Thursday, August 22, 2013

#Roadron Dallas

For those of you that follow me on Twitter (@EatingAwesome), you are probably used to seeing me posting pictures of myself at Sporting Kansas City games wearing either my luchador mask or my Kiltman Kilt. This is a post about us following the Cauldron (Sporting supporters group) to Dallas to watch Sporting take on FC Dallas (hence the #Roadron). Although the match ended in a disappointing draw, in stoppage time none the less, we still had a blast with a few old friends that we hadn't seen in a long time.

Upon landing in Love Field, we made the obligatory stop at Fuel Town for the best tacos ever. Surprisingly, the quality of the tacos had slipped a bit since the last time I had been there, but there were still pretty damn good, hopefully this was just a temporary lapse in what is has always been an amazing taqueria. 

Side note: I did also notice that a food truck lot had been established just outside of the Love Field Airport that I would have stopped at had the Fuel Town tacos not been calling my name. Next time, you are mine, Food Truck Lot!

Mucky Duck Brisket Sliders
After our quick dinner, we headed up the Tollway to Addison (where our friends live). They had all taken off of work that day, so we had a full day of drinking to catch up with. We met them at The Mucky Duck, the local watering hole. The beer list was not going to overwhelm anyone, but we did not have a bad beer while we were there. There was live music. It was a good time. That good time segued into more hunger (imagine that). A friend of mine told me, that in Texas, you can get brisket on anything at any time of the day, so we gave the Brisket Sliders (that came highly recommended) a shot. They lived up to the billing; the brisket was tender, topped with a tangy pickle and sweet sauce, all on a pretzel bun (which, everyone in their right mind knows, makes any sandwich better). I say this as a self-respecting Kansas Citian that goes out of his way to give no credit to Texas BBQ, ever, so you know that it has to be good. The Mucky Duck Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, before the match, we decided that we needed to observe some of the local beer culture. This quest led us to the beer garden at Deep Ellum Brewery. *It was initially explained to me that the Deep Ellum neighborhood in Dallas is equivalent to Westport in Kansas City. Although I can see the parallels, I do not wholeheartedly agree, but it's close enough for government work.* 

Deep Ellum Brewery Beer Garden
How the beer garden at Deep Ellum works is you pay $10 for a sweet pint glass (that you get to keep) and 3 drink tickets. You can choose from any of the beers that Deep Ellum has on tap at that time, we even got to choose from two Armadillo Ale Works (another beer company that co-brews at the Deep Ellum Brewery) beers as well. There is an outdoor space where there are tables with umbrellas and live music. There is also an inside area, where the taps are, that you can learn about the brewing process (during the occasional informational tours). We spent most of our time inside, because (as you all know) Texas is quite hot. The outside area was pretty awesome, the girl in cowboy boots and a skirt (another Texas thing) was killing her acoustic set, but it was just too hot. The beers at Deep Ellum were quite good: the IPAs, the Dallas Blonde, (my favorite beer) the Farmhouse Wit, and even the Rye Pils.

Easy Slider: The Roadside (left)
and The Sweet & Lowdown (right)
Luckily for me, Deep Ellum has local food trucks come sit adjacent to the brewery. On the day that we visited, it was the Easy Slider Truck. Initially, I was thinking "okay, sliders could be okay". The sliders were bleeping incredible! These were the most innovative sliders that I have ever had the pleasure of putting my mouth around! Just check out the list of sliders that we tried and know that as weird as some of them may sound, they were all executed perfectly and were simply amazing! The Roadside: Angus Beef, Cheddar, Bacon, Truck-made BBQ sauce, grilled jalapenos, crispy fried onions. That one sounds normal enough (but still delicious), right? Wait for it. The Black and Blue: Angus Beef, Bacon, Truck-made bleu cheese slaw. Still not too crazy, right? Keep waiting for it. The Sweet and Lowdown: Angus Beef, Goat cheese, Bacon, Strawberry Jam. Now we are pulling into crazy town. The Nutty Pig: Angus Beef, Creamy Peanut Butter, Bacon, Lettuce, Onion, Tomato. Peanut butter on a slider? Full on nuts! Full on amazing! If you ever find yourself in Dallas, please do yourself a favour and stop by the Easy Slider truck! Easy Slider on Urbanspoon

(Insert a detailed description about how Sporting should have won the game and how my boy C.J. Sapong should not have been red carded for an F.C. Dallas player's face getting in the way of a ball that he kicked.)

