By Dave Eckert, @eatsanddrinkswithdave
There can be no argument that 2020 is a year most of us would like to forget. As a food and beverage journalist, it’s been difficult watching Kansas City’s food and beverage community struggle mightily during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But, as 2020 thankfully drags to a close, I come bearing positive news-a way to make the last weeks of a dreadful year more positive while helping support the local food and beverage scene. What follows is a list of gift ideas for the foodie or foodies in your life. I’ll readily admit this just scratches the surface of the treasure trove of locally produced, artisanal products available to you. But it comes from the heart and with a request. Seek out and support local producers this holiday season and every season moving forward as they provide color and depth to the tapestry that is the Kansas City food and beverage community.
To make things a bit easier, I’ve broken the list down into categories: Rubs and Sauces, Treats for Your Tummy, and Potent Potables. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!
RUBS AND SAUCES
Being the barbecue hub of the world, Kansas City is, not surprisingly, a community of rubs and sauces. But what you may not know is just how deep and varied that community is. Not every purveyor of excellent sauces is barbecue-based. Tasty Thai is one such purveyor. Marisa Wiruhayarn runs two Tasty Thai restaurants, one in Kansas City North and the other in Liberty. Both provide excellent, authentic Thai cuisine. As a bonus, Wiruhayarn also sells an outstanding Thai hot sauce called Primal Cry as well as an excellent peanut sauce. They are available at both restaurants along with a candied and a spicy jerky that are not to be missed. You’ll find Tasty Thai at 7104 NW Prairie View Drive, Kansas City, MO and 1912 Star Drive, Liberty, MO and at kctastythai.com
Common Descent Provisions
Chris Bengston is an unabashed foodie. His posts on Instagram and Facebook are some of the more mouth-watering out there, and his line of condiments is among the most creative and flavorful you will find. Whether you’re looking for mustard, ketchup, hot sauces, bbq sauces, or dressings, Bengston’s line of hand-crafted, small batch creations are sure to satisfy. Learn more at commondescentprovisions.com
Plowboys Barbecue Rubs and Sauce
Coming from a competition-based barbecue background, Plowboys has made the successful leap into the bbq restaurant industry. As for their rubs and sauces, well, just know that their Yardbird Rub was recently named as one of the 13 best bbq sauces and rubs you can order online by Food & Wine Magazine. More than 100,000 pounds of Yardbird Rub is sold each year for use all over the world! You can get Plowboys products online at plowboysbbq.com or you can pick them up at their Overland Park and Blue Springs restaurant locations at 6737 W 75th Street, Overland Park, KS, 913.914.7569 and 3111 State Route 7, Blue Springs, MO 816.228.7569
The Slabs BBQ Sauces and Rubs
I’ve known Stephanie Wilson, the pitmaster for The Slabs, for years. I consider her a good friend. Even before I got to know Wilson well, I was well-versed in her excellent line of rubs and sauces. They are, in fact, my “go to” sauces and rubs for all things bbq! You can’t go wrong with The Slabs pork, beef, or birds and bones rubs, nor their sauce especially the fantastic Amazing Glaze. Order at theslabs.com
TREATS FOR YOUR TUMMY
Affare Old World-style German Cookies
I’m a sucker for cookies around the holidays. The fact that these are coming from Katrin and Martin Heuser at Affare Modern German Restaurant makes this one a no-brainer. These are true old world-style German cookies, with some of the recipes coming from Katrin’s grandmother’s cookbook.
They can be had for $30 per dozen for a cookie assortment, and are available through Dec. 31st or while supplies last. Order at exploretock.com The cookies must be picked up at the restaurant.
Paradise Locker Meats
Meat lovers will find no better source of local, fresh, unique, and delicious products than Paradise Locker Meats, located north of Smithville in the tiny community of Trimble. This year, they are offering a host of holiday-themed boxes of goodies: Bacon Lovers, Meat and Cheese, Wagyu Beef and more. You can order online, but trust me, it’s worth the trip to Trimble to check out their products in person. Visit them at 405 W. Birch, Trimble, MO or head to their website at paradisemeats.com
Photo by Suzanne Kinner Photography, LLC
Jude’s Rum Cakes
If you’ve ever had one of Craig Adcock’s rum cakes, then you know just how amazing they are. And and if you haven’t, well, this is the year to break that streak. Named for his mother-in-law and made with Missouri nuts, Adcock’s own proprietary mix, and now, his own rum, Jude’s are hands down the best rum cakes you will ever try. Adcock operates out of his Table Ocho space at 13408 Santa Fe Trail Drive, Lenexa, KS. Visit judesrumcake.com to order or call him at 913 526-6708 to arrange a pickup
A Taste of Africa
This is a fairly new discovery for me, but from the first taste of her food, I knew Doreen Muhoro was onto something. Everything at her Overland Park restaurant is made from scratch, including her incredible samosas, which are fried packets of deliciousness. Now you can buy samosa kits from Muhoro, which include the triangle-shaped dough, spices, and instructions on how to make them at home. You’ll find A Taste of Africa at 11240 W. 135th Street, Overland Park, KS, tasteofafricaop.com
Living in Liberty, I don’t get to visit Westport’s mini-donut haven Donutology very often. That’s a good thing as I could eat many of these mini-treats at a time. For the holidays, Donutology is offering holiday mini donuts. Festively decorated and loaded with flavor, you can pre-order 30-packs for pick up. Order at donutology.com or call 816-298-5222.
