Sunday, September 17, 2006


Montana proved to be a highlight of my recent “culinary” hiatus. Everything about my two days spent there was a treat. In the towns I visited, all the people, including many "characters," were uniformly open and friendly. The weather and scenery were to die for, and prices uniformly low. What I least expected was that each meal would please me as much as everything else about Montana did.

That I could roll into Missoula at 9:45 on a Thursday night and simply happen upon a spot for dinner as nice as Scotty’s Table is part of what I mean. Although the dining room was full, one of the best tables in the house, especially for dining alone, awaited me by the window at the immediately adjacent bar. An eclectic crowd was all smiles, and so was I upon seeing the menu. On it was a pasta dish featuring penne with a tomato sauce that included “morsels of ham hocks, spare ribs, and short ribs, which were then topped with home-made sausage, asiago cheese, and red pepper flakes. Tempted, but opting for less choleserol, I went with a “Steamer Bowl and a Caesar salad. The steamers were mussels and clams with plenty of chipotle, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic to flavor the broth they rendered. As for the Caesar, my birdscratch notes were too scrawled to read except for: "perfect rendition"(quotes mine). Please accept my apologies for no photos of either selection. I attacked each one before thinking to shoot it.

The photos you see posted above are from the following night in Livingston, Montana, at the sidewalk dining section of the café at Hotel Murray. Its outdoor setting was just right for using my good Canon EOS-20D camera. Like everything else about Hotel Murray, I found my frog legs and salad to be sublime. If you’re ever in Livingston, my recommendation is to dine at the Hotel Murray and then stay there. When traveling alone, I've never enjoyed a hotel stay more in my life.