Eating with Rob

My new marriage and the eats that bring us together.

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Golden brown.

On the morning of Sunday, June 8th, Rob, Lynn, and I headed over to Cape Hatteras to see that lighthouse they’re famous for. And it didn’t disappoint.

Rob and Lynn CLIMBED that sucker (I waved from the ground), and after we had all enjoyed the view of and around the lighthouse, we thought we’d find a place for lunch. We stopped in one of the tiny towns that make up the Outer Banks, in what I believe was Buxton, North Carolina, at a place called Diamond Shoals (http://www.diamondshoals.net/).

This was an incredibly confusing restaurant - it had the feeling of a downhome, country, fried basket of seafood place, but it was also a sushi bar and seafood market. It must not have bothered us too much if we were willing to give it a try, and Rob started things off by ordering a bowl of their clam chowder, which they claim was the #1 chowder in the Hatteras cookoff. But it was actually really, REALLY good, some of the best I’ve had.

Rob also had their crab cake sandwich with fries. Both were greasy and satisfying - I think I liked Mama Kwon’s crab cake a little better; the meat to filler ratio seemed higher in that big ol’ patty than this one on Rob’s sandwich.

Lynn had fried clams and onion rings, a very golden brown little platter with a touch of vegetation via the coleslaw. No judgment from me though - it looked like it had been perfectly done. She has so much self-control with her diet every other day of the year, I was happy to cheer her on.

For this last meal of vacation, it was go golden brown or go home apparently, because I too ordered some fried seafood (I told you it was that kind of place!). I had fried oysters and sweet potato fries, both of which were just delicious. I’m not sure I’ve ever met an oyster I didn’t love, whether raw, baked, or fried.

If you want a basket of fried seafood, Diamond Shoals is the place for you. Stuffed to the gills, Lynn gracious paid the bill and we sojourned back to Kitty Hawk to get our car from the hotel where we had been staying. We did make one last beach stop on the drive back though, and Lynn was nice enough to send along this picture she took of ol’ Rob and me.

There’s a really good one of her and Rob too, but I get such a kick out of this one that I just have to share. I had one exposure left on my instax, and they were posing so nicely, and then this wave threatened to encroach on their feet. They started running, and I made a decision. An exposure well spent (I’m actually holding it in the above picture).

It was a bit of a drive from Hatteras back to Kitty Hawk, where we would say goodbye to Lynn and head back to Richmond. And it was an even longer drive up north to Virginia. After several hours had elapsed and dinnertime was imminent, we thought we’d made one final stop on our Outer Banks Vacation - Virginia Diner (http://www.vadiner.com/).

I had heard of Virginia Diner lots of times - they’re very famous for their peanuts (peanuts, ham, and tobacco are kind of the big industry in Virginia). When I saw that it was en route to the Outer Banks, I told Rob we should definitely try to stop and eat, or at least buy some peanuts, on the way back. How sweet of him to indulge me.

Not that he didn’t indulge himself too, with this plate of chicken fried chicken covered in white gravy. In keeping with the golden brown theme - plus gravy. Upping the ante.

I wonder how coleslaw became such an obvious pairing with fried food. I guess something super healthful like kale or spinach wouldn’t be the first choice for the type of person who’s ordering chicken fried chicken. Gimme some vegetables…and smother them in mayonnaise. That’s what I want with my crispy noms.

As Rob happily munched on his chicken, fries, and coleslaw, I got to work on my entree. I had never really had “Virginia ham” before, and you know I’m such a “when in Romer.” Even though I’m pretty much always in Virginia, where there’s pretty much always ham. Oh well.

I ordered the Virginia ham biscuit platter, which was three little slider-sized biscuits filled with thinly sliced ham, and some pickles on the side. I had it with a side of “Waldorf salad,” which is usually apples, celery, and walnuts served on top of lettuce. This had apples and celery, but also raisins and a “peanut dressing” that was really a lot like peanut butter, topped with even more chopped peanuts.

It was more like dessert than a sweet and savory side, but I couldn’t complain - both were so good! The ham was moist and flavorful - simple, really requiring nothing more. And I thought the Waldorf salad was actually pretty unique, more of a signature item than even the Virginia ham. But there was one more stop on this peanut train.

PEANUT PIE. I had never had anything like it, but after the gluttonous weekend we’d had, there was no point in yielding at this point. This peanut pie was probably little more than ground up and whole peanuts, eggs, butter, and sugar. It was way more intensely peanutty than a peanut butter pie, and I thought it was delicious.

