Underdog is Here!
Everyone roots for the underdog, and I’m certainly rooting for this one. Underdog Wine Company at 319 East 55th Street in the Crestwood Shops has opened under the guidance of Ryan Sciara, previously of Cellar Rat in the Crossroads. He’s bringing us a hand-selected collection of small-production wines and artisan spirits for the discriminating palate. Wines are thoughtfully arranged by flavor profile in order to expose customers to unfamiliar or obscure grape varietals and producers. Sciara has designed several wine-of-the-month clubs to introduce some of these curious and remarkable wines and to share some of his new and old favorites. On Mondays, Underdog partners with next-door neighbor, Café Europa. The café waves corkage fees on any wine purchased from Underdog. If that’s not enough to entice you, Underdog also features boutique bean-to-bar chocolates. underdogwinekc.com, 816-286-4139
It’s a Win-Win
Stop by 12 Baltimore at Hotel Phillips downtown, enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner, and drop your business card in a fishbowl at the host stand to enter a monthly giveaway of executive chef Justin Voldan’s Chef’s Tasting Experience for four. The winners and their guests will select three appetizers, two entrées and two desserts from chef Voldan’s menu. The dishes are prepared in tasting portions and are served with carefully paired beverages chosen for that tasting. Hotel Phillips, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, opened in 1931 as the city’s most elegant hotel. Today it retains that beautiful, distinctive Art Deco elegance. 12baltimore.com, 816-346-4410
Now that’s Italian!
Now open in the Crossroads, Pezzettino Italian Deli & Market is bringing more Italian flavors and lifestyle to downtown. Annie Spohn (and her husband Chris) have come back to Kansas City to revive her family tradition in Italian deli and grocery stores. The beautiful space at 2101 Broadway Boulevard (just south of Architectural Salvage) has high ceilings with enormous old windows and sidewalk seating in nice weather. A fully stocked counter features Italian style salads, prepared vegetables, pasta salads, cured meats and a beautiful selection of some of Italy’s great cheeses. We sampled their warm and crispy arancini (rice croquettes filled with melting mozzarella served with a little tomato sauce for dipping), and the Mediterranean pila, (a layering of marinated vegetables with fresh herbs and cheese). The freshly rolled and griddled piadina (a lesser known flatbread from Emilia-Romagna—it’s like an Italian tortilla) was delicious stuffed with prosciutto, arugula and mozzarella. Chef Tomas Degregorio, visible in the sparkling open kitchen, guides a very friendly staff. Concise market shelves are filled with many of the Spohns’ favorite imported pastas, oils and sweets, as well as a selection of breads from Sasha’s Baking Company. If you don’t have much time, you can even place your order on Facebook for quick pick up at a specified time. pezzettinokc.com, 816-612-8333
And that’s French!
For Christmas I was given a very thoughtful gift card to the newly opened French Market of Café Provence in the Prairie Village Shops. When my New Year’s resolutions finally exhausted themselves, I decided to pay a visit to the now fully stocked venue to redeem my gift. The charming shop features a deli counter with items like house-prepared (around the corner at Café Provence) soups, confitted duck legs, and smoked trout, pork or salmon spreads, as well some imported herbs and spice blends, chocolate and interesting mustards. It would be easy to assemble an entire multi-course meal from their selections, or use their ingredients to give your own home-cooked cuisine a special French touch. They also traffic in French-themed linens and dishes and will assemble custom gift baskets for every occasion. frenchmarketkc.com, 913-362-0803
Whiskey to Go Go
It’s the perfect pairing of caffeine and liquor without (sadly, some would say) the alcohol content. Parisi Café introduces its newest brew, a coffee made with beans conditioned in barrels previously used to age bourbon. 2013 World Barista Champion and Parisi quality assurance manager, Pete Licata, explains that it’s a process of exposing high-quality, specialty-grade green coffee beans to absorb the ambient aromatics of the aged whiskey still remaining in the charred and damp barrel interior. After a relatively short conditioning period, the small batches of beans rehydrate some of the moisture and impart a nuanced, oaky flavor to the finished coffee. The beans condition one week before being removed and roasted to Parisi’s specific roasting standards. To brew the conditioned coffee, Licata uses a pour-over style method with a filter. “The paper filter removes some of the more intense whiskey flavors,” he says, “leaving a beautifully sweet version of standard coffee, with just a light and pleasant taste of bourbon.”
The barrel-conditioned coffee is being offered, both hot and iced, alongside Parisi’s other selections at both Parisi Café locations (Union Station in the Crossroads, and Park Place in Leawood). The coffee also will be a topic and part of the samplings provided in the coffee classes Parisi offers each month at both locations. parisicoffee.com