Caliente Closed

My favorite spot in KC is now closed. The wife and I noticed that they were closed last time we were at the legends, but we hoped it was only a temporary thing. I loved Caliente because it had excellent food and you could dance to good music by resident DJ Jalapeno, who happens to be someone I actually know. I did get the feeling that the place was not being wisely managed because the bartenders were on the rude side. That told me that management was never really around to control or take care of that.

Here is the information I found thanks to the Kansas City Star:

Now the new CalienteCuban Restaurant is in trouble.

Legends of KC, the legal name of the Legends at Village West complex at Interstate 435 and State Avenue in Kansas City, Kan., has sued the Caliente Legends company, plus Kerry Duffin, Herman Duffin, Darin Duffin, Peter Castillo and Thomas Gray, in Wyandotte County

The Legends says Caliente, which opened July 25, has not paid rent since July 22, the commencement date of the lease.

On Nov. 14 the Legends told Caliente to leave if rents weren’t paid by Nov. 17. Caliente has refused, according to the lawsuit, and the Legends puts its damages at $99,975 as of Nov. 14, with costs and damages accruing. It also is asking for legal expenses.

Kerry Duffin referred calls to his attorney, who did not return phone calls.

Caliente has other legal troubles. Numerous liens have been filed against the company. The lawsuit mentions several: Arrowhead Drywall Supplies for $13,271 (but Arrowhead said it received $4,000 of that this summer); American Fire Sprinkler Corp. for $30,314; Desco Coatings Inc. for $7,784; and DMA Electric Inc. for $124,793.

According to the Legends, the restaurant’s last operating date was Dec. 6. Customers concerned about holiday parties scheduled at the restaurant and who cannot reach Caliente management can call Legends management at 913-788-3700.

It is a shame the place closed, but I could almost see it coming. That area of the legends already has enough restaurants, and with two other Spanish places opening right next door it was going to spell tough competition. The sad part is that most people never realized what being a Cuban restaurant meant and kept on trying to get chips and salsa. I guess I am going to have to find another place to get some good “ropa vieja” sandwiches at and where to get my salsa on… but it will probably not be in the same building. Their my space says that they are coming to KCMO, but that remains to be seen.

Ice, Ice and more Ice

I am not sure what is wrong with KC. The current ice storm is not as bad as it was in OK and not nearly as bad as I have seen in Chicago and Michigan. Sure it is dangerous out on the road, but not any worse than when there is black ice… why are people freaking out?

Be careful, if you don’t have to drive to work don’t but just use common sense if you have to.

Test the stopping power of your car in a parking lot or without anyone in front of you so you can judge your stopping distance. The adjust your driving to that. Be very careful of those around you, stay in the slow late and let the SUV people with their false sense of indestructibility pass you by.

Make sure you have plenty of gas, stop and go traffic will consume a lot more fuel than your normal commute.

Warm up your car and do not drive with your car half cleaned off. It is amazing how many people just create little portholes out of their windows and figure they have good visibility.

Make sure you have flashlights or candles available and you know where to find them. Candles without matches are not good source of light.

A good book is not a bad form of entertainment if the lights go out, and reading one by candle light once a year is not going to destroy your eyesight.

Use common sense if you have to drive and make sure you are prepared. Don’t panic is just winter weather.

Take the mask off

Last night I got to see Blue Man Group for the second time in my life. Even thought this one was more rock concert than theater it was still an excellent time. I also got to share it with people that had never seen it before and they seemed to enjoy it. I love the sense of collaboration that Blue Man Group put into their show, they make their band and audience a part of the whole show. Even though they did not use the screen text as much as in the theater show they still had inside jokes for those people paying attention.

It was my first time experiencing Mike Relm. If you have ever seen Office Space, you need to check out the you tube of the “O” face by him, its a freaking riot. He kind of opened the show for Blue Man, but also came back during one of the songs.

Blue Man’s message is a simple one, its called “Follow Your Bliss.” Here is a little background

BILL MOYERS: “Do you ever have the sense of… being helped by hidden hands?”

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: “All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

While you digest Campbell’s response think of why I really think that Blue Man Group is a show that attempts to change the way you think. On an interview with the creators they mentioned how kids always get to draw and color, but as we grow up only some people get to use that form of expression. Furthermore, I think that many of us cut our creative outlets and put them aside to fit our money making skills in the forefront. Not many people make a conscious effort to come home every night and start drawing, painting or writing music or poetry. Even a lesser number I think come home every night to connect spiritually with their family, God, earth or whatever is they believe on.

For so long I have tried to make friends with people that did not deserve that title. I have talked about a couple of the people that I lost as friends in the past, that at the time seemed to create emotional void. Since moving to KC I have found a new way to make friends and inadvertently it involved following my bliss. I have really embraced my inner philosopher and made a great friend with Tom who truly has changed my way of thinking in many ways, I embraced my inner anime fan and met Biancka, Scott and Tim whom I have had some of the coolest times enjoying that hobbie, I embraced my inner sport fan and met Corey and I am now even playing in a soccer league.

In the past I had tried so hard to make friends with people that I encountered but really had nothing in common with me. I thought that my desire to establish a relationship would be enough, but in reality that is something that only goes as far as I am willing to work on it. I think that to make true friendships we have to take off our mask and show our real emotions. Of all the people I have met in my life, those that I still keep in contact with are the ones that had the chance to know the real me without the mask.

We all put a mask to go into work every single day, we have to be professionals that adhere to a series of norms. Once we leave that environment it is very simple to still think on those terms and simply put another mask on to interact on the next situation. I think it is time for everyone to follow our bliss and start living the life we are supposed to live.

