Food & Drink

On the 10th anniversary of his eponymous restaurant, chef Michael Smith talks about embarking on a new concept: making his version of Tuscan cuisine. Then, a local filmmaker on his new documentary about the growing conflict between coffee plantation workers and elephants.

Guests:

Francis Bourgouin / Flickr -- CC

What sets a truly great happy hour apart?

Well, delicious food and drinks, for one. There’s also the vibe of the place.

“The social aspect of this cannot be discounted, even in the discounted world of happy hour,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Plus, she added, it’s just good way to get to familiarize yourself with a new cuisine or try a restaurant that might normally be out of your price range.

Sam-H-A / Flickr -- CC

A visit to a trendy restaurant that makes "church basement coffee;" and a local bar owner shows us how to make frozen drinks without a blender. Then, the Food Critics search out the best happy hour specials in and around KC.

Guests:

Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin / Flickr -- CC

There once was a time when "sausage" meant links or patties served with pancakes.

Not anymore, especially in Kansas City. We’ve seen a lot more sausage variety over the past few years.

“I think it’s part of the butchery trend,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “We have more and more chefs who are opening great butcher shops. With this return to artisan do-it-yourself butchery, sausage is a really incredible way to use up all the pieces and parts.”

Timothy Vollmer / Flickr -- CC

A local chef tells us about the white barbecue sauce that he'll be serving at his new restaurant; a New York food writer discovered that Kansas City has the best cinnamon rolls; then the Food Critics search out the best sausages in and around town.

Guests:

Pauline Mak / Flickr -- CC

What’s the mark of a good bakery?

“You can taste when butter is used,” Food Critic Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “You can tell when real ingredients are used. It has a very different taste compared to something you get in a supermarket.”

Logan, along with critics Charles Ferruzza and Jenny Vergara, searched out the best bakeries — and best baked goods — in and around Kansas City this year.

Here are their recommendations:

Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

From hearty loaves of bread to sweets from around the world, local bakeries are doing interesting things.

We talk to a local bakery customer about his weekly order for a loaf of challah — and about the tradition and ritual around buying bread. We also visit a bakery that makes treats from around the Americas, then the Food Critics search out the best baked goods in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

There’s a relatively well-known corridor of Southwest Boulevard on Kansas City’s Westside — it’s a strip of Latin American restaurants and shops. Sandwiched in between a beauty salon and a late night Mexican eatery is a small bakery: Panaderia de las Americas.

In food circles, there have been a lot of questions about the idea of authenticity and appropriation. We explore the intersection of food, race and culture.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Fourth of July is an especially big day for the grill. Steaks, sausages, and burgers are de rigueur, so we're trying something a little off the beaten path this time around. Today, Karen Adler and Judith Fertig, self-proclaimed BBQ queens, offer up some unique recipes, including veggie sliders with herbed cream cheese, grilled lemon whiskey sours and more!

What is Midwestern cuisine? Church fare, like Jello salad, or comfort food like mac n' cheese? A local chef and a Food Network chef who brings Midwestern fare to the masses join us to explore what it is and how that's changed. 

Plus, upon Bill Gilbert's recently passing, we look back at his legacy and the Gilbert/Robinson restaurant empire, which gave us Houlihan's, The Bristol, Plaza III, Fred P. Ott's, Annie's Santa Fe and more.

Guests:

Lara604 / Flickr -- CC

In this encore presentation: A visit to Nazareth Sweets, which is in a part of Lenexa that's becoming a "Middle Eastern strip," and a culinary instructor talks about a beloved Syrian dish that she grew up eating.

Then, the Food Critics search out the best Middle Eastern food in and around KC.

Guests:

Stacy Spensley / Flickr -- CC

Once, our idea of healthy eating revolved around the salad bowl.

But we’ve discovered that some salads can be deceptively unhealthy … and that there are other satisfying options on local menus.

On Friday’s Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics explored what “healthy eating” really means.

“I believe there are so many personal definitions of what ‘healthy’ is,” Lisa Murphy told host Gina Kaufmann. “Every individual has to make their own choice and have their own personal philosophy.”

Pseph / Flickr -- CC

What exactly is healthy food? Definitions can vary. On this show: a visit to T. Loft, then a local scientist says that salt has gotten a bad rap for years; many of us should eat more salt, not less.

We also look into the healthy restaurant trend, and our Food Critics and a dietitian search out the best healthy dishes in and around KC.

