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.
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.