Friday, February 26, 2010

Justus For All

For Valentine’s Day this year, she took me to Justus Drugstore in Smithville.

In almost 5 years of our quarterly (birthday/Valentine’s/anniversary/birthday) special dinners, this is the first time we’ve repeated a restaurant (previous entry here).

This was done intentionally, as Justus Drugstore has become our favorite.

If you haven’t been there, just go. It’s delicious. Most of the food comes from within a 100-mile radius of Smithville, and the back page of the menu is simply a list of all the local suppliers they use. And their backstory is fascinating.

We started with cocktails; theirs are unique and contain house-infused spirits. It’s fun to watch them be made. She had “Maresy Doatz” (with oatmeal-infused vodka) and I had a Chocolate Malt, which was as rich as Christopher Elbow drinking chocolate but with alcohol. I saved most of it for after dinner.

We had a walleye appetizer, which had a delicious batter and came with a housemade shallot tartar sauce.

We followed with a blue cheese salad and a goat cheese salad, and our entrees were pork two ways (braised pork shoulder and a grilled ribeye chop) and American Kobe beef brisket.

We finished with a winter pie (pastry and compote with black cherry-walnut ice cream) and several other ice creams: a champagne basil sorbet, raspberry ginger, scotchy butter with fig cookies, and chocolate with rose hip.

Every dish was a hit.

This isn’t as descriptive as most of my recaps, mostly because I wrote at length about the place before.

I just think everyone should eat there at least once. It’s wonderful, and surprisingly affordable if you don’t do every single course and/or skip the alcohol. Appetizers and salads run about $10 each, and entrees are in the $20-$28 range (American kobe steaks excepted). You can even do a cheap dessert ($2 for mini-scoops of homemade ice cream, or $3 for full size).

It’s totally worth the trip, and if you order something interesting you might just hear an great story to go with it.

One of the couples on the other side of the partition from us ordered their rabbit special. The chef brought the food out himself and said there was a story behind the dish. As it turns out, the breed of rabbit used in the dish was a gravely endangered species.

The diners no doubt dropped their jaws, and he quickly recovered and reassured them that it was okay. Because rabbit had fallen out of favor from a culinary standpoint, it was becoming unprofitable to breed them. This particular breed, however, had become domesticated to the point that it had no chance of surviving in the wild, so it was in danger of becoming extinct. As it turns out, his restaurant and several others have filled enough orders for breeding to resume, and the "endangered" moniker is about to be lifted.

He said most of the entrees he serves have a story behind them. Maybe your order will come with a tale too.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


This winter has been ridiculous; no need to rehash that.

It has lingered long enough that I find myself unable to process that it is nearly MARCH.

More specifically: I can look at the thermometer today at lunch (21ยบ) and shiver because the calendar says softball starts...wait for it...two weeks from tomorrow.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Life and Limb

So, as mentioned here, we had the fortune of obtaining a bottle of Life and Limb, a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head. Yeah, we just now got around to drinking it. So sue us.

It comes in 24oz. bottles only, if you can find it. As our guy in Minnesota said, the entire state got 5 cases and he got one of them.

It pours a very dark brown. The head was sort of a caramelly brown and it dissipated pretty quickly.

It had a nice roasty smell with some alcohol notes, and you could definitely detect the maple syrup in it. At least, that's what Simon told us...

Overall, I liked the beer. I'm not that great at picking up "notes", so I would describe it as a strong roasty brown ale, plenty of warming alcohol presence (it IS 10% ABV), with a little too much maple syrup on the back end. It also contains birch syrup, but I have no idea what the hell that tastes like. My fiancee likes strong beers, but she did not care for this one. She felt like her palate was being hit over the head with the maple, and I can certainly see how that would be the case.

If you tried the Tommyknocker Imperial Maple Nut Brown when it was around town, this was about the same beer but with a bit more depth and complexity. Considering it costs 3 times as much as that beer ounce-for-ounce, your marginal enjoyment isn't going to compete.

I think this was a reasonably successful collaboration, and I think most people who are into strong ales would like this beer. If this were, say, Boulder Beer Company and Bridgeport, the beer geek world would not have been quite so abuzz. But this was Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head, two darlings of the industry, so it would have been almost impossible to live up to the hype.

