Sunday, January 06, 2008

Food Extremism

Thursday was a special day for eating. Lunch was spent with classic working man's food - Mexican tacos packed with organ meats. Dinner was at one of the best restaurants in the Kansas City region. The meals were both outstanding, though wildly different.

Lunch was at El Taco Nazo, on Kansas Avenue in KCK. While I enjoyed my huaraches (sandal-shaped fried masa topped with pork leg and with adobado - marinated pork), and Ali enjoyed her gordito and taco, Sam had the most memorable meal with 5 soft tacos. He had the adobado and pork leg, too, but he also had one with fried pork stomach, one with beef tongue, and one with head meat. He allowed his squeamish father to try a little of each, and they were, well, interesting. I'm not an organ meat connoisseur, but I enjoyed them. Not as much as I enjoy typical beef, chicken and pork, but I'm glad I tried something new. The restaurant also deserves credit for an excellent guacamole and an outstanding salsa with a smoky note sounded by roasted tomatoes. I look forward to returning.

Dinner was a venture way up north to Smithville, where we visited the Justus Drugstore. It's a long way literally and figuratively from $1.50 tacos in KCK to an appetizer of foie gras terrine with vanilla maple pecan, fig, ginger pear port syrup, and fresh pear served on cinnamon brioche french toast, but it's a journey I'm happy to make.

Everything at Justus Drugstore was wonderful. The service was attentive but non-intrusive, over a 2 hour plus leisurely meal. The wine list was a great selection, and many available by the half glass, allowing my promiscuous palate to have its way.

Allow me to just list a few of the items we tasted, as described on the menu.

Brandade - smoked walleye, potato, extra virgin olive oil, herbs and crostini. We all loved this appetizer. It was kind of like crab dip to the power of ten.

Freshwater Striper Bass - spinach foam, chestnut mushroom risotto, swiss chard. Delicate, but full of flavor.

Roast Half Chicken - maple ginger, caramelized fennel mashed potatoes, bok choy. I'm glad Ali got this instead of me, because I would not have shown her restraint. I'd have picked that bad boy up and gnawed it to the bone. It was that good.

Pork Two Ways - grilled berkshire pork ribeye, braised pork shoulder, blueberry ginger gastrique, soft polenta, lemon shallot green beans. The pork shoulder was delectable and the ribeye was the best pork I have ever had. Both had been brined by angels.

American Kobe Flat Iron Steak - caramelized shallot maytag blue cheese sauce, potato cauliflower gratin, braised brussel sprouts. I love good steaks, but I don't think it's possible for a restaurant steak to really blow me away. What did blow me away, though, were the sides. The brussel sprouts were astounding, and the cauliflower potato gratin was tasty without being overpowering.

Cap all that off with a little sorbet and ice cream, and you have a meal worth a forty minute ride to the great white north.

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Anonymous sam said...

no pork leg, but chorizo.

for those curious:

lengua > chorizo > buche > pastor > cabeza

this place's lengua must be tried to be believed. the texture and flavor are SPOT ON. best i've ever had.

1/07/2008 12:11 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

It was the first time I've had a nonhuman tongue in my mouth, but I was surprised at how good the tongue was. It was kind of like soft pot roast - a strong earthy, beefy flavor.

1/07/2008 6:00 AM  
Blogger meesha.v said...

I eat beef tongue all the time,it's very good. With increasing Mexican population in Olathe it's now easier to find in stores. Also less controversial item - Mexican soda pop is made with real sugar and it's very tasty. It will remind you about pre-corn syrup days in the US.

1/07/2008 6:49 AM  
Anonymous travelingal said...

I know it's mostly psychological, but I'm not into eating "organ" meats. My dad used to savor head cheese, blood sausage and all that gross stuff.

On the other hand, I'm putting the Justus Drugstore on my list. Yum.

1/07/2008 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Foodie said...

Excellent, another KCK restaurant to place on my list! Honestly, I have seen enough Discovery Channel grub foraging, sand sucking and dead zebra eating survival shows . . . that I feel more than prepared to eat the tongue of this domesticated animal. As for Justus Drugstore, it's my pick for best restaurant in KC. Here's some photo's to enjoy, they are a little blurry, but I received a mini tripod for Xmas, so things should be looking better in 2008! Enjoy!

1/08/2008 11:22 PM  

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