Food News

Just a Bite: August 2014

Nothing Says Lovin’

I love bread. I love to bake bread. I bake bread in my own wood-fired oven. I have my own wild-yeast starter that I use to ferment my breads. I’ve been fortunate enough to bake with some of the great bakers in our country, and I appreciate the efforts of every baker, large and small, residential or commercial. That is why it is so exciting to find new bakers, especially here in the heartland, who take some of our best local products and turn them into delectable foodstuffs to nourish both body and soul.

My latest find is Ibis Bakery, based in Lenexa. I have been following their loaves for several months now, inspired by a friend who said with noticeable guilt, “I’ve just bought the most expensive loaf of bread. And it’s absolutely delicious.” She wasn’t kidding. It is a little pricey, especially when compared to the fluffy white loaves in the middle aisles of the grocery store that seemingly never get stale. And it is without question absolutely delicious. And worth every penny. Ibis Bakery is in Lenexa, but don’t worry. They sell their loaves every Wednesday and Saturday at the Overland Park Farmers’ Market. For bread lovers, these loaves have that extremely dark, glossy, blistered crust that tells you even before the first bite that you’re in for a flavor explosion.

I have tried the Multigrain Hearth (toasted, the little bits of grain kernels absolutely crunch and pop in your mouth with every bite); the Sprouted Quinoa-Kamut (another one with great textures, nutty flavors and a deliciously chewy crust); the Country Hearth (transports you to a fantasy countryside where happy peasants grow their own grain, work their own fields, harvest, mill and bake their bread with a natural wild yeast, sleep deeply, and live long, satisfying lives surrounded by family and community—really); and the Oat Porridge Hearth (who knew porridge could be so sensual, those aromas, melting butter, a drizzle of honey…).

You have to try their breads, and you won’t get bored, because they change varieties all the time. The breads are available in either full or half loaves, and if you want to try a whole slew of them, visit their stall at the Farmers’ Market where they sample everything and sell toast by the slice. Follow them on Facebook at Ibis Bakery to see the breads they will have at each market. You can also reserve loaves on their website. Not a bad idea considering how quickly they sell out.

With a Cuppa

While you’re buying bread and eating toast at the market, try a cup of coffee from Messenger Coffee Co, a newish Kansas City roaster that shares the tent with Ibis Bakery. Says the Messenger Coffee team: “Our vision is to create excellent, artisan-level roasts from the best coffees available while taking care of our coffee farmers in a way that goes above and beyond the status quo.” The single coffee I have tasted was quite good, nicely balanced, good acidity but not too much, not “burnt” or over-roasted, not oily, not watery. If the coffee growers are treated with as much respect as these beans have been given, then we should all feel good about drinking it.

The Perfect Fit

While I’m on bread, you still have a few weeks to sample the artistry of the brilliant bakers at Fervere (1702 Summit St. on the Westside) with their Cheese Slipper Saturdays. “Cheese” and “Saturday” you probably get, but the slipper part? Well, it sounds so much better in Italian, where you might know it as ciabatta (literally “slipper”), that delectable, open-structured country bread, not too tall, and perfect with just about everything. It also happens to be the perfect vehicle for almost any topping, quite like a pizza, but with bigger bubbles. Every Saturday until Labor Day, Fervere features a different selection of these tasty breads topped with all manner of great local vegetables, cheeses and more. The slipper’s the limit. Warning, as with everything at Fervere, supplies are limited, so don’t wait too long. Visit them on Facebook for a peek at this week’s shoe toppings.

Queuing Up for Q

There’s a swanky, new wood-fired grill and barbecue joint on 39th Street called Q39. National barbecue champion and professional chef Rob Magee has opened the area’s first open barbecue kitchen—where everything is made from scratch—and he’s got the crowd queued up around the corner. Let’s call it competition-style barbecue brought to the masses, but without cutting corners. Open seven days a week, starting at 11 a.m., Q39 features meats made famous by the Munchin’ Hogs, Magee’s BBQ team, available as platters, on sandwiches and just about any other way you could want them.

We loved the “no jackin’ around” sandwich, a classic combo of juicy and flavorful pulled pork, the Munchin’ Hogs classic barbecue sauce, and jalapeno-jack cheese, served between two slices of unusually good bread (I’m trying to say it’s not mushy white bread). Choose from any number of house-prepared side dishes to complete the plate, or try one of their Competition Plates featuring a generous sampling of Q39’s highlights. If you want to share the experience, they also have private group dining, catering, and retail products for you to take away.