Food Critics

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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.

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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.

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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: 

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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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With holiday vacation days in sight, many will be leaving the Kansas City area to go visit loved ones.

Instead of just eating gas station burritos that look like they've been irradiated, why not stop for something a little more refined?

This week on Central Standard, food critics Mary Bloch, Charles Ferruzza and Cat Neville discussed the best spots to eat within 250 miles of the Kansas City metro. From fried chicken to artisan chocolates, they covered a wide range of tastes and culinary styles.

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Some slurp them, some swirl them and unfortunately, some cut them up. But with nearly endless varieties (even gluten-free), everyone eats noodles.

This week on Central Standard food critics Charles Ferruza, Jen Chen and Mary Bloch discussed Asian noodles of all sorts from the slurpy noodles in Vietnamese pho to the more saucy pad thai.

Here are their recommendations:

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For some, coffee is simply a quick way to perk up and start the work day. But for others, a lovingly roasted coffee with steamed milk and all the accoutrements is the source of near-religious worship. 

On this week's Food Critics, Charles Ferruzza, Emily Farris, Jenny Vergera and some callers helped narrow down which coffee houses and shops have the best cup of Joe in the Kansas City metro.

Here are their picks: 

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Little-known fact: It's chestnut harvesting season in Kansas. So what's the scene at the local chestnut orchard? And how are chefs using the overall nut bounty in area kitchens?

Guests:

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Nuts — they are in so many dishes, but they are hardly ever the star of the show. Without them so many of our favorite dishes would fall flat, but when we talk about food they rarely get their due recognition.

This week, Food Critics Charles Ferruzza, Jen Chen and Mary Bloch give nuts their moment in the spotlight and pick out the 'nuttiest' dishes available in and around the Kansas City area.

Here are the Critics' favorite 'nutty' dishes:

Kansas City cuisine may be best known for the smoky taste of barbecue, but the earthy goodness of smoke isn't limited to pulled pork and brisket. 

From rich, smoked Gouda, to smoke-infused cocktails, adding smoke to a dish can add another layer of complexity to its taste. 

Central Standard food critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Emily Farris and callers gave us their picks for the best smoked foods and drinks in Kansas City:

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As temperatures start to drop and fall begins, it's time to start thinking about culinary standbys that characterize the season.

From root vegetables to fresh apple cider, there are plenty of seasonal ingredients and dishes in the Kansas City area to get you in a fall mindset. 

Here are Central Standard's Food Critics' and local callers' choices for good seasonal dishes in the Kansas City metro:

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  At some point, we all get a sweet tooth. For some of us it is a little more frequently than we would like, for others its an occasional craving.

Whether you are in need of a decadent mousse or plain old fashioned ice cream cone, our Food Critics are here to guide you (and your tooth) to the sweetest treats in the metro.

Here are suggestions from the Food Critics and listeners to Central Standard:

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This is not the most recent version of the best brunch offerings in Kansas City. Look at the most recent version here.

Brunch. Sometimes it is leisurely and relaxing, sometimes after a long night, it is just necessary. 

From upscale to fresh and light to downright greasy, the Central Standard food critics have you covered for all your mid-morning needs in the Kansas City metro. 

Here are our food critics' recommendations:

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From Southwest Boulevard to 7th Street Trafficway, it's hard to go anywhere in the Kansas City metro without running into delicious taquerias and Mexican restaurants.

On Friday's Central Standard, host Charles Ferruzza and the rest of the Food Critics came up with a large list of some of the best tacos in Kansas City.

Here are the Critics' and callers' picks:

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On a beautiful summer night, stopping by a neighborhood pizzeria for a quick slice (or five) can really hit the spot.

With a handful of exciting new pizza places opening up, Charles Ferruzza and the food critics put out a call for the best pizza in the Kansas City area. 

KCUR's food critics recommend:

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Many people enjoy a glass of wine or a beer to loosen up, but sometimes those just don't quite do the trick. From Moscow Mules to Brandy Alexanders, a good cocktail can be a great companion to a nice meal or a casual social event.

On Friday's Central Standard, guest host Charles Ferruzza is joined by the Food Critics to find out where the best cocktails in Kansas City are.

