Copycat Gates Barbecue Sauce (a.k.a. Fake Gates)

There are many Kansas City barbecue sauces that I enjoy: Rosedale is great when you want something sweeter, Jack Stack is nice when you want something thicker, but Gates is my all-purpose winner. I feel they do a great job of balancing the sweet and vinegar tang and pepperiness, and that’s what makes it so great on beef, pork, turkey or chicken. It’s even my favorite french fry dipping sauce.

But bottles of barbecue sauce are heavy to ship and to carry in luggage. Continue reading Copycat Gates Barbecue Sauce (a.k.a. Fake Gates)

“Eat Here and Get Gas”

We’ve all seen signs like these along a road trip, right?

Eat Here, Get Gas Eat Here Get Gas Eat here, get gas

Kansas City has not one, but two former gas stations whose cuisine ranks as “don’t miss it” while we’re in Kansas City.

Oklahoma Joe’s

It’s still working as a gas station, but it’s the barbecue that stretches the line out the door into the parking lot. We should have called in our order from the parking lot — surely it would have been faster than waiting in line for over an hour. But I figured it out — for those waiting to snag a table and dine in, the food was worth the wait.

I had The Z~Man Sandwich: Brisket, smoked provolone topped w/w/ BBQ mayo, lettuce & two onion rings on a kaiser bun. It was excellent. Sarah was also quite enamored of her brisket sandwich. We both liked the home-style skin-on french fries — nicely seasoned. Some caveats: after waiting in line, snaked around the inside of the restaurant, for so long, we didn’t check our order closely. And honestly, we thought we didn’t need to — we heard the staff behind the counter shout out our complete order four or five times before we paid and left. Nevertheless, some of the items we ordered didn’t make it home with us (and I’m not sure whether they made it onto the bill, since I my FIL was buying). One of those missing items was a side of baked beans, which my BIL said were a disgrace compared to Smokestack.

So call in your order (perhaps from the parking lot…) and double-check it for accuracy before you leave. Another great reason to stop in at Oklahoma Joe’s: they have a great selection of barbecue sauces available for sale. I am sure I counted over thirty regional and national varieties and that gave me something to look at while waiting in line.

Pizza 51

This place is well and truly no longer a gas station; just a restaurant where one used to be. We’ve never eaten in there, since it’s so convenient to my in-laws’ house. But this is exactly the kind of pizza of which I dream when European pies just won’t sate me and I set out to make my own. The sauce, crust, cheese, and toppings are all classic American-style — the kind you just can’t get in Mainland Europe without patronizing Pizza the Hutt (which is to be avoided). A word about their sizing: two 14″ pizzas easily (over)fed four adults with varying appetites. We’ve never tried their salads or sandwiches or even breadsticks, so we can’t vouch for them (perhaps on a future KC visit), but I can tell you that the specialty and create-your-own pizzas were excellent and completely satisfied my American-pizza-cravings.

Homemade Kansas City Meat Action

We’ve been in Kansas City for the past week or so and have been enjoying local meat. My mother-in-law does these wonderful things called Country Ribs. A quick check at Wikipedia confirms that these probably don’t technically qualify as “ribs” — but who cares? The hard part for reproducing this at home in Germany would be getting the cut of pork necessary. We don’t know how to ask for it in English (other than “Country Ribs”) let alone in German. So maybe we’ll try it with what’s available.

First she marinates them. With magic.

Then onto the grill for a bit, just until the outsides are done.

Then bring ’em back inside for the final phase: baking. She separates them by thickness and size to make sure they all bake evenly — typically the smaller, thinner ribs are done more quickly. Douse with a local barbecue sauce, and bake them until they’ve reached the right internal temperature for pork. Yum! Goes great with scalloped potatoes.

