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An Authentic Montana Feast

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— April 29, 2017

An Authentic Montana Feast

  • Globally inspired food in the heart of beef country
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THERE’S THAT SAYING, “IF life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” For the chefs at Feast Bistro in Bozeman, Montana, it’s more like if a local rancher gives you grass-fed Wagyu beef, make a Moroccan slow-cooked beef special. If a farmer gives you an abundance of organic, in-season vegetables, make kimchi. Basically, turn simple local ingredients into a global adventure in healthy eating. I’d heard rumors of this restaurant’s abundant use of local and organic food, but as I settled into my seat at Feast, my first thought was: “Am I really in Montana?” A far cry from the traditional Rocky Mountain steakhouse, the modern interior features walls covered in a wild grass print that makes you feel like you’re in the great outdoors, perhaps one of Montana’s far-reaching meadows. These designs are offset by simple, contemporary metal-and wood-accented tables, chairs and accessories, like the hand-carved wooden host stand—a piece of functional art in itself. The Feast menu is as simple as it is complex. They use organic and seasonal produce, sustainably harvested seafood that’s flown in daily, and locally sourced meats, such as grass-fed beef, organic lamb and free-range chicken. Their concoctions are sophisticated and worldly, based on global flavors, yet they’re created with ingredients from the Rocky Mountain West. Take the bison carpaccio, served with fried capers, red onion, parmesan, arugula, and grilled crostini, or the grass-fed beef ribeye with huckleberry-black pepper jus, roasted fingerling potatoes with sweet onion, kale and a lemon-garlic-cashew sauce; the meat, vegetables, and huckleberries are all from the area. The chefs have also been known to buy a whole grass-fed cow and use just about every part of it; the primo cuts for steak specials, the tough parts for all-day braised or stewed meat dishes and the bones for their oxbow bone broth. They make their own chicken broth from local chickens, use local wheat, grains, lentils, corn starch, cheeses—the list goes on and on. Then there’s the raw oyster bar. Oysters in Montana? Admittedly I’m not an oyster fan — I feel that you either love them or hate them — but judging by those around me who were slurping down the different varieties that are flown in daily and sustainably harvested, it’s a hit in this landlocked city. Other seafood dishes take up a good portion of the menu, with a daily ceviche and sashimi special, an Asian-inspired salmon dish and a cioppino with king crab legs, jumbo shrimp, clams, mussels and pancetta in a tomato citrus broth, to name a few

I opted for a surf-and-turf, starting with clams stuffed with spinach, pancetta, sweet onion and gruyere with lemon-and-scallion slaw. It was truly mouthwatering, with a blend of unexpected flavors that work well together, balanced by the citrusy slaw. Next, I tried the crispy pork belly carnitas, made with local pork, sweet corn cake, and roasted local tomato jam. The combination of sweet and savory was perfectly balanced, while the pork belly melted in my mouth. And as a fan of bone broth and its noted health benefits, I had to try their signature oxtail broth, served pho style with braised pork, rice noodles, basil, cilantro, sweet onion, chili, scallion, and lime. Again, the combination of flavors was delightful, a bit of spice with a healthy squeeze of citrus and a hearty warm broth. The menu notes gluten-free and vegan items, and there are a number of options in both categories. The daily specials are clearly inspired by what’s in season, and the salads, ranging from a simple kale or mixed green to a candy beet or caramelized fig base, can be accompanied with falafel, shrimp, local meat, crab cake or salmon. The Ethiopian-spiced gold lentil dish served with tamarind-glazed tomato, cauliflower, red onion and sweet peas with a caramelized leek-and-zucchini pancake, is a hearty dish that was both gluten-free and vegan. I suppose if one was going for the authentic Montana steakhouse atmosphere and menu, they’d be in the wrong place at Feast. But for a Montana resident like myself, it was refreshing. There’s something to be said about using a dining experience as an escape, to let it take you on a global adventure through flavor, texture and wholesome goodness. And when there’s a story attached to the menu selections — maybe that of a nearby rancher who happened to have an abundance of vegetables that Feast chefs relish in using creatively—even better. Feast Bistro is the perfect place to experience local food that’s not prepared in a local way. feastbozeman.com

Candy Beet Salad

1. To make the simple syrup, place the water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and dissolve, then add the lemon zest and juice. 2. To make the candied beets, preheat oven to 375°. Cut off tops and bottoms of the beets. Place 1/4″ water in a roasting pan and add the beets; cover with foil and roast for 1 hour (longer for larger beets). Cool, peel and slice the beets, and place in a container with a lid. Cover with the simple syrup overnight. (Can be made up to 1 week in advance.) 3. To make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients except for the oil. Slowly add oil while emulsifying. Taste and adjust sweetness as needed. 4. To make the green lentils, create a bouquet garni by placing all the fresh herbs in cheesecloth and tying into a bag using twine. Saute with the garlic and onion in the olive oil until the vegetables are translucent; add lentils and coat. Add salt, pepper, and water; bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer, cover and cook until tender. Allow lentils to cool. 4. To make the salad, arrange the candied beets around the rim of a shallow bowl or platter. Toss greens in a mixing bowl with vinaigrette (just enough to coat). Arrange in the middle of the bowl or platter, allowing the beets to remain visible. Sprinkle the lentils, goat cheese and basil on top of the greens. Makes 3 large or 6 small salads Lemon Simple Syrup 1 cup water 1 cup sugar zest and juice of 1 lemon Candied Beets 1 lb 3″ to 4″ beets (red and yellow) Lemon Vinaigrette 1/4 cup lemon juice zest of 1/2 lemon 1/4 cup white wine vinegar 2 tbsp honey 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper 1/2 cup olive oil Green Lentils 1 sprig fresh sage 1 sprig fresh rosemary 2 sprigs fresh thyme small bunch parsley 3 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced 1/4 cup olive oil 1 tbsp salt 1 tsp black pepper 1 cup green lentils 2 1/2 cups water Salad candied sliced beets 3 cups Swiss chard, sliced 3 cups baby spinach lemon vinaigrette cooked green lentils 6 oz crumbled smoked goat cheese (can substitute plain or herbed) 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

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