For the second time in two weeks, Lawrence has landed a spot on a Zagat list.
Our very own Java Break, 17 E. Seventh St., is representing Kansas on Zagat’s latest online roundup, “The United States of Caffeine: 50 States, 50 Must-Try Coffee Shops.” It's No. 16 on the slideshow list, revealed Wednesday on the Zagat blog.
Here’s what caught the judges' attention:
“Lawrence has no shortage of cool-kid coffee shops, but Java Break is unique thanks to the 24-hour coffee-flowing-though-your-veins service. The ultra-kitschy decor is loved by hipster college kids sticking Starbucks to the man, and their drinks, like the cult-ish Hazelnut Chai, are made from scratch without preservatives or corn syrup. Bonus: there’s a cereal bar with a slew of toppings.”
I'm an almond milk latte gal myself and haven't tried the chai, but I'll vouch for the rest of this writeup. If you missed our recent Off The Beaten Plate feature on their Cereal Bar, check it out here.
The other Zagat mention? That would be Burger Stand making its "Best Burgers in 25 Cities" list.
Mike Davis, sous-chef at Lawrence’s Oread hotel, will conduct a free food carving demonstration next week.
The demonstration will be from 6-8 p.m. March 7 in the All Seasons Den at the Oread, 1200 Oread Ave. The event is free and open to the public.
Davis previously has conducted similar demonstrations for county libraries in Topeka and Salina, but this will be his first such demonstration in Lawrence, according to the Oread.
Lawrence chefs and restaurateurs Molly and Robert Krause are teaming up with Van Go Inc. to put on a Valentine’s dinner for a good cause.
The annual Culinary Hearts Valentine Dinner is set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at Van Go, 715 New Jersey St. Tickets are $125 per person and include a three-course dinner, wine, beer and live music. Attire is “festive.” Seating is limited, and tickets should be reserved by Jan. 25 online at van-go.org or by calling 842-3797.
The dinner is a benefit for Van Go’s Go Healthy program.
According to the organization, 70 percent of its participants live in poverty and, as such, experience food insecurity and hunger. Go Healthy is Van Go’s year-round food, nutrition and healthy lifestyles program that aims to give teens tools they need to fight obesity and stay mentally fit.
Some Lawrence folk from across the pond are collaborating to host Christmas dinner British-style — complete with figgy pudding and a visit from Father Christmas.
Queen Lizzy’s Fish and Chips Shop, 125 E. 10th St., and Brits, 929 Massachusetts St., have planned Traditional British Christmas Dinner events on two dates, Sunday and Dec. 16. For both events, doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner begins at 6 p.m. at Queen Lizzy’s. Tickets, which can be purchased at either business, are $38 for adults and $19 for children 15 and younger.
The figgy pudding, of course, is for dessert. Queen Lizzy’s chef and owner Matt Poulton, who is from England, said the traditional dish is made with raisins, currants and figs then drizzled with brandy butter. He added, "It's a delight."
Also on the menu is wine for adults, an appetizer of cherry and almond baked brie and a dinner of roast turkey, ham, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, honey roasted parsnips, almond roasted brussels sprouts, gravy, sage and onion stuffing, pigs in blankets (British style) and buttered carrots and peas.
Poulton said Tuesday that plenty of tickets remained for Sunday but only a few are still available for Dec. 16.
“I thought it would be fun for a lot of expatriates to come to, and something the locals might find enjoyable.” he said. “We don’t have Thanksgiving in the UK, so our big thing is Christmas.”
On Saturday, over in Johnson County, a library is playing host to what has to be one of the more unusual events they’ve had.
Butcher and charcuterier Alex Pope will butcher half a hog (like a side of beef, only pork) in a public demonstration beginning at 2 p.m. at the Johnson County Central Resource Library, 9875 W. 87th St., Overland Park. Pope owns Kansas City, Mo.’s, Local Pig, an artisan meat-cutting and sausage shop dedicated to locally and humanely raised meats including beef, pork, chicken, duck, turkey, quail, rabbit, lamb and goat.
The library promises real knives, real meat. All ages are welcome, though parental discretion is advised. The event is free, and registration is not required.
But wait — there is a connection between beast and books. Pope “learned his trade in the best way,” the library announcement says, “by reading books.”
During the event, Pope is expected to talk about how meat makes it from farm to table, demonstrate his butchering techniques and share what he learned about the trade from reading books.
