|Tuesday - September 30, 2008: Added a page
devoted to Cafe Venezuela.
Tried out the newest Smokehouse Bar-B-Que restaurant,
which is located in Overland Park, Kansas. This was the second Kansas city
area Smokehouse I have visited in the past few months.
Smokehouse seems to be filling much the same niche as
Jack Stack Barbecue, but is just a little less expensive or polished. The
meats were heavily covered with the sauce, which tasted like ketchup with
celery seasoning. No sauce is on the table or served on the side.
I ordered the Chef's Special for $15.55: It was a large
serving of food including one beef rib, two pork ribs, 1/2 of a small chicken
and sausage served with coleslaw & French fries. The chicken was my
Although smoke can be smelled through out the restaurant,
the meat had little or no flavor from the smoking process. Overall, I found
the food slightly above average and the service slightly below. I think
Smokehouse is more likely to appeal to the casual BBQ eater than to BBQ
aficionados. There are far too many other good BBQ choices in metro KC
for me to return here soon.
|Saturday - September 27, 2008:
Added a page devoted to the Big Well
in Greensburg, Kansas.
Saturday I visited a couple of restaurants in Kansas City,
The first was Cafe Venezuela, a restaurant that is only
about 12 by 45 feet. There are two tables and a long counter where about
a dozen people may sit. The menu has items from many Latin American countries
including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica.
The owner, Jose Garcia, told me that Cafe Venezuela will
be remodeled this fall, adding a couple more tables and a doorway to the
rest room so that customers will no longer have to pass through the kitchen.
The name will also be changing - Jose says that too many people assume
that he serves only Venezuelan food. He also intendeds to expand the menu,
but I think he has been intending to do that for a long time.
I can't recall the name of the daily special that I tried,
but it was fried plantain shaped like a long boat, with spiced ground steak.
It came with beans, rice and a coleslaw like side salad. It was very good.
I am looking forward to revisiting Cafe Venezuela in the
Later in the day, I stumbled across Mr. Epps Barbeque
while driving along Kaw Drive in western Kansas City. The small interesting
restaurant has been open about 3 years, but until Terry Epps recently quit
his former job, the restaurant was open only irregularly. Although
Halloween was still over a month away, Mr. Epps already had many decorations.
I ordered "Randy's Mini Mix Plate." For $10 it was supposed
to be 2 ribs, 2 chicken wings, sausage and fries. Terry was out wings,
so I substituted beef. It was much more food than I could eat in one setting
(and I had eaten only a couple of hours earlier), so most of it went home
with me. The best items in the combination were the fresh, seasoned fries
and the beef. But the sausage was also very good. But the ribs were nearly
charred - dry, tough and so smoke flavored that the taste stayed in my
mouth for hours.
The other stop in Kansas City, Kansas was the Grinter
Place State Historic Site near the Kansas River. The two story brick house
was completed in 1857 by Moses Grinter, who operated a ferry across the
river. The building has had significant recent restoration and is currently
only partially furnished.
Mr. Epps Barbeque
|Thursday - September 25, 2008: Added a page
devoted to Brobecks Barbeque
in Overland Park, Kansas. Restored the page devoted to the Smoky
Hill Museum in Salina, Kansas which had accidentally dropped off this
Received my contributors copy of the fall issue of Kansas
Traveler. It has the first article in a series that I am writing
about Kansas Waterfalls.
|Wednesday - September 24, 2008: Added a
page devoted to Grandma Hoerner's Foods
in Alma, Kansas.
|Tuesday - September 23, 2008: Added a page
devoted to Kroegers Country Meats
& Deli in Lecompton, Kansas. This is the 4th recent addition to
the page devoted to Kansas Specialty Foods.
|Monday - September 22, 2008: Added a page
devoted to Rees Fruit Farm near Topeka, Kansas. Restored missing links
to Bow's Studio and Gallery in Abeline,
Kansas. Somehow that page had become an orphan with no pages pointing to
|Saturday - September 20, 2008:
went exploring Saturday morning, starting at the Lawrence Farmer's market,
then on to Topeka, Kansas. I stopped by First Presbyterian Church to photograph
their Tiffany windows, but the building was closed, so I just took some
The next stop was Elegant Temptations, a bakery at Gage
and 3rd that was recommended by Bob and Inga Bow who have the Bow Studio
and Gallery in Abeline. Carlos Serrano may do a wonderful job, but all
that he had to offer were cakes, which wasn't what I was looking for.