We rolled out to the car, having our fill of all things Virginia as we ended our weekend getaway. Just when I thought we couldn’t get any more Virginia, Rob humored me by stopping on the side of the road so I could take this award-winning photo of this billboard out in peanut country. Though we would be eating a LOT of lettuce during the next week to compensate for our poor choices, this was such a fun and relaxing weekend. We’re so grateful to Lynn for having us out and for feeding us so well, and we hope to make it back out to the Outer Banks sometime within the next year and maybe even return to a few of these eateries.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Outer Banks North Carolina Buxton Kitty Hawk Diamond Shoals crab cake crab cake sandwich clam chowder clams fried clams onion rings french fries fried oysters oysters sweet potato fries coleslaw golden brown Virginia Diner peanuts ham Virginia ham biscuits peanut pie waldorf salad apples peanut dressing celery raisins

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Faturday.

We had a lot of fun in the Outer Banks on Saturday, June 7th, and we ate a lot of scrumptious food. When reading about breakfast places in the area, Rob and I were both tickled and intrigued by the idea of this barbecue joint that had breakfast. So we went into Kitty Hawk and took a seat at Duck Deli (http://www.outerbanks.com/duck-deli.html).

They boast a pretty good breakfast, and we were hopeful that there would be a barbecue flair to at least some of their breakfast offerings. Not so much, as it seemed to be traditional fare of bacon, eggs, sausage, biscuits, and the like. There’s not anything wrong with that, and I think Lynn enjoyed her egg on an English muffin (not pictured for some reason). But the sausage biscuit I ordered (above) was, surprisingly, just a sausage and a biscuit! Was I silly to think there might be something else on it?

Rob’s was the clear winner because he was assertive enough to actually ask for some barbecue with his breakfast, and he had a very delicious platter of eggs, home fries with onions, a biscuit, and a helping of their pulled pork.

That was definitely the way to go, and I asked him to share more bites than I typically do. These Kansas Citians love their pulled pork, and I thought the Carolina style version Rob had that morning was very good. But without the barbecue, Duck Deli’s breakfast was really kind of sub-par - not a lot of creativity, freshness, or really a good execution. Luckily for us, we had better things ahead!

Lynn sent us that picture of ol’ Rob and me, scaling Kill Devil Hill, where the Wright Brothers flew their first airplane. We spent a good amount of time walking around the field and inside at the museum before thinking about lunch. Lynn entertained Rob’s and my craving for sushi, and we went to Sanya Asian Bistro, where we could pick up ANYTHING with these chopsticks (http://www.sanyaobx.com/).

Despite this phenomenal cosmic power, we mostly just used them to pick up sushi. Rob and I both had the Kitty Hawk box, a bento box in which the highlight was the half Kitty Hawk roll, full of tempura shrimp and cucumber, topped with white tuna, and served with eel sauce. Very good!

Each of our boxes also came with a California roll that we planned to share with Lynn. This was your basic California roll, with crab, avocado, and cucumber. I found it a little dry, strangely enough.

Despite a slightly lackluster California roll, the other components of our bento boxes made them worth it. I especially liked the little spring roll, but the lightly dressed salad and orange slices rounded this out into a nicely portioned little meal.

Lynn had a similar little box, but with chicken teriyaki instead of sushi. She said it was very nice, and I was glad she liked the California roll we shared, too.

After our sushi lunch, we went back to our motel and spent some time on the beach! Which was very relaxing and fun, and I’m so glad that’s when we went, because we were about to fully ruin our swimsuit bodies.

Rob has been on a tiki kick for several months, so he was thrilled to try Mama Kwan’s Grill and Tiki Bar (http://www.mamakwans.com/). Imagine tiki kitsch meets sports bar, and there you have Mama Kwan’s. Also, here is Rob’s hungry face.

We started with tiki drinks of course, and Lynn and I shared this Parrot Head Freeze, advertised as “big enough for two” and served in this awesome souvenir glass that we definitely took home with us.

Our food arrived before long, and both Rob and Lynn had fish tacos. These sauteed mahi mahi tacos are their most popular dish, served with cheddar and jack cheese, green onions, jasmine rice, cabbage, and lime sour cream. Isn’t the jasmine rice such an interesting touch?

Rob was extra adventurous and ordered his mahi mahi blackened; the menu highly recommends it. I can certainly say it photographed well.

It tasted good, too. I don’t often order things blackened, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the bite I had of Rob’s taco - it actually wasn’t very spicy at all, just had some really nice complexity to an otherwise well-prepared fish.

Okay, one more picture of that because I can’t help myself.

Great. I had the crab cake sandwich, which I think may have been just crab meat and panko bread crumbs. I was a bit alarmed by the very uniform shape, which made me wonder if it came straight from a freezer. But the menu claims they’re hand-battered, and I did find it very tasty with their bistro sauce, which seemed to be kind of a tangy mayo/remoulade type of thing.

After getting our fill of our respective seafood entrees, we were very, very bad and told ourselves, “We’re on vacation! Let’s get dessert.”

