Food Critics | KCUR

Food Critics

From high-end restaurants to drive-through eateries, fried chicken is a staple on local menus. And some places are putting a spin on that nostalgic comfort dish. We invite the chef from Blvd Tavern to talk about his Korean fried chicken, then the Food Critics uncover the best fried chicken dishes in and around KC.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

What’s not to love about fried chicken? There’s the crispy, crackling exterior and a juicy interior. It’s portable and best eaten with your hands, making it the perfect picnic fare — especially for this holiday weekend.

It can be served hot or cold, and don’t forget the sides: Mashed potatoes, green beans, pasta salad, fresh corn and tomatoes, biscuits and so much more (cinnamon rolls, anyone?).

“It’s the ultimate comfort food,” Food Critic Charles Ferruzza told Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard.

And don’t worry the health factor, despite what Ferruzza says —“It’s a guilty pleasure because you should feel guilty eating it!”

On Friday’s Central Standard, chef Derek Nacey from Blvd Tavern told us about his Korean fried chicken dish, then the Food Critics searched out the best fried chicken in and around Kansas City — here's what they came up with.

Sylvia Maria Gross/KCUR

Sweet tomatoes served with soft mozzarella cheese, an arugula salad with a watermelon vinaigrette, even an ice cream made with sweet corn ... the best of summer's bounty is ripe for harvesting.

Garden Bounty

Aug 21, 2015

Summer is winding down, and the garden is flourishing. We learn how to make a sponge corn cake in the microwave at Affäre (and we got the recipe, too), a plant sciences professor talks about the agricultural side of corn, then our Food Critics search out the best corn and seasonal vegetable dishes in Kansas City.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

Quantity over quality used to be the mantra for brunch spreads in the past. And who can forget the decorative ice sculptures that presided over a seemingly endless row of buffet tables?

Not anymore.

From chilaquiles to chicken confit hash (along with coffee and cocktails) — that leisurely, mid-morning meal gets a makeover on local menus.

On Friday’s Central Standard, our Food Critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Emily Farris uncover the best brunch dishes in Kansas City.

Long and leisurely and sometimes boozy, brunch is a delicious mid-morning ritual. A food historian talks about how the egg became an American breakfast staple, and our Food Critics search out the best brunch dishes in Kansas City.

Bake-Off

Jul 24, 2015
Katie Knight/KCUR

We explore the landmark case of pie vs. cake. Two baking experts — one pro-pie, the other pro-cake — defend their desserts in a lively debate, then our Food Critics search for the best pies and cakes in Kansas City.

Katie Knight/KCUR

It’s an age-old question: In the battle of pie vs. cake, which is superior?

Some contend that cake is a great vehicle for frosting. Others say that pie can incorporate more seasonal ingredients, like fresh fruit.

Fork-Free

Jul 10, 2015

Chocolate hazelnut sea salt, pimento cheese, cilantro pesto aioli ... dips and spreads have gotten fancy on area menus. We talk with a local hummus purveyor, then our food critics uncover the best dips and spreads in Kansas City.

Abdulla Al Muhairi/Flickr -- CC

Dips and spreads are possibly the perfect accompaniment to any meal. They’re relatively easy to make, they’re crowd-pleasers at parties and they’re great showcases for fresh herbs. And really, who doesn’t like a grown-up version of Fun Dip, that candy where you used a chalky tablet as a vehicle to scoop flavored powder into your mouth?

From hummus to pesto to pimento cheese, Food Critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Bonjwing Lee search out the best dips and spreads in Kansas City.

Maureen Didde/Flickr -- CC

“Happy hours are the early-bird specials of the 21st century,” said Food Critic Charles Ferruzza. “If you eat early enough, you get an inexpensive meal.”

Smabs Sputzer/Flickr -- CC

It’s almost officially summer, which means it’s time for fresh herbs from the garden. From lavender-scented lemonade to basil chocolate chip cookies, local chefs and mixologists are finding ways to add a kicky punch — or a subtle depth of flavor — to savory and sweet dishes, drinks and dessert.

On this week’s show, our Food Critics Mary Bloch, Charles Ferruzza and Jenny Vergara put together their ideal herb-friendly meals — and explore the best herb dishes in Kansas City.

April showers bring May flowers ... and herbs. We take a trip to Powell Gardens, then our food critics uncover the best herb dishes in town.

Katie Knight / KCUR

The year Chris Pollard was born, his father Dave bought a meat market. So, of course, Chris grew up there: stocking shelves, bagging groceries and hanging out behind the meat counter.

 

He’s 28, now, and Chris Pollard is about to take over The Store: Old-Fashioned Meat Market in Raytown.

 

Katie Knight/KCUR

From hot dogs to merguez, nearly every culture in the world has its own spin on sausages. Here in Kansas City, we have a plethora of meat markets and restaurants — old-school and new — that are hand-cranking them out, link by link (or patty by patty).

On this week's show, our Food Critics Mary Bloch, Charles Ferruzza and Duane Daugherty weigh in on the best sausages — and sausage dishes — in Kansas City.