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

On a windswept hillside in Leavenworth County is a weather-worn wooden church that’s been there for nearly 150 years. For more than a century, Little Stranger Church was a place for worship and celebration   — until it wasn’t anymore. But now, some locals are trying to bring it back, and they have a powerful incentive: home-made pie.

Ralph Daily / Flickr -- CC

Summer grilling season is upon us. Over this Memorial Day weekend, we’ll be firing up the backyard grill, cold beverage in hand.

But what exactly is grilling? KCUR’s Food Critics defined it on Friday’s Central Standard.

“It’s over hot fire or coals,” Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann.

“Grilling is not barbeque,” added Charles Ferruzza. “The main difference is the speed. Grilling can be pretty fast. Barbeque is a slow-cooker thing.”

Grilling In KC

May 26, 2017
Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

To kick off the summer grilling season: a visit to a Brazilian steakhouse, where the meat goes from grill to table in under 15 minutes; how to grill non-meat items (romaine lettuce and eggs in the shell); then our Food Critics search out the best grilled dishes in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

Paul Sableman / Wikimedia Commons

On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have been keeping an eye on the latest news from KC’s restaurant scene.

They shared some of the highlights from this past spring with host Gina Kaufmann:

The Marmot / Flickr -- CC

Summer's on the horizon. And as temperatures start to rise, our thoughts turn to the drinks and dishes that'll help keep us cool.

From an old-school shrimp cocktail to spring rolls — and, of course, don't forget ice cream and shaved ice — KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best iced and chilled dishes in Kansas City on Central Standard.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Cecilia Rodriguez / Flickr -- CC

We got a little a preview of summer this week, and man, it was hot. To help keep us cool when the humidity kicks in: a visit to Polly's Soda Pop, an iconic Independence soft drink company that re-opened last year, then a local coffee shop owner talks about nitro coffee (and other cold beverages).

The Food Critics searched out the best iced and chilled dishes in KC, plus the latest restaurant news from this past spring.

Guests:

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

First there was the craft beer craze and then craft distilling. Now soda pop is the latest beverage to get a craft makeover. The growth of craft soda comes despite corporate pop companies Coca-Cola and PepsiCo seeing U.S. soda consumption hit a 30-year low.

Karen Neoh / Flickr -- CC

There’s a lot that can go between two slices of bread.

Portable and fuss-free — no need for utensils — sandwiches are perfect for work lunches or picnics.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Why did the old-school Jewish deli go away ... and why are people interested in reviving it now? Then, KCUR's Food Critics search out the best sandwiches in and around Kansas City in 2017.

Guests:

stu_spivack / Flickr -- CC

It’s hard to go wrong with fries.

They come in all sorts of shapes and textures, and they’re a great vehicle for dipping sauces, seasonings or even gravy.

Whether you prefer thin and crispy, thick and pillowy-soft inside — or waffle-shaped, crinkle-cut or curly — on Friday's Central Standard, KCUR’s Food Critics searched out the best fries in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Joselu Blanco / Flickr -- CC

The story behind the off-menu extra-crispy French fries at Gates, then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best fries in and around KC.

Guests:

Leon's Thriftway might possibly be the oldest black-owned grocery store in the country. Meet Leon Stapleton, the 91-year-old who has owned it for 49 years.

Then: In Kansas City, are we a little too quick to rise to our feet after every show? Should standing ovations be saved for truly exceptional performances? Or is that snobbish?

Guests:

Erin / Flickr -- CC

Brunch can take on many different forms.

There’s the all-you-can-eat buffet, complete with waffle and omelet stations.

And don’t forget the boozy brunch — quite possibly the only time of the week where one could have a drink in the morning without feeling too guilty.

On Friday's Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics took their annual look at the best brunch dishes in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Bonjwing Lee

Brunch: part-breakfast, part-lunch ... and all-delicious. KCUR's Food Critics search out the best brunch dishes in and around KC.

Plus, a dim sum outing, and a lesson in making fresh pawpaw fruit jam.

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Fermentation is a local and national obsession right now, from kimchi to kombucha to home brewing. We check in with a few members of our community with an affinity for the sour, and an artist who's collecting sourdough starters for an installation piece at the Charlotte Street Foundation.

Plus, how one local author believes we can tap into all 54 of our senses.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Chicken isn't the most exciting protein.

“It’s like the vodka of the food world,” Food Critic Jenny Vergara told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR's Central Standard. “It takes on the flavor of whatever you put in it or put with it.”

But that’s the beauty of chicken — and why it’s a beloved staple in many cultures. Whether you like it fried, roasted or grilled, in strips or shredded (and, for the kids, in nugget form), you can find chicken at all price points.

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