Torchy's: Brisket Taco (left) & Mr. Orange (right)
Before getting out of town on Sunday, we stopped at a local chain that the locals eat up (bad pun intended): Torchy's Tacos. Torchy's has a good mix of traditional Mexican tacos and fusion tacos. They had a shrimp taco that tasted just like Puerto Vallarta and some brisket tacos (because everything in Texas comes with brisket) that were overstuffed with smokey brisket & cheese. We tried a few other tacos too, which were good, but the two listed above were by far our favorites. One thing that surprised me at Torchy's: they had fountain soft drinks made with real sugar (no high fructose corn syrup here). The chips and guac were also pretty stellar! Torchy's Tacos on Urbanspoon

After a LONG LONG flight delay, we finally arrived back in KC (the promised land). Until next time Dallas, until next time.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Drop it like it's hot!

Last Sunday  morning, after church but before the food truck rally (yeah, we had an epic eating day on Sunday), my wife and I decided to stop into The Drop to have one of these gigantic cinnamon rolls that we have been hearing about (since everyone and their brother has bought their brunch Groupon). You may know The Drop as the martini bar, that was co-founded by Ernesto from Blanc (which he has long since divested), that serves the edible cocktails. You may have even had their bruschettas during a happy hour, but you have probably not had their brunch (unless you bought, and used, the aforementioned Groupon), at least I hadn't.

A few area bars have what they call a "Hangover Brunch". Very few of them are well done, some push a bunch of stuff out on a buffet and go with quantity over quality *cough, Tomfooleries, cough*. With that being said, along with the fact that multiple Groupons had run for this place, I was not expecting too much from The Drop. I don't know if the fact that I was not expecting much led to this conclusion, but I was quite surprised with the brunch that we got. 

We walked in and ordered two mimosas. They were brought to us in stemless flutes, that we wouldn't mind having at home, but luckily for The Drop: this was not New Year's Eve 2009 (funny story that involves me getting busted trying to lift our midnight toasting flutes from a bar). The mimosas were legit (no Andre in these mimosas), not too sweet, not too strong. We sipped them and talked while listening to what was probably the best brunch mix ever! I don't know if it was Pandora or someone's mix, but it was perfect for brunch (mix of Jack Johnson, Colbie Caillat, and other young easy listening music).

Then came the giant cinnamon roll; it was huge. I estimate it to be the size of a large human face. As you can imagine, with a cinnamon roll that size, the outsides will get a bit crispy while waiting for the middle to get done. Myself, I am a ooey-gooey cinnamon roll guy, so I do not particularly care for the crispy outer layer. Despite the crispy outer layer, the roll was good. Not the best roll of all time, but good. What was great, however, was the frosting. The frosting was laced with cinnamon and pieces of pecan. While this may not have been the best cinnamon roll that I have ever had, it probably was the best cinnamon roll icing that I have ever had. The icing is so thick that it almost looks like gravy in the photo.

