Lidia’s Italy – Kansas City

Lidia’s is one of my favorite places to eat in Kansas City.  It has everything you want in a restaurant, great food, great atmosphere and great service.  Even though I’d been to Lidia’s several times, I’d never brought my son who’d been begging me for years to take him here.  It was fun to see Lidia’s again for the first time through his eyes. 

He loved the wisteria covered trellis that you walk under before entering; it sets the mood for what’s to come.  The dining room is so inviting and cozy, it sets the mood to sit and talk about life’s events and about hopes and aspirations.  He thoroughly enjoyed the miniature bread sticks, and the pesto we spread across the house made bread. 

For an appetizer we started with Lobster Risotto Balls.  You receive 5 golf ball sized balls sitting in a Corn Puree with a drizzling of Basil Oil.  These are very good, and loaded full of lobster.  There is more lobster than risotto in these and even though they are fried, the crust is very thin and is not even slightly oily.  Nate loved the corn puree so much that he took a piece of bread and scooped up the puree with it, as a farm hand might with remaining gravy on his plate.  I joked with Nate that the kitchen would probably pour some in a glass so that he could drink it, he seemed excited by this idea but I quickly kyboshed it.

We both decided on the daily pasta trio.  Today’s pastas were corkscrew pasta in a simple, light, red sauce with tiny chunks of sweet sausage in it.  (This was Nate’s favorite).  A fettuccine with pesto and very tiny shrimp; the shrimp were cooked perfectly, they weren’t tough or chewy.  This should be a given, but most restaurants don’t seem to be able to pull it off.  Lidia’s did.  The third pasta was four cheese ravioli in a light cream sauce.  Each of these three pastas were delicious. 

We finished our meal with a chocolate torte that we shared.  It consisted of a moist chocolate cake covered with chocolate mousse, topped with a layer of white chocolate ganache and plated with a few dark cherries and black walnuts.  We both enjoyed it with with a cup of very good coffee. 

We had such a wonderful evening and Nate made me promise to bring him back here soon, which I will, because I like it here too.  He also informed me that he is taking his date here before his upcoming Homecoming Dance.  Good for him, (and for her). 

Lidia’s Kansas City
101 West 22nd Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
 
Phone: (816) 221-3722
Reservations 
 

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Three Great Recipes from Lidia’s

It was the most fantastic Sunday afternoon in Western Missouri since June.  The temperature was in the high 70s, there was a gentle breeze and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  It was a perfect day to visit Powell Gardens, about 36 miles East of Leawood’s Town Center Plaza on 50 Highway.

I really enjoyed strolling around the gardens with friends, it is truly a remarkable place.  I try to make it out there at least once a year.  The main reason for Sunday’s visit was to attend their Garden Chef Series.  From late April through the early part of October, Powell Gardens invites Chefs from popular local eateries to come out and perform cooking demonstrations using mostly ingredients freshly gleaned from their gardens.  These demos occur on most Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. in the Missouri Barn.  The Missouri Barn isn’t really a barn per se, the location where the demonstrations occur is more like a covered patio; great for people like me who love to eat al fresco, not so great for those of you who don’t like flies buzzing around your food.

I made it a point to be there on this particular Sunday, (September 9th), because Cody Hogan, the top chef at Lidia’s, was the featured chef.  Chef Hogan was a non-arrogant, rather shy, personable guy who answered audience questions while explaining how to prepare each of the three recipes he presented.  I mention non-arrogant only because I guess I’ve watched a few too many of those “chef shows” on television.  I was a tiny bit apprehensive and maybe a little intimidated before the show started, but after a few minutes, I realized how silly that was.  It was a great experience and I think that I will head out for a couple more of these demonstrations before the season is over.

The first recipe was for “Insalata Cruda e Cotta” (Raw and Cooked Salad).  He explained that  you could basically substitute about anything you have on hand for this salad.  He used different varieties of new potatoes, (one variety was blue), instead of regular green beans he used a long purple colored variety and instead of Bibb lettuce, he used arugula.  Most, if not all, of the vegetables had come from Powell Gardens. 

The next recipe was for “Pesto Trapanese alla Anna“.  This was amazing.  I’ve never had a tomato based pesto before, at least not that I am aware.  So, it is red instead of green, of course.  This recipe also called for almonds instead of pine nuts which I found interesting.  We watched Chef Hogan pick basil from the adjacent herb garden right before the demonstration, that’s how fresh the ingredients were, so naturally the flavors were amazingly vibrant.  I’m definitely trying this recipe at home.  When I do, I’ll let you know how it turns out.    

The third recipe was for “Rigatoni alla Pastora” (Shepherd’s Rigatoni), another amazingly simple, yet delicious recipe that even I could make at home.  There are only about 6 ingredients for this dish, plus the pasta.  This recipe called for ricotta.  In Chef Hogan’s opinion, there is nowhere in Kansas City to buy good ricotta, so he told us we should make our own.  He said to look-up a recipe online, so I did, here’s the one I found.  I am so going to try this!  I will record my attempt and place it online so you can all laugh.  Anyway, back to the recipe… it called for sweet Italian Sausage, the one Chef Hogan used had cinnamon in it, no fennel.   I’m not generally a guy who likes his meat sweet, so I was sceptical as to whether I would like this one.  I shouldn’t have been, this was really delicious.  I’m going to attempt this recipe at home also. 

Chef Hogan also shared a couple of “secrets” with us. 

  1. First, don’t put oil in your pot when you boil your pasta.  Yes, the oil prevents the pasta from sticking together, but it also prevents the sauce from sticking to your pasta. 
  2. Pasta with ridges or ruffles in it add surface area and allow more sauce to collect on the pasta. 

I really enjoyed my time here.  Chef Hogan has inspired me to try a little more cooking at home.  Lidia’s recipes are so simple, yet so delicious it makes it easy to want to do-it-yourself.  But don’t worry Lidia, I’m still going to frequent your restaurant, because let’s face it, even though it’s fun to do-it-yourself, it’s usually better to have someone do it for you.

Discover the Art of Italian Cooking

Discover new ways to use fresh ingredients by attending  cooking demos in the Missouri Barn at Powell Gardens.  This Sunday, September 9th, Cody Hogan, Lidia’s top chef, will be featured.   Most of these demos have included samples, and I certainly hope that this one does because I love Italian food and I love Lidia’s.   The demonstration starts at 2 p.m.  There’s no additional charge to see Chef Cody, the demonstration is included with your admission to Powell Gardens.  It’s supposed to be sunny and 78 degrees this Sunday, it will be a perfect day to walk around the gardens and hopefully pick-up a few cooking tips from an acclaimed chef.  See you there!

 Powell Gardens
1609 N.W. U.S. Highway 50 
Kingsville, MO 64061 
 
Phone:  816-697-2600
 
Admission:  $10/adults, $9/seniors, $4/children ages 5-12
 
 
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