The weather is turning chilly. It's time to think about soup.
Kansas City hasn't had such great luck with soup-only restaurants. A popular Westport restaurant in the late 1970s, the Souper, by all accounts served very good house-made soups and freshly baked breads until (rumor has it, anyway) the owner vanished one day after hastily taping a "Closed" sign to the front door. Several decades later, another soup restaurant, Souperman, chef Rob Dalzell's clever spin on the theme, opened at 1724 Main for a few years. It was a popular lunch venue until it also seemed to disappear, all too quickly, in 2010.
The good news is that Kansas City has so many traditional restaurants serving excellent, soothing and nourishing soup, who really needs a soup-only restaurant? The possibilities range from Plaza III's legendary steak soup to the once-famous (but not so fabulous in recent days) French onion soup offered by Houlihan's; if you really want French onion soup, order it at Aixois or Le Fou Frog.
If you're a fan of Kansas City's Farm to Market sourdough loaf, tomorrow marks the opening day - of a limited 17-day run - for the company's chile cheese bread, a sourdough loaf, baked with pieces of cheddar cheese and bits of fiery jalapenos, that hasn't been on store shelves for a year. The round loaves will be featured in select stores October 11-27.
The loaves, 7 inches in diameter, feature a light crust that is slightly chewy and golden, with a soft open crumb. The cheddar and jalapeno flavors are bold but not overpowering. It's perfectly delicious toasted with butter in the morning or used in a savory bread pudding.
Our advice? It's Valentine's Day. Let yourself go — that extra weight won't show up until later this week anyway.
Chef and restaurateur Jasper Mirabile Jr. is determined to make September "National Cannoli Month." (It's already National Biscuit Month, National Honey Month, National Chicken Month and National Mushroom Month). Mirabile, who is in the process of writing a new book, On the Cannoli Trail, about his search for the perfect cannoli, is exhibiting an elaborate and expensive cannoli creation at Jasper's Restaurant through September.
The edible cannoli — it's a cannoli cake, really — is covered with edible, but real gold leaf and was created by baker Carey Iennaccaro of Overland Park-based Sprinkled With Sugar. The item that really bumps up the price is a $26,000 diamond necklace that comes with the pastry: an Italian necklace owned by jeweler Tom Tivol.
The actual price of the cannoli cake is $26,010. The pastry is currently on display at the restaurant, but the Mirabile family is now keeping the diamond necklace under lock and key: "Our insurance company said we can either build a secure glass case for the cannoli," Jasper Mirabile Jr. says, "or lock up the diamonds."
Last week, Murray Nixon opened her namesake ice-cream and cookie emporium in Westport for her 27th season. Tomorrow she introduces her newest flavor: Red Velvet Cake.
"There's 5 pounds of cake in every tub of ice cream," Nixon says. She adds that her red-velvet cake is a vivid burgundy, but it's made the traditional way: with cocoa.
A month ago, The New York Times reported on a discovery made two years ago of a rare cacao tree, the Nacional, in Peru. The Nacional was thought to be extinct after pure varieties of the tree had succumbed to disease in Ecuador -- the world's largest producer of cacao.
The chocolate made from Nacional cacao beans is also rare -- and expensive. But local master chocolatier Aaron Dearinger, of Annedore's Fine Chocolates at 5006 State Line, really wanted to taste it.
Step 1: Buy this ice cream, unarguably the best flavor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream ever to be packed in a carton.
If you venture into the basement level of Pryde's Old Westport, you can't escape the wonderful smells wafting from The Upper Crust Bakery. The air is thick with the homey aroma of baking, which trails fingers under your nostril pulling you toward the tiny shop in the back of the store.
"How do you avoid crossing the line and being pulled back into the store?" my shopping companion asks one of the Pryde's employees.
"I don't," he laughs, while patting the belly under his apron.
As the temperatures continue to drop, there's no question that one of the best ways to warm up on a bone-chilling afternoon is with a cup of hot chocolate. But Keith Buchanan, the British-born operator of Westport's Teahouse & Coffeepot, is concerned that too many Americans are too accustomed to the processed cocoa-and-sugar beverage made from a mix and stirred with hot water.
His lips actually curl when he says the words "Swiss Miss."
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