Dining Desperado-The Good, The Bad and the YUMMY

Conquering the country one bite at a time. There are no foods I actually dislike, just foods I prefer. Bread, nuts, cheese, and dessert, are on the supremely awesome list.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ethiopia...down and dirty with no silverware

So it has been quite some time since I "crazy" dined. I figured I was way overdue to get my KC dining on. So I decided to hit up Ethiopian, on 39th St (is there anywhere else?). I dragged Sam along, like I have done the past few times. He has been quite nice, putting up with all of my madness. We walked up to Addis Abba ba. The host-waiter greeted us and I'm going to go ahead and say that he was from Ethiopia...and he sensed that we were not. What gave me away? Perhaps my jean shorts...blast, hoisted by my own baton! Sam decided to start with a Guava drink. Ah...smart move sam...well played. I thought it sounded good but an overwhelming coconut drink I had from the Dosa man in NY held me back.

So here is Sam's drink. Sideways, but no less lucious. It was thinker than an orange juice...but smooth with a nice lingering guava taste.

I decided to get a vegtable platter-cabbage, potatoes, greens, and a few other things thrown in the mix. Sam got beef, and I quote "tibbs". I laughed at this for quite a while. It's like when you go to IHOP and they make you say "I would like the rooty tooty fresh and fruity" and they won't give it to you unless you SAY IT ALL. So on to the food. The "bread" was like an unfinished pancake. It was simaltaneously bland....and flavorful. I kept trying to isolate the flavor but I couldn't compare it to anything. So I will have to just say that it is a fine vehicle for Ethiopian food for now..in its spongy and unleavened glory. The potatoes and cabbage were neon yellow, covered in a great curry flavor that was reminicent of indian spices. Next to that there were beans flavored with cardamom: it was like eating turkish coffee...so much cardamom! All in all it was quite a nice deviation from my french-Italian repertoire. I can't decide if I like the idea of having one fixed factor (i.e. the spongy bread) in every bite, but I would eat it again fo sho.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

B&H extravaganza and MURRAY"S

I may have to adjust my list of favorite amusement parks in NY from Chinatown to B & H Photography. There are really no words to describe it. You have to see it to belive it. The store is jam packed with STUUUUUUFF. All kinds of stuff. Imagine trying to fit 5 best buys in one store (There's so much stuff you wonder if you aren't actually looking at wall paper of stuff) And then imagine this war zone for electronics run by about 50 crazy little hasidic jews! It's possibly the strangest thing I will ever see. They all wear yamakas...and they all try to run everything as efficiently as possible. Upon talking with a guy (with a yamaka) about a camera lens I decided to buy it. He then took my credit card to ring up my reciept....but not to pay he instructed me..."go to the cashier to pay". I would my way to the cashier and found no line, but found enough stachions (sp?) set up to control a pack of wildebeasts. I was promptly called by the cashier (with a yamaka) to come up with my card ready and my id. Even though I was the only person in line...besides my friend Claire. He turned to Claire "Now watch what she does so you can do it to". His commands were quick and authoritative; plus he stood on some sort of platform which allowed him to tower over us despite his genetics. I fumbled for the recent and I could feel his eyes burning with disapproval. No time for fumbling, only time for precision and money transactions. I think the whole checkout took about 20 seconds. I couldn't think of any reason for going that fast when no one else was in line except for pride, maybe he was trying to break his personal record or something.

Well on with the story, it's not quite over. He gave me yet another reciept and pointed me to another line. This time there were little station numbered 1-7 (?) like the highly coveted roller coaster slots you wait in right before you get on the ride. Well again, I was the only person in line but the guy wanted my receipt so much I thought he might jump over the bar and get rip it from me. He glanced at it and turned around and handed me a bag....could this really be my stuff? It all happened so fast. I noticed this little moving tram overhead...then I realized that was the source of much magic! They were putting stuff people ordered on there, those tricky tricky tricksies! I felt like I had just been hustled or that I should at least feel dizzy. But I looked in the bag and there was my lens! Holy S! I got to give it to them. They are pretty damn awesome. I wish I could have taken pictures of them..but I wasn't sure if that was some sort of taboo. The last thing I wanted to do was be on the blacklist. So in any case I salute you crazy B & H yamaka wearing kids. 0-60 in 2.3 seconds.

