Kansas City Restaurant Week 2015

KC Restaurant weekDid you know what Zagat has rated Kansas City the Number 1 Bargain in dining? Pretty cool, huh? Over the last few years, Kansas City has been featured as a Top Destination by the likes of Conde Nast, Travel & Leisure, Saveur, and the Today Show.

Kansas City has a lot more going for it than barbeque and baseball. We’ve got a world class performing arts space, an affordable cost of living, a lively arts scene, and an independent restaurant scene that is grounded in local food.

Restaurant Week is a great time to check out some of the best Kansas City establishments without breaking your pocketbook. Not only do you get to taste some incredible offerings from some of the best chefs in the country right now, like James Beard award winner Colby Garrelts (both his restaurants- Bluestem & Rye are participating), but you’ll be helping a number of local charities too- like my favorite, Cultivate Kansas City, who works to grow food, farms and communities for a healthier local food system in the Kansas City area.  The pre-fixe 3-course menus cost $15 for lunch and $33 for dinner. Best to make your reservations while you can- many will sell out every table this week!

Many of the selections are gluten-free, and BRGR will serve any burger on the menu on a GF Bun. Look through the list- it’s extensive and see what tickles your fancy. If you’re a KC local- tell us where you dined!

Affäre: Fabulous Food and Gluten-Free Done Right

Recently, I wrote about getting gluten bombed at a local establishment well known for serving gluten-free items on their menu. Suffice it to say I’ve been pretty skittish about eating out anywhere since then. However, Mr. Kitchen Diva took me out on a date to a restaurant I’ve been hearing great things about and dying to try-  Affäre, located at 1911 Main Street. God bless him, he called ahead ask if they could work with a gluten issue and to make sure there would be safe items for me to eat, and when I arrived, this was waiting for me at our table. I cried a little..

Affare Menu

In advance of our arrival, our server had starred the items on the menu that are naturally gluten-free, and underlined menu items I would need to leave off so that a plate could be gluten-free. She also assured me that the folks in her kitchen were aware of my issue and that I would be safe in their hands. I cried a little more… (just kidding, but I was blown away by their care and concern, and their desire that I have a positive experience)

Affäre is one of a handful of German restaurants that have popped up in Kansas City in the last few years. I can’t speak to the others, because in my experience there’s not alot on a German menu that is naturally gluten-free, and so I haven’t bothered to check them out. Clearly, at least where Affäre is concerned, I was very wrong.

Chef Martin Heuser (who was incidentally nominated for a James Beard award for his outstanding work here in 2013), and his wife Katrin- who’s also a Sommelier, have created a delicious and innovative menu that is based not only on German tradition, but on sourcing local and seasonal produce. Their philosophy of supporting their local food economy as much as they can is one that resonates deeply with me. And for me as a consumer, there’s something very gratifying about eating at a local restaurant that is committed to serving local food.

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The ambience at Affäre is also right up my alley. Low backed booths interspersed with wooden chairs and small tables covered in heavy white linens provide intimacy in a room with an industrial feel- exposed brick and ductwork. There are also farmhouse style tables for larger parties. A number of local artists are featured on the walls, and while we were there Metropolis was playing on the TV behind the bar. My own aesthetic is very much vintage meets industrial, and I think they’ve struck a great balance. The juxtaposition they’ve created visually compliments what’s happening on the plate too- Vintage German meets Modern meets Local Food… For instance- Bison is prominent on the menu, and beautifully executed- whether as carpaccio with truffles, or as hanger steak with kartoffelplätzchen (potato cakes).

Since we are the adventurous type and there were so many delicious sounding options we couldn’t decide between, we opted to put ourselves in their hands and ordered the 4 course tasting menu,  adding paired wines. Every course was perfectly balanced and a delight to our senses. We especially loved the pickled butternut squash..I mean really- who thinks to pickle butternut? And yet when we tasted it, we wondered why everyone isn’t doing it. Brilliant.

Affäre also cures and smokes all their charcuterie- hams, bacon, sausages- you name it. If you’re in love with their bratwurst (we are) you can even purchase a pack of 5 (fully cooked) to take home and grill.

We enjoyed a perfectly prepared salmon with perhaps one of the most innovative sauces I’ve ever encountered: oyster-marzipan sauce… I really can’t even begin to describe the way the flavors unveiled themselves in my mouth… So good I wanted to lick the plate. Again, I kept thinking- HOW do people think this stuff up? And for the first time ever, I drank a German Pinot.

Duck & Quail Plate Affare

For me, wine pairing is the other half of what makes a great meal taste great. I love wine- but I love wine more with food. Recently, and for obvious reasons, I’ve spent most of my time learning French wines. I know next to nothing about German wines. Katrin introduced me to the wines of her favorite region in Germany, Bavaria to be exact- Franconia, where they’ve been making wines for over 1200 years, and a German red called Trölinger.

