Food News

Just a Bite: December 2014

Pear orchard at Of The Earth Farm
Pear orchard at Of The Earth Farm

Spirited Sips

If you need a little help keeping warm this season, don’t worry about curling up next to a cozy fire. Instead, why not light a little fire within by sipping one of the amazing hand-crafted distillations being produced right here in our region. Of The Earth Farm in Rayville, Missouri, was conceived by Jim C. and Patricia Pierce when they moved to a small acreage north of town. They began with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, but a gift of heritage-variety apples from their son has evolved into a seven-acre orchard growing apples, pears and peaches. An excess of fruit and their introduction to eau de vie (fruit brandy) at a fruit-growers conference has followed its natural course with the creation of Of The Earth Farm Distillery. The results: Apple Eau de Vie from their own apples, Ray County Rye Whiskey from rye grown in Ray County, Grappa (moonshine with an Italian accent) from Missouri Norton grapes, and a Blackberry Liqueur made from local blackberries. The fun doesn’t stop there. Spent fruit and leftover grain mash from the distillation process are used to supplement the feed for some very lucky Berkshire hogs. I love a happy ending. Their spirits are available at Gomers in Midtown, Underdog Wine in the Crestwood Shops, at Cellar Rat and behind the bar at Affäre in the Crossroads. 

Another local distillery calls Lenexa its home. Family-owned and operated and founded in 2010, the Dark Horse Distillery produces four award-winning spirits: the Reserve Bourbon Whiskey (corn and rye, aged in new American Oak Barrels) features notes of vanilla, maple, caramel, smoke, oak, and a long finish; Reunion Rye Whiskey (100% rye) expresses hints of spice, butterscotch and citrus, with a smooth finish; the Long Shot White Whiskey (some might call this moonshine, but it’s really just whiskey that has never spent time in charred oak barrels) is distilled from corn and wheat and filtered six times to achieve an enviably clean grain flavor; and last but not least, Rider Vodka (100% wheat) is perfect neat or mixed in your favorite cocktail. Hand-bottled and labeled, every product that comes out of the 20,000 square-foot facility is made with love and traditional methods, right down to Chester Copperpot, their gleaming copper still. If you’re looking for an event space off the beaten path, Dark Horse has three that your guests are not soon to forget. Available at many locations throughout the metro area, visit for more details.

Smaklig Maltid! (That’s bon appetit in Swedish.)

If you need more than strong spirits to shake off the chill of winter, do like the Swedes and celebrate with a Julbord feast. On Friday, December 12, Kansas City’s new Ikea store in Merriam is featuring a traditional holiday meal that captures the essence of Swedish winter fare and celebrates their Swedish roots. The festive holiday smorgasbord boasts varieties of herring, cured, smoked and poached salmon with horseradish and mustard sauce, Christmas ham, Swedish meatballs and sausages with lingonberries, dilled potatoes, Swedish cucumber salad and potato salad, red cabbage, cheeses and breads. Put the finishing touches on your meal with a collection of desserts including the classic Swedish rice pudding with almonds, and coffee and tea. Availability is limited. Tickets ($14.99 for adults, $4.99 for children) are available at the Ikea in Merriam. For more information, call 888-888-4532.

Or, Happy Eating!

For a more Midwestern winter warm-up, try some of the new dishes featured at Providence New American Kitchen in the President Hotel. To celebrate their second anniversary, chef Eric Carter has introduced a new menu featuring inventive twists on American classics. Try the duck-fat Yukon gold fries with beer and cheese fondue, or the whiskey-cured salmon with maple cream, arugula and a cornmeal English muffin. If that’s not enough, The Kansas City Dip—shaved slow-smoked beef ribeye with caramelized onions and horseradish sauce piled on grilled bread—should do the trick. The Nebraska bison hanger steak with hand-cut fries and red-wine butter sauce, or chef Carter’s fried chicken with bacon and cheddar biscuits and green-bean salad will surely hug you from the inside. Finish it all off with the toasty pear cobbler with vanilla gelato and oat shortbread. I feel warmer already.