The boozy cloud of my Kansas City trip has finally lifted and it's been fun going over my photos. Excuse me for repeating myself, but what a great town.
On the Friday night, we had a special heirloom bean dinner at the Rieger Hotel. Chef Howard Hanna has been making all kinds of noise as the chef of this elegant nightspot. He's an innovative cook with his feet firmly on the ground. I was flattered that he wanted to host a dinner in our honor so we sent the beans on ahead of time so he and his staff could play with them and decide how their menu would work.
We had two long tables set up in a special room for us. I got to meet some longtime online friends for the first time and catch up with some "golden oldies" I hadn't seen for ages. The room and the staff were top notch.
The meal went like this:
Rancho Gordo popcorn with Gremolata
Ceci beans with Mediterranean Spices
Red wine braised Octopus with Alubia Criollo, Bone Marrow puree and cucumber
Scallops, Shrimp, Oysters, Conchas and Citrus
Heirloonm bean Salad, Yellow Indian Woman beans with pecorino and sage, braised Tuscan kale with garbanzo beans
Susan's Meyer Lemon Chiboust, Piloncillo Cake and Canela Whipped Cream.
I wouldn't dream of picking a favorite dish.
The Rieger is for me very rrepresentative of Kansas City. The glory days for the city seem to have been the 1930s and '40s. As the stockyards fell, so did its importance. The good news is there are hundreds of great old buildings waiting to be refurbished and a vibrant counter culture ready to support a clever entrepreneur's efforts. There are a lot of tourists from around the midwest with cargo shorts and t-shirts that say funny things but there are a lot incredibly hip people doing interesting things as well. You add a growing dining scene, the world-famous barbecue, classic jazz and R&B and it all adds up to a real destination.
This last shot is of K.C. native Susan Sanchez (and by coincidence, Rancho Gordo's general manager!), Chef Hanna, Chef Jennifer Maloney of Cafe Sebastienne (more on her later), a "robust" version of me, and Tony Glamcevski of Green Dirt Farm (and more on him to come as well.)