Kansas Travel Blog

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration & photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact him.
Art Prints

Lulu's Thai Noodle Restaurant service robot
Tuesday - August 1, 2023: Today's lunch was my second meal at the new Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop in Overland Park, Kansas. Being by myself, they put me at one of the tiny tables at the front again, and I was cut off from most of the dinning room by a wall of canned goods.

I ordered Spicy Beef Jantaboon (Steak, bean sprouts, peanuts, scallions, cilantro & thin rice noodles), which was one of the $11 lunch specials. Today I went with Blazing, which didn't seem any hotter than last week's hot, except that it made my nose slightly run. The lunch Jantaboon was pretty good and not a dish I am familiar with. It included a tiny crab Rangoon, which didn't do a lot for me. Next time I will probably upgrade it to a spring roll.

 


 

Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop - Overland Park, Kansas Spicy Beef Jantaboon

 

 
Wednesday - August 2, 2023: I made a new page devoted to Monarch Watch and Monarch Waystation #1 in Lawrence, Kansas.

 

 
Friday - August 4, 2023: Today may have been my final meal at Wyandot BBQ #2 in Overland Park. Kansas. The property is being offered for sale. The restaurant reopened last December after a year of repairs and improvements following a fire. Ron Williams, who founded Wyandot Barbeque, passed away three months later. The original location in Kansas City, Kansas is not for sale.

We added a new page devoted to the Independence Science and Technology Center in Independence, Kansas, which we visited last month.

I have been wanting to try Donnell's Kitchen & Lounge in the Argentine neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas since I learned of it a few months ago. It opened in December and has quickly developed a reputation for good soul food. I would have dined here last month, but they close at 6PM on Sundays. We were joined for dinner by one of my step children who lives nearby and is a big fan of the restaurant.

The menu is on a large black board on the wall of the room where you enter the restaurant. You stand and figure out what you want, memorize your order and then are seated in another room where your order will be taken at the table.

Although I had decided on a shrimp poor boy before coming, when I saw they had a pick two combo, which would also let me have two sides, I went with shrimp and chicken wings with French fries and cornbread. The cornbread is a $1.50 up charge, and that left me surprised at the small serving, may be 2 1/2" square. It was cold and nothing special.

I'm did not care for the coating on the chicken and the wings were rather tough. The breading on the shrimp was a bit better, but there was way too much, the coating was more than 3 times the size of the shrimp. Some type of sauce for the shrimp might have helped, but nothing was offered. I'm not a big fan of battered French fries to begin with, and did not care for the seasoning, particularly the amount of sugar on the fries.

My favorite part of the meal was Linda's green beans, which were quite garlicky.

Donnell's does not serve iced tea. There were no desserts on the menu and none were suggested.

My step child insists that I had just ordered the wrong things, but didn't offer a taste of their shrimp and grits.

The server was friendly and (other than the cornbread) the prices were reasonable.

 

Wyandot BBQ - Overland Park. Kansas Wyandot BBQ #2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Donnell's Kitchen - Kansas City, Kansas Wings and Shrimp

Saturday - August 5, 2023: We did another round of updates to our Kansas Sunflower Fields page with info about fields which are open to the public. It will be updated many more times during the next 10 weeks.

We also added a new page devoted to the Cherryvale Historical Museum in Cherryvale, Kansas.

 

 
Sunday - August 6, 2023: We added a new page devoted to the Jim Elliott "Clock Tower Bridge" north of Jamestown, Kansas. I put "clock tower bridge" in quotations, because although that is what everyone calls it, it isn't a bridge. It looks like a covered bridge, but is erected over a road, not over a body of water.

 

 
Monday - August 7, 2023: I added a new page devoted to the Palmer Museum in Jewell, Kansas.

 

 
Tuesday - August 8, 2023: Added a new page devoted to the Graham County Auto and Arts Museum which opened in Hill City, Kansas in April 2021.

Lunch was a third visit to Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop in Overland Park, Kansas. Being by myself, they started to put me at one of the tiny tables at the front again, but this time I objected to being stuck behind the warehouse wall of canned and dry goods and I was placed at a table which could see the dining room. Much more pleasant.

