Sunday, February 27, 2011
When you first pull up to the address at 12401 Johnson Drive you may be thinking “Am I still in Shawnee?" By the looks of things you may feel you have just been transported to somewhere in Europe, but the answer is yes, and you have arrived at Renée Kelly’s at Caenen Castle.
Owned by Chef Renée Kelly, Caenen Castle (pronounced Kay-nen) was built in 1907 by a Belgium immigrant named Remigius (Remi) Achille Caenen and served as his home for the next eleven years. After Remi’s death, the castle was sold. Over the years, the building has served as a restaurant, a private residence, a nightclub, and a haunted house.
While most girls growing up think about prom and their wedding date, Kelly spent hers cooking with her mother and was consumed with kitchen utensils and cookbooks or reminiscing about a certain meal, she had eaten.
When it came time for college, Kelly decided she wanted to be a Maxillofacial Surgeon. After a short stint at Texas A&M she realized that was not her calling.
While on a trip to Chicago, Kelly had a meal at Charlie Trotters. The idea of a Prixe Fixe Menu and other aspects the restaurant offered became her inspiration for becoming a chef.
She enrolled in culinary school and graduated at the top her class. Kelly then worked at a country club in Houston and few other places across the country before finally settling back home in Shawnee.
After looking at several venues that she could call her own, Kelly learned the castle was for sale and purchased it in 2003. After some renovations, she officially opened as Renée Kelly’s at Caenen Castle, on July 15, 2004, as private event venue and catering business. The castle celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007 and now is on the Kansas Historic Register.
Renée Kelly’s at Caenen Castle is mostly known as an event venue that can host weddings, rehearsal dinners, showers, corporate events, cocktail parties, meetings and more, also offers off sight catering, cooking classes, special wine dinners, prepared meals available for pick up (must call ahead to order) and other in house events.
The Castle is open to the public on Sundays and Thursdays. Every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. the castle hosts a Sunday Brunch that consists of an ala carte menu, with the exceptions of Easter and Mothers Day, which will offer a Grand Buffet. The buffet prices will be $25 for adults and $15 for children. Reservations are required for parties of eight or larger. Pricing for ala carte brunch entrée’s are $8.95 to $12.99
Every Thursday from April through November, the castle offers “Thursty Thursday” from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. These evenings feature a static menu of small plates, entrees, and drink specials. The menu will vary with the season and entrée pricing will not exceed $14.00.
I have yet to make it to a “Thursty Thursday but have been for brunch and must say it was magnificent. Due to my sweet tooth, my dilemma was either the pancakes or pound cake French toast that is served with fresh berries and whip cream. My son decided on the pound cake French toast, so pancakes it was. Served with breakfast (sweet) potatoes and applewood smoked bacon made the meal complete. It was a great combination to have some salty flavors along with the sweet. As we played musical plates with the family trying the other dishes ordered, we all decided we were treated like royalty at this castle.
The décor is charming and elegant. The original stone walls, wood accents, ornate fireplaces and grand staircase give it a real castle feel. It truly is a perfect venue to host any special occasion.
Kelly used to aspire to be the best chef in America, but has now shifted, and wants to take a more healing approach to food. As a firm believer in healthy eating and using a farm to market approach in her dishes prepared at the castle, Kelly has created the Cinq Meal Plan, which incorporates what she calls the “5 seasons” (spring, summer, late summer, fall, and winter). This plan is designed to eat what Mother Nature provides us and what is in season. Kelly believes your body needs certain foods at certain times noting that your body does not need watermelon in the winter and in late summer is important it fill up on the fresh vegetable to boost your immune system for the upcoming colder months.
This Cync Meal Plan is available for delivery and will provide for you every week with wholesome nutritious food, using local and organic foods when possible. Each week provides 15 meals and two daily snacks and is available in packages from 5 to 12 weeks. There is also specific meal plans to choose from like lean down, endurance athlete, tailored perfection and more. Visit www.blog.weddinginacastle.com/cinq/ to find the plan that is right for you or to learn more.
Kelly also plans to offer cooking classes teaching this style of eating by using farm to market foods.
Whether you are looking for a unique venue for your next event, a magnificent place for brunch an intimate Thursday night, a catering service, a cooking class, prepared and delivered meals or more, Renée Kelly’s at Caenen Castle has it all.
Below is a list of upcoming events open to the public. For reservations and pricing, call 913-631-4100.
March, 10, Thursday Cooking Demo Irish Heritage 11a.m. – 2 p.m. & 6 – 9 p.m. $30.00 per person, plus tax.
March 17, Thursday St. Pat’s Day 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Menu ordering
March 23, Wednesday Wine Dinner, Wines of Spring 6 – 9 p.m. $65.00 per person, plus tax and gratuity.