The library provides this link to some of Pope’s favorite food titles.
I’ve undoubtedly eaten more than my fair share of Nutella on its own — on ice cream, toast, crepes, fruit, by the spoonful and (I confess!) straight off a knife — but never baked with it.
On the one hand, I’ve always thought, it’s kind of expensive and so decadent, why waste it by mixing it with other things? On the other hand, I mulled as I recently dipped crackers in it for the first time, wouldn’t some kind of salty-sweet dessert with Nutella and pretzels be awesome?
Envisioning gloops of Nutella and chunks of pretzels just needing some kind of something to hold them together, I pulled up a handful of Nutella recipes online but found none like what I had in mind. So I came up with my own.
These cookie bars (inspired by the Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from September’s Kansas University tailgating food story) have mini pretzels and white chocolate chunks in the cookie dough. Not wanting to dilute the Nutella by stirring it into anything, or risk it being smeared away from the top or bottom of a cookie, it’s scooped straight out of the jar and sandwiched safely between layers of dough.
This probably goes without saying, but these are extra good with a glass of milk.
PRETZEL-NUTELLA BARS WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE CHUNKS
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 18 bars
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup canola oil
2 1/2 cups mini pretzels, broken
6 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 jar (13 ounces) Nutella
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, stir together cake mix, oil and eggs. Mix in pretzels and white chocolate chunks. In a greased 9-by-13-inch pan, press three-fourths of the dough into the bottom. Bake 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.
Spread Nutella over top of partially cooked dough. Drop remaining dough over the top. Bake 20 minutes more, or until top is lightly browned. Cool and use a sharp knife to cut into bars.
One 10-piece, 1,090-calorie Chicken McNuggets meal, please.
For the first time today, I learned how many calories are in my favorite meal at McDonald's. I’m still trying to decide whether I’m worried about it.
As promised, the fast food giant this week added calorie counts to its menus — no more having to go the extra mile to check online (or look at the box), the count is right there next to the price. Lawrence locations are included, with calories on both drive-thru and in-store menu boards (confirmed at Sixth and Wakarusa, no reason to doubt the other spots don’t have them up, too).
The 1,000-plus calories in McNuggets do not shock me. While I’ve never been a big calorie counter, I am generally health-conscious and well aware typical McDonald’s fare is not a healthy choice.
When I head to McDonald’s — always the drive-thru — I’m either starving, in a hurry and don’t want to trouble myself to get out of my car AND/OR have a salty greasy food itch to scratch and wouldn’t give healthier options the time of day, anyway. McDonald’s satisfies those needs like none other.
Obviously, my health would be better off without McDonald’s (at least the kind of stuff I order there). However, if I depended on the drive-thru for frequent meals and sustenance rather than occasional indulgence (or if I had diagnosed medical conditions such as high cholesterol or blood pressure), I think I’d be a lot queasier about the calorie counts — and all the other counts. My nuggets and fries had a combined 28 grams of protein (56 percent of the recommended daily allowance), but they also had 1,270 mg of sodium (53 percent RDA) and 48 grams of fat (73 percent RDA), according to nutrition information on the boxes.
Hmmm. I guess that does make me extra glad I ate homemade salads for lunch the previous two days.
P.S. You’re probably wondering, “What’s the highest-calorie item on the menu?” Got it. Weighing in at a whopping 1,400-plus calories, that would be the Angus Bacon and Cheese Burger meal. The sandwich alone has 2,070 mg of sodium (86 percent RDA) and 39 grams of fat (60 percent RDA).
Until a few weeks ago, I knew sumac as a vigorous weed that grows in the ditches alongside Kansas highways and turns bright red in the fall.
It turns out, Middle Eastern people have known for hundreds, if not thousands, of years that dried and ground berries of the sumac plant make a tasty addition to food (not necessarily Kansas ditch-sumac, there are many varieties of the species). I've since noticed that Aladdin Cafe has a dish called Sumac Chicken on the menu, too.
My friend recently hosted a Turkey-themed dinner party (not random, she was just back from a three-week trip there) where she and her husband made main courses for the feast and assigned side dishes to the rest of us. My assignment was Shepherd’s Salad, with a note saying I didn’t have to use the sumac the recipe called for if I didn’t have any.
Of course, I didn’t have any (I didn’t even know what it was). But of course, I was curious. I Googled, determined I could surely find some in bulk at a Middle Eastern market in Kansas City, and wasn’t disappointed — only $2 for a big scoop, too!