For entrees: I had the Croque Madame, my wife had the Crabcake Benedict, then we switched half way (as always). The crabcakes are topped with: prosciutto, poached egg, and white truffle honey hollandaise sauce. The crab cakes had way too much garlic for my taste, I don't know if this was a bad batch or if that is just the recipe. The rest of the dish was good, but with the crab cakes being the center of the dish, the rest of it is just auxiliary. The Croque Madame, on the other hand, was excellent! The Croque Madame was a capicola & gruyere sandwich in cheesy bechamel sauce, topped with a fried egg. I love anything with capicola on it and they were not stingy at all with the capicola (for those that don't know: Capicola is a spicy, salty, cured ham. It is basically what you would get if ham and pepperoni had a lovechild)! Add that to the nicely toasted bread, the melted gruyere cheese, what was essentially a cheesy gravy (bechamel sauce), and top that with a fried egg = brunch perfection. The yolks of the eggs on both dishes were perfectly runny. You also get your choice of sides, we got fried polenta bites and fruit salad. The polenta bites were like fried chunks of cheese grits (which is nice if you love grits like I love grits) and the fruit salad, well it's fresh fruit (pretty hard to that screw up, just don't let your fruit go bad), both very nice brunch selections.

My recommendation: Give The Drop and shot for brunch, while you are there, listen and see what I mean about the awesome "brunch" music. It's worth the price of admission and it's a really nice brunch spot.

P.S. Writing this made me realize how much the trolley going out of business has reduced my Martini Corner time, we will have to remedy that. We always used to run into Tech N9ne on that thing as well. R.I.P. Trolley!

The Drop Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Comeback of the Summer!

The summer of 2013 could very well be called "The summer of the comeback", especially around Kansas City. The Royals have come back from a miserable June to play meaningful games in August. Signs like the one pictured below are popping up all over town to advertise the return of Twinkies. But both of these stories pale in comparison to the comeback story of the summer.

Billboard for Twinkies' comeback
Just over a week ago, the four-plex that a local food truck owner (Michael Bradbury) and his family were living in burned to the ground. The fire started in the unit above his, but between the fire and the subsequent putting out of the fire (using thousands of gallons of water), Bradbury and his family lost everything that they had. That includes the keys to his food truck. To a small business owner, losing they keys to your business (and your income) would be like taking away Carlos Santana's guitar (only without the safety net of having already sold millions of records).

Bradbury Fire
Michael owns and operates The Funnel Cake Truck. As the name implies, he serves funnel cakes (with batter made from a secret family recipe) as well as anything that can be dipped in his funnel cake batter and deep fried (such as: Oreos, Rice Crispy Treats, Corn Dogs, and Twinkies). Much like the plight of the Twinkies that he deep fries, people have recently taken Michael and his funnel cakes for granted (myself included). It was as if they (he and Twinkies) would always be around, always be there for you to buy NEXT time, until one day you found out that they may not. When Twinkies' future was in peril, buyers came out of the woodwork to ensure that Twinkies would be around for generations to come. That same thing happened for Michael and his family this evening.

Partial shot of the crowd that showed up
In less than a week, area food trucks put together a rally for their brother. They got: a venue, a gang of trucks ready to donate their profits to the Bradbury family (they actually had so many that they had to start turning trucks down), started a facebook event, and invited almost every news station in town to cover the story. An incomplete list of trucks (and mobile food vendors) that helped out in some way: Wilma's Real Good Food, Beaty of the Bistro, Indios Carbonsitos, Smokin' Fresh Streetside BBQ, Crave of KC Food Truck, Monk's Roast Beef, Prairie Fire Oven, Jazzy B's, CoffeeCake KC, KC BBQ Truck, Brock Hops, Coach's Kettle Corn, and Chef Baldee's Pizza.

No amount of money can ever take away the helplessness that you feel when you lose everything (something that most of us cannot even fathom), but with the help of some close friends (and hundreds of complete strangers) hopefully Michael can now start to get back on his feet! I hope to be seeing him on the streets for years to come!

The Guest of Honor getting interviewed
This event (and post) were all about one man (and his family, of course), but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't include photos of some of the awesome things that trucks brought out tonight.

Boulevard Terra Incognita/Sasparilla Pork Slider
(from Wilma's)

Boom Boom Burger (from Beauty of the Bistro)

Mango Lemonade (from Coach's Kettle Corn)
Then, of course:

Wifey loving the funnel cake

The Funnel Cake Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I'll toast to that!