I think blogs are doing just that, helping us all take off our masks. While many might think that the face behind the blog is just another mask we put on, I believe this form of expression in many ways can be considered one of the closest thing we can come to show one of our true faces. Even the most serious pundit is still expressing something inside their inner persona, even when created they are sharing that imaginary friend with potentially millions of people. Even this weird post right now that seems to be going nowhere is going to be read and maybe touch someone, I believe that is true power.

In the end all that Blue Man Group try to do is to connect with their audience and hope that in the outside they also do the same. While my message is a little more specific as in, connect but with the right people, it is still one of love. I think that we have a limited time on this earth and we should spend it with the people that are worthy of it. Hopefully this post made you think, so please comment and let me know.

Garth @ The Sprint Center

Garth

My first time at the Sprint Center came with a lot of expectation. I have read a lot about the place and have been wanting to visit it since I first moved to KC and saw the structure being built. I am not the biggest country music fan, in fact I kind of dislike most of it, but last night I became a total cowboy wannabe. Garth Brooks is a great entertainer and he puts on a great show. So lets see how the Sprint Center did.

Parking

I heard a lot about parking for an event at the Sprint Center from the local media and I am sorry to say they are all wrong. If you park close to the event you are going to be stuck on traffic for a while, I knew that just from going to big events before. We decided to go for drinks at Vivaces first and meet the couple that was going with us to the concert. We then drove only one car a little closer to the arena and found parking right away. We went into a parking garage that was advertising 5 dollar parking only 5 blocks away. It was a beautiful night and 5 blocks is not a long walk. This also helped tons getting out because there was no opportunity for build up of traffic and since we were not going towards the highway like everyone else that simplified things. We were back home in less than 30 minutes.

The Arena

Even though I was impressed with the size from the outside of the arena, I was not too impressed when I was inside. It is more of a sports arena than for concerts, I really hope they get a team or it would really be a waste. We are lucky enough to have a private box at the center thanks to my boss, but if I had to buy tickets I think the best seat in the place for a concert is actually behind the stage. Those seats are at the best viewing angle for sure. The acoustics of the place seemed fine to me, I am not an expert on the subject but I heard every note.

The Crowd

Yes, I have to rub it in a little more. Going in as a VIP is the way to go. No line to get in for us, but general admission an hour before the show it wrapped around the block but it seemed to flow. Everyone seemed to have a great time and the noise level was amazing when Garth came out to play, compared to the cheers when his wife started the night. The people that worked inside all seemed to be very nice and attentive, the best thing to get food wise is in the Quick Trip inside the arena. The Founders private bar was not anything too special and I believe the prices of the food in there are the same as everywhere else.

The Show

Garth’s wife sang a couple of good songs that I actually recognized, one was a cover of “How do I live without you” and the other one was “American Girl.” She did a very short set and I think did an excellent job. I did not like that there was a big pause between her show and Garth’s I kind of felt like she should have warmed up the crowd and then led right into him singing.

Garth is an amazing entertainer. He works the crowd like nobody else I have seen live. He truly wants to make you a cowboy for the night and take you on a ride. I did wear the belt buckle that Travis gave me, so I had at least one piece of Country attire. His songs are pretty timeless and even for a non country fan I seemed to know a lot of them. Even though he did a long set it seemed to go by way too fast.

The Verdict

The Sprint Center is one of the best arenas I have been to. It seemed like it was very well organized and if you are willing to walk some blocks you can park pretty cheap. As long as the scalpers do not ruin the chance to get tickets I believe that this arena will become one of the best places in the country to go see a show. Go take a look at the pictures at my wife’s flickr.

Best Food in KC

Everyone loves comfort food, warm handmade tortillas, cornmeal, sweet potato. My comfort foot favorite meal is called Bandeja Paisa. This dish coming from the mountains of Colombia like our coffee is a common theme on most authentic restaurants all over this country. I have had it in Chicago and Miami and now the best on can be had right here in KC.

Downtown Kansas City, Kansas there is a little Colombian restaurant called El Rincon Colombiano. It was were I had my first meal as a Kansas City resident and I still have the friends I made that first day… actually thanks to them I have met many more. The restaurant has been newly renovated under a new owner. He was actually somewhat of the star of the piece the Pitch wrote some years back.

The Bandeja Paisa is the equivalent of what many Americans think of when they see a plate with turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce and stuffing. While in the US we only get that dish combination once a year, imagine getting that kind of comfort food every time you go to a restaurant in a distant land.

Aldemar who was the waiter mentioned in the 2005 pitch review of the restaurant, greeted us now wearing the hat of owner operator. In the kitchen there was now a new cook and I was exited but cautious with my expectations. This is the only Colombian restaurant here and if they changed things too much I was going to be disappointed. To my surprise, the Bandeja Paisa was the best one I have had since I was probably back in Colombia.

There was enough meat on my plate to induce a food coma, I kind of feel like I am still recuperating from the meat intake. My only complaint about the place before was that the steak always lacked a little bit of juiciness, and I would ask to get my bandeja with pork instead of beef. This time I actually got a bandeja and none of the things that make it up needed to be substituted. Every single piece was delicious.

A bandeja paisa is composed of rice an beans as a base, the red beans are cooked with Colombian flavor and rice that is plain white but has a flavor that is hard to describe. The meal than start climbing in calories and mouth watered with the delicious arepa , fried plantain and avocado. However the star of the meal is all the protein, a fried egg, a nice and crispy chicharron, a very lean piece of steak and a Colombian sausage. To round the meal up you can order a tropical fruit juice.

This not a meal for the calorie counter but for one that wants to try a little taste of Colombia. I can tell you that you will not regret trying this meal. I seriously think that the 10-15 bucks you spend at this little place will give you a better meal than any of the big fancy chains all over the city. If you are ever downtown KCK, go down a couple of blocks south on Minnesota on 6th street and you will find one of KC’s hidden great eateries.

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