Since I was in the neighborhood, I visited Gage Park to
photograph the animal statues at Animaland (not a typo), across from the
Next was a stop at the Topeka farmer's market, where there
were a number of vendors that interested me and I got some leads for specialty
food makers in Kansas.
And on to the Cider Days Fall Festival at the Kansas Expocentre.
This was the 26th year for the festival, which was originally held at Lake
Perry, 30 miles away, and later at Lake Shawnee near Topeka. There are
two halls of arts and crafts exhibits/ Outside there are pioneer demonstrations,
food and entertainment. Many of the craft booths appeared to have items
the exhibitors had purchased and I didn't spend long in that crowded space.
The outdoor area interested me more. included 2 or 3 food
vendors that I might have tried, but they had very long lines and I decided
not to stay. I saw only one apple cider vendor, but they were getting $8/half
On my way back to Lawrence, I decided to stop at Kroeger's
Country Meats & Deli in the small community of Lecompton, Kansas. They
had a stand at the Topeka Farmer's Market, and I decided to check on the
local market which makes its own sausage and beef jerky. It is a neat little
place and I had a Polish sausage, and a bacon sandwich. The bacon and some
of the sausages came from Fanestil Packing in Emporia and I may need to
check them out.
In Lawrence, I met friends downtown. Saturday was the
annual mass band day at the University of Kansas, and the bands were having
a parade down Massachusetts Avenue. A great way to expand the appearance
by the bands. I was surprised how many of the bands appeared no larger
than the tiny high school band that I was in 36 years ago in northern Michigan.
That evening we watched KU defeat Sam Houston State 38-14
Worm casting tea seller
Cider Days Fall Festival
|Friday - September 19, 2008:
Friday I slipped out of work a little early to join friends. We drove to
Lawrence and had a early supper at the Free State Brewery - one of my favorite
places in Lawrence.
We split an order of onion rings as an appetizer. The
order was so big that we had to struggle to finish it. My beef Wellington
was good. The scalloped potatoes were even better. Everyone enjoyed their
meal and (perhaps because of the onion rings) we all had more than we good
Then over to the stadium at Haskell Indian Nations University
where Shawnee Mission West High School was playing Lawrence. Lawrence scored
on their first possession, but West responded with 35 unanswered points.
This was the first HS football game I have seen in years and I had a great
|Monday - September 15, 2008:
Added a new page devoted to the Alma Bakery
and Sweet Shoppe.
|Saturday - September 13, 2008:
Spent the previous night at the Ramada Inn Downtown in Topeka, Kansas.
When preparing for the trip, A couple of people had suggested that the
Ramada might have declined and/or be in a seedy neighborhood. I had no
problem with either of those. Everything was fine except the bed, which
was way too soft.
The breakfast buffet included with the room included bacon,
eggs, and fried potatoes as well as the usual continental breakfast items.
All were good.
This would be a day of visiting specialty food places
and I found several that will be added to the Kansas Specialty Foods page.
The first stop of the day was a revisit to C.W. Porubsky Grocery and Meats
to pick up some of their wonderful horseradish pickles. I got a gallon
for myself and a smaller container for a friend.
Then on to Alma, Kansas, where the first of three stops
was a revisit of Grandma Hoerner's. I was accompanied by a friend who had
never been to this factory and store, and she ended up filling a case with
various preserves, jellies and apple sauce. I limited my purchases to pumpkin
butter. At least 30 items made on premise were available for sampling.
Almost too many. By the end, my friend was selecting items to buy, without
The second spot we visited in Alma was Alma Bakery and
Sweet Shoppe. It smelled wonderful! The owner and her son were friendly
and we left with cookies, various types of nut brittles, cinnamon buns
and bread. The prices are very reasonable!
Last of all, was a revisit of Alma Creamery. The first
time I visited Alma Creamery, the only item available for sampling was
pepper jack cheese, which I do not care for. The prices seemed a little
high at that time, and I decided not to buy high price cheeses that I didn't
know what they tasted like.
