Fill Your Mug with KMUW

KMUW is turning 65 and is celebrating with cake and gelato.

The public radio station will celebrate its birthday with the seventh annual Fill Your Mug event, which will be put on from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Eaton Venue, 517 E. Douglas.

Attendees should bring their KMUW mugs for a free gelato from Caffe Moderne and birthday cake made by Wichita Cake Creations. Those who don’t have mugs can make a pledge to KMUW at the event and get one.

The event also will include live music from folk group Elliot Road.


Wichita bars, restaurants share summer cocktail recipes

For our Perfect Summer section, I was assigned to try and persuade a few local bars and restaurants to share recipes for favorite summer cocktails. That was an assignment I happily accepted.

Melad Stephan, who owns Sabor, Caffe Moderne and Oeno in Old Town Square, gave me the secret to Sabor’s sangria and mango mojito.

Emma Russell at Mort’s shared the recipe for a Golden Mean martini.

And Brooke Russell at Public at the Brickyard not only shared two drink recipes, including one for a very delicious concoction called Gordon’s Cup, but she also agreed to star in a how-to video, which you will see above. I sampled the Gordon’s Cup, and it was refreshing, potent and completely summer-rific.

You can find all those recipes here.

If you burn through this list of cocktails, you could move on to the list of cocktail recipes I got last summer, including one from Taste & See, the Monarch and Heroes.

Melad Stephan buys Caffe Moderne, puts Hopping Pita on hold

The Hopping Pita is closed for now. Future: Uncertain.

Melad Stephan’s Empire Restaurant Management group is in flux at the moment as he tries to prioritize the needs at his various businesses, he said.

About 10 days ago, he said, he finalized a deal to completely buy out Janet and Grant Rine, the founders of Caffe Moderne at 300 N. Mead. Stephan partnered with them in June of 2011 and has been running the restaurant ever since. Now that it’s all his, he’s going to start using its kitchen for his Empire catering business and stop using the one at Revolution Rock Bar.

Another change: He’s put the Hopping Pita, a food truck he started with chef Roni Attari in April, on hold. He wants a bigger, more efficient truck, he said, and he’s put his original truck on Craigslist, asking for $20,000 or the best offer he can get.

He’s also not sure if Attari is still planning to work for him. The chef was interviewing for another job, he said, and he hasn’t heard what the outcome was. (I’ve left two messages for Attari but haven’t heard back.)

Stephan says he plans to reopen the Hopping Pita eventually but that it’s not at the top of his priority list right now.

“I’m so busy, I don’t know which direction I’m going these days,” he said.

As for Caffe Moderne, Stephan said he plans to keep the name and the concept the same. He may eventually get a new sign and plans to add new menu items for fall.

Stephan also owns Sabor and Oeno Wine Bar in Old Town Square. He closed his fine dining Italian restaurant, Luca Italian Kitchen, in August.

Stay tuned for updates on the fate of The Hopping Pita.

Free gelato for mug owners on Friday

If you’re out tromping around with the Final Friday crowds tomorrow, you can find some creamy, cold relief at Anna Murdoc’s Cafe.

The downtown coffee shop will be the site of   KMUW’s sixth annual Fill Your Mug event. Caffe Moderne, the creators of the best peanut butter/chocolate gelato I’ve ever tasted, is providing the gelato for

It lasts from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Anna Murdoc’s, 209 E. William, and will offer a cupful of gelato to people who bring their KMUW mugs to the event.

Those who don’t have mugs can get a cup at the event, which also will feature music from Raging Sea and Aaron Newton.

Admission is free.

Eat a pig, have a beer, meet a chef

November, the most delicious month of the year, is starting off deliciously with several interesting dining events.

I love the logo Oeno Wine Bar, 330 N. Mead, came up with for its Pig Out Swine & Wine dinner, scheduled for 7 p.m Saturday.  will feature all the best parts of the big, including a pig ear salad, crisp pork belly and bacon and maple gelato. It costs $35 a person, a three of the courses will be paired with wine. It starts at 7 p.m. For reservations and information, call 316-440-5000.

A few days later, Oeno’s sister restaurant — Caffe Moderne, which sits across the plaza at 300 N. Mead, is putting on a Tallgrass Beer Dinner featuring beer from Tallgrass Brewing Company. It’s $35 a person and starts at 7 p.m. Thursday For information, and reservations, call 316-260-1199.

Chef Aaron Whitcomb during his last class at Cooking at Bonnie’s Place

Also, I’d recommend the Nov. 15 cooking class being put on at Cooking At Bonnie’s Place,  9747 E. 21st St., by Chef Aaron Whitcomb of Denver, who is the executive chef for Newport Grill. I attended his last class this summer so I could write a story, and I learned tips from him I still use today. Plus, the food was delicious.

This one will start at  6:30 p.m., and attendees get to see Whitcomb prepare a meal and then sample it for themselves. They also get the recipes. He’ll post the menu soon. Admission is $55 a person. Make reservations at

Nine restaurants shared recipes for “official” Wichita cookbook

If you’ve lived in Wichita for very long, you’ve either sampled or cooked a recipe from the Junior League’s popular and well-circulated 1995 cookbook, “Women of Great Taste. It has a picture of the Mona Lisa spearing a tomato with a fork on the cover and many very good recipes inside.