Affäre also has regular happy hour specials and no corkage Wednesday nights if you’d like to try your own hand at pairing a bottle. Frankly, I prefer to put myself in Katrin’s extremely capable and creative hands. Be sure to visit their website so you can ogle their beautiful food photography. My attempts at discreet photography don’t do their food justice.

Parking was also not an issue for us. I know many folks have been avoiding Downtown and the Crossroads because of the street car construction, but there’s a lot just a few doors down, and the parking instructions on Affäre’s site are very clear. Don’t let your aversion to a bit of construction deter you from an incredible dining experience.

I would like to thank Katrin and Martin and their outstanding staff. We had a beautiful experience and will be back as soon as we can for more!

 

Oak Street Mansion, Kansas City

Oak Street MansionJust before the holidays, Mr. Kitchen Diva and I had the opportunity to get away for a long weekend. It was much needed, and for various reasons- mostly having to do with time- we opted for a ‘staycation’ not far from where we live.

Kansas City is routinely making top 5 and top 10 lists for food tourism, sports, arts, and livability. If you’re coming from afar, or just need a romantic staycation to recharge your batteries, look no further than the Oak Street Mansion. Built in 1907, the Mansion was purchased in 2010 and lovingly restored for two years by the Sabates family.

 

AbstractRoomJust a stone’s throw from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Oak Street Mansion is an ode to art and artistry. Each room has an art-related theme, complete with gorgeous works on the walls. There is a gallery with changing art, as well as a permanent collection that owners Roland & Maria Sabates are happy to take you through. If you prefer to wander on your own, there is a book of the Mansion’s artwork in every room. Well worth the read if you have the time.

From the Oak Street Mansion, it’s easy to walk to the Country Club Plaza, or take a quick drive to any of Kansas City’s foodie and arty neighborhoods– there is plenty to experience here!

IMG_1256They were also very willing to make a delicious gluten-free breakfast. I was surprised and delighted to see my own mixes featured on the breakfast menu! John Sabates, one Maria & Roland’s sons, runs the kitchen and is highly creative. Breakfast was a daily feast, and one morning he even made gluten-free red-velvet scones! If you’re around in the late afternoon, plan to sit by the fireplace and enjoy a complimentary glass of wine, along with specially selected charcuterie.

 

Charlie Bird
Charlie Bird

 

However, in warmer months, the gardens are  inviting and filled with sculptures- so you could enjoy your wine al-fresco when the weather permits.

 

 

 

 

 

We’d love to thank the Sabates family for a lovely stay, and for contributing to the vibrant arts culture that Kansas City is becoming celebrated for nationwide. We’ll definitely be back soon!

PS- the mattresses were heavenly!

Even the lights are works of art!
Even the lights are works of art!

The Best Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes..ever..

The Best Gluten Free Chocolate CupcakesIt’s National Cupcake Day!! Get yourself to the kitchen and make yourself a batch of the best gluten free chocolate cupcakes ever!

The history of the cupcake goes back to at least 1913. It differentiated itself from the pound cake recipe (a lb of sugar, butter, flour, eggs) with the following formula: 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs, a heaping tablespoon of baking powder and a cup of milk… Cupcake vs. Poundcake…so simple, when you think about it..

Our recipe was originally conceived several years ago for the elder Kitchen Diva In Training’s 9th birthday. But, it’s so good we decided to repost today- we keep coming back to this recipe- sometimes making modifications like adding a teaspoon or two of chipotle powder, or a tablespoon of cinnamon, or even a bit of espresso powder.

We like this recipe because it has the following qualities: A slightly crispy top, a spongy but not too dry middle, light and fluffy, and of course….very chocolate-y…. making these the best gluten free chocolate cupcakes- ever!

The Ultimate Gluten-Free Chocolate CupcakesGluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key to this recipe is the buttermilk. Buttermilk, when reacting with baking soda and the acid from chocolate, undergoes this nice chemical reaction that adds air bubbles to the batter. I’ve also found that setting a hot (400 degrees) oven for the first five minutes, then turning it down for the rest of the baking helps too. The high heat helps encourage the lift and sets the structure so that the cupcakes don’t collapse.

Really, I don’t think you need to wait for a birthday to make these- think of something to celebrate and enjoy these tonight! Oh yeah- and give these to your gluten-full friends and see what they think! I guarantee they’ll be stunned…and happy!

* Have you ‘Liked’ our Facebook Page? Post a picture of your gluten free chocolate (or otherwise) concoctions there and we’ll share your pics!

