The “El Capitan” cattle drive monument, Dodge City
Our dinner tonight at story., an upscale new American cuisine restaurant, in a fancy shopping area in the Kansas City suburb of Prairie Village could not have differed more from dinner last night at Tres Amigos, on Wyatt Earp Blvd. in Dodge City. But both were good in their own way. story. Has a clean dramatic decor with dimly lit white walls and large pieces of understated contemporary art. I had a beautifully prepared and presented piece of red snapper, with a slightly crispy crust but light and moist inside, atop a bed of sautéed spinach, salty bits of pancetta and a light lemon wine sauce. another stand out was the braised short rib with gnocchi and onion rings. best of all was the company, a favorite uncle who lives in Kansas City.
Busy Saigon Restaurant, soon after Xmas 2013, in Wichita
Tres Amigos is a much humbler place with somewhat ordinary Mexican fare but it easily accommodated our party of nine on a holiday weekday. Today in Wichita we stopped at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant Saigon, which was even busier than usual. but as usual, the service was brisk and the food (#45, bun with charbroiled pork and egg roll!) was fresh and tasty. Discovered the shrimp chips this time and they are much better than the ones I try to make at home. We also stopped at our favorite middle eastern restaurant in Wichita , N&J market, to pick up some hummus and pitta chips to take home.
i made a rare visit to the boot hill museum in dodge city this morning to pick up some souvenirs for a Peruvian man my son is living with in Lima. Turns out he is a big fan of westerns so figured he’d like some dodge city stuff. Not sure his wife will. I was surprised by how busy the gift shop was. I didn’t stick around for the midday gunfight. Too much of that going on in the real world these days. Tonight we returned to our favorite Mexican restaurant in dodge, tacos Jalisco, where I tried the garlic shrimp rather than my usual carne asana (we had had steak for Sunday lunch…this being Kansas). Shrimp was good and always an interesting scene, full of Hispanic families and even some african Muslims. That’s dodge these days, with lots of immigrants working in the meat packing plant. We also went last night to Bella Italia, Italian food but everyone we saw working there was mexican. Very sweet people. Food, not great. We hit the road for nine hour drive back to Iowa. Word has it Obama will be back in Iowa again this week (and I will be away again during his visit.)
We made an unexpected trip to western Kansas for my father-in-law’s funeral, sadly, and I haven’t made it out of the small town of Wright Kansas, where he lived, much. we did have dinner last night at “the Cowtown” – a popular steak house that didn’t disappoint (although next time I’ll have the t-bone instead of the nystrip and I’ll ask for it rare rather than rare/medium rare.) If only our father-in-law could have been with us – a man who sold and bought many a cow, he loved a good steak. And, of course, his family. We miss him.
I’ve left the house for a little fresh air today and may drive over to see the new casino that everyone is talking about here in Dodge. There’s also a vietnamese restaurant called Saigon Cafe that my niece tells me is good.
No weather problems this time – and smooth sailing the entire nine hours, for which we were grateful, especially given what friends and family are dealing with on the East Coast. We stopped in the slowly reviving town of Greensburg – which was devastated by a tornado several years ago – at a hip looking coffee shop, then onto Wichita where we opted for our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon, which was packed and has the world’s fastest service, and pleasant service, and mighty good Bun (all around us people seemed to be ordering what N and I ordered #45 Bun – noodles, shredded lettuce – with char-broiled pork and a fried spring roll. We stopped at N&J, our favorite middle eastern place, to pick up some humus and homemade chips and one, just one, piece of baklava, to bring home. In Kansas City, we dropped by Gates to pick up ribs to take home for dinner. Yes, it’s all about the food. Good to be back here, although it’s at least 20 degrees colder and a lot snowier than Kansas.
I’m typing from the “bird room” at the nursing home in Dodge City where my in-laws live. The birds are quiet today – as is the rest of this place. Outside, it’s sunny and windy. No snow. The ground is hard, dry, flat, shorn of wheat so stubbly and tan. The sky is mostly blue with a few clouds. It always takes me aback how stark and harsh this landscape is, beautiful in it’s own way – so vivid and plain. You can really see for miles with little to block your view but a white concrete grain elevator or some unknown industry, liquid something-or-other, billowing out smoke. The “overlook” at the edge of Wyatt Earp Blvd. looks out onto a sea of cattle in a feedlot. No need to put “scenic” in front of outlook.
Wright, the unincorporated town where my in-laws live, about ten miles east of Dodge, even quieter than usual today. The only signs of life we saw during a brief walk this morning were a few dogs roaming around like the owned the place.
Couldn’t help but be amused by three perfect fall drives recommended by People Magazine. I’ve been on all three – which is not what many could claim, I’d guess. The first is a no-brainer: Highway 1, must-see stop: Big Sur. The second isa drive along the Mississippi River, with a must-see stop : Dubuque, Iowa, which is one of my favorite cities in Iowa (and this is a drive I wrote about for the New York Times travel section several years ago.) The third drive was even more of a surprise: Highway 50 through the middle of the country. Must-see stop: Dodge City, Ks. (With all due respect to my in-laws who live in and around Dodge, I don’t buy this one…)
Sorry for the two days 0ff from blogging. On Xmas day, the winds were so fierce and the air so cold in western Kansas we never left my in-law’s Internet-absent house. The next day, we did get out of the house – despite still frigid wintery weather – but our trusty Internet Cafe in Dodge City wasn’t WiFi-ready for whatever reason. The truly good news is that during 18 hours of driving, we managed to dodge any major troublesome form of precipitation. It happened all around us but not when we were present – the snow and rain and ice seemed to be just behind us or to the south or north. My stepdaughter’s mom arrived to meet us in Wichita today after digging out of a record snow in Oklahoma City. In Kansas City, which had been snow-free last Wednesday, some of the major streets like Broadway and Main were still remarkably messy (not messy enough to keep us from picking up some take-away bbq from Gates). En route to Des Moines, Iowa was even snowier – and prettier – than when we’d left five days ago. Fortunately our street in Des Moines, which is often the last to be plowed, was snow-packed but navigable. So here we are, feeling lucky that we made it to western Kansas and back during a major midwestern storm without incident. Now we need to make sure our friends, traveling every which way, also fared well.