Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


November 13, 2012

Discover art, history, fine flavors in Wichita


Think about meals in between. Wichita knows about beef. Sterling silver headlines some restaurants; Angus always ready.

Chester’s Chophouse and Wine Bar is where I ordered filet mignon resting in a port wine reduction, blue lump crab and béarnaise sauce cascading over the top.

Another way to think about beef is Old Cowtown. Wichita was just that and now the city and its volunteers support a living history museum just off the old Chisholm Trail— 25 acres showing the history of 1865-1880.

Moving immense herds was local business then, and the living history museum shows change the railroad caused here.

Costumed interpreters stay in character, running printing presses, maintaining the saloon, staging gunfights, offering wagon rides, staffing the mortuary, sometimes offering burlesque and melodramas. Chinese laundry too, veterinarian, carpenter, blacksmith and meat market.

Lunch at Tanya’s Soup Kitchen includes sandwiches. Four soups and eight books of recipe cards.

Tanya’s a San Francisco culinary school graduate who says, “The best part of my day as a chef is always being alone in the kitchen making soup.”

The best part of the day for a retired family physician I met in Wichita is sharing treasures with visitors in his vast Museum of World Treasures.

Dr. Jon Kurdatzke founded the museum. “I’ve been collecting since I was 19,” he says, “on a tour of Egypt, the Holy Land and Europe.”

Look for him when you go; he’ll be smiling, teasing and delighted to talk about dinosaurs or mummies, Roman coins or palace Buddhas, British royalty and American presidents, sea creatures from the western plains or World War II uniforms.

I suspect the Museum of World Treasures reflects modern culture: many ideas at once.

Old Town is the neighborhood where I found World Treasures and more fine food. Enter under a graceful metal arbor from Douglas Avenue.

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