Monday, March 31, 2008

Archer Farms Frozen Pizzas

They’re pretty frakkin’ good.

Galacticathon 2008 was ambitious. All twenty episodes of Battlestar Galactica’s third season. One break for KU basketball. Two days. Six geeky, geeky people.

Key to making it happen was planning for maximum efficiency -- down time was not a luxury we could afford. Clearly, this was the perfect excuse to heat up a slew of the fancy frozen pizzas I’d been wanting to try from Archer Farms, Target’s upscale house brand. Keeping in mind that, a) Target brand products always seem to be better than their grocery counterparts; and b) frozen pizza is already delicious, I couldn’t wait to see how these were. Here’s what we had.
  • Apple & Gorgonzola: What with my mean gorgonzola jones, this was the variety that initially captured my attention, even if Kelly thought I was getting a little too excited about frozen food. I’m glad to say the flavor had a nice bite and didn’t disappoint. Might’ve been even better without the apples.
  • Three Meat with Self-Rising Crust: The crust tasted like a soft pretzel, and since it was layered with sausage, pepperoni and ground beef, this pizza was extremely right on.
  • Sicilian Thin Crust with Genoa Salami, Capicola Ham & Italian Sausage: As do all the Archer Farms frozen pizza boxes, it says this was imported from Italy, so it’s likely earned the right to be authentically designated Sicilian. However, I can’t help but wonder if it might be smarter to just offer to move the Italians over here.
  • We had two others -- Mushroom, Tomato & Red Onion, and Roasted Garlic Chicken. They were still pretty good, although I liked the rest much more.

Mission accomplished. Galacticathon’s final episode ended about 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night. If you’ve watched Battlestar Galactica, you know that characters on the show frequently unwind with a glass of Ambrosia, which is this iridescent emerald green drink. I made a homemade batch of that involving melon schnapps, vodka and rum for us to enjoy during the weekend, too.

I think we can all agree that the pizzas were better.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Classic and rockin' -- what Journey's Greatest Hits must taste like.

When Leigh suggested to me and Shaw that we go get burgers at LC’s, he got this crazy look in his eyes. At first, we figured it was because he’s Tanzanian, but we made plans to go anyway. That trip was sadly thwarted by a last minute Friday morning meeting, so we took a rain check for the week following. However, when we came back to work on Monday, Leigh told us he couldn’t wait any longer and had gone to LC’s over the weekend. Taking a deep breath, he said, ”Maybe I’ll be ready to go back in a month, mate.” Again, Tanzanian.

The crazy eyes returned a couple of days ago -- clearly, this was the Friday when the LC’s trip would happen. And sweet fancy Moses, they make a good burger. I ordered a double, and it was nice and crispy on the edges, loaded with melty cheese and grilled onions. They’re gut bombs in the finest sense, all greasy goodness. Wells got the Big Cheese, which involves three patties. Just looking at it nearly put me in a burger coma.

Bonus points to LC’s for my chocolate Coke. If I was on an Afterschool Special from the late '70s/early '80s, I'd totally drive my Trans Am here to hang out in the parking lot and rock some Journey.

We so understand why Leigh had to take some time to recover. It's possible that LC’s might serve up a better burger than the Flea Market, which for us is straight-up sacrilege, but we’ll have to wait until we’ve had a few weeks and can go back for round two to make that call.
_____________________________________L C's Hamburgers Etc on Urbanspoon
7612 NW Prairie View Road | Kansas City, MO 64151

Friday, March 14, 2008


Beers, basketball -- and back to the office.

Robert mentioned that every time he goes to Willie's, he's excited to go. Until he actually sits down, and then he's disappointed. Whether that's an atmosphere thing or the food itself, I can't say. Me, I'm a Willie's fan, but more in the sense that I've had good times there and I'm willing to let some nonsense slide, especially food-wise.

We ordered a cheeseburger and fries, plus the house favorite chicken fried steak sandwich. And then, for good measure, 24 wings to share with Mike and his buddies. They had the day off and were preemptively boozing it up before going to the Big 12 Tournament. Robert and I had to go back to work. Guess who had the better afternoon? It might be closer than you think -- we have access to beer at the office, and Mike, not so much for this event at the Sprint Center.

The wings were good, although Robert and I both agree that the hot sauce had an underlying sweetness to it -- not bad, just more out of place than anything. Robert seemed pretty indifferent toward the rest of the food, but I thought the burger was quality, if still not enough to recommend in a "If I Can Only Order One Thing Off the Menu Before I Die" situation. I especially loved the chicken fried steak sandwich. Maybe that was because it broke the disappointing streak of breaded fried sandwiches I've been on lately. Willie's, you're the slumpbuster. Robert thought it would have been better with a side of gravy.

Of course, you could say that about just about anything, right?
________________________________Willie's on Urbanspoon
1501 Grand Avenue | Kansas City, MO 64108

Monday, March 10, 2008

Road Trip: 237 Miles to Tulsa

And nary a Krystal the entire way.