Lynn loves a good key lime pie, so I was not surprised whatsoever that that was what she ordered. Look how creamy and airy! Such a nice summer treat.

Rob had the salted caramel chocolate cake, which seemed an unusual choice for him since he doesn’t usually go for chocolately stuff. It must have been the caramel that enticed him.

I have to say, I think I won this round with the Mochajumbie, a dessert I actually selected from the drink menu. I think it had a chocolate ice cream base, mixed with Kahlua, rum, Chambord, creme de cacao, and “secret stuff.” This was basically a super duper thick chocolately, raspberry milkshake with a little kick from the rum and Kahlua. It was unbelievably good.

We were so incredibly full after this meal, but it was definitely the best meal we had that day; I might not do breakfast at Duck Deli again and the sushi was fairly run of the mill, but I’d definitely do Mama Kwan’s again. We may have been a little gluttonous, but we so seldom get to see Rob’s mom, especially for a beach vacation, that we thought a little indulgence wouldn’t hurt. Big thank you to Lynn for showing us such a good time that day and for funding these wonderful meals.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Outer Banks North Carolina Duck Kill Devil Hills Kitty Hawk Duck Deli Carolina style barbecue breakfast sausage sausage biscuit eggs biscuit home fries onions sushi Sanya Asian Bistro Kitty Hawk roll tempura shrimp shrimp avocado crab California roll bento box chicken teriyaki spring roll cucumber chopsticks Mama Kwan's

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A bushel and a peck.

Friday, June 6th, 2014 was the five year anniversary of the day Rob asked me to be his girlfriend. This year, instead of a fancy date night, Rob and I found ourselves at Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina (http://www.awfularthursobx.com/).

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Rob’s mom was planning to be in…Charlotte, I think, for the first week of June, but she asked us if we wanted to spend the weekend with her at the Outer Banks.  While most couples might not consider spending an anniversary with their mother-in-law, we had never been to the Outer Banks before and thought it would surely be a relaxing, beachy getaway.

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So once we were at Awful Arthur’s on Friday night, where “kicked back casual is the rule,” we of course had to order some oysters. We weren’t expecting very high quality from this VERY divey looking place, but they claim to be one of the top ten oyster bars in the country, so we went into it with an open mind. While they weren’t quite up to a Rappahannock standard, the three of us really enjoyed sharing this half peck of very liquory oysters.

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I had been craving crab legs, and hey, when in Rome. So I ordered a half a pound, which doesn’t seem like much, but on top of those oysters, I was sittin’ pretty. I’m not sure I could differentiate between good crab legs and bad crab legs since they all kind of taste the same to me, though I have a feeling I might know bad crab legs if I met them. These were just fine.

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Rob and Lynn both had the fried softshell crab sandwich. Can’t go wrong with that, and they agreed - the crab tasted fresh, the breading was crispy and flavorful, and the whole thing was just as satisfying as you might imagine. Plus, it was the perfect fried accompaniment to the arcade games we played at the pier across the street right after dinner :)

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Awful Arthur’s, between the name and the appearance of the place, might seem a little comical at first, but this was just the kind of dinner we were looking for. Beachy, casual, and divey with a range of cheap seafood options, all of which we found very satisfying. If we go back to OBX any time in the near future, we may forego it since it didn’t blow our minds, but we’ll certainly remember it as a reasonably failsafe option. But this time, it was such a fun way to spend our five year anniversary and a great start to our weekend vacation.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Outer Banks North Carolina Kill Devil Hills Awful Arthur's Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar oyster bar oysters raw oysters crab legs soft shell crab fried soft shell crab soft shell crab sandwich fries arcade pier

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The thrilla in vanilla.

I missed my kitchen so much when I was at home. It may not be the biggest kitchen, but it’s full of little appliances that I just love to use. So on Tuesday June 3rd, the only day I had off in Richmond before turning back into a therapist, I put one of my favorites to work - my ice cream machine.

I haven’t bought storebought ice cream in quite a while, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t eaten my share when I was at home (my dad loves some good chocolate ice cream, and he usually has some on hand). I’ve tried making chocolate ice cream in my Cuisinart before, but something about it wasn’t quite right. I was hopeful on this sunny June afternoon that I could satisfy my own chocolate fix, as well as Rob’s penchant for Oreos with some homemade cookies ‘n cream.

Featuring my homemade vanilla! This reminds me that I need to make more - this bottle that I made in March is finally on the out.

I used Cuisinart’s plain vanilla ice cream recipe, the one that came in the manual (http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/5200.html). It’s been absolutely foolproof each time I’ve made it. But the true test - can it carry Oreos?

