Stroud's in Kansas City

Dear Food Getaway: Kansas City (and Lawrence)

About a month ago I journeyed north to my former home Kansas to visit my girlfriends. I am a big fan of the Kansas City food scene and was pleased to find little Lawrence had added a few new haunts for me to become acquainted with. 

The first thing anyone should know when visiting Kansas City is that you’re going to eat BBQ—a lot of it—and you’re going to order the ribs. Those are the rules and you must follow them. Everyone has their favorite spot, but my favorite BBQ in all the land is Joe’s Kansas City (formerly Oklahoma Joe’s, RIP sweet angel). I’ve eaten a lot of BBQ in my time. I’ve had it from most regions of the country. I live in a BBQ mecca. But nothing can keep me from my love of KC BBQ (but Texas brisket is a close second). That’s why my first stop on my weekend getaway had to be Joe’s. And we got the ribs. OH, and it’s absolutely sacrilegious if you don’t order the fries. But share them. And if you don’t order an extra side of bread we’re in a fight. This is how you do Joe’s Kansas City; don’t argue.

Dear Farmshop Center,

sandwich and salad lunch

A few months ago I caught wind of a new marketplace of sorts in Fairview, TX. Farmshop Center is an indoor farmers’ market with a darling cafe that serves homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, etc. using local meat, eggs and produce. I had forgotten about it until last week when Groupon suggested I might like this $6 soup, salad, drink deal at Farmshop Center. So yesterday I drove about 10 minutes to the former bookstore space and found a vast open space filled with tables and booths ready to go for a bustling Saturday farmers’ market.

headshot of Rory Phillips

Meet the Dear Food Intern!

headshot of Rory PhillipsWe are ecstatic to introduce you to the first ever Dear Food intern, Rory Phillips, a student at George Fox University (Natalie’s alma mater). He’s going to be contributing regularly to the blog as well as completely dominating our social media. We’re only slightly worried you’re going to like him more than us. To help you get to know him a little better, we had him answer a few completely normal questions. Try not to judge him too harshly by the last one.

Name: Rory Phillips

Age: 21

Hometown: Salem, OR

Major: English with a concentration in Professional Writing

Dream Job: Film critic for a nationally renowned paper, or a professional blogger—can’t lose!

Favorite Breakfast: Word of Mouth Bistro, arguably my favorite restaurant in this season of life, has this garden vegetable omelet that they top with crumbled feta and pair with fresh-baked wheat bread and a house-made jam. This probably would work as my last meal too.

Favorite Thing to Cook: Anything new to me that might be a challenge! Last Christmas, I made a traditional pavlova with a raspberry compote and eggnog pots de creme, along with an assortment of thematic Christmas cookies personally decorated.

Go-To Movie Candy: Junior Mints. Dark chocolate and mint are two of my favorite, plus I get a cut of fresh and sweet breath afterwards. How can I lose?

All-Time Favorite Movie: ‘Moulin Rouge!’ It’s audacious, hilarious, lovely, romantic, and altogether unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Who would play you in the Rory Phillips Movie?: It’s gotta be Joaquin Phoenix. The man can play himself and create an organic character. Truly one of the greats.

Biggest Pet Peeve: Eating lunch before noon. Eat at 11, 11:30, I don’t care. Just don’t call it lunch. We all know it’s just second breakfast. Get real.

Which Hogwarts House Would You Live In: I actually took the Pottermore test, and I am an official Ravenclaw. No complaints.

Darth Vader or Darth Maul: That Darth Maul fight scene, though! Still, Vader is the complex villain between the two, and he got there first. Sorta.

What’s Your Straight Up Jam?: I’ve been really into ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ lately, so probably “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Suede.

Typical Friday Night: I love getting together with a small group of friends; homemade food, coffee and board game night are my go-to’s!

Fried Rice or Chow Mein?: The edge goes to fried rice. I’m more of a plain white or brown rice, honestly.

Favorite Cheap Chinese Food: Near my home, a delightful little place called China Faith serves up a mean – and relatively inexpensive – egg foo young smothered in a brown gravy blanket.

You can pick one cheese for the rest of your life, what is it?: Why would you ask such a painful question to dwell on? I would have to go with brie. It’s basically the anti-nacho cheese: It’s just phenomenal to share with others, and it’s so underrated in how versatile it is. Goat, feta and cream are honorable mentions.

