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Photos by Elderslie Farm, Visit Wichita, and Lisa Waterman Gray
Most people can easily find goat’s milk cheese in local grocery stores. But how often do you get to meet the goats who produced that milk and enjoy fine dining within steps of the barn? At Elderslie Farm, in Kechi, Kansas, you can do both. Taking its name from a Scotch term for “where the elders lie,” the farm actually encompasses four businesses operating under the motto “affection, endeavor, delight.”
Photo Credit: Visit Wichita
“We’re sharing affection for this region,” says co-founder George Elder. One of eight children born to a Scotch/German family, he and his sister Alexis founded the farm in 2010 as they planted their first blackberries (Alexis has since moved on). Vegetable crops and woodworks also came early to Elderslie Farm. Beautiful, handcrafted tables that incorporate wood sourced from up to 80 miles away—including live-edge slabs—feature wax and linseed-oil finishes.
The farm’s robust annual blackberry crops thrive with the use of cross-arm trellises that dot the berry field. This arrangement allows the fruit to be isolated to one side of the trellises while growing in consistent soil. “Our you-pick blackberries option typically draws 8,000 pickers each summer,” says George. In a recent year, the blackberry yield was 8,000 pounds. Guests could then purchase two pounds of berries for $16-19.
Outdoor seating at the farm’s gourmet Bramble Café has become especially popular during blackberry season. Executive Chef, co-owner, and George’s wife Katharine Elder comes from a family with a long history of culinary hospitality. She informs the farm’s culinary traditions while overseeing food preparation for the café.
Photo Credit: Lisa Waterman Gray
Menus change every four to six weeks to reflect the agricultural area and showcase its seasonal ingredients. In summertime, you may even get a taste of blackberry lime sorbet. Elderslie Farm offered its first farm-to-table and wine dinners during 2012. As demand grew for year-round dinners, these popular events took over the house that George grew up in. (Check the website for upcoming events, which are limited during the pandemic.)
No trip to Elderslie Farm is complete without a visit to the goat barn and nearby Creamery. Around 2015 to 2016 the family introduced 35 Nubian and Saanen goats to the farm. By late May 2021, the property will house approximately 55 baby goats and their 42 mamas/milking goats. You can expect these affectionate animals to nuzzle offered hands enthusiastically.
Inside the Creamery, sample gorgeous and luscious goat cheeses that may include Caprino Fresco and Cloudydale (from the chevre cheese family), Cloverdale (a bloomy rind cheese), Feta, and Westfork (a Gouda-style cheese). Elderslie Farm has a handy cheese chart on its website that describes each cheese while providing tasting, food pairing, and wine pairing notes.
Cow’s milk cheese lovers will find new favorites here, too, made with milk from Faye Farms cows in nearby Udall, Kansas. There’s also Cottonwood Cheddar, a cow milk cheese from Jason Wiebe in Durham, Kansas.
3501 E 101st Street
Kechi, Kansas 67147
As of mid-April, masking and social distancing are still required when visitors are indoors. The Farm is currently open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Summer hours will begin May 22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Operating for more than 60 years, this family-owned snack outpost offers 100+ varieties of raw and flavored nuts, house-made fudge, and classic sweets such as Butterfinger Minis. Purchase piñatas, Pop Rocks, and 10 pretzel flavors. The Jelly Belly flavor selection is one of the largest that you will find anywhere.
Allow yourself at least an hour to explore every nook and cranny of this iconic store. Open since 1985, it’s packed with dozens of coffee bean choices as well as bulk teas and specialty tea infuser mugs. Check out the massive array of bulk spices too, from extra hot cayenne to Greek oregano and dried cilantro.
Cocoa Dolce has been a chocoholic’s dream destination since 2005. Handcrafted sweets incorporate fine Belgian chocolate from Fair Trade, environmentally-friendly farms. Purchase truffles, alcohol-infused bonbons, and salted caramels, then view the state-of-the-art production facility through large windows inside the Sweet Lounge.
For luxurious downtown stays that are also pet-friendly, spend the night at this renovated vintage hotel, where deep purple accents decorate spacious guestrooms. Gourmet dining and a wonderful wine list await visitors inside Siena Tuscan Steakhouse. Guests can also enjoy low lights, cozy ambience, and classic cocktails in the basement Dockum bar, which resembles a historic speakeasy and is open Thursday through Saturday evenings.
400 West Douglas Avenue
Wichita, KS 67202
During 1922, the Broadview Hotel opened beside the Arkansas River. When the hotel reopened, in 2011, historic touches remained in the grand lobby, from large chandeliers to ornate architectural details. A floor-to-ceiling mosaic mural also remains in the Crystal Ballroom, created by American Indian artist Blackbear Bosin. The renovated property is LEED Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Previously a restaurant cook and a professional baker, as well as a catering and a cooking school assistant, Lisa Waterman Gray has written food-focused stories for dozens of publications for local, national, and international audiences. Based on the Kansas side of the Kansas City area, she loves getting a ‘taste’ of every destination and telling the stories behind those flavors. Learn more at www.lisawatermangray.com.