Tag Archives: Kansas City

Vivilore in Independence, Missouri has it all. It’s a must eat and see

It’s not every day that you’ll find a fine art gallery, restaurant, bar, gorgeous courtyard and stunning antiques in one location.

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But at Vivilore in Independence, Mo., you’ll find all of that, delicious food, and an interesting dose of history.

Located in the Englewood art district, this restaurant is refreshingly unusual.

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Independence is just outside Kansas City, so on our last trip to K.C., we made a quick detour to the restaurant which was voted best patio in Kansas City.

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I was not disappointed. In fact, I was stunned at how beautiful it was.

Vivalore is owned by brother and sister by Whit Ross and Cindy Foster, two Independence natives who spent two years renovating this building.

They had no experience in the restaurant industry when they decided to open Vivilore. He had worked in catering; she was a pilot for 23 years.

They bought the historic brick building in 2010 and opened in 2012. They expected renovations to take six months, but it was two solid years because it was an historic building.  The building used to be the Sermon-Anderson interior design/antique business.  Before it closed, the business partners provided window treatments for Harry Truman’s home. One of the owner’s fathers was a close friend of Truman.

The building is 7,000 square feet and started as a private house built in the 1920s.

“It was a rather small house, but they started adding on the back, the front, they raised the roof, made it into a rather large house. In 1951, they built the front part of Vivilore which is the street side,” said Foster.

Because of the history of the building and its expansions, the restaurant feels like a home, but an elegant one. There are magnificent murals on the wall; antique plates; oil paintings; chandeliers, stained glass windows.

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Ross has a flare for interior design, gardening and arts and he is responsible for the elegant table settings, white linens, collection of vases and overall theme of the restaurant.

Art and antiques adorn the walls and all the art is for sale, said Foster.

As beautiful as the interior was, we chose to sit outside the courtyard.

Ross and his mother tend to the gardens daily and their hard work shows. This courtyard is lush and feels like a spa escape: there are statues, various annuals, shrubs, birch trees, a fountain, and a large Weeping Willow tree provides shade. It was a colorful backdrop to an excellent meal.

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My husband and I like to sample so we ordered two appetizers, one main course and one dessert, all to share.

We started with the Beef Tenderloin Tips ($14), which was Angus beef with peppers and onions and a garlic-sherry demi-glaze. These were the most tender beef skewers I’ve ever had. The meat melted in my mouth. We toyed with the idea of ordering a second, but we decided against it as we had dinner plans, too.

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Next, we had the Smoked Salmon Bruschetta ($12) with pickled onions, herbed cream cheese, capers and goat cheese. It was so refreshing on a hot day and the goat cheese elevated a traditional salmon dish. This is one of the best sellers, Foster said.

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The Lobster Roll $14 was our main course and very good, but I used to live on the East Coast so I don’t think it quite compared to some of those but I am a tough critic when it comes to those rolls.

We had a flourless chocolate cake for dessert that was rich, intense and incredible.

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We didn’t stop into the art gallery, but it’s housed upstairs in the restaurant. Foster said they didn’t plan to open an art gallery initially, but five years ago this are became designated as an arts district so they opened a gallery upstairs with its own curator.

Vivilore is a wonderful experience and well worth the quick detour from Kansas City.

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Want to go?

Vivilore, 10815 E. Winner Road, Independence, Mo. Hours: 11a.m. – 9 p.m. Tuesday – Thursday; 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday – Saturday. For reservations call: 816-836-2222. Online: http://www.vivilore.com/

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Make your own barbecue sauce this week

It’s July 4th week, which means the grills are going to be sizzling all over this country.

It’s a perfect time for me to take a break from my rotisserie chicken and showcase other fare.

I wrote this story for The Joplin Globe http://www.joplinglobe.com. And today, I am showing off some of my homemade barbecue sauce recipes. I make a mean sauce and have plenty of ideas for you.

Some are homemade, some are doctored up, but all are delicious. My Blueberry Port sauce is sooooooooo easy and delectable!DSC_0733 (2)

There are many styles of barbecue sauce in this nation. This is a very abbreviated version of some of the highlights:

There’s the sweet, dark, tomato and molasses variety from Kansas City, accented with a dose of liquid smoke. This is one of the nation’s most popular varieties and one of my favorites. And from that style, comes a variety of commercial spin-offs, like honey, honey-bourbon, etc.

