Saturday, February 8, 2014

Screw The Hearts and Cards. Give Me BBQ and Chocolate.

Every year 'round this time, I use up some of my blog space to launch a rant on Valentine's Day.  It probably stems from the single years that sensitized me to what this holiday means to those without a valentine.  My hostility towards this holiday also seems to bite the hand that feeds me....I've spent much of my working life working in multiple businesses where VD is a vortex of crimson-hued madness, but certainly a profitable madness.  My current workplace is on the cusp of a sold-out weekend of multi-course dinners, couples massages and popping Champagne bottles.  Keith and I are planning nothing as usual, but in retrospect, I think I'll just refer to today as the official love celebration of February.  I spent today with the Other of Significance, after all, and got to indulge in barbecue and chocolate to boot.

First though, we went to the American Royal to the Metropolitan Lawn and Garden Show.   Keith geeks out at the gardening goodness at these shows.  I enjoy them by strolling the ever-more-elaborate outdoor kitchens and dreaming of parties not yet hosted.  Check out this version with the outdoor pizza oven..

 We listened to Extreme Home Makeover's Ty Pennington speak; we strolled the stunningly creative water gardens that incorporated musical instruments; we admired the intricate orchids; we searched through the seed packets and anticipated fresh vegetables in the summer.

For lunch, we finally (and embarrassingly, after having lived here 10 years) made the journey to KC BBQ haven Oklahoma Joe's. This little joint in a gas station is a success story for the ages.

 Their origins date back to the 90's when the owners were part of a barbecue team called The Slaughterhouse Five that was tearing up the contest circuit.  This had evolved into a successful catering business which, after much contemplation, turned into this hybrid gas station/ BBQ joint.  Since then they have inspired powerful local devotion combined with impressive national attention.  Oklahoma Joe's has been named America's tastiest ribs by USA Today and is on Anthony Bourdain's list of 13 Places to Eat Before You Die (this list included the French Laundry in Napa Valley and elBulli in Spain, once the hardest reservation in the world to get, mind you).

We arrived, struggled to find parking and stood in line for quite a while.  But then we got That Barbecue.  Keith got a pulled pork sandwich with the BBQ beans and I got the famous Z-Man sandwich; slow-smoked beef brisket topped with smoked provolone cheese, onion rings and that signature barbecue sauce. This is the famous sandwich credited with a turnaround for the Kansas City Royals this past summer.  The Minnesota Twins had purchased 50 Z-mans and beat the Royals.  Oklahoma Joe's owner Jeff Stehney decided to send the Royals 51 Z-Mans the next day and sure enough, the Royals won.

Well, Great Day in the Morning, I get it.  It's a perfectly built sandwich, with layers of flavor.  I just added a couple of jolts of Night of The Living BBQ Sauce to add a little heat.  The spicy slaw was creamy with a kick in the best way. I also tried Keith's rich and lively BBQ beans. It all made for a truly kickass barbecue experience. When we had arrived today, the line was out the door and when we left, the line at the door was even longer. I remember thinking it awesome that despite the line, everyone seemed to be in a serene state of barbecue bliss, either in anticipation of it or in awe of it after having had it.  That Z-Man has definitely entered my list of favorite KC dishes.

Already in caloric overkill, we pushed the envelope by traveling up to Excelsior Springs for the Chocolate Tour I teased about in my last post.  The Downtown Excelsior Partnership hosted this as a fundraiser and many downtown businesses featured chocolate treats while showcasing their stores.  Creme brulee brownies and chocolate wine cake were sampled at Willow Springs Mercantile while live music floated from the wine cellar room.

  Ventana Cafe had Baileys chocolate cupcakes and coffee with chocolate.  Sugar Rush bakery hopped everyone up on chocolate cupcakes with amaretto-buttercream frosting.The Atlas Saloon sampled shots of Rum Chata and double-chocolate vodka.

 We finished the tour at my workplace, in the Cafe at the Elms Hotel and Spa noshing on Mexican white-chocolate scones and housemade hot chocolate (pictured at top of the page).

Well, at the end of the day, I was tripping on cocoa so much that my ears were buzzing.  After a week of stomach bug nibbling, I almost felt as if I had calorically made up for everything I had been one day.  This was, though, my idea of a lovefest.

A lovefest covered in barbecue sauce and finished off with chocolate.


Anonymous said...

OMG! MY BESTIE! I think this is one of your best posts to date. You know that I love it when you wax poetic about times gone by and hometown memories but this post is just awesome. I LOVE LOVE LOVE smoked provolone! I totally feel ya with respect to the V-Day holiday. You and I worked too many years together on said event. But it seems that you and K-Man made the most of it early. You might have to send me some Night of the Living BBQ sauce (hint hint.) As for the know I'd rather have another pulled pork sandwich than a chocolate cupcake but a little bite of GREAT chocolate is always worth it! Sounds like you are feeling better. Here's to BOTH of us surviving V-Day once again! ~ Kristy

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