foreign and domestic…

~ Last year, I quit the firm and lept into a brave new world.  Landing, unexpectedly, in an amazing suitcase party, I traveled, photographed, and ate around the globe, visiting nearly a dozen countries, and just as many states.  I thought I’d never have a year like it again. I was wrong. 2012 has been just as […]



Last year, I quit the firm and lept into a brave new world.  Landing, unexpectedly, in an amazing suitcase party, I traveled, photographed, and ate around the globe, visiting nearly a dozen countries, and just as many states.  I thought I’d never have a year like it again.

I was wrong.

2012 has been just as spectacular, but in a very different way.  What was formless last year, my new-found life started taking shape this year.

I continued to travel and photograph; this year, more for business than leisure (lucky for me, the line between the two is often blurry). Trailing the Bocuse d’Or USA team from the Culinary Institute of America in New York to America’s resort in West Virginia to The French Laundry in California, I documented Richard Rosendale’s bid for Lyon. In New York, I photographed the James Beard Awards, and in Kansas City, I mounted my first gallery showing.

I took Anthony Bourdain to Oklahoma Joe’s for barbecue, and to my friends’ sheep farm in Weston, Missouri for lamb and cheese (that episode of “No Reservations” aired in April).  I signed on for another cookbook project (to be announced), with a few more knocking on my door.  And, in a tiny studio inside Roberta’s Pizzeria in Bushwick, I talked with my friend Michael Harlan Turkell about all of these things and more on the Heritage Radio Network (you can listen to that “Food Scene” interview).

But, most importantly, I ate very well.


Leaving Gastronomika


At the beginning of 2012, three U.S. states remained on my checklist.  In August, I spent a lovely week in Vermont with Gerard Craft and his family on Lake Champlain eating ice cream and contemplating cryptozoology. In October, I attended the Southern Foodways Alliance symposium in Oxford, Mississippi, where I studied barbecue between daily wipe-downs.  Now, only Alaska remains.

I fell in love with Mexico last year, so I crossed that border four times this year, chasing authenticity.  I went swimming in the warm waters off the coast of the Yucatan, and went diving in a sink hole near the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. In Monterrey, I found lots of cabrito and léchon, in Oaxaca, amazing moles, and down the Baja coast, I had a beach buffet of fresh seafood and terrific fish tacos.

Peripatetic, I visited New York three times to eat, eat, and eat.

I traveled to San Francisco, twice, for various meet-ups and eat-ups.  And I went on hipster safari, twice, in Chicago, where I found candles and cranes, and delicious Japanese food too, at Matthias Merges’s new yusho.  I’ll be heading to both cities for a third time before the end of this month.


Stormy dusk.


In San Diego, I found classic French cooking in a realm of intuition high in the hills, and yakitori down on Convoy Street, that city’s Asian avenue.

On the exlusionist, expressive, and evocative Basque coast of Spain, I ate prawns straight out of the sea.  And in the Basque mountains, I had amazing steak, gently smoked.  Actually, I had amazing everything there.

In Montréal, I had foie gras with poutine, and foie gras with boudin noir.

Across from the White House, I discovered a delicious meeting of acid and heat.  And down the street from Graceland, I found hot chicken with a side of dirty rice.

I returned to the Lowcountry of South Carolina for more biscuits, bourbon, and bacon, between bike rides and barbecues.

And at home, I welcomed another slate of talented chefs to Kansas City to cook for charity; once for Harvesters, a local food bank, and a second time for the James Beard Foundation.

Why does God continue to bless me so?  I know not.  I’ve had another amazing year, and I am a very grateful for it.


Woodson Ridge Farm


Around this time in early December, when I’ve completed my travels for the year, I publish lists of the best dishes and restaurant meals I had in that year.  This year, those lists will have to wait until after I return from upcoming trips to the Napa Valley for twelve days of great food and wine at the Restaurant at Meadowood; San Francisco, where I’ll be spending Christmas; and Chicago, where I will finally get to eat at Curtis Duffy’s long-awaited Grace. Returning home to Kansas City for the new year, I will close out this month at Colby and Megan Garrelts’s exciting new restaurant, Rye.  I can’t imagine a better way of ending 2012.