Now, the Junior League has a new cookbook out. It’s called “Pinches & Dashes: Recipes & Life Measures” and includes recipes for everything from special-occasion dinners to fast weeknight meals.

The formerly most popular Wichita cookbook

It also includes recipes provided by nine local restaurants: Caffe Moderne, Chester’s Chophouse, Freddy’s Frozen Custard, Newport Grill, Luca Italian Kitchen, River City Brewery, Sabor, Watermark Books & Café and YaYa’s EuroBistro.

The book is $28.95 and is available at places such as Watermark Books and The Plaid Giraffe or online at Proceeds will go toward organizations that combat child abuse.

And get this — Mayor Carl Brewer has named the book the official cookbook of Wichita. This is a relief to me because I have always wondered what our city’s official cookbook was.

Exciting dining addition to Riverfest

Sometimes, the Wichita River Festival wears me out. (I’ve only been covering it for 13 years, ya know.)

But one thing I always love about the festival is the food (which I’ve been reviewing for 13 years, ya know.) I’ve come to love some of the annual offerings, and each year I can’t wait for my Tad’s Bodacious Burrito or tray full of deep fried dill pickle spears (with dipping sauce.)

This year, the festival is offering a new type of food court that could be very cool. The Waterwalk Pavilion will be set up nightly on the lawn near the Hyatt fountains. Under a huge tent, a local restaurant will sell food, and nearby, a local band will perform. Adult beverages will be served, and a new rule allows partakers to walk with their drinks in hand along the river.

The festival is trying to attract a young professional crowd with the new event, and if I count as a young professional, their efforts are probably going to work on me. Following is the schedule festival president Janet Wright sent me. They’re still trying to find a few restaurants to fill in on certain nights, but I plan to be there for sure on June 9 and June 11.

Saturday, June 4

6 – 9:30 p.m. – Grateful Not to Be Dead
6 – 8 p.m. – Carlos O’Kelley’s Mexican Café
Chicken Burrito Wrap with Beans, Chips & Salsa, $10
Chili Con Queso with Chips & Salsa, $10
Carlos Nachos Supreme, $7

Sunday, June 5

6 p.m. – Rachelle Coba Band
6 – 8 p.m. – BBQ from the world-famous Wichita Wagonmasters grill
BBQ Brisket Sandwich, Cole Slaw & Baked Beans, $8
BBQ Brisket Sandwich, Brat, Cole Slaw & Baked Beans, $10

Monday, June 6

7:30-8:45 pm – Flatland String Band
Restaurant TBA

Tuesday, June 7

7:30-8:45 pm – Walnut River String Band
6 – 8 p.m. – Truffles
Choice of meatball sub or chicken parmigiana sub, pasta salad, chips, cookies, $7
Choice of pasta Caesar salad, garlic bread, roasted potatoes with vegetables, brownies $10

Wednesday, June 8

7:15-8:45 pm – Swing Daddies
6 – 8 p.m. – Caffe Moderne
Chicken Veggie Wrap with salad, chips & cookie, $10
Southwest Veggie Wrap with salad, chips & cookie, $10

Thursday, June 9

6-8:45 pm – Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band
6 – 8 p.m. – Hyatt Harvest Kitchen & Bar
Choice of dirty or white rice, chicken and Andouille sausage
jambalaya, crawfish & pepperjack cornbread, $8

Friday, June 10

6-9:30 pm – Mumblin’ Jones
6 – 8 p.m. – Toni D’s
Beef & pulled pork sliders, $10
Vegetarian sliders, $10
Both served with potato chips, choice of potato salad or
Italian pasta salad & homemade cookie

Saturday, June 11
4:30-6:30 pm – Smugglin’ Yo-Yos
7:00-9:45 pm – Ten Day Wish
Restaurant TBA


Pepsi Products                     $3 or 2/$5.00

Budweiser                                          $4.00

Craft Beer                                          $4.00

Wine & Specialty Drinks            $5.00

Art while you eat

A very...melony mural adorns a wall at Copper Oven.

A very...melony mural adorns a wall at Copper Oven.

I’ve ingested many a skillet with eggs over-easy while staring, eyebrows furrowed, at the very curious watermelon mural that adorns the back wall of Copper Oven, a delicious and popular eatery at 2409 W. 13th St. What exactly is going on in this eye catching art work? It almost seems as though a father and son are patiently waiting for a crowd of sliced melons to break into dance on the disco floor.

Restaurant owners love decorating with murals, and Wichita has lots of them. Artist Steve Murillo’s colorful murals can be found on the walls at Larkspur, River City Brewery and Caffe Moderne. I’ve always loved the calming blue sky/cloud mural on the ceiling at Abuelo’s. And many Mexican restaurants in town have conquistador murals (of varying quality) to be enjoyed and studied over margaritas.

What’s your favorite Wichita restaurant mural?

*UPDATE* Reader Pat Handley alerted me to the fact that the watermelons in this mural are from “Sandias Con Leyenda: Viva la Vida” a painting by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. He also points out that the man in the painting looks like Diego Rivera, Kahlo’s husband. So much for the melon disco theory…