Food Critics | KCUR

Food Critics

White plate with baba ganoush on it.
Flickr

When he was in college, Kansas City author Adib Khorram taught himself to make Persian food.

Khorram, who grew up in Gladstone with an Iranian-born father, hadn't always felt comfortable embracing that part of his background when he was kid. The struggle to find cultural belonging would later be mirrored in his semi-autobiographical young adult novel. Another thing that found its way into his book, "Darius The Great Is Not Okay"? Iranian cuisine.

Three jars with amber liquid. The gradient starts with the lightest on the left.
Kathleen Pointer / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: The seasonal nature of honey. 

Like wine, honey a product of the world around it -- weather, region, time of year all impact the crop. Today, we chat with some beekeepers about the varieties their bees in Raytown produce.

Food Critics: The Best Sauces In Kansas City In 2018

Sep 30, 2018
Nicole Lee / Flickr

Sure, you know Kansas City has barbecue sauces, but is there more?

Central Standard's host Gina Kaufmann has a theory: This place is a sauce town, and not of just one variety.

She came to the conclusion last year when Central Standard's Food Critics chatted about guilty pleasure foods. During that segment, many listeners chimed in to say that their guilty pleasures weren't main dishes, sides or even desserts, but the sauces that come with those things.

c/o Born With Seoul

 Segment 1: Twist on a Korean hot sauce available throughout the Kansas City region.

Angela Hong grew up watching her mom make the Korean hot sauce, Gochuchang. As an adult, she started making it for her family, but had to adjust to accommodate her daughter's food allergy. Today, that recipe adjustment has made it into bottles and onto shelves around the city. 

Segment 2: Food Critics

Lucas Richardz / Flickr CC

A vibrant restaurant scene brings comings and goings. Guest host Brian Ellison spoke Friday with Central Standard's local Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch, and Jenny Vergara — about what's new and what's out in the Kansas City area. 

Opening

Catapla / Facebook

If you've listened to any of our previous conversations with the Food Critics, you know that there isn't a shortage of top-notch food options in the Kansas City metro area.

Sometimes, though, you want a change of scenery during dinner.

"It has to have something special that makes you want to get in the car and go," said Food Critic Mary Bloch. 

Segment 1: From the tree to the pie, we learn about the past, present and future of apples.

Fall is quickly approaching and many crops are ready for harvest. On this segment we talk with a relative of Johnny Appleseed about all things apples.

Segments 2 and 3, beginning at 14:56: Sometimes food is worth the trip, and sometimes it is best to stay close to home.

Food Critics: The Best Pork Dishes In Kansas City In 2018

Sep 2, 2018
A sandwich with meat, cheese, pickles and mustard on a wooden surface.
Pigwich / Facebook

Located in the heart of the Midwest with some of the most famous barbecue joints in the world, it's no surprise there are lots of meaty meal options to be found in Kansas City. 

"Since the dawn of Kansas City I would say pork's been having a moment," KCUR Food Critic Jenny Vergara said. "It's definitely on the menu."

But what menus have the best pig dishes around?

Segment 1: Local chef brings Samoan family tradition of the pig roast to celebrations in Kansas City.

We chatted with Chef Howard Hanna, of The Rieger and Ca Va, about pork's place in Midwestern food culture. He also told us about the significance of pig roasts in Samoan culture and about what it takes to throw a successful one here in Kansas City. Then, we heard a piece by KCUR's Michelle Tyrene Johnson about a beloved sandwich shop that's been serving up pork tenderloin sandwiches for decades. 

Food Critics: The Best Sandwiches In Kansas City In 2018

Aug 11, 2018
A Reuben sandwich wrapped in white wax paper.
Stu_Spivak / Flickr

Sure, Kansas City is a food town when it comes to some dishes, but are we a sandwich city?

Yes, according to KCUR's food critic Charles Ferruzza. 

"It really is a meat and potato town — but it's sandwich meat and french fries."

That's because of the Stockyards and the people who spent time there.

"Cowboys could eat them with their hands and just wipe their hands on their jeans," he notes. "They were very easy that way."

Specifically, a "loose meat" (i.e., Sloppy Joe) was likely the most common one.

Segment 1: Summer may be close to ending, but canning season is just getting started.

From jams to mustards to pickles, we'll hear how a husband and wife took an interest in canning and turned it into a business.

Segment 2, beginning at 16:09: The food critics share their favorite sandwiches in town.

The Best Frozen Treats In Kansas City In 2018

Jul 28, 2018
The display case at an ice cream shop. It shows various brightly colored tubs of ice cream
Jpellgen / Flickr

Was the Choco Taco, a concoctation that nestles vanilla ice cream and fudgey swirls into a sugar cone-turned-shell, a part of your childhood summers? It was for Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann.

Turns out the treat isn't something that can only be found in the halls of one's memory! You can recreate those summertime vibes of youth (or, at least, Gina can) by picking them up in boxes of four at the Roeland Park Price Chopper.

Food Critics: The Best Tacos In Kansas City In 2018

Jul 17, 2018
A pile of soft corn tortilla tacos on a bright blue plate.
Ricos Tacos "Lupe" / Facebook

A decade ago, when Guadalupe Marcela Banuelos moved her taco operation to Southwest Boulevard, her grandmother was worried that the authentic, soft shell street tacos Banuelos planned to serve at Rico's Tacos "Lupe" would be too different from the  hard shell tacos many people in the region were used to eating. 

Her response?

"You know grandma, they're going to have to get used to it."

And, they did. These days, Banuelos has a loyal following, especially from those who crowd into her restaurant on Tuesdays for the $1 taco special. 

Segment 1: Tomato season is upon us. Here's everything you need to know.