In the meantime, I’ve rounded up a complete list of the restaurants I’ve visited so far in 2012.  They range from food trucks to celebrated institutions, including Charlie Trotters, which closed its doors in September.  Collectively, they represent over fifty Michelin stars in four countries and over a dozen U.S. states.



American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri)
Boulud Sud (New York, New York)
Brasserie by niche (St. Louis, Missouri)
Chai Shai (Kansas City, Missouri)
Dominique Ansel Bakery (New York, New York)
Dovetail (New York, New York)
Eataly (New York, New York)
El Camino Real (Kansas City, Missouri)
Eleven Madison Park (New York, New York)
Escoffier (Culinary Institute of America; Hyde Park, New York)
Gramercy Tavern (New York, New York)
Maialino (New York, New York)
Modern, The (New York, New York)
niche (St. Louis, Missouri)
Pappy’s Smokehouse (St. Louis, Missouri)
Sidney Street Café (St. Louis, Missouri)
Taste by niche (St. Louis, Missouri)


bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri)
Charlie Trotter’s (Chicago, Illinois)
Jean Georges (New York, New York)
Longman & Eagle (Chicago, Illinois)
Lula Café (Chicago, Illinois)
Purple Pig, The (Chicago, Illinois)
Slurping Turtle, The (Chicago, Illinois)
Torrisi Italian Specialties (New York, New York)
Urban Table (Prairie Village, Kansas)
xoco (Chicago, Illinois)
yusho (Chicago, Illinois)


Acadia (Chicago, Illinois)
American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri)
avec (Chicago, Illinois)
blackbird (Chicago, Illinois) (once, twice)
bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri)
Big Jones (Chicago, Illinois)
Big Star (Chicago, Illinois) (once, twice)
Bristol, The (Chicago, Illinois)
Gram & Dun (Kansas City, Missouri)
Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafter (Chicago, Illinois)
Lidia’s (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, twice)
Maude’s Liquor Bar (Chicago, Illinois)
next “elBulli“ (Chicago, Illinois)
Rieger Grill & Exchange (Kansas City, Missouri)
Sepia (Chicago, Illinois)
TRU (Chicago, Illinois)


ABC Café (Overland Park, Kansas)
American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri)
Farmhaus (St. Louis, Missouri)
Los Aguachiles (Playa del Carmen, Mexico)
niche (St. Louis, Missouri)
Taste by niche (St. Louis, Missouri)
Sidney Street Café (St. Louis, Missouri)
Winslow’s Home (St. Louis, Missouri)


Annisa (New York, New York)
Bent Spoon, The (Princeton, New Jersey)
Bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, twice)
Café Boulud (New York, New York)
Caffé Storico (New York, New York)
Corton (New York, New York)
Dragonfly (New York, New York)
Eleven Madison Park (New York, New York)
Fiesta Mexicana (Rosedale, Maryland)
Genessee Royale (Kansas City, Missouri)
Gotham Bar & Grill (New York, New York)
Jungsik (New York, New York)
Kin Shop (New York, New York)
L’Artusi (New York, New York)
Le Bernardin (New York, New York)
Locanda Verde (New York, New York) (once, twice)
Milk Bar (New York, New York)
Modern, The (New York, New York)
NoMad (New York, New York)
North End Grill (New York, New York)
Oval Room, The (Washington, D.C.)
OWowCow Creamery (Ottsville, Pennsylvania)
Parm (New York, New York)
Prune (New York, New York)
Tertulia (New York, New York)
VOLT (Frederick, Maryland)
Wit & Wisdom (Baltimore, Maryland)
Woodberry Kitchen (Baltimore, Maryland)


