Food Critics

Anna Sturla / KCUR 89.3

Salads showcase the best produce that summer has to offer. A local chef shows us how to make gado gado, an Indonesian salad with potatoes and peanut sauce, and a food writer talks about the "mystery of flavor." Then, our food critics search out the best salads in Kansas City.

Guests:

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Ribs. In KC, we think barbecue when we hear the word, but there are so many other ways of fixing them. We visit a Mexican-Korean fusion restaurant that serves a short-rib sandwich, then a primer from a butcher on different cuts of meat (spare ribs vs. short ribs and more).

Then, our food critics search out the best ribs in and around KC.

Guests:

Infrogmation of New Orleans / Wikimedia Commons

It’s the sweet spot of the year. The weather is generally perfect (not too hot; not too cold) and it's not too buggy or humid just yet.

It’s time to eat outside.

From restaurant patios to parks and summer festivals, we explore the world of alfresco dining. Our food critics search out the best spots in and around Kansas City — plus, their picks for the best KC food to bring on a picnic.

Here are their recommendations:

Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:

Getting Out

May 13, 2016

It's one of the best times of the year to eat outside. A visit into the kitchen of one of the cooks for this summer's Greek Festival, and how a food truck becomes a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Then, KCUR's Food Critics search out the best alfresco dining spots in and around KC, from parks to rooftop terraces and more.

Guests:

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From bagels to doughnuts to cookies, there’s a lot going on in KC’s baked-goods scene.

“A lot of people tend to forget that bakeries, in the olden days, were a once-a-week, once-a-day stop,” Food Critic Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

And with locally-baked goods, she said, some people are puzzled as to why things don’t last on the countertop at home.

We visit the kitchen of a local chef to learn how to make ice cream if you don't have an ice cream maker (hint: it involves bananas ... and some liqueur, if you're so inclined), then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best ice cream in and around KC.

Guests:

Krokstrom Klubb & Market / Facebook

It's starting to warm up, and Kansas City's food scene is changing.

KCUR’s Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Bonjwing Lee and Pete Dulin — have been watching what’s going on. They shared their news with host Gina Kaufmann on Friday’s Central Standard.

Bob Wasabi Kitchen / Facebook

When KCUR Food Critic Charles Ferruzza moved to Kansas City in 1984, there were “lots and lots” of Chinese restaurants, but very few Thai, Korean or Vietnamese places.

That has changed.

“People have no idea what a plethora of options they have now,” he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

We visit a Filipino restaurant in Grain Valley, and we hear more about a French-Korean bakery that set up shop in Overland Park. Then, our Food Critics search out the best Asian food in and around KC.

Guests:

Meat-Free

Mar 18, 2016

A visit to a local kitchen to learn how to make cashew cheese, vegetable gardening tips, then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best vegetarian (and vegan) food in and around KC.

Guests:

Plate / Facebook

“I’ve always maintained that the best vegetarian food you can find anywhere is deep-fried,” joked KCUR Food Critic Charles Ferruzza.

But Kansas City’s meatless food scene has blossomed over the past few years. In addition to vegetarian and vegan-only restaurants, chefs at restaurants of all stripes are getting creative.

“I think people have such an unfortunate misunderstanding that vegetarian food is bland,” commented guest Food Critic Lisa Murphy. “And when done properly, it’s absolutely not. It’s every bit as flavorful and as delightful as food made with meat.”

Couresy of Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

It’s been almost a hundred years since Prohibition, which, ironically, were some of the booziest years in Kansas City history. And although local chef Tim Tuohy is a newcomer to the area, he’s already learning the history of that time.

Tuohy works for Tom’s Town, a new distillery in the Crossroads that makes small-batch gin, vodka and whiskey on site, and is named for the man who just might be the patron saint of KC drinkers. 

“You know, Kansas City had an extremely rich beer and alcohol culture that really flourished here as a result of … Tom Pendergast,” Tuohy says.

Food Critics: The Best Bar Food In Kansas City

Mar 4, 2016
Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

“Good bar food is something you can pick up with your hands and goes with any drink,” says food critic Mary Bloch.

From pot-roast nachos to French onion soup grilled cheese sandwiches to crab cakes, there is a wide range of salty choices to wash down with a cold brew or cocktail.

Pittsburgh Craft Beers / Flickr

Bar food: it's salty, it's starchy, and you can usually pick it up with your hands. Beyond that, we make up our own rules. Whether it's by breaking the rules at the speakeasies of yesteryear, or enjoying a sandwich called a fluffernutter that's like a late-night pre-teen cabinet raid. A visit to Tom's Town Distilling Co., a spring-cheese tasting with a certified cheese expert and a critics roundtable on the best bar food in town.

Guests:

Jessica Spengler/Flickr -- CC

We visit the production facility of Meshuggah Bagels, which will open a storefront in Westport this Spring. Then a local maven weighs in on Jewish delis — and whether a New York-style bagel can be replicated outside of NYC.

