Arriving at MCI (or KCI, depending on how you remember the airport – watch out because many signs are KCI, though the IATA recognizes it as MCI), is both like and unlike arriving at other airports. For those that remember flying prior to 9/11, you will recall that your friends and family could escort you all the way to your gate. MCI is designed in a very similar fashion, where security is actually for individual sets of gates for each terminal.
This is very different from other airports where the folks seeing you off, or collecting you, won’t be able to see you until you leave the secured area. In fact, there are transparent regions where you can see one another as soon as you get off the plane. Extremely convenient!
Furthermore, the parking is arranged in smaller sections, for each terminal, in addition to longer term parking which can be found in the middle. Each “C” has gates along the outer edge with security for each set of five or so gates. This makes for extremely smooth arrivals and departures. Transfers can be tricky, though, if the gate you are going to is in a different security cluster. The real food options (and gift options) are located outside the secure zone, so this should also be kept in mind depending on what your plans include.
For our second day, we opted for a fairly low-key start as we had been traveling well into the night (not arriving in Kansas City until midnight), and we wanted to be well-rested for our Rennaisance Faire adventure plans the following day. Our hosts mentioned many restaurants but two really stood out, so we knew we had to make time for them. Grünauer and Jack Stack BBQ. For our first night, we opted for Austrian.
Grünauer was founded by an Austrian family, and is still run by the same family. The food is carefully prepared and presented, taking additional care to remain true to tradition. The menu offered a wide variety of options, so we made sure to try a few different things. We started the evening with drinks (a Racing Bird, similar to a spicy margarita), and ordered appetizers: a plate of Austrian meats and fried mushrooms served with tartar sauce.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the drink, as I am usually not a fan of tequila, but the citrus flavors combined with the spicy salt (pepper and paprika were involved, I think) blew me away. The liverwurst was surprisingly delicate, while making sure you recognized its presence, and the real surprise was how well fried mushrooms went with tartar sauce. Two things I would -never- think of combining!
For entrees, we again wanted to try quite a few different options. I went with a traditional Austrian farmer’s meal (Bauernschmaus), while others had a Waygu-style beef Goulash, sirloin, Paprikahuhn, and crepes.
Though the farmer’s plate was described as having bacon, it was truly more in the vein of pork belly. Delicious! The sauerkraut had an excellent flavor and the acidity left meat (served on top of it) tender. My girlfriend and our friends all enjoyed our respective dishes. If you are visiting, you really should make it a point to stop by!
We wrapped up our dinner with a nice cup of coffee, with some of us ordering Melange (a spiced cappuccino) instead. Delightful!
Confession time – until this weekend, I had actually never been to a Ren Faire. Upon learning that it would be available, it was decided that we would be attending (after some needed recovery from the travel, of course) and rectifying this! This particular faire actually lasts for multiple weeks, with different events each week.
We took our time exploring the wares and outfits, admiring the craftsmanship of many of the items for sale. One of the merchants, Dwarf Mountain Knives had made some beautiful knives, and both my girlfriend and I saw one that we felt was perfect. It was very reasonably priced for a hand-worked blade, and felt well balanced (and solid!) in my hand.
We also came across a craftsman (Clay Images) who made quite a few incense burners and water fountains in the shape of adorable dragons. Unfortunately, I neglected to capture pictures of these creations, but I foresee one entering our house in the future…
Feeling a little peckish, I opted for traditional Faire fare: a turkey leg. Served hot, it really hit the spot!
Prior to leaving, we made our way to the puzzle-ring stand, and noted that they also sold pendants. I fell in love with one with Odin’s runes on both sides and purchased that as well.
Dinner at Jack Stack
For those not familiar with Kansas City BBQ (admittedly, I was not familiar with it by name, but was in the underlying methodology), it involves a slow cooking process where the sauce is involved at multiple steps. This is different from Carolina or Texas BBQ, where sauces are added at different stages, or rubs prior to cooking, and so on. Jack Stack BBQ is one of the highest rated BBQ establishments of this style in the area, so we knew we had to pay them a visit.
We started the evening with fried mushrooms, onion rings, and burnt-ends (of ham and sausage, in this case) before ordering our entrees.
I opted for a sirloin with Parmesan broccoli with hickory smoked pit beans (with brisket!), with others ordering various combinations (lamb ribs and beef burnt ends… brisket and baby-back ribs… and more!), and salmon. The pit beans were a favorite all around – I can see why they are as popular as they are with regulars!