Tuesday, October 27, 2009

#17 Apple Butter Festival, Kimmswick, MO, October 24, 2009

#17 - Apple Butter Festival - Kimmswick, MO - October 24, 2009

They call it Apple Butter, but it really is not butter whatsoever. There is no churning, no shaking, no bacterial changes, and no delicious fat globules bonding together. Instead Apple Butter is simply applesauce mixed with a couple of aromatics and cooked down by a man in a silly hat. Then it is bottled and sold to suckers like me. It is pretty damn tasty though.

I was getting hungry watching that man stir the sauce, and I came across what was described as a Deep Fried Cajun Turkey Sandwich. I pictured some crispy skin and spicy seasonings, or maybe even a giant fried turkey leg on a bun. Instead I got this. The turkey was in fact tender, but since it was held in a makeshift crock pot all of the juices came with the meat turning the bottom bun into a sponge. It was bland and could have used that magical something, but it did get my juices flowing in anticipation of Thanksgiving. I like to eat.

I have avoided these treats at the festivals thus far, but I could not elude their siren song when I saw them offered as one combo plate. Meet a combo plate of a fried twinkie, fried oreos, and fried pickles. I can't explain it, but somehow these items were in perfect balance of sweet, salty, and damn good. The twinkie tasted like a warm piece of cake with a sweet custard filling, and the oreos were like fudge brownies. The pickles were actually good when I copied the locals by dipping them in Ranch. I wonder how long before Ranch overtakes ketchup and salsa as America's favorite condiment.

What kind of festival would it be without meat on a stick? The Sweet Meat stand promised the best 12 inches in the Midwest. After deciding I was secure enough in myself, I tried the meat. It was amazingly tender and had a sweet smoky finish. The meat came off the stick with ease as I explored the mazes of Kimmswick.

This was odd, so I took a picture. I'm not going to pretend I understand the appeal of taking your picture with a chimp, but if you were in Kimmswick you could have. Apparently Kenzy has been on E.R., Hogan Knows Best, Speed Racer the Movie and the local news. He even has a myspace page. I'm not sure why I am giving this chuckle head the promotional power of this site, but it was definitely different than your normal festival vendor. I'm sure PETA is not happy about Kenzy.

Video of the Week: I don't know what his name was or even if he was an official part of the entertainment. He may have just been sitting outside with his accordion and decided to play a few diddies on such a nice day. For some reason that is exactly what I expect whenever I go to a small town. Regardless, it was a nice change of pace and a reminder of olden times.

This festival was surprisingly the largest one I had been to thus far. I mean they shut down the entire city, and filled every inch they could with vendor booths. Granted the town only has 150 permanent residents and you could literally walk from one end to the other, but the promoters say 100,000 people descend onto the streets of Kimmswick, and I just may believe them. In fact the sheer maze of booths made the festival surprisingly hard to navigate, and I am sure I did not make it to every booth during my visit. What apple buttery goodness did I potentially miss?

As I mentioned earlier, Apple Butter is not so much butter as it is reduced applesauce. I thought apple butter was either butter made from apples or butter that was infused with apple. Wrong on both counts. In fact if you want to make your own apple butter at home from fresh apples, or even store bought applesauce, then here is a recipe in a slow cooker. If you want a creepy guy showing you how to make actual butter at home in under 7 minutes by shaking a jar, then
click here. After watching the two videos, you will wonder why you thought butter could be made from apples in the first place. Or I am just an idiot.

With all the booths that sold Apple Butter at the festival, I was surprised I couldn't find a hot biscuit booth. In fact this would be a perfect opportunity for next year as a vendor. So what else can you use Apple Butter for? This site had some suggestions from cottage cheese to a salmon glaze. They all sound good, but they can't beat apple butter on a biscuit. Alas there were no biscuits to slather my apple butter on, so I had to wait until I got home. For all the whining I did about apple butter not being butter, the apple butter was excellent. It is smooth, rich, sweet and simply tastes like a warm autumn day on the porch. Maybe that is what the gentleman with the accordion already knew.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

#16 Kansas City Here I Come, September 25-27, 2009

#16 Kansas City Here I Come, September 25, 2009

Jack Stack BBQ came very highly recommended and it was a beautiful location. I had a combo BBQ plate which included Beef Ribs, Beef Rib Tips, Potato Salad and Fries. A feast so large and promising that no amount of Bugles along the way would have spoiled my appetite. Unfortunately the tips were tough and chewy, and the ribs were the same. I ended up eating it straight off the bone, since using a fork and knife just didn't work. Ribs are finger food anyway.

