Fat City

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Getting kind of serious about cooking the Whole Foods way

Posted by on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 11:25 AM


Lisa Markley: your guide to healthy eating - KENNY JOHNSON
  • Kenny Johnson
  • Lisa Markley: your guide to healthy eating

A couple of weeks ago, I didn't know anything about chia seeds, the glitter of the antioxidant world.

The grayish, mildly nutty kernels work on oatmeal or salads or even ice cream, delivering an unobtrusive dose of protein, healthy omega-3 fats and fiber. Along with kale and blueberries, they're on the short list of foods ready to make you invincible - or at least help you survive flu season.

But I didn't learn that until after the cold January day when I noticed a shaker labeled "chia seeds" at the Whole Foods salad bar. I sang the Chia Pet jingle in my head (Ch-ch-ch-chia!) and reached for the ranch. But I had already unwittingly eaten the mysterious seeds in various desserts, thanks to Whole Foods' $5 "Health Starts Here" meals, which - as prepared by the store's Lisa Markley - are invariably wholesome and delicious, and often incorporate esoteric ingredients.

After devouring Markley's lunches every week for nearly a year - one of the highlights of my suburban office job - I decided to sign up for one of her cooking classes. Held next door to Whole Foods in the market's Cooking Studio, the classes are designed to demystify healthy eating. With a Master of Science in nutrition from Bastyr University in Washington state and a certificate in dietetics from the University of Kansas Medical Center, Markley knows how to make Brussels sprouts taste like something other than toilet water.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Becoming a beer steward: a day to kind of learn, more than a day to master

Posted by on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 6:39 AM

Beer in various stages of fermentation, malt samples, and the actual hops (those little green things).
  • Beer in various stages of fermentation, malt samples, and the actual hops (those little green things).

Let me start by saying that I am not a beer person.

This I can trace to the quiet resentment I held against my small Midwestern hometown, where beer more often than not was the only available libation. (Even before I was legal, I was a snob.) Still, in all my years of drinking, and even given my lengthy tenure in the service industry, I never acquired a taste for taps.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ripping into City Diner's pancake challenge

Posted by on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 11:05 AM

City_Diner_Sabrina_Staires_Pitch_11192013_1414.jpg

At the River Market's 76-year-old City Diner, a collection of signatures adorns the walls facing the entrance. Behind a row of regulars cozied up to the bar, hunched over coffee cups, a lattice of Sharpie-scrawled inscriptions surrounds the quintessential greasy spoon's many pictures of Marilyn Monroe. The resulting vibe is part community pride, part manic graffiti.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chiefs lineman Jeff Allen tackles RJ's Bob-Be-Que Shack

Posted by on Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 7:38 AM

Jeff Allen digs into RJ's barbecue. - CHRIS MULLINS
  • Chris Mullins
  • Jeff Allen digs into RJ's barbecue.

Jeff Allen's eyes drift to the TV above  the  bar at RJ's Bob-Be-Que Shack (5835 Lamar, in Mission). His eyes lock on ESPN's update on his injured teammates, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.

"He's all right," Allen says of Hali. He says he expects Hali to play in Sunday afternoon's showdown with AFC West rivals the Denver Broncos. "I don't know about Justin," he adds.

The Chiefs offensive lineman also suffered an injury, another tweak of his groin, during the Chiefs' 41 - 38 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Allen exited briefly but returned.

"Just a nagging injury," he says. "I'm playing through it. They really don't care if you're hurt or not. If you're hurt, don't play. You get passed up if you're hurt and you can play."

Allen watches as ESPN replays San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers throwing the 26-yard go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds remaining.

"No one likes Rivers," Allen says. "They know they shouldn't have won that game."

The loss dropped the Chiefs to 9 - 2 heading into a home game with Denver. Thankfully, the Broncos also fell.

"We kind of know what to expect; it should be a good game," Allen says. "It's tradition. Everyone who came before you, they had the same type of rivalry. It just carries on."

Allen and I have come to RJ's, which celebrated its 10th anniversary on Halloween, on our latest barbecue adventure. A sign covering a front window announces: "Buck-a-Bone Tuesday." A dollar gets you a St. Louis - style rib. Chiefs and U.S. flags also fly out front.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Boulevard's sale is what success is supposed to taste like

Posted by on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 8:55 AM


Boulevard isn't leaving.
  • Boulevard isn't leaving.

Kansas City's reflexive provincial thinking came into autumn bloom last week when Boulevard Brewing Company's John McDonald announced the sale of his majority stake in the local beer company to Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat. Social media surged with lamentations, and disaffected Boulevard enthusiasts took turns pledging they'd enjoyed their last bottles from the plucky local success story.

Some have likened the sale to Wal-Mart executive David Glass' purchase of the Kansas City Royals in the 1990s, a transaction that doomed the team to a string of losing seasons, tidy payrolls and exoduses of future star players to teams that could pay more for talent. For many reasons, that comparison is inapt. Major League Baseball's financial system, with Easter eggs such as revenue sharing, means Glass can make money on the Royals even when he fields a subpar product. But it's nearly impossible to see how Boulevard's beer would degrade as a result of its sale to the European company. For one thing, Belgium knows a little about beer.

For another, Duvel Moortgat isn't the same Belgian company as InBev, the conglomerate that bought Budweiser from the Busch Family in St. Louis a few years back. Like Boulevard, Duvel Moortgat caters to a narrower slice of craft-beer drinkers; its main-label product in the United States is a heavy, high-alcohol ale called Duvel (which tastes not unlike Boulevard's Long Strange Tripel). It's hardly the beer of choice for Arrowhead tailgaters. It is not Bud Light.