The answer is yes. Yes yes yes. As the ice cream was coming to its final moments of spinning, I poured in some Oreos that I’d crushed up in a storage bag with a rolling pin (this is cheap therapy). I hadn’t realized the exhilaration of being able to CONTROL how much cookie goes in the cookies and cream. I added a lot. And I felt the power.

I know that face is a little ambiguous, but I promise you that it was an “oh. my. gosh. so. good.” sentiment. I have to say that I agree, it was pretty delicious - the creaminess of homemade ice cream plus the extra dose of Oreos made this an absolutely divine dessert for ol’ Rob and me. I think it was safe to say at that point that he was glad to have me back.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia ice cream Cuisinart ice cream machine homemade ice cream cookies and cream cookies and cream ice cream Oreo vanilla homemade vanilla vanilla extract

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Extra cheese.

After almost a month of wedding madness back home in Missouri, I was ready to return to Richmond for a very busy summer. I flew back into town late at night on June 2nd, and I asked Rob earlier that day to wait to have dinner with me. He didn’t realize it, but it was his one year anniversary of living in Richmond. That’s right folks, on June 2nd, 2013, good ol’ Rob and I packed up the Uhaul in Park Slope, drove it to Richmond, and had late night Dominos pizza as our first meal in our new apartment (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/55875304892/home-is-wherever-im-with-you).

As is my way, I like to recreate foodiversaries, so I pre-ordered some carry-out Dominos when I was laid over in Atlanta so that we could pick it up on our way home from the airport. Sounds great, right? WRONG. I excitedly embraced my beau at Richmond International and spilled my surprise, but when we got to Dominos - they wouldn’t let us in! Apparently my carry-out order had never gotten sent through because they only take carry-out orders until like 11 o’clock. No notification, no “we can’t send your request.” Just a lot of anticipation…and no pizza.

I was so sad that my surprise had been spoiled, but Rob jumped into action. He called a slew of late night spots, and the kitchens were closed time after time. Thank goodness for Bellytimber Tavern (http://bellytimbertavern.com/) a casual, run-of-the-mill college bar where my cohort and I often convene for celebratory drinks for some milestone or another. Their kitchen was open late, and we shared a Spicy Samoan pizza - pineapple + caramelized bacon + jalapeno. Here’s a version with the flash (I didn’t have to worry about disturbing other customers because there were none!)

I’ve had a lot of Bellytimber’s pizzas in the past, but this trumped them all by far = possibly because Bellytimber was really coming to the rescue for this foodiversary. The bacon brought a whole new element to this traditional Hawaiian pizza, just like Rob brought a whole new element to my life when he moved to Richmond almost exactly one year before (I made that as horrifically cheesy as possible, just for you). Thanks Rob, for recovering my surprise, and for finding me pizza in the middle of a Monday night. I salute you.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Bellytimber Tavern Bellytimber pizza Dominos spicy samoan hawaiian hawaiian pizza woodfired pizza pineapple jalapeno caramelized bacon bacon anniversary

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Country wedding.

Prepare yourself for the unprecedented, folks. Rob returned to Richmond town on Sunday, May 25th. I remained in Kansas City, as I would be bridesmaiding for my wonderful friend Chelsea’s wedding the next weekend. Since I have featured EVERYONE else’s wedding I’ve been to in the last five years (because Rob has always been there too), I realized I would feel horrible if this was the one wedding that didn’t get any blog time. So behold, May 31st, the wedding day of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Meyer, where I ate without Rob.

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Chelsea is from Jefferson City, and it naturally followed that she would get married there. Her parents live in the St. Martin’s community, and they recently built an atrium onto their beautiful country home. It was just the right space for a gaggle of bridesmaids to get dressed and ready, and the light for photos was just beautiful.

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Our bride was absolutely stunning. I was actually present for Chelsea and Jonathan’s first date, so I’ve had a front row seat for their relationship for the paaaast…seven years I think? Were we really only freshman on that double date in Mark Twain? That you weren’t even ON with Jonathan? It’s a great story, I’ll have to tell you sometime.

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You may recognize my beautiful friend and fellow bridesmaid Stephanie from her wedding back in September of 2012 (happy early anniversary!!! - http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/34240120341/post-nomtial-agreement). We were happily suited up in our mismatching coral dresses…and our five-inch heels? Not pictured :)

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I don’t have any pictures from the ceremony, but it was just so incredibly romantic. It had that wild, adventurous feeling to it, smothered in romance and a whole lot of Pinterest-worthy details. Whereas the ceremony was outside looking over a small body of water, the reception was in a gorgeously decorated barn, quite literally a venue called The Red Barn in Russellville, MO

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Every touch was perfect. The lights, the flowers, the burlap, the mismatched vintage china, the handmade napkin rings, and like any good country wedding, the MASON JARS.

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Not to mention the doilies. DOILIES! What fourth year medical student planning a wedding has time for doilies!?!