Today, my all-time blog views eclipsed 20,000. I know that this is not a lot of views compared to big-time established bloggers, but I am still going to celebrate it anyways. Hopefully this number will one day look small to me too (like the celebratory blog post that I did for a whole 100 twitter followers, hahaha)!

This post's celebration takes us to Bier Station. Bier Station is a friendly little neighborhood tap house located in Waldo. It is part liquor store, part tap house, and part restaurant. Despite being a friendly spot, and "the greatest place ever" to some of the regulars, it can be a little intimidating to a first timer. When you walk into Bier station you see the beer cases off to the right, taps & scrolling beer list straight ahead, and a literal hole in the wall that the food comes out of to the left. Hopefully I can help to guide you a little bit so that your first trip to Bier Station is as enjoyable as mine was.

As far as the beer cases go, just like a liquor store, you can buy any of them to go. But the ones that have a red sticker on them, you can also enjoy in house. *DISCLAIMER: There are two prices on each red sticker beer, the "to-go" price and the "drink here" price.* You can give the beers a try and then take a couple more of them home, if you like them. If you want to start your night with a beer from the refrigerated section, simply walk over and grab the beer you want, then take it to the bar and they will put it on your tab.

If you wish to forgo the bottled beers and go straight to the draught beers, walk up to the bar (taking a possible detour to go see the screen that is displaying all of the beers on tap at that moment). *Quick note about the tap list screen: There are two pages of beers; if the beer you were not done looking at disappears, don't worry, it will come back around. The pages are flipped a whole page at a time (book style), not scrolled (movie credit style). Also from left to right: The beer's brewery & name, the type of beer that it is, alcohol content, size of beer glass that it is served it, the price of said beer glass, then the price of a 4oz sample of the beer are listed.* The beer list is great and you will definitely find something for everyone on tap (and in the fridges for that matter). The hop heads will be hoppy (bad pun intended) with the IPA selection and us Belgian lovers can sip slightly sour beers to our hearts' content. You will also place your order at this time and they will give you a funny greeting card to put on your table (as seen above) to identify you as the person that ordered said item.

The food menu is much more limited than the beer menu, but you could have guessed that you may run into that kind of a situation at a place named Bier Station. The few menu items that they do offer are very good. You can get cheese plates, cheese sandwiches, Farm to Market pretzels, or Brats that are hand crafted by James Beard Award winning chef, and owner of Affare (downtown), then stuffed inside a FTM pretzel bun (and we all know how good FTM bread is!). I went with the Fujisan brat, which is a Japanese inspired Pork brat, topped with a red cabbage slaw and wasabi mayo. The Fujisan was very good, but I felt out ordered after seeing my buddy's Saint Marcel. The Saint Marcel is a cranberry-turkey brat, topped with sliced green apple and melted brie, man it looked incredible! Each brat is supposed to come with a side of pretzel dipping sauce of your choice, however if you don't know that ahead of time and do not ask for a specific sauce, you may not get one (as they may assume that you do not want one). This happened to me until I was clued in by a friend that was with me, at which time they were more than happy to bring me one out. The cheese sauce is good, but the Dusseldorf Mustard is out of this world good! The house mustard sounds good as well, but I cannot vouch for it.

This is probably just the first of many celebrations that will take place at Bier Station.

Bier Station on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 2, 2013

Back On My Food Truck Game

With another Food Truck Friday just hours away, I had to let you know about some of the food trucks that I have recently checked out for the first time.

Chorizo & Pulled Pork Arepas
Eat Arepas is a brand new food truck that has one simple message: "Eat arepas!". "What are arepas?", you ask? Made of white corn grits, Arepas are a starchy vehicle to Awesomeville. They are to Colombians what bread is to Americans, what tortillas are to Mexicans, and what Pita is to Mediterraneans. These things are really killer and taste like a grits cake (so if you love grits like I love grits, you will love these too). In Colombia, arepas are typically buttered, salted, and topped with Colombian cheese (that is most similar to queso fresco, only not quite as dry). However, Al and Amy had a bigger vision for them when they decided to bring these Colombian treats to the streets of Kansas City. 