Today I had Thai Cashew Chicken (Chicken, scallions, onions, green beans & cashews with jasmine rice) as encouraged, I ordered it blazing and the server signaled approval of it being ordered that way. Although it was spicy, it wasn't pushing the limits at all. It tasted good, but is probably not a dish I will order again. In particular, there was much less meat than the two previous dishes.

I upgraded the crab Rangoon which came with the lunch special to a spring roll for $1.35. The spring roll seemed to be all rice. It came with a mild curry dipping sauce. I would rather have a sweet dipping sauce, perhaps peanut based.

We have a new page devoted to Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop.

We revisited Buck Tui BBQ, a Thai influenced barbecue restaurant that opened during the active Covid period a year and a half ago in Overland Park, Kansas. I like this restaurant and feel it has a place in KC BBQ mix, but nothing I've tried here has stood out as among the best.

As we were being seated, I saw Pineapple Rib Fried Rice at another table and it look awesome, so I ordered it, while Linda ordered Brisket Rangoon and a half bound of brisket.

The Pineapple Rib Fried Rice was good, with the fried rice being the best part, but I felt the ribs didn't taste as good as they look. My favorite of our dishes was the Brisket Rangoon and I would like to have them again. The a la carte brisket was OK.

 


 
 
 
 
 

Thai Cashew Chicken - Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop Overland Park Thai Cashew Chicken
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Buck Tui BBQ - Overland Park, Kansas Pineapple Rib Fried Rice

Thursday - August 10, 2023: I'm off across I-70, with the first stop at Grinter's Sunflower Farm on the east side of Lawrence, Kansas. The sunflowers are coming along nicely and the plants are about knee high. 

This year the largest field which has sometimes been used for sunflowers has corn. The sunflowers are planted farther east and next to the Sunflower General store, the same place they were in 2020.

Continuing west, I stopped in downtown Topeka, Kansas where the new Menninger Clinic Pocket Park was unveiled in early May. It is along the sidewalk across from Evergy Plaza and has a life size statue of Dr. C. F. Menninger, along with a disk with the story of the Menninger Family Legacy and there is a small monument with busts of five members of the Menninger family. 

The Menninger Clinic was in Topeka from 1919 until it was moved to Houston, Texas in 2003 and is a leader in the treatment, teaching, and research in the field of mental health.

While in Topeka, I also stopped at the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library on 10th Avenue. The current exhibit is "Unexpected Friends: Art exhibit for kids" which explores unexpected animal friendships .

Lunch was at Sommerset Hall Cafe in Dover, Kansas, a little west of Topeka. It has changed since I was last there. In particular they are only open one evening a week, there is no longer a buffet, and the shelves along the edge of the no longer have grocery products for sale. I don't know if it happens every day, but there was a table at the front with produce and eggs for sale from Hidden Hill Farms.

I had a Patty Melt (five ounces of seasoned ground chuck with grilled onions and American and Swiss cheeses on rye). It was a good burger, but I would like the same combination on a bun. The seasoned fries weren't bad, but might have been better unseasoned. The meal ended with a nice slice of Sour Cream Raisin pie.

The next stop was at the Alma Creamery dairy store in Alma, Kansas, where I was stunned to find a sign on the store  saying it is permanently closed. The dairy is still operates, but is not open to the public and there are no more cheese sales at this site. 

Although it didn't list addresses or even say what communities they are in, there was a sign saying that Alma cheeses including odd cuts are for sale at Stop-2-Shop and their cheese can also be purchased at Plaza of the Flint Hills. Fortunately had a good phone signal and was able to find out that Stop-2-Shop is a few blocks away on the south side of Alma. Unfortunately the selection of cheeses does not include the wonderful extra sharp 6-10 year old cheeses which were sold at the dairy store but not at other locations.

Before leaving the Alma area I also revisited Grandma Hoerner's Foods, which is just north of I-70. In addition to operating a small store, Hoerner's produces apple sauces, preserves, fruit butters, chutneys, barbecue sauces, salad dressings, salsas, and mustards at this facility.

