Image by Mike Hursey
FOOD GLORIA'S FOOD - September 2016 - Kansas City
Ease on Down the Road
When you’re itching to get away, put your boots up and bask in the serenity of a country haven
By Gloria Gale
Mike Hursey knows all about hospitality.
As a gourmet chef, Mike wields his talent with assurance at Casa Somerset where he and his wife, Christine, own a guest retreat.
Nestled in the rolling hills of Paola, Casa Somerset makes the most of its bucolic surroundings. “Because Mike and I love to travel, particularly to Italy, we modeled our bed and breakfast after visiting Casa Caponetti, just north of Rome,” says Christine.
But you don’t have to travel all that far to indulge the senses. Casa Somerset is only 45 minutes from downtown Kansas City.
Christine tends to the front of the house, meeting and greeting guests, and bakes the retreat’s signature focaccia. The back of the house, including a spread of approximately 11 lusciously planted acres, is Mike’s domain.
Here’s where the organic gardens overflow with bushels of organic produce that are almost too pretty to eat.
Mike’s evolution as a chef and host followed an interesting path. “During my first trip to Italy in 1995, I was introduced to Slow Food and its mission to support small producers. Every day we went to the market to buy the freshest ingredients and talk to the small producers. Over the years, I have learned more and more of the importance of having chemical-free food. We believe in using local foods as often as possible to create meals you will long remember,” says Mike.
He proudly rattles off his crops that eventually star in his recipes. “I’m a certified beekeeper with eight beehives, 15 varieties of hardneck garlic, 160 heirloom tomato plants, mint, beds of horseradish and asparagus along with Ark of Taste Lettuces. (The Ark of Taste is an international catalogue of endangered heritage foods maintained by the global Slow Food movement.)”
Amidst all of the goodness, Mike highlights the edibles with 100 peonies and 750 day lilies.
With such a yield, it’s little wonder that Casa Somerset is 24 Carrot certified for sustainable practices by Cultivate KC and the KC Food Circle.
Guests can relax at the end of the day and enjoy the second floor great room with other guests after wine tasting at the local wineries or fishing in the lake. Everyone is welcome to spend time on the wrap-around veranda or take a stroll.
Retire to one of the rustically Tuscan-styled bedrooms each with a garden or vineyard view. If visiting just for the day, be sure to visit nearby wineries, including White Wind Farms (whitewindfarms.com), Somerset Ridge Vineyard (somersetridge.com), and Nighthawk Vineyard (nighthawkwines.com).
16315 W. 287th St., Paola, Kan.
Casa Somerset’s Chocolate Mint Gelato
2 cups of whole milk
1 quart of heavy cream
I cup of fresh mint leaves
1 ½ cups of sugar
10 egg yolks, large
Grated 73% cacao bar or higher
Prepare ice bath with strainer.
Combine milk, cream and half of sugar with mint leaves in a heavy bottom saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat until just starting to steam and bubble around edges. Stir constantly with rubber spatula. Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes.
In metal bowl, whisk yolks, then add remaining sugar and whisk until pale yellow and increased in volume. Don’t put sugar in too soon.
Slowly pour the hot cream/milk into the yolks while whisking. Once fully incorporated, pour mixture back into the pan and place over medium–low heat. Cook while constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a rubber spatula. Once thickened, it should coat the back of a spoon, or read 170F degrees on a thermometer.
Strain into a container and immediately place into an ice bath to prevent further cooking. Once cooled, cover and let rest in refrigerator overnight.
Process in your ice cream freezer according to your manufacturer’s instructions.
Add grated cacao after processed and put back in container and stir until mixed and freeze.
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Kansas City writer, producer, and photostylist Gloria Gale is a sleuth when it comes to discovering interesting features for the media.
As a native she's compiled a burgeoning collection of editorial features on food, travel and lifestyle for national and local magazines, books, individuals, and corporate clients.
Most recently, Gloria profiled area restaurants as a columnist for 435 Magazine and was one of KCUR's Food Critics radio program.
Want to know where to find the best tastes in town? Contact Gloria: firstname.lastname@example.org