American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, Harvesters Chefs Classic, thrice)
Bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, twice)
Café Casa Oaxaca (Oaxaca, Mexico)
Casa Oaxaca (Oaxaca, Mexico)
Cemitas Lupita (San Pedro Cholula, Mexico) (oncetwice)
Cemitas Sandy (San Pedro Cholula, Mexico)
Chef Herrera (Monterrey, Mexico)
Concept One, a pop-up (Kansas City, Missouri)
Duluth Grill (Duluth, Minnesota)
El Mural de los Poblanos (Puebla, Mexico)
El Tio (Monterrey, Mexico) (oncetwicethrice)
Genessee Royale (Kansas City, Missouri)
Habita (Monterrey, Mexico)
Intro (Puebla, Mexico)
Itanoní (Oaxaca, Mexico)
Julian (Kansas City, Missouri)
La Catarina (Monterrey, Mexico)
La Felix (Monterrey, Mexico)
La Nacional (Monterrey, Mexico)
La Noria (Puebla, Mexico)
La Teca (Oaxaca, Mexico)
Lake Avenue Café (Duluth, Minnesota)
Mercado Abasto (Oaxaca, Mexico)
Michael Smith (Kansas City, Missouri)
Pangea (Monterrey, Mexico)
Rieger Grill & Exchange (Kansas City, Missouri)
Señor Mostaza (Monterrey, Mexico)
XBox Café (Monterrey, Mexico)
Yu Ne Nisa (Oaxaca, Mexico) (oncetwice)


aldea (New York, New York) (oncetwice)
atera (New York, New York)
atelier crenn (San Francisco, California)
Bar Tartine (San Francisco, California)
Bi-Rite Creamery (San Francisco, California)
Bien Cuit (New York, New York)
Boulette’s Larder (San Francisco, California) (oncetwice)
Brooklyn Crab (New York, New York)
Cacao Prieto (New York, New York)
Café Carlton (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
DBGB (New York, New York)
Del Posto (New York, New York)
Draper’s (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
Dutch, The (New York, New York)
Forum, The (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
Green Dirt Farm (Port Fonda) (Weston, Missouri)
Infusions (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
Gramercy Tavern (New York, New York)
Hearth (New York, New York)
Ikeda’s (Auburn, California)
il buco alimentari e vineria (New York, New York)
Jean Georges (New York, New York)
Jerry West’s Prime 44 (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
kesté pizzeria (New York, New York)
Kum Sung Chik Naengmyun (New York, New York)
Mayflower  (San Francisco, California)
Mission Pie (San Francisco, California)
Modern, The (New York, New York)
otto enoteca pizzeria (New York, New York) (oncetwice, thrice, a fourth)
Pearl Oyster Bar (New York, New York)
per se (New York, New York)
Pies & Thighs (New York, New York)
Port Fonda (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, twice)
Queen’s Kickshaw, The (New York, New York)
Red Hook Lobster Pound (New York, New York)
Roberta’s Pizzeria (New York, New York)
saison (San Francisco, California)
State Bird Provisions (San Francisco, California)
Tartine Bakery (San Francisco, California)
wd~50 (Manhattan)
Wise Sons Delicatessen (San Francisco, California)


Addison at the Grand Del Mar (San Diego, California)
Au Pied de Cochon (Montréal, Canada)
bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri)
Brasserie T! (Montréal, Canada)
Cucina Urbana (San Diego, California)
George’s at the Cove (La Jolla, California) (oncetwice)
Heidi’s (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Herringbone (La Jolla, California)
L’Express (Montréal, Canada)
Los Originales Tacos de Pescado de Ensenada (Ensenada, Mexico)
Mac’s Ice Cream Parlor and Diner (Keeseville, New York)
Manzanilla (Ensenada, Mexico)
Mariscos Becerra (Tijuana, Mexico)
Mariscos “los Compadres” (Poptla, Mexico)
Mariscos “el Gordito” (Ensenada, Mexico)
Mariscos “la Guerrerenses” (Ensenada, Mexico)
Mariscos Ruben (Tijuana, Mexico)
Mirabelle’s (Burlington, Vermont)
Misery Loves Co. (Burlington, Vermont)
Misión 19 (Tijuana, Mexico)
Pistou (Burlington, Vermont)
Spicy City (San Diego, California)
Tacos Fenix (Ensenada, Mexico)
Takesos y Papas Takeria (Tijuana, Mexico)
Taqueria “el Franc” (Tijuana, Mexico)
Tortas Washmobile (Tijuana, Mexico)
Urban Solace (San Diego)
Yakitori Yakyudori (San Diego)


