Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Barbecue for me and you

Moving right along: 

Last time we chatted, I mentioned that a certain category of signs got denser (I guess that’s a word).   Seems the closer you get to Kansas City the more you see:

Including this beauty:

Seemed kind of odd to me that they tout "KC" Baby Back Ribs.  Around here (Maryland) we are accustomed to seeing on meat markets and menus “St. Louis Style Baby Backs..”

I have not been to other meccas for BBQ such as Memphis, San Antonio, Raleigh, Oklahoma City and so forth but Kansas City has to be prominent.  They appear to love their BBQ..  KC style is supposed to be slowly smoked meat, slathered with tomato-based, sweet, spicy sauce with tangy flavor profiles.  I’m not sure I found that to be the case, most of what we had with FOJTY was indeed smoked, but generally sauces were in those messy squeeze bottles on the side.  Of course since I’ve been there twice now, I’m an expert.  However, FOJTY is pretty close to an expert.  He’s thoroughly scouted the area, and eats and cooks a lot of the smoked beef and pork.

Once you’re past the signs and actually in KC, “Que” restaurants (seems like I shouldn’t call them “joints”) abound. 

And as evidence of the popularity of BBQ,  most of the “famous” ones always have lines such as “Joes Kansas City Bar B Que” Original Gas Station (not to be confused with the "knock off" above) is where we've been on a previous visit 

and besides the outside lines inside is generally packed

Apparently waiting in lines is expected and accepted just to get their fix.   Most don’t have table service, you wait in line (like the Soup Nazi), read the board, give somebody your order, shuffle down the counter to eventually pick up your order, look for an open chair, sit down and enjoy.

On this trip we drove by several venues including Joe’s but didn’t eat there this time, also past Q39, with the line outside

One of TY’s favorites is

Which follows the common model, and we stopped in for a late lunch, and fortunately there was no line

Until you got inside where you kind of had to squeeze in the door, then snake around the perimeter until you got to the pressure point.

If you’re a “regular” like the TY’s, you know what you want, but I always strain to read the board (usually unsuccessfully).  Doesn’t help that they use “cutesy” names for the sandwiches and describe the actual dish in 2 point font below

To avoid holding up the line and stammering, I’ve developed a strategy of positioning myself behind FOJ, and then employ the “when Harry met Sally” ploy of “I’ll have what he’s having”.   Can’t go wrong emulating him, he’s the connoisseur. 

So I wound up with a combo of Ribs and “Burnt Ends”:

A traditional part of Kansas City barbecue, burnt ends are considered a delicacy in barbecue cooking. the entire brisket is cooked whole, then the point end removed and cooked further, or the point and flat are separated prior to cooking. Due to the higher fat content of the brisket point, it takes longer to fully cook to tender and render out fat and collagen. This longer cooking gave rise to the name "burnt ends"

Anyway, the guy behind the glass sliced the ribs

The “ends” were added and I chose “sides” of beans and potato salad so here’s my "light" lunch

Ribs to the left, ends to the right. 

Served “Just Right” style with butcher paper and a red paper basket and waxed paper for the food, Styrofoam abounds and plastic cutlery.  The down side of the “Harry and…” technique is that FOJTE can put away more food in one sitting than I want or can consume, so he usually gets my left overs, which he did on this occasion. 

The food was very good, and with sauce on the side I could regulate the heat, and one of the bottles did contain the kind of milder sweet variety.  Good food.  Even the beans and potato salad was (I hope) not from the Sysco truck but in house made.  What could be better than good food, Royals baseball, and an enthusiastic crowd that was attired “just right..”

On the way out, we stopped by the (idle) smoker

While we’re sort of on the subject of Burnt Ends, although it didn’t follow the "Slaps" meal the next day we hit another popular spot for dessert, Betty Rae’s (hand dipped) Ice Cream.  After waiting in the apparently necessary line outside

You get in another Soup Nazi line, with a chance to look at the “menu board”

And the reason I include this is the “new” ice cream entry at the top of the list

While waiting in line it was all the talk “have you tried it yet?”  “hey, honey look at that” and it was a popular choice.  So once again you gave your selection to the lady behind the glass who relayed it to the “scoopers” who prepared your cone or dish

Note the “backhand” technique

Of course FOJTY had the burnt ends

And gave me a lick.   Indeed, it did have a smoky, BBQ flavor, I’m just not convinced it’s a combination worth making.   But, of course it is Kansas City where they are apparently BBQ obsessed. 