MURRAY'S!!! Seaseme with strawberry cream cheese! Holy Bagel, Where art thou tonight?

Here's Claire's Multi-Grain Bagel. It was still warm! We're not worthy!!

Bouchon For Jenni :)

Back to the old stomping grounds. It looks better than ever. Seriously, I'm not just saying that to bulster my self esteem. It is operating like a well operating machine. Its funny seeing tisserie open and remember what it was like to open Bouchon....oh goodness. Bouchon bakery. Well lets just say I would have eaten everything if I had enough money. The cases were packed with familiar things...and some NEW THINGS! Ooooo NEW THINGS! I NEW THINGS! They had the tuna sammich!!mmmm! And now they prominantly diplayed terraine of foie gras (with a cute little tag for $35) and salmon rillettes ($28 or something). And there was an s-load of new tarts!!! Including a banana!!! OH I wanted it! Too bad it wasn't breakfast. I probably should have gotten in anyway.

There are always two "seasonal" danishes. And of course this was summer...A new season! So I checked to see what the new danishes were. 1. Some apple type danish that looked pretty good. But...2. blueberry with creamy lemon curd. Yep. That's an easy decision. Plus, these are the only two pastries i haven't tried. I've had everything else. I'm glad I worked there. I think it would have tortured me if I didn't get to try everything. I don't know how other people live without trying everything, it would eat away at my soul, or maybe just my wallet.

MMMMmmmm that's bouchon consistency for ya. A dependable great everytime. This wasn't the best croissant from here I'd had but that's pretty picky because i've eaten double digit figures. The best ones I've had are always first thing in the morning...but thus is the nature of the croissant. The french would tell you it's sacrilidge to have a croissant at night (unless it was baked later that day) and they would scoff if you had milk with coffee past the afternoon (it's a breakfast thing). But when it comes to food I think we all have to surrender to the French (no pun intended, I wish I was French).

Here you can see a direct pastry comparison. Tisserie on the left and Bouchon on the right. There are different breeds of croissants, just like there are different breeds of dogs. When you make croissants you take a rich dough and you basically lay a block of butter on top of it. Then you fold the dough over the butter like an envelope and flatten it by rolling it or putting it through a machine. Then you repeat this until you have dispersed the butter into the dough in alternating levels. This process is called lamination, and the thing is that every chef does a different ratio of butter to dough, a different folding system, and a different number of times of rolling it out. So thus....that's why you find a adaptive radiation in the croissant species. There are definatley some mutants out there. Tisserie and Bouchon are both good, and it's also a little unfair to compare these two because the Tisserie's is filled before baking...which introduces all sorts of moisture issues into the equation. Right now, Bouchon is still better, but Tisserie is a good addition to Union Square fo sho. Tru dat.


Tisserie is a bakery I heard about through the grapevine. The bakery world in NY is pretty tight knit. So while I was at Bouchon I heard about 2 brothers from south america who were opening a bakery in Union Square. So of course...it was my patriotic duty to check it out. The scoop: It's pretty big. It has a sleek modern feel. The menus are big flat screen tv's. I would say they want to be in a league with bouchon. Let's see.
At the counter there was a lovely selection of pastries. Criossants...danishes....a few sandwiches. It was quite similar to Bouchon really. A mix of things but predominantly French inspired. So what should I get? Well the most unique thing of course...or the thing that looks the most delicious. So I browsed the counter for a while and settled on a croissant filled with ricotta and topped with parmesan. The pastry itself wasn't big and impressive but I would let taste have the final say. Claire and I wondered to the back of the store where we found an upstairs. Unfortunately we had to climb over some boxes to get to it. Everyone (the workers...and consequently the customers) and everything was a little confusing which is understandable since they hadn't even been open a week.

I took a bite...A Good Croissant....not as flakey and fluffy as Bouchon's....rather the layers were more tightly packed and the outside had a thin crisp shell...where bouchon has a soft pillow top. Anyway....on to the filling. The filling was awesome! Well it was ricotta and I LOVE cheese, so what's not to like? And topped off by even more cheese! The parm was a very nice compliment in texture and taste. The ricotta is a creamy, subtle cheese and the parm is a sharp cheese which was great lightly toasted in bits on top. So...would I got back? If I was in the area I would definatley go back BUT I would wait until they had a chance to get settled down first. I would say in a couple of months they will be a nicely oiled machine but until then expect oddities with gracious service.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


If there is an apple heaven...I now know what it would look like. Heading to the new store in NY, I was expecting a clean and sleek store front that belittles its neighbors with its superior design prowess, but I wasn't ready for art work. I rounded the corner of 58th st and 5th ave and sun danced on the glass of a free stranding glass structure. What doth bring such pleasure to my eyes? The Louvre? No, the Apple Store. But for all practical purposes it could be the Lourve. The store doesn't dissappoint. They have about 20 models of every computer. It's a very happy place.

