Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Holiday Caveman Moment

Over the holidays, I attended a work retreat at the historic Hotel Phillips. My coworkers and I relished the opportunity for some team-building and goal-setting and the speaker leading our retreat was very inspirational indeed.  Food nerd that I am though, the part of the evening I most anticipated was our dinner afterwards.  Suprised?  I thought not.

We rejoined with our significant others in the lobby later in the evening for a glass of wine.  We traded war stories while taking in the gorgeously intricate lobby of the Phillips.  Soon, we boarded the hotel shuttle and trekked off to the Freight House District to our dinner destination: Jack Stack Barbecue.  I had been before and it had been far too long since I dined at this haven for all things smoked meat.  One thing I've always been gobsmacked about Jack Stack is how it somehow manages to maintain a settle-in-and-get cozy kind of vibe despite its always raucous capacity crowd.  That clearly hasn't changed on either count as the joint was packed that night but the dark wood, low-light, crackling fire setting just makes you want to sink to your seat and get seduced by the barbecued meat.  So, Tank 7s and plates of mondo onion rings in hand, we headed from the bar to the dining room and did just that.

Now, I've been talking about my fascination with meatless eating lately, but something about Kansas City barbecue in general just seems to erase that intrigue from my mind.  Having that aroma of signature smoke pass my nostrils just seems to awaken something primal in me. While pondering the menu, I heard on good authority that the Jack's Combo platter was the way to go but with a twist..the menu lists it as one Crown Prime Beef Rib, Baby Back Ribs and Beef Burnt Ends, but I traded out and substituted the renowned lamb ribs for the baby back and switched the beef for the pork burnt ends. Well, I'm sure either way, it would have been killer, but this platter of smoked meat was serious Barbecue Nirvana. The meat fell from the bone; the tangy sauce was smoky goodness.  I didn't realize just how voraciously I had been gnawing on these rib bones, until I saw my tablemate Christine looking at me in something that looked like a mixture of awe and fear and said, " Greg, your mouth is so....full.".  At this point I became hyper-aware that I had turned into a bit of a neanderthal, and as my mouth was indeed full, all I could do was grin and grunt in reply.  Christine then smiled and said, "you're a happy boy, aren't you?"  Mouth still full, I nodded mindlessly and grinned again.  Earlier I had been frustrated by the low light because I couldn't get a good photo of my food, but at this point I was grateful...I suddenly suspected I might be streaked with that luscious Jack Stack barbecue sauce from hairline to chin.  Considering how much that hairline had receded, that's covering some ground, too.  I sensed that I had become so caveman-like at this point, that I wondered if I was about to start cowering from the flame flickering from the table-top candles or would simply start carving hieroglyphics into the nearby walls.  Momentarily flummoxed, I glanced from one side of the table to the other, and then absently shrugged, made a sound something like "hmmmpf..snort" and when back to gnawing on the ribs.  Happily.

Back to the hotel room that night, I looked out to the always stunning city skyline and was grateful to be a Kansas Citian once again.  I had experiences a worthy work retreat in a beautiful historic hotel followed by yet another example of brilliant Kansas City barbecue shared with awesome coworkers and friends.  This was a good night.

So, I happily grunted and went to bed.


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