Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Bistro Full of Worldly Food and Conversation in Bozeman, MT

As most of my readers/followers know, I enjoy good food, open-minded conversation, and culture. I was elated when I was able to find all of these in one spot in Bozeman, MT. Earlier this week, my husband and I traveled to Bozeman for a small vacation. I explained to my husband that Bozeman is an odd cross roads of Montanans, college students (MSU) who think they know everything, ski bums, tourists, Jews (largest Jewish population in the state), and the VERY wealthy (the Gates &  Timberlakes have houses in the area). So this mini-vacation should be interesting to say the least. Tonight we dined at South 9th Bistro.

Last night I got to eat some good food but had to overhear an impaired college student (you could smell the marijuana coming off him) try to mansplain (I say this because he kept hushing his female date when she attempted to engage in conversation about the topic) about how bad it was that Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as being the Capital of Israel and Zionism would be the downfall of humankind. When his date asked about his thoughts on the implications of Trump's acknowledgement in relation to the fact that it was the Brits who essentially decided historical land would be Arab (Palestine) vs Jewish (Israel), he shushed her and said she was politically incompetent.

I tell you this backstory because tonight I was able to enjoy upscale and delicious food while over hearing intellectual and open-minded conversations by both the restaurant personnel and customers. We started our evening by being hosted by the owner who was pleasant and ensured we understood that it meant a lot to him that we chose to spend our evening in his establishment. We were seated next to a lovely older couple who recently moved from Park City, Utah (but were originally from AZ and NJ) and considered the Bistro their "#1 place to eat in Bozeman." I was asked about where I got my my Sorel snow boots (it had snowed at least an additional 3-4" today) as her husband had been teasing her to get boots higher than ankle height.

So during a conversation that started over snow boots I learned about where they were originally from, where they just moved from, that they loved eastern Montana from years of attending horse sales, what their favorite foods were at the Bistro, and that the owner also baked the desserts for the restaurant (more on that later).

On the other side of the room I could here a table discussing llamas seen downtown that they took pictures of. They were in fact alpacas as my husband and I saw them earlier as well. They were ridiculously soft and I wanted to take home Cpt Jack Sparrow (the pirate colored one) to snuggle and make blankets from his soft coat.

The other nearby table of four was an interesting group of four, whose conversations, besides the food dialogue intrigued me. The Russian perceptions of the world which came from a man whose appearance said East Asian but whose accent said British. His understanding and first hand account of the USSR and Putin was interesting to hear. They also discussed the Arabic lands of the Middle East/Levant, as well as the British overtaking of the America's and it's impact on the "Indian People". Those conversations all happened while also talking about the wine, the lamb shank, the scallops, and beef bourguignon! It also happened in a polite polite and respectful way (unlike the prior night).

THIS my friends is why I love food! It is while engaging in the act of breaking bread and sharing wine where our human differences but most importantly our similarities become so apparent!

To be able to order perfectly prepared garlic buttery escargot from a waitress who could recommend Californian, Italian, or French wines from personal understanding and has an accent that ringed as if she was from either Ireland/Tasmania/South Africa with a bit of time in New York or New Jersey was just what my heart and mind needed. And the atmosphere of the Bistro told me it would be okay if I asked the owner or her where she was from. Her accent sounded of various locations, which to me meant a more vast experience in our amazing world.

Obviously a food blog has to discuss the analysis of the food as well so for those who are not into delicious snails...here goes. My husband ordered the 160z Cognac marinated ribeye with fresh made mac & cheese  and sautéed spinach. I ordered the bone in 22oz rosemary and red wine demi glace lamb shank with garlic mashed red potatoes and grilled asparagus.

The ribeye was ordered medium rare (the standard in MT) and had a buttery mouth feel. From an earlier post, my regulars know my husband has a thing for mac & cheese. He said this was tasty but had a bit of "tang" too it, so he asked me to taste. I could tell the cheese (at least tonight) was a bit nutty, had some white cheddar tang with some sweetness. My guess would be a Dubliner cheese. It is not a "typical" mac but none the less delicious. The spinach had a fresh green color and taste. My preference would be a squeeze of fresh lemon to the spinach to compete with the richness of the ribeye and mac. For me, richness is the nuanced intense flavour created by the properly cooked fatty ribeye or the cheese in the mac. So this nuance could mean that my want for lemon is unnecessary for others.

