in the Dec/Jan issue and is available online.
  • Interesting that somebody at a Kansas City-area Sonic thought this would be a good idea.
  • Inside Columbia‘s “Best of Columbia 2014″ voting is open and, in what I think is a first, yours truly is up for best blogger. We are lucky to have a number of active local bloggers, so get over there and vote away.

Chicken and Potato Curry

December 4, 2013

Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet” has become our go-to resource for Southeast Asian cooking over the past year or so. Nearly every recipe is fantastic, and the pictures and background info are top-notch as well. It’s not a new book (published in 2000), but you need to add it to your Christmas wish-list. Basil chicken, pho, spicy greens and this little number below – everything’s tremendous. You can thank me later.

Chicken and Potato Curry (serves 8)

1 1/2 pounds chicken (breast, thigh or combination of both)

Salt and ground pepper

2 lbs. potatoes

2 cups water

3 dried Thai chiles, soaked in warm water

2 T minced garlic

5 small shallots, coarsely chopped

2 T vegetable oil

2 T Thai fish sauce

2 cups coconut milk, 1/2 cup of thickest milk set aside

8 kaffir lime leaves

1/2 cup chopped scallions (optional)

1 cup cilantro leaves

2-3 T store-bought red curry paste, just in case

Cut chicken into 1 1/2″ pieces and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside while preparing the potatoes and spice paste. Chop potatoes into 1 1/2″ cubes and place in a pot with 2 cups of salted water. Bring to boil and cook for 8 minutes, then remove from heat.

Chop chiles and pound in a mortar with shallots, garlic and a pinch of salt. You can do this in a food processor if you don’t have a mortar and pestle (or sense of decency). Set aside.

Heat a large pot or wok and add oil, then stir-fry the chile paste briefly, until starting to brown. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently for several minutes. Add fish sauce and cook until chicken is nearly cooked through, approximately 6 minutes (if using a combination of light and dark meat, start with the dark first, then add the light).

Add 1 1/2 cups of the thinner coconut milk, 1 1/2 cups of the potato water and the potatoes themselves to the chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, the cover and cook for about 20 minutes.

Add the lime leaves and 1/2 cup of remaining thicker coconut milk and return to simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Note: This is where we kicked it up with pre-made red curry sauce…it was a touch bland before that.

Stir in scallion greens and transfer to large bowl, garnishing with cilantro and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve with rice and pass  a small bowl of minced Thai bird chiles loosened with a few dashes of fish sauce for doctoring to individual preferences.

Kale, Bean and Sausage Stew

December 2, 2013

Beans with Kale and Portuguese Sausage

One of our more successful first-attempt recipes ever – especially in terms of ratio of work to deliciousness – was this one, which I adapted from a Bon Appetit magazine recipe.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
8 ounces andouille or other sausage, sliced 1/2-inch thick (I used the outstanding CACC andouille)
1 medium onion, sliced
6-8 garlic cloves, smashed
2 T tomato paste
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 small piece Parmesan rind (optional)
2 chiles de árbol or other dried chiles (or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)
1 large sprig thyme
2 large bay leaves
2 cups chicken or turkey broth
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 can garbanzo beans (or other beans)
3-4 cups kale, mustard greens, whatever you have on hand, cut into 3/4″ ribbons
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

PREPARATION

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for about two minutes.

Add wine and cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot and stirring occasionally, until wine is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add Parmesan rind, if using, chiles, thyme, bay leaf, broth, tomatoes, and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 15 mins. Remove from heat and leave covered. Go run some errands, take a kid to soccer practice, whatever.

Reheat at mealtime, add a squeeze of lemon, season to taste and serve, preferably with some habanero vinegar or Tabasco.

Friday links

November 22, 2013

Walmart

Four members of the Walton family are collectively worth more than $100 billion – greater wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans combined – but their employees are taking up collections so they can have Thanksgiving dinner. Just let that sink in for a second. And yes, I get that this could/should be looked at as a warming act of kindness, but the visuals (and underlying disparities) are not good.

