Monday, October 08, 2007

Sunflowers and Steaks

The 2007 Kansas Book Festival was held Oct. 5 to Oct. 6 at Koch Arena on the campus of Wichita State University. I spent much of my childhood in Kansas and am a graduate of the journalism school at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. See my full report on the festival at Cynsations.

GLS and I decided to drive, taking I-35 most of the way to and from Wichita. Fortunately, game traffic on the way home was lighter than we anticipated.

We left before dawn, taking with us 3,000 stamps and Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006) cover art postcards. I applied just fewer than 2,500 stamps to cards while on the road. (You'll be pleased to know that GLS was the one driving).

One of the challenges of marketing a holiday picture book is the short window. Oddly, no one wants to buy a Christmas book in January or July. In addition, reviews often follow the release of the book by some time. So, now that the window is open again, we've decided to send postcards featuring quotes from three of our favorite reviews. We'll be labeling this week.

I don't remember the last time I was as charmed by lodging as at the Hotel at Old Town (virtual tour), which is in the historic district. The building is the much-renovated Keen Kutter warehouse, the largest warehouse in the world in 1906. Each suite has a fully-equipped kitchen with a full-size refrigerator with ice maker, microwave, range, dishwasher, coffee maker, dining and cooking utensils. The hotel also features a top-notch piano bar and cupboard, featuring 25¢ soft drinks along with frozen meals, vending items and snacks, all modestly priced. It works on an honor system, too. Very trusting and open-hearted and, well, Kansas.

We had a lovely dinner at the highly recommended Larkspur Bar and Grill with KWH and Her Majesty KLP. Our table began by splitting the pâte, cheese and fruit platter--"a plate of in-season fruit, a medley of cheeses and soft pâte served with a variety of crackers"--and then I had the chicken pistachio ("topped with cream cheese sauce and pistachios") served with the metro salad ("fresh seasonal mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, topped with roasted almonds and bleu cheese crumble") and mashed red-skin potatoes.

The following evening, after the festival, we dined at the Martini Steakhouse, located in the historic depot. We began by splitting artichoke dip, and then I had the ostrich (medium rare) steak with rice pilaf and green-and-white beans. GLS of course took full advantage of being in beef country, not that we don't spend much of our time along what was once the cattle trail.