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Very Tasty Times Red Lodge serves up culinary delights

Thursday, October 25, 2018
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Photos by Carmen Levick
Carbon Fork served up a Montana salad with arugula, tobacco onions, bacon, Granny Smith Apples and a sage-honey vinaigrette with a further meal of bison brisket with raspberry BBQ sauce which included wild mushrooms, potato salad and caulilini.

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Honeys Café had a number of dishes incorporating brie, local apples and local arugula on Grains of MT Ciabatta Bread. A Honey's autumn salad with local greens, pickled local beets, goat cheese and candied walnuts was followed by an Asian breakfast scramble complete with organic brown rice, local broccoli, mushrooms, local eggplant, local Bok Choy, local eggs and Sriracha crema.  

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Pom Italian Eatery offered the visitors egg plant Napoleon with fresh Basil, as well as meatball sliders in marinara and cheese with garlic, and a local beet salad with goat cheese, along with house made fettuccini for another dish.

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By Alastair Baker

News Editor

 

A growing food revolution is rattling its knife and fork around the restaurants of Red Lodge, so much so that representatives from The Montana Departments of Commerce and Agriculture recently came by to see what all the noise was about and to launch 'Taste our Place', a new farm-to-table initiative.

The group visited eight venues over a two-day period, Regis Café, Carbon Fork, Carbon County Steakhouse, Red Lodge Ales, The Wild Table, Honeys Café, Prerogative Kitchen and Pom Italian Eatery.

'Taste our Place' is a new program under the Made in Montana brand and seeks to connect ag producers with restaurants and promote establishments serving food made from locally sourced ingredients. 

The program aims to promote and increase the use of locally sourced ingredients at Montana restaurants, bars and other establishments serving ready-to-eat food and drink.

Many of the eating establishments source from local producers such as Shoshone River Farm in Cody, Wyoming, Hank’s Garden in Bridger, Montana Meat Co. in Bozeman, to name a few.

Attending the two-day visit in Red Lodge was Jan Stoddard, Bureau Chief, Industry Services & Outreach, with the Dept. of Commerce, who likened Red Lodge to a “European town where you can go down a side street and find amazing food.”

“Red Lodge is fortunate to have many restaurant owners, managers, and chefs that have the knowledge and willingness to find and profile local food sources in their menu offerings,” said Stoddard. “We found a passion in the restaurant community for bringing ‘the farm to the table’ through varied ingredients and preparations. In fact, in our initial visit to Red Lodge, we were so impressed by these businesses, the decision was made to make Red Lodge our second ‘Taste our Place’ launch location. The launch was so impressive that it confirmed our belief that Red Lodge will be a culinary tourism destination.”

According to commerce.mt.gov, research by the University of Montana stated 12.5 million people from out of state visited Montana last year and spent $667 million at restaurants and bars, an amount second only to what they spent on gasoline.

Dept. of Commerce Director Pam Haxby-Cote has stated that “Residents and visitors traveling around Montana want authentic experiences, and local food and drink is no exception,” 

Ben Thomas, Dept. of Agriculture Director, reiterated Haxby-Cote’s comment by adding the State has “seen an increased appetite for local foods throughout the state, both from tourists and residents.” 

The Dept. of Commerce will administer and promote the program and its members, while the Dept. of Agriculture will help to connect members with local food producers.

Responding to the farm-to-food initiative Kerri Wolfson, owner and operator of Honeys Café, said she is “interested to see where they go with it.” “It is still in the early stages and seemed they were trying to figure out how to market this. Anything they do with it will be good, a lot of other states are doing this and I hope they are looking at them and looking at other models.”

“I felt they really recognized how much of a community we really have here and how much we work together and support each other and what makes the Red Lodge business community so unique,” said Wolfson. 

Honeys sources a lot locally, focusing on Montana produce, such as vegetables, eggs, and breads from Grains of Montana.  

“It is a fantastic time of year. There is so much produce from the farms right now, fresh ingredients and the taste is there. It is a fun time cooking,” she said.  

Robert Carrington who co-owns Pom Italian Eatery with Sarah Russell, added “Our business is always a proponent of garden to table, locally sourced and supporting the local economy,” said Carrington. “If we make this a food destination town it’ll benefit everyone. Overall people want to know that the sourcing of their food is more sustainable, and that the way it is produced is safe and healthy.”

“I do see a movement well away from fast food but also from high end, …it is now becoming a more central movement, people saying ‘I don’t want fast food or high-end, I want somewhere where it’s good for me and not break the bank for it,” he said. “We use food grown from the ground up. We have the resources here, we're not so far north that you can’t have a productive garden here.” 

“They were pretty happy with the food,” said Carrington about the Commerce representatives. “It is very helpful they provided a list of contacts so we can shop around.” 

Eric Trager, owner and operator of Carbon Fork, called the visit  “phenomenal.” 

“They chose Red Lodge and Great Falls from the whole of Montana. I’m pretty proud of that, the whole culinary scene should be proud that the Department of Ag chooses a small town like Red Lodge to advertise and promote local sustainable products. We are proud in what we are serving,” said Trager. 

“We are fortunate to live here with so many options, flavors and techniques,” said Trager. 

Trager feels that “everyone is doing their part.”

“The Red Lodge Food Partnership Council with the Farmer’s Market, with possibly a winter’s farmers market, Moonlake Market and IGA. All try to support the local businesses with local Montana items,” he said. 

“With farms and ranches making way for subdivisions, we have to find ways to build our ag or build a livelihood for people through natural means. People are going to recognize the benefits of local and sustainable food,” he said. 

“There is nothing like getting fresh produce in. The smell is amazing,” said Trager. “I grew up on a farm and it brings back those memories and to share them with people is phenomenal. Food is as much about the experience and the taste. I can help provide a culinary experience for people through a new or old technique that they can enjoy.  It’s like studying the stars, so many techniques and styles.”

 

 

Next week: More farm to food delights from Regis Café, The Wild Table, and Prerogative Kitchen. For more photos please go to www.carboncountynews.com

 

The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.