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I seriously don’t know how she did it. I had high hopes for a detail-oriented wedding myself, but when it came down to it, I just didn’t have the time or talent to execute many of the minor touches. Speaking of minor touches, it was kind of fun to see the cake getting finished on site!

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After the ceremony and the introduction of the bridal party, a big black truck pulled up. Dinner is served.

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Many times during our college summers, Chelsea and her family would have us down to her parents’ cabin on the Lake of the Ozarks. En route to the lake from Jeff City is Steve’s (http://www.yelp.com/biz/steves-family-style-restaurant-lohman), a restaurant run by the enormous Kusick family, including Chelsea’s lifelong best friend and pint-sized matron of honor, Natasha. But don’t be fooled by her stature - she WILL carry cases of food bigger than she is.

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I was thrilled to see that we were having Steve’s! I’d only actually been there once with Chelsea and company, but I’d had the frog legs and knew they were famous for their fried chicken. Chelsea and Jonathan opted out of the frog legs (shocking, given their taste for adventure) and served us an amazing country meal.

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This dinner was so. good. We were served family style at the head table, and we passed around dish after dish of fried chicken, brisket, mashed potatoes, white gravy (omg so good), green beans, coleslaw, and bread and butter.

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I died and went to gravy heaven. LOOK HOW PEPPERY.

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Loved loved loved this meal - it was so very Chelsea! My poor bridesmaid dress had to work hard after that, but admittedly, I would later work a little bit off playing horseshoes (I mean, why WOULDN’T they have lawn games). But for the time being, we did the traditional wedding stuff - toasts, tosses, and first dances.

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And then of course, there was cake. Nobody was at all surprised that Chelsea “missed” Jonathan’s mouth. And nobody else was surprised that he then gave her a big, cakey smooch (the best kind). I love all the smiling faces behind them in this photo :)

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Better get a good look now, because this is the last we will see of Chelsea’s civility! Okay, maybe not civility, but tradition for sure. That beautiful first dance was one for the books - so much love!

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Our bride quietly excused herself shortly thereafter, and no one was the wiser. They were in fact quite occupied by a rousing rendition of the Macarena.

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And then! The prodigal bride returns! STUNNER!

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Once the party dress came on, we knew we would be headbanging and air-fiddling for the rest of the night, because that’s just how our girl gets down. This was an amazing wedding - every detail was absolutely perfect, and the involvement of so many members of Chelsea and Jonathan’s family in making this day happen was truly touching. This was my fourth time bridesmaiding in a nine month span, and I am lucky to say that each of these weddings of such important people in my life has been a truly unique expression of the bride and groom. I missed my own groom at this wedding very much, which is a real shame - he would have died over that fried chicken! Congratulations to Chelsea and Jonathan!

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Kansas City Missouri Lohman Jefferson City Russellville The Red Barn wedding wedding reception barn wedding mason jars burlap lace bride wedding dress Steve's Steve's Restaurant fried chicken mashed potatoes gravy green beans coleslaw brisket bridesmaid bouquet first dance cake wedding cake

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Jack Stack attack.

Rob and I woke up at his mom’s house in the Northland on post-wedding morning. While we wanted to go down to Pleasant Hill where Jake and Janie would be opening their wedding gifts, Rob was flying back out to Richmond in the afternoon, so it didn’t make sense to make the 2+ hour roundtrip back up north. Rob’s mom Lynn more than made it up to us by taking us for a good ol’ KC barbecue lunch.

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We just barely beat the after church crowd for lunch at the Freight House location of Jack Stack Barbecue (http://www.jackstackbbq.com/). Jack Stack isn’t my all time fave (Oklahoma Joes (soon to be called Kansas City Joe’s!!!!), Arthur Bryant’s, and Gates are the real triphecta of greatness), but the Freight House is an awesome location, and their slightly higher-brow version of bbq (read: linen napkins) is certainly nothing to shake a stick at.

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I had the chicken wing lunch you see above, complete with a pile of hickory-smoked wings, seasoned with Cajun spices that imparted a unique flavor without being all that hot. As far as sides go, they’re pretty well known for their cheesy-corn bake, but I thought I’d keep it traditional with beans and fries.

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Rob and Lynn went with dishes that Jack Stack is best known for - Rob had a half slab of baby back ribs, and Lynn had burnt ends, a Kansas City classic. She had the pork ones if I’m not mistaken, but you can also get the ham, beef, or sausage version.

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After all the craziness of my brother’s wedding, it was super relaxing to debrief over barbecue with Rob and Lynn. The woman knows good barbecue - I mean, she hosted a barbecue lovers’ dream of a rehearsal dinner (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/66733360555/practice-makes-perfect), and has even mailed Jack Stack barbecue to Rob when he lived in New York (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/37836196441/a-taste-of-home). She and I were both sad to see Rob go that afternoon, but the show must go on…time to bridesmaid up again the next weekend!

