The Baldwin City Maple Leaf Festival, plus lots of wine and spirits dinners: KC’s food and drink events for October 15-21

Monday, October 15

The brand-new Waldo Thai Place (8431 Wornall Road) is inviting guests to its very first paired spirits dinner, featuring Old Forester bourbon. For $45, enjoy four courses, three bourbon pairings, and a welcome cocktail (tax and tip not included). It’s as good an opportunity as any to get into this much-buzzed-about new Thai restaurant, which represents a more adventurous and authentic departure from the other KC Thai Place locations. Get your tickets via Eventbrite; cocktails start pouring at 5:30pm.

Tuesday, October 16

Debra Lewis from Vintage 59 imports is hosting an indulgent paired champagne dinner tonight at Bluestem (900 Westport Road). The five-course meal includes a hand-picked selection of French wines paired with courses that include roasted sturgeon with chicken skin and rutabega, seared sweetbreads with beluga lentils and acorn squash, family-style fried chicken with glazed farro and oyster mushrooms, and much more. The dinner is $125 a person, not including tax or gratuity. Call 816-561-1101 or email taylor@bluestemkc.com for reservations.

Another option for a wine dinner tonight is at the Antler Room (2506 Holmes Road). Australian natural wine maker Brash Higgins will be on hand to introduce his selections, which will be paired with chef Nick Goellner’s special creations for the night. The Antler Room was recently named by Bon Appetit as one of the ’15 Most Important Natural Wine Bars in America’ (in addition to being one of the magazine’s 50 Best New Restaurants of 2017), and features like this are part of the reason it received the honor. The meal includes 5 wines, 4 courses, plus dessert from Mulberry & Mott. The meal is $90 (excludes tax and tip). Call 816-605-1967 or email theantlerroom@gmail.com to reserve your spot. 

Port Fonda (4141 Pennsylvania Avenue) is also hosting a paired dinner, in this case featuring Mezcal Vago, made by a small-batch distillery in Oaxaca, Mexico. This one is $65 a person, excluding tax and gratuity. Call 816-216-6462 for reservations. 

Thursday, October 18

Sample the flavors of the Piedmonte region of Italy tonight with Tavernonna’s (106 West 12th Street) ongoing seasonal series “Aperitivo and Aperitifs,” which runs from 4 to 6 p.m. Guests who choose a cocktail from the Aperitivo and Aperitifs menu (which is only available tonight) will also enjoy a complimentary (and generous) plate of bites inspired by the region. On the drink menu tonight: the Delicato, with Cognac, London dry gin, bourbon, and chinato topped with ginger beer; and the Oaxacan Negroni, with Del Maguey VIDA mezcal, London dry gin, chinato and chocolate bitters. To eat: the Pinzimino with Bagna Couda – crudite of vegetables, with anchovy garlic dipping sauce; a Borlengo, a savory crepe with rosemary and prosciutto bianco; and the Insalata di carne cruda – beef tartare with shaved truffles. 

Friday, October 19

The metro area’s largest chili cook-off starts tonight and goes through the weekend. The Lenexa Chili Challenge (Santa Fe and Pflumm Roads) brings together approximately 200 entrants to determine whose chili, cornbread, salsa, and hot wings are deemed the finest. The weekend’s events also include live music, fireworks and, of course, lots of food and drink. More info is available via the city of Lenexa’s website

Saturday, October 20

Head to tiny, picturesque Baldwin City (just south of Lawrence) Saturday and Sunday for the annual Maple Leaf Festival, one of the region’s biggest seasonal festivals. Over 300 vendors, including dozens of food purveyors, line the downtown streets to sell their wares. The event also includes a parade, carnival attractions, a quilt show, live music, and train rides. Find more information on the festival’s website.

Sample food representing five distinct regions of the Philippines at Saturday’s Taste of the Philippines, hosted by the Filipino Association of Greater Kansas City at the Filipino Cultural Center (9810 West 75th Street, Overland Park). Sample each region’s cuisine for $5, or all five regions for $20. Purchase tickets and learn more here.