Cal-Ann Farms in Basehor, Kansas was the first stop on a recent three day farm tour I took across the state of Kansas. Myself along with a handful of other writers and bloggers were given the chance to visit six Kansas farms over three days and what we saw and learned was amazing. You can read more about the tour here.
This family owned basil farm produces almost all of the fresh Living Basil plants you see in the major grocery store chains in the Kansas City metro.
Jeff and Pam Meyer of Cal-Ann Farms
Jeff and Pam Meyer use hydroponics to grow basil, wheatgrass and few other fresh herbs year around without any pesticides. Hydroponic means no soil so Cal-Ann utilizes peat to keep the plant’s roots contained and moist while the plant still receives all its nutrients from the water.
Cal-Ann is named after Jeff’s parents Calvin and Annette Meyer who originally started Cal-Ann Farms as a dairy.
From seed to delivery to the store takes about 4 1/2 weeks. The basil is hand delivered to most of the major grocery store chains in the area. Cal-Ann Living Basil is the brand I buy so it was such a joy to see where my food comes from and meet the farmers that grow it.
Cal-Ann Farms Basil
Jeff and Pam are absolutely amazing and their love for growing basil shows. The farm is organized, clean and there are many measures in place to keep the herbs safe.
Me photographing some basil
I had a great time on the tour and the basil scent was delightful. I’m also excited for a new fresh pesto product coming soon from Cal-Ann. Jeff and Pam let the cat out of the bag that they have been working on a homemade pesto using their own local basil that will be available in stores by the holidays!
Cal-Ann Farms Basil Pesto
If you have ever made pesto before it is not terribly hard but does take a food processor and sometimes tricky to get the ratios of all the ingredients right making sure the garlic does not overpower the basil. This product will be a great way to have fresh basil pesto year around without any of the work.
From Basehor we made our way to Olsburg, KS where we went to Good Farm.
My husbands job recently relocated us to Wichita from Kansas City and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have the new Whole Foods Market here in Wichita. The store opened just four weeks ago and I think I have been there at least 15 times already.
There is something about the store that is intoxicating.
I love the fresh flower bouquets awaiting as you first walk in the store, the beautiful fresh produce and the handy bulk bins that have just about any dry ingredient you would need. The fresh meats and seafood are amazing. We recently got some cherry chipotle thick cut bacon and it was incredible.
The pre-cut fruits and vegetable make having quick snacks on hand a breeze and of course the deli has all sorts of wonderful pre-made salads, entrees, soups, sushi, pizza and more to make dinner on the go easy!
The bakery is my weakness with the whole wheat sourdough bread, carrot cake and key lime pie being my favorite indulgences. But at the coffee and smoothie bar, I can balance out that key lime pie with the Super Greens Smoothie!
The decor is delightful and uses many reclaimed airplane parts which is a refection of Wichita being the air capitol of the world.
I could go on and on but I am sure you get the picture. There are so many fun things I find there that I am sure this won’t be my last post about Whole Foods.
Don’t be fooled by the “whole paycheck” phenomenon that is associated with it. Most things are reasonably priced and much better quality. If you haven’t been yet it is worth the visit!
If you have something you think makes living finer please contact me.
With over 70 locations in the United Kingdom and Europe and 2 locations in the U.S. in Boston and New York, the British Cocoa Grower and Chocolatier Hotel Chocolat is now launching their USA website.
In celebration of the launch, Hotel Chocolat graciously sent me some samples to try and I must say they were quite a treat. The samples were amazing, which included The Sleekster Everything Collection and Caramel Cheesecakes. The Everything Collection was a delightful array of luxurious chocolates made with bean to bar chocolate and the highest quality of ingredients including whole macadamia nuts, buttery shortbread cookies, rich caramel and more. The Caramel Cheesecakes were creamy and delicious. The elegance and quality of these chocolates made me curious to find out more about this Hotel Chocolat.
Turns out, they are one of the world’s few chocolate makers that actually grow their own cocoa. In addition, they also own a few restaurants and the Hotel Boucan in Saint Lucia, which is now on my bucket list. Who can resist a vacation in a tropical rainforest surrounded by chocolate, not me!
For serious chocolate aficionados you might be interested in the Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club, where you can sign up to have new and different tasting selections sent you every few weeks.
With over 20 years of experience as the UK’s largest online chocolate retailer, those of us in U.S. can now enjoy the luxury chocolates and stylish gifts Hotel Chocolat offers. Visit the Hotel Chocolat website for more information on ordering chocolates or one of the many other ventures Hotlel Chocolat is famous for.
Hedges Family Estates Winery recently hosted a dinner at Tannin Wine Bar and Kitchen. The pairings of the amazing wines and dishes created by chef Brian made for a memorable evening and I will be enjoying both again soon.
Tannin is located in the Crossroads Art District and boast an eclectic wine list. Whether you are a wine novice or expert, Tannin offers wines by the taste, glass or bottle, to satisfy everyone’s palate. Their knowledgeable staff can assist you in selecting the perfect wine to pair with your meal.
