Tag Archives: Fresher than Fresh

Two fronts walk into a bar…

That, my friends, is what my Kansas City trip was all about, inside jokes and laughing until we cried. It was a nonstop laugh fest from the second we hit Iowa at 77 miles an hour, which resulted in a speeding ticket, but plenty of laughs, well worth the $120 price of admission.

We started off early Saturday morning, Laurent, me and Friend X. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Well, she’s not so innocent, but I promised I would protect her anyways!) We were heading to Kansas City for the heck of it. Well, really, we were going on a reconnaissance mission to check out this snow cone truck, Fresher than Fresh. Even KC, which completely shuts down on Sundays, more about that later, has food trucks. Come on, Chicago, you are sooooo far behind the times. You are willing to let a city in Missouri be more progressive than you? Sad.

We decided to take the smaller roads hoping to find some small towns to stop in and explore. Well, we stopped alright, or were stopped, doing 77 miles an hour in Hwy 80 in Iowa. Oops.  We were actually very lucky.  The cop was very nice. We were nervous, of course, when he asked where we were going, Kansas City. Why? To check out a snow cone truck.  How did we know each other? Friend X used to be my boss. Why I didn’t just say “friend”, I don’t know. He said “I’m just trying to figure you guys out”. Then he looks in the back seat and sees Laurent sitting there quiet as a mouse. He asks how he fits in the picture and Laurent, nervous as heck to be stopped by a cop in Iowa, says “I’m her wife”. (Oops. I promised Laurent I wouldn’t spill those beans. Don’t tell him, ok. That was the funniest part of the trip. I couldn”t keep it from you, dear readers.) I throw in “husband” and the cop goes to look up X’s registration. Let the laugh fest begin! Oh my gosh, we were in tears. Let me tell you that joke did not die the entire trip. I don’t think we will ever let it go. Poor Laurent. Well, the cop comes back and asks if we have any marijuana in the car or meth or cocaine or heroin. I don’t know if he saw us cracking up or what. Funny, he never asked about alcohol. The meth comment supplied us with even more material for our laugh fest. We were off to a good start!

I think it was then and there that X found a spot on the map about 100 miles away and circled it and wrote “Beer” on the map. So, that was our destination, Chariton.  That is when I had my first Budweiser in probably in 20 years, and hopefully my last. That is always my question when people say they love dive bars. What the heck do you drink? I guess know I am just a snob. Of course, when we walked in, all eyes turned and stared. We were the only two women in the bar and definitely the only Chinese! It was all good, though. The beer was cold and cheap.

Speaking of beer, Boulevard Brewery was our first stop when we rolled into town at 6:00ish, eleven hours after we started!! That Bud wasn’t going to hold us much longer. So, we pull up to Boulevard looking for the tap room, just to be told by the security guard that it doesn’t exist. What do you mean a brewery with no tap room? I guess it has to do with backwards Missouri law; they cannot sell beer on premise. We later took a tour, on Sunday, as it was the only thing to do in KC as everything else was closed. We were able to sample beer, but couldn’t buy a pint or even a six pack. The beer we brought home, we had to buy elsewhere.  So, it is 7:00 and we are still without beer. We headed over to 17th and Summit to West Side Local and had a few Boulevards. They have a great outdoor patio, but it was still 95 degrees outside and we weren’t willing to brave it.

When I started researching where and what to eat in KC, I came across Ferverve, a tiny artisan bakery at 17th and Summit.  This was a great little corner. They are not only closed on Sundays, they are closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday also! They close at 2:00 on Saturday.  When I told Friend X this, over our Budweiser in Iowa, she was as upset as I was about this unbelievable fact. X is a business woman and could not fathom only being open three days a week. She said she wanted to peek in the window anyways, just to even see it. I joked that the blinds would probably be pulled. They were! Laurent suggested she peek through the mail slot, which she thought about attempting, but it was way too low!

