Lawrence Local Table is staging a “Dinner at Decade” this month, and to honor its host, the culinary collective is building the meal around coffee.
Just don’t expect to see the ingredient in every dish, says LLT member and Hank Charcuterie owner-chef Vaughn Good. Instead, he and Hank sous chef Jay Tovar Ballagh, as well as 715 executive chef Zach Thompson, are cooking up a six-course menu that follows “the basic processes a coffee bean goes through before consumption,” per Lawrence Local Table’s description.
That includes a “fresh” course (caviar, pickled apple, greens, beet) as well as fermented, dried, roasted, ground and brewed courses, the last of which — a chocolate cake with espresso gelato and coffee service — actually features the special ingredient.
The event, slated for Sept. 27 at Decade coffee shop, 920 Delaware St., is Lawrence Local Table’s fourth since launching in February. So far, the collective’s events have all either sold out or come close to it, says Vaughn, though tickets are still available for this month’s meal.
715’s Katrina Weiss and Jess Anthony will begin serving up complimentary cocktails starting at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $75, and can be purchased online at lawrencelocaltable.com.
Despite the recent controversy surrounding former executive director (and now-resigned Lawrence mayor) Jeremy Farmer, a spokesperson for Just Food says the food bank is still moving forward with its upcoming Chef’s Table fundraiser.
“This dinner is important now more than ever as we serve 140 to 200 families a day,” Just Food interim director Elizabeth Keever said in an email.
The event, which is slated for 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Cider Gallery, will feature a six-course meal (with wine pairings) prepared by some of Lawrence’s most celebrated chefs.
That list includes: Rick Martin and Mike Humphrey from Limestone Pizza; T.K. Peterson of Merchants Pub and Plate; Ken Baker formerly of Pachamamas; Zach Thompson of 715; and Vaughn Good and Jay Tovar-Ballagh of Hank Charcuterie.
Tickets for the Chef’s Table event are still available as of Wednesday afternoon and cost $100 for general admission and $800 for an eight-seat table, with proceeds going toward Just Food.
For more information, including where to buy tickets, visit the Just Food website.
Attendees of next week's Free State Festival should have their fill of music, art, film and ideas. And the festival's making sure all the foodies out there get their fill of food and drinks as well, with three dining-related events on this year's roster. Here's a breakdown:
Cocktail-crazy? Check out this rundown of the latest bartending trends from a panel of local experts from 6 to 7:15 p.m. June 23 at John Brown's Underground, 7 E. Seventh St.
"Mezcal aficionado" Adam Clary will guide participants on Oaxacan drinking culture and tradition, while 715's Katrina Weiss will discuss "history's greatest punches" and share how to create cocktails fit for hosting a large group.
Rounding out the panel is Kate Brubacher of John Brown's Underground. The festival's Lawrence Mixology description mentions her enthusiasm for "clean drinking" (think cocktails with herbs, plants, essential oils and fresh produce — much of which Brubacher grows in her own backyard), so perhaps we'll see a bit of greenery when it comes to her portion of the event.
For obvious reasons, this event is for those 21 and up. Tickets cost $25 and include "cutting-edge cocktails and nibbles."
Lawrence Eats!, a discussion of "food trends, food favorites and food fanaticism," is slated for 6 to 7:15 p.m. June 24 at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St.
This free event invites foodies to meet some of Lawrence's greatest culinary minds, including Mel Roeder of Cafe Beautiful, Matt Hyde of 715, Jesse Bonebrake of Mariscos and Rick Martin of Limestone Pizza, and learn what they're cooking up in their kitchens.
Stella Artois Presents the Free State Festival Beer Dinner
For the hardcore foodies (or those with the deeper pockets), there's the first annual Free State Festival Beer Dinner on June 26 at Maceli's Banquet Hall and Catering, 1031 New Hampshire St. Tickets to the dinner cost $100 and include a five-course meal of beer-based recipes from local chefs and food-beer pairings by Anheuser-Busch brewmaster George Reisch.
Participating chefs include Mark Gregory of Maceli's, Nick Wysong of Ingredient/Five Bar and Tables, T.K. Peterson of Merchants Pub and Plate, Dave Nigro of Maceli's and Patrick Ryan of Port Fonda, who will respectively handle the bread, soup, salad, entree and dessert courses.
Attendees will get the chance to learn about beer-meal pairings and collect new recipes to try at home, and they'll also have a chance to win door prizes.
"Beertails" commence at 5:30 p.m., while dinner will take place between 6 and 8 p.m. Visit the festival's website for a full menu.
Tickets for Lawrence Mixology and the Free State Festival Beer Dinner can be purchased online at freestatefestival.org.
About a dozen Lawrence restaurants and bars are inviting customers to drink for a good cause this week.
Negroni Week, a yearly event presented by Campari and Imbibe Magazine, enlists the help of bars around the world to mix up their favorite variations of the timeless cocktail that traditionally features gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. For each Negroni sold at participating bars, a portion of the proceeds will go toward a local charity of the bar's choice.
