'Things only go forward. Technology has no feelings.' Do you have a hobby you wish you could do all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Meet Gary Vaynerchuk, a 33-year-old self-trained wine and social media expert who has revolutionized the wine industry.


Brussel sprout time

I rarely post recipes, but here are some suggestions on how to prepare one of my favorite veggies! Also... get down to Pizza Bella and give their brussel sprouts a try.


Great Discovery!

Throughout history there have been examples of great discoveries. From that guy Chris Columbus and his stumbling upon America to Afrika Bambaataa's discovery of Rap Music (or was it that DJ Kool Herc guy?), finding that hidden treasure is important. A few months ago I started the search for the perfect cheese plate. Armed with some blog comments from my original cheese post and a yellow hat (just like that great world searcher "the man with the yellow hat" from Curious George) I took to the streets of KC.

I think I finally found it at Extra Virgin (1900 Main Street, KCMO). They offer an awesome array of cheeses that you can actually select yourself. During Happy Hour (M-F 11:30 am - 6 pm) you can get a sampler of four different cheeses for 8 bucks. And I'm not talking about velvetta slices here. From a Spanish Manchego to a Italian Robiola (kind of like a brie with more flavor) the options are plentiful. When you pair the cheeses with their $2.50 bottle beer special during Happy Hour it's .... "Legend"... wait for it..."dary".

After drinking a nice Estrella Galicia with my Spanish Manchego I felt as though I was back in downtown Madrid. For the price and the selection this cheese plate is my choice for KC cheese lovers. And with pony-tail clad Michael Smith himself roaming the kitchen I knew the ingredients would be top notch.

This discovery almost ranks up there with Al Gore's discovery of the internet. Almost.

Oh no he didn't!

Kimball has lost it. Cook's Illustrated has world-class, tested and proven recipes, but can it win a recipe-off against the entire internet? I don't think so. I think he is "on tilt" from the demise of gourmet.

"Yesterday on his blog, Chris Kimball (editor and founder of Cook's Illustrated) proposed a recipe challenge to "any supporter of the WIKI or similar concept," specifically mentioning Amanda and food52 as potential opponents. (This morning, the reference miraculously disappeared -- perhaps Chris got nervous we'd actually accept?)"

"The saga of Chris "Broccoli Casserole" Kimball and his war against the internet continues: Kimball has challenged crowd-sourced recipe sites — calling out Amanda Hesser's Food52 in particular — to duel it out against his immaculate test kitchens. Like a jealous older sibling, Kimball's attention-getting techniques just aren't gonna hack it against the newer, shinier, cuter internet.
While the recipes Cooks Illustrated churns out are no doubt perfection, how on earth can his team of scientists compete against, um, the entire internet? It's not just yahoos out here, Kimball. Some of us have the skills, credentials, and now, thanks to you, the motivation to beat the best you've got. We've got your back, Hesser. [via The Food Section]

Update: Food 52 responds and notices that Kimball removed the reference to Amanda Hesser and Food 52. It originally read (Google cache will get you, Kimball): "Should be fun! Who is interested? Amanda? Anyone else?" later changing it to "Should be fun! Who is interested?"

Update #2: Even Gawker gets in on the action, calling Kimball the "trolling cook."


Dipping Areas - A serious dilemma no doubt.

Ridiculous plate and a hilarious skit!

Also.... love the comments.
" I don't know why everyone thinks this is so funny. Maximizing the effectiveness of dipping areas is a very serious issue."

Where does the plate end?

This the best idea ever! Grant Achatz of Alinea (my favorite chef of the moment) is pushing dining to heights unknown. This would save us from passing plates around at Justus. You gotta watch the video!
Dining together is an intimate act, but sharing a plate (or in this case, a tabletop) with the right person is definitely foreplay.

"Depending on the number of people in the party, the chefs are dispatched in the dining room armed with various tools and utensils to aid in the presentation. The ingredients can be composed in different styles depending on the desired effect. With our boundaries expanded to a scale never before possible, we have the option of forcing the guests to interact with each other in unique ways.

For instance, perhaps we create one giant plating of a concept. A blown-up version in the style of a typical Alinea presentation. Since the entire table surface is utilized, some components may be out of the immediate reach of some members of the table. The guests are supplied with service ware, and a family-style eating event takes place; dining companions asking others to "Please pass a dollop of puree, a dusting of powder and portion of protein."

In some cases we showcase the individuality of chefs. Four cooks converge on a table of four diners. While each chef is using the same foodstuffs, each presents the dish in front of a guest based on his personal whimsy. Same flavor profile--yet an example of independent imagination."

More about American Gins

If you know me, you know I like the Gin. Junipiro FTW!

"But while the guards in the furry hats might be loath to admit it, Americans also make some pretty decent gins these days. They're distinct, inexpensive, and, as Alex Trebek might say, potently potable."

When a Chef Gets Famous

"Does it have to come from the hands of the master? Or is coming from the mind of the master through the hands of his disciples enough?"

What if Food Changed Mid-Meal?

This could be really cool.

"What if a course could change right before your eyes, and your palate, while you were eating it? The interjection of a temperature, texture, aroma, or ingredient would morph the course into two distinctly different ones. With this idea we explore how we can drastically change the identity of a course during mid-consumption."

Article by Grant Achatz, chef and owner of Chicago's Alina and Culinary Badass.

You ate where?