ad hoc (Yountville, California
addendum (Yountville, California)
affäre (Kansas City, Missouri)
Auberge du Soleil (Rutherford,California)
Bouchon (Yountville, California) (oncetwice)
Bouchon Bakery (Yountville, California) (once, twice, thrice, and more)
Boulette’s Larder (San Francisco, California)
Cook (St. Helena, California)
Draper’s at The Greenbrier (Whites Sulphur Springs, West Virginia) (once, twice)
Infusion at The Greenbrier (Whites Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
Greenbrier, The; Gold Service Dinner (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
Grinders (Kansas City, Missouri)
Jerry West’s Prime 44 at The Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
Main Dining Room at The Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
Peanut, The (Kansas City, Missouri)
Port Fonda (Kansas City, Missouri)
Redd (Yountville, California)
Redd Wood (Yountville, California) (oncetwice)
Sam Snead’s at The Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
Tacos Garcia (Yountville, California)
The Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena, California)
Tree Tops at The Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)


A Fuego Negro (San Sebastian, Spain)
Arnold’s Country Kitchen
 (Nashville, Tennessee)
Asador Etxebarri (Errenteria, Spain)
Bar Ibai (San Sebastian, Spain)
Big Bad Breakfast (Oxford, Mississippi)
bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri)
Catbird Seat, The (Nashville, Tennessee)
Ganbara (San Sebastian, Spain)
Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Chicken (Memphis, Tennessee)
Hog & Hominy (Memphis, Tennessee)
Iris (Memphis, Tennesse)
Martín Berasategui (San Sebastian, Spain)
Méson Bidea Berri (San Sebastian, Spain)
Mugaritz (Errenteria, Spain)
pizza bella (Kansas City, Missouri)
Port Fonda (Kansas City, Misssouri) (once, twice)
Prince’s Hot Chicken (Nashville, Tennessee)
Rieger Grill & Exchange (Kansas City, Missouri)
Taylor Grocery (Taylor, Mississippi)


American Restaurant, The (Kansas City, Missouri) (once, Friends of James Beard Foundation Dinner)
Back in the Day Bakery (Savannah, Georgia)
bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri)
cocoron soba (New York, New York)
Del Sol Cantina (Lewisburg, West Virginia)
Draper’s (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
Forum, The (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
Gran Electrica
 (New York, New York)
Gwynnett Street (New York, New York)
Husk (Charleston, South Carolina)
Jerry West’s Prime 44 (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)
Lady & Sons (Savannah, Georgia)
McCrady’s (Charleston, South Carolina)
Mission Chinese (New York, New York)
Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House (Savannah, Georgia)
Prime Meats (New York, New York)
Port Fonda (Kansas City, Missouri)


bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri)
Woodyard BBQ (Merriam, Kansas)

The rest of my December dining schedule is recorded in a subsequent blog post.


Photos: a night vendor on the streets of Oaxaca, Mexico; night on the jetty in San Sebastian, Spain; a summer storm approaches in Kansas City, Missouri; a night barbecue in the fields of Oxford, Mississippi.

Categories dessert dining restaurant travel

Leave a Reply

3 replies on “foreign and domestic…”

Impressive by anyone’s standards! As much as there are many who would like to, there are few who can do the job that you do and even fewer who can do it as well. May your 2013 be just as wonderful! I hope to share a few meals with you along the way!

@docsconz: As always, thank you. And I wish you a wonderful 2013 as well! I hope we can share a meal or two next year.

@Taylor: I haven’t a clue. You want to go salmon fishing with me up there?