Food And Drink

Keith McDuffee/Flickr -- CC

Poor salad. It’s often dismissed as an unnecessary stomach-filler, consisting of anemic lettuce, a cucumber slice, bits of tomato and cheese and topped with gloppy dressing.

But when it’s good, it’s absolutely delicious. Salads showcase the best of summer produce. They can be breathtaking simple to make, especially the dressing (shake up an acid, an oil and flavoring in a jar).

Salads can be hearty and they can be made in bulk for a crowd during cookout season.

Our food critics go beyond iceberg lettuce to search out the best salads in and around Kansas City.

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:

A weekday work session on the Student Organic Farm at Iowa State University has members weeding a perennial bed.
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

A weathered wooden shed that holds wheelbarrows, hoes and other basic tools is the beacon of the Student Organic Farm, a two-acre swath within the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Farm. On a warm spring evening, a half-dozen students gather here, put on work gloves and begin pulling up weeds from the perennial beds where chives, strawberries, rhubarb and sage are in various stages of growth.

Char Bar/Facebook

Because we’re Kansas City, we automatically associate ribs with barbecue. But other cultures have their own ways of serving those succulent bits of bone, fat and meat.

From hefty slabs (sauce optional) to lighter seasonal short rib dishes to a Mexican-Korean fusion sandwich, KCUR’s Food Critics search out the best ribs in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

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:

A new Missouri law (SB 919) has been a source of contention among craft brewers and beer lovers in the state. Craft brewers feel that it will give a big boost to companies like Anheuser-Busch in convenience stores by letting them lease out refrigerator space. Lawmakers say that stores could stock craft brews in those cases.

He's been a gravedigger, a roadie, a truck unloader and more; now, he runs two popular Lawrence restaurants. We hear the stories behind Matt Hyde's eclectic resume ... and why he sometimes breaks plates on purpose.

Guest:

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.

Oven And Hearth

Apr 29, 2016

A chat about spring produce (including rhubarb jam) and a quick review of a new bagel shop. Then, KCUR's Food Critics search out the best bakeries in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

Demand is growing for GMO-free labels on food products, according to the Non-GMO Project, one of the principle suppliers of the label.
File: Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

There’s a heated debate happening right now about GMOs and labels.

Big food companies like General Mills, Mars and Kellogg’s say they plan to put labels on their products that tell consumers whether or not the food contains ingredients derived from genetically engineered plants.

So what’s the big deal? What are GMO labels, and what do they tell you?

Watch the video below to get the full scoop on GMO labels.

This post was originally published in April 2016.

It’s been a mild winter, which means we’re getting a jump on ice cream season.

Whether it’s served in a cup or cone, ice cream (and its friends: custard, gelato, sorbet, soft serve and more) is the classic treat that feels like an indulgence.

On Friday’s Central Standard, KCUR’s Food Critics search out the best ice cream in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

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:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

If you have seen the show "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" — or, in other words, if you have infant children — you probably know about "banana swirl." Or, you should, according to Rachel Ciordas.

"Mothers who listen [to this segment] are either going to love me or hate me for mentioning this," Ciordas laughs as she launches into the tale that introduced her family to this beloved dessert.

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:

Kyle J Smith / KCUR 89.3

The weather is turning nice and it's baseball season: Let's drink!

Bartenders from all around the city pitched in their favorite cocktails for a nice spring day. You can try your hand at amateur mixing, or head to your local hangout for a stiff drink and a great time. Cheers!

Shae Mermis, Tom's Town: Bittersweet Caroline

Jessica Spengler / Flickr

The food of Kansas City has a life story to tell. Author Andrea Broomfield tells it. The origins of Kansas City chili, tamales and tailgating, an affinity for dining al fresco and cinnamon rolls, and what local beer has to do with our sports teams and stadiums. Every food tradition can be explained through the lens of history.

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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.”

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

The morning after his high school graduation, Jonathan Justus packed his car and moved to California. He didn't even wait a day, and he didn't leave with fantasies of coming back any time soon. 

When he was a kid, Justus felt suffocated by the sense that everyone in Smithville knew and kept an eye on everyone else. His mom received hate mail when she took over the family pharmacy, criticizing her for working outside the home rather than staying home with her kids. Rumors had started spreading about Justus starting when he was just in high school, he says.

Paul Andrews

He's a self-taught cook (from the classic cookbook, The Joy of Cooking) who's a semifinalist for "Best Chef: Midwest" in the 2016 James Beard Awards.

Meet Jonathan Justus — a former bike messenger, repo man and gallery-represented painter — whose restaurant has put Smithville, Missouri on the culinary map.

Guest:

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.

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