Monday, September 24, 2012

Kansas City, MO

One of many refurbished neon signs in KC

We spent the last few days of summer in Kansas City, MO, where I was scheduled to make a conference presentation. Tim decided to come along once I found a relatively cheap non-stop flight on Southwest; but really, he went just for the barbecue. We ended up having a surprisingly wonderful time.

In the 19th century, Kansas City was the last bastion of civilization before the pioneers ventured off into the wilderness of the untamed West. Today, the downtown area is pretty much deserted. Every Californian I talked to at the conference was shocked at how empty the streets were. Nonetheless, the architecture was often spectacular—lots of beautifully preserved art deco government buildings constructed during the 1930s, as well as much evidence of a recent renaissance in modern cultural facilities. Quite an interesting mix of styles, as you can see from the photos below (click on them to enlarge).

Early 1900s Union Station in foreground

Downtown detail

We stayed in the Crown Center part of town, home to Hallmark Cards (hence the name Crown Center, after Hallmark’s corporate symbol). The National World War I Museum, with its impressive 217-ft.-tall Liberty Memorial tower, was located right across the street. I’m not a big fan of heights, but even I had to go to the top of the tower to see Kansas City from above.

Liberty Memorial

We didn’t experiment much with food, especially since we were there primarily for barbecue. Three hours after landing, we joined colleagues for a buffet at Fiorella’s Jack Stack, which was within walking distance of the hotel. Tim’s eyes lit-up when he heard it was “all-you-can-eat.” But like the rest of us, his eyes were bigger than his stomach and so he quit eating after only two platefuls. I called it a night after just one serving of ribs and chicken!

All-you-can-eat brisket


We also ate at Lidia’s Italy, owned by TV food personality Lidia Bastianich. Tim got the Spaghetti alla Trapanese with shrimp, while I tried Lidia’s Pasta Trio, a sampler of dishes that changes every day. We practically licked our plates, the food was so good.

Spaghetti alla Trapanese

Lidia's Pasta Trio

For more trip highlights, see below . . .

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