Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ketchum Eats: Ketchum Grill, Ciro, and Christina's

Ketchum Grill:
With the ebulent and clearly underage server, I knew that we were on our own with KG's Northwest-focused wine list. Given the impending lack of guidance, I opt for a familiar summertime fave...a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from the Sancerre. Of our dinners, the handmade lemon noodles with shrimp, lemon black pepper and light cream was the clear winner; although my grilled salmon was finished with a delightfully perfect orange-saffron gastrique. The not-too-sweet strawberry rhubarb crisp with home made vanilla ice cream was a perfect summer-y finish to dinner. This place reminded us of the restaurant at Deetjen's Big Sur Inn with its homey, locals-who-all-seem-to-know-each-other kind of way. It also helped that it was raining - as we ducked the huge pines to enter the small home that is the KG.

Every town should be so lucky to have a place like Ciro. A clean but casual space with an Ikea design ethic is both stylish and welcoming. Classic rustic Italian food with high-quality ingredients and an extensive Italian-heavy wine list make this place comfort food of the highest order. Our truffled home-made potato chips and Caprese salad were on point. Although the lack of even a touch of balsamic vinegar on the salad seemed curious. The thin-crust pizza had a good balance of crust-chew that I appreciate; not to mention the toppings that had been applied with restraint: plum tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and white anchovies. The wine was a Gattinara 2003 from the Piedmont; a beautiful deep pomegranate color - with a slight brown edge. Nice! Earthy fruit on the nose lead to a clean tannic finsh that was the best buddy of my truffled chips and later the anchovy-pizza goodness.

Chef/Owner Cristina Ceccatelli Cook grew up in Tuscany. That should just about say it all. Go ahead and just let your fantasies run wild about Tuscan food. Yep...you are just about there.

This place is a real gem. If you don't stop by here for nothing more than an espresso and a $6 cookie each day you are in Ketchum, you are a fool. Sunday brunch is everything it should be. You'll pay dearly ($13) for that perfect bowl of fruit; but jeez, it looks like a page out of the owner's nicely photographed cookbook. We eat with our eyes....and this tasted great. The Benedict and savory crepes were perfectly examples of what each should be. The deli and baked goods cases were achingly beautiful. If only my stomach and gold card could handle all of it ($89 for brunch and some afternoon snacks to go!). Selections are forced, everything is enjoyed. For the price of it all, they even take the time wrap up our little cookies in cellophane bags with ribbon.

Too Fabulous? I don't know, I am still working on that.

Going back for more? You'd better believe it.

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Ketchum Grill on Urbanspoon

Ciro Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Cristina's on Urbanspoon

The Fast and the Fabulous: Ketchum and Sun Valley, ID

...Okay, Ketchum and Sun Valley, Idaho maybe not "fast" but they are definitely fabulous. A trip to Ketchum is to travel to another planet - to a parallel universe - to - perhaps the pages of a Ralph Lauren or J. Peterman catalog. Fabulous. Where Jackson Hole plays out the whole Wyoming-Teton "Western" thing to an ersatz extreme, Sun Valley is more toned down - little families and empty nesters riding their bicycles to Yoga class or that perfect little home town bakery. Both towns harbor enough botox to wipe out all the cattle in India.

Zoning in Ketchum is so particular, it was actually difficult to locate a gas station. Looking for some fuel on our way out of town, after several minutes (and after a few laps of town) I wondered out loud if residents were so perfect in fact, that they didn't need gasoline - or bathrooms!?!?!?

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed our stay here - and I plan to return. We had some great food. I marveled at the aesthetic of it all. Bicycles, vintage Volvos and other classic motors; restored bungalows, coffee, gourmet food; trails and bike paths leading everywhere and anywhere. Utopia?

Ketchum is so fabulous in fact, it makes Bozeman feel edgy and seedy...with all our visible gas stations and...un-restored sports cars and probably less expensive bicycles.

As for the food: Ketchum Grill, Christina's and Ciro did not dissapoint...reviews to follow.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Road Trip: Craters of the Moon

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Just a few hours from Bozeman, deep in a weird corner that is southeast Idaho, just down the road from the benign-sounding Idaho National Laboratory, lies Craters of the Moon National Monument. Black lava flows, cinder cones, shied volcanoes and, well..not much else dot the bizarre landscape.
After a generous lube of SPF 30 sunscreen is applied we head out for a short hike to the top of Inferno Cone. The cone itself is a perfect dome of pulverized lava bits; the view of a landscape covered with twisted, contorted, and fractured lava flows looks otherworldly - outside of Hawaii, at least. More than once I think that this would be a crappy place to go barefoot.
Another highlight of this stop - lava tubes. Little subway tunnels of lava frozen in time are fun (sort of) to explore. Sort of, because I think that I learned that I am not a huge fan of tight spaces. Nor am I a huge fan of scratching my noggin’ on a low ceiling of jagged lava. Another challenging component of lava-tube exploration in Idaho - ice. Despite the 70-degree May temps outside, the floors of a few of the tubes are still coated in thin, slide-your-ass-down-the-cave, ice. Fun - AND scary.
Tomorrow...Ketchum, Idaho and Sun Valley. Is there such a thing as something just too fabulous? I don’t know, but I think Ketchum just might be a candidate....

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Best Camping Ever

Succumbing to the ever-present need to leave town, we seized the good weather and headed to Old Faithful in Yellowstone. Long-time friend (and YNP resident) Louise held an inverse agenda and was in Bozeman for the weekend. This meant that her cabin, The Shady Rest, was ours for the weekend. On the banks of the Firehole river, and steps from Old Faithful Geyser, I proclaimed that this was the best camping trip ever! Was it?

On our drive to Old Faithful we lunched in Lamar Valley enjoying the pate forestier, Mt. Tam triple cream, baguette, and feta-stuffed olives. For dinner we cooked up a ridiculously thick Ribeye from Montana's Alderspring Ranch, which produces lovely grass-fed beef; had a salad of golden beets, goat cheese, and pine nuts - all washed down with a 2004 Gary's Vineyard Novy Syrah.

Drinking wine from one of my favorite places - Big Sur - Monterrey - Santa Lucia Highlands - in one of my favorite places - Yellowstone - made it a great camping trip indeed. Oh, did I mention that we saw six wolves (three of which were actively hunting and cornering a cow elk in front of our eyes), two grizzly bears, one black bear and numerous birds, ungulates and curious summer visitors? On Sunday, we drifted effortlessly between summer and winter by skiing in the morning on the continental divide and capturing a view of the very frozen Shoshone lake, to short sleeves and A/C on the return trip to Bozeman, where the temperature had climbed to almost 80 degrees by days end.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Substantial Sandwich P-Shop Contest Winner

Clearly, the competition was completely intimidated by John's entry of "Bamark Obama". For his effort, John scores the grand prize: a vintage copy of Graham Kerr's Galloping Gourmet Television Cookbook, Volume 2. Congratulations, John. Now, I expect some good oxtail soup and some solid tiki cocktail punch the next time I'm in town.

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