March 24, Thursday Cooking Demo Gluten Free 11 am – 2 p.m. & 6 – 9 pm $40.00 per person, plus tax.
March 26, Saturday Baby Wellness Noon – 3 p.m. $25 per person
April 2, Saturday Wine Dinner Spring Renaissance 6:30 – 9:30 pm
April 6, Wednesday Bock Beer Tasting 6:30 pm
April 14, Thursday Cooking Demo Princess Party 11 am – 2 pm & 6 – 9 pm
April 21, Thursday Cooking Demo Spring Market 11 am – 2 pm & 6 – 9 pm
April 24, Sunday Easter Brunch 10 am – 2 pm
April 17, Wednesday Administrative Professionals Lunch 11am -1 pm
May 5, Thursty Thursday Cinqo de Mayo 5:30 – 8:30 pm
May 8, Sunday Mother’s Day Brunch 10 am – 2 pm
May 11, Wednesday Cooking Demo Moms & Daughters 6 – 9 pm
May 12, Thursty Thursday 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Mary 18, Wednesday Wine Dinner King of Wines 6 – 9 pm
May 19, Thursty Thursday 5:30 – 8:30 pm
May 25, Wednesday Cooking Demo Gluten Free Desserts 11 am – 2 pm & 6-9 pm
May 26, Thursty Thursday 5:30 – 8:30 pm
For more information visit www.reneekellys.com or www.chefreneekelly.com
Renée Kelly’s at Caenen Castle is located at 12401 Johnson Drive, Shawnee, KS 66216 (913) 631-4100.
If you have a great food find in KC you think I am missing, email me.
In Good Taste,
Monday, February 14, 2011
“Corporate Pizza Sucks” is the first thing I see upon entering Waldo Pizza. It is printed on the back of a t-shirt that is hanging on the wall at the entrance. Then as we make our way in and wait to be seated, I see that is what the servers are wearing.
I was not at all offended by the phrase, as I am one to support locally owned spots as often as possible and often find them better than the chains anyway. The second thing I noticed was the classic aroma of Italian spices that took me back to my childhood and reminded me of the neighborhood pizza place my family went to when I was growing up.
Waldo Pizza has been featured on The Food Networks “Best Of” series and has been a favorite neighborhood spot since it opened its first location in the Waldo area in 1987. The Lee’s Summit location opened in 2003, which is where I was.
As this was my first visit to Waldo Pizza, I was really looking forward to it. It was lunchtime on a Tuesday afternoon and I was surprised at how busy it was. I took that as a good sign and was even more eager to try their offerings. There was not much of a wait and once seated I realize the lunch buffet is what draws in the crowd. Served Monday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. , the lunch buffet consists of all you can eat pizza, pasta and salad for only $6.99. It is the perfect opportunity to try the different styles of pizza
Waldo Pizza offers four different types of crusts, traditional hand-tossed, St. Louis style thin, hand-tossed honey wheat and even a gluten and dairy free. The topping choices at Waldo Pizza include all the traditional ingredients you would expect along with some unique choices like almonds, grilled salmon and roasted potatoes. Those are definitely not your everyday pizza toppings.
The buffet looked great, but the menu was intriguing too with all the topping choices. I love to make pizza at home and always use ingredients I think might pair well together. We opted to order off the menu as I was with my daughter who had brought along a friend who only likes cheese pizza. My daughter will eat almost anything and loves the crazy pizza combination's I make at home, so we thought it would be fun to create our own.
The Tuesday special is buy one pizza get the second at half-price, so it worked out perfect to get one pizza with half cheese, half pepperoni and the other one we topped with goat cheese, roasted chicken and spinach. We chose the 12” size with the thin St. Louis style crust.
Both pizzas were great. The crust was thin and the edges were crispy. The goat cheese, roasted chicken, and spinach pizza would be a combination I would put together at home and was delicious! The pepperoni and cheese was great too.
The atmosphere at Waldo Pizza is family friendly with trivia cards on the table, a game room, and unique light fixtures that are made out of their pizza pans.
Waldo Pizza offers a variety of pizzas, pastas, salads, and sandwiches. You can also try the “Rich Man” special that is one large combo pizza served with a bottle of Dom Perignon for only $249.95 or the “Poor Man” special that is one small cheese pizza served with a can of beer (no glass) $7.95.
Waldo Pizza also has a variety of desserts including carrot cake, fresh baked cookies, cupcakes, cobbler and more. In addition to that are gluten free cookies and vegan cupcakes, which I have heard are amazing.
With great specials and variety of menu choices including all of the gluten and dairy free items, makes Waldo Pizza a great choice for dining with a large group or if are with someone that has any special dietary needs.
Waldo Pizza gets an A+ in my book for the all the unique toppings offered, the gluten free and specialty items, being locally owned and of course delicious.
