Camping just got a makeover. No more lumpy sleeping bags on rocky ground or bare bones meals stirred up in a skillet. Now everybody’s glamping, as in glamorous camping, as it’s done at Hoot Owl Hill near Paola, where the idea of tents and a campfire gets a big style refresh. The floral-bedecked tent, outfitted with rugs underfoot and comfy areas for lounging, is embellished with Tibetan prayer flags that flutter in the wind. The campfire is a big fire pit, circled by classic Adirondack chairs stuffed with oversized pillows from Nell Hill’s and camp blankets from The General Store in case the evening turns chilly.
Drink stations on vintage portable camp tables encourage guests to help themselves. Bottles of flavored sodas cool in a scalloped estate-silver trough. On a side table, a smoked-honey whiskey-sour mixer from Season + Square awaits a splash of Kansas City’s own Rieger bourbon for an effortless cocktail.
Moss table runners drape across the picnic table and are topped with acrylic drinkware and Melamine dinnerware. The menu is simple yet sophisticated fare—chicken breasts stuffed with Brie and black-olive tapenade and grilled on-site, plus artisan bread and a haricots verts salad with a mustard vinaigrette.
When the sun goes down and the stars come out, it’s time for that campfire favorite with a glamping twist. Our s’mores have the classic marshmallows and graham crackers, but get a gourmet chocolate bar surprise.
What Our Stylist Pro Knows
Jonathan Bowyer knows a thing or two about making products look good. “You want to do something unexpected but not a total surprise,” he says. The same works for entertaining. His theme here? Color + Camping. No rough-hewn outdoors in varying shades of khaki. Our big tent with a bright floral design is a little unusual, but it was already part of the scenery. Bowyer just played it up with other colors in the same family—brilliant blues, reds and yellows in the camp blanket, grass green for the table runners that function as place mats, and a red-and-white tote. The Tuscan-patterned plates with deep-blue chargers seem like a surprise, too, but they’re lightweight and unbreakable. And according to Bowyer, even a picnic table needs a vibrant centerpiece, like the arrangement from Bergamot & Ivy Design.
Glamping at Hoot Owl Hill
The big floral tent with the Tibetan prayer flags may only be 45 minutes from Kansas City, but it’s worlds away from everyday life. And that’s just the point.
“People unplug, unwind, breathe in the fresh air here,” says Brenda Wrischnik, who owns Hoot Owl Hill with husband Steve. Since their “glamping” destination opened last year, couples, families, yoga enthusiasts, artists, book club members, birthday and wedding party-goers, and an MTV video producer have enjoyed the outdoor ambience. “Glampers” might sip a cocktail around the fire pit, hike the meditation trail, play games or feed the ducks, make s’mores, and then sleep in real beds in bell tents under the open sky. In the morning, there is hot coffee along with homemade breads, then a real breakfast on the porch of the main house.
“Hoot Owl Hill is a place that feeds your soul,” says Brenda.
Brie and Tapenade–Stuffed Chicken Breast
Let this recipe be your blueprint to create variations: French feta and roasted red bell peppers, cheddar cheese and bacon, and chopped green onions and Boursin cheese are all delicious stuffing alternatives. Adapted from BBQ Bistro by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig. Serves 6
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each about 4 to 6 ounces
6 quarter-inch slices Brie cheese
3 tablespoons prepared black-olive tapenade
Sea, kosher, or herbed salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Prepare a medium-hot fire in your grill.
Slit a lengthwise pocket horizontally along the side of each chicken breast and stuff each with one slice of Brie and 1½ teaspoons tapenade. Lightly coat chicken with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Grill the chicken for 6 to 7 minutes per side, turning once, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a breast (but not in the stuffing) registers 160 degrees. Let rest for 5 minutes, and then slice into 1/2-inch-thick slices on the diagonal.
Haricots Verts Salad with Mustard-Shallot Vinaigrette
Haricots verts are those tiny, thin French green beans that start to come on the market in late spring. They are also easy to grow in the garden. These beans should be cooked until just slightly crunchy, and then dressed warm with the vinaigrette. Use a lighter olive oil, not extra-virgin, as you don’t want the olive oil flavor to dominate here. From BBQ Bistro by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig. Serves 4
1 pound haricots verts or young, thin green beans
1tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼cup white wine vinegar
½cup olive oil
Fine kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the beans in a large pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water for 30 seconds to refresh the color but still keep them slightly warm. Let drain for 1 minute, and then transfer to a serving bowl.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk the shallot, mustard and vinegar together in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking to blend. Season with the salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the beans, toss to coat and serve immediately.
Bergamot & Ivy Design
The General Store & Co.
Hoot Owl Hill
J. Rieger & Co.
J’adore Home & Garden
Pryde’s Kitchen & Necessities
Season + Square