Driving much farther west, to Russell, Kansas, I went to the town's newest museum - The Avenue of History. The Russell County Historical Society has five museums in various parts of town and this one has the early farming, transportation and education exhibits. It also houses the society's offices.

At 4:30 I had an appointment to visit the Fossil Station Museum, which is in a neat stone building which was built in 1907 and was the county jail, the sheriff's office and living quarters. In addition to a museum, it housed the Historical Society's offices until a couple of years ago. 

I like the things about this museum which are unique to Russell, particularly the large exhibit devoted to the late Senator Rob Dole. There is a small exhibit about Mother Mary A. Bickerdyke, a famous Civil War nurse who spent the final years of her life in nearby Bunker Hill.

I also photographed ,murals at the library and post office.

Supper was at Fly Boy Brewery & Eats in Sylvan Grove, Kansas. The brewery is primarily a steakhouse and my server said that when they have their prime rib special on the first weekend of the month there is a line out the door.

I decided on the 14 ounce ribeye which came with the choice of two sides. The salad was rather nice, but the blue cheese dressing was thin and not very flavorful.

The ribeye was unusually lean and mad been seasoned with something (Rosemary?) I wouldn't have chosen. I went with the truffle fries based on the server's recommendation, but would go with regular fries if I was back again.

The server was quite conscientious. When she learned that it was my first time there, she went over the highlights or the menu. When I ordered, she explained what items would be on the salad and made sure that I wanted all of them. At the end of the meal, she made a point of explaining the charge on the bill for the mushrooms.

For dessert I had a made to order skillet chocolate chip cookie with ice cream. I would have liked the cookie to have been baked a little more, but there was lots of chocolate and it was good.

I headed back to Salina, where I would spend the night at the Baymont by Wyndham, which is clean quite and in good repair. It was a good value. But before calling it a night, I photographed a number of the downtown art works that are part of the SculptureTour Salina.

The last stop before the hotel was Dagney's Ice Cream in downtown Salina, which open in 2017 and makes all their own ice cream. I went with the maple bacon ice cream, which I enjoyed, but I would probably try a different one the next time. They squeezed a lot of ice cream into the small cup which I ordered.

 

Grinter's Sunflower Farm - Lawrence, Kansas Grinter's Sunflower Farm

Menninger Clinic Pocket Park - Topeka, Kansas Menninger Clinic Pocket Park
 
 
 
 
 

Sommerset Hall Cafe - Dover, Kansas Sommerset Hall Cafe
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Grandma Hoerner's Foods - Alma, Kansas Grandma Hoerner's Foods
 
 

Fossil Station Museum
 
 
 
 
 

Fly Boy Brewery and Eats - Sylvan Grove, Kansas Ribeye
 

Skillet chocolate chip cookie with ice cream Skillet cookie
 

Dagney's Ice Cream in downtown Salina Dagney's Ice Cream

 
Friday - August 11, 2023: After a fairly good breakfast at the Salina Baymont by Wyndham, I was on the road to Fort Riley to visit the museums which were closed for several years for renovations. Actually, it turned out that only one of the two has reopened. The First Infantry Division Museum is still being worked on and has not reopened.

But the U. S. Cavalry Museum reopened in June after about 5 years of being closed. It was originally supposed to reopen in 2019. The renovated museum looks good. The first floor is focused on the horse mounted cavalry and the second floor features the transition to to motorized and air cavalry.

Lunch was at Thomas' Taste of Chicago, which I only learned about in the past week, but appears to have been open for about 6 years. The restaurant is in two store fronts, with one having the kitchen and the counter where you order and the other having the dining room. The owner was attentive as customers came in and was quick to ask if people had been there before and telling first time customers about the menu highlights. He said the two most popular dishes are the gyros and the Chicago Burger, which he described as the best hamburger in town.

I ordered the two signature dishes, the Chicago Burger and the Chicago Style Hot Dog. 

The Chicago Burger was something I have never hear of before and sounded a little unlikely, topped with gyro meat, cheese, and tzatziki sauce. Thing is, it is a great burger and will probably be added to our Kansas Best Burger List.

