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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Culinary Explorations: Barbecue

Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue on Urbanspoon When I came to live in the Kansas City area,in 1981, one of the great foods I was introduced to was Barbecue. Of course I probably ate BBQ previously in New England, North Carolina and Michigan, where I lived, before moving to Kansas. I guess I don't remember either because of one of several reasons : (1) the BBQ wasn't that good; (2) I have tasted much finer BBQ fare in Kansas City, and remember the meal better : (3) or maybe my BBQ tastebuds have been honed and refined since then.

My first introduction to (Kansas City ) barbecue was meaty and moist beef burnt ends, which I still love. I believe it was from the first Fiorella's in Martin City, MO but in any case, this is the place that I remember as being the first. The ambiance, the smoky delicious smells, the food, everything was great. While I have been to the others in this mini BBQ chain, this one is the best because of the food and ambiance.

Since then, I have eaten in several BBQ places but decided to get in on the judging of BBQ at various cook offs. It's fun, informative and I've met some interesting people. Some of the judges, I see at other cookoffs and we renew BBQ memories and what they have eaten lately that they enjoyed. I also chime in with my recent favorites. I have been judging for 6 years and became certified a few years ago. To become certified requires a little cash and time. There is a three hour seminar/ workshop that is held in parts of Kansas City and I took part in one that was fun and informative. Then we were sworn in and can call yourself a judge.

Here is a listing of upcoming BBQ (judging and cookoff events). They are all over the country but I usually go to the ones in Missouri and the Kansas City area.


I also know more about the other BBQ meccas Memphis, Texas, North Carolina and their differences with meats, sauces, condiments, rubs and more. I've learned a lot by tasting , making my own with my Weber grill and cooking international BBQ recipes. I love Korean beef BBQ that I made. I am always looking for good BBQ favorites (so if you have one email me. I will also post with your permission if you want).

Jess & Jim's Steak House on Urbanspoon Another place is Jess & Jim's Steak House that I ate at once with a bunch of teachers as a going away party. All I remember the steak was huge, the taste was delicious and the price (which I did not have to pay for , was exhorbitant).

One place I loved is LC's near Raytown, MO. I had heard about its great BBQ for a long time.I finally found it coming back in Missouri while stormchasing one afternoon. The place is not much to look at inside or outside. But it's the food that calls for the main conclusions. I ordered burnt ends. I received the order and it was literally full of burnt ends not the measly little bunch you get at other BBQ places (like Foreilla). It lined the whole Styrofoam box. That is what you pay for - the meat. If you want sides that is extra but hey I came for the meat and the BBQ just that is it was bargain. My wife and I made 5 good sandwiches out of it. The burnt ends were meaty, had plenty of flavor and the sauce was one of the best I have ever tasted.

Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue on UrbanspoonAnother is Oklahoma Joe's which now is closer for me to reach as a short destination, in Olathe, KS. The sauce rivals LC's in my opinion, (fantastic). But the burnt ends were meaty, smoky and had a superb taste and my wife agreed which really puts it high on the listing.

Smokin' Joe's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon I've also had burnt ends here once or twice and is very good too. Place is not as fancy as OK Joe's in Olathe, but the food is good BBQ.

Home Town Buffet on Urbanspoon I've been at Golden Corral, Ryan's, Home Town and others. They offer BBQ at some of the buffets either all the time or once certain days. While I did not really like the Home Town Buffet restaurant, the best dish at Hometown Buffet in Shawnee, KS was the sweet tomato juicy baked meaty beef ribs. Now that was awesome.

Gates Barbecue on Urbanspoon I have been to Gates once or twice but it is not my favorite BBQ place. The burnt ends were not as good and I definitely do not like the watery sauce and its flavor.
Gates Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Arthur Bryant's Barbeque on UrbanspoonThe same goes for Arthur Bryant's.

Several of the other Asian places have had beef and pork ribs. I only try beef ribs they are usually good but to tell your the truth I prefer the ones I make on my BBQ and with ethnic BBQ recipes that I find on the Food Channel, in all my cookbooks and more. I will be posting some more soon.

Also in 1999, while helping with a group to see an eclipse in Hungary, we traveled ate Medieval BBQ in a castle. It was an awesome night of interesting BBQ. Everything was good except for the nasty Blood Sausage. I am always "game" to try something new and I did. But it definitely ranks up there up there with one of the all time nasty and bizarre foods that I have eaten.

Now in South Africa, BBQ alligator was interesting and not as bad.

Someday I would like to eat at one of the all you can eat Argentinian restaurant where there are many different types of meat on a big metal spear. The one in Overland Land Park was too costly (starting at $33 a head) so I did not try it. I am looking for a cheaper alternative somewhere in New England or where I travel. If you find such a place , email me .

More about BBQ to come in later musings with KCTG.

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