Now we were getting hungry and decided that this was the night for BBQ. We heard that Jack Stack had great “burnt ends”, so that’s where we went.  We did brave the patio here, as they were the only seats in the house.  The burnt ends were good, but nothing compared to the lamb ribs and short ribs. I have never had lamb ribs before. I don’t think I have ever even seen them on a menu. They should be on every menu. The gaminess was the perfect complement to the sweetness of the bbq sauce. These were lean very tender ribs, but I found a little fat to munch on. I love lamb fat. Small tangent- My grandfather used to roast whole lambs on a spit in the back yard when we were kids. We would all stand around the spit with forks pulling off the salty fatty skin once it got crispy enough. Yum. I don’t know if I have ever had bbq short ribs either. Or if I have, they were not half as tender as these, fall off the bone goodness.

This not so light but very tasty bbq, a few beers and eleven hours in a car made it bedtime, so off to check into our hotel. Not so fast….they were overbooked and we got bumped…to another state! Nooooooo. So much for the convenient roll out of bed and grab a coffee the next morning plan. It was back in the car for another 15 miles before we could take a shower and rest our weary heads. I guess that is what happens when your hubby works for the hotel and you are only paying $49 for a room.

Sunday in Kansas City. This was when we found out that absolutely everything on my list was CLOSED!! Hello….why didn’t anyone tell me this? Cute little breakfast place, closed. Coffee bar/wine bar, closed.  Chocolate shop, closed. Alrighty then. One place that was open and the reason we came here, the snow cone trailer, over on 17th and Summit. That corner is tiny, but has everything you need. We found ourselves over there quite a few times on the trip.

First, breakfast. We ended up in the Westport district.  The only place open was Simply Breakfast. We had seen it the night before. Cool space, although they could have done so much more with it.  Counter service, I’m a huge fan.  The place was busy, but there was no hustle bustle and we only ever saw two people, one working the counter and one bussing/running. This was weird coming from Chicago where we were totally staffed up on a Sunday with a line out the door.  No espresso machine. Laurent would have to live. No numbers for your table, just a name given. That didn’t seem efficient to me. It was weird; you could not smell any food cooking at all. Guess I am used to tiny breakfast places with an open kitchen and a non working hood spewing cooking fumes into the dining room. We weren’t in Kansas Chicago anymore though.  We joked that maybe alien body snatchers on meth had taken over the diner! (Guess you had to be there. I knew our jokes weren’t going to translate!) Breakfast was good. Egg sandwich on a biscuit which was light a fluffy and only $5.99. Damn.  The whole time, though, we talked about how we could have done it better! Hazard of being in the industry.

We had slept in, so by this time it was time for snow cones! Yay! (I won’t lie; there was a beer in between breakfast and snow cones!)

So we headed back to 17th and Summit to “the garden”.  Such a great environment and the vintage trailer parked in the corner with a line a mile long. The snow cone trailer is called “Fresher than Fresh” and it was hotter than hot outside, so it was the perfect treat.  Let the “recon” begin. So many flavors to choose from, good thing they had a sampler. Perfect. Blackberry lavender, green tea pear, lemon verbena, pineapple Serrano, lemon prickly pear. All refreshing and light. I think prickly pear was my favorite. Don’t think I even know what prickly pear is. I’m going to have to Google that. We drove over 500 miles for these treats so after the sampler we jumped in the line again to get a full size espresso and Mexican cane sugar snow cone. That was going to be Laurent’s caffeine fix for the day. This might have been my favorite. Better than a Frappucino any day, and only $3.00. Hmmm, I’m getting some ideas here. Stay tuned!

Ok, dinner was inevitable at this point, but where should we eat? What was open? Lydia Bastianich has a place in KC, so we went there. Lydia must not spend much time in KC. The room was dated and the food, corporate, but you could buy her cookbooks and jarred pasta sauce at the host stand! It wasn’t bad, just huge portions; I guess we were in KC, bland flavors and doughy pasta. At least get the pasta right, come on. I was expecting hoping for a Mario Batali experience. He is not in his restaurants that often, but the people who are damn well know how to cook! Oh well. It served a purpose. We were fed.