The Chicago Dog was good, but didn't have the bright green pickle relish I am used to them having. I also couldn't taste or see celery salt, though it was listed as an ingredient.

There were 4 kinds of brownies available: cookie brownie, peanut butter, cheese cake and caramel fudge. I thought the peanut butter brownie was just OK, but I think I ordered the wrong one and I will try a different one when there again.

On the way out of town, I stopped at Freedom Park, on the south side of I-70, across from the main entrance to Fort Riley. It has been many years since I've been to the park, whose focal point is a 42' foot long "M65 Atomic Canon." The small park has a rugged trail zigzagging up the side of a bluff overlooking the freeway and Fort Riley. The park was temporarily closed in 2015 during a period of "heightened security concerns" at the Fort.

Near as I can tell, it remained closed for many years and at some point the reason transitioned from security concerns to the unsafe condition of the trail up to the cannon. Work was done to stabilize the cannon display and partially restore the trail in 2019, but the park was still closed last summer. Anyway, the park and the trail are now open. Although quite steep, the first 2/3 of the trail are in pretty good shape. The top third is still pretty rough and I was happy to have my hiking stick along, though I would have hiked it any way.

There is an old armored personnel carrier and two smaller cannons displayed on the trail up. Only one of them still has a sign, which identifies it as a 155 mm gun M1.

When I returned to the car, the temperature was 99 degrees.

In Paxico, I stopped at Prairie Fire Winery, Candles & Lavender Co. It is the first time I have been there. They are expanding from being just a winery. They have lavender products avialable, but are planting lavender plants soon. I didn't do any tasting, but purchased a couple of bottles of semi-dry white wines for a gift.

I was going to stop at Kroeger's Country Meats in Lecompton, Kansas to pick up sausage for supper, but discovered that they permamently closed late last year and have sold the building. 

It is now Hillcreek Market, but it is temporaily closed while major renovation is being done to the building.

 

U. S. Cavalry Museum - Fort Riley, Kansas U. S. Cavalry Museum
 

Thomas' Taste of Chicago - Junction City, Kansas Thomas' Taste of Chicago
 

Chicago Burger and Chicago Dog at Thomas' Taste of Chicago Chicago Burger & Chicago Dog
 

Atomic Canon - Freedom Park Atomic Canon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Prairie Fire Winery - Paxico, Kansas Prairie Fire Winery

Hillcreek Market- Lecompton, Kansas Hillcreek Market

Thursday - August 24, 2023: I'm making another overnight trip, this time scheduled to coincide with the 30th Anniversary of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, which does so much to promote Kansas Travel.

The trip began with a revisit to Hunsinger Sunflower Patch on the south side of Lawrence, which we just disovered last year. We were a little late in the blooming period last year and the flowers are much prettier this year. These field should look good for the next two weekends.

The second stop was Eleanor's Events. This sunflower field is a few miles south of Scranton, Kansas. We were last there in 2020. The field moves every few years and was not exactly where I thought it was, though the map on its page was still accurate. There is a second field of sunflowers which is not open to the public, across the highway.

Lunch was at the Miracle Cafe in Reading, Kansas. This restaurant has limited hours and had not been back in way to many years. The restaurant was built by the community after the previous restaurant was destroyed by a tornado in 2011.

I was amazed by the service! I asked if any of the fried potatoes were fresh cut and the server said they were not. After taking my order, she came back from the kitchen saying that cook would par boil one of the potatoes they used for baked potatoes and cook it as home fries.

The fries and the cheeseburger they came with were both quite good. I also liked the cherry crumble, which was a pie rather than a cobbler.

At Emporia State University, I stopped to revisit the National Memorial to Fallen Educators, Johnston Geology Museum, and Richard H. Schmidt Museum of Natural History. Sadly, seven more educators have died since I first visited the new Memorial fourteen months ago.

The museums are both in Cram Science Hall. Although it was open hours, the first museum I visited was locked, so I called the Math office to request they be unlocked. Professor Hollenbeck, who unlocked the Geology Museum, also showed me a new museum which the college added about five years ago, "Mathellaneous," which is in Brighton Math Lab. 