I was told my original picture for Jack Stack was kind of unpleasant for the food and myself, so I bow down to my loyal reader. Yet if you have the stomach for it you can click here.

Then I was off to a Kansas University football game. I wasn't concerned about KU football, or if they won or not, or even that Southern Miss gave a gallant effort and were barely beaten by a score of 35-28. I had side bets to win, like if a Southern Miss player would use the stationary bike to warm up or not. I circled the bike in question in the photo, and for the record #17 was addicted to it. He couldn't stop getting on the bike and I might have won a clean dollar and a quarter off it.

The Wing Challenge at Buffalo Wild Wings. The challenge: 12 Blazin' wings (their hottest ones) in 6 minutes. Now one wing every thirty seconds doesn't sound too difficult, and I had practiced my technique with a salt shaker prior to this challenge. In the end, it wasn't the heat that hurt as much as the amount of chicken I was trying to quickly eat. Yes, I completed the challenge. Yes there is a picture of me in the restaurant's hall of fame (listed as Rocco Riz). Yes, I did win a T-Shirt. Yet, it was the pride and prestige of such an accomplishment that I will remember. I could see the envy (or pity) from those seated at tables near us. Man Vs. Food has nothing on me, and you can tell his happy self that I openly challenge him any day of the week.

Ahhh...the White Boy Uniform. I'm not sure if this is regional, and hopefully my faithful reader will let me know. I've noticed that every Caucasian person I know owns the following outfit: a horizontal stripe polo shirt worn over jeans. I tried to fit in as best I could in America's Heartland and even purchased my only pair of jeans (no I didn't own a pair of jeans prior to this) and a polo shirt for this trip. Although you couldn't tell, the whole "outfit" cost a total of $15 at Wal-Mart. Man, Ocean Pacific brand has certainly gone downhill since I was a kid.

Meet the Beef Brisket sandwich at Gate's BBQ, accompanied by three sauces (sweet, regular and spicy). This sandwich was amazing with perfectly tender meat and I couldn't even decide which sauce I liked best. Gates had none of the glitz nor glamour of Jack Stack, but it focused on the meat, and I recommend you know what you're ordering before you get in line. A waitress was kind enough to help me in line, and I was grateful. Gates was very good, but in all fairness, I didn't try the brisket at Jack Stack. I may need to return.

We even had time to catch a Royals game at Kaufman Stadium on Sunday. For maybe the only time all year, the stadium was actually sold out. So, we got some cheap standing room tickets where we stood in a beautiful standing section in the outfield surrounded by cascading waterfalls. It was a beautiful day in a great stadium, and we witnessed Zack Greinke pitch another gem (he deserves the AL Cy Young). Thanks but I'll stick to the river and the streams that I'm used to (I need to stop chasing waterfalls), go Cardinals in 2010! Is baseball still going this year?

Video of the Week: My man the ODB (Original Dream Boat). The Morton Pumpkin Festival was on my original schedule, but I had to cancel it. Luckily someone else was able to not only attend the festival, but record my favorite festival musician of all time. Enjoy yet another gem from Matt Barber with his trusty light show by his side. Please click the Matt Barber Experience for more info.

Ok, so this wasn't really a festival as much as it was a road trip. My thanks go out to Matt, Tim, and Nathan for their company and the laughs they provided. Although this wasn't planned as a ?Triple "F" (Festive Festival Festivities) trip, I noticed just how much food was involved in the trip. Thus I eventually decided to post it.

Kansas City is one of the Kingpins of the BBQ world, and I was surprised to see the old staple I had known as KC Masterpiece is now out of business. Now I had heard many a Kansas Citian(?) tell me about Jack Stack, Gates, Arthur Bryant's or Oklahoma Joe's as being the best BBQ I would ever eat. I will need to return for a more in depth review, but so far Gate's is definitely in the lead.

BBQ has a history as old as time as both a cooking method and as a type of food. If you don't want to take my word for it you can check out someone else that has done a lot more research than I have here. Or, you can check out this TIME magazine article, sorry but I wanted a link to a TIME article in the sad hopes of some future return link (yes I'm talking to you TIME). There is so much information on BBQ out there, but to be honest every real man out there has their own version of a secret sauce/rub. In fact if you meet a man that doesn't claim to be a great BBQ artist, I would suggest running away or discussing the latest fashion trends. But that is neither here nor there. I've always liked Steve Raichlen since I saw him on PBS. Now he can be a little too much at times, but he definitely knows what he is doing. In fact, he has his own BBQ University and that's fairly impressive within itself.

KC and Lawrence, Kansas were both fun due to the company and for the locale. I can't fight the feeling that I didn't eat enough in my travels in this trip, so Kansas City Here I Come again sometime soon.