Excitement, we needed a little excitement. Frozen treats provided that before, I bet it would work again. Ice cream. We “needed” ice cream.  So we set the GPS to 4960 Main St. This was the address of Glace, artisan ice cream from Christopher Elbow, the local chocolatier, whose chocolate shop was closed on Sunday. By now Friend X had started calling the GPS “The lady”. That joke didn’t die for awhile. “The lady” was actually not a lot of help finding Glace. The streets got a little screwy. She’s not so good with one ways and street closures. In fact, an entire town in KC was missing! Anyways, I eventually got us to Glace. I was not going to miss out on ice cream with flavors like Farmer Bob’s sweet corn, fleur de sel caramel, Venezuelan spiced chocolate and salty pretzel, a small cup, which allowed you to choose two flavors, was only $3.75. I love KC prices. So that meant six flavors between the three of us. YES! Sweet corn was my favorite. It won over caramel. That’s saying a lot for me, as I am addicted to caramel. The fleur de sel caramel came in a close second though.

We said goodbye to KC the next day, but not before one more adventure, the search for the Maid Rite! Driving to KC I had seen a highway exit sign that said Maid Rite. I swear I had read about Maid Rite in Saveur. (How I remembered this and not where I put my keys, I don’t know!) I said “I think Maid Rite is a concept from the 30’s in this part of the country that serves “loose meat” sandwiches.” I was met with silence from Laurent and Friend X. I said “I could be wrong. But I think that is what it is.” I just said this part about being wrong to be polite. I knew I was right. Laurent and X were of the same camp, that “loose meats” didn’t sound like it could be right at all. Time to pull out X’s  I Phone. Oh ya…who was right? Yup, me. This is somewhat of a family blog (I was going to say respectable, but thought that was stretching It.) so I won’t repeat the obscenities I yelled  out.. Why we didn’t turn around and go to the Maid Rite then and there I don’t know,  because it haunted us for the rest of the trip. I was determined to find another on the way home. I’ll tell you right now it didn’t happen, although there was a fruitless ten mile detour through Springfield that turned up a shuttered sandwich shop with the same name. This detour also produced this great picture. No, we didn’t stop, just laughed and shuddered as we drove by.

We had time for one more adventure before we got home. Missouri was full of hoots and hollers. We stopped in Columbia, where X’s friends had gone to college. She was texting away trying to find a reco for where to eat and have a beer. Booches, her friend John said. Between her I phone, Laurent’s Blackberry’s GPS and “The lady” and directions from the guy at the hot dog cart (See, even Columbia MO has food carts! Sad, Chicago, sad.) we found it. It was a dive bar that had been around since the 1884 with burgers, pool tables and beer.  This is a dive bar with excellent beer though and the burgers  served on wax paper were voted Top Ten Burgers in 200 by USA Today. Score. This was no place for outsiders, though. I got a weird vibe the second I sat down.  It’s like the hackles were raised on the backs of the bartenders and regulars. We were served but not very willingly We ordered our beer and burgers. I was so excited. The burgers looked great. Laurent pulled out the camera to take some pics and that’s when the weird vibe was proven. The owner, I assume, came over and said “We respect people’s privacy here. This is not a zoo or a public place…………”  We were dumbfounded.  We weren’t in Kansas Chicago anymore. This resulted in another round of hysterical laughing and was fuel for more laugh until you cry moments the entire was home.  Basically it was their way of saying “You are not welcome here.”  I guess we were in Missouri, huh? Apparently.  Here is the one picture Laurent got in before we were yelled at.  There are plenty of pictures out there of Booches’ burgers, so cameras didn’t seem to be the problem.  They just didn’t like “our type”.

So, hopefully, you are still with me. I know it was a long one. All in all, the trip to Kansas City was a success. It was not what I expected, but so much more. It was a recon mission that resulted in tons of inspiration, a new direction, and validation.  It was a chance to bond with friends, laugh until you cried, or spit out your coffee or choked on your water.  I could tell you the punch line for “Two fronts walk into a bar”…but you probably wouldn’t laugh. You just had to be there.

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