1. We’ll go from Groupon to Youpon. Online deals are here to stay, but they’re about to get more personal. Diners get to know local chefs through Twitter and Facebook, and those same means of social media are going to become the most prominent deal sources. Chef Celina Tio has long posted notice of last-minute table openings on Twitter, and young chefs are too plugged in to their smartphones not to follow her lead. Alongside all the Groupon-like offers that clutter inboxes today will be more personalized marketing efforts from the restaurateurs who understand our habits.
Kansas City has had terrific diners -- little, unfussy, Mom-and-Pop restaurants serving traditional American comfort food -- for as long as this town has had restaurants. There are listings for lunch counters, luncheonettes, cafes and buffets in some of the earliest city directories. And two of those diners, the legendary Sanderson's Lunch on Eighth Street and Nichol's Lunch on Southwest Trafficway, lasted through most of the 20th century.
Last week's Cafe review of the new Neighborhood Cafe in Lee's Summit celebrated it as both a survivor -- there were many other diners in this location before the new owners took over in January -- and a kind of museum of culinary history.
arrived. But if you want to know about the change in seasons, simply
look at menus and grills across town to see that we're craving autumn
foods. Fat City has compiled a list of the Top 10 fall foods that we
spend the rest of the calendar year thinking about:
10. Tailgating meats (above). Grilling in the parking lot adds a special flavor. As to the genesis of that flavor? It's either the new marinade you're trying or the 300-pound guy applying full body paint in the spot next to yours.
Don't tell Kansas City's James Beard Award-winning chefs, but apparently our town is still flying under the radar when it comes to attracting foodies. Livability -- a site that continually generates lists in an effort to tell readers the best places to live -- has named Kansas City fourth on its list of "Foodie Finds: 10 Surprising Cities."
With Bluestem's Colby Garrelts a finalist for this year's James Beard Award and the American's Debbie Gold (also a James Beard winner) a contestant on Top Chef Masters, it would seem to be no secret that Kansas City is not just about barbecue. But this list is suspicious, anyway -- just look at who came in at No. 8: Wichita. Here's Livability's justification for that selection:
If you're a native of Wichita,
you've probably craved a loose-meat sandwich. Like a crumbly hamburger,
the delicacy is a citywide obsession prepared for decades at Nu Way Cafe, a local fast-food chain also famous for its homemade root beer. Finer dining options abound also, and the city likes its sweets. Both Cero's Candy and Cocoa Dulce offer inventive as well as classic confections crafted from high-quality ingredients. For local suds, try River City Brewing Co., a popular brewpub in a converted warehouse in historic Old Town.
For those who feel that the act of chewing is too much effort, we anti-celebrate the top five food innovations for the laziest among us.
5. The self-stirring mug. Is lifting a spoon getting you down in the morning? Let the self-stirring mug do the work for you via a rotating part in the base of the cup that creates a small tornado. Nobody should have to mix in their own creamer.
4. The secret to being an eating champion. Apparently, there is none. Professional eater Crazy Legs Conti offered his advice on how to win an eating contest to Wired this month. It doesn't involve extensive training, just picking a food you like and avoiding throwing up.
I'm starting to think bears know more than we do. When the weather gets cold, I just want a hot bowl of chili, followed by an extended nap.
If you're making your own, the base is pretty straightforward. Chop onion and garlic and saute them in a saucepan, then add a can of crushed tomatoes and several kinds of beans (kidney, red, pinto, will all work). Sprinkle in salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon (a teaspoon), nutmeg (a teaspoon), chili powder and some garlic powder. Let that simmer. It if starts to brown, add a bit of water or beer -- Boulevard Pilsner works well.
In a separate pan, brown a pound of ground meat (turkey, beef, bison). Dust it with a poultry or meat rub. Once it's browned, add it to the pot with the tomatoes, beans and spices. At the same time, add half a bottle or can of beer. Then, let the entire pot simmer for several hours, stirring a few times an hour.
But if you're looking for instant gratification, the Top 5 chilis in Fat City are after the jump.