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Kansas City Missouri barbecue Kansas City barbecue Jack Stack Jack Stack Barbecue Oklahoma Joe's Gates Arthur Bryant's chicken wings wings hickory hickory smoked Cajun beans fries burnt ends beef beef burnt ends ribs baby back ribs

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That bwessed awangement.

After an engagement that lasted over two years, it was finally my kid brother Jake’s wedding day to his beautiful bride, Janie. A handful of bridesmaids, Janie, and my mom and I woke up on the morning of Saturday, May 24th at my parents’ apartment on the Plaza, full of excitement for the day ahead. Just LOOK at this gorgeous, musing bride!

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By this time, my family and I knew the drill - less than a year before, this same apartment had been filled with my bridesmaids, and we knew all about how much time we would need and what kind of snacks and drinks and things would be necessary in our preparations. I was so happy that two of my very best friends, Celeste and Savannah, could be there with us to do Janie’s hair!

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After lots of scurrying, curling, steaming, and hairspray, we made our way to Colonial Church, where Janie would don her beautiful dress.

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She was every bit a stunning bride in her Justin Alexander dress, and the anticipation was killing us to get that girl down the aisle and back with a new last name. We eased the pre-ceremony jitters by taking lots of pictures :)

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Before we knew it, it was time to go, and we clutched our bouquets made by the bride herself and took our walk down the aisle. Rob took over the photography for me at this point so we could have lots of great ceremony shots.

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The ceremony was lovely. All four parents were involved in various parts, and Janie’s dad was so sweetly emotional, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Plus, some of Jake’s friends from high school, Ethan Tucker and Jesse and Andrea Yost, gave a beautiful acoustic rendition of “More than Words.”

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The ceremony was short and sweet, and before long, there was another Mrs. Lavelock in town. I just love this picture of our whole family together with our newest additions, Janie and Rob.

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After a good deal of portrait taking, we traveled to the reception site, Kansas City’s beautiful Uptown Theater. Just look at these sweet newlyweds in front of their marquee!

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Jake returned my bouquet as soon as I finished taking that photo, and we along with the rest of the bridal party went inside where the guests were waiting. After varied entrance dances by each pair in the bridal party, my dad graciously informed us that we would have time to grab a few appetizers before dinner was served.

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After running on one slice of quiche for the whole wedding day, BOY was I glad to see these toasted ravioli and spinach artichoke dip. Both were hot, delicious, and satisfying. Interestingly, the t-ravs were served with a sweet and sour sauce - I’ve only ever had them with marinara, but the sweet and sour was actually pretty good.

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I didn’t even have time to finish my little plate before the head table was released to the buffet, but I couldn’t complain about the prospect of more food. So we fixed our plates, with the nice long buffet adorned with more of Janie’s lovely DIY decor.

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I returned to the head table, bearing my plate of salad, stir fried vegetables, cheese tortellini in a creamy white sauce, and a big ol’ slice of prime rib. They also had tequila lime chicken available, but I knew I wouldn’t have the capacity to eat both, so I was prime rib all the way. They didn’t have any horseradish or anything out with it at the time we were served, but you’d better believe my mom made sure they brought some out by the time she was eating. It was honestly pretty good on its own, and I didn’t miss the horseradish too much at all.

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Everything was absolutely delicious - good work, Uptown! By the way, good ol’ Rob wasn’t at the head table to eat with me, but he was in excellent company - between his mom, Celeste, Savannah, and Sav’s husband Sean, he was fully entertained. I dropped by to join them for a little while, and I just loved that I could leave my husband with my best friends and know that they’d have a wonderful time.

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I returned to the head table when it was time for the MOH and best man to give their toasts, and of course so I would be closer to the front of the line for cake.

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Over the years, Janie has often accompanied Mom and me to our lunches at Andre’s, and I think she loves it as much as we do (http://andreschocolates.com/). So, she had Andre’s make their wedding cake, which was an excellent idea! They had a hazelnut flavor and I think a pistachio flavor - I had the hazelnut, and I thought it was tasty, but a little dry. We all agreed after the wedding that Andre’s does their small, individual sized desserts a little better than their big cakes, but what it lacked in moisture, Jake and Janie made up for in a charismatic cake topper.

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After cake, we watched the new Mr. and Mrs. Lavelock have their first dance. I personally hadn’t thought about Howie Day in about five years, but apparently these two had!

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After the father-daughter and mother-son dances, the dance floor was open! I managed to get Rob to dance with me for a few songs, but he was mostly interested in checking updates on the Royals game. Hard to blame him; he doesn’t get to see my older brother Scott very often, and they both share a love of the Royals. And lucky for them both and their experience of this joyous occasion, the Royals won.