First Stop back in the city. I met Dan and his girfriend Sofia! Good times.

Sunday, June 18, 2006



Tracey and I got the idea to go to Manhattan...Kansas. This is the result of a silly idea we had. Of course, Austin, in the middle of it. We got a comfy chair and put it in the middle of a field. Yes, this is not photohoped. Just Kansas.

Cafe Rumi

The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating and since it was a lovely night outside we sat under the awning!

Here is a fried appetizer platter. Fried califlour...eggplant, and Duck!!!!!! YUm...

Close up of the swirling and whirling platter. A variety of hummus and pita.

The Swirling and Whirling Platter!

Here is Cafe Rumi. It is also along 39th St..one of the great gems of Kansas City.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Room 39

So now that I'm back in the K...I have a few choices. I can go bowling, watch the royals, or go eating. Since the two former items are pretty unfortunate I choose a hobby which is fairly obscure in Kansas City. But that's okay with me. It's time that the people of Kansas City started caring about food. We need to put our feet down and say NO to cheese processed beyond recognition. We have a farmers market. We have a small community of innovative restauranteers and we need to support them by jove.
So this Tuesday I ventured 'downtown' to 39th street. This street retains a big city feel. It has historic buildings and a diverse restaurant scene. Undoubtedly it will be the source of a lot of my fooding adventures this summer. My first stop is a relatively new place. It opened its doors in 2004 and one of the chefs trained at Union Square Cafe (tid bit for the NY buffs).
The inside is cozy and eclectic with a classy-casual vibe.
Even though its a new space they let the buildings personality bleed through: bricks peek through spots on the wall, and local art work adorns the walls.
First off, they brought us super delicous bread that was warm and crusty. A nice soft interior of the Italian Variety. MMMMM..
For lunch my dad got the Grilled Chicken Salad. This features free range chicken breast with dried cranberries, roasted runts, Grana Padaro and Sherry rosemary vinaigrette. Holy M! The Chicken was slighty blackened and it had a subtley burnt taste. The dried cherries, walnuts, and almonds complimented the salad perfect. You know it's summer when the Joe factor gets a salad.

I thought what the hey? I'll get a salad too. It is officially summer. I got the Duck Salad. My little dish featured pan roasted duck breast on baby spinach with local strawberries, pecans, red onions, and balsalmic vinaigrette. Needless to say mine was delectable. The balsalmic complimented the tendor flavor of the duck. Dad's salad had an overall citrusy zest while mine had spicy-tangy undernotes. Dessert? We decided we were too full. It was a shame. However, we would not be defeated so easily. Dad and I decided to get a dessert to go for my sister. We picked a Strawberry Napolean Remix. It featured brioche toasted in Cinnamon butter, lavender whipped cream and strawberries. Of course I brought it home and my sister didn't even want to try it...because she isn't very adventurous...what pleasures she robs the tummy makes me want to cry!!! It's complete insanity, but whatev, because I ATE IT HAHAHAH. Unfortunately it wasn't as supremely delicious as it sounds. The strawberry puree was the best part. I would like to go back and try some of their other dishes and desserts. I really wanted the coffee creme brulee but...you can't get that to go. So watch yourself brulee I'll be back for you. Nicely Done Room 39.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Eating with Giants