Hot cocoa is a cure-all. It's one of the few things to look forward to when it comes to winter in Kansas City. Charles Ferruzza and Jonathan Bender were in their cups, so to speak, in order to find the finest examples of hot chocolate around the city. So grab a pack of overstuffed marshmallows and find out which mugs you should be getting your hands on.
5) Phillips 66/Conoco -- The best gas station chocolate in the city. Slightly chalky and treacly sweet -- you'll never be able to wait long enough for this not to burn your tongue.
4) Cosentino's Market Downtown -- A cup of cocoa with a side of parking validation? One of the finest deals in the city.
3) You Say Tomato -- Your mom could take lessons from this one. Whipped cream, chocolate syrup and a hint of nutmeg top the hot cocoa that makes Sundays special.
1) Christopher Elbow -- This hot chocolate is nearly thick enough to hold a spoon upright. It's so rich you should split it with someone, but it's so good, you won't want to share.
[Image via Flickr: the suss-man]
|Eat 'em or use the filled box as a barbell|
Cookies have long been a staple of local bakeries, and recently restaurants have gotten into the act, serving cookies and milk as a nostalgic dessert. So Charles Ferruzza and Jonathan Bender began looking for the best cookies in Fat City.
10) Costco. For sheer bulk, you can hardly beat this big box chain's house brand, Kirkland. The cookies are actually baked in the individual stores, where a 2.25-pound box of mixed double nut, oatmeal raisin and chocolate chunk retails for $6.49; that's about 27 cents a cookie. And they're good cookies.
9) Three Dog Bakery. They look good enough for people to eat, but this one's solely for the dogs. The Big Scary Kitties -- peanut butter cookies with carob chip eyes are the way to your dog's heart.
8) Filling Station. These cookies look like oversized tops for coffee cups. The snickerdoodle is a sweet shot worth sharing.
7) McLain's Bakery. This Waldo institution is most famous for its "Chocolate Cup Cookie," but all of its cookies and bars are fabulous with hot coffee or cocoa.
6) Andre's Confiserie Suisse. The assortment of handmade tea cookies make a great gift, if you don't give into temptation and eat them all first.
This is the time of year when you should be excited about egg nog. You haven't had it in a while and you've forgotten what's it like when you have too much.
In Kansas City there are a number of options vying for your egg nog dollar. As a cautionary note, avoid Silk Nog, the soy milk iteration of egg nog (curious ingredient: sea salt). It's essentially soy milk with an egg nog aftertaste and the start and finish in your mouth do not mix. Despite having no citrus elements, it manages to have the burn of cheap orange juice.
Let's move on to more festive thoughts. Here are the top 5 egg nog options in Kansas City, listed in reverse order of which will make your stomach happiest.
5. Hiland Old-Fashioned Egg Nog (curious ingredient: corn starch) -- I should have listened to the scary snow man on the packaging -- this egg nog packs a punch. It says non-alcoholic, but it has the taste and smell of butter rum lifesavers. This is a kick-you-in-the-face kind of egg nog that you'll love or hate at first sip.
Everybody has irrational love for a particular fast food establishment or chain restaurant -- witness the 2,484 fans on the 'I Love the Taco Via!!!' Facebook group. And so I decided to think about what chains could improve the lives of the residents in the city of fountains.
Dunkin' Donuts would have been a natural fit for this list -- but the first of several area stores in Overland Park (7722 W. 151st Street) opens today! So below are the five other chain establishments that Fat City wishes were coming to Kansas City:
5. Friendly's -- This East Coast chain serves the classic diner food: melts, chicken fingers and burgers. But the reason you eat all your chicken fingers is so you can have dessert -- from Candy Shoppe Sundaes to the Fribble, a shake that requires maximum effort on the other end of the straw. (For Charles Ferruzza's take on two classic Kansas City diners, read this week's Cafe review.)
4. White Castle -- Kansas City hasn't been the same since White Castle slid out of town. Mini cheeseburgers make the world go round and the classic sliders that turn the white bag shiny with grease before you're out of the parking lot would be welcomed back with open mouths.
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