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After drinks, dancing, and merriment, those who remained went outside of the theater for a sparkler sendoff. It was complicated by our inability to get them all lit at the same time, but hey, A for effort. And A for my dad having standby pitchers of water in case things went south.

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Welp, there ya have it folks, another Lavelock family wedding. Jake and Janie made great crowd-pleasing food selections from the appetizers all the way through dessert, and I enjoyed myself so much all day. Being the sister of the groom is a wonderful position to be in - you get great proximity to the stars of the show without having to worry about all the details! Plus, it was nice to actually be able to spend time with so many of the guests who had been at our own wedding. This was a beautiful day, and I am so happy to finally have a sister. Congratulations to one of my favorite couples, and BIG thanks to my parents for throwing two amazing weddings about 9 months apart.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Kansas City Missouri wedding Prairie Village Kansas Colonial Church bridesmaid wedding reception Uptown Theater toasted ravioli spinach artichoke dip sweet and sour sauce prime rib cheese cheese tortellini salad stir fried vegetables cake wedding cake Andre's Andre's Confiserie Suisse hazelnut cake pistachio cake

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Californication.

On the evening of Friday, May 23rd, we rehearsed the wedding of my younger brother Jake to his bride-to-be, Janie. The ceremony would be held at Colonial Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, and I absolutely loved its simple charm!

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We ran through the whole shebang a couple of times to make sure we had it down. This was my…fifth? Fifth time bridesmaiding, so it wasn’t too hard to remember how to stand and smile. This gave me a great excuse to hang out in the aisle and take pictures, instead.

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I know, I know, I’m not a very cooperative rehearser. But I obviously wouldn’t be able to have my camera with me the day of to take similar shots. I eventually behaved and got back in my little spot on the steps by the time we were wrapping up.

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Permit me just one more picture of the lovebirds…I know they’re not food, but they are pretty cute.

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After getting the hang of the whole getting married thing, we made our way to Californos, a very nice restaurant in the Westport district of Kansas City (www.californos.com). With it’s beautiful exposed brick interior, it had actually been a contender for Rob’s and my own wedding reception venue, but it was booked on our date. I’m glad it could be available for “Jamie and Jake.”

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Nothing quite like mispelling the bride’s name! Janie didn’t seem to mind. Luckily, Californos got the appetizer course exactly right with a very fine assortment of tasty clearly labeled bites.

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Bruschetta is always a crowd-pleaser at these fancy pants types of events, and I have to agree that they were quite good. Goat cheese is a wonderful thing in general, and theirs was no exception.

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They also had this “tri-color cheese torte” that looked like it had been shaped in a layer cake pan. I can identify a large, cream cheesy layer, as well as guacamole? Maybe salsa on the bottom there? I actually have no clue what was in it, but I think it was my favorite of the selections.

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And of course, there was a very nice crudite - I was actually impressed by all the different vegetables they included.They were very nice and brought my mommers her own little plate of dip because she is allergic to the bleu cheese they had in the communal dip bowl. Since Mom and Dad booked this event, I’m not sure how they ended up with an ingredient on the table that causes her anaphylaxis, but hey! We lived to tell the tale.

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My little plate was admittedly not very green, but I did have vegetables represented! My favorite thing, like I said, was the big ol’ dip, despite not having much of an idea of what was inside. It went very nicely with Wheat Thins and bell peppers. Good work.

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We made our way from the restaurant’s bar where the appetizers were being served into “The Library,” a really beautiful and interesting room with a second level where much of the bridal party sat. I decided to hang out on the ground floor with my parents, my brother Scott, and of course, Rob, for dinner.

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The house salad was delicious - it seemed to be a romaine mix with maybe some feta cheese and a really nice hazelnut vinaigrette. A good portion size too - even after a serving of appetizers, I still had an appetite for the entree.

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The entree was a mixed grill, a combination of grilled chicken, beef, and shrimp. It was served with sauteed vegetables and jasmine rice, all seemingly a nod to Jake’s taste in Chinese food. It was a little unusual to serve three meats all together in one dish, and sadly I don’t think it was executed very well. The beef was good, but the chicken and pork were kind of dry, and the little drizzle of some kind of sauce really didn’t bring enough moisture to the party.

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I’ll just tell myself that this is Jake’ reaction to the entree and not to his picture-snapping big sister. But we’d turn that frown upside down before too long with this mocha fudge cake, with a very nicely shaped pile of ice cream on top. Not all that memorable of a cake, but come on, cake nonetheless.

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Much merriment followed dinner; toasts were given, gifts were distributed to the bridal party, and of course, Dad picked up the bill. After dinner, we took a great assortment of photos of many combinations of family from both Jake and Janie’s sides of the family. Rob and I managed to get one of the two of us as well.