Mathellaneous displays more than 60 math related items including calculating devices, quotes from famous mathematicians, and mathematical texts from the 1800s. There is also a display of math related publications written by Emporia State University, including American Comprehensive Arithmetic by M. A. Bailey, which was published in 1892. There are also many mathematics related puzzles.

I spent so much time in the new museum, that I made a hurried visit to the Geology Museum and did not go to the Natural History Museum.

The next stop was at the Kansas Sampler Foundation office outside Inman, Kansas. Today was the open house celebrating 30 years of preserving and sustaining rural culture in Kansas. There were three cakes and displays about many of the events hosted over the years.

At 3PM, Marci Penner climbed on "the stump" and made a hort presentation, among other things, introducing everyone in the room.

All though it was about time to head to supper, there was enough time to go a little out of the way and go to Borntrager Dairy near Yoder, Kansas. The family farm started making cheeses in 2006. They have a small store on the farm where they sell their own raw milk, cheese, ice cream, beef, pork, honey and and canned goods. They also sell chicken from a nearby farm. The store is larger and had much more selection then similar Dairy Farms stores we have visited. Many of these stores are not staffed and you pay in cash on the honor system. This store is staffed and even takes credit cards.

I bought several cheeses, sweet garlic dill pickles and a pint of peanut butter swirl ice cream. The ice ream couldn't be kept cold enough to take home, so I ate it right away. It wasn't very creamy and had fairly large ice crystals. I assume that is because they do not have a super cold freezer.

Supper was at Mom's Bar in Seward, Kansas, which we last visited in 2017. I enjoy this restaurant, but it isn't close to anywhere I regularly visit. The first thing I asked was what pies they had, so I could have them save back my favorite, but they were totally out of pie. I ordered a chicken fired steak dinner, which came with salad, veggie, Texas toast, and coffee or tea for $14.99. A half order is only $8.50 and would have been enough. I took have the steak home with me.

The salad was plain and I didn't care much for their blue cheese dressing, but the steak and house cut fries were great.

The final stop of the day was at the Stafford County Museum in Stafford, Kansas. The museum is only open 9AM - 3:30PM week days, but Barbara Grimmett from the Board of Directors and her husband agreed to meet for a tour and photography. The museum is spread across four buildings which are all within a block of each other in the center of downtown. The main building is primarily offices and a local history library. 

The Milton Annex houses old vehicles including a horse drawn hearse and was the only building which was not air conditioned (it was still about 100 degrees this evening). The Museum Annex is two buildings and houses numerous items including several advertising stage curtins, a Civil War canon and an original hand dug well.

The principal museum is in a beautiful bank building. Exhibits of special interest include many quilts, William Gray's photography equipment and 29,000 glass plate negatives which he took. Mr. Gray's studio operated from 1905-1947 in the nearby community of St. John.

I had a comfortable night at the Baymont by Wyndham in Pratt, Kansas.

 


 

Hunsinger Sunflower Patch - Lawrence, Kansas Hunsinger Sunflower Patch

Miracle Cafe - Reading, Kansas Burger & Fries

Cherry Crumble
 
 
 
 
 

Mathellaneous - Emporia State University Mathellaneous
 
 
 
 
 

Kansas Sampler Foundation 30 year celebration Sarah Green, WenDee Rowe, Marci Penner
 

Borntrager Dairy - Yoder, Kansas Borntrager Dairy
 
 
 
 
 

Mom's Bar - Seward, Kansas Chicken fried steak
 
 
 

Stafford County Museum - Stafford, Kansas Stafford County Museum

 

Friday - August 24, 2023: After arriving at the motel last night, I learned that the gallery I wanted to visit this morning was not available today so I decided to drive to Kingman, Kansas this morning and photograph the mill race dam. It is a nice park area, though there are so many trees along the race that it was hard taking photos.

While passing Glen Stark Park, I saw that not only has Mr. Stark's fabulous grassroots art not been returned, the pads where it had been displayed have been removed. A call to Kingman Parks & Culture found that the park has been permanently closed (which isn't what they said when they were removed). They said that art was deteriorating and is in storage. They did not indicate any future plans for the art.