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

We wanted to see the sausage being made. A trip to The Store, a lesson in seasoning, and our critics' recommendations for the best sausage in town. 

Guests:

randychiu/Flickr -- CC

Food trends come and go, but some dishes cycle back, either in traditional or updated form. Like meatloaf — would you like it with a ketchup glaze or topped with Marsala sauce? Whether you consider it retro, classic or timeless, these old-timey dishes are making a comeback on local menus.

Mayra Chiachia/Flickr -- CC


Niecie's peach cobbler, Glacé's sweet corn ice cream, Winstead's skyscraper milkshake ... what makes for an unusual dessert that you can only get at a specific place in town? Is it in the presentation, an interesting take on a traditional classic, something totally original — or all of the above?

 

On this week's show, KCUR's Patrick Quick reminisces about the Peach Nehi float, a treat from Osceola, Missouri, and then our Food Critics Charles Ferruzza and Jill Silva weigh in on the best signature desserts in Kansas City.

Jen Chen / KCUR

Thick or thin crust, red or white sauce, square or triangle ... Kansas City offers a plethora of pizza choices for just about everyone.

On this week's show, Erik Borger, chef/owner of Il Lazzarone, shows our Food Critic Charles Ferruzza how to make a certified authentic Neapolitan pizza. Craig Jones also discusses pizza tips for the home cook, and the Food Critics weigh in on the best pizzas in Kansas City.

Charles Ferruzza:

I love pizza: The good, the bad and the ugly...

Jen Chen, KCUR

According to Erik Borger, the chef-owner of Il Lazzarone, there's a specific way to make authentic Neapolitan pizza. And he should know; his original Il Lazzarone restaurant in St. Joseph has been certified as authentically Neapolitan by the American Delegation of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.

Recently, our food critic Charles Ferruzza visited Borger's newest outpost in Kansas City's River Market to get the details on making an authentic Neapolitan pie.

Bill Walsh / Flickr--CC


From nose to tail, chefs are getting creative with all parts of the animal. Whether it’s game or offal, we go beyond chicken breast to talk about the more unusual cuts of meat that are popping up on area menus.

 

On this week’s Central Standard, Ryan Brazeal, owner/chef of Novel, discusses how to prepare offal, and James Worley from the Missouri Department of Conservation talks about hunting and cooking wild game. Our Food Critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Bonjwing Lee hunt down the best creative meat dishes in Kansas City.

juttazeisset / Pixabay

On the face of it, bread is such a simple thing. But the difference between an ordinary, ho-hum slice of bread and a lovingly-prepared morsel with a crunchy crust and a melty middle … there’s just no comparison.

Whether it’s hard and crusty or soft and spongy, bread is more than just a delivery mechanism for sandwich fillings.

On this week’s Central Standard, our Food Critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Lou Jane Temple weigh in on the best bread in Kansas City.

Charles Ferruzza:

Wiki

When you walk into a restaurant, there is a certain je ne sais quoi that can make or break the experience.

Of course the food is of paramount importance, but poor lighting, decor and authenticity can make even an exquisite plate of duck confit look like a soggy KFC drumstick.

Luckily, our Food Critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jill Wenholt Silva know a thing or two about restaurant ambiance. Here are their picks for standout restaurants with great ambiance:

Creative Commons, Wikimedia

Some like it hot, and some just can't resist a challenge. We start our exploration of spice in Kansas City by subjecting our intern and food critic to the Thai Hot Challenge at the Thai Place. Then, an Indian cooking instructor shares insights into the techniques, philosophies and health properties of spice.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Oh the heat. Sometimes it hurts so good — too much can make it hurt so bad.

If you like the pain, there are a handful of restaurants across the metro that invite you to test your limits. For the rest of you spice lovers, there are even more places that try to strike a tolerable, yet delicious balance both in heat and flavor.

Sylvia Maria Gross

Featured: Central Standard intern Patrick Quick and Central Standard food critic Emily Farris.

Wikimedia Commons

Is there a smell, in all the land, like sizzling ground meat charring on the grill?

Burgers are a staple of classic Americana, as we confirmed on Central Standard.

They're a national comfort food, according to Feast Magazine's Jenny Vergara, and she says that if you're going to make cuisine in America, you're going to have to conquer the burger.

Pizzabella / Facebook

From happy hour treats to sumptuous desserts, Central Standard's Food Critics covered a wide swath of Kansas City cuisine in 2014. And what better way to test their culinary knowledge than with a "Best-of" list?

Here are the Food Critics' choices for the best dishes of 2014 in Kansas City:

Mary Bloch:

Our food critics share their favorite meals of 2014, go over the year's restaurant openings and closings, and predict some local food trends for the coming year.

Guests: 

chameleon-interiors.blogspot.com

Fine dining is all about the details.

Once upon a time, there were strict rules: nice white tablecloths, crystal glassware, servers in tuxedos, coat-and-tie dress code.

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