 

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Gluten Free Chocolate Maple Bourbon Balls

Boozey Bourbon BallsPicture this: You get a last minute invite to a party- like *seriously* last  minute… “Hey, we’re having a party…in an hour…can you come?? And bring something??”  Or, your mother’s long-lost second cousin fourteen-times-removed calls you because she’s ‘just passing through’ and wants to stop by- in 25 minutes… Or, you’re Christmassed out, and are supposed to bring something- anything– to the Christmas dinner feast, and you’re out of time and ideas…

Have no fear!!! These delicious chocolate maple bourbon balls are just thing. They are lightning fast to put together- seriously- my friend Elke posted a pic of her version of these last night, and less than 20 minutes later I was in confection heaven. The original recipe as shared with me called for rum not bourbon, white karo not maple syrup, and traditional (ie gluten-bomb) ‘nilla wafers.

I just happened to have one half cup of bourbon left in the bottle, and prefer using maple syrup to karo most days. Instead of ‘nilla wafers, I used 3 boxes of Schär gluten free vanilla wafers- these are the skinny rectangles with the waffle tops and frosting in between…LOVED them as a kid- SO happy to have GF versions available now…

The best thing about this recipe? You get to play with your food and lick your fingers!! We thought about calling them Booze Balls, or Boozey Bourbon Balls, but really, as long as you call them delicious I’m okay! ;0

Wishing you and yours Happy Holidays and Much Good Food!

Happy Eating!

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Peach Crumble Provençal- A Gluten Free Recipe Infused w/ the Essence of Southern France

peach crumbleOne of the greatest benefits of recipe sharing is watching how they change and morph like a game of telephone. This recipe that I’m going to share with you was at first the creation of a French Magazine- which one, I don’t know. Then an artist friend of mine who is currently living in Southern France (sigh…could we all be so blessed!) painstakingly translated it and tweaked it. Then, she was so excited she shared it with me, and as we talked, I got even more ideas… and now you have a different recipe that I call Peach Crumble Provençal. One that is still true to the very Provençal flavors that make this dish shine.

So what do I mean when I say “Provençal flavors”?

The marriage of orange blossom water, peaches, almonds & pistachios, lavender and vanilla.. All of which grow profusely in the Provençal region of Southern France… Yes- my friend send me a handful of vanilla beans!!

As summer finally begins to drift into Autumn, there are a few super-ripe peaches left at the farmer’s markets. Grab some and celebrate the rich flavor we sometimes forget to enjoy during the last lingering days of summer. Come winter, you’ll have a fabulous memory.

PS- did I mention our peach crumble recipe is naturally gluten free?? Just like every dish you’ll find on The Adventuresome Kitchen site!

Gluten Free Peach Crumble Provencal

Like this recipe? Make it, take a picture and post it on our Facebook Page (Be sure to Like us too!)

Special thanks to my fabulous photographer friend, Rebekah West (you can see her gorgeous photos here and here), and to the great recipe developers at the unknown French Magazine for providing us with such a delicious foundation!  And to my other fabulous photographer friend Maria- who took the pictures of the finished product! (you can see some of her lovely work here)

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From the Junior Chef: Egg Salad Snack Bites

Egg Salad Snack BitesHi Junior Chefs, it’s ‘A’ from The Adventuresome Kitchen. I’ve just started back to school, and if you’re like me- I bet you’re really hungry when you get home every afternoon. Learning really gets your appetite going!

Here’s a delicious, easy snack I whipped up. Although it would also work great as a meal for lunch too. Egg salad is filled with protein, so it really tides you over until dinner, and gets you through your afternoon activities. The addition of dill pickles in this recipe gives a nice tangy contrast to the richness of the eggs. And I like the paprika not just for flavor but for color. Don’t you like eating pretty food? Plus, by using different cookie cutters you can inject your personality into it. I like that.

Be sure that you have an adult help you when you cut the eggs and pickles- if you’re using a sharp knife, you need to have an adult with you to show you how so that you keep your fingers safe. Eggs are soft enough though, you could probably use a butter knife.

I hope you enjoy this recipe- we do! And if you make it at your house, take a picture of you and your creation and have your grown-up post it on The Adventuresome Kitchen Facebook Page! Have a great week at school, and have fun in your kitchen!

Thanks for reading,

‘A’

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Gluten Free Seafood Chowder- 30 Minute Meal

Gluten Free Seafood ChowderWell the Kitchen Divas in Training loved their first week of school. We’re all in the process of adjusting to earlier bedtimes, rising times, and an increasingly busy after school schedule. We- I- no longer have the luxury of hanging out on the back steps socializing with Mr. Kitchen Diva after he arrives home from work, and then deciding to think about dinner, oh at 7:30…

Nope. The thought process is more like this: “Crap. It’s 3pm.. A has to be here at 3:30, K has to be someplace else at 4:15. We’ll be home at 5:15. A can practice while K takes a shower…What’s in the fridge? Oh yeah- I didn’t plan meals this week…ok- well we’ve got some basics…and dinner has to be ready by 6pm…and I didn’t thaw any meat, and it’s too late to cook the spaghetti squash….and Oh CRAP- I left the frozen seafood sitting in the grocery bag all afternoon!!”