We also got a chance to visit with pals Brian and Mikey. Brian showed off his mastery of the art of discada: essentially a Mexican wok made from repurposed farm equipment and any meat you can think of. Start with bacon on low heat, and use the grease it offers up to cook the rest of your meats in stages: loose chorizo, ground beef, steak chunks, even sliced vienna sausages are in the mix. Every time you get a meat partially cooked, spread it up on the sides of the disco, where the heat is less intense, and let it continue to cook. Between meat stages, bring it all back together in the center periodically to chat. Somewhere along the way, before the chilis and onions made their appearance, Chef Brian added the better part of a bottle of beer. A final touch, when we could barely stand it anymore, was a liberal dosage of taco seasoning. Insert it directly into your mouth if you can’t help it, or if you can manage the restraint, spoon your discada into taco shells with your choice of the usual subjects (guac, sour cream, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, salsa, whatever).

wir sind zurück gekommen

So, after very uneventful flights from K.C. to Chicago to Munich, we’re back. All flights were smooth and on time, and even our shuttle pick-up and drop-off was easy. Still, we learned a couple things along the way:

  1. Space Bags! Space Bags! Sure make the packing easier. Not sure what happens if TSA needs to open your stuff up, however. Do they have vacuum cleaners available to re-shrink your stuff? We packed 4 space bags full of clothing and of those, only one got torn. Bummer. Probably our fault, because we had a bunch of metal (cans of mexican food staples, primarily, plus assorted Bed Bath & Beyond goods) in our suitcases along with them.
  2. Apparently we purchased our tickets back when two checked bags per traveler were included in the price. We had one big suitcase each and were over weight (and so were our bags, ha!) but the ticketing agent suggested we purchase a cheapo bag from the gift shop to check. Fortunately, I’d purchased a new backpack while in KC and still had the old one (empty) in the one of the suitcases. So we pulled it out and filled it up with heavy stuff and easily skated under that 50 lb. per bag limit.

a short study in contrasts

Greetings from sunny Kansas City!

It’s cold here, colder than Regensburg, but not much. We got in last night on United. Despite a 2-hour layover and an additional forty-minute delay (due to plane de-icing) at O’Hare, our bags still hadn’t made onto our plane. But oh well; they were delivered (at our request) to Sarah’s parents’ house by United’s baggage delivery company overnight and were waiting for us when we awoke. So that wasn’t terrible.

This morning we drove around getting the first order of business taken care of: wireless networking in the in-laws’ house thanks to a stop at Best Buy. You’re reading this post, so it’s working. Love the cable internet stuff.

While we were out, we observed gas prices around $1.76/gal, stopped off for an early-lunch Chalupa, picked up some grapefruit juice, came back home for Sarah’s aunt’s rockin’ out salsa on Tostitos…all just because we could.

I’ve been telling people at work that this is not a trip “home” for me, but even if I don’t want to live here, it’s a nice place to visit.

K.C. in January / Google-branded browser

If you’re thinking about intercontinental travel, January might be the time to go and now might be the time to purchase it. At least, that was our thinking. Sarah found us flights on Lufthansa/United for less than €1200 total, two adults, economy, round-trip. That’s a decent price for a direct flight (say to Detroit or something) but that includes the domestic flights from Chicago to K.C. and back. I’ll be burning up some left-over vacation time while we hang with Sarah’s family and our friends there. And of course, trying to rest up for our Puerto Vallarta trip in April. Come to think of it, there are quite a few trips coming down the pipe — check them out on my dopplr page (or on Sarah’s). If we’re coming to a town near you, let us know.

In other news, I wrote this post using a brand new browser developed by Google called Chrome. Just giving it a test drive. So far, so good, but I’ve yet to put it through some heavy-lifting to see if it lives up to the hype. I’ll be much more curious to see how the Linux and Mac versions shape up when they’re released.


The Joint

2829 Southwest Blvd.
Kansas City, MO

phone: +1 816.931.4849


Can’t go wrong with the famous ‘rita dip. I wish I could make that here at home. Of course, then I might never leave the house. Watch out for the annoying song on their website (last I checked).


I always love me some Margarita’s. I am of the opinion that this is the best tex-mex (i.e., tons of cheese on everything) you’re going to find in Kansas City. The salsa here is the best in town, the portions are HUGE (seriously, order a take-out box with the meal) and the service is incredibly fast. And, they have Mr. Pibb in the fountain. Mmmmmmmmm!!