Kansas City: not just BBQ!

Kansas City is known for its BBQ! But did you know that they also have an amazing farmers market? The spunkiest cupcake shop I've seen yet? And "Farmer Bob's Sweet Corn Ice Cream? It's not JUST BBQ in KC!
Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ Lamb Ribs
Sure, I went to Kansas to see Stephen. That's not a secret, but what we didn't realize is that he'd have a conference in Wichita while I was there. *Sigh* So I turned Saturday into a crazy work day....a crazy SUGARY work day. I made it my goal to do the cupcake taste test, stop by a few interesting ice cream shops (since this is my ice cream year of study) and one chocolateer that I simply could not resist.

But let's start at the beginning. I'll skip over the boring things like the hour and a half it took us for Stephen to actually find the gate and terminal I was at, and the three loops we did around the rental car complex trying to figure out how to get in, and go straight to:

Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ!
clockwise: colossal onion ring, lamb ribs, crown prime rib beef, pork ribs and vegetable kabob
Perhaps you know them from The James Beard House, BBQ with Bobby Flay, or read about them in Bon Apetit, The New York Time, Esquire, GQ, Times of London, or The Wall Street Joournal.....or just maybe you heard that they are consistently rated in Zagat's Best American Restaurants for Best Barbecue, Best World Restaurants as a Top American Restaurant, or that they've been ranked as KCs best BBQ ten years and running. I knew all of this.....Stephen, not so much, but he caught on quick. As soon as I said "best bbq" he was in. Actually, I think it was more like "So I REALLY want to go to" "OK!" Haha. I'm not sure I actually got to finish the sentence.

We went to the charming Freight House location in the Crossroads Arts District. It was just a little too perfect to have the BBQ joint located adjacent to the shipping yard with trains running past. We tried the Crown Prime Rib Beef, Baby Back Ribs, Beef Burnt Ends, Lamb ribs, and Pork Ribs....not to mention the freshly breaded sweet colossal onion rings, vegetable kabob (best corn ever) and cheesy potato bake (a cross between au gratin and a twice baked potato). Sound like way too much food? It was. It really was. I fell madly in loves with the Crown Prime Rib Beef. It is actually embarrassing. I keep saying "it melted in ma mouth like buttah." Yep. Stephen will never take me anywhere after that embarrassing display. We both adored the Lamb Ribs as well. He loved the burnt ends....I thought the meat was a little tough. Easily the Best BBQ I can remember having. I will say it one more time: that meat melted in ma mouth like buttah.

After that we got rained out a Kansas City Royals game. More like flooded out. Did I mention that lightning struck the scoreboard? That was an experience. But hey, we had funnel cake and a lot of good laughs at the two crazy teenage guys who seemed to enjoy sitting in the rain with their shirts off.

Saturday morning, with Stephen safely in Wichita after his late night drive, I lazily woke up and began my days adventures in sugary treats. Too. Much. Sugar.

Bloom Bakery, Baby Cakes, and Cupcake A La Mode
clockwise: bloom baking co's chocolate cupcake, sign outside baby cakes, chocolate obsession from cupcake a la mode, the daily specials at bloom baking co., the chocolate cupcake from baby cakes, and pink lemonade, tiramisu, lavender and strawberry macarons from bloom baking co. 
I started out my days adventures at Bloom Baking Co.  located in the City Market.

I have to take a moment to dedicate to the City Market. First of all, bagpipe players and accordians of the world seem to unite there. It had a very charming and eclectic feel. I was AMAZED to find the Habashi House and Al Habashi Market there. I did not expect an Arabic market in the middle of the KC farmers market. There was also an Italian grocer, a man who grows Asian Pears, some sweet ladies in bonnets selling Yellow Tomato Preserves, and a local honey shop that sells bee pollen too. Everywhere I looked there was someone carrying a very large beautiful homegrown watermelon and some of the prettiest produce I've seen in a while. If I'd just seen an herb stand and a mushroom grower (which I love about the Farmers Market @ Court House Metro Stop) I would have been in sheer heaven.

Back to Bloom! Located next to the Italian grocer is this delightfully authentic little french bakery that takes three days to make their napoleons. You can watch the bakers from the windows creating all their wares, and usually get a taste test of four or so types of bread on any given Saturday morning. The staff was the friendliest of any place I went that weekend. The macarons were lovely (though the lavender was a little strong for me), I especially LOVED the strawberry flavored one. It was delightful, perfect texture, shape and size, which is a true accomplishment in the humidity of Kansas City, which might be why they are the only shop around that sells traditional macarons. The store bustled and the line moved quickly, with nearly half the patrons walking out the door with the ham and cheese croissant I read about on the special board. The chocolate cupcake? Well. They aren't really a cupcake shop anyway. The frosting was a tad bitter (but far superior to Red Velvet Cupcakery). If I went back to Kansas City, Bloom Baking Co, and the City Market on a Saturday morning would be a must. I highly recommend it.

Just around the corner from the market was Baby Cakes. I loved the frosting. The shop is small, poorly lit, with lackluster displays, and cupcakes decorated out of the early 90s Wilton cake decorating books but let me repeat: I loved the frosting. The chocolate buttercream was smooth and had a beautiful texture. I wouldn't call it a destination cupcake, and if I had only time to stop into one bakery it would be Bloom, and one cupcakery it would be Cupcakes A La Mode.