My vote? Give it a try if you come across it, but there's no need to make any crazy multi-state jaunt to get your hands on a bottle. It's just beer.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gastro-Smut: Claim Jumper

You may have heard that Missouri State Rep. Matt Bartle is attempting to ban nudity in strip clubs.

Stupid? Yes.
Pandering? Hell yes.

But honestly, is anyone surprised? We've all grown accustomed to puritanical bastards trying to regulate what consenting adults can and cannot do. They preach personal responsibility and then try to divest us of personal choice.

If they really want to make a difference in the world, they should be picketing Claim Jumper, a restaurant chain I visited in Phoenix.

They are proud, slutty-assed purveyors of XXX hardcore food porn. It is not for the faint of heart.

NOTE: I'm royally pissed I did not have a photographic device to truly capture the gluttony and guilt. I have found some photos online of these menu items, but I would have used much better staging to fully demonstrate the scale of this stuff.

I sat down with a couple guys with whom I'm traveling. The menu contained all manner of appetizers, sandwiches, salads, entrees, and desserts. The food looked reasonably interesting, as far as chain fare goes.

The server took our order. One guy ordered a pot pie, and the other ordered a beef stew. I ordered a Jamaican Jerk Chicken Sweetpotato, described thusly:

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Sweetpotato
Slow-roasted and shredded chicken with green onions, red peppers, cilantro, papaya relish, fresh lemon and drizzled with honey

Sounds pretty good, huh? Also, I was craving greens so I ordered:

Organic Spinach Salad
Tossed with crunchy noodles, diced red onions, tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon, feta cheese, glazed pecans, sesame seeds and our signature citrus dressing

Please note that the above is listed as a STARTER SALAD in the menu.

The order is in.

I casually noticed that the party next to us - 2 adults and 2 little kids - had a stack of FIVE full-sized styrofoam to-go containers on their table.

It hadn't registered yet.

I thumbed through the "saloon menu" to see what their goofy specialty cocktails are.

In the back is something I regret ever laying eyes upon...I feel dirty even talking about it.

It was the nutrition information.

Disclaimer: I am a HUGE fan of full nutritional information disclosure. HUGE. I think more info is always a good thing.

I just wish I had seen it before I ordered.

My salad? 1,075 calories, 18 grams of fat.


Nope, it's worse: the fat content listed was SATURATED FAT ONLY. Not total fat grams; SATURATED ONLY.

For a salad that is this size, but without any actual meat:

That's a 10-inch plate, folks.

Then, my dish came out. Read the description again. Now feast thine eyes:

If you can't tell, that's a whole G.D. jumbo sweet potato (about 1-1/2 lbs. if I had to guess) topped with, well, reasonably healthy stuff, if you don't count the STICK OF BUTTER they added to it.

Mine was 1,424 calories.

My buddy's fresh chicken pot pie? 2,188 calories and 65 grams of SATURATED fat.

But nothing will make your palate rub one out like the full rack of beef ribs: 4,301 calories, 156 grams (that's 5.5 ounces) of SATURATED fat.

Almost as a joke, one of the guys suggested ordering dessert. The other guy seconded it, which left me forced to have a little something. I figured, at worst I'll eat a quarter of a dessert...which was 2,315 calories and 81 grams of saturated fat.

Not even close. Description:

I Declair
Baked fresh daily. Sweet pastry filled with a buttery Bavarian custard and atop vanilla bean ice cream with hot fudge & homemade whipped cream

Someone else's photo:

I shit you not: that thing is the size of an NCAA football. Seriously.

I feel like a filthy whore after eating there. I don't know if I can even face my fiancee when I get home; I'll feel like I've done something I really shouldn't have.

I will clarify--I ate roughly half of my salad and entree, and about 1/8 of the dessert. And, to be honest, the food tasted okay.

But on the other hand, eff you Claim Jumper. Eff you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jonah Rocks

Some of you have probably seen this, but even if you have it's worth checking out again.