James Worley blogs about growing and eating tomatoes in Kansas City. He also organizes the annual "totally tomato weekend." Hear his growing tips and favorite recipes as he makes the case that all local menus should revolve around tomatoes right now.

A piece of funnel cake, dusted in powdered sugar.
Jamiesrabbits / Flickr - CC

Summer in Kansas City means braving the heat and humidity for the metro's many outdoor festivals, where snack offerings are so plentiful and varied that we asked our food critics for guidance on navigating the options.

"Sometimes in those festivals, you can get foods that you can't find in any restaurant in Kansas City. It's a real treat," said Charles Ferruzza.

Pirate's Bone / Facebook

Vegetarian options pop up on a lot of Kansas City menus, from high-end restaurants to brand-new coffee shops … and yes, even at barbecue joints.

“Now, it’s just part of everybody’s diet. You don’t have to ask for something vegetarian. It’s just a dish without meat or fish or whatever,” KCUR food critic Mary Bloch told host Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard.

Seg. 1: How to cut vegetables.

At the Overland Park Farmers' Market, after you buy your vegetables and fruit, you can get them chopped up by a professional ... for free. The Vegetable Butcher stops by with some tips on how to cut produce.

Seg. 2, beginning at 16:02: The best meat-free dishes in town.

Italian Food In Kansas City (R)

Jun 4, 2018

Hear the story behind a classic Kansas City restaurant, then visit a new cafe that's located inside an antique mall. Plus: we revisit our Food Critics' search for the best Italian food in and around KC, from beloved old-school favorites to interesting new takes on the cuisine.

Guests:

Aixois Bistro/Facebook

Kansas City might be known as a meat-and-potatoes town, but fried chicken has long been popular here.

“Fried chicken is popular because it’s inexpensive, usually, and it tastes good,” Charles Ferruzza told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Besides that, Ferruzza said, “It travels well — it’s just as good cold as it is hot.”

Segment 1: How to grill sausages and burgers.

It's almost Memorial Day weekend, and many Kansas Citians will be pulling out the grill for backyard cookouts. The owner of a butcher shop/restaurant shares his tips on the best way to cook sausages and burgers on the grill. Plus, a local chef on how he went from cooking in fine dining restaurants to opening a fried chicken joint.

715 Restaurant / Facebook

Noodles are having a moment Kansas City.

“There’s an awful lot of chefs in the city right now with small pasta menus within their main menu,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “It’s because they’re making it in-house and they’re very proud of it.”

Vergara, along with fellow food critics Mary Bloch and Charles Ferruzza, searched out the best noodle dishes in and around town.

Segment 1: How to prepare trout.

Chef Martin Heuser is a fan of trout; he grew up fishing and eating it in Germany and Austria. Plus, it's the only dish on his menu that hasn't changed since he opened his restaurant six years ago. Now that it's trout season, he tells us why it's so versatile, and he shares tips on how to cook it at home.

  • Martin Heuser, chef/owner, Affäre

Segment 2, beginning at 10:44: Noodle dishes in Kansas City.

Café Provence/Facebook

Many people consider French cuisine to be the ne plus ultra in the culinary world. And French culinary techniques are considered to be standard in many restaurant kitchens.

Whether it's hearty stews or delicate fish dishes, airy pastries or baguettes with crackling crusts, French-inspired dishes are on menus all over town.

On KCUR's Central Standard, our food critics searched out the best French food in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Anna Yakutenko / KCUR 89.3

Tatsuya Arai has been serving beef Bourguignon in Prairie Village in the suburbs of Kansas City for almost 40 years.

That’s when he opened his Tatsu’s French Restaurant in 1980. (Arai's nickname is Tatsu.)

Beef Bourguignon is classic French dish consisting of braised boneless short ribs with onions and mushrooms.

It takes more than five hours to braise the beef in the separate pot, and many more hours to make a special wine sauce that goes with the meat. Finally, when the dish is ready, Arai serves it with boiled beans, broccoli, and brings a loaf of the baguette.

JC Gregg/Facebook

Segment 1: Meet a home baker who puts his own spin on classic French desserts.

He's a self-taught baker who competed on "The Great American Baking Show." Hear JC Gregg's story — and find out why he experiments with baking in the middle of the night.

Segment 2, beginning at 14:47: Exploring French food and drink in KC.

One More Cup / Facebook

Kansas City's coffee shop scene has really blossomed over the past few years.

In addition to coffee and tea drinks, a number of shops have also been serving great food: pastries made in-house, breakfast, light lunches and grab-and-go snacks.

From quiet spots to linger to more convivial spaces to meet up with friends, KCUR's food critics searched out the best coffee shops in and around Kansas City.

 

Here are their recommendations:

 

KC Coffee Shops

Apr 13, 2018

Over the past few years, the coffee shop scene in KC has really taken off. Whether you're looking for a quick cup of joe or a place to linger with pastries and food, we've got you covered. The food critics search out the best coffee shops in and around town.

Scott's Kitchen and Catering / Facebook

Burritos and wraps are glorious things.

Just about anything can go in a tortilla. And voila, a complete meal that's portable and ready to go.

But what's the difference between a wrap and a burrito?

"A burrito is typically warm or hot, and a wrap is generally cold, in my experience," food critic Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Logan, along with fellow food critics Jenny Vergara and Charles Ferruzza, searched out the best burritos and wraps in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Segment 1: A Lebanese dinner at the Kemper Museum and a new tortilleria in the East Bottoms.

We talk with a chef whose Midwestern childhood and Lebanese heritage come together on the plate at Cafe Sebastienne — and at a special Lebanese dinner at the museum. Then, a visit to a local tortilleria where they make corn tortillas the traditional way.

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A lot has been going on in Kansas City's food scene over the last few months.

KCUR food critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara brought their seasonal roundup of the biggest local restaurant news to Friday’s Central Standard.

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