I'll admit that our recent "blah" weather has kept our posts at a minimum. It's hard to get excited about local products when the weather outside reminds me of a dreary Michigan summer day. (Not that we are ripping on our friends from the north, but hey, it's Michigan).

It did get me thinking about all of the unusual places I've been to grab a bite. Places that may not normally be associated with fine dining, yet they pack a true meal value with fine nutrition. When I was in the Army I loved eating at places like this. Uncle Sam is good about spending 500 bucks on a hammer, but he's also good at providing low cost food options. The Hospital at Ft. Rucker was the place to be at breakfast. For 3 bucks you could get a made to order omelet, some cheesy grits and a side of bacon with a cold chocolate milk.

On any military post you could head to the DFAC (Dining Facilities Administration Center, or "chow hall") for a great low cost lunch. Sure, this grub was going to be packed with fats and salt, but that's the purpose of food for a soldier. At nights the NCO club or O Club would pair your German beer with some standard, but cheap, pub fare.

Outside of the Army, places like Hospital cafeterias and office building cafeterias also provide quick food options on a budget. So... where are some unusual non-restaurant eating places you've been to?


Could the Healthiest Food Also be the Deadliest?

This is why you should only eat pork.

The consumer watchdog group CSPI published a provocative list of 10 healthy foods that have been involved in large scale contamination in the past few years.

#1 = Leafy greens!

America’s Dirty Secret: We’re a Dangerous Place to Eat

This is why your tummy hurts. Some eye-popping food-safety stats.

A Happy Pig Makes a Beautiful Ham

More than you wanted to know about Jámon Serrano and Jámon Ibérico. This stuff is truly the best ham you can put in your face. Go over to Marky's and get some @ $161.80/lb

"To be sure it´s the real Jámon Ibérico you have to look at the foot and and the shape of the leg. The foot is smaller on the real one and a Jámon Ibérico shall look like a violin in shape, not like a guitar,” says Javier Fernández."

Pucker up... time for lesson in lemons.

 Not quite more than you want to know about lemons.

"When you think about it, the lemon is the only really important fruit that nobody actually eats. It’s one of the most popular flavors in the world, but no one sits down and bites into a nice, juicy lemon. But that’s not the only odd thing about lemons."

Gourmet Magazine to Close

Someone call the Whaaaambulance, print media is dead!

"After nearly 69 years of good tastes, Gourmet Magazine will close after its November issue, the New York Times reports.

The magazine, owned by Conde Nast, has been published since December 1940. Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride are also slated for closure, the paper said."

Chefs mourn Gourmet. Click here to learn how chefs are morning the loss of Gourmet. I like what David Chang said below. He's a f*ing rockstar because of Gourmet.

David Chang, Momofuku Ko: “Losing Gourmet is fucking sad. It’s fucking horrible.”


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

So recently I had my first chance to visit Michael Smith's upscale eatery. This place definitely was the "Good" portion of my eating day. With economical lunch time meals, the place was perfect. I had the venison. Don't give me crap about Bambi because this stuff was good. I almost grabbed a gun and headed out to Johnson County to help them deal with their deer over population problem. The other meals had by guests at my meal were equally great. From the scallops to the halibut, the food was spot on. It was also obvious that they didn't dial back the fine dining fare on account of lunch. As Gordon Ramsey would say, "Hey you F*** Face, you are only as good as your last meal you serve." This place gets that.
The Ugly portion came next as we visited the American Royal cattle drive down to the P&L district. I love me some cow, but to see thirty of them penned up on Grand crapping up a storm, it was... well "Ugly". The only satisfaction came in knowing that some 21 year old from Olathe was sure to be lying in that same spot drunk as hell later that night.
The "Bad" portion came with service provided in the P&L district. I ducked into Johnny's Tavern for a beer (they have a pretty good selection with unique items like Moose Drool on draft). There was maybe 8 people in the whole place and one lonely customer at the bar. It was pretty clear by the fact that I was standing at the bar that I was looking for a quick drink to go. Instead, the bartender walked in front of me and said "I'll be back in a minute." She then proceeded to have a conversation with another patron who had just strolled in and then after a few minutes she headed back to the kitchen. She could still be in that kitchen for all I know as I finally headed back out and grabbed a beer from another one of the 20 something places serving a cold one down there.
It was 4 pm on a weekday, not 1 am on Saturday night, so no need to give me the "just wait because I can make you wait" line. In short, I have a memory like an elephant and Johnny's won't get another dime from me after that fiasco. (I know I'm a prick. She could have a valid reason for stiffing me. I don't care. When there are 20 different places to get a simple beer the least they could do is serve me one in a timely fashion).


Congratulations Richard!

My buddy Richard Strong was voted Best Server 2009 in the Pitch! I met him years ago when he was with Ray at Papagallo. If Richard has ever waited on you, you would remember him. If Richard has not waited on you, get over to Cafe Trio and request him. He is hilarious!

Hail Caesar—The Birthplace of the Famous Salad Closes

I went to Caesar's in TJ when I was a kid. I can't recall if they prepared the salad table side or not. I DO remember many places in the 70's and 80's making it table side in huge wooden bowls.

"This time, Brutus had nothing to do with the death of Caesar. Instead, it was a drop-off in tourism—partly due to fears about swine flu and escalating drug violence, on top of a bad economy—that hastened the demise of the Tijuana restaurant credited with inventing the Caesar salad."