I shot a series of photographs this afternoon at Snow & Company, which serves frozen cocktails using premium ingredients, for a KC Magazine assignment. The story, due out in August, is about cool sweet treats from local establishments. It is definitely a fun assignment.
These shots are outtakes from my visit. Camry Ivory and her friend Mallory Taulbee were kind enough to sit in and sample some delicious (and potent) cocktails such as Purple Rain, A Kick to the Peaches, Sailor’s Gold, and my favorite The Rockefeller. The menu includes a half-dozen other drinks (including a non-alcoholic option) and a few of them use local ingredients ranging from Christopher Elbow’s spiced chocolate to Boulevard Wheat Beer.
Hot weather slowing you down? Cruise over to 18th Street and Wyandotte, order up a frozen cocktail, and sip responsibly.
Recently, EBT Restaurant General Manager Adam Horner invited local writers and foodies to sample dishes from the menu updated by Chef Tate Roberts.
Renovated in 2006, the restaurant’s decor and atmosphere reflect its rich history and contemporary touches that offer a classy setting for drinks and dining. Here’s a description from the restaurant’s website:
Much of the decor for the restaurant comes from the Emery, Bird, Thayer Department Store that operated in downtown Kansas City until the 1960′s. EBT Restaurant was opened to honor that department store, which has ties to Kansas City history dating back to the late 1800s. The stained glass, much of the masonry, wrought iron archways and most notably, the two brass elevator cages were all salvaged when the EBT Department store was demolished in 1971.
Guests can reserve a table in one of the two elevator cages for a touch of elegance and novelty or secure a table in the refined dining room.
The draw for this gathering was Chef Tate Robert’s additions to the classic repertoire of dishes on the menu. Roberts has been with the restaurant for a number of years as it has undergone change to revitalize its offerings and attract new clientele under the stewardship of Adam Horner. Roberts cuisine presents classic dishes with a contemporary touch. Nothing too cutting edge that will discourage traditionalists seeking comfort or so revered that it can’t be reinterpreted for modern adventurous palates.
New dishes under the heading of contemporary include pan-roasted duck breast brushed with sweet currant orange glaze and served with sweet corn and Yukon gold potato hash, and bacon green beans; rosemary studded Colorado lamb T-bone; and grilled vegetable Napoleon. Classic entrees range from peppercorn beef tenderloin medallions to pan seared Chilean sea bass.
Other new items on the starters menu are grilled flatbread pizzas (truffle-dressed spinach, ricotta and candied Shallots; hummus, roasted red peppers and mint infused goat cheese) and my personal favorite, bacon wrapped tiger shrimp. For a list of menu items, check www.ebtrestaurant.com/menu.
Among the new signature cocktails, I tried the Pimm’s “New” Cup and The Original (Old Fashioned). The Pimm’s ‘New’ Cup (Pimm’s Cup) blends Pimm’s No. 1 with cucumber-infused lemonade and is served on the rocks with a lemon twist and cucumber slice. Refreshing and crisp, this drink is the perfect antidote to a busy summer day when it’s time to relax.
The Original (Old-Fashioned) is a pour of Woodford Reserve Bourbon over an Angostura bitters-soaked sugar cube and muddled fresh peach and blackberries served on the rocks with a splash of soda and peach flag. While it was a fruit-filled alternative to the citrus and cherry flavors often found in an Old Fashioned, the execution was not quite as satisfying as the Pimm’s. The drink was too strong and the flavors were not clean and distinct.
I look forward to returning to the restaurant to explore the cocktails, wine list, and other dishes on another visit. Conveniently located at I-435 & State Line, the restaurant also houses a lounge with live music Thursday-Saturday.
Contacts: www.ebtrestaurant.com | on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/EBTKansasCity || on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/EBTKansasCity |Book on OpenTable www.opentable.com/EBT |
Recently, Pam Taylor and I traveled to Chicago and Boyne City/Traverse City in northern Michigan for a week’s vacation with the kids. We ate a few places that were easy to find if you’re in the area and were not touristy at all.
A standout discovery was Red Mesa Grill with locations in Boyne City and Traverse City. The menu features foods with Latin American flavors from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. The atmosphere was upbeat and cordial with bright decor. The Boyne City location seemed to have plenty of locals dining there, but I’ll bet this is a popular spot during the summer tourist season.
Pam had a Sour Cherry Margarita that was sweet, tart, and refreshing. I enjoyed a couple of lightly hoppy pints of Will Power Pale Ale from Right Brain Brewery, based in Traverse City.
The food had distinct flavor combinations and presentation that didn’t feel Americanized at all.
Subtly spiced ground beef empanadas were perfect light pastries with a chipotle cream dipping sauce. Peruvian armadillo eggs are not what they seem, but they are delicious as an appetizer. I tried the masa dusted sauteed whitefish which was sourced locally and prepared to perfection – light crust and flaky, tender filet. Served with steamed vegetables and a chile sauce, the whitefish was a pleasant change from heavy breaded fish and chips. The Cuban black bean cakes were a hearty vegetarian dish. And the Costa Rican garlic steak was a winner as well. We savored the variety of housemade sauces served with dishes as well as bottled sauces on the table.
Other dishes I want to try on some future visit include corn Roasted walleye, wild mushroom fajitas, and roasted pineapple quesadilla. We did leave room for dessert which was a good call. The coconut bread pudding was insanely tasty. The kids enjoyed trying habanero fried ice cream which sounded adventurous, but was more cinnamon and fried dough than peppery.
Service was friendly and attentive. The only drawbacks to visiting Red Mesa Grill were that we had to leave the area soon for the return trip home and that we couldn’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo there.
Until next time, I’ll settle for this recipe from the Red Mesa Grill’s website.