Elsewhere, a professor of Christian Ethics takes on the evils of factory farming. Charge up the Kindle, cuz Michael Pollan has a new book out on the ways cooking makes us human. Jimmy Kimmel and Mario Batali went to some random guy’s house and cooked dinner. Kleenex nearby? Good. Listen to friend and fellow food lover Maria Oropallo tell her granddaughter (and KBIA) why “everyone was very happy and very sad at the same time.” Chicago fired back over Jon Stewart’s epic (and legit) takedown of deep dish pizza as “tomato soup in a bread bowl.” I don’t really understand Macadoodle’s (the 80s-era signage, the hideous building they designed and built on purpose, etc.), but I’ve been in and they do have a rockin’ wine selection (beer, less so). Also, it’s that time again, people:

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get my hands on some fucking gourds and arrange them in a horn-shaped basket on my dining room table. That shit is going to look so seasonal.

I just love decorative gourd season.

Finally, the must-watch for the week is highlights of the second World Cup qualifying match between Portugal and Sweden. Portugal won the first match so Sweden needed to win by two in the second to go to the World Cup. Each team is made up of ten piles of leaves and one cartoon superhero – perfect human specimen Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal and Swedish anger bear/black belt Zlatan Ibrahimovic – and those two traded haymakers all second half. It was amazing.

Topic: Turkey

November 20, 2013

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Turkey tips, in no particular order.

Start with a good bird. For several years we’ve been buying our turkeys from Country Neighbors Farm. They sell chickens, mostly, to The Root Cellar and Broadway Brewery and Hy-Vee, but in the fall it’s turkey time. The birds are smaller but fattier and just plain tastier than conventionally-raised CAFO birds. And as I found this year with our early Thanksgiving, they’re far more forgiving. Despite overcooking by a solid 15 degrees, the meat was perfect.

The whole garbage in, garbage out mantra should seem obvious at this point, but most people are still buying conventionally-raised turkeys from factory farms. Missouri’s the fourth-leading producer of turkeys in the U.S., but very few are raised on a farm like Country Neighbors.

Quick aside: If they won’t let you visit the farm, you have to wonder what they’re hiding. Laura at Country Neighbors will welcome you out there…and you have an excuse to visit Emmet’s.

Anyway, the average return to the producer for a turkey is $0.50 per pound and the grocery store’s only going to charge you $1.50/lb. (some, considerably less), so you can see the incentive to cut every possible corner. I paid $60 for two turkeys I picked up from Laura – 24 lbs. worth. You’ll pay a little more for retail at The Root Cellar – $50 for a 15-16 pounder or $65 for a 16-20 pounder – but it’s worth it in every way. You do need to order quite soon, however, as processing happens Monday, November 25 and most are spoken for. Call The Root Cellar at 573-443-5055.

Brine. You have to brine the turkey. Salt, sugar, garlic and some aromatics. I rarely measure any of these but it always works out. For the faint of heart, Brook Harlan is here to help (and I love the idea of “carving” the turkey before cooking it). Brine your turkey.

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Post-Dispatch: Support builds for Missouri man who violated Iraq sanctions

November 12, 2013
hamoodi

Scott Rowson shops at World Harvest International and Gourmet Foods in Columbia, Mo., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Rowson is one of several customers and friends who have signed petitions and written letters to the White House asking for the early release of owner Shakir Hamoodi. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

It’s been more than a year since Mr. Hamoodi of World Harvest reported to the federal prison in Leavenworth, KS. Despite near-universal recognition of this as a misapplication of justice, he sits there still, sharing a 9×7-foot cell with another inmate.

I stopped by the store the other day to pick up my CSA and load up on cheeses and ran into a St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer, there to shoot for a story on Mr. Hamoodi’s case. Apparently Sen. McCaskill has forwarded information on the case to President Obama, but she may not or may not be actively pushing for his release. Here’s the story, and worth a read even if you are familiar with Mr. Hammoodi’s case.