Oh, after our dainty lunch at Slap’s another edition will show what we had for dinner that night.

with ever hopeful Smoke watching closely 
aside (for maybe KWW): did you know my lightroom photo program doesn't do "red eye" on dogs?

And obviously at least at the BBQ places, there isn’t much of a code for


Sunday, August 27, 2017

On the (literary) Road Again...

Okay, finally time to get back on the road….  And you might wonder: “Hey Feeder, why bother?”, but my answer would be found somewhere in the “engineer” quote posted a bit ago.

To recap a bit, our final night in STL with FOJTE contained that lovely dinner at Stone Soup Cottage.

So we set out the next morning (after a final coffee with TE’s) we headed out of STL for Kansas City.   You might remember that I70, which sort of connects the two, was the first Interstate Highway in the United States ultimately linking (at least) KC and STL, in 1970. 

One of the things I enjoy about traveling that particular stretch is the phenomenal amount and variation in roadside signs (yes, i am nuts).  I suspect the easements and so forth were granted about the time, so people took advantage and up they go.  And over the years, the signs have evolved from the plywoody things we’re kind of familiar with to modern steel versions that tower near the road. And as I said, there are quite a few categories.

As some might know, Central Missouri has become an established and developing area for wine and wineries.  The long time flagship and original (?) winery is the venerable

Which seems to have been able to keep their position in the growing number of other vineyards.  I know the FOJTE’s go there.  But now other wineries are jumping on the “tasting” band wagon and advertise their place as well (and just is just a limited sample)

And not only relying on the billboards, but the delivery vans join in the marketing

And not only the wine, other beverages are touted in various ways

And in case you need something to do after imbibing, other alternatives are available

And although (with apologies) this is generally not a subject for the feeder, there are plenty of these types of diversions advertised along the way

Now, not to dwell on the subject, the two operative words are “gentleman’s” and “club”.  Diagram aside, in polite and civilized society, a “Gentleman’s Club” conjures up visions of a dark wooden paneled room with ferns, comfortable chairs, a tuxedoed person gently asking if you would like your scotch refilled while you read Barron’s or The Economist or some such publication.   Well, reality:   here’s the roadside version

Dark wooden panels giving way to corrugated metal, garish colors, and so forth.  And while I have very limited experience with such establishments, the clientele i have observed would be a long way from being characterized as “gentlemen”.  Always something.

Anyway back to road tripping we soon saw signs of Kansas City

and eventually the skyline appeared

And the second time being the charm, we navigated to FOJTY’s digs quite easily.

I found that KC is pretty unique, with a (food) character of its own..  will be the subject of the next issue.  I did leave one category of signage out of the above compendium, because it is part of the fabric of the city and deserves its own discussion

And from what I saw, it is secondary whether or not you


and just cute seen along the way:

(and who else can get blog solely about signs....what talent!)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Breakin' er, Catchin' up is hard to do!

Well, after another sad trip to STL to celebrate her life and remember a dear friend who passed due to her cancer, we are back home again, and the Feeder can pick up the pieces (or as Neil could have said... "Catchin" up... etc.).  

I’ll get the darn trip to the Midwest before your eyes if it takes forever!!  There are some neat things to see and hear about, so you won’t escape.  But first! There are a few items worth your attention from the more recent pass we can knock out of the way before jumping back in the MOMSTER for Kansas City, Holland, and East Lansing, Michigan.