Jonah is a five-year-old drummer who is, according to his website, completely self-taught and has never had a lesson.

If this is true, kid is a friggin' prodigy.

Check out this YouTube video of Jonah playing Toxicity by System of a Down (sorry, embedding was disabled).

It's about a 4-minute clip; if you don't have time to watch the whole thing start at the beginning and then skip to about 2:40.

He already makes good drummer faces and knows how to add flair when necessary.

Hard to believe an adorable 5-year-old kid can bring it like this.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Very Special Tantrum: Improv Meets Bellydance, Friday, 2/12/10

This Friday, February 12th, we’re proud to present a one-of-a-kind show.

Don’t worry. Tantrum’s improvisers won’t be bellydancing. For that, we’ve got Massive Tassel—one of the city’s most critically acclaimed dance troupes.

First up, Kim Carrington (”Kimmi Tassel”) of Massive Tassel Bellydance joins our list of monologists. She’ll tell stories based on suggestions from the audience, and Tantrum will spin them into scenes made of pure hilarious.

Then the rest of Massive Tassel will join Kimmi for a performance. For those of you unfamiliar with the art, check out this video of the Sword Dance.

So we’ll see you there, right?

Tantrum with Special Guest Kim Carrington of Massive Tassel
Westport Coffeehouse
4010 Pennsylvania • 816-678-8886 for reservations
Friday, February 12 • 8pm • Tickets: $10
May contain adult material.

She's getting ready...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Thoughts

-The onside kick to begin the 2nd half will likely be the ballsiest thing you'll ever see in a Super Bowl.

-Everyone praised the onside kick because it worked out for the Saints. They would have called it the stupidest thing you'll ever see in a Super Bowl if the Colts recovered.

-Peyton Manning is by far the most valuable player in the NFL. He is the only reason the Colts were in the Super Bowl. There is not a single playmaker on that offense, yet he makes Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne into Pro Bowlers. The Colts are an 8-win team with, say, Carson Palmer or Eli Manning. With Peyton, they've won at least 12 games SEVEN YEARS in a row.

-Somewhat related to this fact above: if you watched even a little sports coverage in the week preceding the game, you'll hear former NFL players-turned-analysts talk about how Peyton Manning can't be considered the greatest quarterback of all time unless he wins this Super Bowl. How Drew Brees is a very good QB, but becomes an ELITE QB if he wins this game.

It's all about championships for a quarterback.

This one game will determine his legacy.

This argument is STUPID. By this rationale, Trent Dilfer > Dan Marino. (And yes, Dilfer is one of the people making the argument.)

There is no other sport in which a player is more dependent on his teammates. I liken the Colts to the early Broncos teams led by John Elway. Now we can look back and say the Broncos really had no business even being in the three Super Bowls they lost--that Elway incalculably elevated those teams--but that wasn't what people said at the time. The rub? John Elway was no Joe Montana because he didn't win championships.

Let's get real here: Joe Montana was good, but he couldn't hold Elway's jock.

Of course, the whole "Elway can't win the big one" argument has been resolved because the Broncos won a couple championships at the end of Elway's career...but what if Terrell Davis and the rest of the team weren't there? How would we think of Elway today if they didn't win those games?

-I thought the Who had a good showing, which contrasts with a lot of stuff I've seen. I thought they sounded good and looked good. There's never a really good way to do 12 minutes of music when you have the back catalog of the Who, and I'm sure CBS contractually obligated them to play "Won't Get Fooled Again". Still, at age 65, Daltrey has lost only the top end of his range, and Townshend still windmills. They didn't take a single song down a half- (or full-) octave like most musicians fifteen years younger tend to do.

-The commercials, yet again, were meh. I think they've simply run out of ways to surprise us, shock us, or wow us visually.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Career for CoCo?

I was reading Joe Posnanski's piece on the Washington Generals' owner. It's a great column/post about Red Klotz, a former professional basketball star who has coached a team of no-names against the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters for some 58 years.

In the comments section, someone alertly posted that Red attempted to contact a certain deposed redheaded talk show host about playing some ball for the Generals.

Here is the result (click to enlarge):

I love the comment about Andy at the end.