If you feel moved to act, do some of your shopping at World Harvest, sign the online petition, contact Sen. McCaskill or even write him a letter at the following address:

Shakir Abdul-Ka Ani Hamoodi (21901045)
USP Leavenworth Satellite Camp
P.O. Box 1000
Leavenworth, KS 66048

Friday links

November 8, 2013

sporting

The must-watch for this week is a two-parter. First, take a couple of minutes to watch the highlights of Sporting Kansas City’s thrilling comeback win in the Major League Soccer playoffs Wednesday night. I was there with a few friends and it was, simply, the most thrilling soccer match I’ve ever been to in person. Amazing shots and saves, end-to-end action, villainous refereeing and overtime drama. The stadium was electric from the opening whistle until the very end. I promise, you don’t need to be a soccer fan to enjoy the highlights (which really could’ve been 30 minutes long). The second part: Sporting KC plays again Saturday afternoon at 1:30pm on NBC. Yes, the Mizzou football game will still be on but hey, that’s why DVR was invented.

That note isn’t food related unless you count the Z-Man sandwiches we picked up at Oklahoma Joe’s on the way into town for the game. Z-Mans are the greatest sandwiches in the world.

A few other links and notes:

  • Apparently we’ve been eating apples all wrong.
  • Marcia had a really nice piece on Fretboard Coffee in the Tribune the other day. I’ve been in twice and love the little space, the service and, naturally, the coffee. Just know that it’s little. Little as in seating for about seven people total. If you can grab a seat no one’s going to rush you out; just know that you may be getting your coffee to-go.
  • Those looking to land top-notch turkeys for Thanksgiving should look no further than Country Neighbors farm (up by Fayette). You can order them through The Root Cellar or, if you need a good reason to get up to the excellent, trip-worthy food at Emmet’s, visit them in person. Your call.
  • If you’re interested in hitting the easy button this Thanksgiving, you have some local options (they won’t even mind if you claim it as your own), namely the Columbia Area Career Center (orders due Nov. 12) and The Wine Cellar and Bistro (due the Tuesday before Thanksgiving).
  • Reminder: The Mid-MO Home Brew Fest is coming up next Saturday, November 16. It is going to be a family friendly event. Yeah, you know I’ll be there.

Wednesday food news

October 30, 2013

A couple of food and bev items of note (and that just couldn’t wait):

  • The Columbia Area Career Center is preparing an early dose of tryptophan this year with their Thanksgiving Buffet fundraiser. It’s tomorrow in front of the Rock Bridge High School planetarium and a solid helping of turkey-day goodies runs just five bucks.
  • The Root Cellar is starting to take turkey orders this week.
  • Organizers are frantically putting together a homebrew festival for the very near future (November 16!). It’ll be out at Stephens Lake Park and feature live music and plenty of beer-sampling. Good times. Check out the website and Facebook page for more info.
  • Dave Elman and Fretboard Coffee will be opening the doors on their new, brick-and-mortar location behind Ernie’s this Friday at 7am.
  • Better load up on Sriracha while you still can

Friday Links

October 25, 2013

I’ll be on KFRU this morning at 9:15 am, talking about how to up your Tiger tailgate this season. Now, news and random links:

Columbia’s best coffee roaster – Fretboard – will be opening doors on their brick-and-mortar location next Friday, November 1. Excellent CoMo coffee news. The news last week that Boulevard Brewery has sold out to Duvel was met with shock. Doctors at Ole Miss did the unthinkable – dissected chicken nuggets and looked at them under a microscope – and will now have nightmares forever. Here’s a map of Pangea with modern political boundaries. And finally, your must-watch for the week: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog visited the Great American Beer Festival.

Have a great Homecoming weekend.