Roasted Tomato Salsa
5 lbs Red Ripe Roma Tomatoes
6 each Fresh Jalapenos
6 each Fresh Garlic Cloves
1 tbls Salt
3 tbls Cider Vinegar
1 lb White Onion Small Diced
1 bunch Fresh Cilantro, rough chopped
1 ea 15 oz can Salsa Diced Tomatoes
1) Wash tomatoes and place on baking sheet, and roast in a 500 degree oven until well charred on the outside.
2) At the same time on a separate baking sheet roast garlic, and jalapenos until charred.
3) Place roasted garlic, jalapenos, vinegar, and salt in blender and puree
4) Add charred tomatoes to jalapeno mixture and slightly puree, leaving salsa slightly chunky.
5) Add onions and rough chopped cilantro to salsa
6) Finish salsa with diced tomatoes.
Raquel Pelzel is an award-winning food writer and has written and collaborated on more than a dozen cookbooks. Her work has appeared in Saveur, The Wall Street Journal, Cook’s Illustrated, Fine Cooking, and many others. At the time of the inteview, she was senior food editor for Tasting Table. She writes the blog raqinthekitchen.com.
Sofia Perez, editor-at-large for Saveur, recommended that I contact Raquel for the next installment of my series where I ask food writers, “What is Good Food Writing?” Sofia wrote the first thoughtful response. Stay tuned for more to come.
Since Raquel’s expertise and experience lies in cookbook writing and recipe development, she proposed discussing that area of food writing as an alternative to examining my central question. I gladly accepted her offer.
Food + Writing
Turns out that Raquel’s food writing career began in her hometown of Chicago with a few twists and turns.
“In college, I became a vegetarian. I didn’t know how to cook,” she says. “I had a college internship at an advertising agency for food-based businesses, but I spent more time talking to the house chef than writing copy.”
Following her instincts, she decided to attend culinary school and headed to the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, Colorado. She learned about cooking healthful whole foods to sustain a vegetarian diet. Afterward, she returned to Chicago to finish college and then landed a job in publishing as an assistant editor at Consumers’ Digest Magazine where she wrote about health and travel. She met her future husband and they moved to Boston, his hometown on the East Coast.
While working for a healthcare newsletter, Raquel nursed second thoughts about a baking career. She worried about earning enough money to make a living, but decided to go for it anyway.
“I kept having a romantic vision of being a baker or pastry chef. I quit my job in publishing and started pastry school at Johnson & Wales University in Providence. I worked as a baker in a kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts from six in the morning until noon, then drove an hour to Rhode Island where I was in school until seven at night. I’d drive home, eat a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich and pass out from exhaustion!”
She left Johson & Wales to take a job at a small artisanal bakery in Brookline and then moved on to work in pastry at Barbara Lynch’s No. 9 Park. “It was hard and the pay was dismal, and soon enough I began to miss my old life as a writer with semi-sane hours, vacation time and holidays off. While I loved cooking and working with food, I missed writing.”
Raquel wanted to marry her interest in food with writing. Opportunity knocked when she saw a job opening at Cook’s Illustrated. She wrote a story and made multiple versions of a dish for the interview. Tuna noodle casserole, no less. She got the job and began her career as a professional home cook, developing and testing original recipes and cross-testing and vetting recipes from some of the best chefs in the world.
The process of writing recipes and developing a cookbook is complicated and involves several areas of expertise. Raquel offers several pieces of advice for aspiring cookbook writers or anyone writing a recipe for publication.
• Consider the audience. “Speak to the audience and lifestyle. Is it urban, hobby, cooking for a family, working parents, or casual?” she asks. “The audience and lifestyle affects the ingredients, writing tone, and cooking techniques.”
• Have the recipe(s) tested. “At Tasting Table [where Pelzel currently works], we prepare recipes from chefs and cookbooks constantly. It’s pretty amazing how many recipes don’t work—it’s my job not just to fix them, but to make them an accurate representation of the chef and the food he or she serves,” says Raquel.
• Have a keen eye. “Hire a copywriter. Small typos and details can destroy a lot of hard work. Watch the process during the book’s layout and pay attention so instructions don’t drop off the page.”
One of Raquel’s first cookbooks was a project for Williams-Sonoma, Williams Sonoma: New Flavors for Dessert (Oxmoor House, 2008). She was hired to develop the recipes and write the book. The publisher was very involved as were the executives at Williams-Sonoma, and before going into the kitchen, Raquel had to have all of the ingredients and techniques for her recipes approved. She learned to be flexible with recipe development.
• Always be flexible. “”There’s always something new to learn and consider. Be adaptable and nimble to requests,” she advises. “I was pushed to come up with more interesting ideas and learned a lot that way. Plus, as a freelancer, it’s a good thing to be easy to work with if you want to get hired again!”
• Originality. “”To truly develop an original recipe, you have to start at ground zero with an idea. ”Think about possibilities and flavor combinations and sketch out a recipe. I consult other recipe sources, take notes on interesting details and techniques. It’s a lot of research, and not just switching out an ingredient here or there.”
• Test and experiment. Raquel sketches out a framework for the recipe. She cooks it and changes out ingredients while testing at the counter. “Then I put the ingredients and method aside and just cook. Paper can tie you down,” she says. “Cooking is unique to you. What makes it interesting is that it speaks to your style.”
• Cite sources and inspiration. “Give credit where credit is due. I know people spend lots of time developing recipes,” she says. “If inspired by something someone else has done, say so as an acknowledgement.”
• Keep trying. “If you have an idea, go for it. You will have failures. Cook through all of the possibilities.”
Check out Pelzel’s other work including Masala Farm, a collaboration with Chef Suvir Saran (Chronicle, 2011), and Preserving Wild Foods with Chef Matthew Weingarten (Storey, 2012).