The flavor is bright and citrusy, a little like coriander but more earthy. The color is a beautiful deep purpley-red.
Everyone liked this fresh pretty dish, which works as a salad alongside kebabs, lamb or fish, or an an appetizer or snack with crusty bread (to soak up the juice!).
TURKISH SHEPHERD’S SALAD
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 large cucumber, diced
1 Anaheim pepper, diced
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 tablespoon sumac
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Place all vegetables in a medium sized salad bowl. Add sumac, salt, pepper and mint. Toss. Drizzle with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Chill until ready to serve.
(Recipe adapted from giverecipe.com and english.turkishcookbook.com.)
If you follow my colleague Chad Lawhorn's Town Talk blog, you know something has been going on with the restaurants at the southeast corner of 10th and Mass. After a month of being closed for remodeling, The Orient, Oh Boy! Chicken and (sort of) Angler's Seafood House reopened last week — as the same restaurant.
I stopped in Friday to check it out, and Nancy Nguyen, who owns all three restaurants, said the style of the new place is more "like a bistro." Nguyen she was looking to reduce her overhead and pare down the time she spent running between all three establishments.
"One person, you can't do it," she said.
The 3-in-1 conglomeration at 1006 Mass. has signs outside for The Orient and Oh Boy! Chicken. Inside, the decor is mostly Asian with some chickens and a fish here and there. There are two separate menus, one for The Orient (with its "pho-nomenal" pho and other Vietnamese dishes) and one for Oh Boy! Chicken (which offers gluten-free fried chicken, catfish and down-home sides).
Nguyen said the cost of flying in fresh fish three times a week has gotten too high to support. Rather than have it on a daily menu, she said, she expects to serve some of Angler's specialties, such as lobster tail, as weekend specials.
If any of you have been to that little Mexican-Chinese restaurant in downtown Eudora, Jasmine, it's kind of like that. If your party can't decide what its in the mood for, everyone can sit at the same table but dine in different worlds. (Incidentally, that place has both Mexican blankets and Asian things on its walls. It's really something.)
P.S. Alleged Vermont Street BBQ-to-be, next door at 1004 Mass., still has paper over the windows and "Coming soon!" signs on the door.
I’ll be heading over to the fairgrounds tomorrow in search of the biggest vegetable in Douglas County.
Those hulking, twisted monster pumpkins we’ve seen pictures of filling up entire pickup beds come to mind. More realistically, extension agent Jennifer Smith tells me, the Douglas County fair will have a few big zucchinis and a couple other veggies in the contest (The categories are largest pumpkin, fall squash, watermelon, muskmelon, summer squash and zucchini).
Smith did not seem hopeful that any of our Douglas County veggies would be smashing world records. But I looked them up out of curiosity anyway. Indeed, this year’s fair would have to produce some seriously ginormous veggies to top any of these.
According to guinnessworldrecords.com:
- The world’s heaviest squash weighed 1,236 pounds and was grown by John Vincent and Brian McGill (both Canada) and presented at the Cornerstone Landscaping Giant Vegetable weigh off in Stroud, Ontario, Canada, on Oct. 24, 2009.
- The heaviest pumpkin weighed 1,810 pounds 8 ounces and was presented by Chris Stevens (USA) at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minn., on Oct. 9, 2010. The pumpkin measured 15-feet-6-inches in circumference.
- The heaviest watermelon weighed 268.8 pounds and was grown by Lloyd Bright (USA) of Arkadelphia, Ark, in 2005. Lloyd grew and weighed in for the Annual Hope, Arkansas Big Watermelon Contest on September 3, 2005.
- The longest zucchini courgette measured 7-feet-10.3-inches on Oct. 17, 2005, and was grown by Gurdial Singh Kanwal (India) in his garden in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
- The heaviest zucchini courgette was grown by Bernard Lavery of Llanharry, Rhondda Cynon Taff, UK in 1990 and weighed in at 29.25 kg (64 lb 8 oz).
Incidentally, if you’ve ever considered taking up giant-pumpkin growing as a hobby, you’ll find everything you need to know at pumpkinnook.com — “The Internet Shrine and Library for Pumpkins.” There’s even an entry about naming your pumpkin. Personally, I'd have a hard time picking between Fertile Myrtle, Sasquatch or Jabba the Glut.