Waldo Pizza’s prices range from $7.95 - $23.50, depending on size and number of toppings and offer dine in, carryout and delivery. They also offer catering and have space available for private parties.
For more information visit Waldo Pizza's website.
Waldo Pizza Locations:
Lee’s Summit: Rolling Meadows Shopping Center at 1543 N.E. Douglas Road, Lee’s Summit, MO 64086. 816-875-2121.
Kansas City: 7433 Broadway St, Kansas City, MO 64114 816-875-2121.
If you have a great food find in Kansas City you think I am missing, email me.
In Good Taste,
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Tucked away just east of Noland Road on 40 highway in Kansas City, but very close to Independence, Lee's Summit and Blue Springs you will find DiCarlo’s Mustard Seed Mexican-Americana Restaurant and Bar.
The building that houses DiCarlo’s Mustard Seed Mexican-Americana Restaurant and Bar has been around for over twenty years. It is mostly known for being The Mustard Seed Restaurant & Bar, which opened its doors in 1985 and established itself as an excellent restaurant and bar that served the greater Kansas City area. Customers would come from all corners of the state to eat, drink and dance. The Mustard Seed soon established itself as one of the best night clubs in the city.
For the past three years it has been DiCarlo's Mustard Seed Mexican-Americana Restaurant and Bar and if you grew up East of the city like me, you may be so used to the Mustard Seed building being there that you drive right by.
Earlier this fall I was at an event where Dicarlo's had samples of their salsa. I tried the Smokee Sweet and it was love at first bite! I bought 2 bottles right then. The Smokee Sweet Salsa is amazing. It tastes just as it sounds. The chipotle peppers in the sauce add a wonderful smoky hint along with a little spice but then is toned down with a little sweetness. DiCarlo's salsa flavors include Hot, Mild, Smokee Sweet and a Mexican Marinara which are available for purchase at some local grocery stores around the metro and also at the restaurant.
After my salsa purchase, I had the chance to meet the owner's daughter Mimi. As we chatted I could see that she was passionate about the restaurant and really cared about the food and ingredients used in their dishes. I thought if the salsas were this good, and the owners are that passionate, I would love to try their other offerings. I also overheard a couple of by standers rave about their Swiss Enchiladas, so I decided I had better add DiCarlo's to my list.
Lucky for us Steve and I just happened to be out and about the other day and craving Mexican. We both love Mexican food! I suggested we try DiCarlo’s.
As I mentioned earlier if you live or grew up east of the city you may be so used to the Mustard Seed building being there that you drive right by and I am guilty as charged! But now I am here to tell you to STOP!!! It was great!
Since I have been there three times in the last three weeks! I decided I better get busy and let you know what you are missing! The food at DiCarlo’s is created from scratch with only high quality and fresh ingredients. The sauces and salsas are all house made. You can truly taste the difference.
My first visit was for dinner and it was just Steve and I. I had the Enchilada Trio. With a red sauce that had just the right amount of heat, the melted (real) cheese, and the soft corn tortillas, it was a perfect version of the classic enchilada. Steve is a burrito person and had Mr. D’s Burrito. A classic burrito filled with ground beef and topped in chile verde sauce and a house cheese blend. We also split a half order of Fredricko’s Nachos for an appetizer.
When the nachos came out were amazed at the size of a “half order.” The plate was piled with chips and topped with beans, ground beef, cheese, bacon, lettuce, black olives, diced tomatoes, jalapenos, and a scoop of sour cream and guacamole. It was huge and we really should have stopped there but as you read above, we did not.
As we ate, Mimi whom I had met earlier, came over to say hello and introduced us to her mother, Mary DiCarlo. Mary was as delightful as Mimi and we had a great conversation! I love meeting the owners of locally owned places and seeing the passion they have for their business.
On the second visit, we were with some friends which made a party of four. We had just attended a school play and decided we needed Margarita’s and Nachos. On this occasion, we ordered the full order of Fredricko’s Nachos and still had a few leftover. This is a great dish to order if you are there with a group! The plate is huge!
My third visit was for lunch with a girlfriend. This time I ordered the Poblano Chicken Enchiladas. As expected, it was another great meal.
DiCarlo’s is a great late night hang out. Open until 3:00 a.m. DiCarlo’s still has that night club atmosphere starting around 9:00 p.m. The building is divided and with a dining area on one side and a bar on the other. The dining area is light with an Aztec style décor, the bar side has some high top seating and area for dancing which leads to a great patio outside. There is also an area that can be used to host a birthday party or a get together.
In Addition to all the Mexican dishes, DiCarlo's offers American favorites as well including steaks, pastas, salads, salmon and more. Take a second look at the Mustard Seed grab a friend and enjoy a great meal. Make sure and tell them I sent you!
DiCarlo’s Mustard Seed Restaurant
15015 East US Hwy. 40
Kansas City, MO 64136
In Good Taste,