Last week i had the extreme pleasure of being hosted by the Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Soybean Commision on a farm tour and lunch at the fabulous Renee Kelly's Harvest restaurant. Renee Kelly's had been on my list of places to go to for over a year now and so i was so excited when i was told we would be dining there after the farm visit. The restaurant is inside a "Caenen Castle" a beautiful building that was build in 1907 and adds a distinct charm to the feeling of the restaurant.
It was a fantastic lunch complete with the chef coming and speaking to us about the food and her philosophy behind the restaurant. Chef Renee is a bubbly, energetic person and to hear her talk about food is a wonderful experience. Every ingredient at Renee Kelly's Harvest is chosen because of superior quality as well as proximity, she only serves items that are locally grown. She has her wait staff go on farm tours to see exactly where the food is coming from so they can speak more knowledgeably to the patrons and she has strong relationships with all of her producers. She even seems to be influencing growers as she is requesting lesser know heirloom type plants to add to her menus.
Because the ingredients of her dishes are fully representative of the season, the menu changes quiet frequently and in the spring and summer months it typically changes every 2 weeks. I love the idea of continually dining at her beautiful establishment and always having new choices to taste. I simply loved everything i put in my mouth, the cheese plate was delicious, the sweet potato fries with their aioli dipping sauce were so tasty and my main course was the rabbit ravioli that was excellent. I had a bite of the meatloaf which was very good as well. It would surprise me to find anything that was less than delicious at Renee Kelly's Harvest. Go ahead and give it a try yourself!
Before we dined we visited Steve and Diane Tuttle's farm in Basehor Kansas. What a kind family to give us a tour of their hard working farm home. When we arrived Steve told our group that after graduation high school he had saved money to go to college and instead bought a tractor and he's still farming today. On the Tuttle's farm they grow hay, corn, soy beans, and wheat and they raise cattle. They also have chickens, goats, bunnies and a miniature pony. Steve loves to farm, he told us that he loves to be outside doing his work even if it is for 14-16 hours a day during certain times of the year.
They have 80 angus cows on the farm and loads of land for them to roam and graze. It was interesting to visit a small family farm, the only farmers are Steve, Diane, his nephew & wife, that raises what i would consider "industrial" crops. I've been reading and interested in food and where it comes from for years now and have always painted a not so great picture of the people growing corn (which in my mind turns into cereal, fruit snacks, and every other packaged product) but to see that industrial agriculture supports small family farmers like the Tuttle's opened my mind a bit.
The Kansas Farm Bureau supports all kinds of farmers from industrial row crops to small vegetable farmers and everyone in between. As i looked back on this experience i realized that there is a place for every type of farmer and food. I wish i could say that i only eat fruits and vegetables but the truth is that i love a good Oreo once in a while and my kids may or may not be addicted to fruit snacks. In my mind its all about balance, i need to balance my family's diet so that we get plenty of essential nutrients from the best sources and not feel guilty because we ate an entire box of graham crackers in one week. :)
The Kansas Farm Bureau and the Soybean Commission partnered to do this bogger tour and i'm so grateful to have been apart of it, it was such a fun day to learn so much from other people and make new friends that are a part of the food community here in Kanas City. One of the most exciting parts of the event was getting home and opening up the massive gift basket that gave me, i mean WOW. Everything in the basket was given by "From The Land of Kansas". My favorite items were the chocolates from Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates and the beautiful cutting board by Spring Creek Creations, but seriously there was SO much amazing stuff in there! And guess what, i have a basket worth over $100 for you!! Just enter below to win :)
I am also excited to announce that i will be a judge at Zest & Zing, an awesome chef vs. chef food competition night that is hosted by the Kansas Farm Bureau, you can visit the site HERE to get tickets, it should be a fun night!