At Mariscos, bartenders are doing a standard Negroni with a splash of gin-barrel-aged orange bitters plus a garnish of "flamed orange twist," all served with an extra large ice cube. (The restaurant is donating $1 per drink to Just Food; a few other participants said they hadn't decided on a precise number.)
The Bourgeois Pig, John Brown's Underground and 715 are all teaming up to benefit the Lawrence Humane Society by creating different twists on the drink.
715 will feature the classic Negroni all week long, with new variations offered each day. Tuesday, bartenders will be serving up The Jasmine (with rum and Cointreau orange liqueur). The next day, it's the Perfect Sherroni (sherry instead of the standard gin, plus both sweet and dry vermouths).
On Monday, John Brown's was serving a "New Orleans twist" on the drink, with Herbsaint and orange essential oil mixed in with the traditional ingredients. The bar also plans to add a new take on the drink for a $5 special each day this week.
Other Lawrence locations, like Genovese and The Burger Stand, are sticking with the classic recipe.
From now until June 7, you can stop by any of these local establishments for a refreshing Negroni — and a bit of positive karma (the local charity each location is benefiting is in parenthesis):
• 715 (Lawrence Humane Society)
• The Burger Stand (Lawrence Humane Society)
• Genovese (Help Nepal Foundation)
• Henry's (Lawrence Humane Society)
• John Brown's Underground (Lawrence Humane Society)
• Legends (Boys & Girls Club)
• Mariscos (Just Food)
• Minsky's (March of Dimes)
• The Salty Iguana (Newhouse Shelter)
• Six Mile Tavern (Newhouse Shelter)
• The Bourgeois Pig (Lawrence Humane Society)
For more information on Negroni Week, including a full list of participants, check out the event's website.
It's springtime in northeast Kansas, and for the past few weeks, the Journal-World newsroom has been abuzz with talk of a very special fungus: the morel mushroom.
Journal-World photographer and resident mushroom hunter Richard Gwin is particularly enthused, and every few days he'll show off iPhone snapshots of his most recent morel haul. You may remember this gem of a video from 2011, in which he illustrates how to track down and cook morels.
A number of restaurants in town share Richard's appreciation for the elusive (but richly flavored) mushroom, serving up a variety of morel-centric dishes while they're still plentiful along Lawrence-area river banks and hillsides.
At Merchants Pub and Plate, chef/owner T.K. Peterson has been foraging for morels for about a week now, though he estimates it'll be another week before the mushrooms start popping up on the Merchants menu. The plan is to rotate morel specials for the duration of the season, Peterson says.
Right now, he's got a few ideas: a simple pasta with shallots, wine wine, butter, garlic and maybe a bit of cream; perhaps a flatbread with fresh herbs and cheese. He's also made a jam from the mushrooms and served it with grilled meats in the past.
Rick Martin, chef-owner of Limestone Pizza, plans to offer a morel pizza topped with Gruyere cheese and cream. It was a big hit last year with customers, he says.
Last Tuesday, Genovese offered a lunch special of house-made spinach ricotta gnocchi with locally foraged morels and beef short ribs. I also saw a Facebook post from 715 on Monday advertising a dish of shiitakes and morels. Hank Charcuterie introduced a morel special of its own: sherry agave cream, poached egg, charred carrot and roasted pepitas via Facebook last Friday.
Have you tried any of these specials yet? Any I missed out on? We've still got at least a few weeks until morel season ends — when temperatures hit 80 degrees, from what Richard tells me — so I'll keep an eye on social media to see what dishes pop up at local restaurants.
Some of Lawrence's best and brightest culinary minds are coming together to raise money for the Sunrise Project.
The Lawrence organization, which garnered its nonprofit status earlier this year, aims to "provide education and community engagement around the intersection of food, the environment and social justice," according to its website.
A Chefs' Table Dinner fundraiser, scheduled for May 12 at the Lied Center Pavilion, will entail a "seasonal, locally sourced and inspired five-course menu" created by Lawrence chefs.
The roster of participating chefs includes T.K. Peterson of Merchants; Vaughn Good of Hank Charcuterie; Rick Martin of Limestone Pizza; Zach Thompson of 715; Jay Tovar-Ballagh of Hank Charcuterie and Limestone Pizza; and Ken Baker of the now-closed Pachamamas.
No details yet on what will be served, but we'll keep you updated. To receive an invitation for the meal, email email@example.com.
Meanwhile, Liberty Hall is hosting a special screening of "Growing Cities," a 2013 documentary about the role of urban farming in America, at 4 p.m. Sunday as part of the Sunrise Project’s fundraising efforts.
Sunday's screening will be followed by dinner from 23rd Street Brewery, after which attendees can stick around to hear a panel discussion with leaders from the worlds of food and social justice.
Proceeds from the event will go toward the establishment of Sunrise Project and securing space at the former Sunrise Garden Center, which organizers envision as the site of a community greenhouse and educational workshops.
