Food, to the extent that we all eat it, is society’s great unifier.
We’ve been breaking bread and chowing down together for eons because, let’s face it – food is the most common ground we share in this global kitchen.
Even before there were melting-pot metaphors and Michelin stars, before haute cuisine and Paula Deen, before South Beach fads and fast-food ads, food was feeding our souls and shaping our identities.
Food evokes complex emotions in part because of its simple utility – it keeps us alive – but also because of the flavorful force with which it girds our senses. It is baked into our nostalgia in such a way that a wayward smell drifting from a baker’s storefront can whisk us away to a distant memory.
It’s because of food’s indelible inscriptions that a walk-in pantry can serve as a portal through time, the distressed shelves buckling under a familiar array of jarred goods.
Food sends us cartwheeling through time. It transports us to grandpa’s La-Z-Boy after a creamy, coma-inducing helping of grandma’s mac-and-cheese. Food empowers us to revisit a bustling al fresco market from a long-ago European backpacking trip, or sidle up to a hot dog stand at Union Station, noshing with joyous abandon while dashing for the 5 o’clock train, oblivious to the relish drippings on our necktie.
From food we can divine the musky depths of a root cellar, the glassy cool of a jam jar pressed against our hand, or the tactile appeal of a winter squash’s armadillo skin.
The rattle of a spice cabinet. The snap of a cupboard door. The sizzle of a skillet.
Because of food, recipes are scribbled on scraps of paper so sauce-spattered and sacrosanct they plat a family’s crest. Cast iron cookware is treated with the same tenderness as a holy vessel. Cutlery is whetted with such care and precision that it renders garlic slices to ghost-like transparency. Aprons bear stain-festooned patterns whose florets read like the best lines of a love letter.
No matter our faculty for flavor, food is part of our collective consciousness.
And while the Flathead Valley might not be the provenance of your own personal food journey, it offers a surfeit of sensory experiences to take you back in time and heighten your purchase in the present.
Here again is the Flathead Beacon’s annual “Food Issue,” showcasing the region’s marquee meals, sumptuous spirits, revered restaurants, best breakfasts, and more.
Let this serve as a snapshot of Northwest Montana’s offerings, a quickening to whet your appetite, arouse your senses and open your eyes to the Flathead’s first-rate fetes.
Bon appetit from the Beacon!
An Enduring Legacy at Moose’s Saloon
After nearly 60 years, a celebrated Kalispell restaurant still offers signature scratch-made pizzas, frosted beer mugs and sawdust-littered floors
By Tristan Scott
It takes less time for the sawdust to settle at Moose’s Saloon these days. It’s less raucous than when owner Wallis Bianchi first started working at the bar and restaurant 45 years ago, when her father, former owner David “Moose” Miller, relegated the 13-year-old girl to the safety of the kitchen, arming his daughter with a toothbrush to scrub it spotless. READ MORE »»»
Let the Good Times Roll
Cuisine Machine’s Tim Good takes the helm at Haskill Station
By Tristan Scott
The Cuisine Machine’s Tim Good is accustomed to peddling his delicacies from atop four wheels, but even though the celebrated food-trucker has graduated to brick-and-mortar status, he’s keeping his keys in the ignition. READ MORE »»»
Northwest Montana’s modern moonshiners put new twists on old favorites
By Justin Franz
One-hundred years ago, on a patch of land tucked between the Middle Fork of the Flathead River and the Lewis and Clark Range, Josephine Doody ran a moonshine operation the likes of which Al Capone would be proud. READ MORE »»»
Making Sustainability Delicious
Xanterra Parks and Resorts focuses on serving local food and beverage products to thousands
By Molly Priddy
Think of Glacier National Park, with its million-acre range of wild and raw topography, and imagine it as a stage: millions of people flowing in and out, mostly in a three-month time span, looking, hiking, exploring, camping, and, inevitably, eating and drinking.
Bold and Blu
From Vail to Montana, Chef Blu Funk has established a reputation for his own brand of creative American Cuisine
By Clare Menzel
It started with a mushroom soup at the Sun Valley Lodge in Idaho, where a young Blu Funk had a new breakfast gig.
“Part of my job was to make the lunch soup,” he said. “And I had never made lunch soup.” READ MORE »»»
The Breakfast Club
The best way to start your day is with these signature dishes from all corners of the valley
By Dillon Tabish
Don’t be fooled by fancy steak dinners or showy hamburgers for lunch: breakfast reigns supreme in order of importance. Oftentimes the morning menu is overlooked because of its pastoral simplicity — eggs, bacon and toast — but there is no substitute for starting a good day like a great breakfast. READ MORE »»»
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