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Donald Stephenson returns to Blue Springs with Chiefs teammate Jeff Allen to try Plowboys barbecue

Donald Stephenson returns to Blue Springs with Chiefs teammate Jeff Allen to try Plowboys barbecue.

Posted by on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 8:51 AM

Donald Stephenson (left) and Jeff Allen try Plowboys' Royal Crown. - CHRIS MULLINS
  • Chris Mullins
  • Donald Stephenson (left) and Jeff Allen try Plowboys' Royal Crown.

Donald Stephenson didn't realize how powerful he was.

For his senior year, the future Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman had transferred to Blue Springs High School. During the school's annual spring scrimmage, the offense ran a play called "power." The 282-pound Stephenson aimed for the tackle, swung off him and picked up the linebacker.

"I guess I broke his arm or something like that," Stephenson says. "He missed the rest of his senior year. Coach [Kelly] Donohoe was like, 'In practice, just kind of lay off our guys.' "

Stephenson tells this story because he has just collided again with the linebacker - who now works for two-month-old Plowboys Barbeque (3111 Southwest Missouri 7, Blue Springs, 816-228-7569). The restaurant was cooking at the American Royal barbecue contest, and Stephenson was eating.

"When I saw his face, I was like, 'Oh, shit. I did do that to you,' " Stephenson says. "He was cool about it. I just remember, all senior year he walked around with that cast. I ended up getting hurt, too." (Stephenson broke his big toe and missed seven games.)

The man asked Stephenson to drop by Plowboys. So Stephenson, teammate Jeff Allen and I are here to sample the barbecue joint, run by 2009 American Royal Invitational Grand Champion Todd Johns.

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  • Donald Stephenson returns to Blue Springs with Chiefs teammate Jeff Allen to try Plowboys barbecue.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chiefs Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson taste the American Royal

Posted by on Wed, Oct 16, 2013 at 8:23 AM

Donald Stephenson (left) and Jeff Allen on the barbecue circuit
  • Donald Stephenson (left) and Jeff Allen on the barbecue circuit

The West Bottoms' arteries are clogged with traffic around 4:30 p.m. on this first October Friday. The roads around spaceship-shaped Kemper Arena are blocked and alive for the world's largest barbecue contest, the American Royal. 

I'm here with Kansas City Chiefs offensive linemen Donald Stephenson and Jeff Allen. We've come for a sauce-tasting contest. The Chiefs picked Allen and Stephenson in last year's NFL Draft. Another member of that draft class, first-round pick Dontari Poe, has sworn off barbecue to slim down. Not Allen and Stephenson.

Allen, 6 feet 4 and 307 pounds, is an Oklahoma Joe's guy. Stephenson, 6 feet 6 and 312 pounds, grew up on Gates Bar-B-Q. (Raised on the city's East Side, he played his senior year at Blue Springs.) Me, I'm just under 6 feet, about 160 pounds, and I like just about every barbecue shack in this city. Somehow, none of us had been to the Royal before.

On the eve of the competition, though, we've been ushered in to eat all we can before the two players have to board a flight to Tennessee for the game against the Titans. (The Chiefs will stretch their record to 5 - 0.)

A chubby guy tosses a football in the street in front of Kemper. Stephenson calls for a pass, pulls down the ball and returns a spiral. Allen follows but can't make a one-handed grab.

"They ain't playing for the Chiefs," the guy says.

Stephenson and Allen look at each other and bust out laughing. Playing in the trenches affords them a bit of anonymity, even among the Arrowhead faithful.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Formosa Bakery pops up in OP's Cafe Vie

Posted by on Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 10:15 AM

tray_of_goods.JPG


Formosa Bakery has started selling its Taiwanese-style desserts and breads at Café Vie (10330 Metcalf, Overland Park). The casual restaurant, on the back side of the gray strip mall at 103rd Street and Metcalf, is known for its Korean, Vietnamese and Asian-inspired food.

Inside Café Vie's cool, casual space, one walk-up counter offers rice and noodle bowls (including pho), sandwiches, wraps and rolls. The other counter is for coffee, bubble tea, shaved ice and other desserts, including the additions from Formosa. Individual slices of tiramisu, Black Forest cake and cheesecake sit next to the cutesy-sounding Snow White, Puppy Love and Yellow Volcano.

What makes the desserts particularly Taiwanese? Raymond Kung, the bakery's sales and marketing guy, says chef and owner Hamlet Chang uses no preservatives and less sugar. (That, plus he trained in Taiwan.)

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Parkville Microbrew Festival and other weekend possibilities

Posted by on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 8:10 AM

A little bit of Leavenworth is coming to Parkville.
  • Facebook: High Noon Saloon & Brewery
  • A little bit of Leavenworth is coming to Parkville.
Humankind was meant to drink beer in the sunshine. Find your calling at the 10th annual Parkville Microbrew Festival on Saturday. The event starts at 11 a.m., and beer sampling goes from 1 to 5 p.m.

Several dozen craft breweries will be on hand, among them Kirkwood Station Brewing Co., High Noon Saloon and Brewery, and the Springfield Brewing Co. Tickets cost $25 in advance or $30 the day of the festival (though tickets usually sell out ahead of time).

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Ninth Annual Troost Festival and other weekend possibilities

Posted by on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Keep an eye out for Elote (roasted corn). Its delicious.
  • Facebook: Troost Festival
  • Keep an eye out for elote (roasted corn). It's delicious.
It's street-festival season, and one of the best block parties is Saturday. The ninth-annual Troost Festival is from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday. The party at the intersection of 31st Street and Troost is a mix of performances, live music and plenty of food. Snack on falafel from the Jerusalem Cafe or grab a slice of pizza from Judge's Pizza Truck.

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