We were working the Scottsdale Culinary Festival this past weekend where a belief in overkill and just-in-case- planning got me there 4 hours early as a preventative measure. I turned out to be correct and this show example will live on in the litany of reasons it pays to plan for contingencies. Upon arrival at 08:00 our booth for the upcoming show was not even a thought in a meeting planners mind, nothing was onsite or even marked out.
Organization & Preparation, the first two of the 4 Levers of Cooking™ came in handy as I rounded up some help and got the process rolling. Sitting around waiting for the booth prep to happen, after lugging in all of our gear to build the booth, I can tell you, even at 8 AM, that the days are getting hotter and that Spring was last week despite what the calendar says. Now it is just about Summer, which is a pain for an event but exciting because its almost time for the Smart Kitchen’s Summer Food Drive 2012 (W – E).
With inadequate amounts of spare time in a small company, and a forced idle due to circumstances beyond your own control, you can, on a hot day when THE BOSS has not yet arrived, try to work on your Summer Food Drive trip and blog about it before either: it is time to get back into the booth building game or before the aforementioned Boss arrives. What the boss doesn’t know doesn’t hurt him, does it???
For the last few years, early summer has been an opportunity to see some rustic places and obscure dives in the more northerly climes. We will likely be heading out of AZ into NM and then into CO to visit a bunch of cheesemakers (mostly goat cheese) . From north of Denver the stops are missing until The Drover Steakhouse in Omaha. As you may know we only eat at the stops so right now we have 900 hungry miles from Sticky Toffee Pudding in Denver to Whiskey Steaks in Omaha, NE. Traditionally, the stretch from Colorado east to Omaha or Missouri has been a challenge. It is hard to find rabid fans of obscure food stops in that stretch. Does anybody have some “You Better Not Miss ‘Em” recommendations for this famished stretch? In fact, we are open to suggestions for anywhere between AZ and the Atlantic.
From the Drover its a relatively short hop to KC, MO for Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ and Smokestack BBQ (see below). Depending on the timing there may be encore performances for LC BBQ (one of my favorites) and Arthur Bryant’s (another favorite).
Last year I had the route planned and booked when Susie Timm, of Girl Meets Fork told me she was going to Jack’s Stack BBQ in KC and that it was the best. Susie knows BBQ and I thought <DOH!> since I was going to miss it, in favor of Gate’s BBQ (ho-hum) & Stroud’s Chicken (pretty good especially with a fried chicken theme going on in 2011). Then Saveur Magazine came out for May of 2011 and said Jack’s Stack was one of the best KC BBQ stops. <DOUBLE DOH!! & ERRR!> Now it is 2012 and we can finally try to remedy the situation.
Oh and by the way, SK Chef phoned. He is running late for the Culinary Festival. I can probably get some more detail photo work into this post. Stage 1 is up until KC. Stage 2 will be from KC over to the coast.
Those are the proposed food stops so far. Specifically they are:
- 3 creameries (Goat Cheeses) in the Rocky Mountains – James Ranch, Avalanche Cheese Co. & Haystack Cheese Co. Haystack’s Green Chile Jack Cheese won first place in the American Cheese Society’s (ACS) competition in 2011. The “Hand Bandaged Goat Cheddar” at Avalanche sounded intriguing and is also an award winner (3rd place with ACS). Avalanche is also near Paonia, Co. which is idyllic and the home of Chaco Sandals. I don’t know much about James Ranch, except that they raise some heritage goats and that they are 10 miles north of Durango (where I have friends), which is some scenic mountain terrain. They are better known for their Farm Market and were actually pretty non-responsive two years ago. I want to see if that has changed and if they have any product to write about. I am planning to run these by The Roving Cheese Monger.
- Colt & Gray for Sticky Toffee Pudding, which was on The Best Things I Ever Ate a few years ago, and hopefully a lunch meeting.
- The Drover Steak House in Omaha, NE for the Whiskey Steaks and because 2 Nebraska natives told me last year that I should have chosen The Drover over Gorat’s Steakhouse. One of the Nebraska native was Dan Morgan of Morgan Ranch who runs an American Wagyu Cattle Operation and should know something about it. To see Dan’s place and operation you can see our video of Morgan Ranch on the Smart Kitchen Channel on Youtube.
- 2-4 KC BBQ Spots – Fiorella’s Jack’s Stack BBQ, Arthur Bryant’s BBQ, LC’s BBQ, maybe Big T’s BBQ (no website), Bear’s Smokeshack BBQ (no website), and/or Danny Edwards’ BBQ. Do you have any favorites or must visit KC places? The original Smokestack Restaurant was on my list but it looks like it has closed. RIP (rest in rib pieces; they were known for burnt ends)
For KC BBQ, I may have to get out a quarter and do some best 12 out of 13 flips to choose here. Maybe I’ll do the drive-by and see which are passes and which are must visits. Or darn it I can get PRE-EMPTIVE and just hit them all! I WILL GO TO EXTREMES OF BBQ OVERKILL to avoid another Susie Timm or Saveur <DOH & ERRRR!> visit-marring-experience. I will even plan some mileage “A Pied” (French for on foot) along the Missouri River or Appalachian Trail to make up for the caloric overkill.
The non-food spots in the west include gyms, potentially Scott’s Bluff, NE and Jocyln Art Museum in Omaha. They have some Degas and Delacroix, etc. in their permanent collection. The Jocyln seems as nice a spot as any to do some post-prandial strolling after a big steak.
It’s getting to be showtime. SK Chef will be showing up anytime now. Shhh. I will work on the rest of the trip for the next post. Let me know if I am missing anywhere great. By the way, the booth did get built on time and SK Chef did a great job with his knife work. We had a lot of fun seeing so many foodies in person, meeting new friends and new members.
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