The garden center, located near 15th and New York streets, has been vacant since 2013.
(You may remember hearing this first from Chad Lawhorn, who chronicled the group's beginnings in his Town Talk blog last month.)
Tickets for Sunday's screening event, which cost $40, can be purchased at the Liberty Hall website or box office, 644 Massachusetts St. For more information about the group and its fundraising efforts, check out Sunrise Project's Facebook page.
Lawrence Local Table, a collective of area culinary professionals, is slated to serve up its first dining event, "The Cellar Supper," next month at 715 restaurant.
Billed as a "celebration of Midwestern Winter Fare," it's the first collaborative meal from the group, which includes Vaughn Good and Juan Carlos Tovar-Ballagh of Hank Charcuterie, Louis Wigen-Toccalino from Decade, and Zach Thompson and Katrina Weiss of 715.
As of now, the seven-course dinner will feature locally sourced delicacies such heirloom corn levain with whipped lardo and fermented bean, and will be held at 715 (715 Massachusetts St.) on Feb. 3.
Guests are invited to show up between 5 and 6 p.m. for an open-bar reception, and the first course should be on the table by 6:30 p.m., says 715's Zach Thompson.
Tickets cost $75 per person, including drinks. To reserve seats, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 715 at 856-7150 or purchase tickets online through Lawrence Local Table's website.
If you look in the right spots, sherry suddenly seems a lot less stodgy than stereotypes would have you believe.
As such places have for eons, a handful of Lawrence’s nicer restaurants have a sherry or two on their drink menus, usually grouped with dessert cordials. A small few are following a trend from the coasts by increasing sherry offerings, even incorporating the Spanish fortified wine into craft cocktails.
One is Pachamama’s, 800 New Hampshire St., which is planning it’s first-ever sherry dinner Wednesday night — though chef/owner Ken Baker says he’s not sure what’s taken him so long to do one. (See menu below, and call the restaurant at 841-0990 to reserve a seat. There were a few left late this week.) Another is 715, 715 Massachusetts St., where bar manager Margie Hogue said guests can choose from about five or six sherries by the glass or order one of several craft cocktails featuring the wine.
On 715’s cocktail menu now is the Jerez, made with Campari, cream sherry, sweet vermouth and orange. A featured drink Hogue hinted may land a spot on 715’s next cocktail menu is the Imperial Suitor, with Guatemalan aged rum, aged sherry (about 25 years on both) and blood orange liqueur, stirred with ice and served with a cherry.
“We really liked how rich and raisiny it (the sherry) was, so we used that instead of a sweetening agent as a variation on the old fashioned,” Hogue said. “It’s rich, and sherry gives it a nice nutty nuance.”
Admittedly, I’m a sherry newbie (it turns out there are styles and levels of sweetness, just like champagne or German rieslings — who knew?). Baker kindly answered some questions this week to help bring me up to speed. Now, about those stereotypes...
Sara Shepherd: Convince me sherry is not just for people of the 1800s (or for soaking the spongecake in my grandmother’s trifle recipe)?
Ken Baker: Sherry has a long and storied history. It’s a drink that travels well, and it has resilience. But the most important thing about it is that it’s super versatile — it has so many different flavors. Everybody identifies sherry with the sickly sweet after-dinner drink, but most of your best sherries are bone dry, umami-rich, very savory. Those are the kinds of wines that blow court out of the water, and they go with so many different foods.
SS: My cabinet’s always stocked with a bottle of bottom-shelf sherry I use for cooking. I’ve tried drinking it (even in a cobbler with muddled fresh fruit), and it’s not good, not good at all. What kind of sherry is actually worth sipping?
KB: I don’t want to say cooking with sherry is a terrible idea, but it’s a terrible idea. I come from the standpoint that beer and wines are for drinking! You’re going to spend a little bit more money, but with sherry — aside from being versatile and having a huge range of flavors — the prices are all over as well.
SS: So if you’re really trying to appreciate this wine, it’s worth paying for something from higher than the bottom shelf?
KB: Yeah, absolutely.
SS: Any tips for pairing sherry with food?
KB: For the fino or manzanilla sherries, the first thing that comes to mind is olive spreads or nuts. The manzanilla is going to have more of a briny, salty component to it so it’s just awesome with seafood. The more full-bodied sherries take on super nutty caramelized notes. They have such a strong backbone, these wines are really good with game meats and sausages, a wide variety of foods. Amontillado up to oloroso, then the super-sticky ones like moscatel or Pedro Ximinez, that’s the kind of stuff you can pour on a bowl of ice cream and it’s unbelievable.
SS: Have you noticed more people ordering sherry at your restaurant?
KB: It’s not a top seller, but there’s definitely an upswing. I think part of that is because my bartenders are getting into it more, taking it away from the old-ladies-playing bridge image. The Midwest is always a little slow on the uptake, but it’s definitely huge in New York, Charleston and out on the West Coast — they have bars where that’s what they do.
Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at email@example.com or contact me on Twitter @saramarieshep. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.