Tannin serves both lunch and dinner and the menu boasts a seasonal, contemporary American menu that includes a unique selection of small bites, gourmet sandwiches and eclectic entrees.With the diverse menu offerings, Tannin is the perfect place to go if you are in the mood to share a selection of small plates and a bottle of wine with friends, want a romantic dinner for two or just need a great place for lunch.
Hedges Family Estate, owned by Tom and Ann-Marie Hedges located on Red Mountain, is the largest family-owned winery in Washington State. Tom was born in Richland, Washington, while Anne-Marie was born in Champagne, France. Both of their upbringings have influenced what Hedges Family Estate is today. Read more about the family and winery here.
The dinner featured their signature Red Mountain as well as blends from their Columbia Valley Line.
I have recapped the menu below. Warning it will leave you wanting good wine and good food and Tannin Wine Bar and Kitchen where you can enjoy Hedges Family Estates wine and great food will curb that craving!
Warm Brioche with Cherry and Brie with Independent Producers Chardonnay Dionysus Vineyard, Columbia Valley
Parmesan Encrusted Trout, Frisée Salad, Warm Bacon Vinaigrette with CMS Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley
Black Pepper Seared Beef Carpaccio, Local Micro Greens, Truffle Aioli with Independent Producers “The Bourgeoisie” Merlot Sagemoor Farm, ColumbiaValley
Herb Roasted Squab, Buttered Basmati Rice, Red Beets, Orange Reduction Hedges Family Estate “CMS” Columbia Valley
Slow Braised Spring Lamb, Wild Mushroom and Baby Vegetable Ragout Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain
Chocolate Covered Blackberries
All of the wines and food were phenomenal. I wish to thank Tannin and Hedges for inviting me to this event. I already knew Tannin is a great place to go to and I am now thrilled to have found some new great wines! Hedges Wines are available throughout the metro. Visit the Hedges Family Estates website for additional information on wine including tasting notes and ordering online and more.
Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen
1526 Walnut Street
Kansas City, MO
Chef Mark’s Kitchen hand crafted artisan finishing sauces, seasoning blends and instant sauce mixes are made by one of Kansas City’s most respected chefs, Mark Alan Mollentine.
Chef Mark Alan Mollentine’s interest in cooking started early. He grew up around food. Their yard was graced with fruit trees, berry bushes and always had a small garden with vegetables and herbs. Everything was always hand-made. The food was simple, but extraordinary.
Chef Mark attended culinary school in Dallas, Texas. As a culinary student he was selected by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) as “Outstanding Student” and was invited to the annual conference in San Antonio where he assisted Ms. Julia Child with her activities, including book signings and prepping for a TV Show.
His first professional “chef job” was as an apprentice at a small, private school. One day, this tiny blond girl of 6 or 7 tugged on his pant leg and when he bent down to her she whispered, “Please don’t tell my mom, but I like your food better than hers.”
Once back home in Kansas City, Chef Mark’s experience here has included eight years as a culinary instructor; banquet chef for Hallmark Cards’ family namesake country club, Hallbrook C.C.; executive chef of the prestigious Wynbrick Country Inn in Liberty, MO.,he has also owned a prominent catering business and the historic Governor’s Meeting House Restaurant in Shawnee, KS.
He is currently the private corporate chef for Gear For Sports, a Kansas City-based international corporation; chef for Good Natured Family Farms local-food alliance and he writes a food column “The Chef’s Table” for a Kansas City food magazine. Recently, he helped create the KC Food Artisans association.
He has cooked for major celebrities, renowned political figures, top corporation executives and prestigious university chancellors. He was the chef/caterer for the movie “Ride with The Devil”, where he was chosen to personally chef for the movie’s top talent, Ang Lee, Jewell, Toby Maguire, Skeet Ulrich and others. His own “screen credits” include over 20 live-television cooking segments, a DVD highlighting local holiday foods, appetizers & cooking techniques, and hundreds of private and public “chef cooking demonstrations.”
Proudly, for the past six years, He has been associated with the Kansas City Buy Fresh / Buy Local program, helping to create a better consumer understanding of local, farm-fresh foods. In connection with this venture, he launched his own line of artisan-crafted, All-Natural Sauces, Hand-Selected Seasoning Blends and Instant Sauce Mixes, under the name “Chef Mark Alan.”
The finishing sauces, seasoning blends and sauce mixes are an easy and wonderful way to add flavor to a variety of dishes. They come in some great flavors like roasted red pepper aioli, apricot dijon glaze, lemon rotisserie and sweet and smokey BBQ just to name a few.
Chef Mark’s products are available on-line at www.ChefMarksKitchen.com, at all area Hen House Markets, select Price Choppers and other local retailers. A complete list of all of his products, where to buy them and over 70 recipes are on Chef Mark’s website.
And as always, if you have a great food find in KC you think I am missing Email me
In Good Taste,