What is your Chipotle order?: I’ve actually NEVER been to Chipotle. And I downright have no excuse—there’s one like five miles from my house! Unforgivable. Wrap up. Drop the microphone. Peace.

Dear Hard Eight BBQ Brisket Sandwich,

I’m fairly certain that BBQ is my spirit animal. I can never get enough. Despite spending a whole weekend in Kansas City eating all the ribs, despite the fact that I brought a healthy lunch to work, despite that I’m probably going to eat BBQ again this weekend, I cannot (will not!) turn away BBQ. Not now not ever. As you can see, this is one effing beautiful brisket sandwich. And it comes from none other than the storied Hard Eight BBQ. Hard Eight is consistently in the running for the coveted “Best BBQ in DFW” title and for good reason.

My dear readers, let me make something very clear. I do not take BBQ lightly. I’m not afraid to turn my nose up at a BBQ joint deemed “the best.” I’ve been burned a number of times in this town and honestly, have started losing hope in Texas BBQ (I’m a KC BBQ kind of gal). Until this afternoon, that is. Just as I was about to lower my expectations for Texas BBQ, this beautiful SOB redeems it. I now have faith that there do exist serious BBQ joints in the metroplex.

I have a trip planned to Pecan Lodge in a week and a half with darling Alma, and you can be sure we’ll report back our findings. But for now, I’m going to say it: Hard Eight BBQ houses the best brisket sandwich I’ve ever had. So much so that when someone offered me a piece of gum after lunch I declined so I could hold on to this aftertaste just a little longer. You say gross. I say devotion.

Hard Eight BBQ brisket sandwich

Love,
N

Dear (not so) Sad Desk Lunch,

Today was one of those uninspiring lunch days. I had something in my lunch bag in the fridge, but when I went to eat it something about it turned me off. Then I looked outside, saw that it was 75 degrees, and decided to go on a brief lunch jaunt. I ran next door to Tenley’s Cafe at Cooper Fitness Center at Craig Ranch where they had a nice little taco bar spread. Within 5 minutes I had this delightful taco salad-esque lunch. There’s lettuce, rice, beans, chicken, veggies, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream. Dare I say reminiscent of Chipotle, minus the line. All in all I was very pleased with my #saddesklunch choice. The desk was sad, not the lunch. For a gym, they put together a pretty decent lunch! What does your sad desk lunch look like today?

Desk-Lunch

 

Love,

N

Front of Yolk Dallas

Dear Yolk Dallas,

For any ex-Chicagoan living in Dallas, the thought of a Yolk in our very own town is almost more than we can handle. I saw Yolk being built at One Arts Plaza a few months ago but foolishly forgot about it. Then Mr. G reminded me of it this week and we promptly made plans to taste the inaugural weekend brunch this past Sunday.

Front of Yolk Dallas

I had an incredibly tough choice deciding what to order. I studied the menu well before I arrived (I just can’t help myself) but when we walked into the restaurant I was still at a loss for what I would order. Then as we were walking to our table, the waiter brought out the most beautiful chicken and waffles and I had to have it!

Chicken and waffles at Yolk

See those specks? THAT’S BACON. A bacon bits waffle. With a piece of fried chicken on top. With sausage gravy on that. And the syrup. Oh, and lest we forget the orange slice. You know, for health. Let’s get a look at it with the syrup.

Chicken and waffles with syrup at Yolk.

Can. you. see. that. Now that is just good old fashioned table syrup. For an additional charge I could have had real Vermont maple syrup and that’s exactly what I’ll do next time. That would have really brought this thing home. This waffle was so fluffy, so crisp on the outside, so pillowy that it was the only vehicle fried chicken should ever be delivered in. A throne for the chicken if you will. The waffle alone was great and the chicken alone was great. But together. OH TOGETHER. A holy matrimony of breakfast sweets and savory fried things. And for the record, I ate the orange slice.

Mr. G also had a wonderful meal, the Yolk All-Star Breakfast. I was so glad he ordered it with the crepes because they were truly delightful. I will have to tell you, though, that the sausage links were surprisingly incredible. I would suggest the sausage links at Yolk 100% of the time. I don’t know what they are or why they’re so good, but they are and that’s good enough for me. Here’s a look at his strangely photogenic breakfast.