The lamb shank was cooked to perfection. The rosemary and red wine demi glace wasn't over powering so you could still taste the flavor of the meat, which to me is important. I am not a fan of soft asparagus and these still  had their crispness which I enjoyed. They were lightly coated in the olive oil they were prepared in with just a hint of salt and pepper. The potatoes were garlic creamy goodness.

Now for the desserts. They are hand prepared by the owner, Hank. We had a pleasant conversation about learning family recipes and keeping on those traditions through cooking and baking for others. When you taste the desserts you can tell they are prepared with a caring and appreciative heart. 
We ordered "The Black Beast" because my husband is an immense chocolate fan. For those who might be like me and not a fan of chocolate or marzapan let me tell you that neither were overwhelming. The flavors presented did not fight each other on the palette.

I would be remiss if I did not to tell you about the muffled oohs, aahs, & mmmms that could be heard from the other tables as they enjoyed their "Crack Tart", "Brioche Bread Pudding",  and the "Chocolate Espresso Mousse." 

If you are in the Bozeman area I highly recommend you make your way over to the South 9th Bistro.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pumpkin Protein Muffins with Honey Goat Cheese Frosting

Fall is one of my favorite seasons but not because I am a pumpkin spice latte type. Crisp air, sweaters, football, stews & chili, and squash make me happy. My husband and I are eating healthier by trying not to skip breakfast. So I adapted some recipes to come up with these delicious and healthy pumpkin protein muffins with honey goat cheese frosting. Each muffin with frosting has roughly 12 grams of protein and only 169 calories.

Pumpkin Protein Muffins

Ingredients
1 large egg
1 large egg white
¼ cup pure pumpkin puree
1 large banana , cut into chunks
½ cup all-natural almond butter
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 scoops favorite vanilla whey protein powder (mine is 27g of protein per scoop)
½ tsp . baking powder
½ tsp . ground cinnamon
¼ tsp . sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
1 dash ground nutmeg

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Prepare twelve muffin cups by lining with muffin papers or coating with spray.

Place egg, egg white, pumpkin, banana, almond butter, and maple syrup in blender; cover. Blend for 30 seconds.

Add protein powder, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg; cover. Blend until smooth.
 
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.

Bake 16 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown and tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Transfer muffins to rack to cool.

Honey Goat Cheese Frosting
For this goat cheese frosting, you can use Chèvre goat cheese or try full fat cream cheese or neaufchatel cheese. Whichever you use, make sure it is full fat and softened to room temperature.

Ingredients
8 oz goat cheese softened to room temperature 1/4 cup raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons milk (coconut, nut, cow, or goat milk works great, soy milk hasn't worked for me though)

Instructions

Place the goat cheese, honey, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. You can use a hand or  stand mixer. Beat on medium speed.

Add milk one teaspoon at a time until the frosting reaches desired creaminess. 


Spread immediately on cooled muffins. The muffins and frosting hold up well in the refrigerator so you can choose to frost all at once or the morning of eating.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Overfishing: Decling Seafood Stock is a Reality

Wild fish stocks have steadily declined around the world. Much of this is due to the worldwide increased popularity of sushi. One particular favorite sushi fish is declining, the bluefin tuna. The red belly meat of the bluefin tuna was used as cat food in Japan. Ironically, it wasn’t until Westerners began to develop a hankering for sushi in the 70s and started to gobble up toro that the Japanese gave it a try. They too got hooked & the world started to see more and more bluefin tuna on sushi menus worldwide.

Unfortunately, bluefin tuna are reproductive late bloomers & aren't mature to reproduce until almost 8 years old. The increased demand for bluefin & their late reproduction has led to something near a 90% decrease in the bluefin population. As foodies we must eat responsibly & demand global policies for responsible farming/harvesting/fishing/ranching/hunting. If we don't, the food and world we love won't exist for future generations to enjoy. 

Please read the article, A sushi master's lament