But this time there were several cheeses available for
sampling. The prices have remained about the same, but dairy products have
gone up other places and Alma Creamery's prices seem more reasonable. We
left with bags of cheeses plus some summer sausage & elk jerky that
came from a firm in Alta Vista, Kansas.
As we approached Alta Vista on Kansas Highway 4, we saw
an elk herd on a farm next to the highway. I wonder if it is the same place
the sausage and jerky came from.
At Alta Vista, we turned off for just a couple of minutes
to confirm that Ag Heritage Park is still operating. This private collection
of hundreds of farm implements and much more is only open by appointment.
Then on to Council Grove, Kansas to Trail Days Bakery
Cafe which I was unaware of, until a recent email from one of the staff.
The small complex of old buildings is a combination museum, cafe and bakery.
The staff wear period costumes and are friendly and enthusiastic. I found
the dishes we tried at lunch to be average, but very reasonably priced.
We didn't try any of the dishes recommended by our server, so I might have
been more impressed with things we didn't try.
We had to hurry back to Topeka for an appointment, but
tried one more place on the way out of town. Rees Fruit Farm. Rees has
been operated by the Rees family since 1901. We had apple slushes which
a friend told me she loved to get at Rees 35 years ago. In addition to
cider, we purchased preserves made for the farm and I bought a wonderful
rhubarb pie which came from Washington, Kansas.
Sadly, Rees apple cider is pasteurized and has preservatives.
I have been unable to find a cider mill that will sell natural cider, closer
than Iowa. If you know of any places in eastern Kansas, please email me.
Alma Bakery and
Trail Days Bakery Cafe
|Friday - September 12, 2008:
Drove to Topeka, Kansas on Friday evening where a group of us had supper
at Boss Hawg's Barbeque on 29th Street. All of the food was good, though
none of the 4 meats I sampled were outstanding. My favorite items were
the corn bread and the French fries. The baked beans were also good.
Prices were a little high, but not too far out of line.
Service was good, with one exception. The server brought one of the items
with the wrong ribs (spare instead of short) and resisted correcting the
bill to reflect the difference in price.
I will definitely eat at Boss Hawg's again, though I probably
wouldn't go far out of my way to stop there. It will probably be added
to the list of other restaurants were visiting on the Unique
Kansas Restaurants page, but there was nothing to place it among the
|Sunday - September 7, 2008:
Revisited two Kansas City area restaurants, Granny's Chicken Ranch in the
Legends complex in Kansas City, Kansas and Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ in
Overland Park, Kansas.
Fiorella's was already listed on the list of other restaurants
worth visiting on the bottom of the Kansas Travel Unique
Kansas Restaurants page and keeps its status. After this second visit
and the chance to sample 2 more entrees, Granny's will soon be added to
the "unique portion of the list.
|Saturday - September 6, 2008:
Made my annual visit to the Kansas
City Renaissance Festival in Boner Springs, Kansas. This time I was
accompanied by several friends, so we were able to sample a wider range
of foods. Those that seemed the most popular with our group included turkey
legs, apple fritters, apple dumplings, crepes, pickles (only $1!), and
fish & chips. I enjoyed the hard cider available on tap.
It wasn't the best day for taking photos The day
started overcast and turned rainy, but we still stayed for about 7 hours.
Purchases were limited to jewelry, wax hands and items to complete a Halloween
We saw several of the free shows that are continuously
running. Those most popular with our party were Bob the Incredible Juggler
and Dr. Dumpe the Fire Eater.
|Thursday - September 4, 2008:
Added new page devoted to the Meade
County Historical Museum in Meade Kansas.
|Tuesday - September 2, 2008:
Added new pages devoted to the Dalton Gang
Hideout in Meade Kansas, the Mennonite
Heritage Museum in Goessel, Kansas, and the Kauffman
Museum in North Newton, Kansas.
Tried a new Chinese restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas:
Mandarinism. The restaurant has had quite a bit of positive buzz from the
Kansas City area reviewers. The food was good, but pricey. I look forward
to trying Mandarinism again.
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