Cupcakes A La Mode was delightful. I loved the feel of their boutique. Hot pink and black, lots of character and just fun to walk into. The cupcakes are gorgeous. The cake was moist, and easily the best of the cakes I'd tasted that day. The boxes of cupcakes orders lined up on the wall told the story pretty well. This place gets some lovin'. The frosting did not have the perfect texture I had with Baby Cakes, but still overall if I were going to a cupcake in Kansas City, it's going to be Cupcakes A La Mode. I wish I could have tried more of the flavors! The marshmallow fondue, the bella nutella, and peanut butter kiss were just calling my name.

I spent the afternoon getting over my sugar rush and relaxing at Stephen's apartment. He had rented me some movies and stocked up on snack I like. We can skip over the embarasshing moments when I locked myself out of the apartment (the neighbors are really nice), and poured honey on his sliding glass door to try to attract and kill the wasp that managed to get into the apartment. Actually, we can't skip that one. It's just TOO funny.   I baracaded myself behind the couch watching this wasp walking around the sliding glass door like he owned the place. To be fair, I didn't either, but I'd like to think I'm a wee bit closer to the guy who does than this wasp. Blackberry in hand I googled every bit of advice I could come up with. I pour honey on the window. When the wasp got stuck I took a pair of scissors, hands shaking, and attempted to cut him in half. Well......that didn't work out how I planned. At. All. I was shaking so badly that i only cut off an antenna. The plus side is he was disoriented. The down side: HE WAS UPSET. I hid for a bit, watched from behind the couch. Eventually he made his way back toward the honey, and I geared up for round two. When I finally cut at him, he didn't die! He tried to wrangle his way out of the scissors. Of course, freaked out, I did the most logical thing, and threw the scissors and the wasp out on the back patio. Stephen returned ten minutes later, laughing and congratulating me on my success. I'm very pleased he found the honey clever, instead of chiding me about pouring honey on the windows!

He treated me by taking me out. That's a joke. It will make more sense when you read about:

Stroud's Restaurant
clockwise: pan fried chicken, chicken noodle soup, "cinnamon rolls", chicken fried steak, and the sides of green beans with ham, and mashed potatoes
This was an eventful dinner. Not just because I had easily the most excellent chicken fried steak I've ever had (sorry mama!), but because the guy at the table next to us was a HOOT. First of all, when I whip out my camera to take these photos (yikes on the BAD lighting) he turns to Stephen and says "You don't take her out much do ya? She's gotta take photos so she can show all her friends you bought her dinner?" We proceeded to laugh for a good long while. When I told him about Stroud's James Beard award in 2008, their reviews on roadfood.com  and their being highlighted on Man Vs. Food, he laughed and said "James Beard? Really? This place? My daddy had his cook book." First of all, this man is in his fifties at least, and just called his father "Daddy." I love the country! And secondly, I love how in Kansas you feel free to talk to people sitting around you like their family. It's just cozy, and Elaine, our waitress, was hysterical. Stephen complimented to soup, with its homemade noodles, from scratch, and she said "Thanks! I made it myself!" and when he believed her, proceeded to get teased by me and the next table over. If you go, be prepped to share a meal. They really fix you up with a lot of good food. I recommend the chicken fried steak. I really loved it, and their known for their pan fried chicken. Extra time and worth the wait. Stroud's cooks food....well not the way your mama used to. Apparently it's the way you're Daddy used to. That guy was hilarious.

Next up? I'd saved the ice cream place I was especially excited about to take Stephen to on Saturday night:

Glace Artisan Ice Cream, Christopher Elbow Chocolates, and Murray's Ice Cream and Cookies
clockwise: murrays chocolate chip cookies, glace's ice cream selection, christopher elbow chocolates, murrays cookies and ice cream sandwich, and a box of christopher elbow chocolates
I'd actually gone to Murray's and Christopher Elbows earlier in the day, but it made more sense to put them with Glace. Murray's because it's ice cream, and Christopher Elbow's because he run Glace as well. Murrays has all the old time charm. They serve over 200 flavors on a rotating basis. It's cute, and quiet, in the Wesport part of town which has plenty of dining in the area. The staff is overly friendly, and so helpful. The cookies are made fresh daily and ice cream is in fact original and lovely. I ordered an english toffee and chocolate chip cookie sandwich with french silk ice cream. The chocolate chip cookie I'll admit was much better than the english toffee. Softer, chewier, and simply a lovely cookie. I was a little sad at getting so little ice cream in the sandwich, but after taste testing a few other flavors, I shouldn't really complain.

Christopher Elbows Chocolates are wonderful. I spent twice as much as I ever have in any chocolate shop before. It's worth it. I have been very happy indulging in such exotic flavors as strawberry balsamic, spiced venezuelan chocolate, rosemary caramel, etc. What better is that many of these flavors are translated over on the ice cream front, a long with Farmer Bobs Sweet Corn, Bananas Foster, Lavender, Fleur de Sel Caramel, candied ginger, and thai peanut curry. Let me warn you about the thai peanut curry. For about two second you'll think, oh, that's lovely, then that spice will sucker punch you right in the mouth. WHOO! That has a kick! I loved the strawberry balsamic ice cream so much I came home to DC and made a batch on Monday (which I'll post next week) only a tad less balsamic. Lovely. Simply Lovely. 

Stephen and I then went back to that Royals game turned double header. Watched baseball until well after midnight and gave in to the sleep dep. It was a long day with so much sugar in it! 

Kansas City dining in a nutshell:
-ice cream: Glace

If you have time for only a few places those are my must eats!!! Such a good trip!