Lunch was at Carolyn's Essenhaus in Arlington, Kansas. A couple who was seated just before me, saw my Kansas Explorer's T-Shirt and after a couple of questions. I turned out that they are Phyllis and Dee Scherich. Before retiring, they managed Merrill Ranch in the Gypsum Hills or Red Hills, approximately 130 miles south-west of Wichita for over 40 years. Before that, Dee taught in Inman, Kansas, was a teacher of Marci Penner and the two of them had also been at the Kansas Sampler Foundation 30 year open house yesterday.

We enjoyed talking about exploring Kansas while waiting for our food.

I had a chicken fried steak sandwich, which is only $8.79 with a side of potatoes. I substituted "flat fries" for the usual mashed potatoes. I was surprised that the gravy was served over a regular sandwich, not as an open faced sandwich. I think I would have enjoyed it more without the gravy, but with onion, mayonnaise and pickles.

The slice of sour cream and raisin pie was very good at the end of the meal.

At 1:30 PM Leon Guar and another member of the board of directors met me at Moundridge Museum Complex in Moundridge, Kansas. The buildings and exhibits are very nicely done. We met at the Heritage Museum in a large red barn, which is their largest building and houses most of their community exhibits, including  the Soda Fountain which was part of Orth's Drug store.

The Agriculture building is much newer, but is made to look like a barn in the interior. It houses plows, farm implements tractors and early tractors. Next to this building is the restored Moundridge Electric Shop and a blacksmith shop built in 2012 as an Eagle Scout project where a blacksmith works on Tuesdays and some of their creations are available to purchase.

The showpiece of the museum complex is the furnished Cole House Museum in the first house built in Moundridge in 1875. The original home was only two rooms and it had grown many times over the years.

Before leaving the region, I revisited Grazing Plains Farm in Whitewater, Kansas, which I first visited last December. The farm has a closet sized dairy store where you leave cash for the purchase in a sealed metal milk can. I bought elbing cheese, fromage blanc (cheese spread), and cheddar. Their cheeses tend to be mild tasting.

For supper, I stopped at Guy & Mae's Tavern in Williamsburg. The small BBQ place has a great history, which led me to try them a couple of times when starting this website. Guy & Mae's didn't click for me at the time, but it has been many years so it was time to see if they had changed or my tastes had.

The good news is that I though the ribs were a little better this time. The bad news is I still can't recommend them. The ribs are what they are known for and the menu is otherwise very limited. They were better that my previous visits, but falling a part so you couldn't pick them up, and the only utensil was a spork that came with the beans. The sauce had no flavor.

The only sides are to beans, slaw or potato salad. I asked the server about the slaw and she said she doesn't eat it, so I tried the beans, which were soupy and had little seasoning. 

After eating a not very meaty rib, I decided to wrap the rest go and put it in my cooler, leaving the beans behind.

Still hungry, I stopped in Ottawa at Grub and Chug. They serve breakfast all day, but I went with a Grub Burger (Bacon Jam, Grub Sauce, Lettuce, 1/2lb Burger, Cheese, Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions, Pickles). The Grub sauce is a spiced up mayonnaise. The burger had a toasted bun and was pretty good. 

I upgraded to the beer battered onion rings. They weren't bad, though the coating didn't have the texture or taste of beer batter.

 

Mill Race Dam - Kingman, Kansas Mill Race Dam
 
 
 

Phyllis and Dee Scherich at Carolyn's Essenhaus
Phyllis and Dee Scherich
 

Carolyn's Essenhaus - Arlington, Kansas Chicken fried steak sandwich

Moundridge Museum Complex - Moundridge, Kansas Orth's Soda FOuntain.

Cole House Museum - Moundridge Museum Complex Cole House Museum
 
 
 
 

Guy and Mae's Tavern - Williamsburg, Kansas Guy & Mae's Ribs
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Grub and Chug - Ottawa, Kansas Grub Burger

Wednesday - August 30, 2023: This week is Kansas Tourism - 2023 Kansas Media Day, which takes place today and tomorrow at the Drury Inn in downtown Wichita.