See Wilco. Take down beers. Those were our chief priorities when Jeff, Ryan, Jeremy and I road-tripped to Tulsa last weekend. And with four guys in a car together, you know the snack action isn’t going to be pretty. It can’t be a good idea to recap what all we dominated on the trip, but nevertheless, here goes.
  • Smokey Ben’s Barbecue: The house specialty is Hot Mommas -- short, fat, spicy sausages that are ridiculously delicious. Seriously, if you ever get to go to Smokey Ben’s and try them, let me know what you think. You can also tell me how to get there, since the only reason we found this joint in the first place is that Jeff and Ryan historically refuse to print out directions, meaning we inevitably get lost.
  • Road Snacks: I thought this would be a good excuse to try some new varieties of Archer Farms potato chips I saw at Target -- schezwan barbecue and cheddar bacon. Couldn't actually tell if either flavor tasted like what it was supposed to taste like, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility that they did. Jeremy wouldn't let us eat them in the car.
  • The Soundpony: Right next door to Cain’s, the place where Wilco was playing, was this bicycle enthusiast bar that had for sale beers, hot dogs being cooked on one of those carousel grillers -- and bikes themselves. I think Ryan pointed out that if you’re buying a bike at the same place where you drink, you probably aren’t all that serious about cycling to begin with.
  • Random Street Vendor Outside Cain’s: Making a bold move and choosing to have my dog Chicago style, the guy fixing it might’ve set a world record for speed when he was throwing on all the toppings. A solid Chicago dog to be sure, especially considering it was from a cart in downtown Tulsa.
  • Cain’s: Didn’t eat there, but it would be remiss not to mention that you can buy beer here a sixer at a time, still in the rings. And that is the coolest.
  • Whataburger: After checking out a few other downtown dives after the show, I passed on a Whataburger run with Jeff and Ryan. Nice guy that he is, though, Jeff thought I might like a burger so he got an extra triple. Then upon getting back to the hotel and discovering I'd crashed out while he was gone, Jeff threw the wrapped-up burger at my head like 90 miles an hour loudly demanding, “You eat that! You eat that burger!” Terrified, I made it maybe three bites in. Ultimately it was a lost cause.
  • Mary Jane’s Pizza: At some point, Jeremy ordered a pepperoni and sausage pizza. How the pizza was when it was hot, I cannot say. I can tell you it was pretty good about seven or eight hours later when I woke up. Is there a breakfast better than cold pizza? Apparently Mary Jane’s is open until -- wait for it -- 4:20 in the morning. Not really my thing, but I can appreciate their commitment to the joke.
  • Arby’s: My fellow road-trippers are all wrong -- potato cakes are a world of awesome beyond curly fries. My Jamocha shake ruled me the rest of the day, familiar comfort for the ride home.

Also worth noting is that there is either a Subway or a Sonic and usually both about every fifteen miles or so on whatever backwoods route Jeff and Ryan had us taking to Tulsa. While the Subway storefronts tend to blend in by holding shop in what looks like temporary tract housing, Sonic is always the newest, shiniest, gaudiest thing in town -- standing out even more since without exception they're built by property that is fairly dilapidated if not abandoned altogether. Okay, it may not seem all that interesting to you, but it starts to take on an increasing air of strange fascination the more Subways and Sonics you pass.

And yeah, Wilco was good, too. But that goes without saying.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Cascone's Grill

Diner eats, lickety split.

First, we were going to get pizza. Then maybe barbecue. But by the time I got out of my last minute Friday morning meeting, we had only enough time to make it to Cascone’s Grill. Last minute Friday morning meetings, you are the archnemesis of Friday lunch.

Down in the City Market, there’s something Seinfeldy about Cascone’s. While we were looking over the menu, lunch friends Justin and Sarah swore by the Big Sam, so Shaw and I decided to check it out for ourselves. It’s a breakfast sandwich that comes piled high with all the usual a.m. suspects -- sausage, eggs and cheese. And instead of hash browns on the side, they throw those right on the sandwich, too. The most important meal of the day between two slices of Italian bread, like a daybreak version of the Fat Darrell.

Note: Somebody in KC really needs to start making Fat Darrells.

We also ordered Vita’s Special, which is Italian steak covered with cheese and red sauce on top of pasta. Much like chicken fried steak, I have no concept of exactly what Italian steak is. All I know is that it’s lightly fried, crispy and I dig it so don’t ruin this for me. Big time comfort food.

Just like that, we were heading back to the office. In and out in 30 minutes. Good food although maybe not a destination lunch spot -- especially when you can get a #33 at Hien Vuong so nearby -- but today Cascone’s Grill got the job done.

Pow! Ka-thwok! Take that, last minute Friday morning meeting!
_______________________________Cascone's Grill on Urbanspoon
20 East 5th Street | Kansas City, MO 64106

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

B-Dubs: Parmesan Garlic Wings

For every one of these you eat, you are obligated to have two Blazin'.

Creamy wings? My first thought was sacrilege. Shame on you, Buffalo Wild Wings. But finally my curiosity about the Parmesan Garlic wings got the best of me, so at Guys’ Night we ordered five of them, enough for each of us to try one. Except Casey, who abstained as a conscientious objector.

The wings looked as if they’d been glazed ala Krispy Kreme doughnuts, freckled with questionable specks of green. I took a bite, and my suspicions were instantly confirmed. These were bad news. It’s not like they tasted gross -- the sauce would probably make an alright spedini. On wings, though, it did not work. For one thing, wings shouldn’t make you think you’d like a side of pasta. Everybody knows the perfect side for wings is more wings.

Yet here’s what it really comes down to -- and this is a personal plea from me to you, B-Dubs. You’ve started down a slippery slope with Parmesan Garlic. Some flavors are simply not meant to exist within the hallowed halls of the wing menagerie. And you have a responsibility to help keep watch over the gates.

Mark my words, if you ever introduce an artichoke-spinach wing, I’ll have no choice but to boycott.
____________________________________Buffalo Wild Wings on Urbanspoon
7030 West 105th Street | Overland Park, KS 66212