SEC speed, it’s not just for the gridiron anymore

October 23, 2013
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Homemade biscuits, Burgers’ country ham, shrimp ‘n grits and a spicy egg casserole. A tailgate with SEC speed, you guys.

When Mizzou entered the SEC the rub was that our football players were going to be too small, too weak and most of all, too slow to compete. The team lacked “SEC speed” – a euphemism for just not being good enough. I figured that would take care of itself over the span of a few years as the Tiger recruiting staff entered new markets, but lo and behold, here we are in year two beating big programs like Georgia and Florida. It remains to be seen wether we can truly crack the upper echelon of the league – let alone stay there long term – but I think we can put the SEC speed thing to rest. We’ve got it (and in some cases we’ve got it at the backup positions too).

Where I still think we need to up our game is in the off-the-field stuff, and tailgates specifically. Mizzou games in college (mid-late 90s) were about pounding Natty Lights and crappy burgers until kickoff, wandering into the stands and then leaving when the Tigers went down by 20 points or so (usually early in the second quarter). Even when we were “good” we weren’t really actually good. But it’s 2013, we’re in the SEC and have been a legit top-10 team multiple times in the last five years. It’s time our tailgating evolved along with the product on the field.

A few suggestions:

  •  Match your food to the opponent. This varies from the easy (say, LSU) to the more difficult (Florida), but cooking the regional specialty of that week’s opponent not only provides the opportunity to cook something new, it demonstrates that you’re as serious as the Tigers themselves. And because we didn’t join the Big 10 that regional specialty is pretty much guaranteed not to suck. Think shrimp ‘n grits for South Carolina (pictured above), MoonPies  as a dessert for the Tennessee game and brisket vs. Texas A&M. There should probably be sweet tea available.
  • Eat the actual opponent itself. This one was a little easier when we played Colorado and Texas regularly because hey, buffalo and beef are good and ‘gator is mostly not. But we’re frying chicken wings – and bringing an assortment of sauces – for this weekend’s tilt with the Gamecocks. Consuming your enemy as a function of conflict is a time-honored tradition, so who are you to fiddle with eons of ritualized human violence? Get with the program (not applicable versus Georgia, Vanderbilt, A&M, etc.).
  • Cocktails. We haven’t explored this particular aspect of our Lot X (ie, cheapskate donor) tailgate much, but a drink station of Sazerac-makings and Abita beer would be a big-boy addition to an LSU tailgate someday. Or Shiner Bock versus the Aggies in a few weeks. Go crazy.
  • Go local. They’re not going to be trying to recreate Booche’s burgers in the Grove whenever we get around to playing Ole Miss. They’ll be eating what whatever they damn well feel like, regardless of the opponent (the fact that most of them will have their tailgates catered is beside the point). So don’t feel like everything has to match – it’s just a fun socio-geographic exercise. Serve Swiss Meats brats or Missouri Legacy Beef burgers and have a ball. And finally,
  • Attire. It’s time to put away the sweatpants and ratty Mizzou sweatshirts. Save that nonsense for walking to class or recovering on the couch on Sunday. A proper SEC tailgate is a balance of class and depravity, so even if you are going to be a bit of a drunk idiot on a football Saturday, at least look good doing it. That means shirts with buttons, guys, and preferably a black and gold tie.

Food Writing 101

September 27, 2013

I will be leading a food writing class at the Columbia Area Career Center in a few weeks. Four two-hour classes on Monday and Wednesday nights starting October 14. Read more or sign up here. We’ll cover everything from memoir-writing to blogging to what makes a good (and bad) restaurant review. I’ll keep it lively, interactive and fun – promise. I may even sneak in some in-class tastings to help develop our internal restaurant critic.

Have you ever read a cookbook or restaurant review and thought, “I could’ve done that better?” Now’s your chance to make it happen. Learn from an experienced food writer the tips and tricks behind crafting memorable food blogs, memoirs, restaurant reviews, cookbooks and more. (4 Sessions)


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