I drove down this morning and checked in for the event, than visited the tourism regional booths to meet with tourism industry reps from across the state. There were tables with representative of several communities  each region (northwest, north central, northeast, southwest, south central, southwest), and a couple of tables by Visit Wichita. There were only a little over 30 travel writers and media influencers, so most of the representatives were anxious to have a chance to meet us. Wichita did a really nice job, including samples of sweets and ciders from Cocoa Dolce Chocolates and White Crow Cider Company. The cinnamon roll macaron was awesome!

Media Day furnished a light lunch, but I don't get enough opportunities to dine in Wichita, so I had lunch at AVI Seabar & Chophouse which is located in the hotel. I ordered 2 appetizers and they took about 30 minutes to come out. The lump crab cake was pretty pretty good, but I would have like a different sauce than the aioli it was served over. The lobster, spinich & artichoke dip was better and I loaded it on the garlic bread.

Back at Media Day, Visit Wichita loaded us on a comfortable bus and we head out on Taste & See tour of Wichita. The Visit Wichita staff did a nice job of making us feel like VIPs. I got as much out of the conversations with them as I did out of the attractions we visited.

The first stop was at Revolutsia, a retail shipping container development which opened on Wichita's east side about 5 years ago. We broke into two groups to tour the businesses and then were treated bierocks. charcuterie board and two German beers at Prost. I enjoyed the cold meats on the board. Other places of interest were The Loud Cicada gift shop and Mulberry Art Gallery.

Next up was Mark Arts, a regional arts hub which I visited last November, but hadn't gotten around to doing a page about so far. This worked out well, since it was very rainy when I was there last year and the exterior photos were not very nice. Even better, we went to the culinary teaching kitchen to learn a little about the food history of Wichita. Former Wichita Eagle food editor, Joe Stumpe talked about three wave of food influence on Wichita, Mexican, Lebanese and Vietnamese. Then he served s sampling of each: birria taco, Vietnamese spring roll and baklava. I really loved the baklava and it seemed to be the biggest hit with the group!

This was followed by a stop at Cleveland Corner in the Douglas Design District of Wichita. It houses a retail incubator, small Italian market & kitchen, boutique, artists lounge, boutique and interior design & custom sewing services. Viola's Pantry provided sample cookies, focaccia and local coffee. I thought the peanut butter chocolate cookies were great and people were still talking about the focaccia the next day.

After a brief break at the hotel, we boarded the bus again, to travel west to Goddard, Kansas for supper and animal encounters at Tanganyika Wildlife Park. During our meal, Matt Fouts, Tanganyika's Director, told us the story of how his parents came to found the wildlife park. They we broke into small groups for a tour of the zoo with opportunities to feed or pet a penguin, ring tailed lemur, rhinoceros, African crested porcupine, kangaroos, lorikeets, and giraffes. Everyone appeared to have a ball!

The rhinoceros encounter was at a new barn which isn't part of regular tours. Eventually is will house the animals which will fill a drive through safari. The work is all being done in-house and has to come out of the revenue generated by admissions and may take another 5 - 10 years.

 


 

Kansas Tourism - 2023 Kansas Media Day Taste & See Table

AVI Seabar - Wichita, Kansas Lobster, spinich & artichoke dip
 
 

Prost - Wixhita, Kansas Charcuterie Board

Mark Arts - Wichita, Kansas Taco, spring roll & baklava

Cleveland Corner - Wichita, Kansas Cleveland Corner
 

Tanganyika Wildlife Park - Goddard, Kansas Me petting a rhino

Thursday - August 31, 2023: A little after 8:15, a slightly smaller group boarded a bus for a Kansas Agritourism Media Tour lead by Kansas Tourism.

The tour began with a drive north through Buhler, Kansas to Kansas Maze Sunflower Field which I visited 3 years ago when they were in just their second year of having transitioned to a corn maze. We were met by sisters Julie Ball and Tonya Martisko. They started a corn maze in 1999 and after 20 years they were ready to do something different. Although they sold T-shirts and some gifts when I visited before, they have added a small building with a larger selection of gifts. It was particularly impressed by the cutting boards from This Little Light Laser Designs in Kentucky.