The restaurant scene in New York is strange. At first you are blown away by all of the choices and you want to eat everything at once and you can't imagine how you will even conquer one block in the city and you wander how you could ever settle for anything less than the mind boggling display of cuisine packed into every crevice...Yet, what is not readily apparent is that there is as much bad food in New York as there is good food and there is a whole lot of mediocre food in between. The mystique and granduer of the city trick you into thinking that everything you eat is better and more delicious than anywhere else in the country. Sometimes this is true. For instance, the bagels are unstoppable and the china buns are nothing short of a miracle. However, looking back on my culinary adventures...I ate a lot of average food. I really wanted to believe that everything in New York is amazing. I wanted to believe that everything I put into my mouth would be some sort of ambroisia only accessible to the citizens which inhabited Manhatten. Yet, this is far far far from the truth. Fooding in New York is amazing. It never gets old or dull no matter how many dissappointments and meal mishaps you encouter. But I think fooding here is funner here than it is anywhere else for these very faults. It is the ultimate challenge. It requires time, effort, and meticulous planning. I have labored and deliberated over meals with unbreakable concentration and more attention to detail and precision than I would give to a calculus derivative problem. After some thought, I have decided that this is because in New York the combinations and possibilities are infinite. So much food exists...so much food exists that you don't know about...right at your finger tips. The chance for the exact proportions, the right mix, sublime flavor, in essence-the perfect meal always seems to be within reach. This proximity to greatness can stimulate even the most mildly interested people, while simultaneouly driving the food obsessed to the brink of insanity. In this way, eating in New York is an extreme sport. The good meals are savored and enhanced by the city's thumping pulse, while the bad meals are cursed and analyzed. It is a constant challenge of triumph and defeat, which makes eating unlike anywhere else. However, finding a good meal takes time, skill, and cultivation of taste buds. New York could not be conquered in a lifetime, let alone five months. I will be back, when, and for how long I can not say. With that, I introduce a new chapter in my life and in my blog. Xtreme eating in Kansas City. I'm now back on my home turf and with that said...let the eating begin.

uhhh...Thanks UPS

Seriously, could you hand someone a box that looked like this? Maybe I didn't use the greatest boxes, and perhaps I need to hone my box packing skills, but honestly. It looks like somebody dropkicked this box into a sea of raging piranas. Fortunately, nothing is missing but I don't think this box would have made it any further than my living room. It's like the messenger who ran 26.2 miles to tell people about the battle of Marathon...and then died. This box commemorates the journey of all boxes. Let us salute you noble card board box for traveling 1,000 miles between my apartment in New York and my home base in Kansas via some sort of pirana infested tank that UPS uses to transport their boxes.

Hizzah, Back to the Midwest

Okay, so New York might have a few more people than Kansas, and it has been said that the public transportation system is a tad bit better. Sure they have a 24 hour Apple Store and hundreds of more cool shops where we have wheat...and there's no denying that there are more diverse restaurants in New York than there are in the entire Midewest combined...Hell even their baseball team puts KC to shame. And I'm not saying that I don't miss the indefatiguable selection of cupcakes..and bagels...and chinese buns (oh god help me..where in Kansas are the Chinese buns!!!)...and the old school deli's...and the Japanese desserts...and the plethera of top dollar premiere restaurants...and the smell of crispy falafel, fresh mozzerella, and toasted baguette all comingling on the same block...BUT...there is something to be said for Kansas. On the flight back home I wasn't quite sure what that was. I could feel my soul deflating, and the rush of New York's nervous excitement dissolving into oblivion. However, when I got back I was practically blinded. My eyes were taken aback by the unfamiliar forms and colors which literally scorched my eyes with their exoticism. What were these new forms...foreign to my eyes? Well, space, for starters. Just as the sky scrappers loomed on the streets of New York, and pierced the sky, I felt the weight of space..and nothingness. Conversely, the array of colors which collided into every breath in the city were absent. Completely diminished, yet not diluted. Instead, color rallied together and poured their effort into fewer colors. Blue and Green dominated the landscape and seemed more vibrant than all the flashing lights of Times Square. Kansas may yearn for a 24 hour genius bar, and a 5 minute subway ride which will undoubtedly satisfy any food craving one could possibly have, but there is also something here which NY can not possibly touch. It would not suffice to say that there is simply more open country and more tranquility. There's something which can't be described by the five senses, and it is because of this thing, that I am happy to be home.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Clinton St. Baking CO.

Blue Berry pancakes with MAPLE BUTTER!!!!!!! Robyn and I have had our eye on Clinton St. Baking Co. for obvious reasons, apparent on the left. So basically this is pancake bliss, but the real star is the little cup of HOLY-BUTTERDOM. This is what the Clinton Baking co. uses instead of syrup. So why is this not in pitchers like syrup or a jar? Because you would eat all of it and probably die. It is amazing. No wait. A-M-A-Z-I-I-I-N-G.