Yolk All-Star Breakfast

I would suggest waiting a few weeks before making your way to Yolk. The service was still getting their feet under them and they need some time to work out the kinks. But I’m confident once everything is running smoothly this will be a well-loved Dallas institution. God bless breakfast, y’all.

Yolk Dallas
1722 Wade Street, Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 855-9655
www.eatyolk.com

Pizza and wine at Eataly Chicago

Dear Food Getaway: Chicago

Dear Food,

You know where my food heart lays? Chicago. Good thing my partner in culinary crime lives there and between us we have the stomachs of two cows. Now when you embark upon Chicago you must be prepared. Amateurs need not attempt the Windy City. Days (weeks!) of prep are required because let me tell you something, in Chicago one does not simply eat three meals a day. It is a perpetual state of eating. Marathon eating some may call it. I could sit here and type all the things to you and try to describe all the smells and flavors and sights (ok maybe I’ll do that too), but here, look at these pretty pictures (do not be deceived, this is just a small sampling of the things we ingested)!

First we went to Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern for ribs and, as you can see, onion rings for days. And and and all the barbecue sauce. Sigh, it was good. We even ordered the Prohibition sauce, which is Kansas City-style (and in our opinion, KC has the best BBQ of them all).

Onion Rings at Twin Anchors in Chicago

 

Ok, ok and then the next day we had breakfast at 3rd Coast Cafe & Wine Bar. Now, let me tell you about these hashbrowns. I love hashbrowns more than I should. And 3rd Coast did not disappoint. Order them extra crispy. Oh and this bloody mary. Great value, perfect amount of spice, heavy on the vodka. Only thing that was missing was bloody mary snacks. You know what I mean? A little beef jerky, cheese, salami, some snack or another.

Breakfast at 3rd Coast Cafe

 

So the next day we felt we were mentally prepared to take on Eataly Chicago. We didn’t know what to expect. How could we know! There was nothing on Earth or in our prior experience that could have prepared us for what was to come. It was so good we went TWICE in the same day. Here, look at this macchiato.

Macchiato at Eataly Chicago

 

Oh yeah, and this is what we had for breakfast. Sausage, pepper and onion focaccia. Oh me oh myyyyy. The bottom was all crispy and brown and liberally coated with olive oil. It was so moist, so flavorful, so light but dense at the same time. Not too much sauce and the sausage was the literal most perfect thing I’ve ever eaten.

Focaccia at Eataly Chicago

 

But then I saw this. It’s a pasta counter. You know, like a deli counter or a meat counter. So you can just waltz on up there and say “I’d like half a pound of the squid tagliatelle” like it’s your damn job.

Fresh pasta counter at Eataly Chicago

 

But we didn’t stop there. Then we saw the meat. And the cheese. And the bread. So we got them all. Here they are.

Bread, cheese and proscuitto at Eataly Chicago

 

And what would a trip to Eataly be without pizza. And you know how much we love pizza. There was pasta too but we got too excited and ate it before we snapped a pic. And this wine. It was a full liter, as it should always be. This pizza had fresh pulled mozzarella, mushrooms, sausage, San Marzano tomatoes and other ingredients I was clearly to mesmerized to remember. Now this pizza was traditional Neapolitan. In case you didn’t know, pizza makers must be certified to make pizza that is labeled Neapolitan. You must use 0 or 00 wheat flour, the dough must be formed by hand without help from a rolling pin or machine, and may be no more than 3 millimeters thick. Then, it has be baked in a 905 F degree oven for 60-90 seconds. The combination of all these magical things produces a chewy charred crust on the outside, softer toward the middle, and that cheese melts just as it should.

Pizza and wine at Eataly Chicago

 

The next day I got on an airplane, opened up my magazine and read about croissants for the next two hours.

Magazine and orange juice on airplane

 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you eat your way through Chicago with Natalie and Alma. We don’t mess around and we take it incredibly seriously. You can come play with us if you want, though.