Guest:

  • David Seldner, bagel and deli maven
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Meat and potatoes are Kansas City’s heritage, according to KCUR’s food critic Charles Ferruzza.

“We are the city that had, at least in our region, the stockyards. So beef was really, really accessible and potatoes were really, really cheap,” he told host Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard.

“It’s always been a great combination.”

Ferruzza, along with food critics Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara, discussed the best meat and potato dishes in Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Jen Arrr / Flickr Creative Commons

 As I’m sure you heard, Chipotle will be closed on Monday, Feb. 8 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m, for a company-wide meeting on food safety after E. coli, salmonella and norovirus were linked to illnesses at its restaurants

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Italian food isn't just pasta in red sauce or hearty slabs of lasagna.

From fish that's served very simply to bucatini alla gricia (pasta with pork jowl), Kansas City's Italian restaurants range from the old-school to places that veer towards lighter fare.

On KCUR's Central Standard, the Food Critics discussed the difference between Italian and Italian-American food — then they searched for the best Italian food in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Red

Feb 5, 2016

From red hearts to red sauce: In this Valentine's Day-inspired show, we start out at V's Italiano Restaurant, where many Kansas Citians have gotten engaged. Not feeling it? We also have tips for what to do when you're about to cry in a restaurant (and yes, we've all done it). Then, KCUR's Food Critics uncover the best Italian food in Kansas City.

Guests:

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Warning: The following recommendations are going to make you really, really hungry. But that’s OK because it’s Restaurant Week here in Kansas City, and there’s plenty to eat at an affordable price.

Before I hand it off to the critics, they wanted me to remind you to tip your bar and wait staff and, of course, have fun. 

And now, here are the recommendations. Try not to drool on yourself ...

Mary Bloch:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

When it’s cold and snowing — or if you’re feeling under the weather — there’s just something that’s so comforting about a hot bowl of soup or stew.

From pho to pozole to chicken noodle and chicken pot pies, KCUR’s Food Critics uncovered the best soup and stew dishes in Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Charles Ferruzza:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

If soup is the answer to your cold weather woes, you're not alone. A doctor explains why soup makes us feel better, then our critics guide us to the best soups and stews in town, including insights into the new ramen craze. Bonus: what's new and noteworthy in the Kansas City restaurant scene? Our critics let us in on the people and places to watch right now.

Guests:

Jen Chen/KCUR

From coffee to cocktails, Kansas City’s drink options exploded in 2015.

“I just think this year had been really incredible in terms of the number of distilleries, wineries, breweries and roasteries that have popped up on the scene,” Food Critic Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard on Friday.

“2015 feels like the Year of the Drink,” Vergara added.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Let's be clear, pierogi is not a Thanksgiving food. But you may notice that in some spellings of the word (like the one used in the previous sentence), it has the word 'pie' in it.

That's not a sorry joke. The Slavic origins of the word pierogi, or pirogi (as it is also commonly spelled) yields the translation "pie." Really, they're dumplings but consider them little Slavic pies, too, and they become an eminently appropriate Thanksgiving dish. 

Jeffreyw/Flickr --CC

Cold weather and chili go hand-in-hand.

Hot and hearty, and eminently customizable, it’s an American classic and a perfect winter meal.

But what is chili? There are many recipes that vary by region, including a Kansas City loose-meat assemble-it-yourself style of chili.

“I think it’s chili if you think it’s chili,” Food Critic Jill Silva told guest host Sylvia Maria Gross Friday on KCUR's Central Standard.

We visit Dixon's Famous Chili, a KC institution since 1919; a hot sauce expert recommends the best way to add heat to chili; then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best chili dishes in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

Layers

Oct 30, 2015
Jen Chen/KCUR

Crunchy vegetables, tangy dressing, melted cheese, warm and tender meat (or not), encompassed in soft, chewy bread ... sandwiches have it all.

A grilled cheese expert shows demonstrates the art of cooking them low and slow; we visit a kitchen that pickles all sorts of things in-house; then KCUR's Food Critics search for the best sandwiches in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

Jen Chen/KCUR

Sandwiches — they’re portable, and practically anything can go between two slices of bread (or even atop just one piece of bread).

From banh mi to Cubans to Reubens, local restaurants are offering traditional versions and riffs of the good ol’ hand-held.

Amy/Flickr - -CC

They can’t be greasy, they should be fresh and fluffy, and they taste best when they’re fresh out of the oven or fryer.

You can get them topped with frosting, icing, sprinkles, nuts and more. Then, there’s glaze.

“Glaze is practically natural, like herbs!” Food Critic Charles Ferruzza told Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Esther Honig/KCUR

Kansas City's food truck scene has exploded over the past few years.

If you crave international fare, like Australian meat pies, Cuban sandwiches or Spanish tapas — or more down-home grub, like barbecue, tacos or waffles — you can get it from one of our local food trucks.

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