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Despite the lackluster entree, I really liked our experience at Californos. The ambiance was very nice, and there was even a wedding going on in another room that we peeked in on a few times, so love was certainly in the air. The food in general was not bad for a catered meal, but it wasn’t very memorable - I think my parents may have been a little disappointed given how nice of a restaurant this is cracked up to be. We’ll have to try it again for dinner sometime to see if we can reach any conclusions. But anyway, this was a great event, and it was a real pleasure to spend time with my family and with Janie’s, and we’re very grateful to Mom and Dad for hosting. Wedding time tomorrow!

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Kansas City Missouri Californos Prairie Village Westport Colonial Church wedding rehearsal rehearsal dinner tomatto and chevre bruschetta bruschetta tomatoes chevre crudite tri-color cheese torte wheat thins salad hazelnut hazelnut vinaigrette mixed grill chicken beef pork jasmine rice vegetables mocha fudge cake cake

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Kansas City, here I come.

Rob and I spent most of May apart - I was in Kansas City helping my brother and future sister-in-law prepare for their nuptials, and Rob was working in Richmond up until the wedding. So our interactions for a few weeks looked a lot like this.

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Luckily for us, we know the long distance drill pretty well, and a few weeks felt like nothing at all, especially in the wake of all the wedding madness. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled to see ol’ Rob when he flew in on the night of Thursday, May 22nd.

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The next day was the day before Jake and Janie’s wedding, and my parents managed to carve out enough time on rehearsal day to take Rob and me to lunch. We went to my mom’s favorite restaurant and a place where we have been together many times, Andre’s Confiserie Suisse, a bakery and luncheonette just south of the Plaza (http://andreschocolates.com/). I think the last time Rob and I were there together was almost five years before! (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/10893204044/anybody-want-a-peanut).

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I don’t remember exactly, but I have a feeling that the reason we were able to make this lunch a priority was because they were serving bread and cheese casserole, our favorite of their small menu that rotates daily. Every day they serve quiche lorraine and cheese pie, as well as two or three other dishes - I usually get the quiche and Mom usually gets the pie, unless they’re having croute zurichoise, vol au vent, or of course, bread and cheese casserole.

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Correct me if I’m wrong, Mom, but I’m pretty sure this is no more than big slices of French bread, smothered in mushrooms and melted gruyere cheese in bechamel sauce. No matter what I order for my Andre’s entree, I usually have it with pickled beets and their famous green salad. I think I had the carrot salad instead of the green salad that day, and all are sublime.

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Rob had the same as I did, and I think Mom did too, and my oddball dad decided to have whatever other option they were serving that day. These are just the most perfectly portioned little meals, and they all cost exactly the same amount as each other. AND they include a choice of their famous desserts.

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I don’t know what came over me, but I decided to have Mom’s favorite, the rum ball. It’s yellow cake, I think, soaked in rum, mixed with rum buttercream, and covered in chocolate sprinkles. I’ve always that it smelled better than it tasted (both sensations are extremely rummy), but I just had to have it that day.

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Rob had the pistachio torte, a chocolate layer cake filled with pistachio buttercream and topped with shaved with bittersweet chocolate. I actually can’t remember what Mom’s got in the picture below, but I’m thinking it might be lemony, apricot-y, or almondy. She’s been going for things like that lately.

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And my chocolate-loving Dad got the Matterhorn, a mixture of chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream, covered in chocolate fondant. And it’s shaped to look just like, you guessed it, the Matterhorn. I’ve had it a few times myself, and it is as rich of a chocolate dessert as any.

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I have tried so many of their amazing desserts, that I honestly don’t think I could pick a favorite anymore. Full of our Swiss-French cuisine, Rob and I sojourned northward through downtown Kansas City, and we would ultimately end up at his mom’s house north of the river to get cleaned up for Jake and Janie’s rehearsal dinner. But not without making a few important stops first.

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Rob and I missed Kansas City so much, we just couldn’t help ourselves. We went to the Scout, Liberty Memorial, AND the Roasterie plant for delicious iced mochas (I meeeeean they use Shatto chocolate milk in them).

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What a wonderful day this was to spend romping in our stomping grounds. Well, Rob’s more than mine, as this Pleasant Hill native rarely made it to the city in her childhood. After few weeks of nothing but the wedding and without spending any time together, it sure was nice to have this afternoon to enjoy an amazing lunch and a perfect afternoon at some of our favorite places.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Kansas City Missouri Andre's Andre's Confiserie Suisse French bread and cheese casserole French bread mushrooms gruyere gruyere cheese cheese bechamel rum ball rum chocolate matterhorn pistachio buttercream Liberty Memorial Union Station Kansas City skyline The Roasterie The Scout

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