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.
On Wednesday, the Limestone Pizza owner/executive chef will return to the fairground showdown not as a competitor but as a “culinary interpreter” a la Ted Allen in Food Network’s “Chopped.”
During the event, which is slated for 5 to 7:30 p.m., Martin will chat with competing chefs — Brad Brown, of the Bird Dog Bar in the Oread, Simon Bates of the Burger Stand, and Vaughn Good of Hank Charcuterie — about their culinary techniques, offering up tips on integrating seasonal, local ingredients in everyday meals.
As in years past, Wednesday’s competition — which is organized by Master Food Volunteers and Master Gardeners, both with the Douglas County Extension office — will spotlight a particular ingredient.
This year's star ingredient is eggplant, and chefs will use it, as well as other foods cultivated from local farms and school gardens, to create simple, fast dishes that anyone might recreate easily at home. And as in years past, any audience member whose taste buds need convincing can munch on samples.
It’s all about getting people excited about foods grown or produced right here in Douglas County, says Elizabeth Stewart, an at-large appointee of the Douglas County Food Policy Council, which sponsors the event.
“We’re really trying to appeal to a wide audience, ranging from your foodies to your hardcore cooks to busy families that don’t have a lot of time,” says Stewart, who hopes folks will be inspired to revisit the “misunderstood and misaligned” eggplant. There’s more to it than just eggplant Parmesan, she says.
With help from city mayors of Eudora, Baldwin City and Lecompton, competitors' dishes will be judged on taste, presentation, creativity and the all-important “applause-o-meter” from the audience.
The winner gets bragging rights and a plaque to hang in their restaurant, though all participating chefs will share their recipes from the event online, Stewart says.
You can stop by the Douglas County Fair’s fifth annual Chefs Challenge at 5 p.m. Wednesday south of the backdrop in the shelter area of the fairgrounds.
Hank Charcuterie is partnering with the folks at Wood + Salt and Dark Horse Distillery to host an evening of hors d'oeuvres and cocktails next week.
The event, which will take place at Hank Charcuterie (1900 Massachusetts St.) at 7 p.m. Thursday, will feature four food-drink pairings created by Hank Charcuterie chefs and Kansas City-based seasonings startup Wood + Salt, respectively. KC's Dark Horse Distillery will provide the booze.
Here's one pairing you'll find on the event's menu: a blackberry julep served with duck galantine (apparently, this French dish consists of de-boned meat that is poached, served cold and coated with aspic — from my repeated viewings of "Julie and Julia," I can tell you an aspic is a sort of savory gelatin) and guajillo, sun gold tomatoes and blackberries.
Hungry for more? Snag your tickets (they're $50 for four courses) at Hank Charcuterie or by calling 832-8688.
Lawrence seems to be cicada-crazy these days, and for good reason: Periodical cicadas, unlike the annual cicadas that we're used to hearing on balmy summer nights, only emerge once every 17 years. And lo and behold, 2015 is their year, and they're coming to Lawrence.
With the arrival of the tens of millions of cicadas expected any day now, the folks at Kansas University's Natural History Museum, Hank Charcuterie and Free State Brewing Co. are teaming up to host an event called Summer Sirens at 7 p.m June 4 in South Park.
There, under the shade of the trees, "daring diners" will have the chance to learn about the science behind these insects while sampling wine, Free State beer and meats prepared by Hank Charcuterie.
"Daring" is an appropriate word in this case, as the menu includes goat barbacoa and lengua (that would be tongue) with jalapeno kale slaw; pork heart carnitas with local black beans, grilled romaine and pickled red onion; and fermented green tomatoes with elote (Mexican corn on the cob) and smoked pecans.
Tickets are $30, and can be purchased on Free State's website here.
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.
In case you’ve forgotten, that burger you’re eating came from a living, breathing animal.
Obvious, we know, but in this day and age, when you can pick up a bag of precooked chicken tenders from the grocery store or chow down on paper-thin slices of turkey at Subway, it’s easy to forget how meat makes that journey from the farm to our tables.
The folks at Hank Charcuterie, 1900 Massachusetts St., are inviting the public to experience part of the process with free butchering demonstrations.
Demand for classes has been so great that owner Vaughn Good decided to simply make the shop’s regular butcherings open to visitors.
“It’s something we do anyway. We’re always breaking down whole animals,” Good says. “People can ask questions and request certain cuts directly off the animal.”
Good and his sous chef, Jay Tovar-Ballagh, supervise the demonstrations at 6 p.m. every other Tuesday and at 3 p.m. every other Saturday. On Tuesdays, they butcher a whole hog; on Saturdays, a whole lamb and/or goat.
They’ve only hosted two classes so far (the next are scheduled for this evening and Saturday) but Good says the response has been positive. People, it seems, are curious to know where their food comes from.
The first demonstration drew just one visitor, while the second attracted a diverse “mix” of about eight people, he says.
Last week, Vaughn hosted the young daughter of one of his regular customers. It was her idea to watch the butchering, and she had her father bring her along.
“She did pretty well,” Vaughn recalls.
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 @hlavacekjoanna. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.