Next stop was Grace Hill Winery in Whitewater, Kansas. Ray Fisher conducted a wine tasting with six of Grace Hill's wines. I particularly liked two of their sweetest wines, Peckerhead Red and Vidal Blanc. Ray said that Peckerhead Red was their best seller, representing 35% of their sales.

Following a tour of the cellar and winery, we returned to the tasting room to have a meal of paninis and charcuterie washed down with the wine that we had tasted a little earlier.

On to Lazy Moon Ranch, a small family operated hobby farm near Augusta, Kansas. The Pankratz family showed us the wacky art environment they have created, a black lighted arcade shed and some of the alpacas, miniature donkeys, dwarf Nigerian goats, chickens and a tortoise, before we returned to the alpacas. They host a number of art activities and we did "Painting with Alpacas." 

Almost all of us painted sunflowers while surrounded by alpacas who would show more interest in what we were doing if we put a little of their food on our tables.

Returning to Wichita, we made our way to Rise Farms on the roof of Fidelity Bank's RISE Car Park. It is a 15,000 square foot specialty farm growing vegetables, herbs and a few flowers in raised planters using a lightweight soil substitute. Leah Dannar-Garcia, who is the owner of RISE Farms and an older more conventional Firefly Farm gave us a thorough tour and explained many of their successes and failures as she continues to learn how to farm this way by doing. 

Following the tour, we walked to GROW, a boutique plant shop on the first floor of the same building, where we broke into small groups to make terrariums to be given to the businesses which hosted our tour today.

Grow is also the location of Botanic, a botanical martini bar which had its start in the retail incubator in Cleveland Corner which we visited yesterday. We were each invited to try one of their creations and I had a lovely drink called "Spice me up," which was made from campo braco buanco tequila, pineapple, lime, jalapenos and agave. I loved the level of heat in the cocktail!

The evening finished with supper and drinks at Public at the Brickyard in the heart of Wichita's Old Town. Public partners with various local and regional farmers and vendors, including RISE Farms and Executive Chef Josh Rathbun had created a special farm to table meal for our media tour that was totally off menu. 

There were 5 family style dishes, starting with mixture of melon, red onion, queso fresco, mint and vinaigrette. It was a refreshing start to the meal. It was followed by roasted corn which had been cut into small strips before roasting and seasoned with chili salt. It was very popular and even though a large platter was brought to every table, people kept getting more, and we ate almost the entire thing.

The next dish was a crispy potato salad with brunoise pickles, red onions, scallion and egg.

The dish I kept getting more of was Creekstone smoked pork shoulder cooked with black garlic, Gochujang BBQ sauce, lettuce and sesame. I loved the fatty pork in the Korean style sauce and felt like I could have kept eating little bites of it all night!

The other main dish was rare Creekstone Vegas strip, herb crusted with arugula and gremolata. It was good and very garlicky, but was the last dish other than dessert and I think that many of us had already eaten too much to do the steak justice. The staff brought us togo boxes and there is some of this in my refrigerator right now.

The meal finished with chocolate ganache cannoli with black garlic in the ganache, pistachio, and cream.

It was a heavenly meal.

 

Kansas Maze Sunflower Field - Buhler, Kansas Julie Ball & Tonya Martisko
 

Grace Hill Winery - Whitewater, Kansas Wine Tasting

Lazy Moon Ranch - Augusta, Kansas Painting with Alpacas
 

Rise Farms - Wichita, Kansas RISE Farms
 
 

Botanic - Wichita, Kansas Spice Me Up

Public at the Brickyard - Wichita, Kansas Public at the Brickyard
 

Crispy potato salad - Public at the Brickyard Crispy potato salad

Smoked pork shoulder - Public at the Brickyard Smoked pork shoulder

 
Current Month   Kansas Travel Home

2023: January  February  March April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November
2022: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2021: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2020: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2019: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2018: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2017: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2016: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2015: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2014: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2013: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2012: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2011: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2010: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2009: January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
2008: May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December

 
Copyright 2008-2023 by Keith Stokes.