Here are their picks for cocktails at restaurants and bars:

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It’s difficult to imagine a life without cheese.

We eat our cheese grilled, deep-fried, cubed, shredded, baked in pastry and whipped into a tiramisu. 

On Friday's Central Standard, the food critics explored the cheeses of the Kansas City region, from Asiago to Velveeta and everything in between.

Here are their recommendations:

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It may not be football season, but chicken wings are still a popular appetizer at many restaurants and bars.

The Central Standard Food critics stopped by KCUR to give us their Kansas City favorites from traditional Buffalo wings to exotic preparations.

Here are their recommendations:

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Merriam-Webster defines pastry as "sweet baked goods made of dough having a high fat content." The definition leaves out a few key words and phrases, like "delicious" and "tasting great with tea or coffee."

The Central Standard food critics swung by our studios to guide listeners on a quest for the most delectable pastries in Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

      

  It's Lent, and whether you observe the Catholic fast or not, it's a great excuse to eat fish.

Kansas City restaurants offer plentiful selections of the under-water variety. On today's Central Standard the food critics recommend their favorite fish entrees in town.

Will Monsieur and Madame be having osteichthyes? Yes, please. Leave the frozen fish sticks at home.

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There is one ingredient that you'll find in almost every culture and has been around for almost 4,000 years: noodles.

On Friday's edition of Central Standard, food critics Charles Ferruzza, Gloria Gail, Chris Becicka and Emily Farris dished on the best spots in and around Kansas City for noodles of all shapes and sizes. 

The Critics' Picks: Noodles

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The science behind what makes spicy and hot foods hot we understand fairly well: the capsaicin in the seeds of the peppers tricks your brain into believing that your flesh is on fire. Why people have sought the sensation of burning may be harder to pin down, but undeniably the practice is present across the world. Hot peppers and spices can be found in almost every type of food in varying degrees.

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On Friday's edition of Central Standard, Charles Ferruzza and Food Critics Mary Bloch, Chris Becicka and Emily Farris discuss some of Kansas City's newest restaurants. And then the food critics locate the best places for sausage in and around Kansas City, with the help of listeners. From kielbasa to bratwurst to chorizo, Kansas City has it covered.

The Critics' Picks: Sausage

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In Kansas City's days of old, enterprising bar owners would offer free food to workers heading home and craving a beer or whiskey. This food was usually very salty, encouraging the patrons to drink even more.

The term “happy hour” didn’t exist at this time, but a mix of food and drink has always been an intoxicating lure that nearly every restaurant offers.

On Friday’s Central Standard, Charles Ferruzza and fellow food critics Emily Farris, Mary Bloch, and Gloria Gale discuss the best happy hours in and around Kansas City.

Food Critics: Chicken Or The Egg?

Jan 10, 2014
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You’ve heard the question a million times: What came first, the chicken or the egg? The answer is complicated when you pose it to Kansas City diners who might choose fried chicken over an omelet or eggs benedict over chicken noodle soup.

On Friday’s Central Standard, Charles Ferruzza and fellow food critics, Gloria Gale, Chris Becicka, and Emily Farris consider the possibilities that both the chicken and the egg bring to restaurant menus, from fried livers to egg soufflé – and everything in between. 

Best Egg Dishes:

Eggs Benedict

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A rich, flavorful broth with hardy vegetables can go a long way to raising your spirits. And a hearty soup like a stew or a bowl of Vietnamese pho can actually serve as a meal. In the Depression, home cooks discovered starting a meal with soup took the edge off of hunger so they could serve a more modest entrée. But no matter how you serve soup, it ranks as one of the best dishes ever for surviving cold weather, providing comfortable relief for the common cold, and eating your vegetables.

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Lawrence, Kan. is probably best-known to most of us as the home of the University of Kansas, but the beloved college town has also become a dining destination for Kansas City diners. Just 45 minutes outside of the heart of Kansas City, Lawrence boasts one of the best bakeries in the Midwest and at least a half dozen truly excellent restaurants. Charles Ferruzza and fellow food critics Mary Bloch, Emily Farris, and Sara Shepherd  give you a crash course in Lawrence dining. Notebooks ready? 

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