Way back in the day before we “settled” into the present digs, we rented an over the garage apartment on the Calvert side of things, on the (Pax) river near the mouth of St. Leonard Creek.  We became quite good friends with the homeowners, and if you’re really good, you might recall for my 60th birthday they gave us (and another similarly aged friend) a week in their home on St. Bart’s.  You know, cheeseburger in paradise country.  Anyway, one of the traditions they had was (as schedules permitted) enjoy Sunday breakfast with another couple at the Frying Pan in Lusby.  It was always good, and I suppose I blogged about it at the time.  So when the “Just Right” team (sans one member) was looking for another candidate, we decided we would revisit.    So when schedules finally meshed we met for lunch.  Exterior was pretty much unchanged

So we parked and went inside.  The moment we entered, I sensed something was different.  Same furniture, same petition separating the dining area and the bar…. Wait a minute… there were no “ Bud Light” type neon signs in the windows nor bar, and when asked about drinks my request was met with “Oh, we don’t serve alcohol anymore”  a guarded conversation that followed revealed that it was only relatively recently. I’m sure there is a story there… a place like the (original) Frying Pan lives on its bar.  I did see the original owner, so didn’t think it sold.  As another aside, way way back in the day I spent many a hazy night at the Tiki Bar  with him.  Fortunately, no spark of recognition occurred.  Anyway, settling for water, we turned to the food.   Menu continued a “Just Right” form, laminated plastic

With usual selections of sandwiches, salads, and heartier fare (platters, baskets, etc.) which fell in line.   I debated between a (fresh) Rockfish or Oyster Po’ Boy sandwich finally taking the former and added a ($2) basket of onion rings, and the other half got a hot turkey sandwich. 

So we sipped our water, and waited, and waited…….and waited, overhearing another table inquire of the server with outstretched hands “Lunch….?”  I might add that only a few tables were occupied. 

Eventually theirs and ours arrived

Is that Kale?????

Well, you can draw your own impressions, but a closer look at my “Rockfish Filet”

gave me pause for thought.  I’ve seen a few rockfish before, and rarely are they uniformly tear drop shaped and all the same size.  A vision of “Mrs. Paul’s” dashed through my mind, but I would hate to accuse them of that.  The onion rings were barely coated such that with one bite, most of the “breading” fell off leaving you with a soggy ring (of at least real onion).  My other half of the team said his turkey was tasty, albeit a bit off-putting visually.  All in all, a rough meal.

So I am not sure that I would re-add the Frying Pan to the Just Right list.  Certainly not up to the standards of the “old days”.   Hopefully they can recover from whatever occurred, but I’ll wait a while before checking..

Okay, we’ll pick up the pace a little here, I suspect your patience in running thin…

We’ll eclipse that story and go on to ….. THE ECLIPSE

I suppose you’ve been following (scarcely can avoid it) the mania over the first total solar eclipse in 3,467,298,403 years to have its path across our country.   Rooms being sold out (at unconscionable prices), spaces being rented for hundreds of dollars all leading up to yesterday’s event.  The Weather Channel had a reporter nearly every mile along the way, countdowns at the bottom of your screen, all that stuff… Somehow I didn’t get all that worked up over it, and we decided to observe the phenomenon from our own driveway.   We didn’t run out and buy glasses or anything.   I was somewhat nervous about looking directly at the sun with any sort of device between it and my aging retinas. Fortunately I have 40 some odd years of experience and a couple of degrees in Engineering so I drew up some plans, carefully selected some materials, and fashioned a highly technical viewing device.

(toothpick showing location of pin hole)

I also devised a backup system, JIC

So as the magic hour drew nearer, we retreated from the air conditioning and The Weather Channel and really some wonderful shots of the event to our driveway, and MFO set up the local observatory

We were supposed to have peak (82%) coverage, but if you didn’t know something was up, I don’t really think you’d notice any difference.  Maybe briefly a bit cooler and the light had a softer quality, but nothing more.  I really expected a bit more noticeable effect.

As to the complicated equipment, it worked pretty well, although tough to get a good photo

(the moon’s shadow is in the upper quadrant)

All in all, I will remember the eclipse of 2017, but not for its splendor..

So in (finally) closing just some visuals of why we like living where we do

And the occasional visitors who don’t like to pose:

And despite above, here is something to restore your faith in getting