Enter Gluten Free Seafood Chowder.

I *love* chowders. However, unless I make them myself, I usually have to go without because most chowders in restaurants and in cans are thickened with flour.  Fortunately, they’re pretty easy to whip up and thanks to the fast cooking time of seafood they don’t take long to prepare. Chowders are also great for using up leftover veggies.

This is a super easy, *super fast*, wholesome, hearty meal that can be easily thrown together and varied depending on what’s in your fridge, freezer, & pantry. So have at it- let your imagination take over. Your tastebuds will thank you!

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This will be our reply to violence…

DSCN1854Today’s post was to have been a frothy round-up about eating gluten-free in Omaha, Nebraska, where I spent the weekend. Yet again my heart is saddened by a horrific act of violence that leaves me once again explaining to the Kitchen Divas in Training that the world IS a beautiful, wonderful, and largely safe place. That most people are good, generous, and kind-hearted. And that Love does win. It must win. But explain that to the parents who lost their 8 year-old son tonight. Or to the person who in a moment of joy lost their leg. I am raw. I have deep ties to Boston, and tonight I keep looking at the many threads of my life that tie me to that beautiful city.

I typically have two responses to tragedy- I make music, or I cook. Tonight I don’t have the energy for either. Like you, I am questioning the madness of a person or people who could behave so hatefully and with such lack of regard for human life and the ties that bind us to one another.

My friend Elke posted this great quote from Leonard Bernstein- one of my all time favorite composers and conductors: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” When I went hunting around for that quote, I discovered that it was part of a larger statement he made in response to the assassination of President Kennedy. What he said then still resonates now- especially in light of today’s events. I hope that the following words will give you sustenance and food for thought in the coming days. (you may find the original site here)

 

from Tribute to John F. Kennedy
Speech made at United Jewish Appeal benefit
Madison Square Garden, New York – 25 November 1963

My dear friends:
Last night the New York Philharmonic and I performed Mahler’s Second Symphony — “The Resurrection” —in tribute to the memory of our beloved late President. There were those who asked: Why the “Resurrection” Symphony, with its visionary concept of hope and triumph over worldly pain, instead of a Requiem, or the customary Funeral March from the “Eroica”? Why indeed? We played the Mahler symphony not only in terms of resurrection for the soul of one we love, but also for the resurrection of hope in all of us who mourn him. In spite of our shock, our shame, and our despair at the diminution of man that follows from this death, we must somehow gather strength for the increase of man, strength to go on striving for those goals he cherished. In mourning him, we must be worthy of him.

I know of no musician in this country who did not love John F. Kennedy. American artists have for three years looked to the White House with unaccustomed confidence and warmth. We loved him for the honor in which he held art, in which he held every creative impulse of the human mind, whether it was expressed in words, or notes, or paints, or mathematical symbols. This reverence for the life of the mind was apparent even in his last speech, which he was to have made a few hours after his death. He was to have said: “America’s leadership must be guided by learning and reason.” Learning and reason: precisely the two elements that were necessarily missing from the mind of anyone who could have fired that impossible bullet. Learning and reason: the two basic precepts of all Judaistic tradition, the twin sources from which every Jewish mind from Abraham and Moses to Freud and Einstein has drawn its living power. Learning and Reason: the motto we here tonight must continue to uphold with redoubled tenacity, and must continue, at any price, to make the basis of all our actions.

It is obvious that the grievous nature of our loss is immensely aggravated by the element of violence involved in it. And where does this violence spring from? From ignorance and hatred —the exact antonyms of Learning and Reason. Learning and Reason: those two words of John Kennedy’s were not uttered in time to save his own life; but every man can pick them up where they fell, and make them part of himself, the seed of that rational intelligence without which our world can no longer survive. This must be the mission of every man of goodwill: to insist, unflaggingly, at risk of becoming a repetitive bore, but to insist on the achievement of a world in which the mind will have triumphed over violence.

We musicians, like everyone else, are numb with sorrow at this murder, and with rage at the senselessness of the crime. But this sorrow and rage will not inflame us to seek retribution; rather they will inflame our art. Our music will never again be quite the same. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. And with each note we will honor the spirit of John Kennedy, commemorate his courage, and reaffirm his faith in the Triumph of the Mind.

printed in FINDINGS by Leonard Bernstein © 1982, Amberson Holdings LLC.