Natalie and Alma by candlelight

Love,

Natalie and Alma

Four donuts in a box

Dear Donut Kitchen in McKinney, TX,

Four donuts in a box

Last night I decided I would get myself up out of bed early on Friday morning to try McKinney’s newest and most-popular-right-now donut shop, The Donut Kitchen. Reviews said they sell out of donuts real quick, so I set my alarm for 6:30 with the intention of being one of the first there. Well I hit the snooze a couple times and rolled up pajama clad at 7:18 a.m. By the time I arrived, a gentleman had already walked in with a $100 bill and said “gimme all the donuts this will buy.” But they were replenishing the supply quickly, lucky for me.

What I was expecting: Be slapped in the face with the familiar donut shop smell of greasy fried bread and bad coffee.

What I found: An incredibly sleek, modern and delicious smelling boutique donut bakery with all the flavors I’ve ever dreamed of (Italian wedding cake?? Texas sheet cake?? Maple bacon?? Banana cream pie??). A man I presume to be an owner or one of the bakers said “Yeah we almost spelled it doughnut,” to which I of course responded “How pretentious of you!”

Donut-Kitchen-3But speaking of that, why is it that donut and doughnut have completely different perceptions? When I’m scrolling through Yelp wondering where I’m going to get my dose of sugary dough fried in oil and drizzled with more sugar and sprinkles, I immediately associate “donut” with greasy products that come in white bags and leave my car smelling like a fry house for 2 days. But “doughnut” I think well of course they’re made from hand-kneaded brioche dough and have all kinds of interesting glazes and toppings and they’ll cost $3 each and most importantly they’ll come in a brown box with some kind of vintage stamp on the top. I wonder how that all came to be…..

Back to The Donut Kitchen. To my pleasant surprise the donuts DID come in the cute box with the stamp, but the donuts themselves were 0% pretentious and 100% delicious. They were cakey and pillowy, if that’s even a thing. I wouldn’t exactly describe them as “cake” donuts because when I think of cake donuts, I think of those dry circle things that come in a case at the grocery store. These were soft and melted in my mouth, but had enough substance to be dunked in coffee, if that’s your thing.

Donut-Kitchen-2I took home four donuts to try (no I didn’t eat them all in one sitting OKAY): Italian Wedding Cake, M&M, Chocolate Sprinkle and Blueberry. And almost as important as the donuts themselves, is the coffee, so I took a cup of that home, too.

I really couldn’t tell you which one I liked best. They were all the best in their own right. Just depends on what you’re in the mood for. Next time I’ll try Texas Sheet Cake and Maple Bacon.

In addition to donuts, they also serve breakfast sandwiches (on croissant buns!), kolache, and lunch items.

If you love donuts or doughnuts or just darn good pastry, get thee to The Donut Kitchen in McKinney, TX, at Stonebridge Ranch and enjoy this new addition to our community. Hopefully more wonderful places like this will open up soon!

The Donut Kitchen
7250 Virginia Parkway, Suite 140
McKinney, Texas 75071
(214) 592-0088

 

Table with breakfast food

Dear Leisurely Thursday Breakfast,

Table with breakfast foodYou were the result of skipping the gym this morning, and I have to say, I’m glad I chose you. It was the perfect opportunity to have breakfast on my new china I found at the flea market, enjoy French press coffee and read the newspaper. Reading the newspaper is such a luxury these days, and I relish every opportunity I have to sit and appreciate it. The stars of the meal were local, soft-scrambled buttery eggs, Rehoboth Ranch uncured smoked bacon, and Empire Baking Company sourdough toast (picked up from Patina Green Home and Market). If I had it my way, I’d enjoy mornings like this every day.

Love,

N

Hot Chocolate With Marshmallows

DF at Work: Hot Chocolate

Although this is pretty specific to my workplace, let me go ahead and tell you the recipe for the perfect office hot chocolate. Hopefully you can apply these principles to your own workday hot chocolate:

1. Pour a bit of half and half in your mug.
2. Grab two hot chocolate packets.
3. Plug them one at a time into the Flavia machine.
4. Let the first one run the full cycle, but on the second one, take the mug away before the hot water comes out.
5. Go grab one of the mini dark chocolate bars from the candy bowl and drop it in your mug. Give it a stir.
6. Marshmallows, marshmallows, marshmallows.

Hot Chocolate and Marshmallows

Cheers,
N