Best Regards Bakery & Cafe
Best Regards owner Robert Duensing is always creating something new and delicious. This holiday season, Duensing has crafted iced holiday sugar cookies. And if you think that sugar cookies are nothing special, then you haven’t seen or tasted Duensing’s. The cookies are available daily at the bakery until sold out and can be individually wrapped and sealed if the order placed in advance. To order, call 913-912-7238 or order online at makethemsmile.com
The Dining Experience at The Kauffman Center
With the restaurant closed and all shows cancelled at The Kauffman Center, Executive Chef Laura Comer has had to get even more creative. That creativity includes beautifully packaged, and fantastically flavorful chocolate truffles and macrons available to pick up for the holidays. Take my advice and run, don’t walk, to get yours. Order at kauffmancenter.org
Green Dirt Farm Sheep’s Milk Cheeses
Another long-time favorite of mine, Sarah Hoffman’s Green Dirt Farm cheeses are some of the tastiest cheeses I’ve encountered. Start with the spreadable fresh cheeses in a variety of tempting flavors or step up to a Dirt Lover’s (my personal favorite), or any of the other aged cheese offerings. You will not be disappointed! Visit them online at greendirtfarm.com or head out to the creamery and taste and buy in person at 1099 Welt Street, Westin, MO.
Strang Hall Gift Cards
A collection of unique food concepts, downtown Overland Park’s Strang Hall offers something for everyone. Try the pizza and sandwiches at Norcini, the Asian fair at Anousone, or any of the other concepts and you’ll be hooked just like me. What better stocking stuffer than a Strang Hall Gift card? As a bonus, through the holidays, they’re offering an extra $10 for every $50 spent. Order at stranghall.com
Focusing on Heritage grape varieties, Vox Vineyard is one of the most consistent and creative wine producers in the Midwest. Whether you prefer a semi-dry wine like a Vignoles, a big, bold red such as a Norton, or an Orange Wine (all the rage!), Vox has a wine, or three, to please your palate. Go to voxvineyards.com or go to The Creamery where they share a space with Green Dirt Farm at 1099 Welt Street, Westin, MO.
Fence Stile Winery
Close to my home and close to my heart, Fence Stile is all about quality. Their wines are great, and as a bonus, the winery has some extra goodies for purchase, including mulled wine kits, seasonings and rubs, and spicy mustard. Great for a day trip, and who doesn’t need a day trip these days? Head out to Fence Stile at 31010 W. 124th Street, Excelsior Springs, MO, fencestile.com
Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery
At the opposite end of the metro is Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery. There you will not just find one of the most attractive and comfortable regional wineries, but one of the most diverse. I love their cider, which is bone dry and refreshing. And this year, I discovered their cocktail packages and local products from brioche to bison summer sausage. When there, seek out Cindy Campbell-Reynolds and tell her I sent you. You’ll find Somerset Ridge at 29725 Somerset Road, Paola, KS or online at somersetridge.com
Boozy Botanicals Simple Syrups
Another good friend, Cheryl Bisbee, the creator of Boozy Botanicals, has made it easier for all of us to produce delicious craft cocktails at home. Offering seven fantastic flavors, Boozy will have you mixing up cocktails like a pro in no time. Believe me, I know of what I speak. Visit boozybotanicals.com for great cocktail ideas and pick up the products at all Made in KC stores.
Of The Earth Farm + Distillery
One of my favorite places in the metro, Of The Earth Farm + Distillery produces an amazing array of small-batch artisan spirits from their distillery in Richmond, MO. Of The Earth features more than a dozen products in all, and all are worth sampling. You could start with a $25 liqueur sampler and go from there.
You can order online at oftheearthfarm.com with doorstep delivery available in KC area and shipping available nationwide.
Well, there you have it, a plethora of local foodie gifts. Now you have no reason not to shop and support local. Cheers!