At Eat Arepas you can get: pulled pork, chorizo, steak, roasted peppers, or "solo queso" on your arepa. You can also buy packs of arepas at the truck to take home and accessorize as you please (ideas include: PB&J, Nutella & banana, burnt ends, avocado, or any of the options served at the truck).

Eat Arepas on Urbanspoon

Taco Republic
Taco Republic (truck edition) is the latest offering from Bread & Butter Concepts (the geniuses behind such restaurants as BRGR, Urban Table, and Gram & Dun). The game plan was to open a brick and mortar version of this restaurant this past spring, but after some hiccups, they decided to send a truck to the streets in the interim. This taqueria reminds me a bit of a mash-up of Port Fonda (the truck) and Torchy's Tacos (in Dallas & Austin). The tacos are better than the ones that were served at the Port Fonda truck (IMO), not stuffed quite as full as a Torchy's Taco, and a tad more expensive than I am used to paying for street tacos (but not unfairly priced). The tacos are made with quality ingredients, those ingredients are cooked slowly, and you can taste that.

Cochinita Pibil & Tecate Barbacoa
I have tried the Tecate Barbacoa, Cochinita Pibil, Tinga, and Puerco Rojos from Taco Republic. My favorite (and my wife's) being the Cochinita Pibil, by a lot. All of the tacos were good, but after trying that taco, I have to say that it dwarfs the others. There is something about that Yucatan-style marinated pork that is going to keep me coming back. You can also get Mexican Coke and all of your favorite Jarritos flavours at the truck.

Taco Republic Truck on Urbanspoon

Boom Boom Tacos
Beauty of the Bistro is a relatively new truck that offers up classic American fare, with a twist: Sandwiches, Burgers, Tacos (although I know are not American), all the way to Mac & Cheese. I have only had the pleasure of partaking in the Boom Boom Tacos, which were phenomenal, and did not require a trip to The Hawk on Halloween (and also probably tasted a lot better) - link purposefully foregone. The Boom Boom Tacos are jam packed with pulled pork, broccoli slaw, homemade roasted salsa, and topped off with a jalapeno aioli. The pulled pork and the broccoli slaw complimented each other very well. I cannot wait to try more from BOTB; perhaps the Crawfish Mac&Cheese or the Boom Boom Burger!

Beauty of the Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wilma's Real Good Food is run by a mad scientist by the name of Brett (Brettski as the guys call him). Brett's madness is right up there with that of Adrian (of Indios Carbonsitos), Brandon (of Jazzy B's), and David (of Prairie Fire Oven, he put beets on a pizza for goodness sake). Brettski is an OG in the KC food truck game, but for some reason, it took this long for our paths to cross.

Barnyard Bliss

When I say Brett is a mad scientist, here is what I mean: The two items that I have had from Wilma's are the Barnyard Bliss and the Hong Kong Cletus. If those names by themselves did not peak your interest, just wait to hear what each of those are. The Hong Kong Cletus looks like a pretty straight forward homemade crab rangoon (from the outside), but when you bite into it and taste the pickle and bacon that have replaced the imitation crab meat (that most restaurants try to hock you) in this rangoon, you know you are in heaven! Following up something like the Hong Kong Cletus will leave some big shoes to fill, but the Barnyard Bliss delivered (and then some). Barnyard Bliss is a hoagie roll filled with seared steak and provolone cheese that is then topped with two deep fried-soft boiled eggs. *My Barnyard Bliss was a Lance Armstrong version (only one egg) because I got the last one*. That melted provolone and copious amounts of red meat alone were worth the price of admission, but then you put that egg on top of there and you have a masterpiece! This thing will make an egg burger tuck its tail and run. You need to try this, like yesterday!

Wilma's on Urbanspoon