I love the thickness of this variety because it sticks to the meat.

Then, there’s the mustard and vinegar sauce from South Carolina which I love, too. This style was inspired by German immigrants in South Carolina and is nothing like the K.C. variety. This sauce is very thin so it’s better to dip your meat in it (if you pour it over a sandwich, the bread will get soggy).

I make an easy 10 minute version with plain yellow mustard (traditional), a little coarse mustard (not so traditional), vinegar, sugar and lager. It’s best served on pork or chicken. The beer really compliments the mustard.

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North Carolina also serves up a vinegar sauce but has a good kick of hot pepper. I prefer its neighboring state’s tradition.

Then, there’s Texas, which has different varieties by region. There’s not a classic barbecue sauce per say, but the sauces in the Lone Star state tend to have heat, like jalapenos, and spices like cumin and chili powder. I’ve also found the varieties in Texas to be less sweet and thinner than the Kansas City style.

And Memphis has a style similar to Kansas City, with a lot of tomato and brown sugar or molasses in the recipe. Kansas City is actually a mutation from the Memphis version. Dry rubs are popular in Memphis.

While you can buy so many commercial varieties these days to reflect these traditions, it’s fun and easy to make your own (or doctor up your own).

When I make barbecue for a party, I like to put out a homemade barbecue sauce bar and offer five varieties or so. It’s perfect because people get to sample a variety of sauces and the smorgasbord of sauce satisfies a variety of taste buds.

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Here’s a tip: I usually put out pretzel sticks next to the sauce so people can dip a stick to taste the sauce and decide which one they want to use. You also use less meat this way and less chance of contaminating the sauce.

Another great thing about barbecue sauce is if the meat is a little dry, sauce can cover up that mistake. Even moist barbecue tends to dry out by the second day, so barbecue sauce can make leftovers more palatable.

I have a variety of recipes for you, including some doctored up varieties. And here’s a few extra ideas to doctor up some more sauces, but I recommend using inexpensive sauce when trying these:

  • Mix together 1 cup barbecue sauce with ½ cup hot picante sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • A shot of brandy or bourbon can add depth to a sauce.
  • Add ½ cup of beer to 1 ½ cups of sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Try adding in orange zest for a burst of flavor.
  • Chopped jalapenos will add great spice to a sweet sauce and make it sweet and spicy.
  • Try adding apple butter or a blackberry jam to sauce to kick up the sweetness and add depth.

Other than that, invite friends over and enjoy the barbecue.

Mustard and Lager Sauce

Makes a large batch

1 tablespoon coarse mustard

¼ cup yellow mustard

½ cup apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup Lager

2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 5 minutes (use an overly large pot to keep it from boiling over). Whisk ingredients together halfway through the cooking. Cool before serving.

This sauce is best with chicken, pork, and a variety of grilled sausages. A thick slice of sharp cheddar cheese is also nice dipped in this sauce.

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Blueberry Port Sauce

Makes a small batch

½ cup Kansas City style barbecue sauce

2/3 cup fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons Port

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Place all ingredients in a medium pan and bring to a simmer. Use a potato masher to mash blueberries. Turn off heat and allow to cool. You can puree this sauce once it has cooled to make it smooth or serve as is.

Note: This sauce is so good, you can serve it as a dip either plain or on top of a block of cream cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.

This sauce is best on chicken, pork, or salmon (as a finishing glaze).

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No Cook Peach Barbecue Sauce

Makes a small batch

½ cup Kansas City style barbecue sauce

2/3 cup canned peaches in heavy syrup (with about 1 tablespoon of the peach liquid in the cup)

Place peaches in the blender and blend until smooth.

Stir the puree into the barbecue sauce and serve.

This sauce is best with pork or chicken.

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Sweet BBQ Sauce (Similar to Kansas City)

Makes a medium batch (double the recipe for a party)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/3 cup chopped red onion

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¾ cup ketchup

½ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon liquid smoke

In a medium, nonstick pot, heat canola oil over medium heat. When hot, add onions and ground cumin and cook for 5 minutes. Then add remaining ingredients, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so mixture does not stick. Turn off heat and cool before serving.

I personally like to serve this with the bits of onion, but you can put it through the blender if you want a smooth sauce.

This sauce is great with beef, game meats, or chicken.